Chapter Twenty-Eight

A couple of uneventful weeks flew past, and not a peep was heard from the Death Eater's since the attack in Hogsmeade. Once more, Severus was reduced to racking his brain in thought, trying to figure out himself just what they were up to. Certainly none of them would have access to anything that would help bring about the revival of the Dark Lord. The Ministry had confiscated all of those, and they now rested in the capable hands of Mad-Eye moody who had come out of retirement and had been re-appointed the Head of the Auror's Department. Growling in frustration under his breath, Severus stood from his armchair, beginning to pace in front of the fire.

Hermione had returned to her own chambers a couple of days beforehand, after having recovered her ability to walk on her own a lot faster than the first time. She had visibly brightened since the morning when she had climbed out of their bed on her own and went to use the loo, and after that, she resumed classes and started sleeping in both his room and her room on different nights. Severus didn't mind that she slept apart from her some nights. It was simply not possible to sleep together every day as he had essays to mark, and she had to do school work and spend time with her friends.

That night, he had told her to spend time with Potter and Longbottom like she used to before they came together. She had pouted, but still kissed him sweetly before heading back up to Gryffindor tower. He frowned and grabbed some Floo powder, tossing it into the fireplace and stepping into the green flames before calling out for the Headmaster's office. He walked out on the other end to find that the Headmaster was seated at his desk with his half-moon glasses perched precariously on the end of his long nose, and a quill in his hand, working away silently.

He looked up as Severus approached and smiled fondly. 'Come, come Severus and take a seat, my boy,' he said softly.

Obeying immediately, he took a seat across from the Headmaster and slumped down in it, tipping his head back and pinching the bridge of his nose. 'I just can't figure it out, Albus,' he admitted in frustration. 'I've gone over and over again in my mind what possible reason they could have for coming back and not one thing makes a single iota of sense.'

Albus nodded sadly. 'I had a feeling you would be coming to see me about something like this soon,' he said softly, gauging Severus' reactions from the look in his eyes. 'I have given it some thought myself, and the only name that comes to mind when I think of a Death Eater uprising is Ivan Yaxley.'

'Alecto and Amycus Carrow also jump to mind,' Severus muttered under his breath. 'I feel as thought they were the only ones with any intelligence to regroup the Death Eater's together again. All the rest have peanuts for brains.'

Albus tried and failed to smother a chuckle at Severus' analysis of his former comrades, earning a glare from the Potions Master that silenced him pretty smartly. 'I am sure that they will reveal their intentions all in due time,' the old wizard said wisely.

'I just dare them to touch Hermione one more time,' Severus growled, his temper flaring at the thought of yet another attack on his beloved. 'They will regret the day that they dare to cross me again.'

'I don't doubt it at all, my boy,' he said, pushing his glasses back up his nose. 'I would be trying to involve the Ministry in this a lot more than I already have allowed if I had any doubts on that account. I believe that this is a nuisance that can be dealt with by all of us and possibly the Order as well.'

'Perhaps it will be time for a meeting some time soon,' Severus said with a heavy sigh, his reluctance at involving them and having to reveal his and Hermione's relationship obvious. 'I don't want them involved unless they truly have to be, Albus. Hermione and I are under quite a lot of stress already without having to worry about the sneering and rude remarks that will undoubtedly be thrown our way.'

Albus nodded. 'I understand.'

'Now I have to thing up a way to keep Hermione safe for a while, and I can't even guarantee any of this while there are potential miniature Death Eater's running about in the castle,' he exclaimed grouchily. 'I think it is time we moved her to a safer location, just for the time-being so that everyone can be sure that she will come to no further harm. I know she won't like it and will most probably protest, but I'm sure she will come around and see the positive side eventually.'

Albus sighed, knowing that Severus would be suggesting something like that. He believed that it was also something they should consider, but unlike the Potions Master, he held no optimism about Hermione coming to conform to any such thing. She would fight it the entire way there, and argue and likely hex him for suggesting it. Hiding a smile beneath his beard, and shook his head.

