It Happened One Hallow's Eve Final Chapter

Severus turned toward Slytherin House. He had to get Draco and bring him outside before meeting with Albus and Harry.

He quickly entered the common room and took the stairs, leading to the young wizard's room. He knocked on the door. He heard it unlock and it opened a crack.

"Who is it?" Draco asked.

"Professor Snape," Severus replied.

The door opened wider and Severus entered. Draco stood there in his Death Eater robes…his half skull mask in his hand. His eyes looked a bit glassy.

"Are you ready, Draco?" Severus asked the young wizard.

"Yes sir," Draco replied, pulling on his mask.

Severus took his arm and disapparated.

They reappeared near the gate. Order members were milling about and getting into position. Many looked up at the pair, staring for a moment…frowns on their faces at Draco's garb. They had been informed that he would be on the grounds, and good thing too. The blonde wizard would have made excellent target practice.

Kingsley walked up to them and looked at Draco.

"Are you ready?" he asked the wizard, his brown eyes washing over his Death Eater garb.

"Yes sir," Draco replied, watching as Order members began to disappear in place.

"Good. I want you to wait near the Whomping Willow. When the battle begins, you bolt for safety," Kingsley instructed Draco, "Be sure to discard your robes so you aren't hit."

Draco nodded. Both Kingsley and Severus knew the pureblood had no intentions of fleeing like a coward. Kingsley offered Draco his hand.

"It was a good thing you did, Mr. Malfoy. The wizarding world owes you a great debt," he said sincerely.

Draco visibly swelled for a moment as he took the Auror's hand.

"Thank you sir," he said. Then he turned to Severus.

"Good luck, Professor," he said to the dark wizard. "I hope it all works out."

"That makes two of us, Mr. Malfoy," Severus said.

Draco gave him a small smile, then turned and walked toward the Whomping Willow.

Crookshanks was sitting at the base of the Whomping Willow, watching all the activity. What was going on? His eyes narrowed as he saw Draco approaching, and he nimbly climbed up the tree to his favorite vantage point. He'd be able to see what else was going on from there.

Draco stopped just outside the Whomping range of the willow. He knew it was turned off, but still…better safe than sorry. He watched as the thousands of Order members disappeared, only Severus and Kingsley visible now.

Severus looked about.

"Did you consider that Voldemort may have sent reconnaissance to scope out the grounds before they appeared?", the wizard asked Kingsley.

Kingsley nodded.

"Of course. Last night Albus set up an illusion and a silencing spell around the perimeter of the gate that shows the grounds empty. Anyone looking in would see nor hear anything out of the ordinary," the Auror replied.

Severus nodded.

"I must go and see Albus," the wizard said, turning.

"Ah, Severus?" Kingsley called to him.

The wizard turned back to see the Auror's huge hand held out. He took it.

"I wish you every success. You are a very courageous wizard. Hopefully, history will be kind to you as well," Kingsley said, shaking Severus' hand firmly.

"I care little for what history has to say about me," Severus said, "As long as Voldemort's madness ends here…today."

He released Kingsley's hand and disapparated, the wizard staring at the space the Potions Master had just occupied.

Severus Snape was not interested in personal glory. He only cared about what was right.

He really was a good man.

Severus appeared directly in Albus office, the Headmaster sitting at his desk, and Harry sitting across from him in the armchair, looking a bit pale but resolute. Both started at the crack of thunder, Harry half rising before realizing it was the Potions Master and taking his seat.

"Ah Severus. I take it Draco is on the grounds?" he asked the pale wizard.

"Yes, he is waiting by the willow," Severus replied, looking at Harry. "Ready, Mr. Potter?"

Harry looked up at the Potions Master.

"As ready as I can be," he replied.

Albus motioned for Severus to sit down, and the tall, pale wizard folded himself into the armchair next to Harry's.
"There's been a change of plans, Severus. You and Harry will not be alone. When he draws his sword, your duplicity will be revealed. Voldemort will know I have not been killed, so I might as well, shall we say…"pop up," Albus said, his blue eyes twinkling, though there was a bit of darkness behind that twinkle.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief, and Severus did as well, though internally. Albus' intervention could mean both of their survival.

But I will still be on the perimeter and have to work my way forward. Yet my appearance will distract him in any case. You may be able to make your move then, Harry. Attack him," Albus said. Harry nodded, paling a bit more.

Albus looked from Harry to Severus.

"I know it's a bit early, but I think a shot is in order," he said, standing and turning around. He pulled a large, dusty bottle off the shelf and three small glasses. The Headmaster then blew the dust off the label. It was Ogden's Firewhiskey, a very old bottle. Circa 1841. He uncapped it and reverently poured a small splash in each glass and put the bottle away. He sat back down and motioned for Severus and Harry to each take a glass. They did so.

