swer to the post by sabethea :
Prompt: To save/protect Z, the one s/he loves, Character X needs the help of Character Y. But Character Y demands a price for their help.
Anything Else: Consent issues, secrecy, angst, humiliation all good :)
I veered the tiniest little bit.
Warnings- dubcon, mild violence
"He's only a child…" It was the beginning of my second year as a Hogwarts teacher.
"So are you, if you think we can afford to coddle them." His hand grabbed my chin, brought my head closer to this black beard of his. Much closer. I actually felt his Lemon-drop sweetened breath in my mouth, which the pince of his fingers didn't let me close. "You will see other battered children here. Around fifteen in each year, on average. We don't condone, but we do not make a fuss out of it. As a whole they get out of here in much better shape than they came in, but we won't shame their families… You'll understand many things here. You are but a child yourself, yet, after all." His eyes bore into mine so deep that I asked myself whether he knew about me. What he knew.
You see, this was the time before abuse and psychologists had become words the Wizarding World used, or knew. I was barely adult myself, almost twenty springs and a knack for Potions (didn’t you know I began with Potions?), and I fully believed this was why I'd been hired. To teach Potions and nurture young Wizards. Ha.
This child I had fallen for. He was meticulously clean in scraggly clothes, no clue about hair- or nail-trimming but could charm one Centaurradish root in one hundred fifty three perfect see-through slices without shedding a tear, had obviously read all his books before term started but never bothered handing in homework. That's what gave him away. That, and it takes one to know one, of course.
As I nagged him for the third or fourth time for his previous-week assignment, he hitched one shoulder in defense and refusal, and from behind the black curtain of his hair mumbled something like "or else? You'll hit me?" His eyes fixed me in a kind of begging defiance, then went back to the desk he'd already scarred with thousands of compass pricks. Neatly, compulsively crisscrossed wooden wounds, like the scars on an arm.
I gave him detention of course, even more to get him alone than to impress the class, although it did do that, too.
When I snatched his wand away and advanced on him menacingly in my chambers that night, I was sure. His eyes darted at me with frightened hate and recognition as he stepped back, his arm moving reflexively to protect his head from the upcoming blow my raised hand (with a heavy book in it) signaled would land on him. He looked so much like I remembered my brother Philip at home, I almost broke down and wept. Instead, I grabbed the thin upraised wrist and twisted it, brought my bared teeth barely an inch from his narrow, clever, unloved face.
"I know you, lad. I know you better than you know yourself. I know which scars I'll find if I rip your clothes off you. As maybe I should." At that his black eyes went wide, and wild. But he didn’t move them from mine, and the energy of wandless magic – at eleven! - buzzed around him courageous and feral, overcoming his fear. I pushed back at it with my own blackest force, released his arm and began to pace around him.
"I can protect you. I can see to it nobody will harm you here." That got his attention all right. "But you'll have to obey me blindly." My heart was bleeding for him as I put all my venom in my words, because I had to impress him and softness was clearly not going to cut it with this eleven year old criminal. "Do we have a deal?"
"You're not even in my House."
"My problem, not yours. Do we have a deal?"
We did. He would study the hardest he could, take extra Potions assignments (more time alone), and keep out of trouble. I'd see to it none of the adults bothered him (and I don't want nobody's bed, either, he specified. At eleven.) No adult would interfere when he saw to it that the other kids feared him enough to let him alone. I'd offered to help him make friends, only to be met again by kid's eyes that were older than my own. "The children, just let me deal with them," he'd said. "I don’t see I'll be making friends anyway. If you lot just won't butt in when I teach them not to bully me, it's good enough."
I agreed, believing he'd naturally open to friendships when fear and pain were not the main part of his life. I was not yet twenty, what can I say, and wholly unprepared for the Marauders.
Now I had, only, to make goods on the promises I'd made. Slughorn was spitefully unhelpful, so I went to Dumbledore. He was still black-haired and bearded even though some silver threads had begun appearing here and there, a giant of a man whose physical stature matched his magical powers. Half a god, and he'd gone out of his way to hire me. He liked me, even. That's what my friends had said when he'd offered me a teaching position and an apprenticeship with Spout, fresh off my NEWTs when the thought of going to what they called home kept me awake with nightmares, and I could hardly get married on the first of July...
