He stared at her in stunned awe. Breast heaving, eyes snapping, a hectic flush staining her cheeks and collarbones… She stood proudly, hands on her hips, hair fanning out in an areole of glorious chaos that gleamed golden in the light. She was magnificent. She was also furious.

"You're beautiful when you're angry," he told her.

"I most certainly am not!" Hermione snapped back angrily. "My face gets all red and my hair is frizzy and…" She blinked. "Do you really think so?" she asked more softly.

"You don't believe me?" he asked, walking purposefully toward her, a familiar glint in his eye. "Allow me to… reassure you."

He pressed the unmistakable evidence of his opinion into her backside. "Trust me when I say," he murmured, lips brushing the nape of her neck, "that I do, most passionately, believe you to be absolutely stunning when you're angry."

"Mmm," Hermione contributed intelligently, head falling back on his shoulder.

"For instance," he continued, nipping gently along her jawline, "I am extremely interested to find out just how far down this charming rose color goes."

She let out a breathy gasp as he planted a kiss just in the vee of the neckline of her gown. "Severus…" she sighed, eyes falling shut.

She wrapped her arms around his neck as he picked her up and cavalierly kicked open the door to their bedroom.

. . . . .

"You're not getting away with it, you know," Hermione murmured sleepily into his back, sometime later in the evening. He turned over.


"You know what I'm talking about. You absolutely cannot continue this way with Harry and Ron." She attempted to look stern, but it was difficult with him kissing his way across her collarbone.

"I'm terribly sorry," he said, mock-contrite.

"Yes," Hermione breathed, trying valiantly to stay strong. "You should be."

"I'm overcome with remorse," he carried on. "Never again will I call Potter a sanctimonious prat. Never again will Weasley have cause to sputter inarticulately in my presence. No more will I point out the flaws in their logic when they try to simultaneously accuse me of being a ruthless seducer or a desperate, disgusting loser that you're only with out of pity."

He paused with his lips poised above the valley between her breasts. "I am reformed," he said silkily, blowing gently on her skin. Hermione arched.

"Wonderful," she moaned, shivering convulsively beneath his touch. "Just as long as we're clear on that."

"Perfectly," he agreed, fingers tugging gently on a curl lying across her shoulder. She pulled him up for a kiss.

"Severus?" she asked after a moment, speaking against his jaw. "Did you really tell Harry you would not hesitate to use his only hope for procreation for potions ingredients?"

He chuckled into her ear. "If anyone asks I'll deny it."

She looked reproachful. "That really was too bad of you, darling." She suddenly smirked, as if at a memory. "But oh, if you had seen his face!"

Severus dropped a kiss on her forehead. "That, my dear, is why I love you."

Hermione smiled up at him. "I know."