As their lips met he heard the floo in his outer room flare to life. He froze, lips against hers, his body covering hers, listening, preparing to defend her with his life if necessary.

'Severus? Hermione? Where are you?'

He relaxed slightly at the Scottish brogue that bellowed into his bedroom, the distress, the tone causing him to break the kiss, to lift his face away from his lover's all the same. He turned slightly, still covering her body with his. 'We're in here.' He offered, loud enough to direct Minerva into their chambers as he pulled the sheet up over Hermione, covering her completely as they booth sat up.

She strode through the door, giving not a second thought to the possible implications of the Headmaster and his charge being ensconced in the bedroom in the early afternoon. 'Oh I see.' The words were muttered as she crossed the threshold, pausing only in relief that they were now covered; the sheet askew over his waist, her chest. 'Well, I hope you finished,' she raised a greying eyebrow as she folded her arms across her chest and leant against the doorframe, her expression smugly proud as she took their dishevelment as a positive sign to her encouraged apology. 'Severus we have a problem.' She straightened then, her face pinching in concern once more. 'Potter and Weasley are here.'

Chapter 38

'Harry's here?' Hermione rolled from the bed, dragging the sheet with her to maintain as much modesty as she could. Her dignity, she was certain, had flown out the metaphorical window with the discovery of her presence in Severus' bed by her once Head of House, the Deputy of the school.

'And where do you think you're going?' Severus moved after her, his body shifting to block her retreat as his hand wrapped about the end of the sheet, holding not only her in place as he held the tail over his groin.

'Maybe if I spoke to him.' She continued, ignoring the raising of his eyebrow, the look of question McGonagall shot in her direction. 'You know what he's like. He's going to run in here all action and no thought. Someone's going to get hurt.'

'I don't want that someone to be you.' He spoke softly as he held her gaze. 'Hermione, it can't be you.'

'I'm the only one who can…' she stopped then, her face dropping as she remembered. 'I'm the only one who can't. I can't help can I?'

'Not if you wish to live. Beyond this war.' Minerva stepped forward then, into the room. 'If you go out there now, all this hiding will have been for nought. You will be a target once more.'

'We will be right back where we started.' Severus reiterated, his expression serious as he stared down at her, silently begging her to heed their warning, knowing he could not lose her now that he had her.

'I just want to help.' She dropped, collapsing gracelessly back onto the bed, her eyes lowering to stare at her fisted hands in her lap. 'I feel so useless here.' She shook her head. 'You're all out there, working towards peace, towards ending Volde…him…' she corrected quickly, watching Severus' face for a reaction, an indication that she had caught her slip before it had caused him pain. 'And what am I doing?'

'You've completed your studies. You're part way through a Potions Apprenticeship.' Minerva looked down at her most prized student. 'You're learning to transform. To be an Animagus.'

'You stole my heart and gave me hope.' Severus spoke quietly, offering his observation alongside Minerva's. 'And if you managed to do that, god only knows what else you've been capable of doing while down here. I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't planned an entire battle strategy, developed new spells and improved on old potions.' He smirked once he saw her blush under his words, knowing he was close to the mark. 'Don't think I haven't noticed your notes in my books.'

'I'm sorry.' She muttered thinking he was truly unimpressed with her defiling his books, his potion recipes in such a way.

'Don't be.' He smiled fully then. 'They're quite insightful.' He quirked a brow at her. 'And will no doubt change the Wizarding world as we know it.' He placed a hand under her chin and lifted her eyes back to his. 'No one will ever accuse you of sitting this war out. You have been as vital as every other person out there fighting.'

'But that's just it.' She caught her lower lip between her teeth for a moment. 'They're out there. Fighting. You're going back out there.' Her head dropped forwards again to let her look at the floor. 'And I'm in here. Playing with you dog.'

'That's not the only thing you've been playing with, My Dear.' Minerva smirked, watching the blush spread across both of their faces at her intentional innuendo. 'I'm sure you've been playing with every possible scenario to see Mr. Potter victorious.' She finished off her statement, knowing without a doubt the girl had been anything but idle for the months she had been in secluded hiding.

'This needs to be over.' Hermione's voice grew stronger then as she attempted to detract from the obvious situation they found themselves in, discussing warfare, undressed, unarmed and under-manned. 'I need this to be over. I need to get out of here. Severus needs to get out of here. Severus needs to live. To be who he is.'

'I couldn't agree more.' Minerva stepped forward, placing a hand on the man's bare shoulder. 'But might I advise getting dressed first.' She smirked down at both of them.

'You're taking this rather well.' Severus shook his head before locking challenging eyes on his mentor, his friend. 'The most despised Headmaster in Hogwart's history caught in flagrante with the Princess of Gryffindor.'

'I only see two of my favorite people who could not be more suited for each other.' Minerva smiled softly as she shrugged. 'And fortunately I arrived after the flagrante part.'

Hermione giggled then imagining exactly what it would have looked like had Minerva arrived a few moments earlier. 'That was fortunate.'

'I'm sure it was beautiful.' Minerva commented, as though reading the younger woman's mind. She directed her gaze to glance out the window. 'It always is. When love is involved.' She brought her eyes back to the other occupants of the room. 'But, now we must go and deal with this latest development.' She took a deep breath, as Severus conjured his clothing to wrap itself about his body. She watched as he stood then, fully clothed, his scowl settled back onto his features, his façade in place. 'I am sorry Severus.'

He tugged on the bottom of his frock coat before turning to face Hermione, his face softening just a fraction. 'I will be back.'

'I'll be right here. Waiting.' She grinned then. 'Probably with pants on… you know, just in case.'

'Sage will be here in the event of just in case.'

'I'll still put on pants.' Hermione smiled up at him.

'Not a bad idea.' Minerva smirked before schooling her features. 'I will bring him back to you. That I promise Hermione. I have made many mistakes in this war, but not seeing him home safely will not be one of them.'

'And if your prized Gryffindor, the boy who lived has something to say to the contrary?' Severus quirked an eyebrow at his Deputy, knowing the answer before she delivered it.

She stood taller. 'He was Albus' prize.' She narrowed her eyes. 'And if he attempts to interfere, I will tell him to stuff it.' She grinned, the expression feral. 'A moment before I stuff it for him.'

AN/ Sorry it's short - hopefully you'll forgive me after the epic lemons chapter posted last week - but seemed like a natural pause point in the story...

happy reading.

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