"I knew Dumbledore would find something to tide you over. You can trust him, Minnie. And you're good enough to teach first-years, that's for sure. Octavius will wait for you. Better if Mother knows you as an independent, professional woman from first." Augusta Ludwig soon-to-be Longbottom, my best friend and sister-in-law to be. They were the epitome of upright Wizarding bourgeoisie, but almost as poor as the McGonnagalls. And a married woman going to work would have bowled their world over much worse than learning about the beatings my father doled out each time the Galleons went out before the end of the month... Unless they could see for themselves the benefits of a second salary, upfront. Otherwise after the wedding I'd be expected to stay at home and mind the house, out of respect for Octavius' mother.
I was determined to marry only after I'd earned some money of my own, only after I knew I didn’t have to rely on the man to feed my children. Only after I could up and go if things went bad…
"That's perfect," Octavius said. His kind, handsome face was beaming at me. "Of course I'll wait for you. I'll go to America, come back with so many Galleons we can buy a house of our own. It's only two years, three at the most. And you love teaching, Minnie. You're the best Head Girl this school's had in three hundred years at least. After all," he said planting small kisses on my temples (and letting his hands roam freely everywhere I liked them to, while I kissed his neck and felt terribly naughty), "we have a lifetime together after that."
Maybe being a good girl in spite of a less-than-perfect childhood would earn me this reward, I felt. Maybe we'd have a house, and be happy, and maybe even I would take my mother in, sometimes in the future, let her husband hit the empty walls and not the empty shell she was becoming…
I was determined to be good, and I was determined no beaten child was going to go on suffering under my watch. My first year had passed in a daze of aprenticing to a hard master, longing for Octavius and learning the basics of tutoring students barely younger than I was. This was my first year as full-fledged teacher, the first-time I was really in contact with the children. And that's why I was petitioning Headmaster Dumbledore to be given a free rein with those kids I'd recognized, especially the young Snape whose intelligence was rivalled only by his innate power... and his needy ferocity.
The Headmaster was giving in little by little, all the time grumbling that I'd land him and his school in hot waters with my meddling, that there were more important things to take care of first for the Greater Good of all, that he only accepted as a weakness for me...
But I felt he just needed to see
. You see, it was a time of silence and hush-up, and I did believe if the great Dumbledore had had an inkling of these kids' life, he'd move mountains to help them.
He moved all right. He let me take them under my wings, and called me to his office, twice a week after dinner over tea, to update him. He was wise, and funny and comforting and the tea was perfumed and went to my head a little, especially when he laced it with Firewhisky to celebrate, each time another hurdle had been jumped. He sympathized with my struggles, and patted my head when Miss Smith fled for two weeks and came back pregnant.
He was most interested in young Snape, his prickly behavior and extraordinary intellect, though. He suggested special, difficult tasks to coach the lad in Potions. He hugged me when I came to him raw from one more encounter with that child who'd seen more than I had, and seemed bent on channeling his traumas through me. I begged him to let me keep young Snape with me during the holidays, too, in blatant violations of the rules and his family's requests.
"I know it must be especially hard for you," he said one night as I barely held my tears in. "Especially after your brother."
I looked at him appalled. His beautiful, crinkly eyes bore into mine, and I remember it's the first time I noticed the wrinkles around them, thought about the burdens we were all fostering on him... felt the urge to help him bear them, to do anything to help that great man worrying in front of me. In hindsight… I'll never know whether the thought, the urge
, was planted or not.
He was sitting on the overstuffed sofa he favored, facing me on my armchair, and patted the seat near him. "Come here, dearest child."
When had I ever not done something he'd bid me to?
He enveloped me in his bear hug, in the smell of the man he was, and began crooning in my ears and stroking my back. "I know, dearest Minerva. I know everything. There, there, let go… you can cry now, it'll do you good."
And I did. I was this prim and proper girl, you see, determined to keep a stiff upper lip and show the world only what was nice and decorous, and now somebody not only knew, but wasn’t disgusted by my shame at having been a beaten child, by my tears and my weakness. Somebody I trusted, somebody strong and good. Somebody who'd been my favorite teacher and showered me with attentions since my fifth year, who'd become my mentor, and my employer, and my confidante…
I sobbed and held on to him and breathed in this wonderful smell of his, of leather, magic, lemon syrup and power. His roughened hands wiped my tears and smoothed my cheeks. He held my face in the crook of his neck (wrinkled and sagging compared to Octavius' firm column of muscled flesh), and stroked my back. And my neck. And my shoulders and my arms and my shoulders again and my throat and I was feeling his breathing becoming heavy and labored and I raised my head to see if he was all right and he kissed me.
