This is the final chapter. Please leave a review if you enjoyed this story. If you did not tell me where I could improve. Please keep in mind that I am German and that sometimes my expressions might not be that brilliant though I had a wonderful beta.

Chapter 5

Severus would make sure Hermione would be his. He watched her carefully and his heart ached. She was about to become like him, leery and showing no emotions to the world. He would not let that happen; he would show her that he loved her. Would she give him another chance?

The next morning, when everybody had finished their breakfast, he wrapped Hermione's cup carefully in his handkerchief. He would need her saliva for a special potion only a few wizards knew about. If the Ministry got wind of this, he would be sent to Azkaban; this was Dark Magic, but Severus could not care less. By adding his own and her saliva, he could create an emotional link to her; the potion could be used to evoke dreams, even to impact part of these dreams and to amplify emotions. He would be able to sense her feelings and would use her dreams to convince her of his love. He did not feel guilty, though he knew it was a type of manipulation. It was easy to slip the potion into her morning tea.

Severus Snape looking at her with sad and lonely eyes, just standing and watching her there without his usual smirk or sneer...Severus' fathomless eyes looking at her, showing nothing but tenderness...Severus touching her cheek with his fingertips ever so slightly...Severus stroking her hair gently...Severus' lips brushing hers sofly...Severus murmuring sweet words in her ears... Hermione woke with a startled gasp. What strange dreams! She had had similar dreams for seven days now, each with the recurring pattern of a Severus who loved her. These dreams probably only came from her subconscious. Hermione did not believe in Divination. A few lessons with Sybil Trelawney had been sufficient to convince her that Divination was pure nonsense - but nearly the same dream seven nights in a row?

Could it be possible that Severus Snape had not deceived her? At first, she had only felt loathing and hatred for him. After their encounter in his lab, he had given her written assignments and had not spoken to her again, but he had not made any venomous or sarcastic remarks either. A chill went down her spine. What if she had been wrong? What if he had felt the same for her as she had for him? What if he had not been able to show his feelings? Hermione knew that Snape was a proud man who did not open himself up. If he had indeed reached for her, he would not try again. It had been two years since that fateful day. It was over. She tried to watch him without attracting attention. He has been a spy, for Merlin's sake, his face will not betray his emotions. You should know better, watching him will only increase the pain. Your dreams certainly do. If you were wrong and he did not want to ridicule you…he will never talk to you again. Either way you lose.

She could have managed hatred and anger, but now with the possibility that he had longed for her she was devastated. She had to get over him, had to control her emotion. Perhaps a potion could do it. Potions had been one of her favourite subjects, though Severus Snape had done his best to make sure that no one would like the subject. In her seventh year, she had read about a potion which would allow her to handle unwanted emotions. The ingredients were not too expensive; it was a relatively simple potion and not addictive.

Severus sensed her emotion; he sensed the mixture of anger, longing and the increase of desperation. Damn, that did not work the way he had hoped. He had thought these dreams would cause her to talk to him again or even to apologise, but instead she became taciturn and sad and seemed only to push her food around the plate.

Hermione put the little vial with the potion inside her cloak. More and more she felt as if she could not breathe any more in the castle. She had to get outside. The day was cold and misty, but she did not care, only pulled the cloak tightly around her and hurried outside taking the path towards the lake. She did not know how long she walked around, only that it was calm and peaceful outside. She sat down under a tree; it was wet, but she did not notice. The landscape was beautiful and sporadic snowflakes fell from the sky. If only it were so peaceful inside her! She had thought she had got over Severus Snape; it had been a delusion. She had been determined to concentrate on her career and now everywhere in her thoughts the face of Severus Snape appeared. She had to forget him! Hermione pulled the vial out of her pocket, opened the cork and swallowed the liquid hoping this would work. This was her last thought before everything went black.

Something was wrong! Irrespective of the distance between them, he had sensed her feelings for several days and something was amiss now. He looked for Hermione in the castle, but soon learned that she had left. A house-elf had seen her walking towards the lake. He had to find her!

The snow fell more closely now. It was after more than an hour later when at last Severus saw a black heap lying under a tree. It was Hermione, but she was unconscious! He tried to prop her up, tried to wake her, but it was in vain. Her hands were clutching a little vial. What had she done? He took her to Madam Pomfrey immediately, but she remained unconscious. She had been outside in the cold too long and, as Madam Pomfrey had stated, had probably not eaten anything for several days. Normally that would not have been a problem for the matron, but strangely enough, Hermione did not wake up.

She had not eaten for days, but…could there be unknown side effects of his potion he was not aware of? Or perhaps the mixture of these two potions was harmful? The rest of Hermione's potion left in the vial was quickly analysed. He knew this potion; normally it was harmless. But in this case -- she had suffered from her feelings for him but had refused to turn to him and tried to overcome them. Severus scanned the ingredients lists for the two potions and groaned; the boomslang skin together with the periwinkle and her saliva…in her weakened condition…yes, that might be the explanation, but what should he do now?

