A/N: well, here is the epilogue. It contains mild consensual B&D and some yummy lemons. It answers scant few questions, but... it's what the writer in me told me to do, so who am I to argue? Thanks again to my reviewers. I dedicate this ending to all of you!

BTW... I am writing another story, but I can't post it here because it is NC-17 and I've no patience do keep editing between 2 ratings. It's called "You Know What They Say About Necessity" and can be found at and ashwinder.

Disclaimer: JKR Harry Potter and all the lot. Me making no money and intending no copyright infringement.

"Domination's the name of the game

In bed or in life, they're both just the same

Except in one you're fulfilled

At the end of the day"

"Master and Servant" by Depeche Mode, from the album "Some Great Reward"

"What's in a name?" Isn't that what Shakespeare said? Some drivel about a rose smelling as sweet if you called it something else. Codswallop. Names have great meaning and power. Too bad William never figured that out. But he was a nutter anyway, if you ask me. If only the muggles knew the truth about that one! But like so many other things, it would simply elude them.

Is that... ah, yes. Knocks on my chamber door. One, two. The firm preciseness sends a shiver of anticipation down my spine. I am being summoned to the realm of carnal delight. Those flighty thoughts can wait. My desire cannot. I hear her walking away. I must tarry no longer.

I open the door leading from my office into my bedroom. Closing it behind me, I assume my customary position: kneeling, hands resting on my thighs, face down, eyes averted. My hair falls softly against my cheek. I can't hear her now, though my hearing is sensitive. She is holding herself still to make me guess where she might be. Ah. There it is: the sound of her footsteps, slow and rhythmical. She's standing in front of me now, I can feel it. Giving me a moment to speculate on all the sensual torment that is to come.

My name is Severus Snape. I am the newly reinstated Potions Professor of Hogwarts, Head of Slytherin, recipient of the Order of Merlin, First Class (thank you, Albus, yes, I'm ever so delighted that you've returned)... and willing slave of Hermione Granger.

"Took you long enough," she says, her voice calm, silky. I feel my arousal rising hearing those words.

I do not speak, as she has not given me leave to do so yet. I continue to wait, wanting desperately to peek at her feet, but I dare not. As I have requested, Hermione is a harsh mistress and can abandon all her careful plans at the slightest provocation. I found that out a few days ago when she caught me looking at her without permission. No words, no fits. She simply left, left me alone in shame and lust. When she told me this morning to be ready my heart (not to mention other things) was ecstatic. No, I will not make that mistake again. She is the spark that ignites my flame, and I will not be denied the chance to burn tonight.

"Look at me, Severus."

I raise my head and... by all the Gods. Every time I think she cannot possibly become more beautiful, more desirable, somehow she manages to prove me wrong. It is bad enough, seeing her every day as a colleague, at times almost wishing I was a student again so I could sit in her Transfiguration class and daydream about her while she walks around so prim and proper in her teaching robes. Knowing all the while that under those modest clothes she is probably wearing a black lace bra and velvet knickers. Hermione Granger, the bookworm. The Know-It-All. The genius. Sex incarnate. I for one never would have guessed, and certainly would not have thought that I could be an object of her desire. But fate has proven otherwise.

She is wearing a gown of sheer violet lace, her hair hanging down in lustrous dark curls. Her feet are now gloriously bare and I can see the glint of pale green polish on her toes. Lovely seems too weak a word to describe her, though she most definitely is. She is a force of nature that, if I am good, is about to unleash itself on me in all its furious glory.

"You were quite disobedient last time, Severus," she says, still in that deceptively soft voice. "I think we need to do something about that, don't you?"

My eyes travel up her body, taking in the soft fullness of her breasts, the nipples pressing hard against the gown, and I feel my body respond in kind, my erection pushing against my trousers. My breathing is no longer steady.

"Answer me."

"Yes," I whisper.

"Do you know what happens when you disobey me?"

I nod.

"And you like it, don't you, you arrogant prick?"

Ooo. She must truly be in a domineering mood. She doesn't always call me names. Were those words to come from anyone else I would sneer, or make a quick jeering retort. But this is my mistress speaking to me, with a cruelty I love.

I nod again, because I do not trust my voice. My mouth has gone bone dry from staring at her, those breasts like ripe fruit, and that sweet shadow of pleasure between her legs.

"Get up," she commands. "Take your clothes off... slowly... and lie on the bed, face up."

My heart is now pounding so fast it feels as though an explosion will go off in my chest. I rise gracefully, and began to undo my robes. My actions are complicated by the fact that my hands are shaking, but with a bit of focus I still the tremors and do as she orders.

