Title: The Prince of the Night

Author: Chinnamastic Interference

Summary: SS/HG. Sev saves Herm from good ol' Voldemort's clutches. However, he doesn't do it for Dumbledore, but for himself, and he won't let her go until he gets what he wants ;-) One-shot

Disclaimer: I own only the following percent of the Potterverse: 0

The forest was cold and dark, the clearing that would usually be so peaceful was now a scene for pain and torture. Voldemort was grinning ear to ear with glee as he eyed the witch on the floor. His Death Eaters were laughing and having the time of their lives as Voldemort pointed his wand at the witch again, to use an Unforgivable this time.

"Enjoyed yourself so far?" he asked, smirking at her torn robes and bleeding arms. "I would kill you right now"

"So what's stopping you?" the girl asked in a shaking whisper, steel in her eyes.

"I don't like to kill virgins" he replied and pulled his wand back to himself.

"Growing a heart?" she mocked him although her limbs were shaking terribly.

"I do think I am" he replied and the Death Eaters roared with laughter. "Lucius, take care of the problem so I can kill her"

"Wh-what?" she said, her eyes widening and trying to retreat from the elegant figure of a Death Eater walk towards her. "N-no! I-I won't let you!"

"That's the point in rape" Voldemort said and the Death Eaters laughed again, seeing her pale worse than before as Lucius Malfoy walked towards her, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her up. She tried to hit him, but as weakened as she was, she had no shots against him.

"NOOOOOOO!" she howled as he let her go and muttered a curse that tore her robes apart.

And then… it was all a blur. Another Death Eater jumped towards her and Lucius and kicked Lucius far away before grabbing her in his arms. There were a lot of howls everywhere and she heard Voldemort cry "SEVERUS!" over the howls of his Death Eaters.

Hermione opened her eyes and looked around the room curiously. Where was she? She couldn't still be with Voldemort, could she! After all, his prisoners aren't supposed to be in this wooden comfortable house, no? And he wouldn't be subtle enough to pry information out of people by making them feel comfy and getting others to Polyjuice themselves in their friends…

So, let's see, what did she remember?

1. She was lured by a Death Eater out of the safety of her home with the help of a House Elf of his. They therefore knew her weaknesses.

2. She was taken to a meeting with the Death Eaters in a forest and they'd cast several curses on her, making her hurt and bleed all over…

As she got to this point, Hermione shivered. She still remembered those curses, that laughing, the pain, the humiliation… She remembered it oh so well. Three cuts on her back, ten on her chest-those they'd thought were more funny. She'd howled in pain again and again and again. And then Voldemort hadn't wanted to kill her, saying he didn't like killing virgins. And he'd assigned Lucius Malfoy to rape her. She remembered thinking how awful it was for Voldemort to hit her in the last point where he could: her first and last time… a rape. When she'd always dreamed of having her first and not last time with Ron, in a romantic way that she'd always remember fondly.

She couldn't remember too much then, it was such a blur. Everything had just stopped for her and there'd been a battle of some sort, she could remember shadows of things moving around, the Death Eaters shrieking, arms around her, blackness.

And now she was here. Where was she? Who'd healed her?

Because now she could see she was healed. She rose slowly on her feet, still feeling very weak, and she looked at her naked body. Yes, she still had some marks from the cuts, but most of everything was gone.

She suddenly lost balance and fell on the bed, hitting her head on the wall and letting out a short cry of pain. Not two seconds after, Severus Snape entered the room, looking slightly worried.

"Trying to kill yourself, Granger?" he sneered as he watched her trying to move from where she'd fallen under the blanket. "Don't tell me you're shy of me. Trust me, I know you quite well by now. After all, you spent three days here under my surveillance."

"Three days?" she muttered.

"Expecting less? No, you were very injured. Some of the curses were slow-acting, I don't know why they hit you with them, they fully intended on killing you that night"

"So you were the one who saved me" she said slowly. "Dumbledore's orders, I presume"

Snape started laughing at that. Hermione stared at him in surprise and wondered what on Earth was going on through the man's head. Why was he laughing like that?

"Dumbledore? No" he replied, still in humor. "He couldn't have convinced me to use the power that he doesn't know against Voldemort in order to save… what? A 17 year old girl?"

"Then why?" she asked. "Why did you save me?"

"Because you were there… amongst other things" he replied simply. "I had everything ready for my little surprise attack. That I must say, succeeded. I killed 14 Death Eaters with the help of my friends… A few thestrals I convinced to go into violent mode, a Nundu, three wolves and two of my fellow vampires"

"Vampires? A Nundu!" Hermione asked, her eyes wide.

"Yes, Granger" he replied with a sarcastic look. "How could it be? You of all people haven't realized that I'm a daylight vampire? Well, of course, not a vampire in the common meaning of the word, since those are rather stupid creatures, but a…"

"Noble Vampire" she replied and nodded simply. "A Prince of the Night. A Fallen Angel"

"You've been doing your homework again" he smirked.

"But you're supposed to be myths!"

"So is the Chamber of Secrets"

"You're supposed to be able to rule the animal world by making the animals understand you and like you"

"We're able to. We don't drink blood, you know that by now. We're not even vampires, in truth. We're actually another type of dark creatures that have no names and have very few special properties, like the one you mentioned now. Yes, we love the night. And yes we are very charismatic. And immortal. But we are killable in normal means."

"I know" she replied fascinated. "You're a Prince of the Night… and I'm lucky you saved me"

He smirked again and his eyes narrowed a bit. He sat down on her bed and said in a slow, dark tone.

"Yes, you are. But I didn't do it for free. And well, I might've lied. I did attack at that point because you were there. Sorry for the tardiness, I had quite a bit to organize."

"What do you want?" she asked, her innocent eyes looking at him curiously. "Because I don't have much money, you probably know that by now"

"I don't want money" he replied softly and leaned over against her. "Another guess, Hermione?"

Her eyes widened a bit and she simply gulped, making herself small in the sheets, but he followed her.

"You… you can't! You're my savior, you shouldn't…"

"I couldn't help but notice you're still a virgin, Hermione" he whispered to her and in one slow, fluid movement he climbed on top of her, over the sheets. "I'd love to be your first"

"I can't do that!" she said.

"Such a fool!" Snape said with a smirk and lowered his head so that his lips almost touched hers. "You're in love with a fool, I can see it in your eyes"

"I'm not in love with you!" she squeaked and he chuckled darkly, making her feel as if he was playing with her like a cat -no, a tiger with his pray.

"I was talking about Weasley" he replied. "But I will have you"

"Please don't?" she asked, tears of fear in her eyes.

"Not until you want to" he replied with a purr. "Not until I ask you if you want to and you say 'yes' from your own free will. I have my pride and I never rape"

"Well, then, no! A thousand times no!" she replied, still looking quite frightened. "I'll never do it!"

"Oh, we'll see" he purred. "We'll see"

He got off her, winked –and she gaped. Severus Snape winked?- and got out of her room.

"This is great" she mumbled, still shaking. "Just great. Wonderful"

She got out of the bed and looked around for her clothes. She didn't see anything like them, but what she did see was a pair of black underpants, a pair of black pants, a black t-shirt and some black socks and boots.

"He's really into black, isn't he?" she mumbled to herself, trying to distract herself from thinking about him and getting dressed. School would start soon, they'd come for her! And they'd save her from Snape, too. Put him behind bars.

She finished getting dressed and looked around confusedly. What would she do now? Maybe go get some food? She was hungry.

