Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling. Wait… Lemme check… nope. Still just me.

Thanks go to the wonderful SouthernWitch69 for simply rocking my socks. And for beta reading, of course.

SB's Notes: So here it finally is––and thee thousand words longer than I'd originally written. That's why this chapter took longer to post than the others. I did some adding and rewriting to make this as sexy and fun as it is. Hopefully it's worth the wait!

Sold and Satisfied

Hermione went through the remainder of her day filled with curiosity. She didn't know what Severus was going to say to her, but she hoped it was something good.

And this Bachelor Auction… how was it possible she hadn't known about it? Had she been so caught up in everything with Severus that she hadn't heard about it? Had there been flyers up that she just hadn't noticed? And why hadn't Severus mentioned it? Maybe he'd just forgotten about it in the midst of everything… That was possible.

One thing was for sure; she didn't like the idea of some other woman bidding for and winning a date with him. Quite a few questions ran through her mind. She'd just have to ask him about it. She gave a sigh and focused on her teaching, knowing there was no point in dwelling on it until she'd heard whatever Severus was going to tell her.

A few hours later, she was fidgeting around her quarters restlessly, waiting for him to arrive. When he knocked on her door, she opened it almost immediately.

"Hello," she said a bit worriedly.

"May I come in?" he asked, an inscrutable expression in his eyes.

She nodded and stepped aside. He came in and turned to her, looking a bit nervous himself, which made her all the more nervous, wondering what had him uneasy.

She swallowed, just wanting everything to be in the open. "What is it you wanted to tell me, Severus?"

"Well, I––perhaps we should sit down."

"Please, whatever it is, just tell me," she said.

He paused for a moment, looking deep into her eyes, then nodded. "Hermione, last night, when you asked me how I felt about you, I wasn't honest. I am… unpracticed when it comes to being open about my emotions, and your question caught me off guard. I told you that I care for you very much, and that was not an honest answer."

Hermione stilled completely, her breath caught in her chest.

"I don't just care for you. I…" He took a step closer. With an earnest expression, he said, "Hermione, I'm in love with you. I love you."

Hermione just stood there, her eyes wide.

"I should have told you when you asked me last night, and I was afraid I had hurt you when I didn't. I wanted to tell you. It was just that this has all happened so fast, and I am, once again, out of my depth. I've never… felt this way before. I wanted to say it when you asked me, but I couldn't."

Hermione finally cleared her throat. "Are you sure…?" she began hoarsely.

"That I'm in love with you?" he asked. "Yes, I am."


He began to look a bit uncomfortable again. "We said we'd be honest with one another, and I wasn't. Will you give me another chance? Can we… start over?"

The sight of Severus Snape looking so unsure and vulnerable suddenly made this all very real to Hermione. She couldn't help but smile and chuckle a bit as a wave of realization at what he'd just said swept over her, as well as the awareness that he was just as insecure about all this as she was. She couldn't have been happier. Her relief was tangible.

"There's no need to start over, Severus. I wouldn't give up the time we've had together, been together, for anything. Thank you for telling me the truth."

He relaxed, and she stepped forward so that he could wrap his arms around her. He did, and she smiled into his shoulder as he rested his chin against her neck and rubbed her back.

Inside, he felt his chest tighten. He'd told her he loved her, and she hadn't thrown it back in his face. She hadn't returned the words, but she didn't have to. It was quite clear from last night that she felt the way he did. She'd tell him when she was ready; he was sure.

They stood there like that for quite a while, each feeling relief and contentment. "Now, about this Bachelor Auction," Severus finally said.

Hermione leaned back a bit so she could look at him. "Yes, about that. Is there any particular reason why you didn't mention it?"

He shook his head. "I honestly forgot about it with… everything."

"Are you still going to be in it? Even though you're not… a bachelor?"

"Unfortunately I don't have a choice," he sighed. "I've already agreed to it and signed a magically binding contract. The Headmaster insists that I am a bachelor, as I am not married."

"Ah," Hermione said. "Well, I suppose you'll just have to go through with it then."

"Hermione, please believe that I have no desire to… If there were a way out of this, I'd take it."

"I know. It's all right. Once you've signed a contract, there is no way out. You'll just have to fulfill the terms."

He cringed. The last thing he wanted was to spend an evening with some woman when Hermione was somewhere waiting for him. Then his previous idea came to him again. "You know, you could bid for me," he said quietly.

"Wouldn't that sort of defeat the purpose of the auction?"

"Why would it?"

"Well, I mean, the objective of the whole thing is to raise as much money as possible for the school, I assume," she said.

He nodded.

"Nobody's going to bother to bid for you if they know your girlfriend is determined to win. Why would they? It would be a waste of time. I'd get you for practically free, and then where would the school be?"

"I don't care where the school would be," he groused. "I don't want to be purchased by some desperate woman."

Hermione chuckled. "But I don't want to spend money to win you when I already have you."

He looked pained. "Hermione…" He dropped all pretense of dignity. "I'll pay."


"I'll pay for––me. Whatever it costs. Just don't let someone else win."

Hermione laughed. "I don't know, Severus," she said, deciding to tease him a bit. "I don't see what the big problem is. I'll admit that when I thought about it earlier, the idea of you with some other woman bothered me, but that was because I was so unsure about how you felt towards me. Now I know I have nothing to worry about."

He grunted something irritably. "So you're saying you won't bid for me, even if I pay?"

She chuckled again. "I'll think about it, Severus, but it won't be the end of the world if I don't. You'll have me when it's over. One evening out to dinner with another woman won't change anything between us."