"To victory," Albus said, holding up his shot.

"To victory," Severus and Harry intoned. Then they each drank the liquor down, Harry breaking out in a coughing fit as Albus and Severus looked on.

The corridors were full of students rushing for the Great Hall. Their Heads of House had gone from room to room rousing the lay-abouts and sending them off post haste down to breakfast, their charges grumbling as they fastened their hastily applied robes.

The secret of the upcoming battle had been kept admirably. None of the students knew what was happening. They had been previously told they all had to be in the Great Hall by seven-thirty, yet most believed they were going to be treated to another of Albus' droning soliloquies about Hogwarts' growth, improvement, new lesson plans, etc. In other words, they'd be able to catch a few extra winks before class.

Ron sat at the Gryffindor table looking about. He knew Harry wouldn't be here, but didn't see Hermione. He hadn't yet had a chance to talk to her. He wanted to apologize for his actions over the past months, and particularly for his reaction to her when she told him she was intimately involved with someone else. He didn't love Hermione that way after all. It was just a territorial reaction. It had passed. He only hoped the witch would forgive him.

Seven thirty arrived and the doors to the Great Hall were locked and warded. Everyone in the Great Hall could feel the castle's powerful magic wash over them and began to comment and question what was going on.

Ron was worried. Hermione still wasn't here. He got up and walked over to Professor McGonagall.

"Professor, Hermione isn't here," he said to her. "I'm worried. She could be someplace reading or something."

Minerva looked at the red-haired wizard and gave him a small smile.

"I assure you, Mr. Weasley, this is not a repeat of Hallow's Eve. Miss Granger is very safe elsewhere," she said…just a bit tightly.

Albus had informed Minerva of Hermione's involvement with the Potions Master, and after he revived her, told him how Hermione would be sequestered in the wizard's rooms for her own protection.

Minerva protested until Albus pointed out that Hermione was a risk to herself, and if she were given even a bit of freedom, she would no doubt attempt to go to Harry and Severus' aid at the risk of her own life.

Considering Hermione's history, Minerva was forced to agree, though she didn't like the idea of her being trapped in Severus' bedroom.

"It's like she's some kind of…of sex slave," the witch harrumphed.

Albus shook his head.

"Severus would have to be present for that, Minerva. He won't be," the wizard said placatingly.

"He will be when he returns," she shot back at Albus.

"If he returns, Minerva. If he returns," the Headmaster replied.

This was enough to silence Minerva. Severus was taking quite a risk…there was a good chance he would die. As lecherous as she believed the Potions Master was being toward Hermione, she didn't want that to happen. There'd be no replacing him, either in the school…or in her heart. Severus had always been a rather tragic soul to Minerva, and she had known him for many years. He sacrificed so much. For him to lose his life now, when it seemed as if Voldemort's evil could be ended…would just be criminal.

"The gods protect him," the witch breathed.

Albus looked up at the clock. It was five minutes to eight.

"It's almost time," he said to Harry and Severus.

Harry drew in a deep, calming breath. This was it. This is what his entire life boiled down to…meeting Voldemort face to face. At least he had made it to manhood.

In the Great Hall, Ginny Weasley sat quietly as all the students muttered around her, demanding to know what was going on. Her brown eyes rested on the clock hanging over the dais. It was almost eight o'clock.

"I believe in you, Harry. You'll come out all right," she whispered softly, her eyes filling with tears. "You just have to."

In the bedroom, dressed in one of Severus' white shirts, Hermione was desperately going over every brick of the stone walls, pressing them in that hope there was some secret passage that led out of Severus' bedroom. How could he do this to her? Leave her trapped in here unable to find out what was going on…and worse, unable to help him. And he took her wand. Even if she did get out, how could she help him without a wand? Severus had locked her down tight.

She knew he did it because he loved her, but couldn't he see she wanted to be by his side because she loved him as well? The witch flopped on the bed. She couldn't get out. Then she had an idea.

"I need a house elf!" she cried to the walls. Suddenly, there was a pop. A small house elf appeared, looking up at Hermione, his brown eyes wet.

"Can I helps you Miss?" he asked.

"Yes, I need to get out of this room," Hermione said.

The elf shook his head.

"I is sorry, Miss. The great Dumbledore has forbidden us to takes you from this room. Maybe something to eats?" the elf asked her hopefully.

Hermione scowled down at him.

"No, I don't want anything to eat," she said angrily, though she was hungry.

