Hermione woke with a start and found herself in almost complete darkness, save for the pale moonlight that filtered through the opening in the canopy above her. She looked around and pulled at the bindings that held her tight against a large tree. She did not know where she was or what was going on. Her memories were fuzzy and many didn't make sense, bits and pieces here and there, and lots of blank areas. Put it all together and nothing made sense. As her eyes adjusted to the light she made out a figure, cloaked in black and then horror struck her; Voldemort stood before her. She swallowed hard but before she could say anything he turned, tilting his head slightly upward, his red eyes gleaming.
"I see you have woken Hermione." A small cruel and evil smile crept over his lips and Hermione felt ill. His chuckle sent shivers down her spine and made all the short hairs on her body stand on end. "Frightened?" She remained silent. "Its good to be silent, use your voice and I only become that much more powerful. You are scared, that is clear enough, but you are also confused. I'm sure you are wondering why you are here."
"And why would she not be?" Snape's cold voice rang out into the cool air as he entered the clearing in which Hermione and Voldemort stood, Michael with him. "You have after all blinded her the past few weeks, have you not my lord?"
Voldemort spun. "Clever as always aren't we Severus? My lord; you have no right to even address me as such traitor."
Snape shrugged. "I am a creature of habit."
"Clearly." Voldemort's expression was sour. "Come boy." Michael then moved from Snape farther into the clearing, coming to stand before Voldemort. "Hm." Voldemort's hand ran over his face as he examined him and then he shoved him away. Michael fell to the ground. "Puppets should learn to obey their masters." The boy didn't move as Hermione and Snape gazed on at the scene.
Hermione spoke up first. "What the hell are you talking about? Puppet? He is no puppet, leave him alone!"
Voldemort laughed. "Feeling sentimental Hermione? Obviously my potion worked well, making you fall in love with nothing more than a shadow. He isn't real. The body is merely flesh and bones pieced together and turned into a walking illusion by magic."
Hermione looked horrified. "How is such possible?"
"It isn't." Snape commented calmly. "The illusion is in the process which is merely a wizard stripped of their own mind with another in place of it; complete mind control with no hope for the boy to ever recover. He uses the words bones and flesh because when he releases the mind that is all that will be left, a corpse with little to no soul and absolutely no mind or will power."
"Silence slave, you have no right to explain things here! This is my domain!" Voldemort lashed out at Snape who managed to block the spell and step to the side. Voldemort lashed out several more times before he calmed some, relaxing his posture. "I did not come here to talk about wizardry. I came for Harry Potter and your head Severus Snape." He spat his words out in a hiss.
"You won't have Potter but you are welcome to my head if you release Miss Granger." Snape muttered as he returned into Hermione's view, having disappeared a moment before due to dodging the spells hurled at him.
"Never. She is my bait and captive. Potter will come."
"Unlikely. He is currently completely incapacitated and will be so for a very long time. Dumbledore saw it fit to put him into a deep sleep while we dealt with you."
"LIES!" He cast another spell, this time managing to hit Snape, burning his left shoulder badly. He hissed in pain bringing a cold laugh from Voldemort as he tried to stop the burn from becoming worse. "You always were good at hiding what was truly in your mind, keeping me out, locking away the truth so you could deceive me. Clever, very clever Severus, but stupid all the same. She will die if he does not come and so will you. But first I will make you watch as I strip the life from her. Its to bad I could not have you beside me to watch Lilly Potter die, I would liked to have seen you wallow in your agony then as well. Your first true love, a woman you would willingly die for, will you die for this one as well?"
Snape's head shot up, his hair tossed wildly around his face from the motion. He stared at his old master who only laughed. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Hermione fighting her bonds and the rather lifeless body of Michael at her feet. If he fought and lost all would be lost, Voldemort would gain ground and there would be problems for the remaining Order members as well as Harry and the other students.
Voldemort laughed. "You will watch again as your lover dies."
Shortly after Sanpe left with Michael, Dumbledore and the other Order members gathered near the entrance into the school. Dumbledore spoke quietly and hurriedly as soon as they were gathered.
"There is little time old friends, you know what must be done, at all costs we must protect the students and ourselves and destroy Voldemort once and for all."
A voice rang out from the back. "And what of Harry Potter?"
Dumbledore looked to the person. "He will come along but remain hidden until he is needed the most. We must do all we can to protect the young people of our age. We go." Dumbledore and the others then left followed in the rear by Harry and Ron who were hidden under his invisibility cloak.
