"Good evening, Miss Granger."

Hermione wasn't sure which spread more quickly over her face; the nervous blush that crept up her neck to her cheeks or the ecstatic grin that bloomed involuntarily, causing Ginny to look at her in the oddest way. She stared down into her cup for a moment, watching as the small bubbles on the surface would float quietly, then suddenly burst and disappear.

This is it. Her stomach clenched. There is no turning back after this point.

With her heart in her throat, she turned to him.

She hadn't noticed him leave the celebration, but he apparently had slipped out at some point to change his clothing. He stood before her, not in his ever-present formal teaching robes and high-necked jacket, but in black pants and a pin-striped dress shirt. His hands were settled in his hip pockets, and the smirk that tugged at the corner of his mouth was tempered by the warmth she saw in his eyes. She had never seen him looked so relaxed… nor so young.

Don't forget sexy, she thought to herself. You've imagined him naked and in the throes of passion, but never has this man looked this unjustly hot!.

She knew that Ginny and the rest of her friends were staring at her, and she didn't care. She was done playing this game, this charade. They wanted each other, and they had waited. They had been good, they hadn't broken (technically) any rules, and they weren't hurting anyone. Now they were going to be able to collect their reward, and finally forget about the whole rest of the worlds: Wizarding, Muggle, and otherwise. This night was theirs.

She couldn't wait.

"Good evening, Professor. Are you enjoying the party? You certainly look…" Pausing, she let her eyes glide over his form before returning to his gaze. "…well."

Ron's eyes bulged so far out that she actually glimpsed them in her peripheral vision. Ginny surreptitiously took the cup from Hermione's hand and sniffed its contents. She couldn't see Harry – she honestly couldn't see anyone other than Severus – but she knew that his face would show only confusion and bewilderment. For all that he had seen in his life, Harry still had one of the purest hearts she had ever known; it was terribly difficult for him to comprehend betrayal. And this he would see as a betrayal of the worst kind. It was going to take a long time to clean this one up, she knew. But she would deal with that later. Right now, she just wanted to be with Severus.

Tilting his head slightly, Snape allowed his eyes to travel a similar path over her body, and she felt a twinge of embarrassment at her bold move. She was no seductress, she realized; not when compared to this man.

That, she thought, is how it's done.

"Indeed, Miss Granger? I should thank you. I should also start referring to you as Hermione, should I not?"

"Well, we're no longer teacher and students now, are we? I think a first name basis is acceptable… Severus."

The tension and turmoil that was emanating from her friends was almost palpable now, and she found herself anxious to escape them before something ugly began. But Severus only continued to stare at her calmly, seemingly in no hurry to advance things along.

I can't believe this great, overgrown child is expecting me to make the first move! Oh, honestly!

Trying her best to hide her nervousness behind what she hoped would pass for flirtatiousness, she glanced coyly up at him from beneath her lashes and murmured, "Is there something you wanted, Severus?"

He moved so suddenly that she barely had time to register his actions. In two quick steps he was standing directly in front of her, close enough that she could feel the placket of his shirt brushing the front of her blouse. The topmost buttons were undone, and she found herself staring, completely mesmerized, at his collarbone. She was overcome with the desire to lean forward and lick it, and it was only his voice that stopped her from doing so.

"Why yes, Hermione," he purred, and she could feel his breath on her face. "There is something I want." With that he put his hands on her shoulders and bent his head toward her mouth.

He's going to kiss me! He's going to kiss me! Zeus's great-grandmother, he's going to kiss me!

A collective gasp rose from her circle of friends.

But he didn't kiss her. Instead, he stopped with his mouth mere inches from hers and, looking intently into her eyes, spoke in a husky voice.

"I'd like to get to the refreshment table. Could you please step aside?"

Hermione stared ahead mutely as Severus gently guided her to the side and stepped past her.

He… how… I… he didn't… how could… what?

She turned around to find him leaning casually against the table, drink in hand. The lazy grin on his face looked completely out of character to almost everyone around him.

Everyone except for her.

"What's the matter, Hermione? Did my answer not… satisfy you?" Draining his cup, he strode toward her again, and this time his eyes were blazing. "Because if it did not," he continued, drawing a finger slowly down her cheek to her neck, "I'm sure we could find something else that would."

Hermione reached out her mind to him, and felt a tremble beneath the surface.

