The world seemed to stop turning, the wind stopped too, as if it had decided to stay and watch what was about to happen. Neither of them spoke for a little while, until Hermione whispered his name into the night, staring at him.

"Severus..."

He too was staring at her. He wasn't sure if he was truly alive again, or if this was Heaven. Then he knew that it made no difference. He was there, she was right in front of him...

"Hermione..."

She lost everything at the sound of his voice. Her heart, that had been soaked in tears, could no longer keep them, and she started to cry, without making the slightest sound. He watched her tears shine like stars on her cheeks, and he knew they were tears of love - for him. He took one step forward, and then she was in his arms. He gently stroked her hair, closed his eyes, inhaled her and the night, whispering her name over and over again.

"Is it you?" she asked, pressing her face to his shoulder. "Or are you a ghost?"

"It is me, my love", he replied, and she was ready to scream with happiness. "I was gone, but I came back, and it's all thanks to you."

"Severus..." she said again and embraced him, making sure that he was really there.

"I'm here. I will never leave you alone again, I promise."

She looked up at his face, touched his cheek and followed a lock of his black hair with her fingers. He kissed her forehead and buried his hands in her thick, soft hair. Gods, he loved her! He would always love her, his angel, his heart... It felt so wonderful to have her close to him, she was like a sun.

"What happened?", she asked, looking into his eyes.

"I'm not entirely sure. I was... lost. Everywhere I looked was darkness, yet not. I walked among places I knew from my past... And all along, a voice guided me, told me to follow it. I didn't know where it would lead me to, but I knew I was... dead, and that I couldn't go back. Then, suddenly, a few days ago, I woke up in Dumbledore's office, as if I'd only had a nightmare."

He paused. It had all been so blurry to him at first, and he had been so confused, so scared, as if he was a new born baby... Then he had seen the headmaster bending down over him, smiling broadly and with eyes that sparkled and shone more than ever.

"Welcome back, Severus", he had said.

He had lived in that office since he woke up, too weak and dizzy to walk properly. But tonight, he was fully restored. He was back...

"Dumbledore told me" he continued, "that what happened to me... has never happened before in history. He had heard rumours about it, but he never dared to hope that they would come true."

"What? How...?" she asked.

"A Muggle vampire is beyond all hope. He cannot be saved, or cured, and when he dies, he remains dead, no matter what. I would have too, if... you hadn't been there."

He threw a quick glance at her throat, but the red markings had completely disappeared. There weren't even the smallest scars.

"I drank your blood... and it was different from the blood of anyone else in the world. Because it was yours, and because you loved me. Love is physical, it runs with the blood, and that, in combination with the unicorn horn, saved me. Your blood, my beloved, was the last I drank, and when the healing powers of the unicorn horn came in contact with it in my heart... it cured me. Had it been the blood of someone else, nothing would have happened, but it was blood that held love... for me. True love, or else it wouldn't have worked. Can it be real, Hermione? Do you love me? Have all my dreams come true, at last?"

"Yes", she said. "Oh Severus, I have missed you so much..."

That little word, and the sound of his own name from her lips, sent a shiver through his body. He wrapped his arms and black robes around her, rested his own head on top of hers, and swore that he would never, ever let her go.

"I died, yes. But it was only the vampire in me that died. I am cured, I am human, the love in your heart and the magic of the unicorn horn brought me back to life. You were the voice that guided me through The other side."

A question popped up in her mind.

"What's it like to die?"

She regretted it immediately, but he didn't mind at all.

"It's beautiful, my love. It doesn't hurt, and I believe I know now what happens. I told you I saw places I knew... Maybe, when we die, we are brought to the happiest moment of our lives, and we stay there forever. That must be Heaven. That's why you were the one that showed me the way... You are my happiest moment."

"And so are you, Severus. But this moment will never end, I will love you forever."

He bent down and kissed her eyelids. He touched her tears with his finger tips, allowed them to fall down on the palm of his hand, and tightly clenched his fist.

"What's that?", she asked.

"You'll see", he replied, and smiled at her.

She looked at him, and smiled as well. His eyes widened and he gasped a little, as if he had suddenly remembered something.