She dared go to the door and open it, getting into a small corridor. She was at the first floor of the house, she knew that, so it wasn't a surprise to see some stairs at the end of the small corridor. She also noticed there was a room next to hers and two other rooms right across. So, she'd have to descend the stairs of this rather large wooden house! And she'd have to bump into Snape again. Damn. What if he got all sexual on her and forget his no-raping policy?

Taking a deep breath, she descended the stairs and made it in the lobby of the house –a rather large lobby, she had to admit. She could smell something that suspiciously resembled a baking cake and she drooled to herself before walking through the second door on the left –the one that was opened.

And inside there was Snape, sitting at a table, reading the Daily Prophet over a cup of something.

"Coffee?" he asked.

"No, thanks" Hermione replied and wondered if she should be sitting down. Snape could be a very dangerous man and if he attempted to harm her, she'd be able to fight him better while standing… But then again, if he attempted to harm her, could she fight him? He was a hell of a lot more experienced than her and a Prince of the Night. So, she decided to say something while sitting down. "I didn't know you could cook"

He raised an eyebrow at her from over the paper.

"I'm the Potion Master and she doesn't believe I can cook" he muttered. "Silly girl" he said a bit louder. "I must admit I don't do it often, but I can do it, I assure you"

"It smells great" she said, trying to smile. Yeah, that was it… Get him to like her, to release her from the goodness of his heart. He smirked.

"Fraternizing with the enemy, Hermione?" he asked amusedly and put his paper down and walked towards her. "You think it will work?"

"I was hoping so" she admitted.

"Slim chance" he replied. "You know what I want and I'm very stubborn indeed"

"But it's cruel!" she revolted as he stood right in front of her. "You know I've never been with anybody and you ask this of me. To jump in bed with you and let you rape me!"

"I wasn't asking that of you" he replied, his eyes glittering in an odd way. "Is that what you understood?"

"Hah! Not what you asked of me! As if! That's exactly what you're asking of me, Snape and don't pretend it's not"

"Surprisingly enough, I don't want you to "jump in bed with me and let me rape you". Has it occurred to you why I want you so much to agree?"

"Not to feel guilty for raping me?"

"No" he laughed slightly. "Because I want to show you how a real man is. Before you go back to that Weasley boy"

"And you're a real man?" she smirked.

"I might be" he replied before going to the oven, opening it, taking a cloth from the counter and taking it out. He then put it on the table, went back to the oven, closed it, took a huge plate out of a cupboard and put it on the table before turning the cake upside down. "I assume you like chocolate?"

"Yes, thanks" she replied, deciding it would do no good to be stubborn and refuse him. He cut a few pieces of the cake and put them on two smaller plates that had already been on the table before and handed one to her.

"It's very hot"

"I figured out so much"

Snape took everything off the table except for the two plates and his coffee and smirked at Hermione before taking out his wand and performing a slightly cooling charm on his cake.

"You're a witch, surely you know how to use magic in real life?"

"I like it natural, thanks" she replied. "So, you consider yourself a real man and want to teach me a lesson" she sarcastically said.

"Yes and no" came the reply. "I also find you quite attractive and I don't fancy raping anybody."

"You're not telling me the real reason why things are like this" she said.

"All reasons are real"

"But there's something you're not saying, isn't it?"

"It might be" he smirked. "Maybe it's just that it's a lot more fun to see the victim give up to you slowly, fighting with itself, than never giving up. It screws things up a lot."

"I won't give up to you" she said stubbornly.

"For that comment, for the first time all I need is your 'yes', but the second time you'll need to beg"

"Disgusting bastard!"

"Indeed, that would be me"

Hermione rolled her eyes and ate the cake. It was really good, although still very warm. It was all chocolaty and soft and really, really tasty. Who'd have known? She ate the three pieces on her plate and looked up at Snape who was yet again smirking at her.

"More?" he asked.

"Yes, please" she replied and he cut three more pieces of the cake and put them on her plate. "You're a great cook"

"Fraternizing with the enemy again. It won't work, Hermione. I won't let you go just because I might like your personality"

"Damn"

"Language!"

Hermione scowled at him and ate those three pieces before leaning against her chair and looking at the other man. He was odd. At some points, she could feel him like some kind of a twisted friend that she'd be able to open up to. But then he seemed to be exactly what he was: a criminal with a twisted personality. She hated it, it made her act odd.

"You're impossible. I can't figure you out"

"Not everything in life is there to be figured out" came his reply. "Some things are better left alone"

"Such as yourself?"

He paused slightly.

"Maybe"

She stretched a bit and he got up from his chair and went behind hers, massaging her.

"You don't fool around, do you Snape?" she asked, looking up at him. "I'd very much like it if you removed your hands from me now"

His hands retreated from her shoulders only to move on her neck, soft touches, nothing else.

"Get your hands off me!" she growled and he did that. She could almost feel him grinning darkly. "I don't get you! What the hell is this!"

"It's a game, you see" he muttered in her ear. "Nothing more than a game. I get to tempt to, try to cross your limits and you may stop me at any time. I can ask you any question, and it's up to you to decide if you answer or not. Same goes with you. You can do whatever you want and see where the limits are, ask any questions, and say whatever crosses your mind"

"I don't get you" she repeated and he retreated.

"I'll be in my room, the one next to yours" he said in a different tone. "Don't try to run away, there are many wild creatures out there and I don't want you to get hurt or worse. There's a library down here, you may use it if you like"

"Whatever" she replied and he left.

"Stupid bastard" she muttered and took another piece of cake.

That night, Hermione had just finished reading a Muggle story that Snape had in his library. It was a police story by Agatha Christie and she'd felt very surprised that he had Muggle books in his library. Apparently, he had all types of books in the small library-room which had shelves all around the walls and two armchairs, a couch and a table in the middle.

She let the book down and started thinking. Snape wouldn't let her go until she slept with him. That meant she'd have to do it sooner or later. And it also meant that it would be up to her when she'd go back to Ron and Harry and Hogwarts. If she knew Snape well enough, they wouldn't be found until he wanted them to be found, so waiting for a rescue wouldn't do any good.

She felt disgusted at the thought of having him sleep with her, having him use her like that, but… Well, he wasn't quite that awful and she could deal with it later. So, she'd have to gather her courage and go up to him and tell him to do it. She'd heard that the first time hurt a lot… would it hurt more or less with him than it would with Ron? Only God knew, she'd probably never find out.

So… This was it, wasn't it? She'd go up to him…

Hermione gulped, feeling very nervous, very afraid. But she'd do it. Now or never. She placed the book back with shaky hands and walked out the library and up the stairs, trying to go as slowly as possible, but reaching the first floor too quickly. She opened the door of the room next to hers and saw him lying on the bed, reading a book about natural remedies.

He raised an eyebrow at her over his book and she gulped, feeling very, very nervous. She didn't know if she had the power to say it… She bit her lips a bit before shutting her eyes for a moment and starting to speak.

"Okay… Let's… Let's… Let's have sex"

She heard a sigh from him and saw him put his book down on the nightstand.

"Come here" he said and she walked towards him slowly, shaking and wishing it would all be over soon. She stopped as she reached the middle of the bed and he patted the sheets next to him. "Lie down, don't be shy"

She awkwardly sat on the bed before kicking her shoes off and lying next to him, looking him in the eyes. So… this was it. She felt her mouth go very dry and felt one of his hands move over to her back and drawing her closer to him. Surprisingly he smelt good, having used some nice perfume before.

"I don't want to hurt you" he whispered. "Relax… We won't do anything tonight, love"

"L-love?" she asked, frowning, before realizing what the other thing he'd said was. "What do you mean, we won't do anything?"