'Keeping her locked-up somewhere secluded is not going to please her. She is better off staying here where there are people around her,' Albus said seriously. 'Hogsmeade visits, however, will be off, and any time that she goes beyond the walls of the castle she will be supervised. Now I think that will have to do for now.'

'Very well, Albus, I will agree with that,' Severus said quietly. 'But if she is harmed even the slightest bit once more, I am taking her away from this godforsaken castle.'

'Agreed,' Albus said, shaking the younger man's hand firmly. 'And now that we have decided that, I suppose you will take your leave?'

Severus nodded and stood from his chair, nodding politely before Flooing back to his own chambers. Once in his sitting room once more, he went to the small kitchenette that was a part of the rooms and made a cup of tea. He needed to do something with himself to push out the nerves and worry for the night. He sat down in front of the fire and stared at the red-orange flames until they burned out a couple of hours later, before going to his bedroom and stripping out of his daily attire, taking a quick shower, and then dressing in sleeping pants for bed.

He stretched out onto the mattress, feeling a little at a loss as his side dipped the tiniest bit from his weight, while the other side remained the same. He was simply far too used to Hermione sharing the bed with him. He closed his eyes, willing his mind to find some rest. When he rolled over onto his side for he millionth time that night, he looked at the clock on his nightstand, a sliver of moonlight illuminating it so that he could read that it was five minutes past midnight. Groaning, his head pounding from a tension headache, he crawled out of the bed, tossing on his black silk dressing gown, and walking back into the sitting room.

He lit and stoked the fire once more, tossing some more Floo powder in and walking into green flames for the second time that night. He called out for Hermione's private rooms and arrived in her Common room. Making the trip up the staircase to her bedroom, he entered her bedroom silently, and on seeing her curled-up on the bed sleeping, he smiled and shed his robe before slipping under the covers behind her, and spooning up behind her. Hermione jerked in her sleep when he closed one of his hands around her breast and gave a light squeeze, and soon rolled over awake to look at him.

'What are you doing in here?' she asked; voice a little husky from sleep.

'I was having a hard time getting to sleep alone,' he admitted sheepishly drawing her close to him and kissing her forehead. 'I've got a bit of a headache now, so let's just go back to sleep, shall we?'

'Oh!" she exclaimed, pulling back out of his arms and turning over to the nightstand over her side of the bed. She opened the drawer and took out a vile from it, before turning back to Severus and handing it to him. 'I had some headache Potions in there from a couple of nights ago'

Severus accepted it gratefully and drank it down, setting aside the empty vile on the nightstand over his side before snuggling back against her. 'Why did you need headache Potions a couple of nights ago?' he questioned curiously.

Hermione smiled her cheeks warm with embarrassment. 'I had a tiny relapse on my first night alone in here and I lost my balance and fell over,' she admitted. 'I bumped my head on the coffee table down in my common room and got a bit of a bruise on the back of my head beneath my hair. I went to see Madam Pomfrey so that I didn't have to disturb you when you were busy.'

Severus frowned then. 'Hermione, you know very well that you would not cause me any inconvenience just to come for a headache Potion,' he reminded her, kissing her forehead tenderly.

'I know, but I just wanted to try and slip back into student mode and go to the infirmary like anyone else would have. I know that there will be times when you really will be too busy for me to bother you with trivialities,' she pressed, twining her fingers in his silky black hair and inhaling his scent sharply.

'I had an epiphany tonight, with Albus in his office,' he admitted, covering his mouth as he yawned a little.

'What was it about?' Hermione asked, stretching against him and pressing her front to his in a decidedly deliberate manner.

'About the Death Eater problem that we've been having,' Severus replies reluctantly, but knowing he had little other choice, he did anyway. 'I feel that I may have come up with the names of the leader's of this entire charade. Although I have not heard them or even had very direct contact with them, I believe that Ivan Yaxley might be the leader, and that the Carrow twins are his two immediate hands.'

