Hi everyone, thank you so so much for all your support. You don't know how happy I am, this being my first story, to see that people actually like it. Here is the last chapter, I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, please let me know, and also give me comments and ideas for possible future stories! I'm not sure if I should continue writing cos I don't know if I'll be any good, but what do you think? As usual please leave reviews, your support and comments mean a lot to me! Love you all and thanks xx
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Months passed and everything was much the same as it was. Snape refrained from lashing out at Hermione simply because the hurt on her face was really unnerving, though he couldn't figure out why he was affecting her so, or even more disturbingly, why she was affecting him so. At night, he still dreamt of the mysterious lady, who now had familiar chocolate eyes, but she no longer beckoned to him. Instead, she ran away from him, and Snape would chase after her in vain. He would wake up, remember the eyes, and hastily push his suspicions away. He grew more and more frustrated, and he couldn't deny the fact that his abuse of the students didn't bring as much pleasure as it used to. He wouldn't admit it, but he was lonely.
Hermione, on the other hand, continued to produce above-standard work, but without her usual flair, and she no longer engaged in her lessons. She kept her head down. She missed meals and didn't speak to anyone. She was the image of depression and loneliness, but she just didn't care anymore. Professor McGonagall saw all this, and her heart hurt to see her favourite cub like this. She knew Hermione wouldn't talk, she was headstrong like that, but that didn't stop her from wanting to help. She had to find out what was wrong and how she could make Hermione happy again. With that thought in her mind, she set out to investigate. She observed who Hermione threw her anguished glances, she observed how a certain professor furrowed his eyebrows whenever he looked at Hermione, and she noticed how both of them were always alone and declined any sort of company. She gave a sad smile, knowing that this was their battle and not hers, and she could only hope that fate would help them find the way.
It was only weeks before NEWTs, and Hermione had buried herself in a mountain of revision, shutting out everything else. Snape was stressed too, with his lack of sleep and trying to keep his emotional turmoil under control, and it seemed that his eighth-years would never stop testing his limits. It was one such lesson again. Neville had once again melted his cauldron and the liquid he was brewing had caught fire. Without a word, Snape cleared up the mess, and turned to face the cowering boy. He was livid, his face contorted with rage, and he managed to snarl behind gritted teeth, "Get. Out. You will not enter my classrooms again." Neville raised his head and stared fearfully at the man towering above him, but he didn't move. Snape made to move towards him, but a soft voice said behind him, "Please, Professor, I'll tutor him, let him continue your lessons." Snape turned on the owner of the voice and spat, "You never know when to hold your tongue, do you? You insufferable know-it-all." Hermione's lips quivered as hurt showed plainly on her face, but she held Snape's glare as she whispered again softly, chocolate eyes pleading, "Please, professor, don't make him leave."
His world reeled. That voice. It was that voice, and the familiar chocolate eyes in his dreams. His suspicions were confirmed as he bore into those pleading eyes. His eyes widened and his lips curled into a dangerous snarl, and with a whirl of his cloak he disappeared into his office.
The world seemed to slow down around Hermione as her classmates packed and left the classroom, shooting furtive glances at her. Neville muttered thanks and when she didn't respond, also packed and left. Staring at Snape's closed door, she failed to notice McGonagall's stern figure watching her from outside the classroom. As Headmistress, she had received an alarm of an accident in the dungeons and she had hurried there to offer her assistance, but instead found Hermione looking worse than she had ever seen her. She cleared her throat softly and said, "Miss Granger, is everything alright?" Hermione turned, startled, and flushed, saying, "Oh, er...yes, I'll leave now, Professor." She grabbed her books and ran from the room. McGonagall was concerned at Hermione's unusual behaviour, so turning into a silver tabby, she lightly ran after her.
Snape was seething, and for once he wasn't angry with somebody else but himself. He should have known earlier that it was Granger, Granger who saved him and haunted his dreams every night, Granger who begged him not to leave him. With a jolt he suddenly realized that he wasn't angry with her but with himself, because he had hurt her, and had been doing so for the whole year. He burrowed his head in his hands, trying to fight the familiar feeling of remorse that had always stemmed from Lily. Wait, what? Lily? He hadn't thought of Lily at all after waking up in the Hospital Wing almost a year ago. Tentatively, he searched his heart. In horror, he realized that Lily no longer held that special place in his heart. In the past year, he had moved on, moved on to that dear voice that told him not to leave her, that mysterious lady with chocolate brown eyes…Hermione Granger. He groaned into his hands, unable to understand how the young witch had entered into his heart, how by saying those three words had managed to break down all his barriers. To be very honest with himself, he was at a loss as to what to do next. Ignore both of their feelings? No, he had hurt her too many times, and he couldn't deny himself his one chance at happiness. Apologize and keep her at arms length from then on? He didn't even know where to find her, let alone what to say to not hurt her again. Accept their feelings and ask for a second chance? He couldn't deny that this seemed to be the best idea.
Someone rapped on his door sharply. Eyes narrowed, he got up to open the door, prepared to snarl at whoever it was for disturbing his thoughts. He was surprised when he saw Professor McGonagall standing calmly at his door, staring at him as though to read his mind. He swallowed his snarl and said curtly, "Headmistress?" She held up a hand and continued her stern scrutiny until he became quite uncomfortable. He tried again, "Would you like to come in?" Again he was ignored. Finally, she spoke, "She's by the Black Lake. Crying." With that, she turned on her heels and left him staring after her, gaping. Then, suddenly realising what McGonagall had said, he stepped out of his office and slammed his door shut, determined to right his wrongs once and for all.
She had stopped crying and was staring into the dark waters, eyes glazed, arms wrapped around her body protectively. She was so lost in her own world of sorrow and hurt that she didn't notice the footsteps. She didn't notice when they stopped right behind her. Suddenly, she felt strong warm arms enveloping her and she heard his soft, low voice saying, "I'm sorry, I won't hurt you again. Hermione, I won't leave you. I love you too." The perfect response to her plea almost a year ago. She turned slowly, afraid that this was only a fragment of her imagination. Trembling against the muscular body, she searched the dark obsidian eyes, and for the first time she noticed their warmth and emotions behind them. Tear tracks still wet on her face, she smiled the first genuine smile in ages, eyes shining. She saw the truth and promises plainly in his eyes, and she knew he wouldn't hurt her again. She wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her head in his chest. The talking would come later, and so would many other things, but for now they were content.
The End, hope you liked it!