Severus had only told Madam Pomfrey that he had found Hermione Granger unconscious under a tree near the lake. Everybody had considered it a lucky coincidence. Therefore, the matron was more than astonished when he came to the infirmary later on and sat down on a chair near the bed. No one had ever seen him showing any interest in anyone else. Everything he had done as the head of Slytherin or as a spy for the Order had been done out of duty and never because of emotions like friendship or compassion. The only exception had been Albus, and he was dead now having died in the final battle. Most people considered Severus Snape a man without feelings and without a heart. They would admit grudgingly that he was an honourable man, but nothing more. Nobody liked him, and he did not like anybody. Why would he suddenly show an interest in the young Gryffindor woman?

Severus knew that his behaviour would cause speculations, but he did not care. He sat there for hours looking at Hermione, deep in his thoughts and with a transfixed face, so Madam Pomfrey did not dare to ask him why he would sit there. I ruin everything, years ago Lily... and now….I should have stayed away from her. What has happened is my fault. He had to rescue her and he did not give a damn if he risked his own life for this. The only possibility was to drink the mixed potion himself. It was risky, but the only way. Otherwise, there was a danger of her never waking up again.

Foggy, cloudy, grey...Hermione felt like drowning, as if waves of her emotions washed over her. Sometimes she seemed to reach the surface only to sink again -- happiness, despair, anger, joy, longing -- all these emotions seemed to build up in her together, not one of them gaining the upper hand. It was too much, she felt as if she could not breathe...a hand and then a face, Severus' face, Severus' voice, desperate and soft.

'Hermione, you must try to get out, try to reach my hand. It is my fault that you are here, but I love you. It was no lie. I love you. I want you. Come with me, take my hand.'

She took his hand and her feelings changed. She felt safe and she...

...woke. When Hermione opened her eyes, she saw Severus sitting at her bedside and he was indeed holding her hand. Seeing the relief in his eyes and the flash of his smile, she murmured, "Severus..." Then she closed her eyes again, but this time it was different. She was exhausted and her body was craving sleep. When she woke, Severus Snape was still sitting at her bedside. She did not know what had happened, only that she had fainted and that Severus had drawn her out of her unconsciousness. Remembering his words, she flushed.

"Severus, was it a dream or did you really say...?" She halted. What if it had been the usual dream of the days before?

His smile faltered and there was a flicker of pain in his eyes as he tensed. "Miss Granger, I see that you are well again. At last, I can get back to my normal tasks. Please try not to faint when you take your next walk or at least try not to bother me." Then he rose abruptly and left.

Hermione lay there her mind racing. After Snape had left, Madam Pomfrey had told her that he had found her unconscious under a tree and that they had tried to wake her. Eventually he returned with a potion, but drank it himself. Then he had reached for her hand, murmuring something. Now Hermione was awake. Madam Pomfrey did not know anything else; Professor Snape had not told her what was going on. She was still puzzled that Professor Snape had sat at Hermione's bed for hours.

There was not doubt that Severus Snape did not want further contact with Hermione. He had shown no reaction at her question, had rather been rude. Yet, it could not have been a dream due to what Madam Pomfrey had told her. He had talked to her and he had told her that he loved her, but why would he deny it now?

Severus sat at his desk in his office grading papers. It was late at night. He scribbled his usual sarcastic comments on the essays, not really paying attention to what he was doing. He had been relieved when Hermione had regained consciousness, but now he felt petrified. He blinked, and a silent tear fell from his cheek. It is my fault that this happened. It was my wish to possess her and to control her. I ruined and destroyed her life as I have always destroyed everything that has value. There is no need to look for dark sides in me -- everything is darkness. There are no second chances, at least not for me. How shall I go on? Why shall I even go on? Severus rose.

There was a small bottle, hidden in the back of his storeroom. He had brewed it years ago, shortly before he had turned to Albus Dumbledore in despair. He had not intended to become a spy; he had wanted to end his life. With trembling fingers, he took the dusty bottle out of the rack. It was a most complex potion, the Potion of no Return and he had invented it himself. There was no antidote, and it was untraceable. Albus had made him promise not to use it, but Albus was dead now. Severus would have twenty minutes to dispose of the bottle away before the potion would begin to take effect. When he would be found, it would look like a heart attack. He did not want any rumours and did not want Hermione to know.

