Chapter Sixteen –

"I can't believe you did it!" Ginny exclaimed, shaking the manuscript in front of her. "Mum and I came to check on you, hoping for the first three chapters, but you finished the whole bloody thing! And! It's brilliant!"

Hermione smiled nervously, thankful that Ginny not only liked the book, but approved of the book.

"The sex scenes are lovely, dear," Molly added, already mentally calculating some minor edits.

"Mum!" Ginny moaned in embarrassment, after all the heroine in the book was modeled after her.

Hermione smothered a grin.

"Well, they are," Molly scoffed. "You could learn a few things from this book, Ginny."

"Mum! Molly!" gasped the two younger witches together.

Molly shook her head. "Not the sex scenes. I was talking about the way Virginia wins James. I just adore how aggressive Virginia is. James never had a chance against her. I'm just saying that you could take a few lessons out of this book and go after Harry. He would never know what hit him."

If Ginny's fair complexion didn't lend to the illusion that she was perpetually red, she would look as though she were having a stroke right then due to the rampant blush that consumed her cheeks.

Seeking to diffuse the escalating argument between mother and daughter, Hermione patted Ginny on the arm. "I hope you don't mind that I… ended the book the way I did. I just couldn't bring myself to not have a happy ending."

Ginny looked shocked. "Merlin's balls, Hermione! That would be the end of your career and the series if you didn't have the hero and heroine get together by the end of the book. I don't mind at all."

"I am curious though," Molly interjected. "What reference material did you use for the sex scenes? I must say that I wasn't really looking forward to writing those scenes for this book, but they are very well written and technically flawless. Only a few minor edits shall be needed."

"Mum!" Ginny shrank in her seat. "If it's any consolation, I didn't want you to write those scenes either."

Hermione cleared her throat. "I… uh… used my own personal experience along with my imagination and the Kama Sutra."

Ginny looked at Hermione imploringly, mouthing a big "thank you."

Molly clapped excitedly, her eyes bright with hope. "I knew you and Severus would finally see the light. Where is he? Was he everything you thought he would be?"

"Mum!" Ginny jumped out of her seat as Hermione buried her face in her hands. "It's time to leave. Hermione has to polish her rough draft and start thinking about the next book."

--

Charming her clothes so that they folded and placed themselves into her suitcase neatly, Hermione sighed. Tomorrow she would be off on another grand adventure!

Who am I kidding? There was nothing grand or exciting about writing feature articles for a cooking magazine. She craved the unknown. She craved the adrenaline of investigative journalism.

She sighed again, only this time more dramatically.

Before Molly and Ginny had left, they had decided that Perdita Winters deserved a much-needed vacation. It was, of course, decided that way because Hermione asked for a break. Besides, Molly was almost finished with her book, and Romance Rabble needed new authors. Whereas Hermione's series were contemporary romance, Molly's were historical romance.

Now that she had an ungodly amount of time on her hands, she wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Seeing that her clothes had packed themselves accordingly, she pointed her wand at her quills and parchment. Just as she was getting ready to charm them, the pile shifted.

She nibbled her bottom lip and pushed the papers aside, picking up the notebook that had conveniently revealed itself. She flipped through the pages and paused when she reached the last entry—Unrequited Love.

"Blech! What was I thinking?" She tore the page out of the notebook and was getting ready to crumple it when she noticed that it wasn't the last page in the notebook that had writing on it.

The next page was not in her handwriting. It was Severus'.

I left you today, letting the fickle hands of fate decide our destiny. I am optimistic you will realize the depth of my feelings for you soon. Though it took Arthur Weasley spiking my drink with Veritaserum… Well, the only regret I have is the way I treated you. You deserve so much better than me. I had convinced myself of that. I embraced the lie, hopeful that it would ease the ache of loneliness that haunts me now.

Hermione turned the page and continued to read, almost disappointed to see a different entry from the previous one.

I have passed the second day away from you much like the first, writing in this charmed book, hopeful that you are reading, but realizing that is unlikely.

I saw a little girl running along the beach today. She had wavy brown hair and deep chocolate eyes. I found myself contemplating your childhood prior to your admittance to Hogwarts. I must admit that I am certain you were as precocious then as when you first arrived at Hogwarts.

Hermione shuddered in remembrance. She'd had a flat chest and buckteeth. Of course, first-year girls weren't supposed to be developed, but she remembered being envious of Lavender Brown.