"Oh yes", he said, more to himself. "I almost forgot."

He took one arm off Hermione, and took out his wand.

"Accio Astrum Amor" he said.

Hermione looked surprised. What was this?

He kept smiling. "Look. It's a surprise."

She looked around, and got very confused indeed when she saw what was coming flying through the air.

It was a flower in a pot made out of clay. The flower she had got for her birthday, from the anonymous person with the black owl.

Severus stretched out his hand and caught the ugly flower with a smile, as if it was a Golden Snitch.

"You sent that?", she asked.

"I did, with my owl Orion. Did you like it?"

"Yeah", she mumbled and looked away.

"My love, you are a terrible liar. You thought it was awful."

She heard the smile was still in his voice, so she looked back at him and blushed a bit.

He held up the flower to her.

"This is a very rare flower. I got it from my mother shortly before she died, and she told me to give it to the one I love above everything else, because this flower will last forever, just like our love. It's called an Astrum Amor."

Hermione looked at the flower.

"Give me your hand", he said. She did, and he placed her forefinger on the brown ball that were the petals. Then he placed his own forefinger on the opposite side.

"Keep your finger there."

He held the flower between them, bent forward and kissed her lips. She responded to the kiss with all her heart and closed her eyes. It was a wonderful kiss, soft and romantic, and it made stars dance inside her.

"Astrum Amor" Severus whispered, his lips still brushing hers, and Hermione felt the flower's petals move.

She opened her eyes again and looked at the flower. The brown, ugly petals were slowly opening, and inside was a glowing ball, as big as a tennis ball. It was so pretty, so beautiful...

Severus picked the light ball up, and showed it to Hermione's fascinated eyes.

"Do you know what Astrum Amor means, my beloved?"

She shook her head.

"Love star. The flower only opens when it feels true love."

He put the radiant ball in the palm of her hand, and now she knew what it was. She smiled happily.

"Do it", he said.

She lowered her arm, then she raised it... and tossed the star up into the night sky. She and Severus watched it rise and rise, higher and higher above the glittering world, until it stopped and twinkled down to them. They both knew it would shine forever.

"Thank you, Severus", she said.

"No. Thank you, my angel", he replied and put his arms around her again. "I love you, Hermione."

"I love you too, Severus."

They kissed and talked until dawn came...

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Severus began teaching Potions again the next day, much to the disappointment of the students. But they felt better when they realised how changed he was. He wasn't mean to the students any more, and he didn't take away house points for no reason. No one asked him about what had happened, but some Gryffindors noticed how the Potions master sometimes winked at Hermione Granger during class.

She, Ron and Harry graduated the same year, but Hermione came back to Hogwarts again, as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She did an excellent job, right from the beginning, and Dumbledore never had to worry about filling that position again.

Hermione and Severus spent every day in each other's company, falling more and more in love by the minute. And one night in December, when the snow fell outside the windows and they were seated on a couch by a fire in his private rooms, he turned to her.

"Hermione... I got something for you."

She gave him a smile.

"Yes?"

He got of the couch. It was here at last, the moment he had been dreaming of for so long...

He got down on his knees, took her hand gently and looked into her eyes.

"I have seen many wonders in this world, I know about miracles and magic... but I have never seen anything so wonderful and perfect as you. Hermione... my love, my life and my everything... will you marry me?"

He held out a ring to her, It was a gold ring, with four diamonds. She gasped at the beauty of it.

"These are not ordinary diamonds. Remember the day I came back? And I wiped away your tears..."

"You mean... those are..."

"Yes. Tears of joy and love."

She clasped her hands to her mouth, unable to speak. Her heart was singing inside her.

"Will you marry me? Will you make me the happiest man on Earth, and do me the honour of becoming my wife?" he asked again.

She threw her arms around his neck, and as he slid the ring onto her finger, she whispered:

"Yes, Severus... YES!!!"

THE END

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: And they lived happily ever after...

Thank you, thank you soooo much to everyone who has sent me reviews, you have all made me so happy! =D I can't thank you enough for being so kind to me, or for reading my story. I have loved writing it, and reading your stories too. You are all so amazing, keep up the great work! I love you.