Disclaimer:- I neither earn nor own any of this story, Harry Potter and his world are the intellectual property of JK Rowling and associates
A/N:- Well, here we are at the last chapter, and as I promised I did not make you wait too long. Thank you to those who reviewed, or made this a favourite. So, on with the last bit of the story…
Chapter Six – Resolution
Hermione sank to the floor exhausted. The instructions Dumbledore had given her to invoke Hogwarts into spilling its best kept secret, appeared to be working. She watched hazily as the quarters that the elves had just spent that last thirty minutes clearing, span and lurched. The magical power was of a magnitude that she would never have believed a building, even a magical one like Hogwarts, could have possessed.
Her exhausted eyes watched each shimmer as the room transformed back into the one she remembered the day she had lost Severus, and an involuntary sob left her lips at what she hadn't known that day.
Hermione sensed a flurry of activity around her as she momentarily closed her eyes, unable to keep them open any longer. Then with great effort she brought them back into focus to see Poppy working furiously, kneeling next to the black-robed heap with the rasping breathing on the floor, and then she saw a flash of red and gold as Fawkes alighted next to them.
The Gryffindor witch could see what was happening, and she knew Severus would be all right now that Fawkes was shedding his tears onto the wounds. Hermione dragged herself to her feet, she needed to leave. She wandered into the outer office and gazed momentarily on the cameo portrait. Minerva had transfigured it into a larger one and sat on the desk in her office.
She heard Dumbledore try to speak to her, but she simply waved him off, she was too tired to utter a single word. She placed the envelope she had taken time to write while the elves worked at clearing the room on Minerva's desk and walked from the office while everyone was occupied.
Walking down the drive in the same sort of breeze she had left in when she had first learned of Severus Snape's plight, she ignored everything around her and focused on the ornate gates in the distance.
Hermione Granger knew she was going to fall to pieces as soon as she stopped and she wasn't going to stop until she was somewhere private. As she walked she resolved to extend her leave and go away for a while.
Her parents owned a cottage and she had a key. She wanted to be somewhere happy at the moment, and somewhere far, far away from Hogwarts, the Ministry Of Magic, and in particular Severus Snape.
He was simply too perfect, he was even the same age as her now, and the fact that she believed he didn't want her was tearing her apart. Finally moving through the gates, she apparated away.
It was once the emergency was over, and the still unconscious Severus was safely tucked up in a private room off the infirmary that it occurred to Minerva that Hermione was missing. Eventually, when neither Hermione nor her belongings could be found, the headmistress went back to her office, and discovered the envelope addressed to her in Hermione's hand.
Please forgive me for running out on you, but I could not stay, having learned the truth I had to go. I am truly sorry, but I am unable to take the offered position as Potions professor.
As soon as she read the letter Minerva looked to Albus, and when he had no answer she summoned Harry and Ginny. This had the effect of stalling events further as Harry spent some time reuniting with Dumbledore before anything else could be done.
Finally Minerva read the note to them, looking up at them as she finished. "What does she mean, 'learned the truth', what truth?"
Harry's brow furrowed. "I'm confused, I thought she lo…" but he stopped talking when Ginny jabbed him pointedly in the ribs.
"It's all right, I know how she feels," Minerva told them kindly, "and that makes her disappearance even more bizarre."
Ginny was watching Harry rubbing his elbowed ribs with an apologetic expression on her face, but she nodded. "She has held a candle for him for a long time, and she is probably very over sensitive about the issue. Perhaps she has… misconstrued something, because she seemed perfectly happy with the state of affairs this morning."
"Yes, she did… didn't she?" Minerva agreed, thoughtfully. "Yes, it's probably a misunderstanding. I'm sure it can be sorted out in a minute."
Ginny took Harry's hand. "Come on, we'll go and find her," the redhead said, and then turned to Minerva. "Don't worry, I'm sure you're right, we'll get your Potions mistress back for you," she assured Minerva.
However, when Harry and Ginny went to Hermione's flat in search of her, she had already left.
Kingsley was the next port of call. "She owled me," he said.
"And?" Ginny asked impatiently, making Harry take her hand and squeeze it to calm her.
"And nothing," the minister replied. "She was due several weeks of leave, and I had urged her to take the extra break while she was already thinking about leave. I assumed she had decided to take my advice and do it. She's a big girl; she's allowed to disappear for a while if she wants to."
Ginny smirked and Harry grimaced. "Right you are Kings, of course that's what has happened. She's just made a quick decision to leave, I'm sure she'll get in touch with us when she's settled," Harry affirmed, stroking his wife's little finger with his discretely, in an attempt to calm her.
