And now we come to the end. I hope you enjoy the story, and enjoy the Author's Notes at the end, which explain a lot of things, including some of the actual correspondence between stgulik and me as we hammered out parts of the story. This was a wonderful journey for me. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

As I stated at the beginning, I do not own these characters. Hell, even the original idea wasn't mine, but I want to thank Subversa, who told me that this was the fourth year she'd asked for this prompt, and I was the first to take her up on it. A true privilege, indeed.

Thanks to stgulik for never giving up, and DMuse for allowing me to take his dictation.

And a special thank you to stgulik, who sent me into hysterics when she said that the phrase I used in an earlier chapter should be the tagline on Severus' business cards: Severus Snape: I Wouldn't Get Too Comfortable.

Thank you, Jules, for everything.

The game is my wife. It demands loyalty and responsibility, and it gives me back fulfilment and peace. Michael Jordan

The weak January sun shone through the mullioned windows of the East Wing, casting hundreds of shadows. The area was absolutely heaving with witches and wizards. Standing at the entrance, passing out commemorative programs, were twenty very proud and excited students - five from each House, each chosen for their scholastic excellence.

As a reward for their performance during the first semester, they were the first to tour the brand-spanking new Hogwarts Wizarding War Museum; in turn, they were acting as stewards and ushers to the multitude of dignitaries, luminaries, press and politicians assembled to witness the grand opening of this first exhibit of its kind in Wizarding Britain.

The Headmaster of Hogwarts watched the swelling crowd from the periphery of the assembly area. He had signed off on the final work three days ago, and was now inspecting the final handiwork of the contractors; the large murals over the door of the Museum, depicting the final battle of Hogwarts. Across the huge frame of the door hung a plaque with the words, "Animus, Sapientia, Dolosus, Fidelitas, Diligo - Nunquam Alieno."

The phrase – 'Bravery, wisdom, cunning, loyalty, love - Never forget', was chosen by the students, reflecting the character traits of their respective Houses. The word Love was suggested by Severus himself – the word that encompassed everything about that final victory, and those who had given their lives for the cause of the Light.

Severus gave the long, twisted scar at his throat a rueful scratch. While he no longer thought of it as a horrible disfigurement, he also no longer thought of it as a badge of honour. It was what it was – a war wound. Worse than some, but it beat the shite out of the alternative.

Severus thought of his poor, lost Lily. He had let her go in his heart long ago, but he knew he would always be grateful to her. She and Hermione stood as the bookends to his life. Lily had taught him how to grieve for a lost friendship; Hermione had taught him how to rejoice in finding love. He still sometimes marveled how much his little witch loved him. He looked at the thin, perfect silvery bracelet that snugly adorned his left wrist. He had requested they each wear one of the bracelets, a reminder of this new aspect of their marriage. It had surprised him how much it pleased him to wear it. Already he was planning their next trip to the cave.

He looked around this world he'd helped to shape. Several students passed by and acknowledged him with respect and affection. He saw Hermione chatting with Potter and Weasley as only old friends who have literally been through the wars can do. If he squinted his eyes he could see the eleven year-olds they were when he first met them; too young, brash, green as gillyweed and more trouble than they were worth.

He could still picture Hermione and her untamable hair, her tough love approach to keeping her 'boys' out of trouble with passable grades, and her steely, naïve determination to prove herself and be the best at everything. Looking at her now, he remembered those days without guilt. He wanted to kiss each vicious little corkscrew curl on her head and whisk her off to the dungeons. They had some serious detention fantasy time to make up as well.

As he watched them laughing and talking, he felt his old self make a feeble attempt to rear its ugly head. For a moment, in his mind, he was Snivellus again - the mill trash, dirt poor boy with a chip on his shoulder visible to the naked eye, always on the outside looking in. Before the feeling could dig deep enough to snag on the last vestiges of his insecurities, Severus pushed it aside. He knew he no longer had a need for it.

Hermione caught his eye and gave him a private smile he felt all the way down to his boots. The two men flanking her looked up at Severus with friendly smiles and waved him over. From where he stood he could hear the sounds of their laughter and good natured jokes, and found he was not the least bit tempted to involuntarily suspect the laughter was at his expense. He was, after all, a frequent guest at both their houses, and their first-Thursday-every-month poker night with Draco and Lucius was sacrosanct.

He composed his face, approached the Golden Trio, and prepared for the lovefest.

An hour later he stood on the dais in front of the great doors to the Museum and held up a hand for silence. In spite of the number of people present, the hush was immediate and everyone leaned forward to hear Headmaster Snape's speech. Looking out on the group, Severus realized he'd taught more or less everyone present, and those he hadn't taught had taught him. With a final glance at his wife, Severus began, his beautiful, beguiling voice commanding the very shadows of the room.