He sighed and closed his eyes in resignation, and she took that opportunity to lean forward and kiss him. He was surprised only for a moment before he returned with fervor, the auction all but forgotten as he tasted her warmth.

He felt his whole body sigh as Hermione sucked gently on his lower lip, and he tightened his hold on her. He'd missed this. It had only been a day, but Merlin help him, he loved kissing her.

She ran her fingers through his hair, tucking several strands behind his ear, and pulled his forehead down to rest against hers. "Do you want to stay for dinner?" she asked, running her fingers up and down his arms in a way that almost made him shiver with pleasure. "We could have something light, then have the whole evening to ourselves… getting reacquainted."

He groaned, already feeling the beginnings of an erection. "Yes, that sounds wonderful…" He tilted his head to kiss her again and cursed as he realized her wonderful idea was not going to be possible. "Damn it!"

Hermione pulled back. "What is it?" she asked, looking worried.

"I have to go to Hogsmeade for the evening."

"What? Why?"

"For a fitting," he almost spat. His distaste and frustration were evident as he went on. "A proviso of that contract is that I have to participate in any preparation for the event that the Headmaster or the Planning Committee deem necessary."

Hermione sighed and moved away, looking resigned and disappointed. "All right," she said.

Severus wanted to yank her back against him and pick up where they'd left off, but he knew he couldn't.

"Will you, can you, come back after?" she asked.

"I'll try," he said. "If it's not too late, I will."

"Severus, I don't care how late it is. I… I want to be with you," she said quietly. "After everything––we've waited long enough."

Severus' mouth went dry. He opened it to agree whole-heartedly with her, but no sound came out. He closed it again and nodded, thinking that he'd do whatever it took to return to her after his fitting––that they'd be shagging already if it wasn't for this blasted auction––and making a mental note to hex Dumbledore at the first available opportunity.

He cleared his throat finally. "I must go. The Headmaster is waiting. I'll come back tonight."

She nodded and kissed him lingeringly. "I'll wait."

He gave her arm a squeeze and tore himself away from her, grumbling something as he went.

Once he was gone, Hermione took a seat on her sofa and smiled. He loved her. After so long of wanting him and loving him, of thinking he'd never think of her that way, he loved her. She felt very lucky.

And tonight, finally, they were going to be together. They'd wanted each other for weeks now––well, she'd been wanting him, and if his obvious erection before he'd left was any indication, he'd been wanting her.

She wanted tonight to be perfect.

Severus barely made it through his evening in Hogsmeade without cursing someone.

He'd arrived at Gladrags Wizardwear to find a shop full of bachelors of varying shapes, sizes, and ages, several members of the Planning Committee––each carrying a clipboard and looking rather self-important—the staff of the shop, and Albus Dumbledore.

The Headmaster waved at Severus the moment he made it into the overcrowded shop. He motioned him over, and Severus pushed his way through a group of talkative wizards who apparently had less of a problem with being sold to the highest bidder than he did.

"Everything went well, I hope?" Dumbledore said as Severus reached his side.

"Yes," he grumbled, "well enough."

Dumbledore beamed. "I'm glad to hear that, Severus. The two of you deserve to be happy."

"I don't suppose you'd reverse the contract by way of congratulations…"

Dumbledore just gave him an indulgent pat on the back and called over the nearest tailor. Soon, Severus was lost in a sea of tape measures and hurried Committee members who wouldn't have given a moment's notice to his protests had he chosen to voice them. But he hadn't. By this time he'd given in. Even the glare he gave the tailor who made him spread his feet and measured his inseam was half-hearted.

By the time he'd been fitted and sent on his way with instructions to come back for his new robes at ten the next morning, it was late in the evening. He was about to leave, thinking he couldn't get to Hermione soon enough, but the Headmaster signaled him over and told him that they'd all be heading to the Three Broomsticks for drinks, where they'd be given more information about what exactly they'd have to do in the auction.

Severus groaned, but made his way to the pub.

Once through the door, he was spotted immediately. "Severus!" Remus Lupin called, motioning him over. "Have a drink with us!"

Severus looked around Lupin's table to see whom the man meant by us and groaned again. He scanned the room for another place to sit, but it seemed every other booth and table was full. It appeared he'd be enduring the company of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Neville Longbottom instead of returning to the castle and salvaging what was left of the evening in Hermione's arms.

"Severus," Lupin said as Severus took a seat, "I was just telling these gentlemen how surprised I was to find out you'd be participating in the auction.

Severus felt his body tense in alarm as he took in Lupin's accusatory smirk. That bastard had better not out his relationship with Hermione. His lips thinned as he said, "And why would that be, Lupin?"

Weasley laughed and elbowed Potter. "Yeah, I was wondering that myself. Not much point in being up there when no one's going to bid for you, right, Harry?"

Severus scowled. Weasley obviously hadn't followed where Lupin was going, but his jabs were unwelcome nonetheless. "Listen, Weasley. I had no desire to be a part of this, but you can be sure I––"

"Will your, ah, girlfriend be bidding for you then?" Lupin asked.

Severus turned a contemptuous glare to him, and Lupin only smirked again.

"Girlfriend?" Potter asked with a raised eyebrow.

"He has a girlfriend?" Weasley echoed. Then after a long, unflattering pause –– "Who'd go out with him?"

If you only knew, Weasley. Severus came very close to informing them both exactly who was more than willing to go out with him, but he took another look at the smug expression on Lupin's face and realized that was exactly what the bastard wanted.

