Thank you, thank you for all your reviews. I love them all and am so grateful that you take time to post them.
Well, here we are at the conclusion of the story. I've really enjoyed writing the whole thing. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My new story with Snape and my own character has now started. (Madness II) I know OC stories are not popular, but I'd be really, really grateful if you popped along and read the first chapter and let me know what you think. (If you like my style - which some of you have said - you might like the story). I also have an idea for a Snape/Hermione Christmas one-off. Post near the time.
btw: I haven't mis-spelt 'manoeuvred' - it's how us Brits spell it!
Straight on till morning
How had he, Severus Snape, reached this point?
Until yesterday she had been an annoying fancy, an inconvenient weakness that had somehow wormed its way through his defences, distracting him whenever he saw her in the day; the cause of his private indulgences at night.
Now he was enclosed in the arms of this woman, feeling comforted, cared for; loved, almost. Something he had not experienced since a small child, and rarely then.
He lay with his head to her breast, listening to her heart beat, watching her skin rise and fall with each breath.
Even with the danger, he could think of no other place he'd rather be than lying within the warm circle she had created around him.
How the Gods must be laughing - to have saved up all this tender loving care until the last remaining hours of his life...
Not just the care he was receiving, but what he wanted to give...
If they got out of here alive...
What, Severus? What are you planning to do? Take her back to school and ensconce her in your quarters? Be her teacher by day and her lover by night? The Ministry would surely approve!
How could he possibly let her go?
Now he had experienced this, someone actually caring about him; someone who made him feel...as though he wanted to love...
"Professor..?" she whispered.
He raised his head to look at her. He had a very strange expression on his face.
"How can you even think of addressing me so?" He said, gently, stroking her cheek with his thumb.
She felt herself blush.
"What else...I don't know..."
"Severus. My name is Severus."
"I know but...oh, I couldn't possibly..."
"Hermione, under the circumstances..."
"Yes, but that's just it, isn't it...under the circumstances. We're out of context, aren't we. Everything is different 'under the circumstances'. If we get back to school, back to normal life - you're going to hate me for what happened here tonight."
He looked at her for a moment and then shifted so their eyes were on the same level.
"Is that how you expect your Potions Master to react?"
"Well...yes," she said, reasonably.
He looked away and nodded.
"And the man you have seen tonight - how might he react?"
She looked at him.
The man she had seen tonight had just enhanced the feelings she had for the original one. Her Potions Master was cruel, rude, sour, and yet she had felt this unexplained attraction to him that filled her head with sexy thoughts and invaded her nights with the sweetest dreams...
It had been just some kind of animal attraction but,
Oh! The man tonight!
He had softened her heart, stirred her emotions, made her feel that to lose him would kill something inside forever. If only...
"But you're not the man I've seen tonight. Don't you see, you're a different person imprisoned in here..."
He sighed deeply and looked at her with what looked like regret.
"Yes, I do see," he said quietly. "I apologise, Hermione. I have been unforgivably irresponsible. I should have realised that however much you thought you wanted this to happen, that of course you would regret..."
"I don't regret anything that's happened between us..." she said, quickly.
"But you will. When you stop being this different person and return to being Hermione Granger. It is you who will hate me. Your desire was for tonight and tonight only..."
She played with the edge of the cloak. She had interrupted him and he was waiting to hear why. Her heart was pounding. She was sure she shouldn't tell him this, but...
"Um...that's not strictly true."
"I beg your pardon?"
She felt her cheeks go hot again.
"The truth is...I've been...thinking about you... before tonight...in...that way..."
Oh God, she'd said too much. Now she'd made a fool of herself. Make it better...make it better!
"...but of course I realise we only ended up having sex because we've been imprisoned together. It would never have happened otherwise, would it?"
"No. It would never have happened..."
Her heart dropped, even though she'd known that would be his answer.
"...but I had, for a long time, wished that it might."
It took a few moments for his words to make sense to her. She looked at him in astonishment. His black eyes looking gently into hers.
Then suddenly she remembered why the smell of sweat and arousal had been vaguely familiar to her - she'd been aware of a diluted version when her hair had caught on his button during that Potions class.
He had been as flustered and as turned-on as she!
"Oh!" she breathed.
He moved his head closer and kissed her, so softly, so slowly, his hand moving to her back to pull her body closer, without any suggestion that anything more was expected.
"Oh, dear," she said with a smile as they stopped, their heads still touching. "This is going to be awkward back at school, isn't it?"
"Only for a few months, and then I shall have left."
"So shall I."
"Huh?" She looked at him, shocked.
"If Potter wins this battle, I shall be free to leave Hogwarts. I will no longer have to walk in the shadows for the sake of my life; no longer have to masquerade as a teacher..."
"Is that what you've been doing all these years?"
"The Headmaster invited me to stay at Hogwarts and help with the campaign against the Dark Lord. There had to be a reason for my being there, so I became the Potions Master..."
"But you wanted Defence Against the Dark Arts, didn't you? Why didn't Professor Dumbledore..?"
"I requested that appointment, but he merely said 'I think we'll let you teach Potions and see how you get along there'. It appears I 'got along' too well and he was reluctant to move me."
"What will you do instead?"