She looked at the clock. It was one minute to eight. Harry said Severus would be taking him to Voldemort at eight o'clock. She looked at the elf, thinking hard. Then she had another idea.

"You can bring me things, can't you?" she asked the elf.

"Yes, Miss. I can do that," the elf replied, bobbing his head.

"I want you to go to Professor Flitwick's class and borrow all the substitute wands you can find and bring them to me," Hermione said to the elf, who looked at her with a sly smile. House elves loved naughtiness, though they weren't allowed to engage in it themselves, and it was clear that this witch was quite naughty. She intended to get out herself.

"Yes, Miss," the elf said with a delighted bow and winked out.

Hermione stared at the door, having no idea her wand was in the next room. If she had known, she could have had the elf retrieve it.

"If Severus Snape thinks he can keep me in here, he'd better think again," she said.

Kingsley and Tonks removed the illusion around the perimeter and took up their positions near the gate, invoking the invisibility spell, then the Petrificus spell mentally and becoming invisible. They were just in time.

Hundreds of Death Eaters began winking in silently, the sound of their apparition dampened by a silencing spell. They stood in formation, Voldemort appearing directly in front of them, seated on his throne and carried on a gold leafed platform by six Death Eaters. Lucius Malfoy appeared in front of him, bowing low.

"Open the gates, Lucius. Let the battle begin," Voldemort said in his high pitched voice. He was splendidly dressed in crimson robes.

"Yes, my Lord," Lucius replied, checking the gates and opening them wide. Voldemort was carried through, and the Death Eaters followed silently.

"This is almost too easy, Voldemort thought. Then he heard a crack of thunder. Startled, the Dark Lord and all the Death Eaters looked to the left. There under the Whomping willow, stood Severus, one arm wrapped around Harry Potter's throat, the young wizard's wand in his other hand.

Voldemort was delighted.

"He is there! That means Albus is dead!" the wizard lisped, rocking in his throne in his excitement. "Get me over there you oafs. Now! The rest of you wait here until I engage the boy, then charge the castle! Lucius, you are with me. You know why."

"Yes my Lord," the pureblood said, motioning for several Death Eaters to fall in as back–up. He saw Draco standing on the outskirt of the tree as well. He was proud of his son. He had done as he was supposed to do and brought honor to the Malfoy name.

Twelve Death Eaters broke rank and joined the entourage, wands in hand. Lucius strode before his Lord, toward the tree, his eyes focused on Severus and his prisoner. His job was to watch Severus closely, to see if he had done anything traitorous. If he found the wizard at fault, he was to kill him where he stood without hesitation. Though he had nothing against Severus personally, he would do his duty. He was a soldier after all.

Had the Potions Master really killed Albus? He must have in order to have taken Harry. Dumbledore would have never allowed it.

The group made their way toward the Whomping Willow, Voldemort's eyes blazing with victory.

At last…at last he would kill Harry Potter.

Harry and Severus watched as Voldemort was quickly carried across the grounds, Lucius striding before him. Severus felt Harry start to tremble.

"Keep your wits about you, Mr. Potter. Your hour has arrived. There are over four thousand Order members on the grounds, and Albus will arrive shortly. You are not alone," he breathed to the young wizard, his dark eyes resting on the approaching Dark Lord.

Harry swallowed and nodded slightly. He felt his robes, comforted by the feel of Godric's blade beneath them.

On a branch above, Crookshanks hissed as he felt Voldemort's evil wash over him. The half-kneazle crept a bit closer.

Voldemort and his Death Eaters arrived at the perimeter of the Whomping Willow, the wizards carrying him carefully lowering the platform to the ground as Lucius and his entourage spread out in a semi-circle around the tree. Lucius patted Draco on the shoulder.

"You did well, son," he said proudly.

Draco didn't reply as Lucius strode to a position where he could see Severus clearly.

Voldemort slowly rose from his throne and stepped off the platform. His red eyes rested on Severus.

"Did you do what was required, loyal servant?" the despot asked him.

"I did what I had to do, my Lord," Severus answered him.

Voldemort gave a wide, lipless smile.

"You have proven yourself to me, Severus. Indeed, your treachery has endeared you to me greatly. Not only have you killed that fool, Albus, but delivered Harry Potter to me. Your place in my future rule is assured," the Dark Lord said.

"Thank you, my Lord," Severus replied, his dark eyes shifting toward Lucius. The blonde wizard was still on point.

Voldemort looked at Harry triumphantly.

"I have you now, Harry Potter. At least your death will be by the hand of the greatest wizard the wizarding world has ever known," he said, his forked tongue flicking out with anticipation.