"I don't want to hurt you" he said again, kissing the top of her head. "Relax, don't be so tense, I won't do anything to you"

"I don't understand…" she said, trying to think about what his motives were. "I don't understand anything!"

"You will, Hermione" he replied. "But if I told you, you wouldn't understand. Stop being so tense, remember what I said? Consider it a game of sorts"

"Yeah, yeah" she replied. "Why are you doing this? Explain! Come on, tell me! I want to know what's going on!"

"I can't tell you why I'm doing this" he replied. "You'll figure it out. But remember: nothing will happen without your agreement"

"I just offered my agreement for you to deflower me!" she pointed out.

"No, you didn't" he answered, tenderly caressing her hair. "You offered your agreement to be tortured, at least in your opinion"

"Sleeping with you would be torture" she muttered before stiffening and looking straight in his eyes, petrified. "I'm sorry, I…"

"It's ok" he replied. "I told you, you can say anything you want, do anything you want… though I wouldn't advise going in the forest, it's deadly out there"

"But I don't understand" she complained. "What do you want from me!"

"To let go, be yourself. Stop worrying, forget the outside world."

"And that means sleep with you willingly" she replied with a frown.

"Not necessarily" he replied, shaking his head slightly. "Just relax. Get some sleep tonight, you need it. And consider this a game, I told you…"

"How can it be a game!" she complained. "This is nothing like a game! I'm trapped here, your prisoner and you keep acting like some sort of… well, I don't know what! And ask me to sleep with you and when I say yes, you say no! What the hell do you want!"

He sighed.

"I told you that you wouldn't understand even if I told you" he replied. "Just… try to act as if it were a game then. Try thinking of it as a game. Now get some sleep"

"Fine" she huffed and felt him shift so he was practically embracing her. "Bastard"

"I know" he smiled.

The next morning when she woke up, Hermione realized she was alone in the man's bed. The room was a lot like hers, actually and now it was fully engulfed in light. She sighed to herself as she got up from the bed and stretched. So… a game? A twisted one, maybe. Okay, she'd try to see everything as a game… a game, a game, a game… How the hell was she supposed to see everything as a game! She didn't feel as if she was in one!

She realized that she'd slept in her day clothes and that she didn't have any other clothes than the ones she was wearing at that certain point and that she didn't have anything to change in. She exited the room and went down to the kitchen. Snape wasn't there. He wasn't in the library either. The two rooms on the right were a bathroom and a storeroom –the bathroom was very nice and in the storeroom there were a few brooms… were they flying brooms? Could she snatch one?-.

She then went upstairs and saw that there was nobody in the bathroom or in the small living room. She went to her own room and noticed there were some clothes –yet again, black- on her bed. But Snape was nowhere to be found. She therefore went to the window and opened it, looking outside at the forest. Nothing there.

She sighed to herself and took the clothes, heading for the bathroom. She entered the rather large bathroom –almost as large as the small living room- and checked to see if there was hot water. There was. She took her clothes up, threw them on the floor and stepped inside the bathtub, deciding for a shower.

She showered under hot water for a while before switching to cooler water. It felt great. She washed her hair nearly lovingly and smiled to herself. Yeah, this was great! Maybe this was what Snape meant about taking things as a game? Just enjoying the moment, as she was doing now? It felt somewhat like a game, a nice, relaxing one.

She stepped out of the shower and dried her hair with a bit of magic before drying the rest of herself with a towel. She enjoyed doing things the Muggle way, except drying her hair, because that always took ages to do. She got dressed and walked out of the bathroom, feeling perfectly refreshed. After tossing her old clothes on her bed, she then headed towards the kitchen.

"Morning" she heard and turned towards the entrance, just to see Snape enter the house.

"Morning" she replied, frowning slightly. "Where have you been?"

"With some thestrals" he replied with a slight shrug. "You've taken a shower"

"I have" she replied. "What's for breakfast?"

"Eggs and cheese. How's that?"

"Perfect" she replied, taking the lead towards the kitchen and sitting down at the table, acting snobbish. "You're serving it since I'm your prisoner"

"Yes, I am" he replied amusedly and her eyes widened. Was he accepting this kind of act from her? Was he accepting that slight raise of her nose, the tone that spoke of 'you're my servant'? Apparently, he was. What was wrong with him! She watched him as he started boiling the eggs "So, how did the dark creature anonymous meeting go?"

"Fine" he replied. "Lethifold Number 2 was very ashamed of himself for hunting some deer, but we assured him that nobody stopped killing in a day."

Hermione chuckled to herself. For such a question, she deserved such an answer, didn't she? Snape came and sat down at the table next to her, eyeing her in an amused way.

"Accio bread" he said, raising his wand and summoning the bread. He then opened the refrigerator's door magically before summoning some butter and cheese and closing the door. "It's good to be a wizard" he said and she smiled. Was it a game? Was this a game?

Soon, the eggs were boiled and Snape walked over to the oven, picked up the pot, walked over to the sink and poured the hot water out of the pot before turning on the water and putting the pot under the cold jet.

"The eggs shells are more easily taken off the egg if they're put under cold water exactly after they're boiled", he explained, before pouring the water away again.

"Don't you do it with magic?" Hermione chuckled.

"I usually do, but I thought you were fond of doing things the Muggle way" he replied with a smirk, bringing the two eggs.

"Not now I'm not" she replied and he chuckled.

"Very well, then"

Raising his wand again he took care of the boiled eggs, giving one to Hermione before banishing the shells to the recycling bin.

"So… what's going on in the world?" Hermione asked curiously. "I mean, everybody probably knows by now that I've been kidnapped"

"Well…" Snape replied, a dark smirk on his face. "I told Dumbledore that I managed to rescue you at the price of revealing myself. I forgot to mention I was a Prince of the Night. And I told him how important you are to the Dark Lord, since you're one of Potter's friends. Therefore, we both agreed it would be better if I kept you somewhere safe for the time being and I didn't tell him where I'd keep you. He announced your parents and everything, so now I can do with you whatever I want"

The last part of the speech he said in a near-purr, looking her straight in the eyes and smirking. She felt very nervous for one reason or another, even though she knew he was just saying that.

"And what is it that you want?" she asked, smirking, deciding to try being a bit bad.

"Oh, not much" he replied, swallowing a bit of his cheese sandwich. "Just to seduce you and make love to you for hours in a row… To corrupt you and make you do things you've never dared thinking of before"

"Like?" she asked.

"Oh, you'll see… if you want" he said seductively.

"Want to show me?" she said, suddenly understanding the whole thing about the game. She was able to lead him on and deny actual things happening if she wanted to.

"When? Now?" he asked.

"After we finish eating" she replied with a wrinkle of her nose.

They both ate and entered a staring and smirking combined contest, prolonging the meal as much as possible. Hermione because she wasn't very sure of herself and Snape… Snape because she was doing it and he didn't want to be left just staring at her.

They finished eating and Severus got up.

"Living room, my dear?" he asked.

"Why not?" she replied. At least he hadn't suggested the bedroom. Maybe he knew what was going on.

He led her upstairs and let her enter the living room first. She stretched on the couch and watched him carefully close the door.

"What? No locking spell?" she asked and he turned back towards the door, took out his wand and locked the door.

"There. All done" he replied.

Hermione felt decidedly nervous. What was she doing? Was she nuts! She was probably testing his self-control right now! What if it wasn't too good! What if he didn't want to use it! But then she realized that he was probably very in control of himself. But she still felt those butterflies in her stomach. She straightened herself on the couch and he sat next to her.

"So, what would you like me to show you first?" he asked seductively.

"Hmm" she replied, feeling her mouth go very dry. What the hell was she doing!