He was nervous.

'Did you think I was going to change my mind?' she murmured, her gaze never leaving his.

As inclined as she was to read textbooks and education material, Hermione also enjoyed fiction – including the occasional torrid romance novel. So she was familiar with – but had never before experienced firsthand – the sensation that came next. Everything around her faded.

Everything except for Severus.

All sound, all sight, gone. All that remained was his eyes… eyes that flooded her with so many feelings at once that she couldn't separate them. Arousal, fear, hope, affection. She felt as though she was drinking in an elixir that was taking her to euphoric heights…and at the same time, suffocating her. The intensity in his stare was staggering; so much restrained… what would it be like when he finally let go?

Could he let go?

'I have found, Hermione, that in this life, it is better to count on nothing.'

Placing her hand on his, Hermione let her thumb rest on his wrist, feeling the pulse beat under it. Beneath her thoughts, she wondered if she would ever be the cause for the pounding of that tired heart.

'If that is what you've found, Severus, than you have been looking in the wrong place.'

For the briefest of moments his eyes closed and a smile graced his lips. In that instant, the world around them rushed back in, and Hermione became aware of a small crowd gathered near them, murmuring and watching them intently. Knowing his hatred of public attention, she wasn't surprised when he grasped her hand and said, "Shall we?"


As they began to walk toward the door, she stopped and turned to her friends. "We'll talk tomorrow," she promised with a smile.

Tugging her along gently, Snape took a few more steps before he, too, turned back to her friends… this time with a decidedly more evil grin than Hermione's. "I wouldn't count on tomorrow, Potter. This should take us at least through the weekend."

And with that he swept her out the door.

"You're horrible!" Hermione laughed as they strode down the hallway, hand in hand. She had been shocked at Severus' suggestive comment to Harry, but even more so at how much she enjoyed it. For the first time since their friendship had begun, she was getting to be the bad one. She didn't have to reel anybody in, quote rules to them or finish their homework. For tonight, she didn't have to be the voice of reason.

Tonight she could be the voice of a slut.

The thought made her stomach tighten, and she looked at Severus. He met her gaze and smiled, and she found herself wishing that he would simply push her up against the wall and take her, right there.

He must have been having similar thoughts, because the smile faded from his face, replaced by a look of hunger and need. He stepped toward her, his hand curling around her neck, beneath her hair. She reached up to lock her arms around his neck as he bent down –


They jumped apart as quickly as if they'd been opposite ends of a wizard cracker. Professor McGonagall stood nearby, her arms crossed and her face pinched.

"Oh, Professor!" Hermione gasped. "I… we… that is…" Severus silenced her with a hand on her shoulder.

"Minerva, I was just asking Miss Granger about her plans…"

"Oh, Severus, stop it," McGonagall waved her hand at him. "I know what you were doing. It's precisely the reason I was looking for you two." As she walked toward them, Hermione shot a nervous glance toward Snape. She knew? Had she known all this time? What exactly was going on?

Severus drew himself up to his full height and glared down his nose. "Professor McGonagall, I assure you that we…"

"Oh, for Merlin's sake, Severus, be quiet!" She turned toward Hermione, and Hermione was shocked to see that she was smiling. "Really, my dear, how do you put up with him? Well, to each his own, I suppose."

"You… so, you… you know?" She knew that she was stammering, but she was completely confused. If Professor McGonagall knew about them… if she wasn't shocked by finding them in a compromising position in the hallway… then she must have known for some time. But if she had been aware of what was going on between them while Hermione was still a student, she would have gone to Dumbledore.

Wouldn't she?

Hermione stared at her dumbly as she began searching her robes for something. Glancing up quickly, she noticed her former student's bewilderment and sighed. "Honestly, Miss Granger, just who do you think cast the spell on you two?"

"YOU?" Severus gasped, as Hermione simply stood with her mouth open. "YOU cast the Somnium Redimio?"

"Of course," she stated simply. "A relationship like yours doesn't come along very often, you know. I wasn't about to let the opportunity slip by. Now," she continued, pulling a battered pill box from her robes, "you'll be needing these." She opened the box and withdrew a silver key, which she handed to Severus. "Be very careful with this, my boy. It is the only copy we have." Snape nodded mutely and slipped it into his pocket. She then tapped the box with her wand and spoke a few soft words under her breath. Handing it to Hermione, she instructed, "That is now a Portkey. It will activate in less than one minute. You will find everything you need there. You can charm it to return whenever you are ready with a simple Vicis Praecessi spell. Enjoy yourselves," she cooed, with a knowing smile.