Nice try, werewolf. Instead, Severus smirked. "For your information, Lupin," he said smoothly, "I brought that very concern to the Headmaster. He insisted that as I am not married, I am still technically a bachelor. I'm afraid I have no choice but to participate, much as I would rather not."

"You're serious?" Potter said with his eyes wide. "He's actually dating a woman?"

Severus' patience was wearing thin.

"Well," Remus said, "I'm not sure that much dating actually goes on, but yes, he's seeing someone."

"Who?" asked a gaping Weasley.

Severus' nostrils flared at Lupin's comment. Hermione had told him that Lupin had overheard their scene at breakfast that morning two weeks ago. He'd wondered about how long they should go on keeping their relationship private when it was bound to get out the moment Lupin saw that there was nothing in it for him to keep it quiet. They had tacitly decided that it was best to wait to notify the public until they were secure enough together for the scorn they would meet not to bother them, but at this point, it didn't matter.

There was no way in hell he was going to sit here and let that bastard demean what he had with Hermione. He glared right at him with disdain, ignoring the other occupants of the table as he hissed, "How dare you cheapen my relationship with her? You know nothing about it."

Lupin glared back. "I know what I heard at the breakfast table, Snape, and I know that the two of you spend almost every night together, yet neither of you has openly acknowledged your relationship. Now why would that be?"

Severus wanted to break the man's neck. "Listen, Lupin," he said dangerously, "if you ever make her feel ashamed of this, something you have no understanding of, make no mistake, I'll take it personally."

"Don't worry, Severus––I have no desire to hurt her. You, on the other hand––I can't figure out what you want with her, other than the obvious."

Severus swelled with loathing. "She means more to me than you could ever know, you bastard."

"Right. If she means so much to you, explain why her best friends don't even know you're together."

"I don't owe you an explanation. When we're ready to tell her friends, they'll know, and nothing they or anyone else has to say about it will matter to us."

Severus glared around at the friends in question and noted that they'd been following every word with fascination.

"So who is it?" Potter asked Lupin.

"Yeah, who's he shagging?" Weasley pressed eagerly.

"Weasley!" Severus roared, but was cut off from giving the redhead hell for referring to Hermione so disgustingly when Dumbledore's voice rose above the chatter in the room.

"Good Evening, gentlemen!" he said. "I, on behalf of Hogwarts and the Planning Committee for the event, would once again like to thank you all for agreeing to give up your time to be a part of this."

Several cheers rang through the pub, telling Severus that many of the men were desperate enough not to be bothered by the whole idea––or too drunk to care.

Dumbledore smiled. "I shall now tell you all how the auction will go tomorrow. You are all to pick up your new robes from Gladrags tomorrow at your scheduled times. The Committee has asked me to have you all in the Great Hall, dressed and ready, by 5:30 tomorrow evening. The dinner will begin at six and will end at seven. At that time, you must all go to the room that we'll have sectioned off for you on the side of the stage to wait while your fellow bachelors are being auctioned. There will be a list there of the order in which you'll be bid for.

"When your name is announced, you will take your place on the stage and give your best gentlemanly smiles while the lovely ladies in attendance bid for you."

Lovely ladies indeed, Severus thought with a roll of his eyes.

"Now, when the auction is over, the lady who has purchased you will join you on the stage and inform you of how and when you will be spending your evening with her. Once she has, you will be free to go for the night. Thank you all, once again, for your participation, and I hope you enjoy yourselves!"

Severus took that moment to get up and leave as quickly as possible. He had no intention of hanging around to continue the insulting conversation with the other men. Hermione was waiting for him, and he could think of nothing that he wanted more than to be with her just then, to feel her and know that what they had was real.

And he could only pray that she'd find it in her heart to bid for him.

As he made his way back to Hogwarts, first by Apparition and then by foot once he'd reached the gates, he found himself smiling. Despite the irritation of the auction and its other participants, Severus couldn't hold on to his negative feelings for long with the thoughts of Hermione and what they were finally going to do enveloping his consciousness.

The closer he got to her door, the more vivid his imagination became, and therefore, the harder his cock and the quicker his steps. He thought about what she might be wearing, how she would smell, taste, the smile she would give him. Had she been thinking about it like he had?

He took a deep breath and knocked on her door softly, restraining himself from leaning forward and pressing his ear to the door to hear what she was doing.

After a pause, which he filled by quickly adjusting his robes so that his erection was less obvious, Hermione opened the door, and Severus sucked in a breath.

She was wearing a chiffon nightgown in a cream color that was nothing special but for the fact that it was nearly sheer enough to leave nothing to the imagination. Severus couldn't help but look around jealously as he stepped into her sitting room to make sure no one else had caught a glimpse of what was for him.

He looked at her again once the door was safely closed behind him, this time with hunger. He almost let out a growl as he took her in and noticed that he could see outlines of her nipples through her gown. He took an involuntary step closer to her, and she took a step back, giving him the smile he'd imagined on his way here.

He raised his eyebrows as he met her gaze. So, she wanted to play games, did she?

"Are you hungry?" she asked.

Actually, he was, but his stomach wasn't the most pressing of matters at the moment.

"Hermione," he said in a low voice, "the food can wait." He took another step towards her, and this time she didn't back way. His fingers wrapped around her arms, and he pulled her closer, leaning his head down to take in her scent. Yes, just as he'd imagined––sweet, a bit tangy, her.