I wonder what our future holds? I know that I have my work cut out for me. I fostered distrust between us when I realized what you had written. Instead of seeing the truth in the Darkest Magic, I saw only ridicule. I should have realized that you lack a malicious nature. You are light and goodness, whereas I am darkness and secrets.

You deserve to be courted, and that is what I intend to do. I shall shower you with my affections. My relentless nature shall prevail.

Hermione nibbled her bottom lip and swallowed, shivering and hopeful.

I dreamt of you tonight, seductress of my soul. I seldom remember my dreams, but I shall retire this one into my Pensieve. I want you beyond even your wildest imaginings, but I shan't sully my letters to you with my lustful thoughts.

Feeling the blush crawl up her neck and into her cheeks, she turned pages and started skimming through the entries to see how many there were. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," she whispered softly, feeling her heart flutter as she recalled his last words to her. That had been almost a month ago.

She kept skimming the pages, quickly realizing that there was an entry for each day. They weren't words of poetry or romantic ramblings. They were truthful, heartfelt observations, and her hardened heart cracked with each page she read.

Please don't be angry with me, but I sent Silvan to look in on you today. You haven't written anything in the notebook for two weeks now. I did not want to anger you any further than I already had. We watched you, envious every time you laughed at something you had written… Wishing you were as unguarded with me as you are with your imaginary characters.

She would have bristled at his admission, but it made little difference now. Lost in her imagination, she'd lost track of the time, aching with the knowledge that she'd chased him away. Isn't that what she had wanted? Hadn't she chosen the coward's way, refusing to risk her heart for fear that he would break it?

Holding the book to her chest, she stared out the window. Now that the book was done, things were so much clearer—like the incomplete feeling that gnawed in her stomach and reminded her that he had taken her with him. Severus was gone, and it was unlikely that he would come back.

Wiping the tears away, she flipped to the last entry and skipped to the last sentence. It was a minor character flaw, but she always read the end of a book first. She read the last sentence out loud.

"Please forgive me, but I've only one choice left. I must end my agony." She slammed the notebook shut, her heart pounding. Did he mean to harm himself? She had to do something. She had to find him before it was too late.

"I was feeling rather melancholy when I wrote that."

Hermione jumped. "Bloody hell!" she exclaimed, swallowing hard to see if her stomach would go back to where it belonged. "You scared me," she chastised, thrilled that he was standing before her and not… harmed.

Severus approached her slowly. Hermione, still trying to calm down from the initial scare, smiled and welcomed the invasion of her personal space.

"My apologies, Hermione," he replied softly, his eyes scraping over her figure from the toes of her shoes to the top of her head. "I did not mean to startle you." He brushed his knuckles against her cheek and titled her head.

Hermione held her breath. She really should turn away, but her mind was actually in agreement with her heart. She remembered his parting words, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Even though she would deny that hers had grown fonder until her dying day, she couldn't stop herself now if she wanted.

His lips hovered over hers, his breath caressing the sensitive flesh. "But I do intend to end my agony," he whispered. His eyes lowered, and his lips brushed against hers. "Even if I have to tie you to the bed to do so."

He smothered her pitiful protest with determined efficiency, palming the fleshy cheeks of her arse and pulling her against him. His tongue dueled masterfully with hers. She was starved for him. Somewhere in the back of her mind the minuscule vestiges of her resolve vanished. He loved her. Perhaps… just maybe he'd grown used to the idea and wanted to love her.

Severus broke the kiss and nibbled a path along her jaw and neck, while working the buttons of her blouse free.

"Just sex," she spoke out loud, reasoning that she could settle for what he had to offer.

Severus gave a throaty growl and shoved her blouse and front-hook bra out of his way. "Keep deluding yourself, Hermione," he rasped against the puckered flesh of one nipple, "and I shall make good on my threat and tie you to the bed post."

The fabric of her clothing trapped her arms. Between each nip and lick, Severus whispered words of love. She closed her eyes and thrust her hips against him. Her world upended and she found herself lying on the bed, her luggage mysteriously Vanished. She tried to twist free of her blouse and bra, but the bloody cloth conspired against her. Shamelessly, she lifted her hips and assisted Severus in removing her shoes, pants and knickers.

"More than just sex, my dearest witch. So much more. I could cast a Fertility Charm and bind you to me through a child, but I am a selfish man, and I shan't share you," he growled.

Instead of sinking into her fiery heat, he kneeled on the floor, clasped her thighs and pulled her to the edge of the bed. There was no gentle seduction, only desperate need. He nipped her inner thigh, intent on punishing her with pleasure. "Say the words, my love."