Crookshanks narrowed his eyes and let out a loud, derogatory hiss at this statement. Everyone looked up. Voldemort frowned blackly at the flat-faced cat.

"Stupid beast," he hissed, raising his wand and firing a blast at Crookshanks, who leapt away just in time, scrambling up higher in the tree and taking cover on a thick bough. The branch Voldemort hit cracked and fell, the Whomping Willow shuddering in pain and anger.

Pissed at the cat's interruption, Voldemort leveled his burning eyes on Harry.

"Release him, Severus, and give him his wand," the despot ordered.

Severus dropped his arm from around Harry's throat and handed him his wand, backing up toward the trunk of the Whomping Willow.

"Are you ready to die, Harry?" Voldemort asked him, drawing a wicked looking dagger from beneath his robes. "You will do it the old-fashioned way in the end."

Harry looked at the wizard and took a deep breath.

"It might not be me who dies today, you bastard!" Harry cried, throwing back his robes and drawing the cutlass.

Immediately, the Death Eaters waiting for a sign let out a terrible cry and charged toward Hogwarts castle, fifteen hundred strong, wands held at position by their sides. Suddenly, over six thousand Order members appeared out of nowhere, firing stunners and dropping more than half of Voldemort's loyal servants with a single concerted blast.

"Nooooooo!" Voldemort cried as the Order members attacked, easily overpowering his fleeing ranks, binding those upon the ground and taking up the pursuit as the remaining Death Eaters fled for the main gates. They were locked and Kingsley and Tonks appeared, dropping Death Eaters with blasts as the Order brought up the rear. It was over almost as soon as it started.

A loud clap of thunder sounded and Albus Dumbledore appeared, dressed in all white robes. The twelve Death Eaters did their best to engage him, the old wizard appearing and disappearing in various places as he took them out one after the other. Draco joined in the fray, blasting his comrades from behind with a grim focus.

"Betrayal!" Lucius howled, drawing his wand and pointing it at Severus…but he was too slow. The Potions Master slipped into the hole beneath the Whomping Willow. Lucius charged and fired a Killing curse into the dark recess, only to receive a returning blast that nearly caught him in the face.

Voldemort faced Harry, the look on his scaly face horrible.

"My Death Eaters may have fallen, but I will still kill you, boy. You'd better be able to use that cutlass," he hissed as Harry started forward, firing a blast at Voldemort, which he easily blocked.

Lucius was attempting to maneuver himself into a position to reach Severus, who was pressed against the wall, firing blasts at the pureblood. Lucius leapt to the other side of the opening, his foot landing on a small bulge of root.

Crookshanks yowled as the Whomping Willow shuddered into life, its branches creaking loudly and making a noise much like a wooden roar. Lucius had inadvertently stepped on the bit of root that stopped the tree from whomping…and triggered it. Everyone froze at the sound, the fighting ceasing.

The Whomping Willow didn't have eyes, but a very sensitive network of rootlets beneath the ground that were close to the surface. They could feel weight, movement and heat. The pain that the tree felt earlier emanated from the source moving directly in front of it. The thickest part of the flexible trunk pulled back.

Voldemort looked up just in time to see the main trunk of the tree come smashing down, crushing him flat as a pancake, the thick trunk resting there for a moment, then slowly rising.

Lucius was frozen against the tree trunk, his foot still resting on the rootlet, staring at the crushed pulp that was his former Lord. Severus stealthily crept out of the hole and stunned him without difficulty, then bound him. Then he stepped on the root, stilling the Whomping Willow so it would not attack again.

Harry stood holding the sword of Gryffindor, his mouth slack with shock as he looked down at what was left of Voldemort. The crushed wizard formed a kind of disgusting flower shape, black blood radiating around the center of his robes, pulp and bones like petals.

As the Order members collected the Death Eaters and grumbled about there not being enough of them for everyone to have gotten a blast off, Albus and Severus walked up to the mess that used to be the Dark Lord. Harry was still in shock behind them.

"Not the glorious end Voldemort was hoping for," Albus said, shaking his head. "Killed by a tree."

Severus' dark eyes studied the mass. It began to bubble.

"A tree can't kill the Dark Lord, sir," he said, reaching into his pocked and taking out the dread blade of Dresden as the black blood began to ripple toward the center of the crushed wizard, a bubble of flesh starting to grow in the center as the bones drew in. The wizard was trying to reform.

Severus pulled the dagger from it's sheathe and threw it point first into the center of the bubble. A gurgling sound rose up from it, then the bubble collapsed and the entire mass turned black and hard.

"Now he's dead," Severus said with finality.

