Illusion

Part 2

New Beginning

AN: This is the version where Apple Dumplingdore saves the day.

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Hermione dissolved into tears once more, folding her body over Severus'. Her own pain, the only thing she was aware of, over took her. It was agonizing to watch and many turned away from the raw emotion. Very suddenly, someone Apparated, with a loud 'pop', next to her. Hermione jumped, her head snapping round to look upon the intruder. It was Albus Dumbledore, and he did not look happy.

"Miss Granger." he acknowledged her before turning to Snape's body. "Severus, you stupid boy!" he muttered under his breath. "Stand back." he ordered.

With a strength thought impossible for a man of his advanced age, Dumbledore scooped up the younger man's body in his arms and Disapparated as quickly as he had come, leaving Hermione sitting with her mouth hanging open in shock.

"What the-" Harry exploded.

"How the h-" Ron yelled.

"Both of you shut up!" Hermione roared, louder than both of them. "I need to think!"

Her brow furrowed for a moment before she too Disapparated, leaving Harry and Ron with very confused expressions on their faces.

&$&

Hermione Apparated just outside the gates of Hogwarts. She blasted open the tall, wrought iron gates with the fury of a woman who has just been deprived of her love. She stomped up to the castle and grabbed hold of the first house-elf she could find.

"Where is Albus Dumbledore?" she snarled at the terrified creature, shaking the poor thing within an inch of it's life.

"I-I-I is not kn-knowing M-Miss!" it squealed frantically.

Hermione growled angrily and dropped the poor Elf unceremoniously on the floor. The angry woman stalked down the corridors and nearly bowled over Professor McGonagall.

"Where is he!"

"Where is who?" McGonagall asked, more than a little annoyed.

"Professor Dumbledore. Where is he?"

"In his study, where else? Why do you want to know?" the older woman asked suspiciously.

"He's taken Severus."

"Severus! Wait just one moment my girl-" Professor McGonagall began.

But Hermione had already taken off down the hallway towards Dumbledore's quarters. She barked the password at the two gargoyles that guarded the entrance.

"I'm sorry Miss, but we're not supposed to let anyone in, even if they do know the password." the first gargoyle said in it's gravelly voice.

"Yes. Though we wish we could help you." the second one said in earnest.

Hermione's face took on an ugly expression and she rapped the first guardian smartly across the nose.

"Owch! I say! That was uncalled for!" it said in it's most offended voice.

"Horace, I daresay we should let the girl in. She seems in a right state." the second gargoyle suggested in a worried tone.

"Oh alright, but Dumbledore's not going to be happy about this." Horace grumbled.

And they let her pass. Hermione took the stairs two by two until she was standing in Dumbledore's study. She could see Dumbledore just coming out of a darkened room off to her left.

"Professor! What is this all about! Why have you taken Severus' body form me!" she cried; half angry, half in tears.

Dumbledore made a motion for her to be silent and led her into the darkened room. A still form lay on the bed, Snape. She moved closer and could see that's Severus' chest was slowly rising and falling.

Eye's filled with tears, Hermione turned back to Dumbledore and sank into the warm grandfatherly embrace he opened for her.

"I'm sorry to have worried you, dear girl. But the only thing on my mind at the time was Severus' health. I should have told you what I was doing…" he trailed off. "You care for him very much, don't you?"

Hermione bit her lip and nodded. Dumbledore sighed resignedly.

"I suppose everyone has someone out there for them. I guess you're Severus' 'someone'."

Dumbledore released her and she moved to sit on the bed next to the Potions Master.

"I can't pretend I approve completely. I would have preferred that you were several years out of school… But if this is what you want… and this is what he wants…"

Hermione didn't speak, only smiled serenely at the Headmaster. She took Snape's cool hand in her own and stroked it, enjoying the minimal contact.

"It is what I want." she said quietly but resolutely. "And I'm quite sure it's what he wants."