He couldn't resist; his tongue darted out to taste the smooth skin where her shoulder met her neck. She shivered against him so slightly he wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been paying such close attention. He pulled back enough to look at her and found her eyes closed. He released his hold on her arms, and she wrapped them reflexively around his neck, leaning into him.

He dragged his fingers down her sides, enjoying the feel of the fabric and the way it slid against the skin underneath. His hands finally came to rest on her hips, his fingertips curving around to rest on her bum.

"Hermione," he said a bit hoarsely, close to sensory overload. Her eyes flickered open, and she smiled again, leaning forward to press soft, open kisses to the small expanse of pale skin visible above the high collar of his robes. He tilted his head back to give her better access, tightening his grip on her arse and bunching the fabric in his fists.

He pulled her against his groin, trying to relieve some of the pressure in his cock, which had long since escaped the waistband he'd quickly tried to tuck it into back in the corridor. It was now pressing into her abdomen, hard and insistent, and she gave him what he needed, shifting her hips from side to side, rubbing against him. He groaned, tilting his head down to finally capture her eager mouth.

She moaned into his mouth as his tongue darted past her lips, and Severus thought it was the sweetest sound. It hit him then that this was really going to happen. She was here, and he was here. They wanted each other, and there was nothing to stop them. Knowing that made it a bit easier not to rush.

He released his grip on her backside and took her hand instead. "The bedroom?"

She nodded with a soft smile and led him to her bedroom. Once through the door, Severus looked around and was not surprised to find that this room was very much like his own but for the coloring. Where he had earth tones––browns and greens––to color his living space, she had deep blues and off-whites.

His appraisal of her decorating preferences, though, was lackadaisical at best. He was far more interested in the woman in front him.

She looked at him a bit nervously, but still with a smile. "So," she said, "I wanted this to be perfect, but I wasn't sure how to make it so. This isn't really my area of expertise––lovemaking."

A thought occurred to Severus, and his eyes widened. "You're not… a… you're not a––"

"Virgin? No, I'm not. But I'm not very experienced, I'm afraid. Not very practiced in setting up a sensual experience. I didn't know if candles or music would be appropriate, so I just decided the nightgown and my own charms would have to be enough."

She gave him a sly smile, and Severus smirked, glad that she hadn't had the necessary experience to make her an expert.

"But," she went on, "I do want this to special, good for both of us." As she said it, her voice lowered, and she slowly slid the straps of her gown off her shoulders, backing toward the bed. "I may not know much about seduction, but I think I can figure it out as I go along."

Severus made a hoarse noise, more aroused by this simple sight than was probably reasonable. For someone as inexperienced as she was, he thought, she sure knew how to push all the right buttons. His appreciation of her sensual show came to a crescendo as she made a shimmying motion and all in one movement, her gown slid down her body to pile on the floor, suddenly leaving her in nothing but a skimpy, cream-colored pair of knickers.

Severus' mouth watered as he looked her over, frozen where he stood. "Good God, Hermione," he said in a choked voice.

She just smiled at him. "As I said, I'm not very experienced, but I have a feeling that I know what you like, what you want. Do you like it when I do this?" She moved her hands to her skin and cupped her breasts, blushing a bit as she ran her fingers over her nipples.

Severus could only stare, thought deserting him.

"That's what I thought," she said. He stood transfixed as she turned around, her back to him, and his breath, again, froze in his chest as he stared at her bare arse and the tiny scrap of fabric that was the back of her knickers.

His cock was trying to punch a hole in his pants, and it became rather obvious to him as she bent over the bed provocatively to climb onto it that he was quite overdressed. He spelled the laces on his boots loose and kicked them off, his socks going with them. He made short work of his robes, unbuttoning the collar and simply pulling the whole thing up and over his head. He thanked himself for not having worn anything but his cotton pants underneath, all the while watching Hermione's shapely arse as she crawled up the bed.

When she turned around, she let out a gasp of surprise at his state of undress, which quickly turned to appreciation as her eyes scanned his body, finally coming to rest on his blatantly tented shorts. She smirked and met his eyes as she leaned back against the headboard. "Looks like I'm doing something right."

Severus still had no words. He moved forward in a daze, prowling his way up the bed to kneel on all fours over her, and she giggled as he bent his head to nip at her naked breasts.

His lean muscles felt good under her fingers, and she loved the way his body tensed up in arousal as she touched him.

He tongued her nipple gently, and she let out a low moan, holding his head in her hands. She pulled him up for a kiss, threading her fingers through his hair for a moment before scooting her body down underneath him and trailing her fingers down his torso until she reached the waistband of his cotton shorts.

"Hermione," he managed to say as she dragged them over his hips. He helped her by kicking them off, and she took her first look at his completely naked body… and liked what she saw. Her eyes took him in hungrily, her fingers following her gaze wherever it roamed on his body, until both her stare and fingers found his straining cock.

His body tensed again as she stroked him the way she knew he liked. "Severus?"

He grunted in response, his eyes rolling back in his head and his arms and legs barely holding his weight. She made a noise that suggested both amusement and arousal, and he opened his eyes to look her over again. She still had her knickers on, but that was a problem he would shortly remedy.

He leaned back on his haunches, his cock slipping out of her grasp. He felt the loss of contact sharply, and it made him hurry all the more to loop his thumbs under the band of her knickers and pull. "Up," he said.

She arched her hips off the bed long enough for him to get her underwear off her and toss them behind him somewhere. He was finally staring at her in all her glory, and glorious she was. And she was beneath him, ready for him. She was for him.