Harry was finally able to move and walked up beside Severus, looking at what was left of Voldemort.

"He's really gone?" the young wizard asked, adjusting his glasses as he studied the blackened mass.

Severus looked at him.

"Yes he is, Mr. Potter. You are finally free of him," the wizard replied, "We both are."

Harry stared for a bit longer, then a smile formed.

"Free," he breathed.

Behind them, Lucius roused, then awoke, struggling in his bonds for a moment then looking around. He first saw Albus, Harry and Severus. Then he looked to his right and saw Draco helping Order members take Death Eaters away. His gray eyes widened, then narrowed.

"Draco! Draco, you've betrayed me! I disown you!" he howled at his son, hatred on his handsome face.

Draco looked at his bound father, then slowly walked over to him, Severus, Albus and Harry watching. Stopping a couple of feet away, he knelt on his heels and gazed at his father coldly.

"That hardly matters now, Father, since you will be spending the rest of your life in Azkaban," the young wizard said. "Besides, it was better to betray you than the entire wizarding world. If Voldemort hadn't poisoned your mind, you would see that."

"It's your mind that's been poisoned, Draco. You've turned on everything you believed in," his father spat at him.

"No, Father…I've turned on everything YOU believed in," the young wizard replied, rising and walking away.

Lucius struggled in his restraints violently.

"Draco? Draco! Don't you walk away from me! Draco!" he cried after his son hoarsely.

Draco never looked back.

The scene at the Ministry was much the same as at Hogwarts. When the Aurors appeared to disapparate to Hogwarts, the Order members appeared behind the Death Eaters, stunned and bound them, assisted by the Aurors. There were no casualties in either confrontation…unless you included Voldemort.

It didn't take long to clear the school grounds of Death Eaters. Voldemort's remains were scraped into a burlap sack and delivered by Kingsley and Tonks to the Ministry. The wards around Hogwarts dropped, the danger over.

Albus, Harry and Severus returned to the castle, first going to the Great Hall, Albus explaining to the students what had occurred on the grounds, and announcing Voldemort's death. This news was greeted with cheers, hat tosses and wand blasts.

As Harry entered the Great Hall, he was knocked to the floor by an ecstatic Ginny Weasley, who lay on top of him and kissed him soundly amid the hoots, howls and wolf whistles of the other students. He didn't care as he kissed her back happily, holding her close. Even Ron was smiling. How could he not?

His best friend had survived.

Severus watched Ginny kiss Harry, then turned to the Headmaster.

"I need to go sir. I am sure I have my own welcome waiting for me in my rooms, though I doubt it will be as pleasant as Mr. Potter's was," the Potions Master said to Albus, whose eye's twinkled merrily. No doubt Miss Granger would be livid.

"A bit of protective shielding might be in order, Severus," the Headmaster quipped.

"Perhaps," Severus agreed.

He hoped the fact that he was still alive would calm the witch's ire. He exited the Great Hall and headed for the dungeons.

Hermione cursed and tossed the sixth wand down on the floor. It wasn't powerful enough, though the wards were weakened. There had been a wand she used in Charms in her third year that worked well for her. Her own wand had been snapped accidentally and sent out for repairs. The elf, whose name was Eli, had brought thirteen substitute wands from the class, and Hermione was working her way through them. She picked up the next wand.

"Come on," she breathed, pointing it at the wards and focusing her intent, imagining them melting away. She felt them drop.

"Yes!" she breathed, rushing forward, pulling open the door and running right into Severus' hard, lean body.

The wizard looked down at the witch with an eyebrow arched. Not only did she have a wand, but was half-dressed in his good silk shirt.

"You're back," she said, amazed and relieved.

"Yes I am," the Potions Master replied, scowling slightly as he looked at the wand in her hand.

"And just in the nick of time, I see. You are a naughty, willful little witch who deserves to be punished for her disobedience," he purred, pushing her gently back into the bedroom and entering, closing the door behind him.

"Punished?" Hermione repeated, staring at the wizard.

Severus, having little experience with women in extended relationships was not aware of that dangerous little squeak in Hermione's inflection…the little squeak that meant something very, very unpleasant was about to happen.

"Yes punished. If you had managed to get on the grounds, more than likely you would have triggered members of the Order to show themselves before planned, in an effort to protect you. The outcome could have been casualties," Severus said. "As it is, only one person died. Voldemort."

"He's dead?" Hermione asked, a feeling of joy welling up inside her.

"Yes, he's dead. And your Mr. Potter came through without a scratch…although he's still a bit disoriented. No doubt Miss Weasley will put him to rights in a short time," the Potions Master replied, starting to unbutton his robes, his eyes on the silk shirt Hermione was wearing.

