Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

Rating: M. Mature readers only, please.

A/N: Couldn't help myself. Lyrics at the beginning are 'Studying Stones' – Ani DiFranco.

Long Nights and Unexpected Sights

There's never been an endeavour so strange

As trying to slow the blood in my veins

To keep my face blank

As a stone that just sank

Until not a ripple remains


I raise my hand to meet the handle and, inevitably, hesitate. There is a low hum of voices behind the elaborate door to the teacher's common room, punctured every few minutes by a laugh or two, but it is not enough to make me push my way through. I stand outside for five more nervous beats of my heart, then think better of the whole sodding thing and turn on my heel, about to stride back down the corridor to my quarters when a very familiar velvet voice stops me in my tracks.

"Going so soon?"

His presence is solid behind me, though he still managed to open the door and close it again without me noticing. Of course he did.

"Not going at all, it seems," is my slow reply as we begin to walk away from the common room. He is as he always is: shoulder length black hair (without even a sliver of grey) that glistens after hours spent leaning over a bubbling cauldron, piercing black eyes, tall, too thin; black robes, frock coat and trousers beneath that, and beneath those… well… I do not know.

It still amazes me that there are days that Severus and I seem like true friends; most of the time we are, at best, companions, close associates perhaps. Even though he can finish my sentences if he so wishes, and I can read his moods like one of my dog eared books, we are not often together; and it is entirely my fault.

Because, unfortunately, I have developed the incredible weakness of being so attracted to Severus Snape that my mouth dries and I lose my tongue when he smirks, and my hands shake if he accidentally brushes my shoulder. It cannot be hidden, not to such a sensational liar as he. It is alarming to ponder what he may think of my chest that rises with breaths that are all too quick, or cheeks that are pink, lips that are parted in a constant state of readiness… for him.

He slows his pace to suit my shorter legs, and we walk together through the corridors. It is late, the curfew hour long past and rain is drumming on the windows high up on the walls. My feet are leading us and his silence is a blessing; the depth and gravel scratch of his voice can have me sleepless for days, imagining how he might whisper dirty, forbidden things into my ears in the shadowed corners of the school. This came as a revelation – oh, there is no doubt that any seventh year girl could sigh and clench her legs together from merely listening to the smooth, rich sounds of Severus Snape in the midst of a lecture, but for a teacher - a colleague? It has long become apparent that I am not above such things.

Looking down, I take in my black teaching robes, cut with just the smallest amount of extra fabric so that I, too, can billow around doors and make very substantial exits and entries. Catching my reflection somewhere on the second floor, my hair is as wild as ever, tumbling down like a rapid over rocks. It will never be smooth and soft, nor will it ever have the straight, orderly strands that the man walking beside me can lay claim to. Ten years after graduating from this damn place and it still feels like I am bushy haired Hermione. I wave my hand in the air with a dry laugh and snort when Severus arches a single elegant black eyebrow. I want to sidle closer and lick the line of black.

"Reminiscing?" he asks. There is a familiar dampness between my thighs, and I internally curse my body for betraying me as it reacts to the timber of the voice.

"Yes and no," I say with a sly smile. Some things must remain private, such as how I want him to push me up against the wall we're walking beside and thrust his fingers through my hair, knotting them in the brown strands as his tongue slides into my mouth. Merlin, I think I'd even take a hand deftly slipping under my blouse at this point.

"That does not qualify for an answer," he replies dryly, the smirk evident in his tone. I shrug, my reply swallowed up by the need to conceal the way my cheeks are flushing.

Somehow we end up at the great doors, and then we stand facing the rain, both of us glad for how the roof extends just enough past the doors that we can stay dry while still closing them behind us. It looks magical, pardon the pun – the almost silver drops of rain falling out of the midnight black sky. It reminds me of Severus, how his hair is as black as ink, framing the too pale face. He will never be classically handsome, but the pull of him is undeniable and so I raise my face to look at him, attempting to be surreptitious, and then blush again when his black eyes meet mine.

"Your sixth sense is unnerving," I admit quietly, not game enough to demand that he look away so I can enjoy the view of him in the rain in peace.

He eyes me curiously – his desire to slip into my mind is so clear on his face that it makes me deliberate like a girl; duck my head, cover my mouth to hide my smile. In the end, he shrugs and his voice is an instrument of sweet torture all over again, "It is a learned skill, not a sixth sense. Perhaps such things are above your understanding…"

Severus trails off, daring me to rise to the challenge. The tease! He is standing on the step above me, staring down his nose that would look so delicious buried between my…

"Mm. Ah." I manage to choke out some sounds in agreement. "Yes. Quite far above it."