Hermione knew they would owl her, and it wasn't long before she saw Harry's owl winging towards the window of the cottage.
She read the note and duly answered.
Dear Harry and Ginny,
Thank you for your concern, but I am fine, although I find myself mistaken about many things at the moment. I just need some space to work through my emotions. I will return before school ends at Christmas.
Please understand that I do not want to see anyone during my time away.
Love to all
Severus woke up the day after Hermione had left. His first question was, "Where's Hermione?" when he was told she had taken leave and left, he became very agitated, although he wouldn't tell anyone why.
As soon as he could coordinate his hand to write, the raven-haired wizard was quick to send Saffie with a note to find her.
I was most dismayed to awake here at Hogwarts and find that my champion had left. I wish to opportunity to thank her, as she thanked me.
He had a feeling that he had given her the wrong impression when he pulled away from her the night before he had been rescued, but he was at a loss to know why she had disappeared so hastily. He was not going to start something with her while he was in a state of limbo; that would hardly have been fair.
The next week was taken up with becoming a living wizard once more. The ministry wanted proof of what had happened before they would recognise him once more, and they sent healers from St. Mungos to ascertain that he was who he claimed to be, and that it was all for real. Gringotts were even pickier before they would release his property to him, and there were several surprises contained within that meeting as well.
During the twenty years since the war the last of the Prince family—the family that would not recognise him—had passed on. Severus Snape now found himself the sole survivor of the bigoted pure-blood family, and this came with a manor house, twelve vaults at Gringotts and a seat on the Wizengamot.
Now whilst he hated the family and all it stood for, he was a Slytherin. Some would say, the ultimate Slytherin in consideration of what he had achieved during the war, and he was not about to turn down all that power over a petty issue like distaste. He might not like it, but he could use it.
During this time Dumbledore had been in his element. Draco had convinced Bobby to part with the old wizard's portraits and they had been reinstalled—on Harry's insistence—in their rightful places. Time heals all wounds apparently, and Harry had never thought that Dumbledore put him in danger.
It was the situation that was dangerous, and perhaps Dumbledore could have shielded him better, but they were all only human, and once you put people into the mix, unexpected things often take place.
During this week, Severus did not receive an answer from Hermione. Draco duly moved his godfather to the Manor for the remainder of his convalescence, and Severus found the fact that he was now technically the same age as Draco interesting.
He also found that now he could be himself that he was more relaxed about everything. He even found his tolerance for Harry Potter had loosened. However, it was an unexpected letter that finally gave him the direction he needed.
Severus had now been reinstated into a better wizarding society than he had left, and he had received many pieces of correspondence during his recovery, from pardons to apologies. However, what he had received this morning was the most precious piece of parchment, because it told him something he very much wanted to know about the one missing piece of the puzzle.
Dear Professor Snape,
You do not know me, but my name is Rose Weasley. I am a fifth year student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Hermione Granger is my mother. I know that you are looking for my mother, and I suspect I know why. I would like to see my mother finally happy, so I am going to tell you where I think she might be.
Please do not think too badly of her for leaving, she has not led a happy life since you 'died'. There always seemed to be something that she wasn't telling us. I think I have finally fathomed what that something is. It is you, professor, and the reason she has fled is her fear that you will reject her as well.
My grandparents own a cottage on the Shetland Islands. There is a large stone fence at the corner of the lane, and the cottage can be seen ahead from there. The enclosed Portkey will see you arrive behind the fence.
Good luck, professor. I hope I'm right.
Severus read the letter several times, and looked at the small acorn Rose had fashioned into the Portkey that had accompanied it. He placed the acorn in his pocket and went down to breakfast. "Good morning, Draco," he said.
His godson greeted him over his coffee cup, and asked after his plans for the day.
Severus pursed his lips as he poured his coffee. "I have a meeting with Minerva McGonagall first thing, and then I have an errand that I hope will take me away for some time," he replied enigmatically.
Draco's pale eyebrow rose in inquiry, but he knew from experience that this godfather would say no more, just by the way he had phrased his sentence. "Well, I wish you luck then," Draco said quietly, he had seen the Weasley owl arriving earlier, winging its way the Severus' room.
During the holidays that owl made many journeys between Scorpius and Rose, and after his floo call from his son last night, Draco knew that the teenagers had something up their sleeves, and further more that they had McGonagall on their side, as they could only have used the floo in her office. So Draco wished Severus well and left for work.
