First Kiss

by Bernice

Notes: This story was written for the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest, Pairing: Snape and Dementor
Response to Third Wave Scenario Number 1: Snape discourages his suitor.  Thank you to Calemiri, dphearson, Telanu and Tboy for beta reading.

He knows there's no point in trying to summon a Patronus.

It's not just strength of magic that's required, or strength of will, or even just a happy memory, but a belief in the happiness of your particular memory. Every time he tries to drag up a happy memory, there's no conviction behind it. Getting his acceptance letter to Hogwarts is tainted by the knowledge that every summer he'd had to return home. Getting high scores on exams is marred by knowing no one but he cared. The elation at being accepted by the purebloods is soured by the realisation that this was only for his ability to bring death. The relief at Dumbledore's forgiveness is befouled by the shame of the sins that needed forgiving.

The air temperature drops as they move closer, trapping him in their midst. They circle him like the Death Eaters circle the Dark Lord, but they leave no gaps where their prey could escape. He waits for the terrible feelings that usually accompany their presence, the feeling of all joy being sucked from his soul, but there has been no joy for so long, he can barely tell the difference.

He watches the Dementors close in, but cannot summon a happy memory. Even if he had his wand, he'd know better than to waste it on trying to cast the spell. He's always failed. For his NEWTS, when required to produce one, he made his examiner laugh uproariously by producing an explosion so large it blew out the walls of the exam room, and quipping that 'Nothing could survive that!', and walking away with full marks, covering his inadequacy.

He finds he cannot even summon fear. He tries. He looks at them and mouths the platitudes to himself, stories of how their Kiss is worse than death. Nobody deserves to have their soul sucked out, he knows that, intellectually, but only because he's heard Dumbledore say it numerous times. He tries not to believe, deep down inside, that many people really do deserve it. He tried for a long time to believe that he didn't deserve it himself, but he can't accept what he knows to be false. Too many people want him to know the truth. Too many people believe Snape deserves this Kiss. Right now he can hear their voices. He remembers all the times they muttered behind his back how he deserved to be with the Dementors. How he deserved to have his soul sucked out, it was black and foul anyway, no one would miss him.

This would be his only kiss. His first kiss. His first kiss and it would be from someone who truly wanted to kiss him.

He had imagined, as a young man, back when the heat of desire flowed through him, that a first kiss would be wet, or fun, or loving, or exciting, or even that if he were fast, he could kiss someone and run away before they caught him, make a joke of it, leave them screwing up their faces in disgust. But he never dared. Now the Dementor comes towards him, slowly and surely, and it reeks of desire. It's hungry, and needy. It needs him. It needs what Snape can give it. He has pushed down his desire over the years, crushed his needs; he'd known he had nothing to offer a lover.

But he thinks now of all he's never known. He's never known joy, never allowed it. Never known love, never dared, knew he'd be rejected. He accepted his cowardice long ago.

But this monster comes towards him, arms outstretched. Like Heathcliff on the moors. Like a mother rushing to embrace a beloved child. Like a lover. It sucks air in its hunger. Snape wonders how long since it last fed. How long has it been since this creature has taken a soul? Probably a human life time. It would have taken dreams, feeding like a vampire on the prisoners in Azkaban. It would have taken ambitions. It would have taken sweet memories, vast hopes, tiny desires. It would have fed on brief moments of happiness, and soaring heights of ecstasy. It would have taken love. It would have stolen everything true and good and decent from its victims, leaving them with nothing but their bitter dregs of misery, hopelessness, failure, despair, and pain. Snape wonders if those had been good meals, if they had been fulfilling, or if only a human being's entire soul was truly satisfying.

He wonders if it still has the taste of its last meal on its lips. He wonders if he will taste a man or a woman on its lips, if its last victim will be a sweet source of joy, or a sour passing of criminal destruction. He wonders if there are souls inside of it still. He has, on occasion, contemplated what happens to the souls of Dementors' victims. Were they chewed up, digested, excreted somehow, passed on into the world? All those memories and experiences... Do they just vanish? Or do they live on somehow? Wasn't a soul supposed to be immortal? He doesn't know, but he knows he will soon find out. He wonders if, by this time tomorrow, he'll be nothing more than wisps of air, discarded by the Dementor, or if he will find a true form of immortality. The Death Eater's true goal, so Voldemort once said, was to live forever. Take the lives of Muggles as a sacrifice on the altar of immortality. Perhaps this way, Snape will be the one to find eternal life after all. In the body of a Dementor. Perhaps the other souls inside scream and cry out, Dante's inferno burning eternal inside the creature. Perhaps he will be reunited with his old cohort, Barty Crouch. Perhaps Snape will be bathed in the happiness of the trapped souls; he could experience all their joys, their triumphs, their beliefs, their inherent goodness, all the things he lacks in himself.