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief…then her eyes hardened as she looked at the Potions Master calmly undressing as if he didn't have a worry in the world.

Well he did.

Severus was just sliding his robes down his arms when Hermione pointed the borrowed wand at him.

"Incarcerous!" she cried.

The wand worked fine

Ropes flew out the wand tip and wrapped around the startled wizard, binding his arms and legs to his body tightly.

"What in the world do you think you are doing?" he roared at Hermione, who dropped the wand and caught him as he toppled forward. It was an effort to keep him from hitting the floor but she managed…panting at the wizard's weight.

"Funny, you don't feel this heavy when you're on top of me," she huffed, dragging the wizard toward the bed, pushing him upright for a moment, then letting him fall face first into the mattress. She picked up the remaining wands on the bed and piled them on the nightstand, then rolled Severus over, managing to get his legs in and shoving him over a bit so there was enough room for her to sit on the edge of the bed.

"You let me go immediately, witch…or I swear by every god spawned by heaven I'll…" the wizard seethed, struggling to no avail. The ropes tightened more.

"You'll do nothing," Hermione said darkly, her amber eyes narrowed in anger. "So stop blustering, Severus."

Severus was so surprised at the young witch addressing him in such a way, he shut up.

"Good," Hermione said, frowning down at him. "Now you're going to listen to me, Severus Snape and listen good. I have a few things to say to you. First, how DARE you imply that I need to be 'punished?' Don't you think being locked in here, not knowing what was going on and what was happening to you and Harry punishment enough? And you took my wand…and I had no clothes. That was a terrible thing to do, Severus."

The wizard looked at her. He wasn't thinking about how terrible it would be to Hermione. He was only thinking about keeping her from getting killed.

"I had to protect you, Hermione. The gods only know what could have happened if you charged out into the middle of all that. This was the only way I could think to do it. Harry and I had to protect our own asses. Protecting you would have distracted us to no end," the wizard said.

Hermione let a bit of the anger creep out of her voice.

"Severus, I know what your intentions were…but you treated me as if I were a child. I am eighteen years old. An adult. If I am old enough to shag you, I'm old enough to fight beside you," she said evenly. "You didn't even give me a choice in the matter."

Severus scowled.

"A choice? Hermione, would you even have asked me to let you fight?" he asked the witch.

Hermione hesitated. No, she wouldn't have asked him because she knew he would have said no.

"That doesn't matter. The fact is, you just arbitrarily locked me in here to wait to see if the wards dropped and you died. Now you want to "punish" me for trying to get out?" she said to him. "Listen Severus…I'm young but I refuse to have you acting as both a father and a lover. If you want to be my father, then we need to break this off right now. I love you, but I refuse to let you drive me insane by controlling every aspect of my life. I am a woman, not a child…and if we are going to get on…you're going to have to treat me like an equal. That means not locking me in a room every time you want to do something without me and talking to me about things that concern you. I love you, Severus. I have a right to have a say in what you do when the results can be devastating and you can be taken from me."

Severus blinked up at Hermione. She did have a point. He did treat her like a child outside of the bedroom. He didn't mean to do it, but she was so young, and he was so protective. He would rather lay down his own life a thousand times than to have one chestnut hair on her head harmed. Plus, he never had to think about what his actions would mean to someone else. He had always been alone, and didn't have anyone who cared for him the way Hermione did. He always made his decisions based on the fact it was "his" life, to risk if he wanted to.

Now, it wasn't that way anymore.

Whatever he did would affect Hermione too, and later on…his family if the witch accepted him for a husband. The Potions Master was entering an entirely new facet of life. One he was completely unfamiliar with.

The wizard sighed. Hermione wasn't the only one who had to grow up. How had he ever thought he could accomplish his goals of happiness without changing? Without sacrificing? Without becoming more than who and what he was? He was part of two lives now, and no longer a lone soldier fighting the forces of darkness. He had to adapt if he wanted to fulfill his dreams. Reality still dictated.

Severus looked at the witch, swallowed and said, "I'm sorry, Hermione. There is so much I have to learn about you, about us. About what it means to be involved with another person's life. I wish there was some course or lesson plan to guide me. I didn't think about how you felt…only about my own wishes. For this, I apologize."

Severus meant this sincerely.

Hermione's eyes softened as she listened to the hardest man she had ever known in her life apologize for being so thoughtless. This had to be another first for the wizard. And it was a good one. She placed a cool palm on the bound wizard's cheek.

