I rarely write on here, this is the only story I have on here actually! I usually post on AO3, so check out The_Ragwort_Butterfly if you want more fic goodness!

Hermione lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. She loved Ron, loved him so much, even though he was more of a brother to her than anything. But what she missed the most was having someone near her, someone to talk to her when she was lonely, or unsure. She had Crookshanks, who was curled up next to her on the bed, purring in his sleep.

But she could use someone right now.

Every time she tried to close her eyes she saw Rabastan's face, slices so deep he seemed to be dissected, organs spilling from his stomach, the skin of his arms flayed, peeling around the bones. She blinked the salt from her eyes and rose out of bed. Severus had asked her if she liked it.

No. She didn't. She hadn't liked a single bit of it.

Severus was dark, he was forbidden. He was everything she wasn't. But he was also brilliant, and interesting, and he wanted her. He wants you.

She was stepping into unknown territory by seeing Severus. They weren't together by any means, and she knew they could never be because his secret would emerge, and what would he do then? Would he be arrested despite being exonerated of all crimes...Rookwood's murder investigation was still ongoing and while Rookwood was a Death Eater...murder was still murder, at the end of the day.

Hermione's stomach clenched. She was a murderer. She killed a man, no matter what angle she spun in her head, she still killed him. Hermione turned on her stomach and breathed into her pillow. She almost wished she hadn't left Snape's and just stayed for a bit longer, so she wouldn't have to think about it. All alone, in the dark.

Let go, Severus' voice whispered in her head. She sighed and thought about what he had said, even in the past...what it all could mean. But she couldn't get the image of his long legs out of her head, and she thanked the gods for the distraction.

She wondered what would happen if she had come closer, slipped down to her knees before him. What expression would his face take on? Would he be smug, superior, already anticipating what moves she would make? Or would he be shocked, skeptical, barely moving...or perhaps even skittish as she would stroke the instep of his foot lightly, cradling the elegant, long-toed feet in her lap.

She didn't know, but she wanted to find out. She pulled the blanket she was cuddled in away, feeling trickles of sweat bead on her flushed skin. She flicked her wand to the window, opening it slightly and letting the cool air waft into the room. Her nipples peaked through her loose t-shirt, and she tried to ignore the pulse of sensation she felt at thoughts of Severus.

She ignored the heat that fizzled in her belly, and closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep.

Hermione sighed into her cup of tea. Earl Grey today, to match the color of the sky. She set her cup down and slid the Daily Prophet away from herself. Everyone was at work, and she had absolutely nothing to do today but read.

Or see Severus.

She couldn't face him right now, not with the thoughts that had been teeming in her head all night. How mortifying would it be if he Occluded and would see all of those images...it wasn't as if any were quite bad, or dirty...but still...how embarrassing. And after what he had said last night...

Hermione shook her head and picked up her cup once more. Her eyes lit upon the old book she bought at Aceline's shop. Perhaps she should pay old Aceline a visit today, as well. But first...

She set the cup down and stalked to one of the many bookshelves, grabbing Olde Potions In the Dark Ages. She cracked the heavy book open after sitting back down on the couch and perusing the pages. Maybe something in this book would explain why Severus was acting so secretive...although from what little she knew of him back in school and during the war, he had always been that way.

She stopped halfway through the book after pouring over the pages she hadn't read yet. This one was to cure gout, the next one was a deadly, tasteless potion to liquify the victim from the inside out. What a dreadful way to go.

She stopped at Snake Oil and started to close the book until her fingers slipped along the page. It felt as if it were made of snakeskin. She opened it further. There were two potions, one on each page. She read the former first.

Anti-Venom

A potion to purify victims poison-induced by venomous animals

Hermione's heart pattered.

This potion does not neutralize the venom right away, rather stops the progression of the venom from poisoning the victim bitten.

Hermione glanced at the other page.

Snake Oil

A potion for those affected by the venom

Half a cup of human blood fain given, a spoonful of spider eyes, crushed scorpion tail, and ashwinder eggshell, with honey of poppy as a base. Addeth venom of the creature who afflicted the wounds, simmer on base that heateth in a gold cauldron. Behove for those who cannot liveth without the venom as this hast gone into the bloodstream and hath changed the chemical balance between human and the creature who hadst bitten the victim. Without this potion, the victim shall indubitably develop traits-

Hermione couldn't read anymore despite her brain teeming with questions that needed answers. She slammed the book shut. Severus was changed from his near fatal encounter with Nagini. Because this...this must be why he bought the book. It was an ancient potion, one she had never once heard of despite reading every book on potions she could get her hands on. This...this was different.

And she didn't know if she should tell him what she discovered.