He reached out his hand and gently petted her head, making her feel wonderful. Oh, yes, it felt great… Ron had never done anything like that, simply touch her and see what happened, not waiting for anything in return. He'd always wanted her to react.

And before she knew it, his breath was right on her lips, but his lips weren't quite touching her lips yet. She opened her eyes and looked deep into the man's black eyes before slowly pushing herself towards him a bit more and closing her eyes again.

Severus was a good kisser… Definitely a good kisser. And the fact that his hand had started gently touching her neck and making her feel wonderful helped, too. She put her hands awkwardly around his neck before starting to play with his hair. It wasn't quite that greasy as she'd thought it would be.

But as she felt that hand of his move from her neck and down to her breasts she pulled back.

"Okay, stop" she said and he nodded slightly. "That's as far as I go"

"Very well" he replied and his hand moved back up to her neck. "You can move my hand away from wherever it is, I'll get the point"

"Alright" she replied unsurely as he started kissing her again. It felt so good. It had never felt quite like this with Ron… She loved it.

Feeling a bit awkward again, she let her hands scout on Severus's back before getting under his shirt. At that point, he broke the kiss and started kissing her neck instead. She felt herself shiver when his tongue started dealing with her neck and she moaned, unconsciously pushing herself more into Severus and scratching him slightly. He took it as a sign from her and his hands started moving around her back… under her shirt… and up to her breast. She wanted to tell him to stop, but being quite busy, she didn't manage to take either of hr hands away, instead clinging on to him as if he were a life string.

"How is it?" he purred into her ear.

"Good… good!" she replied, breathing hardly and felt him capturing her earlobe. It was as if he had magical hands, he was radiating with sexuality and who was she kidding? She loved it!

She had no clue how they'd got like that, but suddenly he was on top of her and she was kissing his neck, feeling him breath more raggedly than before… And she realized that her blouse had risen but she didn't really care. Apparently, he'd noticed it too since his head suddenly lowered and his lips captured one of her nipples. She had to stop… They had to stop… It was too much.

Her mouth felt very dry and she realized she didn't want him to stop… but they had to stop there.

"S-stop" she breathed and his eyes fluttered open and rose towards her.

"Why?" he asked, licking his lips.

"Too much" she answered and he nodded, moving back up to her and rolling the shirt over her breasts and stomach. He kissed her on her lips shortly before looking deep into her eyes.

"How is it?"

"Wonderful" she replied. "Great"

He smirked and purred in her ear:

"Should we continue?"

She wanted to continue and yet she didn't… it was too much for now. Way too much.

"Later" she replied, feeling her mouth very dry.

"Very well"

She got up from the couch and walked towards the door and tried to open it, only to find it locked.

"Um…?" she said, pointing towards it. He smirked and walked towards the door. Hermione turned back towards the door and felt him embrace her from behind and kiss her neck.

"Sure, I'll open it" he said and took out his wand, unlocking the door.

He let her go and she walked out and into her room, collapsing on the bed. What on Earth was she doing! She was giving up to Snape! She was letting him touch her! She was letting him kiss her! Was she nuts?

But she was enjoying herself and she felt alright with him. He was very passionate, yes, sensual, definitely, sexual, absolutely, but he was also very tender and he respected her. And he was accepting everything she did, not trying to push her too far, stopping when she told him to stop –and somehow she knew she'd wanted him to break the limit she'd put at first.

What the hell was she doing! Was she starting to like him, that seductive Prince of the Night who used to be her most hated Professor –until Umbridge came along-? Was she starting to enjoy herself with him, to enjoy her freedom to be who she was and was she starting to forget that for that freedom she'd sacrificed a more important type of freedom?

But then again, wasn't the freedom of being who she was very important too? How would Ron react if she'd act the exact way she wanted to? How would he react to her taking off his blouse, his pants and her own clothes and letting him touch her everywhere –but deny him sleeping with her? Because she'd wanted to do that more than once, to get to feel comfortable to both of them being naked and only then move forward. Oh, yes, he'd probably stop, but he'd be upset, too. He'd be pleading and asking… But Snape knew better. He understood and just let her be, let her act in whatever way and he didn't get upset about her calling him a bastard, saying that sleeping with him would be horrible, stopping him…

She heard the water at the shower and knew he was probably taking a cold one. She wondered what was going on through his head. In fact, she'd go ask him after he finished his shower. She only had to wait. Yeah.

So, she waited. She wondered what she should be asking him so that it wouldn't be too insensitive or anything of the sort. She couldn't simply go ahead and ask "what are you thinking?"… could she? Maybe he'd answer her if she were that direct.

Oh, hell. She felt nervous yet again. But maybe there was nothing to feel nervous about? Maybe he wouldn't act odd around her no matter what she asked. In fact, that was probably it. If he was taking this as a game, he wouldn't get mad at her. She'd have to try and insult him to see what happened. If he got mad… Well, it was worth a try, she was curious.

The water turned off and she bit her lower lip, getting up from the bed. That had been a short shower. So… what would she say? What should she say? How about "come in"? Maybe he'd get the wrong point. Maybe he'd think she'd want to be in the bedroom because… So, should she go in the living room? No, that'd be even more suggestive. His room? That'd be dumb.

The door to the bathroom opened and she opened her bedroom door and saw him, his hair still wet and his clothes sprinkled with water, going towards his bedroom.

"Come in here" she said, motioning towards her room and he raised an eyebrow, walking towards her.

"Yes?"

She entered the room and sat on the bed.

"Sit"

He kept his eyebrow raised and sat next to her.

"What is it?"

Hermione shifted herself so she was sitting with both her feet on the bed and against the wall.

"I'm curious" she decided. "What are you thinking about right now?"

The corners of his lips quirked up and then he couldn't help but start chuckling.

"Precisely? "What the hell is she thinking right now and why has she called me?"" he replied and she stared at him for two seconds before rolling her eyes.

"I meant about me in general and this situation?"

"That you're still a bit tense" he replied, his eyes twinkling cheerfully. "And still very serious. Relax…"

She snorted.

"You're impossible!"

"That's the spirit!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. He was impossible.

"Go"

He got up from her bed and smirked. It suddenly struck her how calm he was about everything and how Ron would have been very angered at that simple word. She was basically playing with Snape, but he was acting like a being who was also playing with her. Maybe that was the Game?

As he exited the room she wondered just how much she loved Ron. Yes, he was wonderful and she felt the butterflies in her stomach start flying around whenever he was around. He was very nice and he made her small gifts, he was there and ready to defend her honor. He was impossibly cute and he'd never do anything to hurt her… He was deeply in love with her. But was she really in love with him? Yes, she was. But was he a good choice?

She bit her lips and lied down on the bed, thinking about everything that bound her to Ron. His smile, his fiery spirit, his intelligence that he kept so well hidden –she smirked at this-, his humor, his believing in good and light, his willingness to fight for the right cause…

But was he the right person for her? Maybe somebody who didn't see the world so black and white would be better.

Was she starting to fall for Snape? No… He was a very attractive male, but he definitely wasn't her type.

Wait a second? A very attractive male? Yeah, she guessed. And very talented. But not her type, not really. She needed safety and love and care, everything simple, not a complicated Prince of the Night who loved playing games.

"Morning, sunshine" something whispered in her ear and Hermione's eyes fluttered open and she turned only to end up impossibly close to Severus's face, who immediately climbed on top of her, over the sheets, just like that first time.

"Morning" she replied and allowed herself to be kissed. "What are you doing?"

He smirked and got off the bed so she could see he was dressed in some very simple clothes, a loose black t-shirt and loose black pants, before he climbed into bed with her.