"My dear friends, dignitaries, honoured guests, and students. Thank you for coming today to join us in commemorating one of the most seminal moments in our shared history. This Installation has been the result of many hours of hard work and planning, but sadly, it is nothing more than a gallery of oddities, trinkets and pretty pictures – if the story they tell is allowed to be forgotten. Here at Hogwarts, we pledge to you, Wizarding Britain, to never allow our students to forget the reason this museum is here.

"There were many lost boys who found their way into these hallowed halls. Tom Riddle was one of them. So was Harry Potter, and, if I may say so without sounding immodest, I include myself as well. Hogwarts nurtured us, but it could not protect us from the darkness, and the more insidious clutches of destiny.

"We were denied the loving homes that would have saved us from the lure of evil. Evil found us during our formative years, just as we were looking for answers even this school could not provide. Many children orphaned in the war are already attending Hogwarts this year; we need you to help us guide them for their future happiness, that they may be armed against the temptations that befall them.

"For some, it might be the promise of power; for some, a belief that purity is an aspiration that should be protected against something that ceased to be a threat to our world centuries ago – the acceptance of Muggleborn wizards and witches as viable members of our society."

Severus looked out at the audience with flashing eyes. "It all comes down to fear, my friends. Fear made me a Death Eater; fear made Tom Riddle into Lord Voldemort -" he paused and rolled his eyes as some witches and wizards still winced at the name. "Fear makes you cringe at the name of a Dark Wizard who has been dead for ten years! We can no longer afford to allow our fear to create a door for another Voldemort to waltz through and once more seduce our children with lies!"

The applause was deafening. It vaulted to the ceiling, and Severus held up his hand for quiet. When the room was still, Severus began again, his low voice rolling over their ears like a symphony. It was quiet and darkly beautiful, gently passionate and rich. "This is my home. I am proud of it. I am honoured to steer it into the next millennium, but we alone cannot prevent another Dark Wizard from tainting the minds of our youth. That will start with you, the parents, the community and the world at large. Hogwarts cannot save us; it can only strive to mold and shape us if it is allowed to do so."

With a nod to Harry and his extended family, he said, "Mr. Potter and I did not join this fight together, but we ended it together." Severus turned to his wife, whose eyes glistened with tears. He felt his own emotions rising to the surface. "Purebloods, Muggleborns, Hufflepuffs, Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Slytherins, I beg of you, remember that we are not so different. We all want the same thing: for our future generations to grow up in a Wizarding world free of prejudice, misinformation and mistrust, so that another Tom Riddle will never gain a foothold in the minds and hearts of our future.

"And when you bring your children here, remind them that the light and the darkness must always co-exist; one cannot live without the other. It is up to them as to which one will rule." Severus' voice trembled with emotion. "For myself, I will always choose the light, and it will be my greatest honour to be the torchbearer who brings that light to the students of Hogwarts. Thank you."

Severus stepped down from the dais to thunderous applause, and walked over to the large multicoloured ribbon that stretched across the door of the Museum. "Mr. Orchid," Severus called, his voice ringing through the crowd.

The little wizard, who had personally overseen the Installation from start to finish, scurried forward. "Yes, Headmaster Snape?"

Severus's mouth twitched. "I was hoping that you, as our Museum's newly named Curator, would do me the honour of cutting the ribbon – seeing as none of this would be here without your hard work and dedication."

Orchid looked as if he was preparing to faint, scream, cry, or do all at once. "The honour would be all mine, Headmaster!" he squeaked, puffing out his chest until Severus could see the buttons of his waistcoat straining to hold their master in check.

"Then, on my mark, sir," Severus replied, and turned back to the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, witches and wizards, I declare this Museum of the Battle of Hogwarts to be open!" Orchid sliced neatly through the ribbon with his wand, and a collective cheer rang through the halls as the doors swung open for the first time to the general public.

In the midst of the general melee, Severus looked over the heads of the crowd until he found his lovely wife. She was crying openly, clapping as though her life depended on it. He made his way to her side and accepted her embrace, returning one of his own. She laughed as he produced a handkerchief. "I'm sorry, love, but I was so proud of you I could hardly breathe." She looked up at him with eyes brimming with love. "That was beautiful."

He nodded to her tribute, warmed by her words. "At least it's done. Perhaps now I can get back to the task of running this school."

"Well, that will have to wait, Headmaster," she retorted, nodding at the throng of people lining up to speak to him. "Your public awaits."

He looked back at the sea of faces looking at him expectantly. He turned to his wife, and gripped her elbow. "You are going nowhere, Madam Snape. I insist you remain here in case the hexes start flying."

"What hexes?" She smiled, waving across the room to Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. "You're a hero, remember?" To Hermione's surprise, Severus reached for her hand, and tucked it into the crook of his arm.

His liquid, dark eyes looked into hers imploringly, and he poured every ounce of honey-sweet seduction into his voice. "Then stay by my side if for no other reason than you love me, and I would be lost without you."