He couldn't help but be a little in awe of this lovely creature who wanted him. Hermione… He spread her legs and knelt between them, scooting closer to her until his cock rested against her center. He pulled her up against him and latched his mouth onto hers, wanting to be as close to her as possible in this moment, unable to get enough of her, even though he was about to have all of her.

She returned his kiss, her breathing and heart rate speeding up to match his as he rubbed his groin against hers. It wasn't enough; she needed more. She reached between them again and grasped his shaft, moving it a bit so that its head rested again her throbbing clit. She leaned her head back and moaned as the first electric shock pulsed through her.

Severus held his breath as she used his cock to rub tiny circles against her pleasure button. Great Merlin… she was using him to bring herself off. "Oh, God…" he groaned as his cock twitched. The thought that a woman, Hermione, was using his penis to masturbate was damn near the most erotic thing he could conceive of.

He wanted to be inside her, but this was good, too––her hand sliding up and down his shaft as she ground herself against him, her little fingers squeezing with just the right amount of pressure. She was moaning and gasping now, and he couldn't help but thrust in time with her, his eyes glued to where his cock met her tiny, pink clit.

He could tell she was going to come soon, and he wanted her to finish––partly because he loved to watch her orgasm and partly because he didn't know how long he was going to last once he was inside her. She didn't disappoint him. Her moans became harsh breaths sucked in desperately as she reached for the edge; her face twisted as if in agony, and her mouth dropped open.

Severus watched her sex in fascination as he felt it pulse hard against his cock, flushed in an even deeper pink as it swelled. And then she cried out brokenly as she came, her hand squeezing him almost tightly enough to hurt as she rubbed as hard as she could, trying to get as much pleasure as was possible. Severus thought she was the most magnificent thing he'd ever seen, and the way she chanted his name as she released his shaft and fell back onto the bed was almost enough to push him over the edge with her.

He couldn't help himself as he spread her legs wide, pushed her knees high, positioned himself at her entrance, and sunk into heaven.

"Fuck…" he moaned, clenching himself to keep from coming. He held himself perfectly still inside her, afraid to even breathe, until the urge to ejaculate passed. He opened his eyes again, and his heart thudded hard in his chest at the way she was smiling at him.

"You look perfect like that," she whispered, and he couldn't agree more. To him, she looked perfect––naked, flushed, and his.

He leaned forward and gave her a wet and slightly messy, but heartfelt, kiss as she wrapped her legs around his hips, anchoring him to her.

He released her mouth and rested his weight on his elbows and forearms, tucking his hands under her shoulders as she reached her arms around him.

His first stroke caught her perfectly, and she sucked in a breath.

He thrust again, this time deeper. "Good?" he asked, barely keeping a hold on reality.

"Yesss," she hissed, and they quickly found a rhythm.

His strokes were measured, coming in a controlled pace to keep him from losing it, but when she began crying out softly with every thrust and dragged her fingernails across his arse, his tightly controlled rhythm broke like a dam, and he let his passion take over. His desire to pace himself and draw out the experience melted in her heat––until the overwhelming need to simply fuck her as hard as he could, to possess her and drown in her, remained.

He pounded into her over and over, gasping hard with each thrust. Gods, being inside her… this felt better than anything ever had. He could have been happy spending the rest of forever sliding in and out of her heat if he hadn't needed to come so badly.

Hermione watched in awe as droplets of sweat ran down his neck and fell onto her. The expression on his face was one of pure bliss, and she loved it––loved that she was the one making him feel that way.

She was going to come again––she could feel it. She had not thought she would be able to, but the reality of finally having him inside her was adding to the pleasure his thrusts were giving her, and she could feel it building. Just a little more…

"Oh, God, Severus… Don't stop… don't––I'm almost… there… again––ah!" And with that, she shattered beneath him and around him. Severus slowed down to a halt as she came gripping him like a vise.

"Hermione…" he moaned as her mouth fell open again, her face frozen and her eyes locked to his.

Her head finally fell back with a thud that would have hurt if they hadn't been on a bed, and she released a forceful breath as her body relaxed.

Severus couldn't have stopped himself if he'd wanted to. Her inner muscles were still fluttering deliciously as he quickly resumed his previous pace.

Hermione stared up at him, now aware enough to listen to the words he was muttering with his gasps.

"So… good––so… fucking… good…"

Hermione was amazed. She'd never seen a man so unrestrained, so ardent––and this was Severus, her Severus.

"Uhn, Hermione, Mione, need to come, now… fuck!… need… a bit more…"

His muttering was mesmerizing to her, and she wanted to help him. He was almost there––she could tell. She tightened herself around his shaft experimentally, and her eyes widened when he let out a roar and every muscle in his body locked above her. She felt warmth flood into her, proof that he'd come.

Severus thought he'd died and gone to heaven as his orgasm overtook him and his seed rushed into her, each pulse feeling like liquid fire as it flowed through his cock. He shuddered and moaned as he managed to give a final few, weak thrusts, then collapsed all his weight unceremoniously on top of Hermione with a heavy sigh.

Pleasant lethargy filled his limbs, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. Hermione held him close, not protesting his weight at all. She pressed kisses to his face, and he smiled exhaustedly.

That had been unbelievable, more than anything he had ever imagined, and he knew as he opened his eyes and looked into hers that he would never, ever let her go.

He regained enough strength to roll off her, get them under the covers, and spell the lights off wandlessly. He pulled her against him, reveling in everything they'd just experienced together. The words came to his lips, and he didn't stop them. It felt right to tell her.

"I love you," he murmured into her hair and felt her sigh, snuggling back against him.