Dumbledore sighed again, but left Hermione alone with her unconscious Professor. Once the door hand closed, Hermione moved from her chaste position sitting next to him; to a more compromising position, lying next to him with her arms wrapped around him.

Today had been very trying indeed. She just wanted to get some sleep, preferably next to the one she cared about. Drowsily, Hermione glanced up at the face of the sleeping ex-Deatheater. Satisfied he was alright, Hermione allowed herself to drift off to sleep.

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The first thing Severus Snape was aware of when he woke up was a slight weight on his chest. Upon further investigation, he found he had a sleeping woman wrapped around him. More importantly, this sleeping woman happened to be Hermione Granger. How in the name of Merlin had they come to be like this! This was highly inappropriate! Nevertheless, she did smell divine and he hadn't had a woman this close to him in… well he didn't like to think of it.

Very suddenly, he heard her breathing change. She inhaled heavily and blinked her eyes groggily.

"G'morning." she mumbled, not moving from her spot. In fact, she snuggled closer and rubbed her face against his chest.

Snape raised an eyebrow.

"Forgive me… Miss Granger. But… Er… how did we come to end up like this? In bed together, I mean." he asked, sounding confused.

Hermione laughed; an enchanting sound that was a pleasure to hear.

"Don't worry, you didn't de-flower me or anything." she giggled.

"Uhm. Alright. Well then, can you explain what exactly is going on?"

She looked up at him, unnervingly, still not removing herself from his side.

"Certainly. But don't you remember what happened yesterday?" she asked seriously.

"Vaguely. I know I went to the Dark Lord last night." he replied.

"Severus, Voldemort's dead. Harry and Ron killed him."

Snape froze suddenly, relief washed over him. At that moment he felt like crying with joy.

"Really?"

"Yes, really. And you helped."

"Did I?" he asked, astonished.

"Yes. You did."

Severus lay there for a while, contemplating this.

"You're free, Severus. You're free." she murmured, stroking his forehead.

"Miss Granger I-"

"You don't remember, do you?"

"What am I supposed to be remembering?" he asked with a frown.

Finally, Hermione released him and sat up in bed. Snape followed suit, staring at her in confusion.

"You almost died. You were dying. It-It was my last chance to tell you…" she said, nervous suddenly.

"Tell me what?"

Memories were suddenly reappearing in his mind. Fuzzy and distorted, but they were there. Hermione was leaning over him, her face white and pinched with worry. Tears streamed down her face as she told him-

"I love you." she said quickly. "I think I've loved you since the first time I saw you."

She looked away, her face suddenly tomato red. Snape gave a small smile and pulled her toward him.

"I… I love you as well. Hermione. But I don't think… I would be a suitable match for you." he said quietly, his hand cupping her face.

Hermione's chest swelled and she threw her arms around him.

"I don't care! I don't care!" she exclaimed, kissing him soundly.

Snape protested at first, then melted willingly into the kiss. She was soft, curvy, yielding in all the right places and her body melded perfectly with his. After several long moments, Hermione pulled away for air. She lay her head on his chest, her legs twining between his.

"You know what this means, don't you?" he asked, she could hear his voice rumbling in his chest.

"I'll be a scarlet woman. Yes. I know. And I don't care. I want you."

Severus smiled at the notion.

"Say that again." he ordered playfully.

"I want you." she purred.

"I think I like that." he grinned.

She dove on him again kissing him frantically and pulling him closer. As she kissed him, she performed a few well cast spells on the room around her. Hermione locked the doors and cast a silencing charm on the space around them. Just let Dumbledore try to interrupt heir pleasure! Just let him try!

&$#$&

Yes, yes. I know. Crap ending. Deal wiv it. It is over romantic because I haven't had a date nor a girlfriend in several months and I am thoroughly depressed. Not to mention the prospect of going to college and becoming another average Joe is very saddening indeed. For the more morose view on this story, read the alternate ending "Ghosts", I assure you, it is angsty!