Hermione looked up at his austere, angular face and grinned. The old silver-tongued devil could sell ice to Eskimos. She squeezed his arm reassuringly. "You just try and get rid of me, Severus Snape."

After the obligatory rounds of well-wishers had shaken their hands and asked questions, Severus and Hermione finally took the opportunity to view the entire Installation. There were moments that made her smile wistfully, such as a tableau depicting Remus Lupin demonstrating the taming of a boggart, and a life-size figure of Luna casting a Patronus in the Dumbledore's Army display. There was Professor McGonagall, trying to teach the Gryffindors how to dance before the Yule Ball, and Professor Slughorn's magical hourglass, critiquing the passing hours.

Hagrid had a section dedicated to him, not only as Keeper of Keys and Grounds, and their Care of Magical Creatures Professor, but as one of those who attempted to bring the giants into the alliance. Hagrid stood by the display, proudly signing autographs and having his photo taken with friends old and new.

There was a photo of Hermione, Ron and Harry taken at the beginning of their third year by the late Colin Creevey, whose photos had provided a bounty of visual backdrop for the entire installation. There was a separate alcove dedicated solely to Colin and his photographic history of Hogwarts during the turbulent years before and after Riddle's resurrection.

The original Order of the Phoenix was featured in a separate display, side by side with photos of the new Order. There were pictures and biographies of the Longbottoms, the Potters, Sirius and Regulus Black. Dumbledore had his own tableau, complete with portrait; it gave Hermione a grim satisfaction that his display was rather indifferently attended. And, of course, the huge wing dedicated to Harry. Flanked on either side were smaller displays dedicated to her and Ron, which pleased and embarrassed Hermione in turns.

"God, why didn't anyone tell me my hair was such a fright?" she queried, as they walked past a life-sized photo of her in the D.A. casting her otter Patronus.

"We all thought you knew, pet," Severus intoned, nodding sagely. He was rewarded with a playful swat on his bicep. He scowled at his wife, but his eyes were kind. Suddenly he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it quickly. "As if I would have you any other way." He tucked her hand in his arm as they continued through the installation.

Hermione's eyes filled with tears as she passed the photo tribute to all of the casualties of the war. Their birth and death dates were painfully close together: Moody, Tonks, Remus, Vincent Crabbe, Cedric Diggory, Colin, Chastity Burbage, Fred Weasley.

Hermione saw George Weasley and his wife standing by the exhibit featuring the entire Weasley Family. He was proudly showing his son the photo of himself and Fred in Quidditch gear, beater bats in hand, saluting one another as they eternally flew over the Hogwarts pitch.

"Professor, good to see you!" George beamed, shaking Severus' hand. He turned to the lovely woman by his side. "You remember my wife, Angelina."

Severus bowed. "Of course, Mrs. Weasley. Née Johnson, I believe." He gave a nod at the photo. "I seem to recall you were a formidable chaser as well."

Angelina, a beautiful woman Hermione remembered as being a few years ahead of her in class, smiled at her former professor. "I'm very flattered you remembered me, sir. This," she said, taking the hand of a little girl with Angelina's eyes, "is our daughter, Roxanne."

Roxanne, a lovely child, stared up at Severus as if beholding Zeus. Severus bowed gravely, and said in a warmer version of his impressive voice, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Weasley. I look forward to seeing you at Hogwarts soon." He looked up at George. "I understand her older brother Fred will be joining us next year."

George looked back at the photo of himself and his twin. Hermione's heart ached. George had never really been the same after losing Fred. "Next year, yes, sir." He turned and smiled at Severus. "I will warn you, sir, he's already living up to his namesake in terms of mischief."

"Is he ever!" Angelina laughed with her husband. "Like two peas in a pod, these two," she said, fondly, and George's smile faded a little. He looked at Severus thoughtfully.

"I'm glad you're here to teach them, sir." He looked back at his brother, laughing triumphantly as he volleyed the Bludger back to his unseen opponent. George's voice was thick with emotion. "I don't want anyone to forget."

Severus felt his eyes fill suddenly. He placed a hand on George's arm. His own voice was slightly unsteady. "They will not be forgotten, Mr. Weasley. I will promise you that."

Severus was about to leave when he felt a little tug on the bottom of his robe. Young Roxanne was looking up at him expectantly, pulling on his robe to gain his attention. He looked down at her from his stunning height. "Yes, Miss Weasley?"

When she finally got up the courage to speak, it was so soft that Severus could not hear. Raising an eyebrow to Roxanne's parents, Severus knelt gracefully down. "Now, you must speak up, Miss Weasley. When you come to school, you will be expected to make yourself heard."

Shyly, she nodded. He said, mildly, "Now, what is it you wish to tell me?"