He was asleep before he knew it.

Severus awoke early the next morning; the presence of another human being beside him in bed was new and strange enough to have him alert the moment the first light of dawn flittered through the curtains.

It only took him a small moment to realize who was beside him and to remember what they'd shared only hours before. He closed his eyes again and tightened an arm around Hermione, more and more awake as each second passed, but wanting to enjoy every second of peace that he could before the day came crashing in.

He felt Hermione stirring next to him and turned his head to look at her.

"Mmm…" she murmured, instinctively cuddling up to his warmth. She finally opened her eyes and looked at him dazedly. "Hello, you."

Severus smirked and leaned in to kiss her good morning. Hermione grimaced and turned her face away, and Severus frowned, raising a questioning eyebrow. "My mouth tastes like hell, and I doubt yours is much better. Let's hold off on the kissing…"

She had a point. Severus yawned, and Hermione's point was proven. She giggled as she rolled away and made her way into the bathroom––after a good stretch, which woke Severus' cock up effectively enough.

She disappeared into her bathroom, and Severus heard the toilet flush a minute or so later and the sound of running water as she turned on the faucet in her sink.

"Bring a toothbrush with you from now on––" he heard her call, her voice muffled by the fact that she was obviously brushing her own teeth. "Or better yet, just get a second one to leave here."

She emerged from the bathroom and climbed back into bed with him. "Then we won't have this problem."

Severus looked at her pointedly, got up, grabbed his wand from his robes, and cast a Scourgify on his mouth.

Hermione's eyes widened. "You don't use a toothbrush?"

"Of course I use a toothbrush. But, as you've already pointed out, I haven't one with me, and I have no intention of not kissing you again before I leave."

Hermione's mouth opened and formed a silent 'Ah' of understanding, and then her gaze rested on his obvious morning erection. She met his eyes again with a smirk. "You, erm, need any help with that?" she asked. "I could––"

She was cut short as Severus walked back to the bed and lunged for her. She squealed as his hands found her ticklish spots, and her glee turned smoothly to breathless arousal as his tickling became more purposeful.

A little over an hour and a quick breakfast in her sitting room later, they were both dressed and as ready for the day as they were going to be.

"Will I see you again before the tonight?" she asked as she gathered her teaching materials.

"Probably not," he admitted. "I doubt I'll be able to get away at all until it's all over. I most likely won't see you until the auction. You'll be there, won't you?"

"Yes, I'll be there. I can't promise I'll bid for you, though."

He bit his tongue to keep from begging. "Fair enough," he said in a voice he hoped was nonchalant.

"Good luck, Severus. And do try to enjoy yourself."

They'd missed breakfast in the Great Hall, so Hermione went from her quarters straight to her classroom. She grinned as she walked. Last night had been fantastic, not to mention this morning. It had been everything she'd wanted and more. But then, she was so utterly in love with the man, how could it have been anything but fantastic?

He'd said it again––that he loved her. She frowned slightly as she wondered if perhaps she should have told him she loved him, too. She'd been so caught up in the pleasure and peace of the moment, and so happy that he'd told her he loved her again, that she hadn't even been able to form words. He must have known it, though. He hadn't seemed to require she say something in return, but she knew it was always nice to hear the words.

And what to do about this auction… Should she bid for him? It seemed rather pointless, considering she didn't need to bid for him to spend an evening with him, as was evidenced by last night. If she showed up and made it clear that she was bidding, nobody else would try for him. But then, she reasoned, very few people knew she was seeing him, so maybe they'd bid anyway.

In truth, she didn't really want someone else to buy him––in part for the simple reason that that would be one less evening she'd get to spend with him, but also because he was hers. Her desire to be with him was insisting she do whatever it took to make sure she outbid anyone else, but her sense of fair play was telling her to leave it alone and let the other women battle it out––she was his girlfriend after all, and a lot of women would probably jump at the chance to bid for an evening with the elusive war hero who would never give them the time of day unless he was magically obligated to do so.

A vision of the horror on his face should some middle-aged, giggling witch in festive, pink robes win the auction made Hermione laugh, and it was then that she had a wicked idea.

She could have fun watching him squirm, make sure she won the auction, and return his admittance of love all in one go.

She was already forming a plan.

As it turned out, Severus' only free moment before the auction came at a time when Hermione was busy teaching a class. After picking up his new robes, he'd stopped by the apothecary to pick up a shipment of ingredients. Thinking he might as well get it done then, he'd gone to his solicitor's office to work out the details of selling the Deciphering Draught. By that time, lunch at Hogwarts had been long since over, and his opportunity to see Hermione had passed.

Severus stopped outside her classroom door on his way back from Hogsmeade to at least get a look at her. When she saw him standing there, she gave him an affectionate smile that warmed him before a student asked her a question and the moment was over.

He went back to his quarters to spend the remaining time showering, shaving, and getting dressed for the auction. It turned out that Dumbledore had at least respected his wishes when it came to his robes. True, they weren't his preferred black, but at least there was no pink, red, or purple on them. They were dark green with silvery threading––Slytherin colors. Bearable. He wondered if every bachelor would be wearing his own House colors.

He arrived on time and was immediately assigned a table, which he would be sharing with several women. He hoped one of them would be Hermione.

One of them wasn't.

In fact, as the women arrived and the dinner commenced, he didn't see Hermione anywhere. Of course, the room was quite large and crowded, so it was possible she was just out of his view. He ended up spending more time twisting and craning his neck than paying any attention to his dinner companions or actually eating any food.

