SPOILER WARNINGS : Spoiler for Prisoner of Azkaban. (Ok, would you really be here if you haven't read all the HP books at least once?)

Spoiler for A Witch, a Wolf, and a Serpent. Spoiler for A Hogwart's Nytdmare if you haven't read at least up to chapter 9. Best if you've read chapter 12 first!

Disclaimer: All HP characters belong entirely to J K Rowling, Mistress of the Enchanted Quill. I have borrowed a few of them for fun, and will send them back when I am done playing with them. No infringement whatsoever is intended. (I may however, detain our good potions master a bit longer than the others.. ;)

A/N: What would be more appropriate for Halloween than a chapter devoted to the illustrious Head of Slytherin House, himself?

The Potions Master's Other Plans ~*~

Poppy Pomfrey and Forsythia Sprout were great friends and told each other everything. They were responsible for at least half of the gossip that circulated around Hogwarts, and most of it was uncannily accurate. Not much got by either of the two witches and it was this fact that Snape was relying on as he put his plan in order.

Since his conversation with Lupin in the dungeon, Snape had been trying to come up with a way to approach Lorien and broach the subject of her decision and his foolish mistake. It had been difficult not to talk to her before he knew, and agonizing now that he did, but there was no mistaking the look in her eyes whenever he happened to encounter her that said 'stay away.'

He knew that if he tried a direct approach it was likely to lead to further confrontation, and he also knew that she was hurt and angry enough that she would probably never come to him. Voluntarily, anyway. He needed a way to lure her in. It had to be something that he knew wouldn't fail. Something that would bring her no matter how angry she was at him.

But what would bring her to the dungeon?

Snape thought of the wolfsbane potion. He needed to make it soon, but he realized that she was unlikely to be there when he did this time. They both knew he never forgot, and she would not come this time to remind him. He was sure of it. So now what?

What if he didn't make the potion?

That would certainly get her attention. Snape had finally hit upon the one thing that would get a reaction out of the witch - the way she cared about the werewolf. Even though their relationship had changed, Snape knew that Lorien would go to great lengths for Remus Lupin.

In theory, according to Lupin himself, Lorien would go to even greater lengths for Snape. He wanted to believe it, wanted it to be true, but he had to know precisely how strong her feelings were before he risked exposing his own emotions. He needed to know out of his own insecurity, that she indeed still felt the same way about him, otherwise he'd never risk telling her that he still felt the same way about her.

The more he thought about it, the more he knew that this would work, and he barely even had to lift a finger. It was precisely the fact that he did nothing that would get Forsythia's attention, and then Poppy's and of course, Lorien's.

He smiled to himself as he checked the controlled components cabinet and found that he had just enough extra wolfsbane to brew the potion without going to Sprout.

That night, one week before the full moon, Snape made it a point to avoid the great hall as he'd done in the past to make sure Lorien couldn't confront him at dinner.

As the evening wore on he tried to sit quietly and read, but he could not keep his mind on the book in his hands. He glanced at the time again. It was getting later. Surely she'd be here by now. Snape stood up and dropped the book on the chair, and began pacing in front of the fireplace.

What if Sprout hadn't said anything to Pomfrey? Lorien wouldn't know. Snape continued to pace in front of the fireplace, debating what he would do next if she didn't come that night, but his thoughts were interrupted by the sharp knock at his door.

He smiled wryly to himself. He never should have doubted Sprout's penchant for gossip.

He stood there for a moment, debating about sitting and looking casually surprised or going to the door. She knocked again as he mulled it over and he could tell by the way she banged on the door she was mad.

"Enter." He tried to sound as if he were actually irritated.

He watched as she quickly stepped through the door and shut it, leaning back against it for a moment. He looked to her face and saw that she was indeed angry - as he had suspected she'd be. He fought to keep himself from smiling and stepped away from the fireplace.

He spoke to her as he folded his arms across his chest. "Mistress Lorien. Tell me, why am I not surprised to see you on this particular evening?" He knew he had to be careful how he played this.

Snape could hear the anger she tried to control as she spoke deliberately. "You know exactly why I'm here, Severus."

Indeed he did. "Why don't you remind me?" he said, nonetheless. He watched as she folded her own arms, and registered how determined she looked.

"I want you to make the wolfsbane potion for Remus," she said firmly.

Snape was amused, although his expression remained closed. If she only knew. He answered her haughtily. "Tonight? Huh! I don't think so."

Her expression changed to one of worry as she unfolded her arms and walked toward him. "But you have to. He needs it." She sounded a little desperate.

Snape wanted to tell her it was done to put her mind at ease, but continued in the same smug manner. To his own surprise, he found himself enjoying the charade immensely, and met her eyes with an unwavering stare. "Does he now?"