Severus and Hermione began speaking at once.

"Wait, where is this…"

"Minerva, I demand to know…"

"… do I need to pack clothes…"

"…insane if you think that I would just…"

"… has to look in on Crookshanks…"

"…outrageous scheme to…"

Exhaling deeply, McGonagall turned back to them and held up her hand for silence. She addressed her colleague first.

"I'm slightly offended by your lack of trust in me, Severus, but there isn't time for me to huff and puff. The Portkey will take you somewhere that you two can be alone for a bit. Accept it in the spirit that it is given, and don't quibble with me. I am still your superior," she added as he moved to argue with her. He snapped his mouth shut, nodded curtly and looked away.

"Hermione, please go relax and enjoy yourself. Don't worry about Crookshanks , I will look in on him myself. Nor should you concern yourself with Harry, Ron, or anyone else. This is your time." Smiling, she tilted Hermione's chin up with her hand. "You remind me so much of myself when I was your age," she murmured. "Oh, and as for clothes… I would expect them to be more luxury than anything this weekend, wouldn't you?" Hermione flushed deeply and McGonagall turned, laughing, to walk down the hallway.

"How did you cast the spell?" Hermione blurted out.

"The Somnium Redimio can only be cast by one upon whom it has been previously cast. I will teach you how when you return."

"You mean you…"

"Oh, yes, my dear. Which reminds me… Severus, you are to be commended on your patience and strength of character." Blushing slightly, she continued. "If only Albus had had your willpower, perhaps Gryffindor wouldn't have lost the House Cup in my seventh year." She looked at her watch and her eyes widened. "Grab the Portkey – now!"

Severus reached for the pill box in Hermione's hand, and they both disappeared.

They landed, stumbling, in the front yard of a small, secluded log cabin. The sky overhead was heavy with dark clouds, and the air smelled of rain. Severus, taking a page from Moody's "constant vigilance" handbook, checked the house for any dangerous charms or spells. Finding none, they went inside.

Hermione's face broke out into a huge grin as she looked around. The setting was simple, but undeniably romantic. Fresh flowers were arranged in each room in lovely, cut-glass vases. Small lamps were lit in the kitchen, while the sitting room was illuminated by the glow from the fireplace. Without moving, she knew that the sole source of light in the bedroom would be candles. The only furniture near the fireplace was an oversized sofa and an equally large armchair. Other than that, the cream-colored carpeting was bare.

"Oh, my," she breathed.

"Indeed," Snape replied. "Shall we look around more?"

Hand in hand, they explored the other rooms. As she had expected, the bedroom was bathed in candlelight, long shadows thrown on the mammoth bed that occupied most of the room. The loo was simple and nondescript, except for the huge bathtub that looked as though it could seat an entire Quidditch team. The remaining room was a library, which under normal circumstances would have thrilled Hermione to no end. Tonight, however, her mind was no more on books than it was on Hagrid. They found that the back of the house sported a large porch, and the ground dropped away to give a spectacular view.

"Well," Severus commented as they returned to the sitting room, "this house is obviously most accommodating to… couples."

"Yes," she agreed, and an overwhelming sense of shyness came over her. "It certainly is." She broke away from him to walk to the window. She felt silly, but now that they were here, now that it was time, she had no idea what to do.

Her dilemma was solved when Snape put his hands on her shoulders and whispered in her ear, "Dance with me?"

"But there's no music," she protested.

"Trust me." Taking her hand, he pulled her to the center of the room. Wrapping one arm around her waist, he took her other hand in his and began to sway gently. Soft music immediately filled the air.

"How did you do that?" she cried in amazement.

"Just a hunch," he snickered. "This house seems to be, on a much larger scale, of course, much like the Room of Requirement. It would appear that if there is something we need, that need will be fulfilled."

"Whatever we need?" she asked, looking up at him.

"Or desire," he said softly, trailing his fingers lightly along her spine. She found that she could not look away, and they continued to dance closely, staring into each others eyes.

