Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, nor do I own the universe. I am not making any profit from this. Also, this story deals with pretty unhappy subject matter, and while I've tried my best to present a realistic story, I (luckily) have no firsthand experience with physical abuse. For further explanation, please read the author's note at the end.

Lovely, For A While

It was lovely, for a while. All those schoolgirl fantasies and surprisingly naïve notions of romance had taken hold of her. It had been a whirlwind romance after the end of the war, when everyone was full of life and happiness and hope, and she had been no exception. That first time he had been so nervous and shaking and uncertain, while she, with barely confidant hands, had led him through the motions.

She had been lulled by his seeming helplessness, a shocking thing to discover in a man so normally controlled and in control. But he was new to all of it, in many ways. She had told herself that he had lived in self-imposed exile among his peers, punishing himself for past misdeeds. She had told herself that he was cruel and exacting because he was so terribly brilliant – he didn't have the patience for other, ordinary folk. She had told herself that he was rough because he didn't know how to be gentle, and that the gentleness would come with time.

She had told herself a lot of things, especially after the first backhanded slap that had sent her reeling into a table, painfully smacking her thigh and adding to the already throbbing pain in her cheek. They had been fighting, she had called him something horrible and cruel and unforgivable, and he had responded instinctively.

He had cried, and apologized profusely, and displayed some of the rare gentleness she knew him capable of. He had healed her bruised cheek and hip, and kissed them better with his warm lips. She forgave him, and asked forgiveness in return, for what she had said to him. They had made love all night. And for a while, it was lovely.

They had worked in companionable silence most days, busy at their own experiments. There had been arguments, of course, but she had told herself that was just the passion. They were both so strong, so different, so above everyone else, that their relationship was bound to be more complicated, and that shouldn't surprise her. Never mind that in all her other relationships the fights had only risen to the level of bickering, with the occasional slammed door – there could be no comparison between those mundane forays into romance and this. This was once-in-a-lifetime-way-down-deep-true-love.

Then the second hit had come. Another fight; this time she had threatened (idly) to leave. It had been a too-hard shove to the shoulder, a challenge, telling her to go if she wanted to. She had hit her head on the doorframe, and had passed out. She had woken up in bed to him staring anxiously down at her, patting at her forehead with a cold cloth.

He had apologized, and displayed more of that rare gentleness. He had healed the small cut on her forehead, and run his fingers slowly through her hair, working loose the tangles far better than she ever could. And she had forgiven him, and they had made love, tenderly and slowly. And for a while, it was lovely.

She had told herself that he didn't like her seeing Harry and Ron because he never really understood them. She had told herself that he was a bit too possessive sometimes because he had never had anyone to love before, and wasn't sure how to handle all the feelings he now had. She had told herself that he drank because he had so many horrible memories and nightmares rattling around in his head.

The third hit had come when he had been drinking. He had seemed to be asleep in the chair in front of the fireplace, half a bottle of whiskey in the crook of his arm. She had gone to take the bottle, and he had jolted awake. He had seen her fingers wrapped around the neck of the bottle, and with narrowed, angry eyes had let fly a wild left hook, his full body weight behind it as he sprang out of the chair. The punch didn't fully connect, but it did enough damage. She had been knocked down, and had lain on the floor, dazed and nauseous. There had been blood in her mouth, from a split lip.

He had gone so very pale, and had spouted excuses and blamed the alcohol. Finally, when he was less drunk, he had apologized, and had healed her lip, his cool fingers soothing her skin where she could feel the bruise forming. Then he had promised to stop drinking, and for a while, it was lovely.

But it wasn't so lovely for quite as long anymore. The hits had begun to come with more and more frequency, and she had begun to grow used to them. She had told herself that it was just how it was, who he was. And afterwards he had always healed her, and he had always apologized, and he had always been so gentle.

Gradually, without even realizing it, she had become more and more cowed. He controlled most of her life. She rarely saw her old friends, nor did she do much of her own research anymore – he often required her help, and his work took precedence. If she refused, he would call her selfish and a fight would start. And she knew how fights always ended. So she acquiesced, and took orders, and told herself she was happy.

And then, one morning, she realised with a start that she was pregnant. Two, perhaps three months along. And Hermione Snape, Gryffindor brain, know-it-all bookworm and bossy bitch extraordinaire, suddenly remembered who she was. She had been standing in the bathroom, combing our her tangled, wet hair. And when she looked in the mirror, she realised that ever healed cut, every neatly vanished bruise was really still there. She was able to see how mangled she had become, at the hands of the man who claimed to love her.

Calmly, Hermione put down her comb, and walked into the bedroom. Severus was already in the lab – he had stayed there all night, working on an experiment. Taking advantage of the best chance she had, she dressed quickly and packed as many of her belongings as she could into her old school trunk. Without a note or a backwards glance, Hermione Granger Apparated to Harry's house.

A/N: First, I would like to tell all readers that this is simply a cathartic exercise for me, nothing more. To a small degree, this sad little story is based on my own experience. However, and I must stress this, none of my boyfriends have ever physically abused me. I am not trying to imply that I was abused, nor that abuse is in any was condoned by this fic. If you want to be literal about it, this loosely mirrors a very unstable and often unhappy relationship I was in, except all the abuse was mental and verbal, and both my ex-partner and myself were guilty of it. And it wasn't all bad, not by any stretch – for a lot of the time, it was lovely. And while I can't even begin to imagine the sort of emotions a person goes through after they manage to get out of a physically abusive relationship in which they love their abuser, I can and do know how hard it is to come to realise that both yourself, and the one you loved were abusive to each other. I also know how hard it is to stop loving, wanting and thinking about that person, regardless of how loudly your rational mind screams that you're better off without them.

Second, while I am a Snape fan, and often a SS/HG shipper, I also realise Snape is a nasty piece of work. Yes, he's had a shitty life. But he can still be an evil, violent, explosively angry bastard. And, perhaps, his problems could be more deep-seated and damaging than the books let on.