Hermione frowned momentarily and then sighed in resignation. 'Oh you might be right about that,' she said softly. 'I know that there is at least one woman, and I know it's not Lestrange, because I don't recognize her voice. And the leader did seem to be rather familiar in an almost scary way, so Yaxley is a likely option.'

'Yes well, hopefully we won't have to worry about him for a while longer at the very least,' Severus said, yawning again longer this time, not quite able to keep it in.

'Get some sleep, love,' Hermione told him, gently brushing her nose against his. 'You look so tired, and you will undoubtedly be grouchy in class tomorrow if you don't.'

'I'll be damned grouchy in class tomorrow anyway,' he mused softly, his voice wavering as his mind began to drift anyway.

Hermione laughed softly, stroking his hair and the back of his neck as he drifted further into sleep. She loved to see him all relaxed and sleepy like that. The lines on his face melted away and with it, his age and all of those years of spying he did. She loved to be the only one to see him this way. She liked to pleasure him and cause him to smile like she was the only one who had ever managed to make him smile. She loved to remind him constantly that she was in love with him. Because in the end, the only thing that mattered was that they loved each other.

This was why she was not afraid of the danger that loomed ahead. Severus was strong, and so was she, and together they most certainly could deal with a couple of renegades who thought that they could try and seek revenge on a man for choosing the light over falling further into the darkness. She needed to be strong for Severus, because for as powerful a wizard as he was, he was one of the most emotionally fragile men she had ever had the good fortune to meet. She knew that once they had gotten past this bump in the road, everything in their lives would fall into place.

This was why Hermione so looked forward to her Graduation. No longer did she care all that much about her N.E.W.T's. She had discovered during the war that even the best made plans sometimes had a way of falling apart. She was planning on going with the flow and seeing what would turn up as a reward for her patience. She didn't know if the Death Eater's would attack before, after or even during her graduation, but she knew for sure that they would eventually strike out. And when that time came, she knew in her heart that everything would be the way it was predestined to be.

Sighing, Hermione closed her eyes and let her mind be lulled to sleep by the sound of Severus' deep, even breathing, and the feeling of his heart beating against her palm which she had pressed to his chest. They slept together like that nearly the entire night, but in the morning, Severus woke to find himself on his back, with Hermione sprawled all over the top of him, snoring softly. He blew a lock of her curly hair out of his face as it was tickling his nose, and looked down to see that he head was resting comfortably in the crook of his shoulder.

'Love, wake up,' Severus told her, wriggling his shoulder a bit. He needed to get up so he could go for a shower and change into his clothes and robes for the day.

Hermione mumbled in her sleep, and nuzzled her nose against his neck in her sleep, which made him chuckle lightly. Decidedly, he slipped out from under her, careful not to wake her, and got off the bed. He saw that it was only six. Breakfast in the Great Hall was not until 7:30, so he set an alarm charm for her to wake her in about half an hour, and slipped from her bedroom, threw on his robe, walked down to the fireplace in the common room, and Flooed back to his chambers. He showered quickly and got dressed, before heading to his classroom to put up the lesson plans on the board before his first class.

He did so love to be organized early.

After that, he went to his office and graded papers until it was ten minutes until breakfast would begin. He walked up the dungeon stairs and entered the Great Hall through the staff door, taking his seat at Albus' left as usual, and greeting the Headmaster with a polite, yet staid nod. He did not communicate well in the morning until after his first cup of coffee. All of the other staff had quite gotten used to this and avoided talking to the man until they were all sure he had consumed at least one cup. Soon after, the students began to make their way into the hall, all rather bleary-eyed and bushy-tailed. When Hermione walked in with Harry, Luna and Neville, she flashed a special smile up at him and winked.

Severus smiled back at her for a brief moment only. After all, the Potions Master could not afford to be seen smiling in front of the students. It would have diminished his reputation as a first class bastard.

A/N - I know it has been months but here is an update. This story should not take too much longer to finish I hope. No promises about anything though. Please leave a review! xo.