Hermione paced back and forth in the living room. It was well into the evening, and she hadn't spoken to anyone. She knew she promised Severus to see him tonight, but she didn't know what to do, what to say.

Throwing her cares to the wind, she drew in a shaky breath and Apparated to his doorstep. Tentatively she knocked on the door, almost wishing he didn't answer.

It took a few moments, but he opened the door, his eyes flitting over her face. "What is it?"

She didn't know how he could have known; the fear of the unknown, of him, must have been written all over her face. She wasn't really scared of him, though, was she?

You don't know what he's capable of. He's not human. He enjoys the thought of kill...

Hermione cleared her throat. She didn't care that he might be only half human. That didn't matter. And who knew if her suspicions were even correct? She inhaled sharply through her nose and sat down on his sofa.

He didn't sit down in his chair, instead, he came closer until he was standing before her. She shuttered her mind, she didn't want him to think that she knew. If she was even right about him. She glanced up at him; she couldn't see his pupils from far away, but she knew they were there, assessing her silently. She felt a slight push against her mind and she averted her eyes.

"Don't do that," Hermione said, turning her head to look at her hands that were clasped in her lap.

"My apologies," Severus said and sat down in the armchair. "You seem...worried."

"I'm not," Hermione interjected. "I'm just...stressed. And I haven't been able to sleep."

"Hm," Severus said, and didn't continue. Hermione drew in a breath.

"I keep seeing him...that spell...I didn't know it could kill. I can't get the image out of my...out of my mind."

"Sometimes it's better to remember," Severus said, and Hermione jerked her head up to glare at him. "You know what you're capable of, now. You're stronger, despite what you may think. You can protect your friends, yourself, without the help of others."

"I would never do-"

Severus raised his hand slightly, and Hermione fell silent.

"You won't do it again. I know enough of you to see that. You can't forget such things, no matter how much you want..." he drifted off and broke his gaze to stare at a bookshelf.

"Do you want to forget?" Hermione asked. She had no qualms about asking questions anymore, but she still didn't want to bring up her discovery.

He didn't say anything for a long while. Slowly he turned his head to look at her. "Every day," he said softly.

"But you liked it."

He snorted. "The moment doesn't matter, it's the aftermath," he said. "And if I liked the moment...it was only to those who deserved it."

"No one deserves such a fate," Hermione snapped. She wasn't in the mood for mind games tonight.

"Oh?" He shifted in his chair. "What of the Dark Lord, then, who killed so many, felled by Potter himself? Or Bellatrix Lestrange, who tortured you?" Hermione let out a small whimper. "Yes, I know all about that. Killed by Molly Weasley, wasn't she?"

Hermione gulped.

"Killed by a mother protecting her children. Do you think she regrets it?"

Hermione shook her head slowly. She hadn't thought of it like that. Still...

"Then spare me your Gryffindor sensibilities," Severus sneered, his crooked teeth showing in between the curl of his thin lips. "Just be grateful you are still in one piece."

Hermione's head started pounding to the rhythm of her heartbeat and she lifted her hand to massage her temples. Her arm tingled with pain, and she tried to ignore it, but she had forgotten to take her potion today...she let her arm dropped to her trembling legs.

Severus lifted himself out of his chair and made his way into another room. When he emerged, he was carrying a blue bottle. "Take this," he said, and Hermione took the bottle, their fingers brushing as she grasped it and looked up at him.

"You obviously are still feeling aftershocks," Severus said. "I can see it plain as day, even though you were remiss to tell me."

Hermione nodded and took a deep gulp of the potion. Instantly her bones seemed to melt in her prickling skin, her muscles lax. "Thank you," she whispered. It was better than even the potion Persimmon had given her.

"Would you like a drink?" Severus asked, still standing before her. Hermione shook her head.

"I'm a bit hungry," Hermione said, "if you have food. Or want to order take-out."

Severus scoffed. "Take-out? I'm not having anyone over, not even a Muggle."

"Fine," Hermione said. "I'll go get something, then I'll bring it back. How does curry sound?"

"You're in no shape to be traveling on foot."

Hermione shook her head. "I'll be alright. I'm more hungry than I am tired."

"Fine," Severus sighed, and turned to the table next to him. He pulled out a dusty black piece of leather that Hermione was sure must be a wallet. "I am half-blood, after all," Severus said, handing her a bit of money. "Do you really think I go into Diagon Alley often?"

Hermione grabbed the proffered money and made her way out the door. "I'll be back, then."

She walked down the street, past the many houses that looked exactly the same. It wasn't a beautiful community by any means. Severus' house was small, just like all of the others here. She walked a few blocks until she reached a Muggle Chinese restaurant. Well, that would have to do. She didn't know the area well enough. She hoped Severus liked potstickers.

