Severus lay on his back staring at the faded canopy over his bed. The dull throbbing in his head letting him know that perhaps he had drunk too much the night before. He sighed at the thought of another night wasted, another night of waiting and hoping that she would come. He thought back to how he had ended up in such a situation.

Dumbledore had suggested that after his death it would make sense that Severus should have contact with Potter. At first Severus had been adamant that he would not entertain the idea. After a long discussion, where it had become apparent Dumbledore was not going to change his mind and that there had to be a way to keep both sides informed. Severus had relented on the condition that he would not have to tolerate the Potter boy or his idiot of a sidekick and that Hermione should be his contact. In Severus eyes she at least was the tolerable one of the trio.

After Hermione had been informed of the arrangement they had begun to meet two to three times a week. Hermione had once again been given the use of a time turner to enable their meetings not to be discovered. They had spent their evenings in the potion classroom, often working late into the early hours. Most of their time had been spent developing salves, antidotes and healing potions that may become useful in the coming battles.

Dumbledore had told Severus that he hoped working together with Hermione they might become friends, someone Severus could turn to after his death. It had been a notion Severus had scoffed at to begin with. The trouble was that the more time they had spent together the more he had grown to admire Hermione's qualities. As the weeks had passed he found himself looking forward to the time he spent in her company. Perhaps because he had so few friends he had been more open to allow his feelings to develop more. He would sometimes find himself watching Hermione, as she would try to persevere with a tricky problem. Her determination and sheer bloody mindedness would often bring a solution but she was also not afraid to turn to him if she needed help. A mutual respect had developed and surprisingly to Severus from that they had become more than two people thrown together by circumstance, they had become friends.

Occasionally Severus would glance from his work and catch her looking at him. A blush would rise in her cheeks before she would quickly look away. He had found himself thinking of her more and more, not realizing that his feelings for her had changed to love until it had been too late for him. He had wondered if she too had come to care for him, he had never dared to question her or reveal his true feelings. What on earth would a young beautiful woman want with an old man like himself?

After Dumbledore's death they had continued to meet, albeit less frequently than before. They would meet in quiet muggle pubs or small clearings in woods and forests. It had been in an old fashioned pub in the back streets of London where they had last met.

He had got to the pub before she had, settling in a quiet corner where he had a good view of the doors and had waited. It had not been long until she had entered, he watched as she quickly scanned the room and began to walk towards him. As she approached he took in every detail of her appearance, it had been a while since they had last met. Wearing a jumper and jeans, her hair fell around her shoulders. He noted she looked more tired than usual but that was only to be expected under the circumstances. He could not fail to notice how she had matured into a stunning young woman, the use of the time turner must have added at least two year to her actual age.

She smiled at him as she slid into the seat opposite him. Severus quickly and efficiently placed a muffalato and concealment charm around them.

"Hello, Severus." Hermione spoke first. He had missed the sound of her voice and the soft way she spoke his name.

"Hermione." He nodded his head in acknowledgement.

"Did you have trouble getting away?" she asked him.

"None whatsoever, once I retire to my quarters no-one would dare disturb me." He replied. "Even if the Dark Lord needs me I am summoned to him. And you, I assume you had no problems?"

"I put a mild sleeping draught into the boys hot chocolate, they were out like lights when I left them." Severus watched as she tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. "I double checked our defenses but I don't have much time. I don't want to leave them like that for long."

"Very prudent," he replied. "Have you made any progress with the horcruxes?"

"No, it's so frustrating, why did Dumbledore have to be so cryptic?" She sighed heavily. "Surely he could have told us everything he knew, things that might have helped us. Instead of just drip feeding us clues here and there."

"He was a good man, Hermione." Severus thought for a second about telling her everything he knew of Dumbledore's plans. He paused but finally decided that he should let things play out the way the old wizard had wanted. "I am sure that he had his reasons for doing things the way he has."

"Maybe, I hope so because right now we are getting nowhere." She answered. "And you? Have you any news?"

"The Dark Lord is gathering his troops, he is waiting for the giants to decide who side they will fight on." He continued. "He is searching for something. I don't know what but once he has it I fear it won't be long until he makes his move."

