Disclaimer: The characters, settings, etc. of the Harry Potter series are not mine. I just play with them.

He was walking quickly, far too quickly for her to keep up with him. But he did it on purpose, and she knew he did it on purpose. There was no miscommunication. There was work to be done, and it was to be done as quickly as possible.

She was practically running to keep up with him.

"Professor," she said breathlessly. "I know we have to cast the spell as soon as possible, but do we have to run?"

He frowned as he turned his head to look over his shoulder at her. "Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter are in danger right now, Miss Granger. If we do not cast the protective spell immediately, they could be harmed. I do not want that guilt hanging over my head. Do you want it over yours?"

She sighed. "They aren't in that much danger."

At this Snape spun around completely to glower at her. "Obviously, you have never been on the receiving end of Molly Weasley's rage!"

She rolled her eyes. "Actually, Professor Snape, I have."

He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing as he turned back around and continued his trek towards the Forbidden Forest. Hermione rolled her eyes and scrambled to keep up with his pace.

Within a very short amount of time, they came to the edge of the forest. Snape plunged in with no hesitation and Hermione followed, huffing and puffing for breath. They walked along the path. Hermione was too busy struggling to keep up with Snape to notice that the forest seemed darker than usual, and that it was unusually quiet as well.

Hermione also did not notice when Snape suddenly stopped walking and ran straight into his back. "Oh!" she said when she'd collided with him. "Sorry about that, Professor."

He sighed as he turned around to face her. "I hope you still have the bag."

She lifted her arm and showed him the dirty old canvas sack he had hurriedly thrown various items into earlier as he'd explained the situation to her in his office. "Yes," she replied.

"Good," said Snape, taking the bag from her and immediately began to remove items from it. Hermione watched as he extracted three red candles, a small knife, a vial of an iridescent purple liquid, and a white square of cloth. "Well," he continued, "counting you, it looks like we have all we need."

Hermione eyed the knife which, though very small, looked to be quite sharp. The vial contained a potion she did not recognize and, accordingly, did not trust. The candles looked safe enough, and she was fairly certain that the cloth wasn't going to come to life and bite her. But the knife and the potion did not put her at ease.

Snape began working immediately. He placed the candles in a triangle formation around her, lighting them all when he was done. He handed Hermione the vial of potion. "Drink it," he said. His voice terribly soft but still just as commanding as if he had yelled the words.

"Um," said Hermione. "What exactly am I drinking?"

"A potion," he replied, and she nearly slapped him.

"Yes, obviously it's a potion," she snapped, ignoring the voice in her head that observed how very much like him she sounded. "What sort of potion is it?"

"A potion that will allow my magic to channel through you," he replied. "It will make you the medium through which the spell will be cast."

"Right," said Hermione. "Why me and not you, then? Why do I have to be the medium? Because they're my friends?"

"No," said Snape, "of course not. Because the medium must be a virgin witch."

Hermione stared at him in disbelief for a few moments before bursting into laughter. When she saw his frown of confusion, she laughed even harder. After a few moments, Snape began to look quite angry and Hermione tried to control her giggles.

"I'm sorry," she managed to say seconds later. "But," she began, laughing once more, "why on earth would you assume that I'm a virgin? I'm twenty two years old, Professor. The likelihood of my still being a virgin is quite slim, you know."

He frowned. "But you're unattached."

She laughed again. "But that certainly doesn't mean I've always been."

His frown deepened. "When did you lose it?"

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "That is a slightly personal question, don't you think?"

"Answer me, Miss Granger," he barked.

She sighed. "Christmas break in my sixth year."

"With whom?" he asked, and Hermione felt her indignation rise at the question.

"Now you're going too far, Professor," she said as she put her hands on her hips, ignoring the fact that holding the vial of potion in her right hand made the movement slightly ineffectual. "That is none of your business."

He sneered. "Potter or Weasley?"

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Weasley," she said. "Charlie Weasley."

She watched as Snape's eyes widened and a look of horror overtook his features. "Charlie Weasley!" he sputtered. "But you were just a child! He should have known better than to take advantage of a child."

She snorted. "He didn't take advantage of me, Professor. I got him smashed and had my wicked way with him."

Snape raised an eyebrow. "Smashed?"