She took a deep breath, and leaned over, cupping her hand to his ear. His mouth twitched as her silvery little voice whispered her secret. When she had finished, Severus nodded sagely, and to Hermione's bemusement, Severus turned and whispered something back to the little girl in the same fashion. Her eyes lit up with delight, and as Severus rose to his feet, she looked up at him and giggled, "I won't, I promise."

Severus was solemn, but his expression fooled no one, least of all the child. "See that you don't, Miss Weasley." With a nod, Severus took Hermione's hand and they continued their promenade throughout the installation.

Hermione looked up at her husband, nodding here and there to friends and dignitaries. Severus silently counted to eight before she said, "Alright, you know I can't stand the suspense. What did your little friend tell you that was so secretive?"

Severus smirked. "She merely informed me that 'Daddy says you are very scary, but I think you are very nice.'"

Hermione grinned. "Did she now? Oh, dear. I have competition, it seems. And how did you answer?"

Severus flicked a minute speck of dust from his sleeve. "I told her that she was correct, that I was an extremely nice person, but that I would prefer she keep that a secret between the two of us, because I didn't want to make my harridan of a wife jealous and ruin my reputation as a greasy git."

Hermione grinned. "Heaven forbid."

He awarded her knuckles with another swift kiss and a flash of a smile. "Indeed, Miss Granger."

'Severus Snape: The Reluctant Hero' display was by far the most popular display in the installation, and it was some time before they could actually get to it. It was truly impressive, from the imposing Death Eater robes and mask standing sentinel in one corner, holding a replica of the Sword of Gryffindor, to the photo of his reinstatement as Hogwarts' Headmaster, and receiving his Order of Merlin. There were several animated Wizarding photos, including a breathtaking shot of him, broom in hand, swaggering onto the Quidditch pitch to referee a match. Hermione vowed to request a copy of that one. He was sex on legs in that photo.

Several shots were taken of him in DADA class, demonstrating blocking, and one very unexpected photo of him in Potions class, glowering over the cauldron of a very young Hermione Granger. Neither of them could remember the photo being taken and had no idea who had taken it. "It must have been Colin," Hermione sighed, wistfully. "Poor, dear Colin."

"You were so young," Severus mused. He sighed wistfully. "I feel like a dirty old man, after seeing that."

"A man, most definitely. Dirty, indubitably, but old?" Hermione shook her head, grinning mischievously. "I don't buy that." She blushed. "Not after that performance last night."

"Performance? Do you mean you went to a show and didn't invite us? I'm hurt," the voice of Lucius Malfoy drifted over her shoulder, and Hermione turned and kissed the cheeks of her friends. "So, what was the name of this performance that had Hermione so entertained?"

"Don Juan," Severus replied, dryly, and Hermione blushed. Lucius and Severus raised matching eyebrows, and Hermione laughed.

"Congratulations, Severus," Narcissa beamed. "The museum is marvelous." She turned to Hermione. "You must be so proud."

"I am, Narcissa, thank you." Hermione returned the smile with a warm smile of her own. She looked at her friends, and waved as Draco and Astoria entered the room. Turning back to Lucius and Narcissa, Hermione added, "I think we all have a lot to be proud of."

"Yes, well," Lucius purred lasciviously, "We can't all have our own little corner of the Museum." He tried to sound petulant.

Watching him, Hermione laughed shortly. "You can stop twirling your moustache, Lucius." She looked at him carefully. "You know, I can't help but think you're a bit relieved not to have to chronicle those last days before the end."

Lucius shrugged elegantly, then raised his chin imperceptibly. "Well, as you know, we weren't exactly playing Happy Families at Malfoy Manor in those dark days." He looked at Hermione carefully, and something in him changed. They were all thinking of that horrible day Bellatrix tortured Hermione in their home, while they had to helplessly stand by and watch.

Lucius looked from Severus back to Hermione, and the old insouciant mask dropped. Quietly, he said, "Hermione, if I could have stopped her without –"

Narcissa, distressed by her husband's anguish, quietly pleaded, "Lucius– "

Hermione interrupted soothingly, "No. Not necessary, Lucius. It was a long time ago." She smiled sadly at the blond couple. "Severus is right; we should remember the past, but look to the future. We have a very special friendship now – that's all I need. That," she added, smiling, "and an anti-cheating spell on all our games. You really are the worst cheater in history."

Lucius' mouth twitched, and he looked at Severus, then his wife. "I – I do not cheat," he declared, the picture of Pureblood indignation. His pale face relaxed, and he added with a wink, "I merely look for ways to escape the dreariness of fair play."

The Hogwarts dungeons were quiet when school was not in session. Most of the faculty had followed the Installation Party down to Hogsmeade, where the Three Broomsticks was playing host to a huge crowd of well-wishers, gate-crashers and the general motley crew of party-goers who love to celebrate, if for no other reason than an excuse to raise a glass.