Confusion marred her brow, and she struggled to sit up, the embarrassment of their positioning too much for her inexperienced mind to comprehend. Fingers probed through her wiry curls, finding the slickness that had pooled their upon the heated kiss. "Severus please…"

He opened her, revealing the sweet pearl that shimmered with passion. Dipping his head, he swiped his tongue across the jewel. "The words, Hermione," he growled, his breath hot against her.

She whimpered, her legs trembling as he held them in his grasp. "I… I don't know what you mean."

He flicked his tongue into the dewy folds and circled her clitoris, slowly torturing her. "You're an intelligent witch, Hermione. Figure it out," he murmured against her flesh, unable to deny himself the delicious taste of her.

Arching into his intimate exploration, she keened and blurted the first thing that came to her mind. "I love you!"

"Close," he whispered, parting her tight folds and indulging his fantasies. Greedily lapping her clit, he speared his fingers past the resistance and searched her depths for the spot that would bring her to task. He curled his fingers upward and wanted nothing more than to replace his fingers with his aching cock. "Tell me…" he husked between lapping her flesh. "Tell me who loves you… who wants to love you forever."

His torture of her senses was complete. She would deny him nothing. She twisted and moaned. She was so close, and she was certain he could feel it, for each time she approached nirvana, he switched the rhythm and denied her peace.

He kept talking to her through the lavish licks. "It's me, Hermione." Lick. "I'm the one who will love you until the end of days." Kiss. "Even then, I shall love you." Nibble. "My heart is yours." Suck. "Why do you treat it so poorly?"

Tears trekked down her cheeks. Words she longed to hear spoken in the lustful heat of passion.

"I love you," he murmured, giving in to her stubbornness and redoubling his efforts. He was caught in the grips of the fever and had to have her. Thrusting his fingers in tandem with his tongue, he reveled when he felt the cavern of her heat milking his digits in blissful abandon.

Hermione panted, shuddering in the aftermath of the bliss that had consumed her. She felt like a puddle, waiting to rematerialize into her old self. Severus stood, Vanished his clothes and climbed her body, settling his weight between her thighs. She felt the hard evidence of his arousal press against her stomach.

His lips hovered over hers, glistening with her juices. His eyes were dark and fathomless. My heart is yours. Why do you treat it so poorly? Pain reflected in his gaze. Pain she had caused. He turned his head and continued to hover there.

How could she have been so blind? So stupid? She kicked herself. The truth shimmered in his eyes. Kissing his cheek, she caressed him.

He ground his teeth and held his breath.

"You love me," she stated an obvious fact, and he nodded, no longer trusting his own voice.

"You… want to love me," she whispered against his cheek, finally ridding herself of her blouse and bra and trying rather clumsily to guide him to her.

"You not only have my heart, but my soul as well," he returned slowly, savoring the words.

"Show me," she hooked her ankle around his calf and rubbed her damp heat against the weeping tip of his need expectantly.

Grasping her hips, Severus pushed his way into her silk heat. Though he was desperate, he kept the rhythm slow and deep, grinding his pelvis against her already sensitive clitoris.

Hermione pulled him down for a kiss, pushing her tongue past his lips. Her heart soared as all of her doubts vanished. She tore her mouth away from his and chanted in time with each thrust… each measured, calculated thrust… each thrust that spoke of eternity with this man. The orgasm that consumed her started deep, and her womb clenched.

Severus threw his head back and groaned, and she felt him pulse within the clenching heat of her body. She watched him come, the warm jets of semen connecting him to her in a primal way. This was love. This was intimacy in its most raw form. Severus Snape, her lover, open and trusting her with his heart and soul. Spent, he fell to her side and gathered her close.

"Stay," he murmured drowsily, burrowing his nose into her hair.

She squeaked in protest when a velvety rope tied her ankle to his wrist. "What the…"

"In case you were thinking of leaving me while I slept," he chuckled, tugging on the leash with intent. "Perhaps… tomorrow, we shall go on our first date so that I may woo you properly."

Her heart soared. Writing romance had not prepared her for the realities of intimacy and love. She rubbed the rope and smiled at her inspiration, her exhausted imagination springing to life with new stories and characters.

--

Epilogue—

Hermione braced herself as she heard the heavy oak door of her and Severus' dungeon abode slam shut. She still didn't know how he had talked her into moving into the dungeons at Hogwarts all those years ago, but she was glad that she had. The dungeons had provided just the right ambiance to write her latest book--Cursed Magic. It was, in her opinion, her favorite book. It was based loosely on the beginning of their courtship.