"Joining you" he replied and took her in his arms, kissing her passionately.

She gulped to herself, remembering how thin her pajamas were. And he was in the process of removing her clothes.

"You can undress me too, if you like" he said.

"I'd rather not" she replied.

"A pity" he answered.

"Please stop undressing me" she said as his hands had just gotten hold of her pants.

"You sure?" he asked.

"Positive"

He kissed her neck in that way again and she felt herself spacing out. She loved that touch of his, she loved the fact that yet again his hand was on her breasts, she loved the way he was seducing her, getting her to give up. His hand moved again towards her pants.

"Don't" she whispered and his hand moved back up on her back before he rolled over her and lowered himself so he could yet again capture her nipples with his lips.

It felt wonderful… And when he returned to her lips and neck, she put her legs around him and felt him thrust a few times against her, although they were both still wearing their pants… But she realized how thin they were, she could feel him through the fabric. She couldn't help but let out a squeal of surprise and he looked at her in surprise.

"What?"

"You're… What are you doing!" she squealed again and he smirked.

"Oh, you mean this?" he asked and thrust against her again.

"Yes! I mean that!" she growled.

"Don't like it?"

"NO!"

"But do you mind it?"

"YES!"

"Terribly?"

"YES!" she said and tried to push him off, but he didn't bulge.

"Sorry" he replied, although he didn't seem to be quite that sorry. "Didn't know you minded it terribly"

"It's disgusting" she replied. "Geroff!"

"Fine" he purred, getting off indeed, but only to kiss her a moment after that. "I won't do it again… for now"

"You horny little bastard" she spat at him and he chuckled, walking towards the door. "What are you doing!"

"Going to take a shower. I'd decided to visit you before I went there. Care to join me?"

"NO! Get out of my sight!" she said and he walked out the door, nearly being hit by a pillow she'd thrown. "Why that annoying little bastard…" she muttered, but realized she wasn't quite that mad. She was actually a bit amused. Well, yes, the thrusting thing had been disgusting, but the other parts had been funny.

And after all, she started feeling like a mistress in the house. How about she became very nasty and punished him for this? Hmmm… How about she go brush her teeth and wash up?

She smirked and decided to play bad. She took her shirt back on and grabbed her towel before walking towards the bathroom where she could easily hear the water running. She pushed the door open as if not knowing he was there and entered.

Severus was showering and he seemed to be showering under cold water. The shower didn't have a curtain, so she could see him in his entire splendor there. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea? Maybe it had. She wondered if his penis was big or small by normal standards.

"Came to join me?" he asked, although he couldn't hide his surprise.

"No, I came to brush my teeth and shave" she replied.

"Ooh…" he said and moved the water towards a bit warmer. "Good"

Hermione grabbed her toothbrush and put some toothpaste on it, observing him from the mirror. He was staring at her, shower forgotten. Good. In order to lower herself, she stretched her legs and made sure there was a pretty big angle between them. It was good she had a good mobility. Severus was eyeing her with controlled desire in his eyes.

As she finished brushing her teeth, she heard his question:

"Are you trying to tempt me?"

"Me? Noooo" she replied innocently before sloooowly taking her shirt off and making sure that her breasts could be seen in the mirror. "Not at all"

She saw him shift uncomfortably and turned to smile at him. Obviously, he was enjoying the show. She felt a bit awkward herself, but then again… She turned back and picked up his razor which she used with the hair from under her left arm before moving to her other arm.

"I'm done showering" he said and she bit her lower lip. Couldn't he stand it, or was he awkward or… "You can use it, if you want to" or was he trying to see her naked?

"Nah, but thanks" she replied, washing herself at the sink. As she picked up the towel she felt him grab her from behind and kiss her back.

"You're beautiful" he whispered. "So beautiful"

She got up and shivered a bit under his touch as his hands moved on her breasts. She met his eyes in the mirror and caught her breath… Such wild eyes, so powerful. And there was something else in them, something that had been there the whole time…He was wonderful. She liked him, she loved the way he acted.

Maybe he'd be great for a first lover? Maybe he was worth it… And then she realized what the look in his eyes was. He loved her. He loved her!

She leaned into him and smiled.

"Your bedroom?" she asked and he smiled towards her in the mirror.

"Sure"

He actually picked her up in his arms and she squealed as he took her to the door. She opened it, feeling very excited for one reason or another. Then, as she exited, he took her hand and led them both to his bedroom. He opened the door, closed it behind them and led her to the bed.

"You're wonderful" she said.

"You're wonderful too" he replied as he got on the bed and kissed her passionately, and yet delicately, as if not wanting to hurt her. Her pants easily came off and she then noticed he was also naked, from the shower. She felt a lump in her throat.

"Does it hurt much?" she asked.

"Just at the beginning" he replied, kissing her.

"And what about contraception?"

"Taken care of" he answered, nibbling at her earlobe. "You'll see"

His touches were more passionate than before and she felt herself shiver in his arms, shiver like a leaf, it was that wonderful. A small voice in her head asked her what the hell she was doing, but she didn't reply. She trusted Severus. She wanted this.

He pulled back from her and pulled her on his knees.

"Don't ask" he muttered. "I'll explain it to you, maybe, one day"

"What?" she asked and saw him close his eyes and frowned. Was he praying? What was going on? She watched him like that for about a minute before his eyes fluttered open. "What was that?"

"I asked a question, if this is alright… the answer is 'yes'"

"Whom did you ask?" she frowned.

"The magical core itself" he replied with a smile before kissing her again and again. They ended up with him on top again and she felt one of his fingers trace her before entering her slowly. She gasped slightly at the awkward feeling before she gave in to his talented hands. Yes… it was starting to feel good. Very good. Very, very good. And soon the finger was retreated and he moved on top of her, kissing her gently. She could now feel him at her entrance and she gulped.

And there it was: the pain. Lots of it for a few seconds. She wanted to cry to him to go in quickly and release her from the pain, but he started entering her by himself. It hurt a bit more and then the pain stopped.

"Everything alright?" he asked.

"Now, yes" she breathed and he started moving.

Sometime later, she decided she'd never felt better in her entire life. It was wonderful… and Severus was such a delicate lover, so gentle, so tender… She'd never expected it. And everything was overwhelming, from the sudden stiffness of her lips –her lips out of all things- to the floating white feeling… She could feel tears on her face, tears he was kissing away, making sure she was alright.

So wonderful…

"How are you?" he asked, cuddling her.

"Wonderful" she replied and her eyes widened at the clock. "It's two in the afternoon!"

"It is" he agreed and chuckled.

"It's been like… four hours!" she counted.

"Three, considering the shower and all that" he countered.

"But… how?" she asked. "Nobody told me wizards can last hours in bed!"

Severus started laughing and kissed her.

"They don't. Neither do Princes of the Night, before you ask. This, my beloved Hermione, was a very Muggle thing described in Tantra"

"You've got to be joking!" she breathed.

"Am not. Old technique that I've stumbled upon at a certain time"

"Wow" she whispered.

"I agree" he breathed, holding her in his arms. "I love you"

She bit her lips. She couldn't… she still loved Ron. She suddenly felt sad and looked deep into his eyes.

"I know" she replied, knowing it was probably not what he expected. He smiled a bit towards her, although slightly bitterly.

"I know" he echoed. "I'll miss you"

"I'll miss you too" she replied, feeling herself even sadder. "We can stay here for another few days, can't we? And then…"

"Hermione" he stopped her. "I know you want to go back. I'll still be waiting for you at Hogwarts, as I am here. It's up to you to decide what you want. And we should be going back tomorrow"

"Why?"