"Firewhiskey," said Hermione, struggling not to giggle. "Half a bottle. I must confess, I was surprised that he was still able to perform." She paused to give Snape what she hoped look like a knowing smile. "It was a pleasant surprise, though."

Snape gulped and said nothing. Hermione saw that it looked like the man was blushing which she thought to be odd because he had nothing to be embarrassed about. "I…" he began, pausing again to gulp. Hermione watched his Adam's apple bob up and down. "Why…why not someone your own age?"

Hermione gave him a small smile. "I didn't really want to be disappointed my first time, Professor. I thought that with someone older and with more experience it might actually be good."

"Was it?" Snape replied immediately after she'd spoken, and Hermione thought that this was the first time she had ever heard the man speak without pausing to consider his words. It was a monumental event in history, and she was the only one there to witness it.

She shrugged. "Not as good as it could have been, sadly. I didn't quite…" she waved her hand around in the air hoping it conveyed what she couldn't find the words to explain.

"Right," said Snape. "Right."

"So," Hermione said, wanting to change the subject now that she had shared the details of her first go at sex with her former Potions professor. "I suppose too much time has passed to cast the spell, then."

He nodded. "And there is, of course, the matter of not having the most important ingredient," Snape added.

She smiled. "True."

"Then we can only wish them luck," Snape said, punctuating his statement with a small sigh.

Instinctively, Hermione took a step towards him, and patted his forearm lightly with the hand that was not holding the vial. "They'll be all right. I am sure Molly will be so thrilled to officially have Harry in the family that she won't care one jot that he and Ron ran off to Canada to marry."

Snape looked down at her, studying her face for a few moments. "You know, Miss Granger, I believe that you may have a point."

She smiled up at him once more. "Of course I do, Professor."

She managed not to gasp when he smiled back. But it was a very short lived smile, for seconds after it appeared, it vanished and Snape began to look quite troubled. "Miss Granger," he said slowly. "I would never have taken advantage of you. And I didn't. I kept control, Miss Granger. Despite, well, despite everything."

Hermione's brow furrowed. "What are you talking about, Professor?"

He cleared his throat and his cheeks flushed a brilliant shade of red. "I suppose the same year you had Charlie Weasley, erm, deflower you, I began to feel a bit differently towards you, Miss Granger."

"Differently how?" she asked softly.

His cheeks grew redder. "I…erm...I suppose I began to fancy you."

Hermione thought it was very good of her that she did not giggle. But honestly, Professor Severus Snape fancying her? And beginning in her sixth year? If anything, he had certainly become much nastier towards her in her sixth year, making it appear that he'd certainly begun to feel differently towards her; that his hatred had become positively vehement.

And when Hermione paused to consider it, it began to make a great deal of sense.

Clearing her throat, she gave him a small smile. "Do you still?"

He frowned. "Fancy you?"

"Yes," she said.

"Yes," he echoed.

Hermione felt her smile grow slightly, and though she had certainly not planned on coming into the Forbidden Forest to do this, she stood up on tip toes and lightly pressed her lips against his. They were rather dry but warm and soft, and Hermione found that kissing Snape was quite pleasant.

Well, it was really quite wonderful, she decided, when his arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her close to him. The pressure of his lips on hers grew as his tongue slipped into her mouth. He was very good at this. She would almost say he was too good at it as she was fairly certain if he didn't stop soon she might end up on her back on the floor of the Forbidden Forest. And she'd probably like it, too.

Snape had suddenly moved his mouth from his lips to her neck where she could hear him saying her name repeatedly. But it wasn't soft sighs of "Miss Granger" like she would have expected. No, he was whispering "Hermione," over and over against her skin.

She wiggled against him, eager to get closer. "Severus," she sighed.

He pulled away from her slightly after she spoke his name, and Hermione looked up to see him eyeing her critically. "I'm no Charlie Weasley," he said seriously.

She sighed. "Well, thank God. That means you might be able to actually…well, you know…" she shrugged twice, hoping, once again, her actions would convey what her words didn't.

"Right," Snape said, smiling. "Right."

She smiled back. "Take me to the dungeons, Severus."

And suddenly, Severus Snape sprung into action, and Hermione found herself being dragged by her hand back towards the castle. She was practically running to keep up with him, and thought of neither the items they'd left sitting somewhere behind them on the path nor Harry and Ron until many hours later.