She looked at him with pleading eyes. "Yes. Severus, please?"

So she was willing to beg? Hmmm. He decided to see where this would lead.

"Getting a bit desperate?" Snape asked, allowing a hint of his amusement to creep into his voice. "Alright." He replied, letting his eyes travel over her obviously. "I might be...persuaded." He walked to the armchair and sat down as a look of shock crossed her face.

"Sit," he ordered her softly. He could see how angry she was, but she firmed her resolve and headed for the other chair. Snape allowed himself a small smile when she wasn't looking directly at him and then quickly neutralized his expression when she shot him a look. A wicked thought suddenly entered his mind.

Snape shook his head when she looked at him. "Not exactly what I had in mind," he said in a low, velvet voice. He glanced at his lap and back at her, wondering if she'd have the nerve to do it.

He almost lost it and laughed when he saw the way her mouth dropped open. He watched as she visibly braced herself and walked toward him. What she must be thinking of him right now!

Lorien actually did it. She sat on his lap, and Snape slid his arms around her waist, pulling her a little tighter against him. It amused him to know that in another time and setting when she wasn't so furious with him that this would be a welcome gesture, but she sat there stiffly, quite appalled. He himself was becoming quite aware of how pleasant it was to have her in the chair with him, and found himself thinking 'How badly do you want her, Severus?' as he spoke.

"Better," he said. "Now, how badly do you want this, Lorien?" he asked casually. "How badly does he need this?" He waited patiently for her response.

Her gazed dropped and she only whispered her reply. "Very badly."

Her answer was the answer to the question he had just asked himself as well.

Snape tightened his grip with one arm around her waist and let the fingers of the other hand trail along the edge of her cheek. "Really?" he said nonchalantly. "Interesting." He couldn't help but push it just a little more. This was absolutely delicious.

His fingers traced the line of the pulse in her throat and she tensed a little. "So then tell me Lorien, just how much do you want to...convince me?" His fingers now toyed with the collar of her robe, and she wouldn't meet his eyes. "Just how far are you willing to go....." He looked at her meaningfully, "to get what he so badly needs?"

He knew that she was utterly horrified by what he was quite obviously insinuating and he knew that she would likely kill him when she found out her torment was for naught. He waited for an indignant outburst from the blonde witch.

She sighed and looked at him. "I'll do whatever you wish. Just please help Remus."

Merlin's beard! She was serious. Snape was taken aback by the implications of what she'd just agreed to. He became very serious himself.

"You care about him that much?" he found himself asking her.

Her eyes met his, and there was no anger, only sadness. "Yes."

He knew now that what Lupin had said was true. If she were willing to go to that extent to protect Lupin, how must she feel about him?

"I see," he said softly. "I suppose then, that it must be a very great thing for you to care about someone even more?"

She looked shocked, and a little embarrassed. "You know?"

He nodded.

She stared at him incredulously. "So you never really meant to make me......convince you?"

"Of course not." He smiled a little.

Severus could see that she was getting angry and he pulled her gently closer. "Perhaps the time for anger had passed?" he asked, and reached for her hand.

She looked in his eyes, and as realization of how he had toyed with her set in, she actually started to smile. "You are an evil wizard, Severus Snape." She was doing her best to sound indignant.

He shrugged and smiled. "At times." He decided to clarify things for her. "I had a conversation with Lupin."

"You did?" She was obviously taken by surprise at the news.

"Yes," Snape replied. "He came here not long ago and told me about your decision."

"He did? Why?" she asked, looking like she was having trouble with the image of Lupin approaching him voluntarily.

Snape was honest with her. "He wants you to be happy, and for some unfathomable reason, he thinks you'll forgive me." He looked away a little, afraid that the werewolf might have been wrong.

"He's probably right," Lorien said softly, and he felt the touch of her fingertips against the side of his face. He marveled at how wonderful he found even that slight bit of contact from her.

He looked back at her and could see she was sincere. He found himself pulling her closer and wanting to kiss her, but then he pushed her away a little. He had to say something. He needed to apologize to her now while he had the chance.

"I truly regret my words the other day, Lorien," he said graciously. "They were not coming from a rational mind at the time."

"I know." She sounded understanding, so that was hopeful.

He hesitated awkwardly at last, not really knowing what to say, but knowing he had to say something. "I'm not good at this," he said quietly.

"At what?" she asked gently, now looking at him expectantly.

"At apologizing," he replied. "At dealing with my feelings, or anyone else's feelings," he said uncomfortably.

"You're apologizing?" she asked, apparently not willing to let him off the hook so easily. He'd already made sure that he knew just how strong her own feelings were before bringing his up, and she was going to hear him say the words.