Snape watched at Voldemort slowly made his way towards Hermione, walking carefully like cat hunting a mouse.
"My dear Severus, you do not know what joy this is going to give me; watching the pain etch its way into your face. You may not have show what you felt with Lilly's death but I know you will this time." He pointed his wand at Hermione as he said this.
Snape pulled himself up, raising his wand. "You'll have to kill me first before I let you hurt her."
Voldemort stopped, turning to look at Snape. "I've already wounded you, why kill you when torturing you is so much more fun." He started again but stopped suddenly and turned to block a spell. He screamed. "You dare attack me slave!"
Snape hissed in pain as a response, the burn on his shoulder emitting mass amounts of heat and pain suddenly, still affected by Voldemort's power. He flicked his wand and another spell hurtled towards Voldemort who quickly dodged it, sending one of his own. Snape managed to push him away from Hermione, turning their dueling circle to where he now stood before Hermione. When Voldemort realized he screamed in rage.
"DIEEEE YOU TRATORIOUS SCUM!" Snape turned before the spell was unleashed and undid the bonds around Hermione, pulling her to the ground. The tree beside them exploded as the spell hit it and then there was silence for a moment before the remaining Order members emerged into the clearing, drawing Voldemort's attention.
Snape held Hermione close, his body over hers, bits of wood and leaves covering them like a blanket. He raised up slightly gazing into what he hoped was her face, the clouds had covered the moon moments after her freed her. "Are you all right Hermione?" His black eyes found hers in the darkness that cloaked them as she opened them.
"There is no time for that now."
He stood and pulled her up, keeping an eye on Voldemort as he did. His old master was busy fending off the Order. Death Eaters arrived within a fraction of a second making Snape quickly pull her around behind what remained of the large tree. He knew Harry and Ron were nearby but was not sure where, knowing the invisibility cloak was in use. Glancing around the blasted tree he took note of the numbers and duels. Dumbledore and Voldemort faced off, other Professors and Order members squared off with Death Eaters in the space; spells were all over the place, bouncing off trees, hitting the ground, thin air, everything was chaos. Ducking back down, he spoke lowly.
"Stay here and keep out of sight, I have to join the fight."
"But you're injured." She stared at him, worried, unsure, and lost in the confusion of what had been going on the last couple weeks.
"It doesn't matter, if I do not help keep the balance a lot of people will die here. Stay here." He looked down at her, touching her cheek, his dark eyes locked on her own. "Forgive me for all the foolish things I've said and done; old habits die hard." He moved from behind the tree and away from her then, entering the fray.
Hermione watched as Death Eaters and Order members alike fell. Her heart sank as evil gained the playing field but then Harry and Ron emerged from blackness. Dumbledore, badly injured, was quickly pulled into the safety of shadows as were others. The remaining members formed a circle around the wounded and defended them. Harry met Voldemort in battle and the two again linked their wands, the glowing ball in the middle sliding back and forth. Harry knew his strength now, knew how to fight and he forced Voldemort into a corner. As he did Volemort broke contact and sent the killing curse at him. Harry managed to send it back and for a few seconds the spell was passed back and forth. On the last pass Harry delayed for a brief moment and threw Voldemort off, killing him quickly when he could not block the spell in time.
A few weeks after Voldemort's defeat Hermione and the rest of the students returned to Hogwarts. The winter break had been a time of joy and the celebration of the defeat of the Dark Lord. Though many lives were lost, the battle was over. Michael had indeed turned out to be a shell. Hermione had heard the words but never believe them until the day after the battle when she saw it for herself in daylight. He had been taken to a specialized hospital where he would be taken care of and where possibly some of his soul might return to give him some semblance of life. Hermione hurt knowing that he was possibly lost forever but she could do nothing to help him. She had not seen Snape since that night; he had lived through the battle but left quickly after, dealing with the wounded. Dumbledore and the others who were injured had made a clear recovery but Hermione was worried about Snape.
As the train stopped at the station she looked out the window to find the familiar figure of Hagrid waiting for them. She, Ron, and Harry walked out and waved as the mass moved them along. He returned the wave and made sure everyone was off. They boarded the carriages, silent, unsure of what to say to one another now that they were back, so much had happened and they had hardly seen one another over break. Hermione broke the silence slowly.
"So have you told your mom yet Ron, about you and Harry?" Ron turned red and Harry cleared his throat.
"We were going to wait until after graduation, we did not think so much news would be good for her at one time." Harry smiled as he nudged Ron in the shoulder.
