This is in response to the Angstier Than Thou Challenge by Tycho.

Disclaimer: I do not have anything to do with the brilliant creation of J.K Rowling's characters.

Severus Snape made his painful way down the dungeon halls of Hogwarts. His usual self-inflicted torture, appearing to grovel at Voldemort's feet that is, was at a new record high, when it followed with 12 crucio's in one night. Every time he went, he was even more convinced that the dark lord knew of his role. It became even more rare for Snape to collect any useful information.

Finally making it to his rooms, he nearly had to crawl to the sofa in front of the fire. After a few moments of staring off into space, he noticed a vial of liquid on the table in front of him. He knew that Poppy had been here. Always ready for him to come back. She would probably make an appearance quite soon.

As if on cue, he heard the floo network kick into action, and both Poppy and Dumbledore walked out from the mantle. He didn't bother moving. Poppy would probably just throw him back down anyway, so there was no point.

The mediwitch tended to his wounds, and made sure that he drank the potion. All the time, Albus had been completely silent. When the last of the injuries were fixed up, Poppy turned to Dumbledore. "Make this quick. He needs a good night's rest." Albus simply nodded his understanding, and she left the two men alone in the room.

It was the headmaster that broke the silence. "Severus, I do not want you to go back again."

Snape looked up at him. "I cannot honour that request, sir."

"It's slowly eating you away. Too many times we've had this argument." The headmaster looked his many years for an instant. "I do not wish to lose you, dear friend."

"Any information that I can get to help defeat -" he started.

"Damn Voldemort! Damn the war!" Albus said harshly, slamming his fist on the table. The move surprised Severus. "You've done enough in this war. You've done things for our side that makes what I do look like mere child's play sometimes."

"Headmaster, you have done more -"

"I forbid you to leave the school grounds until further notice, Severus." Albus proclaimed.

"Albus, you cannot be serious." Snape exclaimed.

"I am very serious, Severus." After which, he softened his voice. "We are all worried about you."

"I'm the one who's been hit by unforgivables all night, yet you're the one who appears to have lost his mind." Snape drawled. "You are the only one genuinely concerned with my welfare. If I no longer spied, you will be the only one who shows any concern at all."

"That's not true, Severus." The headmaster said. "I suggest you get some rest." And with that, Albus left his chambers.

~@~

Severus woke the following day, still on the sofa in front of the fire.

'Damn. That woman must have slipped some Dreamless Sleep into whatever she gave me.' He thought groggily, as he made his way to his bathroom to get ready for the day. Since he did not attend breakfast often, he was able to take time out in his rooms to compose his thoughts before his first class of the day.

~@~

Silence in the hallways of the dungeons was broken for a brief minute as a first year Ravenclaw rushed out of the door, wailing for what his life was worth. Back in the potion's classroom, Snape turned to the Ravenclaw side of the room. "For Mr Pines outburst, 30 points from Ravenclaw. Be sure one of you let him know he has detention tonight." He turned on his heel, knowing that every student in the class was glaring at his back. "Get back to work!" He snapped, as he seated himself at his desk.

As the students made their potions, Severus decided to take the time out to grade essays. He looked down at the sixth year essay before him and sighed in irritation. 'Boris Longbottom; the boy is as inept at potions as his cousin.' He continued to grade essays until the end of class. After the class was dismissed, he began to made preparations for his next class - sixth year Gryffindors and Slytherins. As he started, he heard a soft knock on the door and turned.

"Professor Granger. To what do I owe this great honour?"

Hermione walked into the room. She had graduated 3 years before, and was now the new Muggle Studies professor. Walking up to the podium, she said, "I'd like to ask you a favour, Severus."

Since starting at Hogwart's, Hermione and Severus had become friendly acquaintances, not quite friends.

"You may ask, but there's no guarantee I'll say yes." He answered.

"Well, I spoke to Albus this morning, and he mentioned what happened last night." She said, looking him square in the eye. "You're wrong, by the way. We are all concerned for you." She reached out her hand to clasp his, and gave it a light squeeze. Usually Severus would pull away from this, but he had become accustomed to it around her. He felt somewhat comforted by the simple gesture.

"And your favour?" He asked, annoyed that Albus would tell her.

"Well, I am organizing a trip to muggle Spain for the seventh years to help them with their reports. I need at least two other staff members with me."

"Surely, you cannot be asking me to babysit outside of Hogwarts. Besides, you should already know that Albus has forbidden me to leave the grounds." He snapped. She didn't flinch. She was used to his sudden outbursts.

"I know. But Albus has agreed to go with me, and he said that if I wanted to ask you, he would have no problem with it. As long as the needed precautions are taken." She explained.

"So you're taking pity on me for my imposed grounding." He said. He didn't like this. He did not want pity. "I do not appreciate such concern. I do not want nor need your pity. If you want to pity someone, you can-"

"Stop being such an ass, Severus." She exclaimed, more loudly than she intended. He stopped and gaped at her. She was never the type to utter such foul language. "I was asking if you could do me a favour. I was intending to ask you before I found out. I only spoke to Albus before because I wanted to make sure everything would be all right. But if you're going to be like that, than fine. Don't bother!" She spun on her heel, and left the classroom, the potion's master still looking in the direction she left.

~@~

This day was setting itself up to be quite the winner. First, the meeting last night, than Albus grounded him, than he was snuck a sleeping potion, his students continued to glare at him, despite this hard work that Albus said that he had done, Hermione yelling at him, and finally, having to put up with seventh year Gryffindor's and Slytherins. What next?!?

BOOM!!!