She chewed the inside of her cheek nervously and waited for her husband to approach her with his opinion. It had been two weeks since the release of her book, and she had been on tour promoting it. She fluffed the emerald green chemise that hugged her breasts and hips and tried to relax against the pillows.

The door to their bedroom creaked open slowly, her pulse pounding through her veins. He stood their, his gaze ravenously taking in every detail. She licked her lips subconsciously, and he closed the door behind him. He was dressed in his teaching robes, his hair damp from potion fumes. She didn't know which suspense was worse—the fact that they had been separated for two weeks and that they were most likely going to be spending the next few days in bed together, or his opinion of the book.

Unlike her other novels, she had not let him read or contribute to her latest book. She had wanted it to be a surprise. She cleared her throat. "Well?" she asked, barely recognizing her own voice, for it was laced with desire.

Stopping at the foot of the bed, Severus crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her. "You turned me into a troll," he stated simply, his voice managing to pull of the offended, yet highly aroused quality very well.

Hermione jumped up onto her knees and prepared to argue her decision to embellish their courtship in such a fantastical manner. "But I made you into a cute troll."

His right eyebrow lifted offensively. "Cute? Troll?" he bit off. "Perhaps I should remind you that trolls are behemoth, slobbering, mountains of… of… of… stupidity."

She rebuffed him with a cross between a snort and a laugh. "You weren't a mountain troll. You were a forest troll."

Severus rolled his eyes.

"You were an enchanted troll," Hermione continued. "Cursed by the evil warlock you had apprenticed under and—"

"You needn't retell the story to me, Hermione. I did read the bloody book." He shed his robe and started unsnapping the buttons of his shirt, the gleam in his eyes telling her that even his foul mood over the subject matter of her latest novel would not ruin the seduction.

She smiled, knowingly leaning forward and gifting her husband with an enticing view of her cleavage. "But you were hot by the end of the book. The young, bookish witch found a way to end the curse and—"

Severus flicked his wand, and a magical gag silenced her. She squeaked in protest and tugged on the offending material with both her hands. Before she could crawl away or get the gag off, her husband tackled her and insinuated himself between her creamy thighs. His hot breath brushed her cheek. "You said you were going to write our story. Though I saw various elements of us in that… that… fairy tale…

"Is that how you really think of me?" he asked softly, nuzzling her cheek. She could hear the hurt in his voice and stiffened beneath him.

"Uf cor naw!" she protested through the gag, raising her hand to stroke a dark locket of his hair. "I wuff yu!"

Severus removed the gag and sealed his lips over hers, smothering any further comments or declarations. He broke the kiss and panted. "The troll was horrible, I—"

"You were horrible to me!" Hermione reminded him, running her hands over his pale chest. "But the troll is a work of fiction. It is not how I view you at all. It is how I viewed your actions. That is what I based him on."

He nibbled her collarbone and groaned, rolling onto his back. He covered his eyes with his arm, the length of the day taking its toll. "But I never touched your bloody cat."

Hermione chuckled as he referenced the part in her book where the troll took a bite out of the heroine's cat. She straddled her husband and smiled. "Crookshanks would most likely take a bite out of you before you got too close to him."

His hands traveled up and down her silk-clad thighs. Ebony eyes gleamed, a small smile gracing the edge of his pouting frown. It was then that she realized he was teasing her and slapped his chest lightly. "You cad!"

Realizing that his acting abilities were not up to par, he threw his head back and laughed.

"And here I was thinking that I had offended you!" she railed, getting ready to smack him again.

He caught her arms and gave her a stern look. Lifting her fingers to his mouth, he started licking them. As he licked her fingers, his grin grew. "I am satisfied that you changed enough of the truth to protect the innocent… and the guilty."

Smirking, she moved her hips in an upward, inviting thrust. "You might as well get used to it, for you are the inspiration for all my heroes."

Severus groaned, silencing her with a kiss.

--

FIN

Author's Notes—Firstly, I have to thank every one who beta read or encouraged the writing process. You all know who you are! Secondly, I'd like to thank the administrators of The Petulant Poetess for all of their hard work in keeping the queues moving along. Thirdly, I must thank everyone who took the time to review. I hope that you all have enjoyed the ride.

Additional Note—This last chapter was not edited by a beta reader. If you see any mistakes, please drop me a review or an email. I try to be as grammatically correct as possible. God bless!