Hermione lay in the darkness. The turmoil of her emotion had finally subsided, but now she felt something else -- desperation and self-loathing. Finally she realised these were not her own emotions. Severus! Something must have happened so she could sense his feelings! The potion! She had to get to him. Hermione threw a nightgown over her nightshirt and sneaked towards the Dungeons. She knocked at his office but heard no sound. Should she return? Turning the doorknob carefully she opened the door in increments. Severus' wards were down and the office was dark and empty. Hermione hesitated. She knew the other door led to his personal chambers, but she had never been there. What if something were wrong? The need to know compelled her and she pushed the door open entering the room. In the dim light of a single candle, she saw the dark figure of Severus Snape sitting at the desk, staring at a little vial before him. What was he about to do?

She uttered a startled gasp. Severus raised his head and looked at her for a long time. Finally, he cleared his throat. "What are you doing here, Miss Granger?" he snarled. "There is no justification for invading my personal quarters. I want to be alone and would be grateful if you left immediately. If you just wanted to thank me, I assure you, there is no need. It was a mere coincidence that I could be of help and had the right potion. Please go back to the infirmary at once." He could hear how trite that sounded and her reaction was what he should have expected: her voice desperate but determined.

"Severus, I am no fool, I see what you are about to do. I am not playing games. I know what I have heard was no dream. Is it true what you told me?

"Miss Granger, you are completely wrong in your assumptions. I would have told you anything to get you back out of your coma. Obviously, it helped, and that is what counts. Though it contradicts your Gryffindor code of honor, it worked. You were right in assuming that we have nothing in common and that the two people who wrote each other as pen pals did not survive reality. Just get out, Miss Granger, "Severus replied coldly and rose to guide her to the door.

"Don't Miss Granger me! I don't believe you. Why did you sit at my bed for hours? I saw your eyes, don't lie to me!"

"What do you want to hear?" Severus suddenly roared, "That it was my fault you fell in that state, because I slipped you an illegal potion to enter and control your dreams! That you may have stayed in that coma forever! That I poison and corrupt everything and everyone! That I wanted to make sure you would be mine! That I wanted to possess you, was afraid to lose you again! That I love you! Tactics have ruled my whole life -- the Slytherin ability for deceit is part of me. If you needed proof that it is better to stay away from me, that's it!" He grabbed her violently by her wrists and shook her. Quickly, he released her, disgusted by himself. "Even if you feel something for me, I don't deserve to be loved. As I said, just go," he whispered his voice filled with bitterness. He closed his eyes leaning his forehead against the wall, until he felt her hand on his arm.

"No, Severus, I won't go. Please look at me. I need you and I won't let you go. I thought you lied to me. Please forgive me. I want you, only you. There is no need to deserve my love. I did not choose to love you measuring the advantages and disadvantages. It happened. Our love is all that counts now."

He turned around. Hermione had never see the Potions master cry and was startled to see tears in his eyes. She had often seen him after Voldemort's summoning, worn, tired and hurt, but she had never seen such despair in his face. He looked so beaten, so broken.

"Hermione, obviously I am meant to remain alone. I am not the man you wrote to, I am not the man you met in Cornwall, I am nothing but darkness. The man I presented to you in our letters, he does not exist. You have known the real Severus Snape for years, the mean and manipulative man. I will not change. That is the way I am. You deserve better. Please go," he said in a low hopeless voice.

"Severus, I fell in love with you knowing who you are. My false conclusions led to this disaster. But I love you, I really love you. You are the man I want to talk to, you are the man I want to fight with, you are the only man who has ever made me feel," she pleaded tears welling from her eyes.

Could it be true? He had no experience in matters of the heart. Severus had never let anybody in. He had tried to extend the way he lead his life – the will of power and control - to his love for Hermione. Was this really love? Suddenly, he felt uncertain. But when he thought of her leaving his life, he felt a pain in his heart. He had told her to leave, but he knew he wanted her, wanted her to share his life.

He raised his hand and touched her cheek carefully and tenderly. Despite her words, he was unsure. But she met his gaze and then leaned in his touch, closing her eyes. He drew her near holding her tightly. For a few moments, they stood unmoving only listening to the heartbeat of one another.
Then Hermione raised her tearstained face up to Severus. "I could not have borne it if I had come too late. When the dreams began I dared to hope and fear at the same time that you love me and I knew for sure when I woke up in the infirmary, though you tried to push me away."

Severus looked in her eyes. She loved him and she was right. Their love was all what counted now.
Two wasted years because of their misunderstanding! "Hermione, I will never let you go again," he whispered and stroked her hair. "When I realised that you were Catherine I wanted to earn your love and trust, wanted to make up for all I had done to you in the past. I should have told you that I love you. Then you left and I thought that I had lost you for good. Seeing the change in you when you came back was torturous for me. I saw that you were about to become like me. I made wrong choices in my youth, which led to a path I have never really been able to leave. My distrustful personality is part of that. I received no love and had no love to give. I was afraid that you would make the same mistake. For me, it is too late to change, but not for you."

