I'm soooo sorry it took me so long to post this. I got married last year and am now two months pregnant (now I can write about Hermione's pregnancy with more understanding). Anyway I have been suffering from severe writer's block and it now seems to be past. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I have been so grateful for all the reviews and I'm so glad that everyone likes my story. I'll try to get the next chapter out soon.

Chapter Eleven

Hermione awoke the next morning feeling groggy and disoriented. Slowly, memories of the previous evening came back to her. Her head immediately cleared and she bolted out of bed. She had to make sure that Severus was okay. She hurriedly threw on her bathrobe and headed for the professor's room. Without knocking she opened the door and stepped inside. Snape was seated peacefully at his desk grading papers and drinking steaming tea. His head shot up in annoyance at the sudden interruption, but his features quickly switched to concern at the sight of Hermione, who looked a frightful mess. He abruptly stood up.

"Miss. Granger, are you ill?"

Hermione's face flushed and her hands automatically reached up to smooth down her hair and tidy her appearance as best she could.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you, Professor. I was simply concerned for you, and wished to find out how you're feeling this morning."

The professor seemed a bit taken aback and slowly returned to his seat.

"I feel quite well, Miss. Granger, thank you."

He studied her silently for a moment.

"And you, Miss. Granger? How are you feeling this morning?"

Hermione knew that he was referring to the incident with Lucius, the previous evening.

"It was a difficult night, Professor, but I think I'll be okay."

Her hands nervously found their way to her stomach and she absently rubbed her ever growing belly. Severus watched her for a long moment, seemingly captivated by Hermione's movements. Then, as if he were awakening from a deep sleep, he started, blinked his eyes, and shook his head.

"Well, as you can see, Miss Granger, I am quite busy right now, and I daresay, you must be hungry. Why don't you go have Rosie fix you some food?

He then dismissively turned back to his work and pointedly showed deep interest in the parchment before him. Hermione, no longer sensitive to the professor's odd ways, mumbled a goodbye and left the room.

The morning went by normally enough. In the early afternoon Professor McGonagall stopped by and she and Hermione had a long and satisfying conversation. When Professor McGonagall finally left, Hermione once again felt the familiar pangs of loneliness. There was only one cure that Hermione could think of. As her fingers flew over the ivory keys time seemed to disappear, and along with it every negative thought within her overwhelmed mind.

Before long Rosie came in to announce dinner. Hermione reluctantly pulled herself away from the music. Suddenly the thought came to her that she would greatly desire Snape's company for dinner. She had never before even thought of suggesting such a thing to him but with each passing second the thought became more and more appealing.

With her mind made up she wrote out the request on a small piece of parchment and called for Rosie. Hermione handed her the parchment with instructions to give it to Snape and sat back to await the answer. A moment later Rosie returned. To Hermione's delight Snape agreed to have dinner with her, although the elation lasted only a few seconds before, to Hermione's confusion, the nervousness set in. Hermione began to seriously doubt that she had made the right decision in asking the professor to join her. She pushed those thoughts from her mind, however, and set herself to the task of getting ready for dinner. She found a dressy skirt and top that she had almost forgotten about and after painfully squeezing herself into them got to work on her face. It felt more than a little strange to be dressing up after all this time. At last she was satisfied with her appearance. Before leaving she took one more glance at herself. Then it hit her. What was she doing! Why was she dressing up for dinner with Professor Snape, of all people? What would he think when he saw her like this? She had just decided to change into something more casual when there was a knock on her door. She barely had time to register the knock before the door swung open to reveal a scowling Snape. Hermione found herself unable to move, but simply stood there staring at the dark form. Snape stared right back, his face suddenly softer. His eyes slowly moved up and down her body and Hermione found herself blushing under the professor's piercing gaze. Hermione cleared her throat.

"I'm sorry for the hold up Professor. I'm a bit out of practice when it comes to eating with other people. Shall we?"