Severus finally broke both the silence and their gaze by moving his eyes down to her lips and saying softly, "Do you realize, Hermione, that we have never kissed?"

"Well, yes…"

"I don't just mean in real life," he interrupted. "Not even in our fantasies. It seems to be almost the only thing we haven't done," he chuckled, rubbing her arm gently from shoulder to wrist and back again.

"That can't be right," she muttered. But as she replayed scenes in her head, she realized he was, in fact, correct.

"I wonder why that is?"

"Perhaps," Severus purred, dropping his head to hover near her ear, "we felt that we couldn't do it justice."

Hermione's breath caught, and she suddenly became amazingly aware of his body against hers. The arm that was around her waist was slowly moving up and down, his hand caressing her back, one finger lightly tracing the lines of her bra straps. His thighs pressed against hers gently, but now she could feel the gentle nudge of the bulge in his pants against her belly. His chest brushed against hers as they turned, and she could feel her nipples contracting from the friction. Her eyes fell on the base of his throat, where she could see his pulse. As she watched, it seemed to speed up… almost to mimic her own increased heart rate.

She suddenly realized that it had begun to rain outside.

His cheek was pressed to hers now, her mouth near the sensitive skin at the curve of his jaw. "Severus," she whimpered helplessly, and his grip on her tightened. The hand that had been on her back crept lower, hovering just below the waistband of her jeans. Loosening the fingers of his other hand from hers, he brushed them softly along the underside of her arm, then up along her shoulder to settle on the nape of her neck. In turn, her arms curled around his middle, feeling the tightly-strung muscles there. She splayed her hands widely, wanting to feel as much of him as she could.

"Hermione," he breathed. He pulled his head back slightly, so that his right eyebrow was pressed to hers. Their mouths were less than an inch apart now; all she had to do was turn her head ever so slightly…

"Please," she sighed, not knowing exactly what she was asking for. Her breathing was becoming ragged, as was his. Everything inside of her seemed to be tightening, and as he moved against her again, causing her to feel just how aroused he had become, she began to feel lightheaded.

"Hermione," he whispered again, and this time she could feel his breath on her lips.

Oh, gods, just a little closer… she thought.

The corner of his lips trembled so close to hers that she was no longer sure if they were touching or not. She didn't know when they had stopped dancing, but she was vaguely aware that they were now standing in the semi-darkened room, simply wrapped around each other.

The music had stopped.

Lightning flashed through the windows.

"No turning back," Severus murmured, his hand moving up into her hair. She recognized it for the warning it was, and accepted it as a promise.


Turning just a fraction, he brought his lips to hers.

Looking back, Hermione would remember it as the most perfect kiss of her life. He captured her lower lip between his tenderly, releasing it almost immediately. Hesitating for a moment, he kissed her again, gently moving his lips over hers. His head tilted slightly so that their mouths were more fully pressed together, and she tightened her arms around him as she kissed him back, amazed at the softness of his lips. For a long moment they stood there, kissing almost chastely, until a sound much like a whimper came from his throat. His hand fisted in her hair, and she felt his mouth open slightly against hers. When his tongue came forward tentatively, she ran the tip of hers along it lightly.

Thunder crashed outside.

He broke.

A deep moan erupted from him, and he clutched her to him forcefully, making her gasp. His tongue ravaged her mouth, tussling with hers and delving deeply as his hand moved down to grasp her bottom. His hips bucked and she felt his cock like an iron rod against her stomach. Her head spun, and she was only vaguely aware of the hot moisture between her legs.

Slowly, so as not to trip, Severus began backing her toward the sofa. When her legs bumped against it, they lowered themselves down awkwardly, trying to maintain their kiss, but they broke apart as he settled over her.

"Gods," he panted, before crushing his mouth to hers again. Hermione groaned beneath him, her arms locking around his neck as his knee pushed her legs apart. Cradled between her thighs, he aligned himself against her center and began thrusting rhythmically.

Their movements were frantic and desperate; they were beyond reason, beyond return. Hermione's hands grappled over his body, touching wherever they could reach. Severus' mouth moved from hers to her ear to her neck and back again, kissing, sucking and licking as though he was a starving man and she a feast. Supporting his weight on one arm, he moved his other hand to her blouse and began to pull roughly at the buttons.

