For the last few weeks of term, Hermione decided she was finished dealing with the ups and downs of Severus Snape. If he didn't want her, then she was not going to beg, or follow him around like some sort of pathetic lapdog. She was better than that and deserved more.
But was she over him? Not at all.
Hermione realized that she had indeed fallen in love with him, so ignoring him just as thoroughly as he did her was one of the more difficult things she'd done. There were times when she'd falter and find herself nearly speak to him in the Staff Lounge, or any other time they were in close quarters with one another. But as soon as she'd catch herself doing so, she'd snap herself out of it.
Once term had ended she returned back to her empty flat. Ginny and Luna had long since moved out; Ginny with Harry and Luna with a man Rolf she had begun to date. Although she cleaned and redecorated, trying to make the place more distinctly hers, and had all the books she could wish to read, she couldn't deny that she was feeling dreadfully lonely.
One evening in late July she sat reading on her couch in front of a roaring fire. The words kept blurring on her as she found her mind traveling to those few precious moments she had spent wrapped up in Severus in his rooms, or the Potions classroom.
She remembered the tenderness in which he held her, and that burning look in his eyes as they would intertwine for hours at a time. He loved her. She knew he did, but for whatever reason he seemed determined to deny himself of her love in return.
Maybe if she actually had said the words out loud, it could have changed everything.
Hermione checked the time and saw it was nearing midnight. Should she do it, she wondered? Would he even agree to see her? She closed her book and placed it on the end table next to her. To hell with it. She would go to him tonight and make him see reason. If two people truly loved one another, it was beyond madness for them not to give it a go together.
She had a vague idea of where he lived, due to snooping through the staff files on a night she was particularly bored. Before she could talk herself out of it, Hermione grabbed her travelling cloak, tried to flatten her hair the best she could and prepared to leave. With a twist of her body she disappeared into the crushing darkness before her feet slapped down onto sopping wet pavement. It was pouring rain.
After arriving to his home and letting herself in, Hermione wasn't quite sure what to say. She let herself look around the front room of his home while she tried to find the right words.
His sitting room was lined with bookshelves holding nearly as many books as Flourish and Blotts. There was a tattered old armchair, covered with patches and burn marks, sitting next to stone fireplace - the fire long since burned out. The room had that musty smell of old parchment and a slight pungent odor of chemicals. She assumed he did some of his potion making at home. The green wallpaper was peeling in small strips and the wooden floor had a thin layer of dust; footprints could be seen from where Severus had travelled around the room. His home screamed of neglect and suggested that he was a simple man with simple needs, but Hermione thought of him as anything but.
"Severus," she breathed out with her back still towards him. She didn't quite have the courage to look at him yet.
"What are you doing here?" he asked for a second time.
This would be her last attempt, she told herself. If he rejected her this time, then she would let him go for good. She had spent the better part of a year trying to convince him that he was worthy of love, but if he would not listen this final time, she was through. She could not continue to put herself through the emotional madness that she had enured these past several months.
"We need to talk," she said firmly.
With a steadying breath, she turned around. Severus stood with his arms folded across his chest, wearing a look like she was some sort of fly that had entered his home. One he could not swat away.
"I think we pretty much cleared everything up the last time we had spoken, don't you?" he said quietly.
Her eyes narrowed. "Hardly," she replied with steel in her voice.
Hermione took on the stance of a person who would not be moved by even the strongest of winds. Her face was set and determined, and she would not leave until she either had him back, or had some closure. She assumed Severus realized this, as she watched him hunch over slightly and flourish his wand, conjuring two wooden chairs.
He let out an annoyed breath while shaking his head. "Sit," he ordered as he took a seat of his own.
It was a start, she thought as she sat down. At least he seemed somewhat willing to listen to her.
"Well, Miss Gran-"
A white hot rage surged through her, and Hermione drew her wand, aiming it directly at him. "If you refer to me as 'Miss Granger' one more time, after everything we've done together, I will not hesitate to blast your nose from your face," she hissed through her teeth.
Severus rolled his eyes. Hermione was insulted that he didn't have the gall to even look remotely intimidated by her threat.
"Alright, Hermione," he stressed with a pointed look. "What did you wish to discuss?"
Placing her wand back in her pocket, Hermione spoke to him as if Severus were a small child. "What do you think I'm here to discuss, Severus?"
She watched a flash of anger go through his eyes at her tone as he leaned back in his seat. "Go on then."
And so Hermione launched into her speech that she had mentally rehearsed at least fifty times that evening.
"I think you're a foolish man," she began. "I do not understand why you are so determined to not allow yourself any happiness. You cannot sit there and honestly tell me that you do not have feelings for me. So why are you so dead set on spoiling everything?"
He began to respond, but Hermione was not exactly looking for an answer. She cut him off and continued speaking rapidly.
"I don't want to hear the same excuses you've spewed dozens of time. Because, quite frankly, they're idiotic. I don't care about your age. That means nothing to me! I don't care about your past, because, it. is. your. past. What matters to me is who you are now. Right now, in this moment. And you know what Severus? As much as you try to argue or disagree with me, you're not the monster you attempt to portray yourself as. I don't know how many times I have to tell you, or in how many different languages - should I perhaps try Gobbledegook next?"