"Because that's when the term starts"

She felt herself swimming in tears. She loved Ron, yes, but she also cared about Severus, this Severus, her Severus… And Ron wouldn't understand probably. But she'd tell him. Because she loved him and she didn't want to lie to him.

"Let's go have some lunch" he suggested.

"Yeah" she said, not feeling very good.

Hermione watched the castle come closer and closer. She wanted to be there, wanted to see her friends again and yet she didn't want to leave Severus. She cared about him… But she couldn't be with him once she was with Ron. Severus wouldn't mind sharing, but Ron would and she'd have to choose Ron. She loved the redhead.

She couldn't believe she was suffering so much for a decision she'd made.

They entered the castle. It was before the train had gotten to Hogsmeade and the two would be seeing the Headmaster. Severus led her to the man's office and there he was, standing behind his desk. Oh, how she wished there was a way to solve things out!

"Hello, Mrs. Granger, Severus" he said. "How are you?"

"Fine, sir" Hermione replied and smiled at him. Severus simply nodded before sitting down. Hermione followed his lead.

"I trust all is going well, Mrs. Granger" Dumbledore said, eyeing her suspiciously.

"Yes, sir"

"You seem shaken. Has something happened?"

"No… but I'm afraid they'll come for me" she replied, thinking up a true enough answer. "Lucius Malfoy… he wanted to rape me, sir"

"Lucius Malfoy is dead" Dumbledore replied.

"But many others are not, Albus" Severus replied, not even glancing at Hermione. "She's right in fearing them"

"You haven't told me yet how you managed to escape from Voldemort, Severus" Dumbledore said.

"Portkey" he replied.

"I see" the old Headmaster said slowly. "Very well, you may go. Mrs. Granger, please stay behind"

"Yes, sir" she replied slowly as Severus exited the room without looking behind.

"That man knows many things that he will not tell me" the Headmaster sighed. "I trust him completely with my secrets but sometimes I wonder what exactly he's hiding. Tell me, though, has he been decent towards you? I know he can hold a grudge."

Hermione remembered that he was a very powerful Legiliment, so she didn't lie to him, but answered truthfully.

"He was a perfect gentleman" she replied sure of herself.

"I'm glad to hear that" he replied. "How did you two escape? I have another spy amongst Voldemort's lines, though a lower rank and he said that 14 people died that night"

"I wasn't perfectly conscious" Hermione replied truthfully. "But I remember that there was a lethifold… at least one. Perhaps Professor Snape managed to capture one and set it against everybody in that clearing than grabbed me and ran for it"

Well, that was a way of putting it.

"And where did you spend the past days?"

"In a house in some woods" she replied. "But I don't know exactly where. It might have been a temporary establishment"

That had been a blatant lie.

"Very well, let us go. The students should arrive soon" Dumbledore said and the two walked quietly towards the Great Hall, Hermione still thinking about Severus, about the fact that he loved her, about Ron, about how he loved her, about how he'd react when he told him of Severus…

They entered the Hall and Hermione at down at the Gryffindor table on her usual spot. She then looked around the teachers' table and saw that everything was very much the same. Except Severus. She could see him looking longingly at her for a second before turning away and becoming his usual self, talking to McGonagall in a very Snape-ish way.

The doors of the Great hall entered and soon enough Ron and Harry came grinning to her.

"I'm so glad you're okay" Ron said, hugging her tightly and pressing a soft kiss on her lips, making her float for a moment or two. As they broke apart, Hermione's eyes instinctively turned towards the Head Table and she watched Severus smile towards her in a bittersweet way. She understood how much he wanted her to be happy, with or without him… and how much he would want her to be his.

"Hermione" Harry said, waving a hand in front of her. "Who're you looking at? Snape?"

"Yeah…" she replied, turning towards him. "He kept me in a safe house for the past few days"

"He didn't hurt you, did he?" Ron growled, ready to kill Snape if Hermione said 'yes'.

"No, he didn't. I'll have to tell you something about that, but in private" she explained quickly. "So, how's your summer been?"

"Forget our summers, how was yours?" Harry asked concernedly. "How did Voldemort manage to get you?"

Hermione noticed that the whole table was staring at her now and she smiled sadly, looking down at her plate.

"A house-elf came to me and told me that he and his brother had been given clothes by their master and that his brother was very hurt and needed to be tended to and I should help him bring his brother, since his powers as a house-elf couldn't be used to help his own kind. That's true, they can't use anything to help their kind without permission from their master if the master is the one responsible for the house-elf's condition"

"They lured you like that!" Ron nearly cried. "Hermione, I can't believe you fell for that"

"What was I supposed to do? Leave it alone and helpless!" she asked, upset. "Sometimes, Ronald Weasley, you act like a prat. Unfortunately, as we all know now, it was a trap. And I was taken by three Death Eaters into a forest and was tortured there… And then Snape came and saved me, revealing himself as a spy and took me to a safe place"

The Sorting started and everybody was respectfully quiet and clapped during it, but after they all chatted about Hermione, asking questions and comforting her, assuming that the experience was the reason why she was grim. Ron was very cute, trying to say nice things to her, and Harry was also nice, trying to comfort her and swearing he'd do everything in his power to stop Voldemort soon.

The meal finally finished and the three of them walked towards the common room when Hermione drew them into an empty classroom.

"I have something to confess" she said quietly. "Sit down"

"It's near curfew!" Ron complained. "If Snape of Filch catch us…"

"They won't" she replied, wishing in her heart that Severus would indeed find them. She wanted to see him, kiss him again, hug him, feel his comforting arms around her. Even if just for that. Because she belonged to Ron, her heart belonged to Ron… but she so cared about Severus, too. "When I was in the middle of those Death Eaters" she started, making the two boys become deadly quiet "Voldemort said he didn't want to kill me. He said he didn't like killing virgins"

"That's… a good thing" Ron said.

"So he assigned Lucius Malfoy to take care of the problem" she continued and the two gasped.

"He raped you!" Ron cried. "That bloody BASTARD!"

"No!" Hermione said. "He didn't have time! Se-nape… he appeared just in time with a few Dark creatures and caused havoc and he rescued me. I was very weakened. I didn't wake for three days"

"Oh my God" Harry whispered.

"Snape, he took care of me. But when I woke up…he told me he didn't save me for Dumbledore… he saved me for himself, he wanted something. And it wasn't money"

"Oh, no…" Harry whispered.

"What?" Ron asked, not getting it yet.

"He said he knew I was a virgin and that he wanted to be my first"

"I'll kill him" Ron said, after three seconds of stupor. "I will kill him"

"Don't" she breathed. "He didn't rape me… He… How can I tell you this, so you'd understand?… He wanted me to feel good, to be alright with everything, to enjoy myself, to feel free… He loves me, I figured it out yesterday"

"What? That greasy bastard…" Ron said while Harry narrowed his eyes darkly.

"I can't believe he…" he started.

"W-Wait. Hear me out!" Hermione begged. "Maybe it was the fact that we were alone, the only people around, too, always together. I could act anyway I wanted, he could act anyway he wanted, too. He recommended I saw everything as a game, which I did. It was a game… with the purpose being for both of us to feel good. I started giving up in front of him, relaxing, allowing him to kiss me, touch me…"

"Bastard!" Harry spat and Ron nodded furiously. Hermione eyed them worriedly for a few seconds.