"Um yea." Ron was still blushing about the whole thing as they arrived at the school gates.
Hermione shook her head at them. "Well be careful or someone might spill the beans on you." This made both boys blush as they separated themselves from one another so it wasn't completely obvious. They all entered the great all together shortly after and her heart sank as she found Snape's seat empty.
"Did you two hear anything about Snape after the battle? Did you see him?" Both Harry and Ron shook their heads no before sitting. Classes had been canceled for the rest of term after Voldemort's defeat; too many had been wounded to continue teaching. Hermione glanced up to Dumbledore who smiled at her, as did all those at the table. She jumped slightly as deep snake like voice met her ears.
"Worried about me Miss Granger?"
Hermione turned around to find Snape playfully glaring at her. She blinked and clenched her fists, wanting to latch onto him, to hug him, thank him, anything to apologize for what had happened. "I um, I was concerned it all Professor Snape, it isn't like you to be late for dinner." She said the last part low and then took her seat. Snape slid a small piece of paper onto the empty plate in front of her.
"Information on making up your potions class from last term, you failed it." With that he walked away an amused smirk lifting one side of his mouth. The table was a buzz of noise as the news hit those around Hermione. Even Hermione voiced a sob, glaring at the paper.
As dinner ended Hermione opened and read the note.
Come by my office within the next two days, we have a lot to discuss.
She pocketed the note and went to bed right after dinner. She knew she hadn't failed, it was an excuse, but she had played along. She wondered if he would bring up old things, things that they should probably forget. She slept little and spent most of her evening replaying everything that had happened over the last three terms.
Snape had eaten dinner quietly, enjoyed the glares from Hermione's many friends, and made his way quietly to bed after. He laid in the darkness watching the ceiling twist and turn as magic made it move. The scar on his shoulder where the spell had burned him still ached some but it reminded him of the end of his old life and the start of his new; it would disappear in time with proper treatements. His death mark still moved on his arm but no longer burned. The weeks after Voldemort's death had been ones of recovery and constant work as he helped repair the school and heal others. Now the students were back and now it was time to finish what he had started the year before with Hermione. Dumbledore had ordered him to finalize things, it was time to let go or find a way to make it work, he didn't know what would happen; he only hoped she didn't hate him.
Hermione delayed her rendezvous with Snape for three weeks; she could not bear to go down into the dungeons so soon, to many memories making her leery of the darkness. She knew there would be hell to pay but she had not had the nerve until today. She made her way down slowly, it was dinner, and everyone was in the dining hall. The stones under her feet seemed to echo her name as she approached his office. Why was it so difficult? Why did she have to see him now, things were still so rocky in the wizarding world, she wanted more time to think.
Raising her hand to knock she jumped back as the door swung open suddenly, Snape stepping out. She stared at him, pressed against the stone wall behind her.
"You're two weeks and five days late, mind explaining yourself Miss. Granger?" He eyed her curiously, taking in her form slowly. She had changed little over their break, looking the same as she had in the clearing and any time before.
"I...I um…" She straightened and swallowed, her mind was blank. She looked away blushing deeply. "I have no explanation."
"That's what I thought. Inside." He stepped aside, allowing her to enter his office. Closing the door behind him he took a seat at his desk and watched her, his hands folded before him on the desk.
Hermione sat before him, focusing on the things on his desk; books, quills, parchment, red ink, potion supplies, she'd never realized how messy the desk was before, or was it ever so? She tried to think back but all she could really remember was the raw desire for him when they had been together over the past year and a half. All the times before that she had never paid attention to such a small thing.
Snape watched her for a few moments before speaking. "I brought you here to speak about some things, I'm sure you know the nature of the things I wish to discuss." Snape leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. "As you know Voldemort is gone, the threat of him or Malfoy messing with our feelings and minds is gone. After all that has happened since we first came to be controlled by the potion how to you feel about us Miss Granger?"
Hermione blinked and glanced to his face, 'us', were they an item or was he speaking hypothetically. "What would you have me say Professor? Last year we agreed that it was best that we tried to return to normal, claiming everything was a side affect of the potion we were drugged with. Are we to try it again?" She avoided answering him directly, her feelings for him from the previous year still waiting at the back of her mind, keeping a tight grasp on her heart despite her best efforts, how had she ignored them so long. She knew how, her anger at him and his actions and the way she had been controlled by Voldemort and Michael.
"I would have you tell me how you truly feel Hermione. You have said you wish to go back to normal but I do not believe it. Do you remember the love potion I gave you? Do you remember how it works?"