"Rip them," she gasped between kisses. With a stifled growl, he did just that, tearing the front of her shirt open. He lowered his head, placing hungry kisses down her throat and over her chest as she struggled to free herself from the torn garment. Pulling roughly at her bra straps, he wrenched them down her arms as far as he could, then attacked her neck and shoulder with his tongue and teeth. Hermione cried out as he hit a particularly sensitive spot, and with a wicked smile he concentrated his efforts there, licking and sucking harshly at her skin as she bucked beneath him.

"Severus! Oh, Lord!" Her hands wound through his hair, pulling him even closer and his hand moved down her body to cup her breast. The contradiction between the gentleness of his thumb caressing the nipple and the ferocity of his mouth devouring her neck nearly made her see stars.

Around the cabin, the storm raged on.

Severus lost track of everything except for the woman beneath him. He wanted to be slow and tender, to take his time and savor every inch of her skin, but he was rapidly losing his mind. Her smell, her taste, her feel… she was a study in seduction, and she didn't even know it. She's here, this is happening… She's here, this is happening… kept thrumming through his mind as he filled his senses with her. They had waited so long, and now there was no more waiting. He felt sanity and self-control slipping away as desire overwhelmed him; he wanted his hands, his tongue, her mouth, her skin, everywhere, all at once. He wanted to be inside her, to feel her under him, to feel her over him, around him, warm and wet and real. A sound much like a sob caught in his throat as he pressed her even deeper into the sofa.

Dimly, he became aware that Hermione had unbuttoned his shirt and was trying to remove it. He knelt over her briefly, shrugging it off his shoulders as she tore off her bra and threw it to the floor. Then he swooped down upon her again, their voices joining in a singular throaty cry as bare skin met bare skin.

Hermione threw her head back and arched her back up to him, a sharp "Oh!" escaping her lips as his tongue circled one nipple and drew it into his mouth, sucking deeply. Tucking an arm beneath her to hold her to him, he continued to engulf her breasts in his mouth, moving from one to the other. She couldn't believe how wet she was getting; surely there must be a damp spot on her jeans by now! It felt as though every inch of her skin was on fire, and every part of him that touched her was like pouring gasoline on an open flame.

Working his way back up to her mouth, Severus kissed her deeply, his hands moving from her hair to her shoulders to her hips and back again. "Hermione," he panted, his forehead pressed to hers, "I'm sorry… I can't stop…"

"Oh, gods, don't you dare!" she snapped, and lunged for his throat, running her tongue over his Adam's apple before raking her teeth along his jaw line.

"I want you, please… I have to have you," he groaned, slipping down her body.

His tongue traced the line of her jeans around her belly as he fumbled with the closure. As he pulled them over her hips and down her legs, he trailed his fingers along her skin. The effect was amazing; it was erotic and ticklish all at the same time, and she jerked beneath him. As he moved to unfasten his own pants, Hermione grabbed his wrist. "No, please… I want to do it."

Severus stilled as she sat up and began to remove them. Once she had them pushed down to his knees, he stood up quickly and let them drop to the floor. Extending a hand to Hermione, he pulled her up to him and wrapped his arms around her. Their kiss was less hurried this time, but just as passionate. Their hands trailed over each others' bodies, reveling in the newness of things they had thought they knew. As their embrace intensified, and their breathing became ragged and labored, Severus moved his hands down to cup Hermione's bottom, then slowly slid his fingers under the material at the juncture of her buttocks and thighs and teased her entrance with one finger.

His head reeled when he realized how soaked she already was, and with a feral growl he picked her up and fell back on the sofa with her. She quickly moved to straddle his lap and immediately began grinding herself against him. Severus' head fell back as he gripped her hips and began thrusting against her. He was so hard and she was so wet – it was almost as though their underclothes weren't even there. She could feel the ridge of his swollen penis sliding over her clit, and he could feel the plump and sopping lips of her pussy opening for him with each stroke.

Leaning forward, he caught one of her nipples in his mouth and drew hard on it. His vision was starting to fill with flashing lights, and he knew that he was going to come in his shorts if he didn't stop her now.