"So this is it then? This is where everything changes." She looked at him, her gentle eyes searched his for reassurance. He wished that he could tell her everything would be all right but he could not lie to her.

"I'm afraid so Hermione however this ends, whoever triumphs we are going to lose a lot of good people." Her shoulders dropped at his words and an air of inevitability seemed to overtake her body.

"I really must be getting back to the boys." Her voice quiet as she slid from the booth and stood up. Severus also rose and reached for her arm, gently cupping her elbow.

"Please be careful Hermione." He spoke softly. "Don't be reckless, don't let those dunderheads endanger you any more than is necessary. I would hate for you not to survive this." Severus fought the urge to grab her and apperate. To go far away from any danger but he knew that she would never stay with him. Her loyalty to the boys would never allow her to abandon them.

"You too Severus, try not to get yourself killed." She said with a tremor in her voice.

"I am of no consequence, I fear should the Dark Lord learn of my treachery he will show me no mercy." He replied matter of factly. "I will not be missed or mourned, I'll just be another name on the list of dead."

Severus was taken aback as Hermione suddenly reached for him, pulling him to her. Her arms encircled his waist tightly, her cheek pressed against the fabric of his jacket. He hesitated for a second and then he wrapped his arms around her, encasing her protectively in his robe. Bending his head down he could smell the soft fragrance of honeysuckle in her hair.

"Please, don't say things like that, I can't bear to hear it. I would miss you, I would mourn you" Her voice choked with emotion. "Can't you see what is right in front of your eyes? Haven't you been able to tell these last few months how I feel about you?"

"How you feel about me?" Severus could scarcely believe what he was hearing, was it possible that she cared for him too? "But I thought that you and the Weasley boy were together!"

"Once I had hoped for that too but not anymore. You gave me the chance to see what kind of man you are, allowed me to see the real man beneath the mask you wear and that is the man I have grown to love." Her arms tightened around his waist, pulling her body closer to his. "I know that I am making a complete fool of myself but this might be my last chance to let you know."

Severus held on to her, scarcely comprehending the things she was saying. All these weeks he had kept his feelings buried, convincing himself that he was being foolish over the young woman who was cradled in his arms professing her love to him.

Pulling back he placed his fingers beneath her chin, gently tilting her head until he could look into her eyes. Unable to find the words to tell her how he felt he lowered his head and his mouth found hers. His hand reached behind her head, his long fingers entwining through her hair holding her to him.

Her soft lips yielded under his, her body melted against his making a perfect fit. Severus held back, not knowing how experienced she was and not wanting to scare her off with the passion that was coursing through his body. Hermione's lips parted and he felt her tongue pass slowly across his lips, he opened his mouth to allowed her access. As she explored his mouth she wantonly pressed her body closer to his, a fire ripped through him as his cock hardened between them.

Could she not feel what she was doing to him he thought. All he wanted was her, to undress her, to lie beside her. He wanted to explore her body, to allow his mouth to trace every curve and dip. For his tongue to discover how she would taste, to watch her fall to pieces as he drove her to climax.

For the first time in his life he was holding the woman he loved in his arms and for her to respond to him was amazing. He could feel her hands gripping the back of his jacket, her mouth moved against his as they both fought to explore as much as possible.

Taking all his willpower he broke away from her lips, pulling back looked at her. Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks flushed and her mouth swollen from the ardor of their kiss. He had never seen anything so beautiful in his life.

"This can't be all we have, this can't be the last time we see each other Hermione." Severus spoke. "Come to me again, come to my quarters at Hogwarts."

"I can't," she replied, taking a step back from him and dropping her arms. "It's too dangerous."

"You will be with me, nothing will harm you I'll make sure of it."

She raised her hand to cup his cheek, her thumb traced along the line of his cheekbone.

"I can't promise but I will try." Her eyes shone with tears he could see building. She quickly turned from him and headed to the door without a look back.

As Severus watched her make her way across the room he experienced a feeling he had not felt for many years. He watched her leave with a tiny glimmer of hope for the future.

HGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSSHGSS

Throwing the covers from his body Severus swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Sitting on the side he ran his fingers through his hair and let out a sigh. Standing he dropped his pajamas and threw them onto the unmade bed. Making his way to the bathroom he paused in front of the mirror, studying his reflection. Noting his drawn appearance and the bags under his eyes, he thought no wonder Hermione had never shown up. For a while he had been stupid enough to believe that she cared for him as he did for her. Their last meeting had given him hope, something to hold onto, only for it to be dashed by her not coming to him.

He stepped into the shower and turned on the water; he placed his hands on the wall and dropped his head under the warm flow. The water quickly wet his hair causing it to fall around his face, curtaining him inside. He was shocked as the unmistakable feeling of magic tingled through his body, letting him know that she had passed through his wards. He could scarcely believe that she had come; he knew that only she could walk freely through the protection he had put in place. He quietly began to put a ward in place that he had been working on in case she turned up. An extra protection for if anyone tried to enter while Hermione was here, one that would allow them to apperate if the need arose.

He stood still, his head under the water not daring to move. He wanted Hermione so much right now that he did not want to just go out and talk to her. He wanted her to come to him, for her to want him the same way he needed her. He wanted her to come to him because she wanted to, not from a sense of duty or pity but because she too could not think of being with anyone else.

He heard the shower door slide open and then close, he released a breath that he had not even realized he was holding as her arms wrapped around his waist. He could feel her nakedness against his back, as she pressed closer to him. Standing straight he leant back into her, his hands reaching to cover hers.

"You came." He whispered. He marveled at the feel of her skin against his, her breasts pushed into his back.

"Shhhh!" He felt the warmth of her breath as she began to place light kisses across his back.

He dropped his hands away allowing her to freely explore his body. Her touch was soft and gentle; she ran her fingers over his stiffened nipples. Anticipation coursed through him as her hands tentatively moved down his body, over his stomach. He let out a long, ragged sigh of satisfaction as her hand finally wrapped around his throbbing erection.

She began to stroke up and down, steadily speeding up her ministrations. Severus knew that he would not be able to take much more as her thumb rubbed across the tip of his cock. Reaching out he grasped her hand, spinning quickly around to face her. Barely taking time to register the look of surprise on her face he pushed her back against the tiled wall, his mouth covering hers in a searing kiss. She responded to him immediately opening her mouth, their tongues hungrily exploring each other.

His hands ran down her sides over her hips, settling on her buttocks, fingers splayed out he lifted her up. He was pleased when she raised her legs, wrapping them around his waist leaving herself open for his entry. Selfishly, not taking time to see if she was ready for him he thrust up inside her. Her walls were wet and welcoming letting him know that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Tearing his lips away resting his cheek next to hers, he pushed up harder and faster as he neared his climax. Her hands grasped at his shoulders, nails dragging over his skin as she moaned in pleasure. With a guttural groan from the pit of his stomach he released himself inside her, feeling her constrict and pulse around his shaft as she too came apart. Trembling and shaking they stood still while they both gathered themselves, heartbeats and breathing slowing to a steady rhythm.

Severus reluctantly pulled out of her, a feeling of loss taking over his body. He eased his weight away from her allowing her to lower her legs and stand in front of him. Looking down at her flushed cheeks and bruised lips, he had never seen her look more beautiful and he wondered how he was ever going to let her go. He knew that she would have to go back to the boys but that was not going to make it any easier.

Hermione reached up and gently touched his cheek; standing on tiptoes she placed a tender kiss on his lips. Without a word she opened the shower door and left him in the cubicle. He stood and watched her as she quickly rubbed her body with a towel and struggled to get her clothes on to her damp body.

He willed her to turn and look at him, to see her soft brown eyes one more time before she left. He fought the urge to go grab her and just leave, taking her to safety. He could bear it no longer as he watched her walk toward the door.

"Hermione." He softly said her name and for a second she hesitated, then she was gone.

He felt her once again cross his wards and he knew that this might have been the only time they had together. He made a silent vow to himself that if by some miracle they both survived the coming battle that he would find her and make sure they were never parted again.

His life. His love. His heart.