Hermione blinked thinking back to when he had explained it, the memory hazy. "Not really." Snape stood and moved around his desk to a shelf where it sat. Picking it up he walked to her.
"It helps the keeper know their true feelings by subconsciously controlling them to keep it with them when they lie to themselves. If they are truthful to themselves they can leave it elsewhere but if they are not it remains with them. It can also be used to help someone tell how they feel or make the one they give it to tell how they feel." He held it up. "I made it because I often lied to myself about my own feelings and gave it to you because I wanted to see if you were being truthful to yourself or not." He watched her and slowly kneeled down in front of her, clasping her hand, setting the bottle in it. "Will you be truthful with me Hermione? You know I love you, I have since last year, I can hide it form others but I cannot hide it from you or myself anymore. You have insisted that you have no feelings for me and want a normal life but do you really?" His dark eyes burned with a desire for knowledge and of love as he gazed at her.
The heat of his eyes scared her; she was used to the cold. "Prof- Severus I." She looked away from him. "You cannot ask me these things anymore; I care about you but nothing more." She started to rise and slid past him towards the door. He grasped her hand, detaining her.
"Hermione please…" He rose up, still holding her hand. He brought it to his face, kissing it softly, his eyes closed. "I beg you not to lie to me, I cannot hide how I feel anymore, I you to shy away or hide from me." He watched her as she turned around to face him. Her eyes were cool and steady.
"I do not love you Professor Snape." She gently pulled her hand away and laid the potion back into his hand. "I'm sorry." She turned and walked out of the room slowly.
He stared at the open doorway. His heart ached so badly he thought he would collapse from the pain. He clenched the potion in his hand and then took off out of the door.
As soon as she made it out the door and out of his sight she ran. She ran through the entrance hall, up the dozens of flights of stairs, to the top of the Astronomy tower. It was late now; the stars were burning in the sky. She wanted to scream, it hurt so badly to lie to him. She thought her feelings had changed, had convinced herself they had but now she knew she had deceived herself. She loved him but could not imagine a life with him. She could see the looks, feel the pain of ridicule, hear her parent's disapproval. She felt the tears slipping down her cheeks as she watched the heavens move. She could see Harry and Ron coming up from the Quiddich pitch, hand in hand, happy with one another. She envied them and their ability to be together.
Snape did not know where she had gone at first but then he caught sight of her just as she entered the astronomy tower at the top of the stairs as he reached the fifth floor. He followed her up and stopped panting at the top of the stairs, just below the stairs into the tower. He looked at the potion in his hand; it was still cold to the touch despite being in his hand. He caught his breath briefly and slowly made his way silently up the stairs. He saw Hermione standing on the upper most level of the tower and slowly made his way up farther. As he caught sight of her staring up at the sky he watched for a moment. The tears on her cheeks shone silver. He slowly uncorked the bottle and brought it to his lips for a moment, tempted to force feed it to her in a kiss but slowly he lowered it. He recorked it and dropped it into his pocket stepping out into the moonlight.
She jumped and turned, eye wide with surprise.
"…s..severus.." She swallowed and took a step back. "Please…let me go…"
Snape moved towards her swiftly, pulling her against him before she could run off again. "Never." He caught the back of her head gently with one hand, his fingers running into her soft hair. His mouth covered hers quickly, his tongue moving inside her own before she could protest. He kissed her hard not pulling away until he was sure he had made them both breathless. He pulled away slowly to find her gazing at him dazed, her eyes out of focus, he body limp against him. She was breathing deeply. "I'm not letting you slip away…" He kissed her again, this time more gently than before. His arms relaxed but continued to hold her tight. Her body was soft against his own and it made him relax even more.
Hermione was lost the moment his lips met hers. She was taken back to the first time, the rush of sudden desire and how it returned. It frightened her that it was a potion again but she knew it wasn't. She didn't move as his mouth devoured her own. The second time he kissed her she responded rather suddenly pulling away. She covered her mouth and turned away. More tears threatened to fall from her eyes as she faced the open sky.
"No…no more." She turned around her cheeks wet. "We cannot be together, no matter what we feel." She shook her head and started past him. He grabbed her arm suddenly and pulled her back. Her eyes widened in horror as she watched him empty the contents of the love potion into his mouth a moment before. She tried to jerk away but he had already trapped her and covered her mouth with his own. He forced her mouth open with his tongue. She would have bitten down but couldn't bring herself to do so. The potion flowed from his mouth into hers and some passed beyond their lips down their chins.
