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Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

--T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

Ginny appears in his doorway, lingering on the threshold as if the air of his bedroom has condensed into a stale barrier, and the dim-burnt light from the hallway behind her outlines the curve of her hips under the frayed lace nightgown.

"I couldn't sleep."

Her fingers curl around the doorframe and he lays down his quill, muscles cramping with the unexpected cessation of work. His report on the proper amount of tension to be applied on dragon heartstrings during wandmaking was nearly complete, anyway. She waits while he twists the kinks out of his back.

"I. May I come in."

Oddly formal, that. Her dark eyes are shadowed and he realizes he hasn't nodded his assent. She hesitates, and his knotted fingers slowly uncurl, which she takes for permission. She steps over the threshold.

"I didn't mean to bother you. It's just. The storm. I'll leave if you want me – "

"It's all right."

She smiles, suddenly, shuts the door and crosses to his desk. She leans against it and glances at the sheaf of papers stacked in neat piles, each covered with his sharp, densely packed handwriting.

"You work too hard."

He opens his mouth to tell her that someone needs to, someone needs to be responsible, someone needs to regulate such things, or. The window frame groans in harmony with the thunder outside, and he settles for a weary smile. A loose thread hangs from the seam of her nightgown, and he resists the urge to snip it off.

"Can I lie down with you?"

The tips of his ears get hot. Refusing to examine this too closely, he stands up, muscles protesting, and offers her his hand. Her palm is small and cool against his, and she clutches his fingers as a crash of lightning illuminates her sharp collarbone and the curve of her cheek. She tugs him to the bed and lets go of his hand as she turns down the duvet. She glances back at him over her shoulder.

"You're still dressed."

Damp unease coils in the pit of his stomach, and he forces his fingers not to scrabble as he unfastens his robe and strips to his t-shirt and boxers. The collar of her nightgown has shifted and he can make out the slight swell of her small breasts. He flicks off the bedside lamp. She settles into the bed and scoots over to give him room, and the corners of her mouth quirk up as he edges under the covers, his elbows and knees bony and awkward. Her body heat fills the space between them, and he can feel its tendrils curling around his ribs and.

He glances at her. She is watching him, her expression unreadable until another crash of lightning makes her flinch. Her toes brush his calf, and he fights not to tense at the contact. The darkness is almost tangible and like a knife through quicksand her hand reaches up to brush his face.

"Glasses. You've still got them on."

He lets her remove them and doesn't think about her fingertips ghosting along his cheekbone. He does think about her shoulder and hipbone and especially her breast pressed against his forearm as she leans over him to deposit his glasses on the bedside table. She rolls back and shadows settle between their bodies again. He wills away the clutching at the back of his throat and closes his eyes as the night frays around the edges of his vision.


The darkness has seeped into her eyes and he wonders idly why they seem to glint when there is no light for them to reflect. But then her hand closes over his wrist and she pulls his arm beneath her as she curves around him, laying her head in the crook of his shoulder, and his pulse beats in his ears when she slides her leg over his thighs. The air is suddenly viscous and it takes the infinite space between heartbeats for his mind to process that he can breathe through her scent of talc and meadowsweet. It takes several breaths for him to realize that he has one hand buried in her roughened hair and the other is smoothing the crumpled nightgown over her spine. Afraid of crushing her, he eases his grip to let the shadows seep between, but she only nestles closer. Her nightgown has ridden up around her hips, and he can almost feel the damp heat from.

"Ginny. I. Maybe. This is not – "


He thinks about cramped letters on a diary page and his hand stills, hovering over the base of her spine. His genitals feel full and heavy. She lifts her head to meet his eyes, and now her mouth glistens as well. Her breath is warm on his lips. His wrist is starting to tense from the effort of not touching her.


The air shimmers for an instant, and then his mouth is on hers and she pulls his tongue between her lips and arches into his hands. The darkness collapses between them, squeezed out by the pressure of skin against skin and when he buries himself inside her, lightning irradiates the room and a stray draught of wind scatters his papers to the floor.