Snape's lips curled into a smirk and with a nod of the head he offered his arm to Hermione. All feelings of discomfort instantly left her with that simple gesture, and smiling Hermione slipped her hand through the professor's arm. Snape seated her at the table and took his own seat. Rosie had gone out of her way to make things look nice. The table had a lace cloth covering. There were two candles lit in beautiful brass holders, and there was a large vase of flowers in the center. Hermione, for a fleeting moment, allowed herself to entertain the notion that Snape might have had a hand in all this. However, she dismissed the thought with a quiet chuckle. The laugh unfortunately didn't go unnoticed. Snape's head jerked up at the sound and he eyed Hermione suspiciously. Hermione averted her eyes and busied herself placing the cloth napkin on her lap. A moment later, Rosie appeared at the table with dinner. Hermione's mouth watered at the delicious aromas. Rosie filled the plates and they began to eat. The dinner was wonderful, and consisted of chicken, potatoes, salad, and fruit. Hermione was on her third bite of chicken when it happened; whatever the chicken was spiced with hit her all of a sudden and Hermione felt a sharp kick within her belly. Clutching her stomach, she gasped and looked across the table at her dinner companion. Suddenly she found herself laughing with joy, much to the professor's surprise.

"Hermione, what on…" But that's as far as he got, for Hermione was already at his side and, grabbing his hand, placed it on her belly where the movement could be felt. Instinctively, the professor tried to pull his hand back, but Hermione stubbornly held on, still grinning from ear to ear. Snape relaxed his hand as understanding dawned on him. He suddenly felt a kick and without intending it, let out a bark of laughter. His face settled into a faint smile and he looked into Hermione's eyes. Her smile slowly began to fade and without thinking, she impulsively bent down and kissed the professor lightly on his thin lips. She pulled back slowly and peered into his face. Snape's eyes were closed and as he opened them Hermione found that same look of fear and uncertainty she had seen the previous night. She bent to kiss him again when she thought better of it and began to pull back. However, the professor wasn't ready to let her go and removing his hand from her belly, reached up and with both hands pulled Hermione back to him. The kiss began slowly and gently, both participants filled with trepidation and fear. Then Hermione's hand found its way to the professor's face. Snape drew in a breath and grabbing Hermione's hand, swiftly stood up and pulled Hermione into a close embrace. Hermione felt her body quiver and wrapped her arms tightly around the professor's body. Then they both drew back and their mouths joined in a passionate kiss. Hermione for the first time since she came to live with this man felt completely safe and at peace. This felt like the most natural thing in the world.

The kiss seemed to last forever. Finally Hermione reluctantly pulled away and once more looked into the professor's eyes. A whole series of emotions seemed to be playing out on his face but it was guilt that ended up taking residence there. Hermione sighed in disappointment and hurt. She waited for the professor to say something as she didn't quite trust herself to speak at the moment.

"Miss Granger, I…."

Hermione's heart sank with disappointment at the formal usage of her name. She lowered her eyes and nearly whispering stopped the professor from any further words.

"Please, Sir, you don't need to say anything else. I understand perfectly. I really don't know what came over me. Forgive me"

Snape ran his hand nervously through his thick, black hair and looked away.

"Miss Granger, it's not that I…."

"Please, professor", Hermione interrupted, "just don't."

Their eyes met and Snape found himself at a loss for words at the sorrow he saw in Hermione's face. She slowly lowered her eyes and sat down.

"Maybe we can just pretend this never happened." Hermione said quietly. Uncomfortable silence loomed. Hermione softly cleared her throat.

"Rosie," The house elf appeared out of thin air. "I'll take the rest of my food in my bedroom."

She turned to the Professor." Goodnight, Sir."

"Goodnight, Miss. Granger." He said in a low voice.

Then with all the dignity she could muster Hermione returned to the safety of her room where perhaps she could try to make sense of the strange events of that evening.