Hermione's hand flew to her wand with the knock on her door. Voldemort had been dead for three months, defeated at the final battle, but the Aurors were still picking up the surviving Death Eaters, and there had been a few minor attacks. Whoever it was at her cottage door, it couldn't be one of her classmates- she had just been with them at Harry and Ginny's engament party, and most of them were bound to be still celebrating. Her parents were lost to her, somewhere in Australia- had an ambitious Death Eater eager to fill Tom Riddle's shoes found out where she lived? It sure as hell wasn't a door-to-door salesman, not in this downpour. The sky was positively black- it suited her mood quite well.
It shouldn't have. Voldemort was gone once and for all, her best friend was getting engages, the Hogwarts rebuilding was coming along nicely, all was well… Except that it felt so wrong to be going about her daily life without him, not even being able to bury him… When they had returned to the Shrieking Shack, there was a good deal of blood, new and old, but no body. One could bury blood. She had been hopeful, at first- perhaps he was, through some miracle, still alive. But after three months and no word, even a Gryffindor couldn't dare hope.
Crookshanks meowled at the door, clawing at the wood, and Hermione shooed him away, ever so slightly opening the door. Within a second, she had her wand pointing at the man's neck.
"Who are you?"
"This is a low, cruel trick, so before I demonstrate just why the Unforgivables are called that, tell me-"
"The muggles patched me up, then Pomfrey put me in isolation"
"Prove it. Tell me something only Severus Snape would know."
"You have a star-shaped mole on your left hip." His Adam's apple bobbed, and he tugged at the bandages on his neck "At least, I assume that's something only I would know. I- I understand, if…"
Her wand went flying (Moody would murder me if he knew) as she pulled him inside and crushed herself to him.
"I thought you were dead!"
"You could have called-"
"How did you know I wasn't dead?"
He drew in a shuddering breath. "I didn't. It almost drove me mad."
"Serves you right! You- you- I want to murder you myself!"
What little colour there was drained from his face.
"I see. I'm sorry to have disturbed you-"
She pulled him back before he could reach the door, taking his face in her hands, stroking the scarred flesh on his jaw. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I though I'd lost you forever…"
He screwed his eyes shut. "You almost did. But I had promises to keep. About trying my best to not get killed."
"I'm glad you kept that promise."
He didn't say anything, just let her lead him to the bed, where they curled up, content to bask in each others presence. She took her hand in his, tracing his fingers with her fingertips.
"You still have your brewing scars."
Peeling back his shirtsleeve, she let her hands and then her lips caress the pale skin, kissing the scars where the Dark Mark had once been.
"Will you stay?"
He nodded, hesitant, like a cat waiting to be turned out. He opened his mouth, as if to speak, but no words came out. And then she was pressed against him as he buried his nose in her hair, his cheek resting on the top of her head.
"There's something else only I know" he whispered. "And I- I don't want to be the only one to know it anymore, but I understand if-" A gulp. "You have your whole life ahead of you-" A labored breath. "I love you."
"I love you too."