"I have no idea. I have spent my whole adult life fighting this battle from one side or another. I have to admit, after all these years, freedom seems a little daunting..."
She couldn't help herself. She stopped his words with her lips, shifting her body even closer to him, feeling her eyes prickling with tears.
"Not that I mind in the least," he murmured in her ear, "But was there a reason for that sudden interruption to my musings?"
"You looked so...lost and vulnerable...I...I..."
She looked at him, a strange expression on her face, as though she had just seen the answer to a very obvious puzzle. Her eyes were shining with moisture and even as he watched, a tear spilled over her eyelashes.
For the second time that night he felt he'd been hit by a bolt of lightening...
"Listen," he heard her whisper through the pounding of blood in his ears. "If he wins, they'll come for us and it will be too late to tell you..."
He put trembling fingers to her mouth.
"Don't," he said, suddenly finding it difficult to breath, his logical mind frantically demanding to know what was going on here? What the hell was going on..?
She looked at him, surprised.
"You don't know what I was going to say."
"Yes I do," he said shakily. He looked at her and passed his tongue nervously over his bottom lip as he realised, for the first time ever, he was reacting to his heart rather than his mind - and he didn't care. "Yes...I do. Before it's too late...you were going to say..." he bent towards her and whispered in her ear.
He kissed his way across her face, across her eyelids...and whispered it again.
He manoeuvred himself on top of her, and as his lips hovered above hers, he looked into her eyes and whispered it once more, until her kiss, yet again, silenced his voice.
Neither noticed the sky through the window flare gold.
He was weary. Oh, so weary. He was too old for this any more. He thought that perhaps the time had come to join his friend, Nicholas Flamell. However for the moment, duty called.
Harry had fought a brave fight. He had exceeded even Dumbledore's expectations. Tom Riddle and the being that was Voldemort had been destroyed, and now the wizard world was free at last.
There had been losses, a great many. All had grieved him, but some had broken his heart...
Now all he had to do was release those few who had been taken prisoner and held in Azkaban.
Dumbledore shuffled down the corridors, occasionally having to lean against the wall for support as he looked for those cells that held allies.
He would really like to settle down in front of the fire with a simple cup of tea and a chat with...oh, of course...how could he have forgotten all ready that she was...
He wiped a tear from his eye and his hand reached to the lock of the next cell.
Then something made him hesitate.
He glanced at the door and instantly knew who was on the other side.
He smiled a knowing smile and that sense, the one so powerful it might be called his 'seventh sense', awoke.
"I wondered when you would eventually realise it for yourself, Severus," he said quietly.
He raised his finger and drew an invisible cross on the door. He then charmed it, so the door could only be opened from the inside, and shuffled on.
Inside the cell, Hermione and Severus were asleep, entangled with each other.
Hermione snuggled up to his body as the sunlight streamed in through the little window at the top of the cell, warming the room as it did. Slowly her eyes fluttered open after a night of sex and sleep, to find him in bed next to her.
She leaned towards him and kissed him, delighting when he responded, sleepily at first, but gradually building in passion.
Severus had never woken to such a tender kiss. He kept his eyes shut and enjoyed the sensation, feeling this exquisite creature moving her body against his own and the kiss building in passion.
He moaned with delight as Aphrodite's hand moved down to stroke him with an expertise way beyond her years and experience...
On the door on the inside of the cell, clearly visible for when they cared to look away from each other, was the glowing crest of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Dumbledore's reaction to Snape requesting the DADA job is taken from an actual quote from JK Rowling.
Thousandl: Of course you can hope. Have I ever let you down? lol.
Charmed Piper: I tried to send you an e mail with the web address for the story, but it was returned. Send me an email and I'll forward the address.
May-Luna: Hope the ending is to your liking. I had no idea you were reading Madness. No - killing Andi would be difficult (especially as the story is seen from her point of view!). Sequel has begun - please, please review)
JessiokaFroka: Nope - sorry you're just going to imagine what that might mean (I have my own ideas!)
Grill: I didn't type those three little words, did you notice? A tribute to you!
Vickie211: thanks for a lovely review
Rose of the Forgotten: I had a feeling I was being watched!
Celes: Haven't you reviewed something else of mine? Your name is familiar. Yes, some authors do 'Americanize' HP, but it's difficult to write out of your own accent - you should see my American!
Random Reviewer: I didn't get 'Poppet' from Pirates OtheC, but I do remember the line. I just thought Lucius using a sweet word before the awful crime was a disgusting contrast.
ShadowVixen90: Severus in my arms anyhow! No nightmare needed.
billiejoe: What?! And spoil all the fun?!
edwardiana: Don't know what Isordil is - perhaps smelling-sorts?!
Mr.Moosey: If I had taken it a moment further, we'd have ventured into NC17 territory and I'd have been kicked off the board. Another time, another place, perhaps!?
Kerichi: You can always rely on Lucius to provide the bad bits.
and very many thanks to everyone who ever reviewed: topps; randomgurlie07; Dendara; mysticalfairy05; Calafalas; Jill;the-sexy-flower; cdkobasiuk; Helena Oe (lol); Blue furry elf; Junella; Grey;Snape-ette; June; Intelligent Witch; JoyCrux; Aries1 (thanx for reviewing Madness); Qmouse. love to all.