Grasping her by her waist, he flipped her off and in one smooth movement yanked her panties down to her ankles. Rolling her back over to her stomach, he pulled them over her feet and flung them across the room. "On your knees," he snarled, his hands roaming over her bottom. Hermione, breathless and aching with need, got to her knees on the sofa, bracing herself with her hands on the back, in front of the open window. As lightning sliced through the sky, she felt him run a finger along her swollen labia, tickling the curls there. "Please," she begged, as he continued to tease her. A second finger joined the first, now stroking the length of her slit. Moaning, she leaned her forehead against the window, the coolness of the glass doing nothing to dampen her need. She felt him draw away from her and started to raise her head when stars exploded in front of her eyes.

He was licking her.

Holding her open with both hands, he ran his tongue the length of her cunt and then circled her clit. "Aaaaah!" she cried out as her pelvis wrenched forward. Severus began lapping at her with long swipes of his tongue and she found herself wantonly bucking her hips in rhythm with him. Rolling his head in wide circles, he alternated pumping his tongue in and out of her clenching hole with rapid flutters over her clit. His nose filled with the scent of her, and he gripped her flesh harder to keep himself from reaching down and drenching his own fist with his come. As his teeth grazed her erect nub, a low, keening sound began to radiate from her, and she held on to the back of the sofa for dear life. "Now, witch, now!" Severus breathed and, taking hold of her clit between his lips, he began to suck.

Hermione shrieked as her body stiffened and then jerked spasmodically. Severus' cries of lust and approval, muted as he greedily consumed her juices, joined hers as she shouted his name over and over before finally collapsing against the sofa.

She felt his hands pulling her back toward him, and then the hot heaviness of his cock was at her entrance. There was a moment when he rubbed the head of it over her clit that she thought she would come again, but then he grasped her waist and pushed forward, sinking fully into her.

"Fuck!" he cried, at the same time that she yelled, "Christ!"

Unable to control himself, he began driving into her as hard and fast as he could. Stiffening her arms, Hermione began pushing backwards, forcing him even deeper into her.

He wasn't going to last long. He had to come inside her, he had to come NOW.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh GOD!" he chanted, his hands reaching forward to wrap in her hair and pull her head back toward him, her back arching even more. At this angle, his balls began slapping against her clitoris, sending jolts of pleasure through her still-trembling body.

"Fuck me! Oh, dear gods, Severus, fuck me harder!" she screamed, and he felt his scrotum tighten against him. His hair swung around his face as he rocked against her, strands of it clinging to his forehead and nose. For a moment the only sounds in the room were the wet smacks of skin slapping skin, his brutal grunting, and Hermione's arduous panting.

Then he felt her fingers graze the base of his cock as he pulled back, and a violent noise rose from his chest.

"I'm coming, I'm coming! Fuck, now, now, NOW! AHHHHHH!"

As he grabbed her hips and thrust inside her as deeply as he could, erupting into her hot wetness, the thunder nearly drowned out his roar.


When their breathing had returned to normal and they were able to see clearly again, Severus pulled Hermione to the floor with him and wrapped his arms around her. Her hair tickled his nose as he rested his chin on her head.

"That was… amazing," she murmured.

"Mmm," he agreed, his eyes closed. They sat that way for several minutes, watching the rain whip against the windows and the lightning illuminate the darkened cabin. Eventually, Hermione began to fidget slightly, and Snape knew what was coming.

"Are you cold?" he asked.

"No. Well, maybe a little," she admitted, and laughed as a blanket materialized next to them. Severus draped it around his shoulders and then enfolded her in his arms again, nestling them both inside its warmth.

"So," he began, unwilling to draw the moment out, "you are wondering what happens now."

She jumped guiltily, then lowered her head. "Yes," she mumbled.

"Well, what would you like to see happen, Hermione?"

Shifting nervously, she gave a small shrug. Severus waited patiently.

"Well, I don't want to leave yet," she finally confessed.

"That, my dear, is not a concern," he whispered huskily into her ear. "I am far from through with you." The shudder that ran through her pleased him; what did not please him was the anxiety that was building, unbidden, in the pit of his stomach. He knew their conversation was far from over, and he was chagrined to find himself concerned over what the next few minutes would bring.

Giggling, she replied, "I don't just mean here, now… I don't want to leave this." She snuggled closer to him.

"This is nice. Much nicer than I anticipated," he muttered into her hair.

"As much as I dread the answer to this question… what do you want to see happen now, Severus?"

