It was the latest Hermione had slept in a long time… she was usually up before the sun, or at the very latest with it- but on this morning it was the sun, already well up in the sky, that woke her; a band of pale winter morning light falling across the rumpled bed, her disheveled hair, her peaceful face.

She yawned and stretched tremendously, a smile curving her lips before she quite remembered what it was that she was so happy about… she had awoken feeling better physically that she had in days and days, that was for sure- she was breathing freely and her head was clear… but there was more to it than that, she was positive.

Her body remembered before her mind did… she was reaching out to the side before she understood what exactly she was reaching for- and then she remembered, in a brilliant flash of clarity. She was reaching for him; the warm, slumbering body that had been wrapped around hers all night, the arms that had made her feel so safe and warm and loved… well, except for the long stretches of time when he'd been too busy doing really wicked things to her, to hold her, per se. Merlin, it had been good… once they'd got past that whole deflowering business.

So a lazy, sated, almost goofy grin was spreading slowly over her face… until her hand, groping across the coverlet, found nothing solid there- nothing but bedclothes and pillows scattered about, and cool to the touch. Her grin froze, then fell away as a wave of panic engulfed her. That couldn't have been just another naughty dream, it COULDN'T- it was far too real. He'd been there, she was sure of it… wasn't she?

She shot up to her knees in bed, her expression suddenly a little bit frantic, tears leaping almost instantaneously to her eyes. No- this couldn't be- why was she alone? It had been real- it had been everything she'd fantasized it would be- and to have that wrenched away from her now- it was more than she could bear.

A second later, though, she was confronted by the undeniable evidence of her night of debauchery.

A galleon-sized bloodstain on the sheet between her knees.

An unmistakable indentation in the pillow next to hers.

And an ache, not entirely unpleasant, deep inside. She pressed one hand absently to her stomach in acknowledgement of it.

But then… her breaths were starting to pile up now, and the threatening tears had not dissipated at all… but then, if he'd actually been here, if he'd been real, if they'd done those things… the only possible remaining explanation was… was that he had left her.

Which was worse- far worse- than if he'd never been there at all.

And then a pair of warm, strong arms snaked around her from behind, startling her badly.

He rested his chin on top of her head. "What's this?" he asked, a very subtle teasing note in his voice. "Reminiscing?"

Her breath escaped her in a long, shuddery sigh of relief. Sensing something amiss, he turned her in his arms to face him. "Hermione?" His dark eyes were worried. Anyone who knew him less… intimately… might easily have missed it, but already she was learning to read him. "Is something wrong?"

Something in her expression seemed to betray her- (apparently she was not the only quick study present)- because an instant later he exclaimed, "Merlin, did you think I had left you?"

Suddenly embarrassed of the conclusion she had leapt to so quickly, she said nothing- just wrapped her arms around him right back and snuggled into his chest with a sigh.

She wasn't fooling him, though.

Really, why had she had to go and choose the one partner who was as clever and observant as she was? It was most inconvenient, when one got right down to it. Neither Ron nor Harry, nor Viktor nor that beast McLaggen would have arrived at the correct conclusion anywhere near so quickly or easily- if indeed at all.

It was maddening. It was also completely and inexplicably wonderful.

His voice, when it came again from above her, was rueful. "You should be so lucky," he said, still holding her very close. "Did I or did I not tell you, woman, that I would never let you go?"

In answer, she only tightened her arms still further about him.

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"I suppose you ought to know that I'm a very early riser by nature," he said, long moments later, as they lay spooning on the bed- he was playing absently with her sleep-tousled hair- "and that, once awake, I cannot tolerate lying in bed like a useless lump, no matter how alluring my sleeping companion. The downside of this is that unless you are an uncommonly early riser yourself, you may often wake alone. The upside is that you might almost as often find breakfast ready and waiting for you."

"Have you made breakfast?" she asked, realizing quite suddenly that she was absolutely ravenous.

"As a matter of fact, I have. At least… I got it well underway. It should be about ready to serve itself up any moment now."

"Wait a minute, what?" Hermione asked, suddenly uneasy.

"Waffles," he said, supremely unconcerned. "I recognized your waffle iron. I haven't interacted much with the Muggle world in decades, but I had some contact when I was young. I got it well started, so everything should be-"

Hermione sat bolt upright. "You mean you just started it and left?"

"Well… yes-"

She was on her feet instantly. "But all my appliances are Muggle in origin!"

He frowned. "Well obviously, I recognized that, didn't I just say so? But what difference does it make?"

"Muggle kitchen appliances don't know when or how to shut themselves off! If you start them going and leave, they'll eventually just catch-"

And then the smoke detector went off.

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They ate cold cereal.