Severus sat forward in his chair, bringing his face inches from her own. She felt his breath on her neck and tried to surprise a shudder. "Don't get smart, Hermione," he threatened
Hermione leaned in closer, locking her eyes in his. "You don't frighten me, Severus. Because, the truth is...the truth is." she felt her hands begin to shake and her throat tightened. It was now or never, she thought. "The truth is that...I love you, Severus. I have fallen completely in love with you. And, I think - or hope at least - that you love me, too. I was able to see it, Severus. I could feel it! And for you to continually deny yourself love and happiness, it's - it's lunacy!"
The tension in that moment was unbearably thick. Hermione's chest heaved, breathing heavily after her passionate speech. She had thrown all of her cards on the table. Severus' nostrils flared and his eyes widened at her declaration. He once again looked like a man who was battling two parts of himself. Hermione knew that this was the pinnacle moment. Either he would throw her from his home, or he would finally realize that she was right in everything that she had said.
Hermione hadn't moved a muscle and remained silent. She had a feeling that if she were to say one more word, it could possibly shatter every point that she had made. Severus seemed stunned into silence. He sat back in his chair and ran both hands through his hair. Although, she could have sworn she heard him mumbling to himself, but she couldn't make out the words. Her heart was beating so quickly that she was afraid it would reach it's final beat at the age of twenty-four. He just had to understand that she was right and that he was being a complete fool about the entire situation.
When he finally looked at her, there was true pain in his eyes. "Hermione," his voice was much calmer and much softer than it had been the entire evening. He was almost speaking to her as he had while they shared those few weeks sneaking about the castle together. "I - I had no idea that you...that you felt that way," he admitted.
With a nod of her head, Hermione let the corner of her mouth curl into a half-smile. "I do," she whispered.
Severus looked as if he had been Confunded. He tilted his head to the side and placed his index finger across his lower lip - his eyebrows came together. "Why?" he asked, a tone of genuine curiosity filled his voice. "Of all the men in the world..."
Her heart squeezed painfully seeing that he truly could not fathom how anyone could love him. She could hear it in his voice and see it plainly written all over his face. He did not, or could not understand. But she would make him.
"Yes. Of all the men in the world, I love you. You, Severus. What about that is so difficult for you to wrap your head around?" She was beginning to raise her voice - lose control. She wanted to do this as calmly as she could, but he was making it extremely hard for her.
"You love me." He said the words slowly, like they were foreign to him and did not make sense in that order.
Hermione's temper was starting to rise. "Yes, Severus."
At times it boggled her mind as well. Yes he was older, and could be absolutely insufferable, yet she had also seen a side of him that she was sure no one had seen in many years. A softer side. Kinder. Someone who was funny, who challenged and stimulated her intellectually, as well as physically. As much as it was completely mental for her to love him, it also made perfect sense for her to do so.
Severus remained silent for quite some time. He seemed to be studying every inch of the woman in front of him. Hermione watched his eyes travel from her own, down to her mouth, her busy hair, then her entire body. Her cheeks flushed as his eyes hesitated for a moment when they reached her breasts, and should couldn't help but to think of the last time he had looked at her in that way. She couldn't take the silence any longer.
"Say something," she pleaded, even though she wasn't entirely sure she was ready or wanted to hear what he may have had to say.
Still without saying a word, he stood up and moved away from her, turning his back. Hermione sat with baited breath until finally, he spoke.
"Hermione. I - I don't know how much I would be able to offer you. I believe you may have noticed by now that I do not know how to deal with my emotions very well. I've never been one for romance or any of that nonsense. I've lived most of my life surrounded by hate, greed and more ugliness than you could possibly comprehend."
Although she had heard much of this before, his voice was different this time. It wasn't dismissive or cruel; it almost sounded like an apology.
"I don't care abo-"
Severus around then placed his finger on her lips to stop her from speaking. "Please. Let me finish."
Hermione's pulse quickened. Was she getting through to him after all? she wondered, full of hope.
"As I was saying, I don't feel as if I could give you what you need, but I am a selfish man, Hermione. I always have been. And the reason I tried so hard to push you away was because…"
He squatted down so he was level with her, then took his hands and placed them on both of her face. Hermione's heart felt like it was about to burst as she watched this man - this man she loved, struggle with finding the right words to say to her. In that moment, he looked less like a broken and defeated person, and more like a lovesick teenager who was terrified of admitting his true feelings. She knew what he was about to say before the words left his mouth, and she was elated.
Without warning, he pulled her head in close to his and closed his eyes, before placing a soft and gentle kiss on her lips. There was a part inside Hermione that was jumping up and down in victory, and another part of her that was entirely taken off guard and praying he meant it this time. When she arrived to his doorstep that night she hoped that things would have gone this way, but she had absolutely not expected things to end up this way.
Too soon Severus pulled away, yet he kept hold of Hermione and looked deep into her eyes.
"I love you, too," he admitted once and for all.