They sat in silence, the drumming of the rain on the roof the only sound. As the time stretched out, Hermione's stomach blossomed into a jumble of nerves. I shouldn't have asked, she thought to herself. At least not so soon. I'm pressuring him. No one likes to be pressured.

Just as she made up her mind to tell him, Never mind… forget she asked, he spoke.

"I don't have an answer to that, Hermione. There are many different scenarios, many different ways that this could go. Some, I think I would enjoy. Some, I know I would not. But right now, I can only tell you these three things: One, I don't want us to feel that we have to make a momentous decision about our future – or futures – tonight. Or even in the next few days, or weeks. Two, I want to enjoy this time with you to the absolute fullest. And three…" He tilted her chin up so that she looked over her shoulder at him. "… I am so, so thankful that this happened."

Hermione lifted her hand to gently trace the planes of his face as he kissed her. The tears that formed behind her eyelids would dissipate by the time the kiss was through, she was sure. He was right; there was no need to settle everything tonight. No need to draw up intricate and exact plans for the coming days. It was enough that they were there, together, with something already substantial enough between them to necessitate that talk somewhere down the road.

Lowering her slowly to the floor, Severus kissed her slowly and thoroughly. Moving her mouth from his, she trailed soft kisses to his ear, where she ran the tip of her tongue delicately around the outer rim until her moaned. She was kissing her way down his throat toward his chest when he suddenly gave a sharp bark of laughter.

"Um… yeah. That's generally not the desired reaction to that move," she grumbled, pulling back to look at him.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, looking not in the least bit remorseful. "I just realized how much fun it is going to be to flaunt this in front of your little friends." He snorted again, and she scowled at him.

"Excuse me, dear, but if you call my friends 'little', you're insinuating that I too, am such. And I believe that I proved tonight that I am far from 'little.'"

"Mmm… indeed you have," he purred, tickling the hollow of her throat with his tongue.

"They will have a hard time getting used to this, though," she continued thoughtfully.

"I'm sure they will," he agreed, nibbling at her collarbone.

"Especially Harry."

"Yes, I'm sure the adjustment will be most difficult for him," he snickered.

"Severus! These are my friends, don't forget! You're going to have to make an effort not to make things more strenuous than they'll undoubtedly be."

"Of course, love," he murmured, kissing behind her ear.

"Severus, I'm serious!"

"I understand," he assured her, moving his lips to her jaw. "I will attempt to be on my best behavior when I'm placed in a situation with them."

"Especially Harry?"

"Especially Potter… unless he starts something first."


"Hermione, calm down," he sighed. "I'm joking. I will try to make the transition as smooth as possible… for your sake."

"Thank you," she said softly, with a smile that melted his heart. Leaning down, he moved to claim her lips before pulling back suddenly.

"What is it?" she asked, concerned.

"Does this mean that bending you over the dinner table at the Burrow is out of the question?"

"Severus!" Laughing, she pulled him back down to her.

Sometime much, much later, they finally made it to the bed.

The End

Disclaimer: If you've just read this story, you know without a doubt that I am NOT JK Rowling. She is a fine, upstanding citizen, and an excellent role model for children. I am a horn dog.

Author's Notes:

"Somnium Redimio," – loosely translated means "dream binding."
"Vicis Praecessi," - loosely translated means "time to go."

I have many people to mention this time around.
First and foremost: props go out to Anouska Draconius, for the idea of Snape asking Hermione to move so that he could get to the refreshment table. She suggested that, and I thought it was so perfectly Snape that I had to use it. Thanks, AD!
Secondly, a huge thank you to all who have read and reviewed. I know that I have not answered all the reviews, and I apologize. But I thought that you would rather I get this chapter done, so that's what I did!
A special thank you, as well as a bon voyage, to Layla (Dreamsong11,) who gave me the inspirational kick in the butt to finish this baby. Two weeks without internet? I couldn't let you go without knowing how this turned out! Ciao, bella!
Lastly, and certainly not least... to my hubby. I know I thank him all the time - usually with some funny or bizarre comment thrown in - but he truly is the strength in my life. Not only has he encouraged me to write, but he is the one who takes care of our son so that I can do so... usually after a long day of work. He is my best friend, and a far better person than I could ever hope to be. Dream all you want, ladies... I wouldn't trade him for a castle full of Snapes. I will love you forever, Papa.

Now... let's go meet the pansies!