"And at one point, I decided to tempt him… And ended up quite tempted myself. I realized that I do, in fact, like him, and that I enjoyed being with him. So we made love…"

"He fucked you, you mean" Ron said, his eyes narrowing. "He's probably half-raped you, screwing with your mind"

"He did no such thing!" Hermione spat. "And trust me, it was love-making, Ron. It was wonderful… And I needed to tell you this, because… because you need to know. Both of you. I can count Severus as a good friend now"

"Severus, is it?" Ron asked, getting quite mad.

"Yes" she answered. "Please, Ron, understand! I love you… But if I were there again, I'd do the same. It was wonderful… and it's now over. I'm here only for you"

Ron bit his lower lip, and drew a deep breath, ready to start bellowing before he noticed the look on Hermione's face and breathing out.

"Come here" he said and she walked towards him and kissed her. "If he ever touches you again" he said, drawing back from the kiss "I'll personally see him dead."

"Yes" she replied, gulping softly.

"Tell me if he ever tries something" Ron continued.

"He won't" she replied softly. "He's a very decent person. He'll stay away… unless I go to him"

"But you're not that stupid, are you Herm?" Ron asked and kissed the top of her head. Hermione opened her mouth to say 'no', as she usually would, but she then realized that the time she'd spent with Severus had changed her.

"Maybe I am" she replied and sighed. "Screw it all"

"What!" Ron asked, glaring.

"Hermione, you can't mean it!" Harry said, also frowning.

"I mean it" she replied, getting herself out of Ron's embrace so he could face them both. "I can't lie to you guys…"

"He gave you some truth potion, didn't he?" Ron glared and Hermione rolled her eyes.

"No, but because I don't want to!" she said, pissed. "Gods, Ron! What I mean is… I don't know. I care about him also and I don't know what might happen. I assure you that I love you with all my heart, but that can't stop me from also caring for Severus"

"I'm not looking at other girls!" Ron said. "Why are you even considering him!"

"Because I love the way he cares about me, the way he expresses his love" she said softly. "Because I enjoyed being with him, having him smirk at me seductively, I love the way I could always do whatever I wanted, ask him whatever I wanted, the way he raised an eyebrow at my antiques…"

"But, Hermione…" Ron said. "I thought you like the way I am"

"I do" she replied biting her lip. "I love many things about you. Maybe the reason why I keep thinking about him is that he's very different from you. Maybe that's why I'd enjoy being with both of you"

"Oh, Gods" Harry muttered.

"Well, you have to choose!" Ron said. "You can't have both of us, as I refuse to share you with that… that… that Snape!"

"Don't do this to me Ron" she begged. "Please. You're my choice, you know it! I love you, I did ever since I was 14! But I'm trying to be completely honest, I don't know for sure if I won't make mistakes… Forgive me!"

"I'm your choice?" he asked slowly.

"YES! For God's sake, what have I been saying here! You're my choice, Ron! I can't lie, I also like Severus… But I love you"

"Alright" Ron said and embraced her, allowing her to start crying on his shoulder. "You're forgiven. Now, let's go to bed"

The three walked out of the empty classroom and to Gryffindor Tower.

"You go ahead, mate" Ron said, urging Harry on. "I'll be joining you later"

"Sure" Harry replied, walking up the stairs.

Because it was the first evening of the semester, nobody else was in the common room and Ron took Hermione's hand and led her to a couch in front of the fireplace.

"I love you" he whispered, kissing her softly.

Hermione kissed him back, feeling great to be with him again. And his hands started going where they'd never been before, undoing her robes, touching her bare skin.

"Not here, not tonight" she whispered to him.

"Please, Hermione" he begged.

"It's too public" she complained.

"Any other suggestion?"

"The Room of Requirement" she said and buttoned her robes back again and they both nearly ran there. It was a thrill, running like cats down the corridors, towards the place. As soon as they reached it, Ron opened the door and led her in, revealing a comfortable looking room with a fireplace, a couch and a bed in it.

"I asked for the couch" he said with a frown.

"I feel more comfortable on a bed" she replied and smirked at him, taking his hand and leading him to the couch. "But we can switch later"

The door closed behind them and they ended up on the couch, kissing passionately, undoing the others' robes and exploring the other. Hermione felt a bit odd, considering this was only her third time –after her first time and lunch, she and Severus had made love again- and that Ron was still a virgin. But she kept going on anyway. She helped get rid of the robes and soon both were naked.

She liked being with Ron, but he wasn't very tender, or very skilled. Just eager. Very eager. And she wanted some foreplay… She tried doing some thing to him, just to give him a few clues of what she liked, but it didn't help too much, he was still his old eager self, trying to please her, but only so he'd get her more quickly. But she could live with that.

And she dragged them to the bed… Ron made sure they'd be safe by using one of the condoms the Room had provided to him and they made love… And it felt wonderful… She loved the way he was, so wild and passionate and…

And it was so short… And after stopping he only kissed her goodnight before nearly going to sleep. Hermione bit her lower lip. Maybe it would be better next time?

"Mrs. Granger, stay behind" Severus said and Hermione fought hard to hide her smile. The Potions class had just finished and looked towards Ron who was glaring at him in a very murderous way, but he got out of the classroom behind the others.

"How are you?" Hermione asked as the door closed.

"Fine, thank you" he replied. "By the way he was looking at me, would it be safe to assume that you've told him?"

"Yes" she replied, looking slightly embarrassed.

"Have you slept with him last night?"

"Yes" she answered again, going very red. "I can't believe I just admitted that"

"You can tell me anything, I won't judge" Severus replied truthfully. "How was it?"

"Nice" she answered and added after two seconds: "And short"

"As expected" he smiled towards her and she felt butterflies in her stomach. Severus was so… so… she loved the way he was. The way he looked at her, even if he was effectively trashing some other Gryffindor, the way he said everything sarcastically to her when she was in class, but not really meaning it.

"Oh, Severus" she said, walking towards him, two tears in her eyes, making him raise his eyebrows at her. She pressed her lips to his. "I like you so much… why does it have to be so damned complicated!"

He looked her straight in the eyes.

"What are you doing?"

"I like you, you idiot, but I love Ron… It's not fair that I have to give you up" she muttered and he saw him smirk.

"I can become your lover…"

"Shut up!" she said, hitting his chest. "I'm choosing him!"

"I can definitely see that"

"Bastard"

"Is this the time when I assure you my parents were married?"

"Idiot!"

"Oh, so if I'm not a bastard, I'm an idiot then"

"I hate you!" she said just as the door opened and revealed Ron's head, who obviously only heard the last part of the statement and saw her in Severus's arms.

"Hey, let go of her!" he cried and rushed towards the Potion Master at full speed when he shot out his wand and made him trip over something before using the jelly legs jinx on him and summoning his wand. He then closed and locked the door. All without looking too perturbed. "You greasy bastard, you…"

Hermione shot out of Severus's arms and he cast a silencing spell on the room.

"Um…" she said, nearing Ron. "Why are you here?"

"To check on you so he doesn't harm you!"

"I'm okay" she replied.

"Yeah, I heard you! That "I hate you" thing was quite relevant"

"No it wasn't" she rolled her eyes. "He was being a prat"

"Mrs. Granger" Severus said in an amused, yet dangerous tone, narrowing his eyes at the insult.

"Well, you were, you bastard! And don't you dare tell me that your parents are married!"

"Were, they're dead"

"Whatever!" she cried in sheer annoyance as Severus chuckled amusedly. "See how he is!" she asked Ron.

"Yes" he replied in a very murderous way. "I'll tell the Headmaster about what you did, Snape and then…"

"You'll do no such thing, Ronald Weasley!" Hermione said dangerously. "But since the three of us are here, let's see if I can figure things out"

"What's there to figure out!" Ron asked.