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Hermione was just finishing the last of her now-lukewarm coffee when, with a casual flick of his wand, he sent the dishes soaring from the table to the sink, where the water turned itself on and they commenced washing themselves.

"A regular domestic god you are," Hermione observed with a smile, amazed at how easy and natural it felt to tease him. She knew that her remark stood in stark contrast to the wreckage of the waffle iron fire, which neither of them had bothered Scourgifying away as of yet.

But he didn't seem to be paying any attention to her gentle taunting. His eyes had taken on that intense look again- that lustful, hungry look. He unfolded himself from the chair across from her and came around the table- prowled around it would actually be a more apt description- and the next thing Hermione knew, he'd lifted her bodily from her chair and sat her on the edge of the table, and was kissing her deeply.

"Look up," he commanded when he broke the kiss, his hands roaming freely now under the loose tee-shirt- the orange Cannons tee-shirt of the night before- that was all Hermione had put on before coming to breakfast. She tilted her head back, gasping as his warm mouth found the base of her throat and he began to suck…

And there, floating directly above the table, perhaps an inch down from the ceiling, was the mistletoe Harry had sent over with Ginny the night before. Merlin, was it only the night before? It felt as if it had been a lifetime ago; so very much had changed.

"I didn't hang that," she said, remembering in a vague, far-off sort of a way just how unwell she'd felt when Ginny had visited. She hadn't felt up to doing anything with the sprig of mistletoe.

"I know," he replied. "I found it on the counter this morning. I charmed it up, but not before giving it a good cleaning. Damn thing was absolutely infested with Nargles. No harm done- I got them all. Really, though, I'd have thought that you, of all people, would have checked it more carefully."

"Rubbish," she exclaimed, shivering deliciously as he flicked her nipples hard with his thumbs, then moved his hands to her sides and ran them down over her waist, her hips, to rest on her thighs and begin teasing them apart. "There are no such things as Nargles!"

"Is that so, Miss know-it-all?" he queried, spreading her legs wide and then lifting them so that she understood his intention perfectly and wrapped them obligingly about his waist. "And what on earth would make you say that?"

"Well…" Hermione hesitated despite herself- "back in school Luna Lovegood talked about them once or twice, but… but she was always talking about ridiculous creatures that couldn't possibly be real. I've never seen a single reference to a Nargle in any book… and I do read quite a bit."

"I see." There was an unmistakable tinge of amusement to his voice now. "So just because you've never encountered Nargles in literature, you reach the firm conclusion that they cannot possibly exist?"

"But there was nothing- OHH!-" (his fingers had just dipped between her thighs and begun rubbing lightly)- "nuh-nothing in that mistletoe!"

He pushed her gently backward, so that she was reclining on the scrubbed smooth surface of the table.

"Just because you cannot see something with your naked eye, Hermione," (Ahhhh, she whimpered, as he plunged two fingers into her) "doesn't mean it isn't there. And I'd wager you never actually went out of your way to seek information on Nargles, did you, having immediately dismissed them as a figment of Miss Lovegood's imagination?"

"Well… mmmhh… no," she admitted, as her hips began to respond to his ministrations, rocking in rhythm with his hand.

"Ah. Well, it just so happens," he said, his lips moving against the sensitive skin at the base of her throat, "that I have an excellent reference book I'd be happy to loan you. There's a very informative chapter on Nargles in there. I'll summon it… Mmm… shortly. Would you like that, Hermione?"

"Uhhhhh… yes!"

"More than this?" he asked, and now it was his voice that took on a distinctly teasing quality.

"Nuh… no… mhh… not more than this," she panted out truthfully.

"That's good." He made a subtle adjustment, and then she could feel him aligning himself with her body, pushing slowly in. "I should have been a bit put out if you had said otherwise."

"Ooohhhhh," she gasped, tossing her head restlessly from side to side as he sheathed himself entirely inside of her. He caught her face between his hands, much as he had done the night before.

"Is everything all right?" he asked, concerned. "You're not too sore? Is this hurting you?"

"No," she whispered, "no, it's just… oh God, it's just so big…"

He pulled slowly out until only the tip remained inside her, then pushed back in, taking one hand from her face in order to steady her hips.

"Big-good or big-bad?" he queried.

"Big good… oh God, so good…" she dug her heels into his back; bucked against him nearly frantically. "Oh, don't… please don't… stop!"

"I couldn't stop if I wanted to," he said hoarsely, falling into a rhythm now with long, steady, thoroughly delicious strokes. "Sweet Merlin, you feel divine."

And there was a bit of soreness, that was true… but whoever would have thought that sore could feel so nice? This was incredible. She gave a primal little moan, and then he sealed his lips to hers, and there was no more talking.