"I don't think there are any lesson plans, Severus. There are books about starting and keeping relationships…but as much a bookworm as I am, even I wouldn't read them. It's different for everyone I think. We'll just have to learn as we go…and both be willing to make the necessary choices and concessions in order for it to work. Severus, you are going to have to show me the respect I deserve as an adult, and the consideration I deserve as your witch. I don't mind your advice…you do have more experience with the world than I do, but I have more experience getting along with other people than you do. So we can help each other," she said softly.

The wizard nodded. No wonder Hermione had tied him up. He wouldn't have listened to this if she hadn't. Hermione stared down at him.

"Now, about this punishment…" she began.

Severus shook his head.

"After due consideration, I don't believe 'punishment' is in order," he said to the witch, expecting her to accept his change of heart and let him loose.

Hermione stared at him.

"Not for me, at least," she said evenly.

Severus looked confused.

"What? What do you mean?" he asked the witch, a cold feeling starting to spread through his belly.

Hermione stood up and started pacing, the wizard's dark eyes following her as best they could as the witch walked in and out of his line of vision.

"You would never respect me if I just let you get away with locking me in here the way you did," she said thoughtfully.

"But I would respect you. Very much. For being a kind and forgiving witch," the Potions Master replied. "For adhering to your Gryffindor upbringing."

Hermione stopped pacing and looked at him.

"I'm afraid after dealing with you, Severus, my Gryffindor upbringing has been severely compromised. Thanks to you, I've quite a bit of Slytherin in me now," she said with a little wicked smile. "And I think it only fair that you be punished for your treatment of me. Now, if you don't agree, I can just 'go away' for a while until you do."

Severus scowled at the witch. Was she…blackmailing him?

"This is extortion," he seethed. He was free now. He wanted Hermione accessible to him. This was the worst time for her to make herself scarce.

"Yes, it is," Hermione agreed, that same little smile on her face. But her chin was also thrust out, which meant she meant business. She'd walk out on him. "Now, do you agree to submit yourself to my punishment, or do I leave now?"

Severus continued to scowl at her.

"Fine. I will submit…this once. Only because my actions against you were so grievous," the wizard snarked bad-naturedly. Hermione had him right by the balls…literally.

There was a swirl of magic in the air, and Hermione looked at him triumphantly.

"Damn it," Severus hissed as the wizard's Oath took hold. He hadn't meant for that to happen. Now he was bound to take whatever the witch dished out without complaint.

Hermione pointed the wand at Severus.

"Libertius," she said, and the ropes flew back into her wand. Severus sat up scowling, rubbing at his arms to get the circulation going again. Then he looked at the witch.

"Now what?" he groused, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and frowning at the witch.

"First things first," Hermione replied lightly. She was going to enjoy having the wizard at her mercy. "Where's my wand?"

"In the study," Severus replied.

"Retrieve it for me," she ordered.

His nostrils flared, Severus stood up, stalked over to the bedroom door, pulled it open and stormed through. This was fine treatment for a wizard who just helped bring down Voldemort.

He returned with the wand and held it out to Hermione, who took it from him with a smile.

"And now?" Severus asked her.

"Sit down and let me think of something fitting," the witch replied.

Severus walked back over to the bed and plopped down on it, hoping at least some aspect of the "punishment" would require him to take his clothes off.

Hermione walked back and forth, looking thoughtful…stopping now and again to look at Severus for a moment, then shaking her head and pacing again.

This went on for about ten minutes, Severus' arms tightly folded across his chest, a scowl plastered on his face as his nostrils pulsated impatiently. He wanted to tell the witch to hurry up and found he couldn't. It seemed the Oath considered waiting part of the punishment.

Suddenly Hermione stopped, then she began to laugh. And it was a true witch's laugh, her cackling making the hair on the back of Severus' neck stand up. What had the witch come up with?

Hermione turned and looked at him.

"All right, Severus. This is just the preliminary warm-up punishment," she said, drawing her wand and making several flicks with it toward the center of the bedroom. She smiled wickedly and turned to Severus, who was practically red with rage. But he couldn't say anything as he looked at what the witch had conjured.

There, floating about a foot off the floor, stood several large silver hoops, equally spaced.

Hermione grinned at him.

"Go stand in front of the first hoop," she said, giggling as the dark wizard rose and stalked over to the first large ring.

"I think you know what to do…several times," Hermione said, sitting down on the bed and getting comfortable.

Severus looked at her as if he wanted to wring her neck. Hermione chuckled and made a number of jumping motions with her wand, which seemed to irritate the wizard even more.

Oh, this was going to be fun.

Severus took one long-legged step through the first ring. Hermione frowned.

"That's not jumping," she said.