His meeting with Headmistress McGonagall had taken longer than expected and it was almost lunchtime when he found himself with the little acorn in one hand and his wand in the other. "Portius," he intoned, and felt the familiar tug from behind his navel.
Severus landed just as Rose had said he would, right behind the stone fence. Smart girl, he thought. Obviously takes after her mother, it was hard to pinpoint Portkeys with that degree of accuracy.
The neat little white cottage was easy to spot, as it was the only one on a precipice overlooking the ocean. There was a winding dirt track up to a neat white picket fence, and smoke curling from the chimney.
The day was cool and blustery, typical autumn weather, and especially here in sub-arctic conditions. As he started towards the little dwelling, he saw a lone figure tightly wrapped in a woollen overcoat leave the house behind and start up the track towards a large outcrop of rocks that housed the ruin of a round, stone lookout of some kind.
Severus watched as Hermione disappeared into the stone structure and didn't emerge from the other side. He was pleased about this, he wanted the element of surprise on his side, although he doubted that she would be totally unprepared for his arrival. She surely had wards of some kind set.
In fact he felt the tickle of her magic when he was about three metres away from the house. He ignored it and listened instead for the crack of apparition, or the sizzle of a hex coming his way. He walked with his hand on wand just in case, but there was nothing, no indication that she was aware that he was just about to surprise her.
As he closed in on the turret shaped building, Severus stopped abruptly when he heard garbled cursing, and then the clatter of wood. "Hermione?" he called.
There was silence, and then he heard her mutter. "Great, not only am I stuck, but now I'm hearing things as well."
By this time Severus was upon the rocks surrounding the fort. "Hermione, what's wrong?" he said as he slid into the turret.
Hermione hastily wiped her eyes and just stared at him with her mouth gaping. "What… where…. how?" was all she could manage.
Severus was already bending down with his wand out trying to loosen the rock that Hermione had her foot jammed against. "You left without even saying good bye." he told her, but then decided that she didn't deserve to be blamed for leaving, and he could see the expression of pain on her face. "Put your hands on my shoulders and lean on me while I get your foot out."
"I…" but she couldn't think of anything to make her desertion sound even the slightest bit feasible.
While she was looking down at her foot Severus quietly pocketed her wand which had fallen just out of her reach. There would be no hexing as far as he was concerned. "You have a habit of leaving me like that, and I aim to make this the last time," he stated, as the rock gave way and Hermione yelped in pain as she lurched forward. Severus caught her and asked, "How did you get into this position anyway?"
"I slipped, I've gone through here a hundred times…"she started to rant, and then there was a pause, before she added, "Huh?"
Severus chuckled seeing her just gaping at him again. He ignored her, "Try to put your weight on the foot," he encouraged, a smile curling his lips.
However, as soon as Hermione tried to take a step, as instructed she crumpled in pain as her foot gave way. "I'm taking you to Poppy," Severus commanded without further ado. "Hold on."
Before Hermione knew what was happening she was swept up off her feet, and Severus was turning on the spot.
They landed just outside the Hogwarts infirmary, and Hermione's surprise left her quickly. "How did you do that? Only the headmaster can Apparate within Hogwarts," she told him.
"Really? How fascinating," he said, with one raven eyebrow aloft. "But the wellbeing of my Potions mistress was at stake, what can I say," and he chuckled happily at the look on her face as he carried her into the infirmary.
Hermione finally found her tongue again. "What do you mean, your Potions mistress?" she exclaimed, incredulously.
"I mean, that as the reinstated Headmaster of Hogwarts, I am offering you the position you turned Minerva down on. Will you turn me down as well?"
Hermione looked at him seriously. "That will depend on the circumstances…" she paused and studied her hands. "Severus, why did you come looking for me?"
He placed her down on the nearest bed. "Let's get this foot sorted out and go back to the cottage, we need to have a long talk."
Both Poppy and Minerva were there and had come out of Poppy's office at the sound of voices.
Severus cleared his throat as he looked away from Hermione. "I found Professor Granger stuck," and his mouth twisted into a wry smile, "somewhere between a rock and a hard place, wasn't it?" and he actually laughed when Hermione swatted his arm.
"Severus," she huffed, but smiled.
He didn't comment further, after saying, "I think she's injured her ankle, she can't stand on it."
Poppy was on the job, and soon Hermione was being apparated back to the cottage. Even though the ankle was mended and whole again, Poppy had told her to keep off it for the rest of the day.