He can summon no fear as the cold, scabbed hands caress his shoulders, as the foul sucking mouth approaches his own, and he makes no attempt to push it away. It's so chill now his breath is hot steam in the air between them. He shivers and thinks that lovers shiver like this, in nervous anticipation, flesh crawling with goose bumps. The Dementor's arms close around his shoulders, gentle and soft, a lover's caress. It doesn't force him, it knows he is willing. He sighs and leans closer, letting his mouth go slack, making sure his lips are soft and dry. If it is to be his first kiss, he wants it to be a good kiss.

The Dementor shakes, excited, and hugs him close; it reeks of decomposition. It makes no attempt to hurt him, its hands caress his back, and thread through his hair, tilting his head slightly so that their mouths can mesh comfortably. Snape can hear a sound, like distant wind through pipes, and realises the Dementor is whimpering in its anticipation. He wonders if it's male or female; there is no way to tell, he doesn't even know if it matters. How do they reproduce? Perhaps it's the souls, perhaps those souls consumed in terror are reborn to a new life. Perhaps he will be reborn as a Dementor, and prey on the happiness of others for all eternity. He can almost look forward to that.

He groans into its mouth as their lips touch. Its breath is foul, like rotten meat a month in the sun. Something moves against his tongue. It doesn't feel like the moist, soft touch of a lover's tongue, as he has often imagined a lover's tongue should feel when he's kissed his own hand, pathetic, alone at night, desperate for touch. It feels like maggots. It feels like maggots writhing on rotten meat, and he groans again, swallowing the foul, decomposing juices the Dementor spills into his mouth from its grasping, gasping maw.

He closes his eyes and leans into his lover's embrace, holding the creature close, wanting it to go faster. He wants this completion now, wants an end to pain. After the Dementor's Kiss there will be no more shame, no more humiliation, no more failure. There will be no more Voldemort and no more Dumbledore. He will be praised as a hero, a martyr, and they will cry for him. Crocodile tears, maybe, or perhaps true pity. He wonders what will be said for his eulogy, and he knows Dumbledore will deliver it.

It feels, for a moment, as if the air is rushing past them, the wind picking up, but then he realises it's the blood in his own ears, the feeling of leaving his body. There is no feeling of dying, no pain, nothing to fear here at all. He smiles into the Kiss, feeling the disassociation of his soul being ripped from his body, and tries to clasp the Dementor even closer, tries to hurry it along. Soon it will be over, an end to a lifetime of misery and pain and betrayal and anger. Snape's anger has been his life force, but soon it will be no more. He'll be nothing more than a black, greasy living corpse, free of any responsibility or duty. He moans, deep in his throat, as he feels all of his anger being sucked away, and the world turning grey.

It's getting harder to see, all the colours going, leaving him only his own black and white and the Dementor's dull grey. The sky and the ground look like they are being seen from inside a giant cauldron, dark, metallic, warped out of shape, and for a moment he sees his own face. He sees his dark eyes, half shut, his long nose, his sallow skin, his mouth forced wide, and realises he is seeing himself through the Dementor's eyes. For a brief moment he is free... Then it's over, and he's back in his own unwanted skin.

The Dementor pushes him away, throwing him to the ground. The grass is wet and soft under his skin as he lies looking up at the Dementor. It wipes its hand across its mouth, and even though it lacks the ability to sneer, Snape doesn't doubt its disgust.

The other Dementors all stand in their circle still, calm and unmoving, as his lover throws back its cowl and howls in anger and disappointment at the sky, furious, shaking its head. Bits of decomposed flesh fly off, a piece landing on Snape's hand. He clutches it, squeezing tightly. The sounds of howling wind die down, nothing more than a Dementor's shriek of frustration, and slowly the colours return. The grass becomes a vivid emerald green again, the sky a sheer, violent, unrealistically perfect blue.

Snape lies on the grass, cold, feeling himself seeping back into veins and bone, feeling his anger, his shame, his humiliation, his disappointment, his dull, aching, frustrated ambitions all return. He digs his fingers into the ground and swallows the rotten saliva in his mouth.

Not enough happy memories to create a Patronus. No nice thoughts, no lightness of spirit. No sweetness in his soul. Too bitter, too vile, too sour for a Dementor. Not enough happiness in his soul to feed the creature, his only kiss a failure.