A/N - I am done, people. For those of you wondering if I was ever going to finish this, I apologize for the lengthy delays. I've been finding it hard to write Snape/Hermione lately, mainly because of the happenings in the "Half-Blood Prince" and what I fear maybe/possibly could be the complete character assassination of Snape. Despite the fact that I have high hopes Rowling will surprise me, I keep reminding myself that Harry Potter is, for all facts and purposes, a children's series. I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, this story is now finished, mainly because I promised everyone that emailed me I would finish it, and I hate breaking my promises. Sometimes, death threats actually work. LOL.


She is sitting in the overstuffed green armchair, in front of the fireplace, reading one of his books. Her legs hang over an arm, swinging slightly. They are bare from just above her knees to the tips of her toes. He knows if he walks over there, he would see the slightest hint of her plain cotton knickers peeking at him from underneath her ridiculously short skirt.

For a moment he debates doing just that, but she is a discerning witch and would immediately realize what he was doing. He doesn't want to upset her. The few days they were estranged still haunt him, because he knows that sooner or later he will do something else to offend her, and she will leave for good.

So, he watches her and listens to her and enjoys her smiles and her voice. He memorizes the smell of her hair, and maps the soft skin of her body with the rough skin of his fingertips, and wonders what the rest of his life will be like without her.

There is a part of him that wants to believe her when she tells him that she loves him, and he finds he doesn't banish the thought as quickly as he used to. She must love me in some way, he tells himself, or why would she stay? Why would she smile at me, why would she kiss my brow and caress my back and sigh my name as I spend myself inside her? She is a Gryffindor, without subterfuge. She must love me, just a little. I know I love her.

The sudden realization jolts him, and he quells the urge to ask her if he has finally figured it out. He can't express the way he feels with mere words. How do you tell someone that they make your life worth living without sounding foolish? She has filled my days with companionship and joy, and my nights with passion and heat. She has taken this broken man and pieced me back together again, using herself as the mortar that makes me whole. I do not have the words to give her, because nothing I could say could show her what I hold within my heart. He wants to tell her…something…but his uncertainty holds him back. Love is as intransient as smoke. He knows that what he feels is real, because he has never experienced anything close to this his entire miserable life, but Hermione is young and could come to her senses any day. He cannot tell her how he feels because the words are trapped in his throat.

Instead, he approaches her and leans over, touching his lips to hers, words of love poised on the tip of his tongue. The book she is reading drops to the floor, and her hands flutter up to caress his shoulders. She tastes of summer-ripe berries and smells like home.

When he finally pulls away and hands her back her book, she smiles at him and he finds himself smiling back.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

It is Saturday, and they are still in bed. Hermione is curled against him, arm thrown over his chest, and knee curled over his waist. Her bushy hair tickles his neck and nose, and the heat of her body makes him drowsy. He had surprised her with a kiss earlier that morning when she exited their bathroom. Needless to say, they never made it to breakfast. He feels like he is wrapped in a cocoon, and realizes as he drifts off to sleep that he is a different man than he was before Hermione entered his life. Instead of making him panic, the thought makes him smile.

He has come to know her in a way he doesn't know anyone else. She can say his name a million ways - 'Severus' - and each way is merely a different version of 'I love you.' She tells him this too, of course, 'I love you,' and he finds he doesn't flinch, when she says it, anymore.

'Hermione,' he whispers softly against her hair, as he drifts off to sleep. 'Hermione.'

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Right now, this very instant, her voice is hitching in that sweet little way of hers, gasping as he fills her, sighing with every slide of his body into hers. Her arms are around him, her hands sliding from his buttocks to his shoulders and back again, alternately squeezing and scratching him as their rhythm takes over. He can feel her heels, pressing into the top halves of his calves as she lifts her pelvis to meet his thrusts. His hands are fisted in her hair, those glorious curls wrapping around his fingers like ribbons. Her head is arched back and she is gibbering his name now – 'Severus, Severus, Severus…' Her voice coats him like lava, so incredibly hot that he feels his body burning from the inside out. 'Tell me,' she's begging him, 'give me your voice; I need to hear you, Severus….'

He can feel his balls tighten with each stroke, his throat aching with all the pent up words he's been longing to tell her – how he loves her too, and he's so thankful she's there. That the feel of her, tight and hot and wet around him is heaven; that her voice is a balm and an irritant, alternately soothing and inflaming him.

The pressure is mounting and her soft cries are urging him onwards. He wants to tell her she has taken a broken man and somehow, against all logic, made him whole – that the very essence of her completes him in a way more elemental than the strongest of magicks. She has become his very heart and soul…

Instead, all he manages to say as he explodes inside her is her name: 'Hermione.'

He can tell by the way she shudders around him and kisses his neck, her eyes bright with tears, that she has heard him – and understood.

FIN


This last chapter is short, I realize, but I've taken it as far as I can go, based on the happenings in it's sister one-shot story, 'She Never Stops Talking'. And, because I must, I leave you all with this last verse of a song, written by John Denver, one of the greatest (IMO) folk singer/songwriters ever.

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

And I wish I knew how

It would feel to be free

I wish that I could break

All the chains holding me

I wish I could say

All the things that I'd like to say

Say 'em loud say 'em clear

For the whole round world to hear

I wish I could share

All the love that's in my heart

Remove every doubt that keeps us apart

And I wish you could know

What it means to be me

Then you'd see and agree

Every man should be free