He didn't see her all through the meal and was beginning to worry when it was time for him to report to the waiting room. He left the table without a word and made his way to the room, his eyes searching for Hermione as he went. Still, he didn't see her.

Inside the room, the first thing Severus noticed was that each man was indeed dressed in his House colors. Over the next few minutes, nervous and excited bachelors took their turns crowding around the list on the wall. Severus waited until they were clear to check his position in line. He was dead last, of course.

He watched through the door as Dumbledore took the stage and announced that the auction was about to begin. He invited the women to bid as many times and for as many bachelors as they pleased, but asked that once they had won someone, they not bid for anyone else.

First up was a very jumpy-looking Neville Longbottom. Severus thought with a snort that it was big of Dumbledore to let him go first to get it over with.

"Ladies, here we have bachelor number one, Mr. Neville Longbottom!" Dumbledore announced.

The nervous man almost stumbled onto the stage and stood in front of the crowd, looking like a trapped deer.

Inside the waiting room, they all wondered what was going on in the audience for about ten seconds until someone had the good sense to cast a one-way Transparency Charm on the wall. They all had a clear view when Dumbledore introduced Longbottom.

"Neville is brave, loyal, and a wonderful friend. He works for the Ministry of Magic as a Herbologist and likes to spend his free time in his greenhouse. Who would like to spend an evening with Neville? I open the bidding at three Galleons."

"Three Galleons!" chirped a grinning blonde near the stage, and then she giggled when Neville stared at her in surprise.

His surprise became shock when a young, attractive brunette near the back yelled, "Four Galleons!"

The bidding ensued, and a dazed but pleased Neville Longbottom ending up going to Ginny Weasley for eleven Galleons.

A few more bachelors went for respectable prices until it was Ron Weasley's turn. He strutted out onto the stage with confident grin on his face, puffing out his chest for the presumed benefit of the audience.

"Ladies, bachelor number four, Ronald Weasley. Ron plays Keeper for the Chudley Cannons. When he's not with his team, he spends his time with his friends and family." Dumbledore kindly didn't mention that Ron was second string or that he hadn't seen more than an hour of playing time in two seasons. "Who would like to spend an evening with Mr. Weasley?"

Dead silence.

Severus grinned.

Dumbledore apparently didn't know what to say. "Er, well… come now, ladies. I'm sure many of you would pay three Galleons for an evening in Ron's company."

More silence.

"Two Galleons?"

Both Dumbledore and Ron were looking distinctly uncomfortable now. Severus' grin had developed into a full-blown vindictive smirk.

No one's going to bid for me, Weasley?

"One Galleon, anyone?"

Another round of silence. Dumbledore and Ron let out audible sighs of relief when a lone voice said, "One Galleon."

Ron's relief turned to mortification as he and the rest of the room recognized the owner of the voice as Molly Weasley.

Back inside the waiting room, a few feet from Severus, Harry Potter glared daggers as Draco Malfoy wiped actual tears from his eyes.

He was still recovering when his name was called next. Draco unsurprisingly went for the highest bid yet at twenty-eight Galleons.

Up next was Fred Weasley, followed by George, who both went for a respectable fifteen galleons.

Ecstatic giggling filled the room, several bachelors later, when Harry Potter took the stage. He smiled a bit shyly at the room––which of course made the giggling worse––and Dumbledore began his introduction.

"Bachelor number eleven, Harry Potter. Harry is an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. He is modest, fiercely loyal, and has a streak for adventure. Harry spends his free time with his friends or on his broom. Do I hear three Gal––?"

"Three Galleons!" a woman almost screeched.

"Four!" another countered, almost jumping out of her chair.

"Five Galleons!" yelled another, actually jumping out of her chair.

A bidding war ensued between many women, each determined to win Harry Potter, no matter the cost. Severus rolled his eyes as one woman actually pulled her wand on another when she was outbid.

"Really now, ladies," Dumbledore said, "let's try to keep a hold on ourselves, shall we?"

The woman scowled but put her wand way.

"Excellent, I believe we were at thirty-three Galleons. Do I hear thirty-four?"

An overwhelmed Harry Potter ended up going to a group of women who had pooled their funds together to outbid a persistent blonde near the back––for the ridiculous sum of two hundred and seventy five Galleons.

Merlin, no wonder Potter's head was so big.

Remus Lupin went for ten Gelleons, Charlie Weasley for thirteen. Lee Jordan went for nine and Blaise Zabini for fifteen.

Several other men Severus didn't know all went for somewhere between ten and twenty Galleons, and Severus took the opportunity, again, to search the now standing crowd for his Hermione. Unfortunately, there was simply no way find her, even if she was there. There were simply too many women, some hidden behind others.

And then it was his turn.

"Ladies, bachelor number twenty eight, Severus Snape."

Severus took a deep breath and walked onto the stage, holding his head up proudly. He turned stony-faced to the crowd, feeling his stomach doing flips.

"Severus is our Potions master here at Hogwarts. He is very intelligent, courageous, and an avid reader. His spends his free time in independent research." Or with his girlfriend, Hermione Granger, Severus added silently. "Do I hear three Galleons for Severus?"

There was the briefest of pauses, during which Severus wondered what would be worse, someone bidding for him or someone not bidding for him. Where was Hermione?

"Three Galleons!" piped a woman Severus didn't recognize, giving him an excited look.

"Four Galleons!" said another, and Severus was surprised. He honestly hadn't known what to expect.