After a fifteen minute wait, the food was ready. She grabbed the paper bag and moved to the back of the restaurant, praying she could Apparate without spilling all of the food. She popped in front of Severus' door and opened it, carrying the bag inside and setting it down on the table.

"Chinese," she declared, handing Severus the change. "And a lot of it."

"You must be famished," Severus noted, as Hermione dug into her General Tso. Hermione grunted around a piece of chicken. She swallowed and watched as Severus examined a dumpling before dunking it in soy sauce.

Luckily they both knew how to use chopsticks, but Hermione was sure that Severus had utensils anyway. She finished the rest of her rice and set the container down with a sigh.

"That was perfect," she said. Severus let out a deep chuckle, and Hermione could feel it reverberate in her bones.

"It was acceptable, despite the grease," he answered, dabbing his mouth with a napkin and setting his own down as well.

"What are you reading, nowadays?" Hermione asked. Severus raised a single brow.

"Well, I'm reading a Muggle novel currently," he said, reaching next to him to pull out a hardcover book. He handed it to Hermione, who scanned opened the old book.

"Lovecraft," she murmured. "Interesting."

"Surely you know of him," Severus said, and Hermione nodded.

"Of course." She opened the page where a bookmark was placed. "The Alchemist?"

Severus drew in a breath, then began to speak. Hermione listened, but she let the sound of his smooth voice wash over her like soft silk. "Fool!' he shrieked, 'Can you not guess my secret? Have you no brain whereby you may recognize the will which has through six long centuries fulfilled the dreadful curse upon the house? Have I not told you of the great elixir of eternal life? Know you not how the secret of Alchemy was solved? I tell you, it is I! I! I, that have lived for six hundred years to maintain my revenge, for I am Charles Le Sorcier!'" Severus cleared his throat. "There are many references to the Philosopher's Stone...the elixir of life. Lovecraft was very influential, for a Muggle. If he was one."

"He must have been a great influence since you can quote him as easily as that."

"I can quote many things," Severus retorted. "I have what you might say...a photographic memory."

"And a very sharp mind," Hermione said, before breaking out in a blush.

"Mm," Severus hummed, but he didn't disagree. "How long will you stay tonight?"

She hadn't thought of that. She didn't want to go back to her flat just yet...it was lonely, vacant despite the books surrounding her. Books were dear, she treated them as if they were living creatures. She was still wary of him, but they were comfortable right now, talking about common interests, sharing a meal together. She sighed and stretched.

"A little while longer," she answered. "I don't have work tomorrow, and I don't see my friends until Friday."

"How fortuitous for me," Severus smirked, and Hermione's belly fluttered, the icy fear she once felt blocking in the pit of her stomach now falling like melting snowflakes. Hermione smiled warmly.

"You're nice company."

"Nice?"

"Good, I should say. You're not particularly nice," Hermione said, and nearly clapped her hand over her mouth. To her surprise, Severus let out a peal of laughter that came from deep in his chest.

"I'm not unaware," Severus replied. Hermione let out a small chuckle and moved her chopsticks so that they sat on top of the box of food.

"I wish I could..." Hermione started, then stopped. She couldn't. She couldn't ask him any questions.

"Could what?" Severus asked, peering at her, but she knew he could tell what she was about to say.

"Nothing. It's not important."

"Even under my tutelage, you would speak whatever was on your mind. Why stop now?"

It was a challenge. Hermione narrowed her eyes and averted her gaze. "Your eyes."

Hermione glanced over to see his eyes widen, but he said nothing.

"You're different," Hermione continued. "You're different, and you're alone, and I wish I could help you. I want to help you."

"I don't need help," Severus hissed, snatching the book back and setting it down again. "I've never needed help before..." he drifted off again. Hermione should stop, she knew she should. But she was too far along to stop running.

"Please," she said, and ignoring the voice in her head that told her to stop, and listening to the voice that told her to keep going, say something, do something, he can't reject you now

"I won't...I can't..." Severus said, and Hermione stood up, walking toward his chair, and watching his eyes widen as she fell to her knees. She clutched his black-clad shins and stared up at his wide, astonished eyes, and drew in a deep breath.

"You can tell me. I'm not one to share secrets," Hermione said. "Nagini...all of it. How are you still here?"

"No!" Severus hissed, brushing her hands off of his legs. "That story is anything but pretty. You...no one has any business knowing."

"But someone does know," Hermione urged. "Someone comes here. Someone helps you. Surely..."

"I haven't changed my mind," Severus said, his voice soft and dangerous.