The Headmaster and his wife were conspicuous by their absence. The dungeons were quiet but for a diminutive figure striding toward the Potions master's classroom. There was only the briefest of hesitations, then she knocked upon the door.

"Enter," came the terse reply.

The door opened and the young Gryffindor walked into the room. Upon seeing the dour Potions master at his desk, she swallowed hard. He was a dark sorcerer in black, his teaching robes draped gracefully over his frock coat and trousers. His high collar gave him a courtly air, and his hair curtained over his face, so that his students could never quite tell if he was looking directly at them or not.

For a moment longer, he ignored her, concentrating on an essay before him. Marking the last red 'X' on the parchment, he sat it aside and clasped his hands together. "Miss Granger, what is the meaning of your conduct earlier today?"

She ducked her head shyly. "Well, sir, I – "

Her professor stood and moved toward her in that unnerving quickness that always startled her. "You made some very inappropriate remarks concerning me, your professor, in front of several witnesses, did you not?"

She blushed and stammered, "No - well, yes, but I –"

She jumped as slammed his hand down on his desk. "Answer me, girl! What did you say to your little friends today?"

She bowed her head contritely. "I said that I thought you might be happier if you …" she swallowed. "If you got – if you had – "

"I believe your exact quote was, 'I've never known such a tightarse – Merlin, he needs to get laid worse than I do.'" He leaned forward and drawled, "Is this what you said, or have I misquoted you, Miss Granger?"

Hermione blushed. Slowly, she nodded. "Yes, sir. I said it. It was very inappropriate and unkind, and I said it out of anger, and I'm sorry." Her words came out in a rush, making her look even more childishly flustered against his seething, cold anger.

Before she could react, he was standing over her, a black raven, preparing to strike. His voice was deadly quiet. "That is correct, Miss Granger. It was both inappropriate and unkind. And impossibly inaccurate." She shot him a look of surprise, but before she could reply, he continued frostily, "You leave me no choice but to punish you." His silken threat made her shiver. "Severely, Miss Granger."

Suddenly he pointed to a small cauldron sitting on his desk. "Your detention will be served scrubbing cauldrons, Miss Granger. Starting with this one." He smiled maliciously. "Without magic."

She stared at him in such shock it was all he could do not to burst out laughing. Instead, he deepened his scowl and gestured impatiently. "Well, what are you waiting for? It's not going to clean itself."

Hermione gave him an incredulous look, as if waiting for the end of the joke. When he raised his eyebrow in challenge, as if to say, are you disobeying me, pet? She shrugged, picked up the cauldron and headed for the sink.

"No," he said. She turned to see a bucket of water and a scrub brush appear on his desk. "You will do it here, where I can observe."

Hermione took a deep breath, nodded uncertainly, and removed her school robe, tossing it on a nearby desk. With a sigh, she dunked the small scrubber into the warm water.

It was a tiny, round-bellied cauldron which sat atop three stubby legs. It was only the size of a soup bowl, the kind housewitches used to make homebrew potions, and it seemed minuscule and out of place here in the classroom. It was caked inside with something that was proving almost impossible to remove. Hermione gave the cauldron a surreptitious sniff, but could not identify what had been baked on the cauldron. It seemed the harder she scrubbed, the more solid the residue became.

As she worked, she felt beads of sweat forming on her forehead, and so intent was she on her task, she did not notice her professor rise from his chair and move to stand behind her.

"Interesting items, cauldrons," he said, softly, his voice only inches from her ear. He reached past her and cupped the little round belly of the cauldron in his large hand, his touch as intimate as if he were stroking a soft breast instead of hard metal. It was a caress so knowing it made his student blush.

As his fingertips grazed over the surface with a lover's touch, he intoned silkily, "For those skilled in the subtle art of potion making, they are receptacles of great magic. But they should not be abused. In the wrong hands, they can be ruined beyond use.

"For instance, Miss Granger," he purred, moving to stand behind her again. "You have forgotten your cauldron-cleaning procedures. I'm very disappointed that, during your time away from brewing, you have forgotten the first, simple step to ensuring a pristine, clean cauldron."

Hermione gasped as he flicked her skirt up over her back, and knelt down behind her. "An acolyte to the art will first and foremost examine the cauldron carefully." Long fingers trailed lightly over her bare skin. Hermione's legs trembled as he pushed her thighs apart. From behind, she could feel his breath against her vulnerable bottom.

"A master of the art will use his senses to discover the secrets of the cauldron." Hermione was still as a statue as his long pointed tongue slid between her cleft and licked a warm line from top to bottom.

There was a sharp clang as the brush fell from her nerveless fingers into the cauldron. Severus spread the cheeks of her bum apart and lapped at her, teasing her, his tongue flickering from her cunt to her tightly furled hole, causing her to shake helplessly.