Not like Octavius, all boy-like and shy. Bold and mastering and deep and strong. His hands were inside my shirt now, pinching and grazing all the right spots until I was writhing and moaning, half smothered under his girth because by then I was lying backwards on the sofa, and he on top of me.
"Do you want to help me protect those children, dearest child? Will you be a good girl, be there for me while I do what I need to?"
What could I do but nod?
"Good," he growled. "I knew you'd agree…" His mouth crushed mine again, cutting my air supply. His hands grabbed and began grinding and kneading. It was painful and delicious, with each knead my proper, drab skirts were bunched up a little higher and suddenly they were all around my waist, and he could touch… and he did and I bucked and moaned in surprise, in pleasure, in fear. He kept touching and massaging, devouring my mouth and oblivious to the way my hands on his chest tried to push him away, and I thought I'd die from the sudden explosion within my body, and from the shame. He let out a small laugh and pinched me painfully, enjoying his power.
Somehow I disengaged my mouth. "But, Headmaster…" It felt so good, and so wrong.
"Shhh, child. Don’t you trust me?" I knew my eyes were huge and afraid as my head moved "no" almost against my will, as he looked into them and smirked.
"You're really an ingenue, are you?" His tone suddenly dry and spiteful. "Not the material I'm looking for in my teachers, perhaps. I thought you'd matured since you were a fifth-year, Miss McGonagall. Or maybe only your body has. No more brain in you than when I first noticed this, and this, and this..."
Each 'this' was accompanied by a brutal, but so exciting caress of one of the parts of a girl that do tend to swell around her fifth-year, and which were still oversensitive from his ministrations. Each time I writhed, or I moaned, or both. "Back then", he growled as he pinched and licked, you were happy to strut and bounce all this before my eyes, weren't you? Tried to get my attention with your shirt buttons open and your school skirt riding up…"
My cheeks burnt with renewed shame. He was right. I was surprised and overwhelmed at my new body when it sprang on me all of a sudden, as it were, and at the effect it had on boys all over… and what can I say? I liked it. I had been a thin, un-coddly little girl. For the first time in my life people - well, boys at least- looked at me with a smile, actually tried to be nice to me. So, for a few weeks, I enjoyed it. I opened one more button on my shirts and let my robes open. I crossed my legs higher in class… and my robes were still open.
I loved the reactions I was getting from the boys, but it was nothing compared to the one time I caught him staring. My favorite teacher. The man I looked up to. My father figure, since the man who actually seeded me was good for nothing but hitting us. The most powerful wizard alive, and he was looking at me with those hungry, fixed eyes, and swallowing again and again.
I'm going on to my ninth decade, you see, and I've killed and built more than any other witch I know. But I've never felt the thrill and the surge of power I got this spring day of my fifth year, when I caught him looking at me just like that, and stuttering mid-sentence when he caught my eyes on him and my tongue licking my lips.
Being who I am, it took me less than three weeks to come to my senses, close my robes and buy larger, baggy clothes suitable to my bluestocking nature. I had to ask him for an advance on my allowance before the visit to the secondhand shop in Hogsmeade, and he gave me a tidy sum and told me not to worry about paying it back, that it was payment for all the extra work I did for him. His gaze on my new clothes is also engraved in my mind, his closed face, the pinched fold of his lips.
But I'd thought he'd forgotten. After all, each year tens of new girls suddenly sprout into their female figures before his watchful eyes. Most of them prettier than I ever was, I used to repeat to myself to crush the crush I had on him. The most mortifying crush I had on him.
The most mortifying crush I had on him, that had crashed on me again as soon as his hands had begun roving over me.
"You're all red in the face", he said. "Are you ashamed?"
I nodded dumbly.
"What are you ashamed of? Of being a tease? Never bothered you until today. Tell me. I want to hear it, in your words." His hands still on my bum, holding me close to him. Close enough that I could feel that part of him, quivering against my flank.
My mouth opened and shut several times. "This is not… this is not a behavior befitting a Hogwarts teacher."
