Disclaimer: All characters from the Harry Potter universe belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Inc., AOL/Time Warner and associated companies. No offence, legal or otherwise, is intended by the online publication of this story. Neither is profit. Make love, not lawsuits!

Notes: Let the punishment equal the crime. Snape/Harry S&M with a twist.


The Count
by switchknife


You almost never lose count.

You're proud of that.

Not at the tenth lash, not at the twentieth; not as the blood coats your back in a warm river, stagnant and rich, scented like death and heavy as rain. Your eyes mist as you try to focus on the dark splotches on the sheets beneath you. Red monsoon. You feel your lips moving, and you realize that you haven't lost count. His hand slips over your cock in reward, but only for an instant, before it returns to his whip and you're left aching again.

'Keep counting.'

His voice is cool, is calm, and it washes over you like a balm even as you keep counting, a skill learned through years of punishment, throughout your childhood and even now, years later, under his talented hands. You never say please now, never say yes please fuck me, touch me, please, because you know from experience that such talk will only earn you more lashes--more than you can count--and then he won't fuck you at all.

You deserve this, you do. Your eyes are closed now, the heavy dizziness in your head making your cock pulse. The lines of pain on your back blur into one seething mass. You deserve this. You deserve this. Sometimes you wonder if this is the only way you can get hard now, if his mouth on your cock, or his hands, would work at all if he didn't whip you first. Your threshold for pain has risen exponentially, much further than you would have thought possible, and your threshold for pleasure along with it. You don't need to glance back at him to see his face, to see his eyes glitter viciously in his luminous face, to see that mouth stretched back to bare his teeth, arm a sharp blur of movement, muscles glistening, and he's beautiful, beautiful, and you don't need to see him anymore to know what he's thinking. He knows what you've done--how many people have died because of you, one for every lash you count, because you were ungrateful, and weak; because you failed to be what everyone needed you to be. He knows that you don't deserve to kiss him, to initiate anything, to demand anything, not even the the taste of his sweat as it drips from his dark hair.

Hours pass. Minutes. You can't count them, you can't count time, because time doesn't matter--only the lashes, only the lines, the dulling fault-lines of pain that burn a banked fire across your skin. Your thighs are straining, muscles pulled tight in aching cords. Your wrists chafe even in their soft leather guards, your elbows raw on the rough, hot sheets. Your lips are still moving, but you can't hear your own count. It takes ages of this, your pulse throbbing, your voice rasping weaker, weaker... until he lowers the whip, finally, and sets it on the bed beside you. It curls against the pale cloth: a thick vein, a torn string of muscle, a blood-darkened snake. This is your reward. To see your own punishment. There is a roaring silence in your head--your breath saws in and out of you, sharp as a knife. You know you're allowed to move now. But you can't--not with your knees locked--so you turn your head--barely, carefully--to see what he's doing.

There is a look of remorse on his face. Not remorse spawned of affection, but remorse at crossing one's own lines. 'Severus,' he whispers, eyes a dark green, and you wonder if he hates himself--but no, his hand is easy as it grips his wand, as it moves in a steady arc over your back, casting the healing spell. He doesn't clean you, though, and his hands are blood-slick when they part your thighs.

'Severus,' he murmurs again, and kisses your shoulder. Your fists are white on the sheets, clenched tight, the taste of salt and pain in your mouth.

He sighs as he slides into you, a rush of warm breath against your neck.

'I love you,' he says.

You almost believe him.



* FIN *

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