He chuckled softly as she clutched his desk. "Sight, taste, scent. These are tools to be used to assess your cauldron." He rose, ignoring the twin popping of his knees, and wiped the juices of her delicious pussy from his mouth. He slid his arm around her and pressed his heavy, engorged erection against her bare bottom. "And then there is touch, Miss Granger."

He reached around and found her distended, stiff clitoris, as pointy and hard as a little nipple, bathed in her slick heat. He teased and played with it while she held onto the table, her soft moans and sighs inflaming his already stupendous lust. He pressed down hard and began to rub the little bud intently, and she growled and pushed back against him. "My, my, we are very dirty today, Miss Granger."

Hermione shuddered as first one, then two fingers slid into her aching core, until she was pinned between his hands, fucking her, teasing and plucking at her clit.

He watched her face intently. "Of course, hands can only clean so much, can they not, Miss Granger?" When she did not reply, he intoned, "Answer me!"

"No, sir!" she gasped, and he turned his hand until she felt him ruthlessly teasing the spongy tissue inside. For a moment, it felt as if she needed to urinate, then the dark, rich pleasure flooded her groin and she knew she would come.

"And why aren't my hands enough, Miss Granger?"

"W-what?" She mumbled, too caught up in his ministrations. To regain her focus, he spanked her, a hard, sharp slap on her bottom that both startled and excited her.

"Because you're a dirty little girl who needs my cock, aren't you? That's why my hands aren't enough. Say it."

Hermione moaned, "I'm a dirty little … gods … oh …" He finger-fucked her mercilessly with hard, driving insistence, in counterpoint to the gentle, teasing fingers of his other hand, which was teasing her clit with maddening, perfect precision. Hermione leaned forward onto the desk, unable to support herself on her trembling legs.

"Say it, girl. Tell me how dirty Daddy's little girl truly is," he crooned, and she cried out her pleasure into the room.

"I'm your dirty little girl! Oh, gods, don't stop! Don't stop!"

"As if I could," he growled, pinning her between his large hands, sending her spiraling higher with each stroke, holding her at the top of her peak, never allowing her to let go.

"Oh, no, little one, my hands aren't enough for a dirty little girl like you," he hissed, and barked an incantation that removed his clothing. "Only one thing is strong enough to scrub you clean."

Hermione felt his cock teasing at her entrance, felt his arms around her, pulling her shirt open. He eased her breasts from their confines, and another muttered spell later, and Hermione could see their reflection in a mirror behind his desk. She looked like a complete wanton - breasts pushed up from her clothing, her nipples rock hard.

Severus' long fingers rolled and tugged her right nipple expertly, and she looked up and caught his eye in the reflection. He was naked, pale and luminous, his eyes glazed with enough inflammatory, carnal lust to melt the mirror into liquid fire. Hermione mewled helplessly as he pushed her down and whispered, "You're ready to come, baby. Do it," he breathed, his fingers driving her expertly toward his aim. "Do it for Daddy."

Hermione screamed as her orgasm burst from her, and it was joined with his answering cry as he thrust into her quivering, rippling pussy. "Merlin wept …" he moaned, and held himself still as her walls shuddered and milked his cock, groaning loudly at the sheer pleasure of feeling her illegally tight cunt melting and pulsing around him.

In the reflection, Hermione watched his face slacken, a smile tickling the corners of his lips, eyes closed. She clenched her muscles around him, and he opened his eyes and sneered at her.

"Oh, yes," he nodded, his voice ragged and feral, "There's only one way to scrub you clean." He pulled back, biting his lip in anticipation, then slammed into her with the force of a battering ram, and Hermione's cry threatened to shatter the glass jars in the room.

He started slowly, painting her cunt with his large pole of a muscle; long, hard strokes that tapped her cervix and threatened to end her sanity. He laughed as she tried to speed up his maddening pace, and rewarded her with another playful smack on her arse. "Patience, pet. You are mine to clean; I'll scour your dirty little pussy any way I choose."

"Please," Hermione moaned, her fingernails scraping on the desk. "Faster."

Her throaty cries were incendiary; the primitive part of his brain took over, and he gave over to it, allowed it to drag him toward the inevitable end faster than he wanted. But she felt so good… so good… He began to fuck her hard, fast and deep, pulling her hips back onto his. She would have bruises tomorrow, he would be sore and his knees would ache, and he couldn't care less. He felt as if he could fuck her forever…

Hermione, insensate with passion, looked up into the mirror. Her husband was beautiful. Head down, eyes closed, he pounded into her, moaning with each breath. "Professor, please," she begged, "Fuck me harder!"

Suddenly he looked up; his eyes wide, his mouth open in an astonished O of pleasure. He drove into her, churning his hips, corkscrewing her against the desk until she was yowling like a wildcat, and he felt every growl and snarl from his little lioness race down his spine like a livewire attached to his groin. His balls started to spark and tingle; his pelvis felt as if it were melting into a puddle of magma.