Hermione's head spun. A huge smile broke out upon her face and she felt as if the weight of ten thousand suns was lifted from her shoulders. It was a weight she had not even realized she was carrying until he finally said those three words she had been so longing to hear.
With a reckless abandon, Hermione threw her arms around Severus' neck, nearly toppling both of them over, and kissed him as if it were the first time. Every unspoken word and every emotion was put into that kiss, and it felt as if Severus was doing the same. She was quite sure that no one had ever been kissed quite as passionately, and purely as they had in that moment. The entire house could have gone up in flames and she was damn sure that neither one of them would have noticed.
Without breaking away, and with the speed of a much younger man, Severus scooped her up into his arms, cradling her into his chest. She wasn't quite sure how or when it happened - she was a little distracted - but when he placed her down onto a firm mattress, she realized that he must have taken her to his room. He stood back from the bed and watched her for a moment, looking at her like she might disappear at any moment.
"I'm not going anywhere, Severus," she promised.
"I know," he said while pulling out his wand.
Hermione felt that heat of desire creep up her body. She knew what was coming and had to make a conscious effort to keep from begging. Half of Severus' mouth turned up as he swished his wand, relieving Hermione of her clothing. A wicked grin formed on her face, and she lifted her arms above her head, waiting for what she knew was to come next.
Severus let out a low chuckle and flourished his wand again. Thin ropes wrapped themselves around Hermione's wrists as the opposite ends tied to the bedposts on each side of Severus' bed.
"I've missed this," Severus purred, as his eyes hungrily covered every inch of Hermione's naked body.
Hermione squirmed under his gaze; heat was traveling from her toes to her fingertips. She wanted him more in that moment than she ever had before, now that she knew he loved her as well.
Severus took his time lifting his shirt over his head and removing his pajama bottoms, making a show of it, and laughed quietly when she growled her frustration. He stood before her, never looking more appealing in her eyes. He may not have been what most woman would have found attractive, but to Hermione there was no one who made her blood burn the way he could.
Tapping his finger on his lips, he smirked down at her writhing figure as she tugged against her restraints.
"What do you want, Hermione?" he asked in a silky baritone.
Just the tone of his voice alone nearly caused her to come undone.
"You," she said breathlessly.
Severus crawled onto the bed, between Hermione's legs and lowered his lips to her throat. His breath caused chills to rush throughout her.
"No, no. Tell me exactly what you want."
Hermione felt her face flush and a slight panic filled her. She wasn't exactly the most open person with voicing her desires out loud. The idea of saying the words horrified her.
"You know...I want you to - to...erm," she mumbled.
She felt exceptionally silly, which was not helped when Severus sat up and shook his head at her in mock disappointment.
"Well if you cannot tell me, then I am afraid I will have to guess."
Hermione knew what she wanted. She wanted him to use his tongue on her, as he had so many times, bringing her nearly to the brink of madness when he did.
Before she could muster up the courage to say something, Severus opened her legs and began tracing his tongue on the insides of her thighs. He would travel so very near the place she wanted him to be, then intentionally retreated and moved further away, laughing when she would hiss in anger. She knew he was doing it on purpose and a part of her wished her hands were free so she could reach for her wand and curse him.
"Severus," she whined the fourth time he had done it.
Not removing his mouth from her inner thigh, he whispered against her skin, "Tell me."
Hermione swayed her hips, trying to show him what she wanted. Again he shook his head. It was infuriating.
"Fuck it all! I want you to use your mouth on me, Severus!" she shouted.
He glanced up at her with white hot desire in his eyes. "As you wish."
Then mercifully he gave her exactly what she wanted. Her back arched as she experienced what she was sure was the highest amount of pleasure that any person could possibly experience. The way he knew exactly which spot to hit, and the exact speed and amount of pressure that would send her crashing over the edge, was almost unfair.
Her body climbed higher and higher as he went on, Hermione panting and sighing his name until she reached her peak. Stars formed before her eyes as she squeezed them tightly shut and shouted out incoherently. For some reason, she wasn't sure if it was due to his torturous teasing, or due to the fact that they had expressed their love, what she was experiencing was the most intense climax of her life.
When he finished, she felt entirely wrecked and didn't know if she could handle what would come next. Her eyes grew heavy and began to close.
She felt Severus crawl up towards her and the ropes which bound her to her bed disappeared from her wrists. As she lowered her arms back down he massaged the spots where she had been tied and kissed her lightly.
"I love you, Hermione Granger," he breathed against her lips.
Her heart fluttered at his words and she became so overcome with emotion that tears leaked from her closed eyes. "I love you too, Severus. Forever."
He wiped the moisture from both her cheeks before laying next to her and wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Sleep, my love. We have all the time in the world. I will be here when you wake."
Hermione opened her eyes and looked directly into his. For the first time she didn't see a hint of indecision or hesitancy in them. For the first time, she believed him.
"Promise?" she asked.
He pulled her in closer and kissed her once more.
"For the rest of my life," he promised.
As she nuzzled her head into his chest, Hermione smiled in the arms of the man she loved, and who loved her, before drifting off into the most restful sleep she'd had in months.
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