Hermione saw the silent plea in his eyes and replied, "Then love me, Severus, love me." Looking at the man she loved, Hermione was overwhelmed to see the tenderness in his face. The harsh lines she had seen for the past few weeks had disappeared. When she touched him, her skin tingled. The sensation she had felt two years ago had not faded -- on the contrary. And he was hers; this man who was considered ugly, cold and heartless made her shiver from passion.

"Do you know how I have dreamt of this moment?" Severus caressed Hermione's face and traced her lips with his fingers, revelling in the sensation of touching her. She was in his arms; his dream had become reality. He tilted her face up to him and kissed her lips softly. At first, it was only a careful brush against her lips, but then all his pent-up feelings broke free and his lips cupped hers forcefully. He felt her warmth, her softness, and the pleasure of her breasts against his chest. Severus breathed heavily. She was so beautiful, her face flushed and her hair dishevelled! She was all a man could want and he would show her how he loved her.


The prissy old maid in the portrait in Severus' bedroom was not amused and glanced over her glasses indignantly. Her great great nephew had brought a woman into his bedroom. Adelina Prince had always been so proud of him. He was studious, did not smoke, did not drink and, up to now, he had been so prudent not to deal with women. Severus was one of the few decent men she knew and now…Brought the woman in his bedroom was a shocking understatement. They had stumbled into the room, knocked over the lamp and had fallen on the bed. They had not even taken the time to fold their clothing neatly on a chair, but had dropped it everywhere on the floor. In the morning, the robes would be completely wrinkled. This woman had torn open Severus' shirt and the buttons had flown in all directions! Oh, she had heard of such behaviour. It was called passion nowadays, but no decent woman would ever behave like that. Poor Severus! Then again, he had seemed to enjoy it. Instead of getting it over with quickly, they had – she dared not even think the word – for hours on the bed. The bed had been a mess and they had become entangled in the sheets. That must have been the reason why they had moved to the floor.

She had never seen Severus sleeping in anything else than his simple grey nightshirts and now he lay sprawled naked over the bed. That was, yes, shocking though she had to admit that he had a nice... erhm…He was lean, perhaps a little too thin; she had always told him to eat more, the good boy. When Severus turned around on the bed, the old witches' face flushed to a magenta colour. He was definitely not lean everywhere. No, that was nothing she would endure for another night. Adelina Prince closed her eyes; she was a reputable woman. She was really very disappointed with her great great nephew and would ask him to hang her portrait in the living-room -- or better yet -- into the kitchen the next morning! Well, maybe not immediately. Adelina opened one eye carefully and peeped at Severus: The boy looked happy -- everywhere. Perhaps this woman was not that bad for him.

When Minerva McGonagall announced the engagement of Severus Snape and Hermione Granger in the Great Hall, a leaden silence fell upon the audience until some of the students and the colleagues regained their presence of mind and applauded. The wedding would take place as soon as Severus and Hermione decided they had wasted enough time.

Severus Snape was stunned when he learned about Minerva McGonagall's reaction to his and Hermione's engagement. Not only did she accept it but welcomed it. "You are the only man I know who will appreciate her intelligence," she said, and Severus understood. This had been something Minerva had been denied in her youth; this had been the reason why she had remained unmarried.

Severus inclined his head and replied, "I appreciate that Hermione has chosen you as her maid of honour." Minerva raised her eyebrow in a manner that was worthy of a Snape and smiled.

"Severus, you have to be careful, you may spoil your reputation with such compliments," she replied, winking.

Harry and Ron had, to put it mildly, been shocked by the invitation to Hermione's wedding. They reproached her how she could marry such a git who had made their life miserable during their whole time at Hogwarts and had never found a kind word for her. Surely, she could find a better husband. Hermione had only lifted her chin belligerently and stated fiercely that they had no right to interfere with her decision and had asked where they had been during the past few years that they felt they could judge her life. Finally, she had made it clear that if Harry and Ron refused to listen to reason, they could stay away from the wedding. But that would be their decision.

It was only a small ceremony. Harry and Ron had finally come around. Hermione was pleased to have her companions of so many years with her, but she had only eyes for her real best friend, her husband Severus Snape. When Severus looked at his bride, he was sure marriage would not be easy for the two of them. Maybe Gryffindors and Slytherins would always need an interpreter. He was sure he would always try to be possessive and to gain the upper hand, but she would teach him and he would let her. She would be the stronger one in their relationship and perhaps this would not be that bad at all.

Hermione Granger radiated happiness. Nothing reminded anyone of the austere woman she had been for the past two years. If the students had hoped that marriage would soften their Potions master too, they were soon proven wrong. Snape remained the terror of Hogwarts only his malevolency gone. He was, well, he was as severe as ever. Most of the students were still startled and failed to see how any woman could marry their dreaded Potions master; he was sour, sullen and a woman had to be blind to find him handsome.

Then again, Hermione Granger Snape was Gryffindor, and Gryffindors had always been famous for their bravery.