"Five," said a greedy looking, middle-aged woman in nearly florescent pink robes. Severus' eyes widened. Where was Hermione, and why wasn't she bidding for him?

It escalated quickly, the women apparently more impressed by Severus' reputation as a dangerous ex-spy than he would have thought.

"Ten Galleons!" said a voice. Severus looked for its owner, but before he could find the woman, another yelled, "Eleven!"

That voice belonged to Greedy in Pink, and she was getting louder and more insistent. Severus shifted nervously.

"Twelve," said another, an attractive, raven-haired young woman this time.

The bidding went on until it was two women going back and forth––Greedy and a voice whose owner Severus couldn't locate.

Greedy became more and more determined as she kept upping the bid. The voice didn't hesitate to counter, and soon Greedy was casting angry looks around, searching for her opponent.

"Thirty-five Galleons and where are you?" she demanded.

"Thirty-six," replied the voice calmly, still unseen.

"Thirty-seven!" she challenged––and glared unattractively when she was outbid again.

This went on, Severus silently caught in the middle, until the unknown woman said, "Seventy-four."

Greedy let out an aggravated growl and spat, "Fine, you can have him! I doubt he'll give you the time of day, anyway, whoever you are!"

Severus couldn't argue that point and was feeling a little panicked that he'd just been sold to some woman he hadn't even seen. Apparently she'd been desperate enough to pay an exorbitant amount of money for him… Severus wondered if there was a reason she'd kept herself hidden and wondered once again, this time with irritation, where Hermione was. Why hadn't she saved him from this insanity? And why hadn't he seen her? She'd at least promised that she'd be there. He couldn't help feeling a bit betrayed.

"Right then!" Dumbledore said with a smile. "Severus Snape sold to Miss… er, sold for seventy-four Galleons. The auction is now over. All the winners will come up to the stage now and introduce themselves to their prize."

Thirty-one women came to the stage, but Severus was left there standing alone. He was about to march away when a piece of parchment appeared in his hands, apparently from his unknown winner.

My dear Severus,

I think you should know that I couldn't let you go to someone else tonight. Before I show myself to you again in person, I want you to know something very important, something I should have told you before now. You are the love of my life, Severus. I have loved you for a very long time, and I plan to keep you –– for far longer than the evening I've paid for.

Severus' eyes widened in horror and shock. It was even worse than he'd feared. Worse than some desperate woman paying a full two weeks' salary for a date with him. This woman, whoever she was, was obsessive bordering on psychopathic. She was in love with him? How could she be––she didn't even know him! He felt like the collar of his robe was suddenly constricting, strangling him, but then he read on.

I want no more misunderstandings between us. Know that I love you, and never doubt it again. Every moment I've spend with you has made me happier than I ever imagined I could be. I don't know that I can express the depth of my feelings in words, but I'll try. I love everything about you. Your eyes, your smile –– rare though it sometimes is, your wit, the way your lips purse when you frown, your voice, your sarcasm, your passion, the way your heart pounds against me when you kiss me, the look in your eyes when we make love… all of you.

I don't want to ever be apart from you, and if it's all right with you, I want for the world to know it. I'm not ashamed to love you. If you want me, Severus, and if you're ready, say the word.

"Hermione," he said softly as he folded the parchment, feeling his heart constrict with an overwhelming emotion he now recognized as love. There was no doubt in his mind who had written the letter.

She appeared, coming out of the crowd and walking the steps to the stage, smiling only for him.

She came to stand in front of him, grinning in a conspiratorial way. "You should have seen the look on your face when I won."

He growled, not really angry in the slightest. "Yes, that was very sneaky of you. I'm glad you enjoyed my discomfort."

She laughed and moved closer, taking his hands in hers. They both realized at the same time that conversation around them was dying. She leaned forward and whispered, "I think it's now or never, love. People are starting to stare."

He didn't even glace around, honestly not giving a damn who was watching or what they thought. He was going to kiss Hermione.

And he did, long and good. He enfolded her in his arms and held her tightly against him.

They broke apart minutes later, panting faintly. Hermione smiled and rested her head against his shoulder, taking in the shocked faces around her. Severus stroked her hair and kissed her forehead.

"I think we've made our point," he said. "Shall we go?"


They broke apart only enough to be able to walk properly and made their way towards the stairs at the edge of the stage.

"Hermione!" Harry gasped as they passed him. "You and… Snape!"

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Harry. Me and Snape. If you'll excuse us…"

"But, Hermione!" Ron said, looking wounded. "How could you? It's Snape! You could be with anyone. I don't know what he's done to you, but you don't have to… to… I mean––you could even be with me!"

"Ron! How dare you accuse Severus of––"

Severus cut her off, going for the kill. "And deprive all those broken-hearted young women lining up for you? I wouldn't dream of it. Ah, I must have forgotten––there weren't any."

He smirked at the outraged, embarrassed look on Ron's face. "Do excuse us, Weasley. I believe you have a date with your mother to plan."

And with that he led Hermione out of the hall and straight to his quarters, where he spent the rest of the evening and most of the night thanking her in loving detail––several times––for rescuing him from bachelorhood, in more ways than one.

The End

More Notes from SB: Okay. I hope the auction and lemons lived up to expectations, and I'd apologize for screwing Ron over if I were sorry.

I've been thinking of doing a short epilog, maybe to resolve the issue between Hermione and her mother and show the progression of Severus and Hermione's relationship. Of course, if I'm honest, I simply want to write another scene with Stephen Granger. I don't know; we'll see.

Until next time, your parting comments will sustain me!