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Hermione stretched luxuriously. They were splayed out on the bed again, one of his legs tangled between hers, basking in the afterglow; Snape having carried her into the bedroom in the wake of their vigorous kitchen lovemaking, as neither the wooden table nor the tile floor in that room made a very good surface for lounging.

"I'm meant to go to the Weasleys' house tomorrow for dinner," she said now, stifling a yawn- (she'd been out of bed for little over an hour, and was all ready to fall asleep again! Merlin, what sloth)- "and if you and I are really… together now, it would mean a lot to me if you would come along."

"Is that so?" he asked, rather darkly. "I hardly think that I would be made to feel very welcome there, Hermione."

"Nonsense," she said. "The Weasleys are quite warm, really. And I'm not going to sneak about with you, you know. I've waited too long for this. Now that it's actually here, I want a real relationship; a whole relationship. I want you to be with me in public as well as in private. I want it accepted by my family and friends- and it will be- as long as you can keep a civil tongue in your head."

"Hm," he murmured. "We've been a couple for less than twelve hours, and already we're negotiating. All right then, so be it. I'll go to the bloody Weasleys'- but you'll have to do something for me in return." There was a wicked sort of suggestiveness in his tone that she found slightly worrisome. It was patently obvious that he wasn't talking about helping him sort potions ingredients.

"Such as?" she asked cautiously.

"Well…" he appeared to be thinking it over. "Tell you what- I'm in such an uncommonly good mood this morning that I'll give you a choice. There are two things I've been wanting to try for quite some time… once I'd found the right partner, of course. You might almost call them… fetishes of mine. Either-" he shot her a quick, fiendish little smirk- "you agree to make love to me under the influence of Polyjuice Potion- I as you and you as me, or… you agree to make love to me under an invisibility cloak in a public place. Maybe a corridor of Hogwarts between classes?"

She stared at him in complete, open-mouthed amazement for a long, long time. And then exclaimed, "Professor Snape! You kinky man!"

"Well?" he pressed, seeming completely undisturbed. "Are we agreed?"

"I… you… really… want to…" She shook her head and struggled a moment for composure. "We're going to the Weasleys' house first," she said at last, "and your behavior had better be absolutely perfect. You're going to have earn that… that… either one of… those."

"Fair enough," he agreed easily. She felt something nudging against her hip. He was becoming hard, again. She reached down between them and wrapped her hand around him, a smile playing across her lips as he swallowed a groan.

"I mean it," she said, almost primly, even as she began to stroke. "You have to be completely civil to all of the Weasleys, and to Harry too. You'll do that?"

"Potter?" he said, distaste plainly evident in his voice. Deciding he could do with a little more… convincing, she tightened her grasp a bit. He gave a slight shudder, and that expression that could so easily be mistaken for pain settled across his face.

"You will be decent to him, won't you?" she insisted. "For me?"

"Only for you," he ground out from between suddenly clenched teeth. "For you, I'd slap his arse and call him pretty. Only for you, Hermione."

She giggled a bit at that, in spite of herself. "Oh," she said a moment later, as something completely different occurred to her, "and… you have to sit with Padma and me in our booth next Thursday. I think she'd like that."

"Do you?" he asked, as one of his hands slid over her breasts, beginning to pluck at her already sensitive nipples. "I think she'll be rather inclined to be smug, myself… I've seen the expression on her face the last few times- you're going to get a great big dose of 'I told you so'. Are you ready for that, love?"

Hermione gasped and squirmed. "I can take it," she said through rapid, hitching breaths, "because I know she'll be genuinely happy for us. I can take all the 'I told you so'she can possibly dish out. Because I'm so glad… and this is so good… so worth waiting for… Merlin… so worth waiting for."

He moved his head to nuzzle at her temple; bury his nose in her hair. When next he spoke, his lips were moving against her ear. "I love you, Hermione Granger," he whispered, making her shiver… and then she turned her head and met his lips with hers, and again, for a long time,

There was no more talking.

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THE END

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(A/N: Yay, another one finished! And my first SSHG finished. Written, as I mentioned at the beginning, to be a gift for a good friend coughAlex25cough who's been attempting to convert me from DM/HG to SS/HG for months! I promised her I'd personally write her a SSHG smut fic, and this was the result. She gave me some criteria to follow- things she wanted to see included and things she didn't. The list of those criteria is at the top of Chapter 1, if you want to refresh your memory. She wrote me a fic too, also SSHG, following the criteria that I set for her- it's called "One Question Too Many" so check it out. Another big thank-you to Maureen for beta-ing this fic. Thanks to everyone who read, and double-thanks to everyone who reviewed. Um, I think that's it!)