Severus tucked her up on the lounge by the fire, and he was currently in the kitchen making them tea and toast while Hermione sat and wondered what he wished to talk to her about. She was still cursing her clumsiness, but was very grateful that Severus had turned up. Of course, the fact that he had turned up made her wonder if she had been a little hasty in her decision to leave.
Then she questioned if he had only come to thank her and then he would be going, and the tears started once more. She had cried that much since she had left Hogwarts she was surprised that she had any tears left.
Of course it was as she started blubbering that Severus returned. His face instantly showed concern, and he quickly placed the tray on the coffee table. "What's wrong?" he said kneeling beside her without a thought.
His hands cupped her face, and his thumbs stroked her cheek bones, wiping away the tears. It was too much for Hermione, she was on an emotional roller-coaster. She had held in all this emotion and now she had lost control of it.
"I love you," she blurted. "I have loved you for twenty years," she sobbed, "and I couldn't stay at Hogwarts knowing you didn't want me." She tried to get up to leave, but Severus blocked her. "Let me go, I've made a complete fool of myself now," she pleaded.
"No, you are going to sit here and listen to me. The only reason I pulled away from you that last time you visited me," and he sighed. "Was because I wanted to do this…" and his lips captured hers.
Hermione had never been on the receiving end of such a kiss. It warmed her from the top of her head to the very tips of her toes. She melted against him and soon found Severus' tongue asking for admittance into her mouth. Her whimpered moan allowed him access and the tea and toast were forgotten.
After some time, Severus worked his lips around to her ear and his silky voice rumbled, "Do you still wish to leave?"
"No," she moaned tilting her head so he could kiss the column of her throat.
"Good," he affirmed, "because I love you too, and I want to keep you."
"Yes, I do."
"Then I think I'd like a demonstration of how you intend to treat me," Hermione replied smiling impishly.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Indeed?"
Hermione raised a corresponding one. "Indeed. Take me to the bedroom, Headmaster."
"You little minx," he replied, picking her up. "So, will my Potions mistress be expecting bedroom service often?"
"Oh yes, very often I think."
"Well, we better move your things straight into the headmaster's quarters then, hadn't we?"
"Yes, I suppose we should," she said, directing him to the correct room.
Severus placed her on the bed and climbed on, on top of her, his knees either side of her hips. "Now let's see what we have here," he chuckled, as his fingers started to undo the buttons on her blouse. "That naughty blouse you were wearing the other night," he told her as he kissed each new piece of skin uncovered, "that the buttons had popped open on was delectable," and his mouth travelled lower. "It gave me a lovely view which I wish to see as often as possible."
Hermione arched her back watching his eyes raking over her form and his thumbs ran over her still clothed nipples, and she was glad she had worn a bra with a front catch today.
It wasn't long before his deft fingers had undone the catch. Hermione considered that she had never been this turned on before. She was wantonly rubbing herself against him as he bared her top half, and she found him rubbing back as his head dropped to lick and suckle at her breasts.
Each time his tongue came into contact with her skin, it felt like wet fire tingling on her, and she very quickly found herself experiencing sensory overload. "I've never felt like this before," she moaned, pushing the material of her skirt further down her hips to give Severus more skin to adore, and then throwing her arms above her head. "No one's ever done this for me," she murmured.
"Well get used to it, because I intend to adore your body often. Weasley was a fool to take you for granted like he did."
Hermione found herself not caring how he knew that, she had never experienced anything this amazing and she couldn't even think about reciprocating. "Oh Severus," her voice rose up. "I can't think anymore," she muttered.
"Well don't, just let me pleasure you," and he did. His fingers and his mouth brought her to her first partner stimulated orgasms, before he finally disrobed and sank his throbbing cock into her still aching heat.
"Ah… feels so good," he told her, and his thrusts soon took her over the edge of bliss once more. It had been a long time for Severus—much longer than twenty years—and he didn't last very long, but he had finally claimed his witch. "You are mine, Hermione," he stated, kissing her deeply once more.
"I am yours, Severus, and I think I always was, we seem to have a bond."
"Yes, we do, and it has bound us, look," he held up his left arm, and Hermione saw the slowly disappearing golden bands encircling his hand and wrist. She held up her own and it was the same. They joined the hands and the bond fired back into life, strong and steadily pulsing.
All Hermione could say in a breathless voice was, "Wow!"
"Wow, indeed," Severus chuckled. "Are you ready for round two?"
"Oh yes," Hermione giggled, "Bring it on; I've waited a long time for this."
A/N2:- Thank you all for reading.