"Well…" she replied, shooting a glance towards Severus. "Do you accept me going out with Ron?"

"Thought I already did" he answered in his impassible voice as he looked at the teen on the floor. "Don't ask me to join the club, though. I don't fancy getting in bed with both you and him"

"That's disgusting!" Ron said.

"I see we agree" Severus replied with a glare towards him that made Ron wonder if he didn't somehow end up at the bad end of things again. Hermione just poked Severus in the chest.

"Stop that! So… where was I? Ron, do you accept me going out with Severus?"

"Hell, no!" he said. "He's a greasy bastard who should keep his hands to himself"

"If I were to ask you the same about me going out with Neville, would you accept?" she asked.

"You're going out with Neville?" Ron wondered and Severus rolled his eyes.

"No, but that's beside the point" she replied. "Answer me!"

"No! If you choose somebody, you should remain only with that somebody" Ron said with a growl. "Get this stupid jinx off me!"

"Not yet" she replied, looking towards Severus. "What do I do?"

"Go with him, I guess" he replied softly. "I don't intend to take you away from the man you love"

"Thank you" she replied before kissing him one last time. He didn't want to let her go too easily, so, under the protests of one Ronald Weasley, he put one hand on her hair and with the other he held her close to him. Her hands embraced him too and she felt tears going down on her cheeks. Finally, they pulled apart and he bowed in front of her.

"You shall be missed" he said, before taking out his wand and releasing Ron from the jinx. Ron wanted to jump on him and kill him, but one look from Hermione stopped him. Then, the Potion Master simply strode away from the room into the storage, shutting the door behind him, leaving them alone.

"How could you do that!" Ron cried. "And right in front of me!"

"It was a last time, Ron" she said in a mere whisper. "A last time… And that's it"

"Whatever" he replied, taking her hand. "Let's go away"

Hermione unlocked the door and they both went away.

It was the Christmas holidays, the first day of Christmas. Hermione was lying in her bed, thinking about Ron. He was so nice, so sweet… He got jealous sometimes, but that was beside the point. He was great.

And yet, something was missing. A challenge, or a game. She was starting to feel a bit bored in their relationship and she thought more and more often about Severus and the Game they'd played, her first time and his acceptance of her relationship, her antiques… He was still a good friend when she went to visit him, always happy to see her, smirking at her –actually, it was some sort of smile- and challenging her, making her call him names…

She missed that in a relationship. Ron was great, yes, and she still loved him… But she seemed to care more and more about Severus.

She got up from her bed, saw the clock show 3:38 A.M., but that didn't make her feel any less determined about what she wanted to do. She put on her slippers and a cloak and grabbed her wand.

She ran out of Gryffindor Tower and quickly down the stairs, towards the dungeons, wishing Filch wouldn't catch her. She was feeling cold and stupid right now, but she kept going towards the dungeons. It was closer than the Tower now.

She made it to Severus's rooms and knocked quietly, praying he'd hear somehow and wake up. Because there was no movement inside, she knocked harder. Nothing again. So she knocked harder. Nothing…

"What are you doing?"

She turned and saw him right beside her.

"I was coming to see you"

"This late?"

"This early. What are you doing out?"

"It's my shift" he replied. "I patrolled the castle for a few hours and then made way for Filch. Do come in"

He opened the door and let her in, then closed and locked the door behind him, also placing a few silencing spells.

"I missed you" she said.

"You saw me yesterday" he replied, confused.

"You idiot" she replied. "I think I love you"

He nodded slightly before walking the few steps that held them apart and kissing her. She leaned into his touch, the one she'd longed for subconsciously for a long time and felt him touch her again, in the way he used to.

"I know I love you" he said. "What about Ronald?"

"I love him… But it's… it's not very interesting being with him. It was much more interesting to be with you. You're an interesting fellow"

"Is that supposed to be a compliment?" he asked, his lips twitching.

"Maybe" she replied. "Please… let's be together, again"

He smiled towards her, picking her up and leading her to his bedroom, putting her on the bed.

"I've a gift for you" he said before getting up and walking out, only to return two minutes later with a small box. She suddenly felt very nervous. She didn't have anything for him.

He took out a gold necklace with a round gold medallion attached, a medallion that had on it a star.

"The Northern Star, to guide you well" he said, putting the necklace around her neck.

"Thank you" she breathed. "But I don't have anything for you…"

"I don't want anything" he replied with a smirk before taking her clothes off. "Pajamas? Were you that eager to see me?"

"Yes" she replied truthfully.

It was… like finding something she'd lost that she'd cared very much about. He was tender, and delicate with her, loving her… He was wonderful…

Morning had come too soon, but Hermione had an answer now and she was smiling brightly as she entered the Gryffindor Tower enveloped in her cloak. Luckily, nobody was there now. She entered the dorm and looked at Lavender who'd raised her head.

"Where've you been last night?" she asked. "Oh… How was Ron?"

"I didn't spend the night with Ron" she answered. She and Severus had decided not to keep things in secret, it was allowed by the rules anyway and neither felt like being overly careful all the time.

"Who, then?" she asked.

"I'll tell you later" she replied, getting dressed in her everyday clothes. She then went downstairs where Ron was up. She felt guilt wash all over her as she saw his smiling face.

"Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas" she whispered and they started opening their presents as soon as Harry came downstairs. Her gifts were nice, a book about the history of Noble Vampires from Harry–she'd told him Severus was one-, a Dark Detector from Ron, some sugar-free candies from her parents and a few small things from here and there.

"What's that?" Ron asked and Hermione noticed she was still wearing Severus's gift.

"The Northern Star, to guide me well" she said and smiled softly. "From Severus"

"It seems expensive" Ron said.

"Even if it would be made out of tin, I'd still like it. I like what it stands for" she replied.

"When did he give it to you?" Ron asked and Hermione quieted. Should she tell him now? Or later? She sighed to herself.

"Last night" she replied slowly. "I went to visit him… And for the first time since September, I… I…"

She couldn't say anything more, but instead pleading him with her eyes.

"We should break up, Ron" she said. "Please, understand me"

"What!" he cried. "You've… you've slept with him!"

"I have" she replied, letting her hair fall over her face. "I'm sorry"

"You… I can't believe you!" he cried.

"I'm sorry" she said again. "You were my first love, Ron… But I… I love him, I see that now"

"Hermione!"

She got up and sniffed slightly before running out of the room, down the corridors and back to Snape's room. She even passed McGonagall, whom she didn't even salute.

As soon as she knocked, very out of breath, Severus opened, surprised to see her in tears.

"Hermione…" he said slowly, gathering her into his arms. "Shh… it'll be alright"

"He'll… I don't want to hurt him!"

"He'll be alright"

"Oh, Gods, I can't believe I told him… I'm… please… I don't want to hurt him"

"He'll be fine"

Severus kissed her slowly.

"Remember, it's all a game. Help him realize that and move on and both of you will be happy"

"All a game?"

"You can consider it like that. Think about it like this: today this is very important and very grave, but will it be just as painful for him after a week or two?"

"No… I guess not"

"After a month he'll be fine. Just as I was"

"Oh, Gods… I'm so sorry I…"

"That's something that's been over for awhile, so don't worry"

She looked into his bright eyes and kissed him gently on the lips.

"Besides" he said. "The war will be over soon. Some of my kind are already stalking the Dark Lord, he'll be dead soon"

"What about the Prophecy?" she asked with a frown.

"Oh, please…" he said sarcastically. "Haven't you heard that astrological saying that works for anything in the Divination field?"

"Which is that?"

"Stars predispose, but they don't oblige" he replied with a smirk. "He'll have a huge surprise"