His eyes rolled back and he howled. Hermione felt her spine crash into her skull as he slammed into her. Suddenly he gasped, "Merlin… oh fuck… I'm coming… oh yesyesyes… Hermione..." He caught her gaze in the mirror, his expression a mask of intensity. His eyebrows rushed together in a scowl, and he cried out, "Come with me… oh baby… come on Daddy's cock –"

Severus felt the lava roaring in his veins, and it erupted deep within him, sending him blistering over the edge into an orgasm that threatened to short-circuit his brain into a frayed, shredded mess. It was an orgasm singed with heat and lust, drugged with power and dark as brimstone. He reared above her, growling his pleasure – it was the triumphant roar of a beast, as if his wife had subjugated a demon with her body and this was the proof of it.

She answered with a wail of inarticulate pleasure all her own. Severus felt every milking, pulsing pull of her cunt as it sucked him dry of his lava-hot seed, and he cried out his release, calling her beautiful, dirty names as she wrung every last bit of passion from his body.

He collapsed against his wife, his sweat-drenched body shivering in the cool dungeon air. He could practically see steam rising from Hermione's uniform. They were panting as if they'd run from the dungeons to the towers, and for several moments neither could speak nor move.

Finally, Hermione's mind cleared enough to transfigure the desk into a large sofa and together they collapsed on it gratefully. Severus gathered Hermione into his arms and she held onto him for dear life. The aching sweetness of knowing she'd made this strong, self-disciplined man lose control was overwhelming, and she turned in his arms and covered him with soft kisses, until he was laughing at her frantic ministrations and gentling her with a soothing, affectionate kiss of his own.

"I love you so much," she whispered between kisses, reveling in his flushed face, his glowing eyes. He held her almost suffocatingly close, and Hermione felt as if her heart would burst with happiness.

"Hermione," he rumbled, his voice sweet and silvery. He placed a tender kiss on her lips, and looked into her eyes. "Don't ever stop loving me." To her astonishment, his eyes filled with tears.

"As if I could," she smiled, pressed her lips against his sternum, as if supplicating an idol. She kissed the tears from his cheeks.

Suddenly he turned her in his arms. "I want to put a child in here," he said, pressing his large hand to her belly. He looked up at her with complete conviction, and thrilled to see the expression of happiness his words had wrought. "I want us to have children, and when they are old enough, I want to be able to tell them what a goddess their mother is, and how I fell in love with her, and how blessed their father is to have her." He looked into her face with eyes fervent with longing. "Tell me you want to carry my children. Please."

Hermione's face alone would have told him his answer. She threw her arms around him and cried, "Of course I do!" Her face was as radiant as the sun. "We're going to have amazing babies, Severus!" She was kissing his chest, his neck, anywhere she could reach. She was laughing and calling his name, calling him Daddy, as he engulfed her in his tight embrace.

Her glorious smile was suddenly overshadowed by a look of apprehension. She took his hand, and placed it over her bracelet. "This... these won't change, will they?" She looked at him searchingly. "I don't want the love we share, and how we share it, to change."

He cupped her cheek in his hand, and she leaned against it. "No, pet. I have no desire to change it, either." He smiled, sloe-eyed and complacent. Long fingers pursed around her nipple and tugged gently. "Just because I wish to be a father, doesn't mean I won't continue to be… Daddy."

Hermione laughed breathlessly, and snuggled against him with a little soft sound of contentment. "You really are a sexy old beast, Master Snape."

He smirked, and placed a careless kiss on her forehead before drawing her securely into his arms. "Call me old, will you? My, what a very naughty girl," he drawled. "Another trip to the cave is in order, I see. We must work on the concept of respect. I think you will need to wear a collar for that one." It gave him a little thrill to see the hot little glow in her eyes at the thought.

He stroked her face and brushed an unruly curl from her forehead. His expression softened. "Thank you for wanting me."

Hermione grasped his hand and kissed his fingertips. "Thank you for waiting for me."

He allowed her to kiss him, then grasped her hands and pulled them over her head. The sofa resumed its original shape, and Hermione found herself lying back on his desk.

As the magical bonds tightened around her wrist and pushed her lovely breasts skyward, Severus nuzzled her face with his unspeakable nose and purred, "I wouldn't get too comfortable, pet."

Mischief Managed

Author's Notes

Here is the original prompt. I hope, Subvers, that I did it justice, and that you enjoyed it:

Severus and Hermione are reasonably happy in their committed relationship, but Hermione senses he's holding something back - something she needs. Severus has been careful - too careful. She believes that somewhere, he is holding his darker passions in check out of fear of losing the one woman who has loved him.

What Severus doesn't realize is that Hermione, too, has been keeping a secret - that her true needs can only be satisfied with a surrender of control and the sound of Severus' voice demanding her total obedience.