"You will leave it to me to decide which behavior befits my employees, I kindly beg you. I think you have something completely different to be ashamed of. Do you know to come to me only when you need something? Or for that Snape pet of yours?" This was the most powerful wizard alive, unhappy with me. I fleetingly wondered how he could be so nice to the children, and so hard on me, who worshipped him so.
"Because you are not a child anymore. I have patiently waited more than five years, " his voice swelled on that, "more than five years for you to move from a mere child, entrusted to my care, to a woman. What," he thundered, "do you feel ashamed of right now?"
I gestured to my naked lower body. "This, Headmaster… and …"
"And teasing me?"
I nodded dumbly, although five years had elapsed. What had just happened couldn't be a result of this small lick on my lips in fifth year, surely? But apparently it was. All my fault.
"And also… also, I'm engaged," I mumbled, wishing for all the world I'd married Octavius on the last day of school.
Dumbledore was Legilimensing me freely by then, roaming my mind like it was his, not too delicately... like he'd done to my body. And reeling me in. "This boy," he crooned in my ear, "he doesn't appreciate you. He's seeing other girls in America… and anyway he's not clever enough for you. Haven't you noticed?"
Of course I had. But if I wanted somebody as clever as me…
"I know," he chuckled. "There's only me."
How I loved this deep, clever, good chuckle of his, that made you feel all was right in the best of worlds. Still does. "Besides, he won't know. I guarantee you you'll come to him like a perfectly untouched girl. If you so want. I'll show you ways... and you'll help me. Won't you help me, Minerva? I also need somebody clever, somebody I can trust. It's sometimes heavy, facing this alone." The blue of his eyes was muted now, with a greyish dull tone, as his voice suddenly rang tired. "Especially this taking care of those children and their woes, these burdens you've brought to me. Will you help me?" His hand was fondling my body the same way his deep, clever voice was fondling my soul. And both left me quivering with the will- no, the want- no, the need to serve him, to help him shoulder this supplementary weight I had foisted on him on top of the approaching war we all felt coming in our bones… by any means I had in my possession.
"Yes, Headmaster. I will." I tried to anchor myself in this adult role he apparently wanted me to assume. Cleared my throat. "Headmaster... I also wanted to talk to you about miss Smith…"
But he shook his head. "I just can't deal with this now. With the state you've put me in…" He rubbed into my flanks, again. And I responded again, wantonly.
"You see, witch. You're driving me crazy. I must calm down before I can seriously talk to you. Should I show you the way to calm down what you've set fire to?"
What could I do but nod?
And he showed me ways. Ways that disgusted me at first, and that I choked on, on my knees at his feet, while both his hands grasped my hair and moved my head, destroying my strict hairdo, my poise and my self-esteem. Ways that hurt me, and still his hands were grabbing my hair, this time from behind, and his voice kept marveling at my wantonness while I squelched moans of pain and tears of shame.
Afterwards he accompanied me to my chambers, avuncular and debonair. As he turned to part he smiled at me. "Miss McGonagall. All that was discussed tonight is strictly confidential. I expect you to behave with the discretion expected from a Hogwarts' professor, yes? Good night."
I wept a lot that year, of humiliation and shame. Of pain when he so wanted. Of need for him when he'd suddenly act distant and cold, turning down my requests for "my children" every time I didn't please him enough. And maybe the best nights were those when he licked my tears away.
"My dearest child," he'd murmur as his body moved over mine, "how I've waited for this. How I've been pining for you since you were fourteen. I recognized the formidable power of you, and you a mere girl, but the only witch suitable for me, for the task at hand that awaits us."
He gave me free rein as a teacher, plied me with responsibilities more suitable to a Head of House, kept me busy with important tasks towards the war he knew was coming. "I know it's a hard life, Minerva, but at least we have each other," he'd utter at times. "It has to stay that way... You know the scandal if I were to marry you…"
I didn’t want to marry him. I wanted to marry Octavius. I wanted this to be over, and Octavius to come back.
But Dumbledore, the omniscient Dumbledore, was totally oblivious. "You know how much I need you near me. Your mind, your body, your soul…" And his body and mind always pushing mine farther, but always leaving them hungry for more. He rationed our encounters so I'd be always sated at some point, and always begging for more when he sent me back to my rooms. His touch had become my constant obsession, together with "my children". He would tantalize me with glimpses into magic unknown to common wizards and rear me as a strict headmistress by day, and by nights shame my wantonness as he stoked it.