"But I'm here," Hermione said. "I came looking for you, and...I enjoy spending time with you. I don't want it to end. I just...I'm just...it's in my nature to be curious. And if you need me..." She recalled the potion, how he needed half a cup of blood to complete it. If Severus really was afflicted...if his humanity was dwindling away...the least she could do was to spill a few drops for him.

She raised her head and stared into his eyes, watching the black slices of his pupils grow darker as he shoved into her mind.

Harry, Ron, laughing, crowing about Quidditch as she sipped her butterbeer

The potions book, snakeskin, Snake Oil, not human...not human...he needs...

Aceline's shop, galleons, so many galleons, the potions book, rushing after Severus, watching for him day after day, so many questions, so curious

She found out where he lived, was he responsible for this?

The kelpie, furious and majestic, Lestrange, covered in blood, mangled and leaking so much

Persimmon, dabbing her forehead with a warm washcloth

'Hufflepuffs are good finders' Ernie laughing, Hermione laughing with him

Ron...she missed Ron...would he still be her friend? Did she betray him?

The arch of Severus' elegant foot, proffered and waiting for her to stroke her fingers over him, nibble on his long, delicate toes

"Stop!" Hermione cried. "Stop. That's enough, right? That's all you need." She turned her head slightly.

Severus said nothing, but his nostrils were flared, his eyes wild. He lowered his eyes. "You don't know everything," Severus said. "And that's a good thing."

Hermione raised her face. "I know enough. And I want to help."

Severus exhaled through his large nose, ruffling his greasy hair. "You don't know what you're asking for, silly little girl."

"But I want to know," Hermione said. "I do."

His eyes flashed with something deadly. "You want to know? Do you want to see?" He tore through his collar, hissing slightly as he raised his wand to his throat.

The flesh of his neck seemed to melt off, and Hermione gasped. Corded bite scars protruded from it, white and shining from his skin. But that wasn't the only thing that was different.

Scales, glinting black and green in the dim light were crawling down his neck, stopping at his collarbone. They were only on one side, the underside of where the scars were. But as he moved, they shimmered in the light.

"Oh," Hermione breathed. But they were beautiful.

"Yes," Severus scowled. "I'm truly a monster, now. Is there anything else you'd like to know? How much I deserve this, for taunting you all of those years, instead of trying to protect you idiots from yourselv-"

Letting go of her inhibitions, Hermione lifted herself up to kiss him.

Severus seemed frozen underneath her, and she moved her lips timidly against his own. His mouth was closed, and she didn't feel like pushing him any further, but there was one more place she'd like to kiss.

She pecked his smooth cheek before bending down lower, burying her face in the side of his neck, and placing a soft kiss on the scales.

Severus jerked underneath her, a low moan rumbling through him. She smiled against the scales and let her tongue flicker out, tasting the strange sweetness. It wasn't anything like flesh...but at the same time, it was...this was so surreal, kissing Snape, worshipping the part of him he seemed to loathe the most.

She opened her mouth against the scales and sucked a patch into her mouth, and this time, she was rewarded by the arch of his back, his hands moving through her bushy hair, his fingers getting tangled in the mess of it. She moved lower, past the scales and closer to his lightly furred chest.

"You—" Severus gasped, and Hermione lifted her mouth, feeling her lips swollen and sensitive against the thumb he dragged across them.

"You need me," Hermione said, shocked at her own boldness. "I can help you. I know I can, I'll give you my blood. I don't know who else is helping you, but...I can, too."

"Yesssss," Severus hissed, and Hermione felt a jolt of desire spike through her. She wanted to kiss him more, make him moan, feel him surrender to the sensations that she would give him.

But Severus seemed to have other ideas. He lifted himself up abruptly, and grasped her hand, pulling her all the way up. "You have no idea what you're playing at," Severus said, his voice low.

"Then teach me," Hermione said, once again dumbfounded by the words that were escaping her lips.

"There are many things I can teach you," Severus mused, and stroked her hand with a single finger. "The question is...are you ready to learn?"

"I'm always ready to learn," Hermione retorted. "You've known me for so many years..."

"Then follow me," Severus said, "and we'll see if you're willing to be under my tutelage again."

Hermione drew in a breath as Severus let go of her hand and walked down the hall, up toward the bedroom. She knew what she was doing if he was talking about sex. She knew the basic structure of it, of course. Kissing, a little foreplay, in and out, hopefully longer than twenty minutes. What else could she need to know? Her heart was pounding erratically now. They were going to have sex. She was going to have sex. Sex with Professor Snape. The Severus Snape. Severus.

She drew in a deep, gasping breath, and walked through the door to the bedroom.