He looked back at her and then dropped his gaze a little. "I am," he said. "I am truly sorry for how I treated you, Lorien. It's no excuse, I know, but when I thought of you with ...with him, I guess I just snapped."

"You care about me that much?" she asked, intent on tormenting him a little longer.

He swallow hard and nodded. "Yes."

She smiled at him a tiny bit. "And I suppose then, that it must be a very great thing for you to actually admit it."

"You have no idea," he said a bit stiffly, and finally looked at her again. "Do you forgive me?" He desperately hoped they could put the whole thing behind them.

"Of course," she answered, leaning into him.

Snape allowed himself to feel relieved as he rested his head back against the chair and Lorien kissed him tenderly. When he opened his eyes, she was looking at him in an odd way.

"What?" he asked.

"Just this....." she replied.

Severus suddenly felt himself being crushed back into the chair as Lorien kissed him fiercely. The feel of the lovely witch pressed up against him made the adrenaline surge in his veins, and the way she was kissing him relentlessly was making him lightheaded. His mind had begun to embrace thoughts further along this avenue when she suddenly pulled away.

Lorien stood up and looked at him fetchingly. "Now, will you make the wolfsbane potion for me?"

The potion. He had forgotten to tell her. She didn't know and he decided to torment her playfully one last time.

"Tonight?" he answered a little indignantly. "I don't think so."

The look on her face was priceless. "What? But Severus......" She couldn't believe he had said no.

He found himself standing and moving closer to her, watching her, contemplating the fact that what had existed between them for months was no longer hindered by extenuating circumstances. No misunderstandings. No arguments. No werewolf. Lorien was going to be his.

He smiled at her and put one arm around her as he gazed into her eyes. "Do you really think it's necessary for me to make it two nights in a row?"

Lorien laughed and then he could see the relief on her face. She smiled at him gratefully. "You mean you already..."

"Yes." He interrupted her a little and looked at her for a long moment. "Besides, my dear," he continued to speak as he bent and swept his free arm behind her knees, lifting her off the floor. He heard the sudden intake of breath as she gasped and then clung to him, "I have other plans for tonight."

Lorien didn't resist at all as he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. In fact she clung to him and buried her face against his neck, and he knew that he was free to pursue what he'd restrained himself from doing several times in the past.

He made it to the bedside and lowered her to her feet, kissing her passionately as they stood together. He placed a hand gently on either side of her face, and kissed her again, enjoying her nearness. It seemed unreal to him that he finally had her here, and he would have sworn it was a dream, if it weren't for the fact that he usually had nightmares. This, he realized as he ran his hands down her shoulders to her back, was as real as it got. His hands went to her robes and he started to undo them, but then he could tell she was trembling and he held her at arms length to look at her.

"You're shaking," he said gently. "Are you...afraid?"

She nodded, a little hesitantly.

He lifted her chin so that her eyes met his. "Of me?"

"Sometimes," she replied, gazing up into the intense black eyes.

"Now?" he asked, fingers holding her chin firmly in place so she couldn't look away.

"A little," she admitted, aware of the feeling of helplessness that she always felt with him this close.

He frowned slightly. "Lorien, I would never do anything you didn't wish."

She nodded as he released his grip on her chin. "I know. It's just...your intensity sometimes makes me nervous," she said.

"It shouldn't." He leaned close to her and spoke softly near her ear. "I would never, ever hurt you."

"I know," she said, moving closer to him again. He felt her lips brush against his throat and heard her whisper. "I think it's the way I feel myself react to your intensity that scares me." His heart rate jumped another notch and he felt her slipping his own robes back off his shoulders. He shrugged out of them as he kissed her longingly and felt her hands now unbuttoning his shirt.

Severus closed his eyes and was aware of nothing else but the touch of her fingers as they brushed the skin on his chest, and then the touch of her lips on the same place as she tugged his shirt open more. He could smell the soft scent of her hair as she continued, and he realized how much he wanted to lose himself in the moment, until the slightest bit of doubt entered his thoughts. This was about more than just taking her to his bed, and he opened his eyes and caught up her hand, pulling her fingers away and holding onto them firmly. "Are you sure this is what you want?" he asked, watching her carefully for any hint of hesitation.

She smiled at him. "Severus, I couldn't be more sure."

"You realize that I'm not just talking about...."

Her fingers against his lips silenced him. "I know," she said softly, "and I'm sure."

He exhaled the breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding and smiled at her. "Good. It's about damn time," he grumbled gently. His hand went to the back of her neck and he slid his fingers under her hair.

Lorien let out a tiny cry of surprise as he pulled her head back a little by the handful of hair he had hard enough to startle her but not hurt her. His mouth pressed against hers roughly and then he was moving her back toward the bed. His hands were unfastening her robes again and a moment later she was stepping out of them.