The two years stretched into three, and in the relative leisure he had during the summer he completed my education, or should I say taming? Octavius was amassing Galleons in America, away and so patient.
I was all the Headmaster's. His and the children, his and Snape's. Every "special application" for the children was to be presented at night, and with each granted request came its price. I paid gladly, flattered it was requested from me, happy I was the one to provide him solace... happy it would soon be over.
At the second Easter break after it started I received an owl from Octavius. We'd been corresponding regularly, and my letters were so stilted and ashamed… I loved him, you see, as a twenty-year-old would love her future husband in the beginning of the last century. Dumbledore I was bewitched with.
I had firmly resolved to the best, the most humble of wives to Octavius to atone for what he must never know. It wouldn't be hard to leave him in the dark, maybe easier than to fool young Snape, whom I'd caught stalking me as I went back disheveled and red-eyed to my chambers in the small of the night, whose black eyes bore holes through me in the tired mornings after.
Snape whom I'd overheard schooling another of "my children": "Stop asking her for things she needs the Headmaster's permission for. Just stop." I had wondered if he was jealous of the attention I gave the other wee ones...
I saw Octavius' parchment's length and the spiky, troubled handwriting, and I knew something was wrong. "You should have told me, my dearest Minerva," it read. "Headmaster Dumbledore has confided in me…. conscious of the price we all pay … respectful of your wish to dedicate yourself to the care of the children for the years to come… should have trusted in me to understand your dilemma… " he was announcing he'd stay another five years in the United States, had accepted a post one of Dumbledore's correspondent had offered him. Not so oblivious after all, the Headmaster...
I broke down. I sat on the floor, in the middle of my chambers where I had opened the letter, and wept like the schoolgirl I was no more. I sat and wept for a long time, until the raspy, now-high-now-low voice of male adolescence talked to me in adult tones.
"What happened, Professor McGonagall? Are you hurt?" He was tense, young Snape come into my chambers although we didn't have a Potions lab scheduled. He stood by me in all his gangly tallness (already), his hands, large as a man's but still thin as a boy's, awkwardly open at his sides, awkwardly reaching in my direction.
I hadn't heard him coming. I hastily wiped my cheeks on my sleeves while shielding my face from him with the other arm, and understood half a second too late that by now he also knew about me. It's a gesture only children who are afraid of the next blow from above have perfected to smoothness, and by it they (we) can recognize one another.
He crouched next to me, and took hold of my wrist to uncover my face, twisting it slightly, his face barely an inch from mine. It was still narrow and clever, already marred by what would become his trademark sneer, but it looked a little bit softer, and concerned now as he looked at me.
"It's nothing, really," I said. "A small impediment on my long-term plans, and it will allow me to keep teaching you next year, too. So… it's for the better, I would say. I was… disturbed for a moment. That's all. It's good news, really, because I'm staying at Hogwarts next year."
The sudden light in his face at that, the lightning smile that reached my heart and made me gasp... There was love in them. Pure, unadulterated, all the more precious because it was probably the first look of love he'd given since his mother's death. Lily was still but a chit, you see. I managed a kind of a grin.
He stood and proffered his hand to me to help me up, strong already like a grown man. For a long time we remained there, the both of us in the middle of the room, hand welded to hand and eyes to eyes. We were the same height, and the nine years between us… they're what protected us. Fifteen years later we'd find ourselves standing in this same spot, welded by our eyes again, but it would end in a desperate tangle back on the floor, after he'd understood why I was still waiting for him in the bleak mornings after his Mark had burned. But this time, this moment in time… it's the purest love I have ever felt.
"I think... I think the school still needs you," he managed to utter gravely. "There are many children here… You're important to them. You can always marry next year."
"And what will happen to the children then?" I was worried about the children, but also half playing with him, now, a small smile hovering on my tear-puffed face as I looked at him. I wanted to hear him say I was important to him, too. And in truth… it's the first time I had thought of it. Who would take care of my children if I left? I had vaguely daydreamed of lodging them all with us in Hogsmeade, but made no practical steps for "after I left". Maybe, deep down, I already knew.
His answer threw me out of balance.
"Next year, I'll be old enough to… to do what you're doing now. To protect the children. I'll go to Dumbledore, ask him for guidance. Dumbledore will help me." He caught my eyes on him, the questions I didn't want to ask.
"I can Glamor myself," he said quietly.
That's when I knew I would never marry. For the Greater Good, you see.