He swallowed slowly and kissed her until she did the same. He slowly edged back watching her. The effect of the potion slowly seeped into his body making his mind slightly aloft. He panted gently pulling her closer as it made his feelings come out more. He rested his head against hers. "I will hear you say it at least once." He kissed her lips softly and then slowly down her neck before going back up, kissing her lips. "Just once…" His hands moved over her back and into her hair, caressing her body gently.
Hermione was lost, the potion slowly sinking in and taking hold. Everything she'd kept back came rushing forward and she started to pant, her body hot and bothered by the desires she'd suppressed. "..s..severus what have you done to me…?" His lips on her neck made her even more senstivite. As he kissed her lips the second time she kissed back. Her body moved without her full understanding and she slowly wrapped her arms around his neck, musing his hair, feeling its clean softness. "..severus…"
"yes?" He trailed kisses over her jaw line and neck again slowly. When he hands found his hair he groaned, her fingers feeling good against his scalp and gently pulling at the strands. "…hermione…" His body was becoming hotter but he didn't want sex yet, he wanted her voice, wanted to hear the words.
"…why…" She panted feeling her mind reel back to the dark forest and Voldemort's words, if they had died there she would never have been able to tell him. She closed her eyes, tears slowly falling. She felt Snape's kisses gently wiping them away. "…severus…"
"kiss me…" Snape smiled softly to himself and slowly kissed her, his mouth hard against her own despite wanting to be gentle. He still had so much pent up that he could hardly not kiss her hard, the action filled with desire, passion and love. This time she yielded to him, her mouth opening, her tongue greeting his. He almost moaned at the feel of her tongue against his, exploring, teasing, and caressing. When he pulled away a soft smile was upon her face. She slowly leaned against him, her eyes closed. He held her close to him, his head resting on hers.
"…will you tell me now Hermione?"
"…because you already know…"
"I want to hear it."
"why?" She looked up at him slowly, her eyes soft and filled with emotion.
"I want to hear you say it." He smiled softly and leaned down to gently kiss her lips and jaw, beginning again his trail down her throat.
She tilted her head back looking up to watch the stars move. Her eyes closed and the stars moved inside her mind as well. "I love you…Severus..."
His heart jumped when she uttered the words, they were so soft he could hardly hear them. He raised his head and slowly tilted hers back to where he could look into her eyes. "what?"
She blushed and smiled softly, leaning up to kiss his lips softly before setting back down. "I love you Severus Snape." She then pulled his mouth to hers again, kissing him hard. The potion was beginning to wear off, her body feeling more in control. "…you are not allowed to ever drug me again…"
Snape smirked. "Why not?" His voice was deep and playful. "It looks good on you." His hand ran up her arm. "…soft, relaxed, and beautiful…" He kissed her again softly and then jumped as someone cleared their throat. He looked up wide eyed and angry that someone had disrupted the moment. He was going to unlease a slew of threats but stopped to see Dumbledore who was eyeing him seriously.
"I do not think a public place is appropriate for such displays Severus. I recommend you and Miss Granger return to your quarters to discuss such things in private. Do you not agree?"
Snape felt a blush of embarrassment creeping into his face and knew the old man was laughing to himself about the whole situation. Controlling his reaction more thoroughly he nodded slowly. "Of course Headmaster." He gently separated himself from Hermione. "Follow me Miss Granger, we will finish our conversation elsewhere" He knew Dumbledore was laughing at him, laughing at the odd situation he now found himself in and it annoyed him but at the same time it was his own fault. Moving to the top most stair he wait for her.
Despite the embarrassment Hermione smiled softly and nodded to Dumbledore before she left with Snape, glancing back quickly to mutter a wordless thank you to him, receiving a wink and a smile in return. She followed Snape down to the dungeons, his pace fast and hard to keep up with. Her heart was racing as she wondered what would happen now, would they really talk? Would he kiss her to sleep? What would he ask for? She knew in he back of her mind what would happen but tried not to think about it, the idea made every part of her react As they approached his apartment she slowed. Snape opened the door and turned to look at her.
She looked at him blushing slightly, just barely within his reach. She was tempted to make him chase her but knew that would be unfair. The desire clear within his eyes made her blush more. "I…maybe we should wait?"
Snape smirked at her remark and grabbed her gently, pulling her to him. "We've waited long enough." He kissed her passionately as he backed into his apartment, kicking the door closed behind them.
Well there is the end. If you would like more detail on what exactly they do (though I'm sure most everyone knows) please let me know. I hope you enjoyed the story!