Luna, the only shred of sanity that can be found in my circle of friends in this school (take of that what you will), would firmly direct me to march away, chin in the air, cool as an ice-queen. She says (with an air of certainty) that I, Hermione Granger, am a calm, independent woman, not to be reduced to a babbling mess in front of a man who once caught fire due to a wand held by my hand. But Luna eats beetroot cubes and also says that Severus looks like a glowering stick insect, and so my internal reply shall always remain a vehement: 'sod off, Luna!'

A warm hand to my elbow drags my attention to the present, and the present looks so deliciously puzzled that my mouth stretches into a catlike grin. "You were saying?" I offer.

Severus curls his lip, and then looks away. "Your Gryffindor-esque tendencies to let your mind wander should have worn off at your age, surely?" he murmurs, staring out at the rain. He turns to me again for a tiny second, and I fancy that his eyes dart to my mouth, but as soon as I have registered the flick of his black gaze downwards, it is back to facing the rain.

"Who says my mind is wandering?" My own voice is clear and barely wavers at the end. His eyes are gleaming, amusement making his mouth twitch at the corner. He always makes such an effort to hide his smiles; after years of living with two masters, it seems that it is a habit he will not break anytime soon. It is of no matter; he wishes to smile, so I know that he is content – even though I have just surprised myself completely by wondering if his cock twitches in the same way minutes before it is taken into a mouth. My mouth. Instinctively, my tongue darts out to wet my lips and this time he does look, for a good two seconds.

I am terrible at occluding; much to my chagrin I cannot even do it. However, my mind has indeed wandered and there is the all too real temptation to just show him what is currently playing behind my eyelids… perhaps if I bring up the daydream again, leave it at the forefront of my mind, I can look up at him, display no surprise when he inevitably slips in to see what has me so distracted, because the entry of him has always felt like a very subtle, very cool trickle of water through my thoughts and I can be brave…

When he meets my gaze, I smile innocently…

"Hermione…" his voice is a low whisper, sending shivers down my spine. The rain has disappeared and in the blink of an eye we are in his private quarters, the fire roaring. He stands before the fire in a black button down shirt and trousers, belted with leather. They fit his legs almost like a second skin – he is too thin, it is obvious from the excess strap of black leather, but the trousers hang from his hips in a way that makes my mouth water.

I make my way over to him, slowly yet surely, looking down to see that my own robes have disappeared. In their place is nothing – I am bare to his gaze, and every flick of his eyes over my skin feels like an iron brand of heat. There is no need to be reticent, this is my mind after all, and so I hold myself proudly and revel in his approval.

There is the tiniest barrier of cotton between my body and his, and my eyes close when his calloused hands cup my face, thumbs smoothing flushed cheeks.

"Hermione…" he whispers again, swallowing roughly when my fingers begin to unbutton the shirt. I count the buttons in my mind, wishing for a second that my conscience had dragged him up in his frock coat – the things that all of those buttons do to me…

"One," I say quietly, carefully opening the neck of his shirt, curling one finger into the dusting of black hair on his pale skin under the collar. Warm hands move from my face to lie on my waist; his breath comes quicker.

"Two." He says my name again but it comes out as a hoarse groan when he notices that I have run my tongue over my lower lip, searching for wetness because my mouth is dry. I have reached the next button and his hands have settled at my lower back, heavy and hot.

"Three." Thin fingers dig into the curve of my spine, and one quick kiss is placed on the corner of my mouth – so quick that I do not have the chance to reciprocate, but slow enough that my eyes close of their own accord; from the lightning quick brush of his lips to mine, I already know that they are warm and soft, tasting of the whiskey he must've had in the staff room.

"Four." The entire top half of the shirt is open now and my hands slide eagerly inside, flattening out over his chest in time with his own fingers that are beginning to dance lower and then lower still.

"Five…" my voice is barely above a whisper as he cups me from behind, pulling me flush against him. His breath is hot on my skin when he bends his head to kiss and lick and suck on the skin of my neck, and for a long moment I forget the buttons and tangle my hands in the soft, silky black strands of his hair. Black as ink, as coal.

I make it to six, but when his mouth crushes mine there is no more counting, only gasps when his own hands bat mine away to roughly jerk the material apart. The sound of the buttons falling to the floor and bouncing off it is loud to my ears, replaced quickly by moans – I can't tell which mouth they are coming from, mine or his, but we swallow them as easily as his tongue slips into my mouth, fat with the taste of him, drawing a line over mine.

