A/N: By popular demand . . . a second chapter! It's been a WIP for a while now; sorry it's been so long in coming. BTW, there will be a third really soon, I've left it on a bit of a cliffy whilst I go off searching for some inspiration on how to wrap it up before I go back to work . . . which sucks.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed Chapter one, and everyone who asked for more. I hope you like it!


When she stepped into the room he could hardly believe that she was the same person. Time had given her a few inches in height, filled out her previously slim figure with gentle curves and tamed the unruly curls of her hair. Her face was different too, he realised, her features were better defined which allowed her a quirky prettiness. She looked older, of course, but she also looked tired and there were dark circles under her eyes, giving her face surprising vulnerability. He wondered why it should be so, his admiration for her transgression from girl to young woman tempered by concern.

It had been just over a year since he had last seen her, the night of what was supposed to have been his last calling from the Dark Lord. He could remember clearly the bittersweet pain of their parting and he had believed he would never see her face again for so long; had never stopped believing it until now, he realised. Until they were once again standing in the same room together.

He was standing in the dark shadows of the room; free to observe her at will as she waited, and he spent several long moments wondering when to reveal himself, wondering what to say to her. He knew that nothing he could say would make things right, and whatever they had shared was long gone but something he recognised as faint hope still lingered within, and whist he was with her he found that he could not dismiss it entirely.

He was just gathering enough courage to step into the light when he saw her head turn sharply in his direction, eyes narrowing slightly before she suddenly relaxed. A faint smile danced across her lips before vanishing so quickly he wondered if he had imagined it. She tilted her head to one side and closed her eyes.

"Severus . . ." She whispered. "Are you there?"

Shock widened his eyes, but he did not dwell on it as he stepped quickly away from the shadows to stand in the weak lamplight of the room not more than a few metres from where she was standing. She did not open her eyes, and he did not speak, instead choosing to simply observe her for long moments until he could hear past the loud thudding of his heart.

"It has been . . . a long time," he said finally, watching as she opened her eyes to look at him. They were calm and steady as they met his and then as they looked him over, looking for signs of injury, looking for change. She would find none; on the surface at least he was the same as he ever had been.

"A long time," she said thoughtfully. "Yes." A step, then another one, and she was standing right next to him, looking up at him with shining eyes. "I was beginning to believe that you were never coming back." A tear trickled down her cheek, followed by another and then another until she was crying freely, her face crumpled with pain. She reached out a hesitant hand and placed it flat against his chest, above the steady but rapid beat of his heart. He covered it with both of his own so she could feel for himself what he was. Warm, and alive.

"I am sorry." His voice was slightly hoarse and he was finding it difficult to bear her pain, raw as it was. She looked at him and shook her head before lowering it onto his shoulder. He held her then, but gently as though she might break, circling her back with his hands and resting his head on top of hers. She only allowed herself to cry briefly before lifting her head up again, wordlessly searching his face, tracing his features with soft fingers.

"Hermione," he said her name like a prayer, closing his eyes as he felt her breath on his face.

"I know," she said simply, leaning into him so that he could feel the warmth and softness of her body along the length of his. "I know."

She kissed him fiercely, allowing him to feel a year's worth of fear and despair intermingled with passionate joy. He kissed her back, remembering the heady taste of her, nostalgia for what had been united with a leap of elation from the present. She made his head spin; always had and always would, but the time when that would have shocked him was long gone. She had always accepted him for who and what he was, even after she knew the truth about him. He had deliberately disclosed his darkest secrets to her in an early effort to dissuade her from pursuing their relationship, but not even that had been enough to stop this. She had never flinched away from him, instead telling him that nothing he could say or do would change her mind. It would appear that she had been right, and he should have expected as much.

She broke the kiss suddenly, taking a step backward out of their embrace, her hands moving to cover her mouth. There was a guarded look in her eyes now, which had not been there before. He wondered what it might be that she was deliberately keeping from him, and voiced his concerns immediately.

"I would understand," he said softly. "If you no longer wished to follow this path."

"This . . . path?" She let her hands drop, and titled her head to one side. Her long curls, the colour of burnished metal in the weak light, fell to one side, trailing across her shoulder.

"I did not return to you assuming that whatever we had before, remained," he spoke formally to disguise his nervousness at her reticence. To his surprise, she smiled and then laughed; its' rich sound filling the small room. Shaking her head, she moved closer to him again. He put his arms around her and she rested her head on his chest for a moment. When she looked up at him again, there was something shining in her eyes he had difficulty recognising, but he *had* seen it before. A year ago. It was love, he realised. Her love for him.

"You misunderstand me," she whispered. "But there is something you need to know." His breath caught in his throat at her serious expression. "Something . . . happened to me, after you had gone. If I had known and you were there I would have told you immediately but you weren't." She took a shuddering breath, and her eyes slid away from his, thoughtful. "I carried my secret alone for many months . . .and I was frightened . . . but understand that there came a time when I could hide it no longer. I went to Dumbledore then, and it was he who placed me here. He decided that my secret was to be kept from everyone until it was safe to be revealed. That time has only just arrived." Her eyes were distant, but sharpened as they snapped back to his. "I am sorry I couldn't find a way of letting you know before now, but it was necessary for us to remain hidden."

"Us?" He didn't understand, she was making no sense.

"Severus." Her voice was low, like an impassioned plea. "There is a child."