She stalks over to the bed, those coffee eyes of hers alight with hunger, a hunger that I am about to sate. I have never been at ease with my body: pale, thin, my back a crossword puzzle of scars. Yet under her gaze I am transformed into an Adonis. To know that I am the originator of this prodigious outpouring of appreciation and yearning makes me feel so... alive. And after all the years I spent in a state of living death, fearing for my life and the lives of others, I am more than ready to get on with the business of living.

Of course, she does not disappoint me: my hands and feet and cuffed and spread with a few flicks of her wand. I draw a deep breath: the aroma of leather mingles with the scent of her need to the point where it almost overwhelms me. I pull on the restraints, not because I think I can escape, but because I know this gesture will inflame her further. Indeed, a sultry smile graces her generous lips as I "give up" and settle deeper into the bed. Special punishment, she implied. What exquisite suffering does she intend to inflict upon me tonight?

She stands at the foot of the bed, looking into my eyes. She leisurely raises one hand to her breasts, tugging one out of the gown to be exposed in all its creamy glory. She fondles the swell of succulent flesh, pinching her nipple, all the time staring at me.

"Are you watching?" she whispers.

As if I could be doing anything else. At this moment Potter could be stealing my wand and I doubt I would care.

Her free hand slides down to her sex, and she rubs herself through the sheer material covering it. My gaze is transfixed on her as though she were a snake-charmer playing a flute. She pulls out the other breast and caresses it, still rubbing, while her eyes smolder and my erection becomes so hard it could cut a jewel.

"Wicked man, not obeying me," she chides. She lets go of her breast and moves that hand down, her thumbs and index fingers framing her delicious center. "Do you think you deserve this, my rebellious Slytherin? Do you think that you deserve what's under this gown?"

Yes, I want to say, a thousand times yes! But I know what the correct answer is.

"No," I reply quietly.

"That's right, you don't. Not yet, anyway. Maybe later, maybe, you will. But for now..."

She slithers up onto the bed after stripping off the gown, resting on her knees with her legs spread and folded under her. She resumes touching herself, her fingers playing her body like a violin bow, until I can tell that she is on the edge. Then she stops, waits a few minutes, and begins again. All this time I stare helplessly, wanting nothing more than to be inside her and steal that priceless treasure that is Hermione in the throes of orgasm. But I am resigned to watching her, not even thrusting my body against hers.

After several more near climaxes, she moves further up until she is poised just above my aching member. I am shaking with want of her. She can see it on my face, feel it as she strokes both my hardness and her center. It takes all my control not to move.

"Are you sorry for misbehaving?" she coos, flicking one hand faster and faster while rubbing me with agonizing slowness.

"Yes," I gasp. "Hermione, please..."

"Are you certain?"

Her hand grips me tight and I moan.

"Say it, Severus."

"I'm sorry," I pant, unconsciously pulling on my bonds. "I am so sorry. Please, Hermione..."

She chuckles. "Much better." And with those words and one last squeeze, she plants her hands on either side of me and drives me into her.

I moan again, hearing an answering cry from her as she makes a rhythm for both of us, my hips rising to meet hers, matching her stroke for stroke. Her orgasm is a series of white hot bolts of lightning that course from her body to mine, capturing and shocking me and sending my own body into sweet oblivion.

Flushed and panting, she releases me and falls limp against me, her eyes shining with post-coital bliss. I'm certain my own expression isn't much different from hers as I lean down and bestow a long, tender kiss to her parted lips. I summon my wand, cleaning us off, then draw the covers over us, nestling her against me with a yawn.

"Tired already, Professor?" she grins.

"For the moment, Professor," I retort. "However, if you give me some time, I'm sure I can recover to your exacting standards."

"Doubtless," she replies, laughing as she kisses me. "I was hoping we could go out for dinner later, since we seem to have missed eating in the Great Hall."

"Nourishment would seem to be conducive to maintaining our energy levels," I smirk. "However, I would like to rest first."

"Since I seem to have worn you out, I don't object."

"You? Not having an objection to something? Now that is a first."

"Watch your tongue, Severus. I might decide you need some more punishment."

"I sincerely hope so."

Albus has told me that he finds it wonderful that I am in love. As I have never truly been in love before, I am uncertain as to whether this is the correct term for my relationship with Hermione. But I am happy when I am with her. In the privacy of my quarters or hers, she makes me smile. I enjoy sharing our lives. It is inconceivable to me that we should not be together. What started off as absolution and desire has evolved into a feeling of completion I have not known before. Perhaps Albus is right. Perhaps this is love.

What's in a name, indeed.