I am not content to stay kissing like this, indulgently and languidly. And as soon as the thought has flashed through my mind, his hands fumble where his belt is – this time it is I that pushes his hands off of the strip of leather, and for the first time I am able to skilfully open the clasp of a man's belt without making one single mistake. His mouth never leaves mine, not even when I push his pants down and he steps out of them – we fall ungracefully and I think I might just flail like a bird without wings, but he catches me with a quick laugh, turning until we are on the floor together and I am astride his thighs, pushing and sliding against him while his hands curl and dig into my skin.

I open my eyes to drink him in; his lashes are longer than I had thought, they dust his cheeks. The pace of his kiss changes when he becomes aware of my scrutiny – I can feel the smirk on his lips but not once does he open his eyes to challenge me. Instead he pulls me firmer against him, somehow managing to break away for a second to swear when my hands find his length and stroke shyly before guiding him to slide into me, deeper and deeper. The fullness takes the wind out of me and he, too, is still with the shock of being enveloped within this woman in his arms.

We are cradled together, him sitting on the carpet and me astride his lap.

I do not make the decision to slow down – he does, though the significance of such a thing does not register in my mind that he is invading on the outside, at the same time that he is filling me on the inside.

We were breathless, but now we are relaxed; we were frantic, hurried, yet in a stark contrast he is moving his hands all around my body and when our eyes meet, his are wide with near disbelief. He bends to kiss me again and the tenderness of it breaks over me like a wave, until I am rising and falling on him in a smooth, slow rhythm that begins a sweet sour rise in my belly, twisting and curling in time with his groans that are falling out of his mouth and diving into mine.

"Oh…" I am surprised at the force of it all, the way I am moulded to the heat of his chest, the pleasure of the coarse hair on his skin against my breasts.

"Oh," I say again, biting my lip when he laughs and pushes curls behind my ears, repeating the movement over and over again because they are not of this earth, they are too wild, too unkempt for this quiet room filled with breathy moans. He buries his face in them, breathing in the scent of whatever I used this morning to wash them, and I forget that the hair that has him entranced and beguiled now used to be so embarrassing. It isn't – not anymore.

Another man would have flipped us over by now, driven into me with haste and single minded force, but Severus looks so lost in us, his hands pushing me back slightly so they can cup my breasts then push them higher so he can nip and lick at the tender skin. He smiles and kisses one chastely when I squeak with the surprise at the unfamiliar and enticing feeling of his rough tongue lapping like a cat with cream, but he is a fair man and he moves quickly to the other, all the while pushing faster and faster into me, his hands dropping to control the bounce of my hips.

I am stunned and floored and in love all at once, and when I give sound to my thoughts he stops and stares at me for a long moment, unmoving, then his smile broadens to a grin and his arms wind around my back at the same time that his mouth covers mine again. It is only when he pushes into me for a final time and I scream at the force of the delectable bliss that he finds the focus to whisper into my ear that "Gods, Hermione, I have loved you for longer than I have been aware of it," then his voice joins me as he becomes erratic until his body goes rigid under my hands and he spills into me.

For a long time, we stay on the carpet. He stays inside me and my body spills over his, limp. I lose myself in the way his arms hold me to his chest, hands rising to tuck my head under his chin before they return to tracing circles down my spine, his low voice in my ear reaffirming that he loves me, that I am his, that surely I know that he is mine.

Tears swim in my eyes and I do not want to, I don't want to at all but I pull my face away from his fair skin that is now damp with sweat, and look back into his eyes…

His black eyes meet mine – both pairs are dilated, disbelieving…

He turns away from me and I am wrenched back to the present, back to the rainy front doors of Hogwarts. We are both filled to the brim with ragged breaths and he looks back at me with a hand over his mouth. I can't tell what he is thinking – his face is a surprised mask.

I don't know what to say, how to say how badly I want my vivid wish to become a reality, so instead I run inside like a coward. The great doors shut behind me and I double over, heaving and crying, then like the almost thirty year old woman I am, I pick myself up and begin to walk.

My steps drag – my feet are telling me something that I do not know, but I let them all the same and I walk sedately back to my office, taking the long way 'round.

When I let myself in, there is already a note on the desk, spidery letters spelling out the shortest missive that my eyes have seen in years, but it has me laughing with joy and dancing around the room like a child whose groundhog day is Christmas.

"I love you – you are mine and surely you know that I am yours."