Severus broke away again to look into her eyes and then his gaze traveled downward over her as she stood before him clad only in lacy underwear. Lacy blue underwear. He couldn't help but be amused for just a second and then he moved forward again and Lorien ended up sitting on the bed.

He leaned over her and continued to kiss her as she lay back on the pillow and then he stopped and contemplated the Nemorosi witch waiting for him on his own bed as he pulled off his boots. His bed, and now, his witch. He started to shrug off the shirt she had unbuttoned, and then hesitated with it halfway on as it occurred to him what undressing in front of her meant.

Lorien saw him pause, and knew instantly that his hesitation was due to the Mark that was still black on his arm. She sat up again and tugged the left sleeve of his shirt off herself. "It makes no difference," she said softly, trying to be reassuring.

He nodded once, relieved that it wasn't going to be an issue.

Lorien decided to tease him to lighten the moment again. "Besides, I've seen it plenty in the past."

He arched an eyebrow at her.

"Hospital ward," was all she said, and he remembered that she would have seen it when she removed his bloodied robes.

Damn! Severus suddenly realized that she'd indeed undressed him and brought him his own clothes when he'd been unconscious in the medical ward. The implications of that fact hadn't occurred to him at the time.

"And do I want to ask how much else you might have seen?" he asked her as he joined her on the bed and lay propped up on his side next to her.

Lorien merely smiled and looked away, glad that it was dark enough in his bedroom that he might not be able to see her blush.

"That's what I thought," he said with amusement after seeing her reaction. He slid one arm underneath her shoulders and let the other fingers trail along her side as he resumed kissing her. He smiled as he felt her shiver, and spoke softly near her ear. "I would say you have me at a disadvantage, Mistress Lorien." and his eyes went to where his hand now slid the blue satin strap down her shoulder. "Perhaps it would be best if we evened the score a little." He leaned over and kissed the smooth skin there and then his kisses traveled downward a little. He could feel her breathing become more rapid, and the fact that she was obviously enjoying his attentions created the same response from him. She liked this. She liked being with him - had chosen to be with him, and he found the emotions that came along with that realization flooded in fast and furiously.

Severus pulled her to him tightly and kissed her hungrily as her arms went around him. Again, and again he kissed her fiercely and he was surprised and pleased to feel her respond in kind as she pulled him down against her harder.

His lips went to her throat and he whispered hoarsely as she clung tighter to him. "Lorien." He kissed her and then spoke again softly. "Do you know how long I've wanted this? How long I've wanted you?"

"I have an idea." Her voice was soft and sweet and sincere.

"Good," he replied, kissing her and undoing the small clasp on blue satin at her back. A quick movement and he slid the blue lace from between them.

Her breath caught a little and then again suddenly when his slender fingers began their gentle exploration of her newly exposed skin. She moaned softly at his touch, and leaned into his caresses. The way she moved against him quickened his own heart rate and he found himself reaching for the last lacy thing she was wearing. He didn't really want to rush this but he couldn't remember having wanted her more.

"Severus?" She spoke his name in a breathless way from where she had her head thrown back against the pillow.

"Hmmm?" He was distracted trying to finish undressing her.

"Severus, stop." She sounded serious.

His glanced at her absently for a second. "What is it, love?" He was still a little preoccupied.

"I can't do this," she said quietly, looking at him steadily.

His head snapped back up. "What?" She had his attention now.

"I want you to stop," she said firmly. "Please?"

He tried to say something and failed. She was stopping him? Now? He looked at the lovely, nearly naked witch beneath him and struggled to bring himself back under control. He swallowed hard. Of course if she didn't wish it he would never...but did she have to wait this long to stop him? It was torture.

Lorien giggled.

He looked at her incredulously. She was laughing? Now of all times? Suddenly his eyes narrowed with realization. "You're joking, right?" he snarled softly.

She nodded, still smiling.

"Oh, THANK MERLIN," he said with exaggerated relief, hanging his head for a moment.

She smiled as she spoke again. "Paybacks are a bitch, aren't they Severus?" she said sweetly, pleased with herself for scaring him after the way he had tormented her earlier.

He looked back at her slyly and with a sharp yank tore the blue lace underwear away as she gasped.

He leaned over her and kissed her deeply. "Speaking of a bitch....." he said upon releasing her.

"That's not very nice," she pouted, turning away a little.

He turned her face back towards him very gently, "I never said I was nice," he said in a silky voice, the hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

"No. I suppose you didn't," she said quietly, and she wrapped her arms around him tighter.

He pulled her harder against himself again and the ebony eyes looked into hers. "Believe me, Lorien, you'll be very glad of it later," he purred, "I promise you."

Severus saw to it that he kept his promise to her.

*author winks* Happy Halloween!