Great! Snape looked up and saw the source of the explosion was located in front of Boris Longbottom. 'Big surprise there.' He thought.

He got up and stalked towards the student. "Mr Longbottom. What have you done this time?" His voice taking on the texture of ice.

"I. . .uh. . .I-I-I. . ." The student stammered.

"Out with it!" Snape snapped.

"I-I th-think I add-dded too m-many l-l-lacewi-ings, s-s-s-sir." Longbottom stammered.

"And what are the results of adding too many lacewings?" He had to admit, even though Boris was almost as bad as his cousin, he at least knew the material, if he could not perform the practical aspect.

"I-It can c-cause an-n explosion, sir." He replied.

"Quite obviously." Snape sneered, and turned back to his desk. Just as he heard the sigh of relief, he said while still walking, "20 points from Gryffindor, and detention tonight, Mr Longbottom."

The student cringed, but set to work on cleaning up the mess. The bell rang before he got a chance to empty the caldron. He was about to do so, when he heard Snape say, "Leave it. Just go." Again, a sigh of relief, and the student joined his friends outside the classroom.

~@~

As Longbottom left the classroom, Snape came down from his podium to finish cleaning the student's mess. Normally, he'd make the students suffer in his presence, but this time he just wanted them all out of his sight.

As soon as he approached the caldron, he was hit with a thought. Another result of adding too many lacewings to the sleeping potions the class was making was that it could very easily turn into the Black Death Draught. Not many knew that bit of information. Now looking into the caldron, he was thinking. 'What if?' It's not like he'd really be missed all that much. The students would certainly have a field day. He wouldn't have to constantly argue with Albus about his spying activities, which have been rather useless as of late. It was a way out. How could he pass up such a gift.

Picking up a spoon, he dipped it into the potion. He thought to himself, 'and I thought Neville Longbottom would be the death of me.' Well, it was still a Longbottom.

As he was bringing the spoon to his mouth, the door to the classroom burst open. Hermione stood there and looked at the potion's master. 'Oh great. Now I will probably get a lecture from her about the importance of life, and how it's worth living, and all that rubbish.'

Hermione shut the door to the classroom, and muttered a locking charm on it. She walked carefully up to him, concern was very evident in her eyes. She looked from the caldron, to the spoon, and finally to his eyes. Instead of saying anything, she took the spoon out of his hand, placed it back in the caldron, and grasped his hand gently in hers. She than led him to his office, and lit the fireplace. Throwing some floo powder in, she called "Severus Snape's Chambers." And off they went.

Once they arrived, Hermione turned to him. She let go of his hand, and slowly brought both of hers to his face. Holding gently to either side of his face, she brought his lips down to her own. He gasped in surprise. This was not what he was expecting. She gently kissed him, and he found himself returning the gesture, bringing his arms around her and holding her closer to him.

After another few moments, he deepened the kiss, and she reacted along with him. Another few moments, or a few minutes, he honestly didn't know for sure, they were in his bedroom. He came to his senses suddenly.

"Hermione. What are you doing?" He asked. He didn't really want to know the answer, but could not continue without one.

"Severus, it is obvious that what Albus has been telling you for years has not sunk in because there is no physical proof of the truth. I want to show you the truth. I want you to know how much you mean to me." He looked down into her eyes. "I want to make love to you."

Never had any woman said it to him, and actually meant it. He was too used to women either throwing themselves at him because of his name and wealth, or running from him because of his looks. Looking into her eyes, he saw that she spoke the truth. There was love in her eyes. And she was willing to show him.

She did exactly what she set out to do. She cared for him in a way that no one had. She caressed every part of him, and soothed him with her words. This was not a desperate act to keep him in this life. This was a lesson for him. There was much more to explore in this life. She wasn't willing to let him go without a fight.

They came together, and lay beside one another, catching their breaths and allowing their hearts to slow. He held her beside him until they both fell asleep, both with a smile on their faces.

~@~

It was he who awoke first. Feeling a bit groggy, but more content than he had since before he could remember, he looked down to the woman in his arms. He admired the beauty that lay there, and he smiled. And to think he was having a bad day.

He never thought about her regretting it. She made it quite clear that she would not. Her actions spoke louder than any words that either she or Albus ever said to him. He was immensely grateful for the gift she gave him.

Slowly, she started to rouse. He looked back down to her, meeting her eyes with his own. "Good evening." He said.

"What time is it?" She asked, her voice sounded rough.

"We missed dinner." He said, glancing at the clock.

"Well, maybe you did." She said, grinning wickedly. Severus couldn't help but chuckle.

"I'll summon the house elves to get us a proper meal." He said, getting up. He grabbed his house robes, and made his way to the main compartment of his rooms. "Stay there. I'll bring it to you." He said, as he heard her begin to get up.

He threw some floo powder into the fireplace and summoned the house elf. After it left to get the food, he turned to his liquor cabinet and began to pour two glasses of brandy. Suddenly, the fireplace lit up again, and Albus came through it looking frantic.

"Thank Merlin!" He exclaimed. "Please tell me you did not do what I think you did."

Severus looked at him. "Headmaster?"

"I saw the caldron in your classroom. You are not the only one who can identify substances quickly, Severus." The headmaster looked angry.

"Not to worry, Albus. Professor Granger has already given me a lesson on that."

The anger in Albus' eyes died down, and that all knowing twinkle came back. "Glad to hear it. Will you be joining us in Spain next week?"

"I think I might be persuaded." Severus replied. And the headmaster left the rooms with a merry chuckle.



A/N: This is my first response to any challenge. Tell me how I did!! I want to know if you think I suck or not.