Dom!Snape fic. This can be AU or canon compliant through HBP. Can include mental/psychological domination and/or light spanking and/or gentle bondage and/or verbal humiliation with a consenting, desirous Hermione. No bloodplay or involvement of body fluids other than those commonly associated with sex. Snape is a snarky bastard, Hermione is strong-willed and stubborn. Rating R to NC-17. As this will make them both happy, we'll call it a very Happy Ending®.

Chapter 10 is dedicated to DarkLotus1211, who rescued it from death when the file got corrupted and I was unable to retrieve it. She worked very hard to retrieve it, and kept my momentum going. Thank you.

Chapter 12 has a triple dedication – firstly to Subvers, who loves Regency fics. This was as close to one as I'm capable, I'm afraid! It is also dedicated to my dear beta, Stgulik, who not only gave me the prompt within a prompt for this particular chapter, but also the Jane Austen quote at the beginning, which she dared me to use. Never dare a Southern redneck. She wanted a consequence-free PWP chapter, and I hope it fill the remit. It is also dedicated to Loyd1957 (Cindy) for the best line in a review ever. I told you I would use it one day, and give you credit for it, and I did!

The game "What Say You?" it is actually based on a real Muggle board game called "Loaded Questions". If you are a true board game fan, this is a winner – it also comes in Junior as well as Adult versions as well. The almighty Hechicera actually made me a real, working version of the What Say You game, complete with all the parts including Recognise-Me-Not quills, ink, game pieces and hundreds of questions. The next time the Malfoys come over, we are soooo playing!

When I was writing this fic, I knew there were two distinct roads I could travel. I could make it very dark and angsty, pulling on the darkness of Severus' Death Eater past, or I could keep it light and frothy, with occasional forays into angst to give it contrast and balance.

At one point, I was dangerously close to merging the two roads into a dark, ponderous mess, and I had a little crisis of faith. I sent the chapters in question (Chapters 8 and 11) to my beta and all around hero Stgulik, who stated that I was in serious danger of turning this into Dom/sub 101, which, she pointed out, I had already managed in my fic The Sensual World.

I either had to go the whole hog angst deluxe or lighten up. It was just getting too heavy, and as I had already written the first five chapters and was happy with the tone, the fic was starting to sound a bit schizophrenic.

Stgulik, or Jules, as I call her, knew I was approaching a meltdown of sonic proportions, and with typical intelligence and wit, she wrote me an email that was to become the final outline of the story, more or less. So much of the ponderous stuff that I'd thought necessary to explain the lifestyle was discarded on the cutting room floor, and what remained was sufficient to explain everything I was trying to say. Jules will be the first to tell you that I tend to overwrite at the best of times. It is a rare day that she will say, 'you need to add more to this'.

The following is the transcript of the email that she sent me to help me get back on track. Chapter 8 in particular was tacked to the corkboard on my writing table every day while I wrote this fic, and I'm convinced it helped me to put this story back on track because it made me laugh every time I saw it:

Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2011 15:45:28 -0700
From: stgulik
Subject: stgulik's idea for FF chs 6 - 10
To: teddy_radiator

Take in the spirit it is meant - from your biggest fan.

* * * * *

Chapter 7

Hr is Portkeyed to the Cave, where they 'consummate' this agreement with lots of smutty, kinky sex blah blah.

Chapter 8

That's where the Chapter between him and Lucius comes in. Once he realises he's sort of left her alone, he returns to their bedroom, but she's gone. He goes to the cave, but she's not there either. He becomes frantic. He asks a house-elf to locate her, and the house-elf sends him back to the Cave. She has gone deep in the recesses because she thinks he has left her and that's she was the one to screw up the relationship.

When they make up in the cave, it could go like this:

SS: I'm sorry I almost severely hurt you and then left you in a damp cave all alone.

Hr: I forgive you. I'm sorry I made you try this at all - but for your sake, not mine; I still really liked it.

SS: No, don't be sorry – I finally want to come to terms with my past. I need this.

Hr: I need this too. Don't worry, we can make this work.

SS: I couldn't agree more. [Make-up sex – starts normal, ends kinky, everyone's happy]

{LOL - I told Jules that I was going to write the dialogue verbatim from this exchange. If you read that particular chapter, you'll see that most of it made it in the final draft, in one way or another :)}

Chapter 9

A whole chapter of guilt-free, smutty sex – if not for your sake, then just for mine! Including (?) a fantasy one of them has never told the other, so we're all learning it at the same time. She sets the conditions but he is completely dominant over them.

Chapter 10

The 'ribbon-cutting ceremony' of the installation, some after-ceremony spanking followed by a hot shag because it was a stressful day? and happily ever after, etc.

As you can see, Jules had my back and the story got back on track and became something I was proud to give to you. I hope you enjoy it for many years to come, as I have so enjoyed your stories.