Severus scowled at her.

"I swear, Hermione, if you ever twist your tongue to tell anyone about this…" the Potions Master seethed

"Less threatening, more jumping," Hermione said, cutting him off.

Severus sighed, bent his legs and hopped through the next ring. And the next. And the next. He jumped through five rings in all. He turned toward the bed and frowning blackly, looked at Hermione.

"Are you satisfied?" he asked.

"You haven't even broken a sweat, Severus," Hermione answered him. "I want to see some perspiration."

Resignedly, Severus hopped back and forth through the rings several more times until he was panting from the continuous effort.

"That's enough," Hermione said, smiling at the wizard.

Gods, she had made dark, snarky Severus Snape literally jump through hoops for her. She wished she could tell someone, but no one would believe her. She doubted even Harry would think she was telling the truth. Plus, Severus would kill her if a single word of this got out.

The rings disappeared and the house elf Eli appeared with a bottle of cold water clasped in his claw. He handed it to Severus, who glared at him.

"Thank you, Eli," Hermione said.

"You is welcome, Miss," Eli said with another sly smile and bow. He winked out.

Hermione had unintentionally summoned the elf by thinking she should send for water for Severus. Eli had been waiting all morning, hoping the naughty witch would need service again, so when the witch thought about water, he came with what she needed. Normally Hogwarts' house elves weren't attuned to students to such an extent, but Eli had been impressed by the clever witch and so kept focused on her.

Severus drank half the bottle of water down, recapped it and set it on the nightstand. He looked down on the witch, his nostrils still flared.

"All right, witch. You've made me jump through hoops for you. Are you satisfied?" he asked her angrily.

Hermione would pay for this indignity. Maybe no time soon…but eventually he would get her back.

Hermione studied Severus. She was so glad he survived. Her whole world would have crumbled if he died at the hands of Voldemort. Certainly, she would have gone on with her life, but he would have remained a dark specter all her days. Suddenly, she felt a powerful rush of desire for the frowning wizard. She stood up.

"Lie down in the bed," Hermione said imperiously.

Severus arched an eyebrow. The bed? Maybe now they were getting somewhere.

"Do you want me to undress?" he asked her hopefully.

Hermione shook her head.

"That won't be necessary," she replied with a smirk.

Severus scowled again. Then what bloody good was it to get in the bed? He strode over, climbed into the bed and laid down on his back, looking at Hermione.

"Now what?" he asked her.

Hermione pointed her wand at him again.

"Incarcerous," she said again.

Obviously, the intent of the spellcaster had much to do with how an individual was tied up, because this time when the ropes flew out, they wrapped around Severus' wrists and ankles and tied him securely to the bedposts.

"What is this?" Severus yelled, tugging at his restraints.

"Part two of your punishment, Severus," Hermione replied, grinning at the helpless wizard. "Divesto!"

Suddenly, Severus was left in only his silk boxers. The wizard relaxed. Now this part of the punishment didn't seem as if it would end badly.

Hermione walked up to the bed and looked down on her lover, her eyes a bit heated.

"So, you plan to have your wicked way with me?" Severus asked her, his boxers beginning to tent.

"In a manner of speaking," Hermione said, leaning down and with one finger, tickling his throat. The Potions Master brought his chin down, stopping her.

"Stop that," he said brusquely.

Hermione smiled and drew a finger very lightly down his collarbone and tickled the wizard under his armpit. Severus struggled and gasped.

"Stop it!" he demanded, his breath catching

Hermione straightened and smiled wickedly.

"Why Severus Snape, I never would have dreamed someone as sour as you was…ticklish," she said as the wizard's eyes widened.

Yes, he was very ticklish…but no one had tickled him since he was a child. Hermione wouldn't dare…

The witch flicked her wand again and four long white feathers appeared floating in the air in front of her. She looked down on Severus again, smiling from ear to ear.

The wizard went paler than usual.

"No. Hermione…no. This is unconscionable," the Severus said, his black eyes on the floating feathers as Hermione positioned them with her wand, two hovering by each foot and two floating just above his exposed armpits.

"Unconscionable? Like locking me in a room to wait for you to die? Unconscionable like that, Severus?" Hermione asked him.

The wizard fell silent.

"Who said punishment had to be painful?" Hermione said wickedly, flicking her wand at each feather and watching them go to work. She placed her wand on the nightstand.

At first, Severus took the tickling stoically, trying to apply the mind control he used when the Dark Lord would torture him. But then he was fighting pain…it was a deep, tearing, ripping ache. Tickling was subtle and light. There was nothing substantial for him to fight against. The wizard's toes turned down so tightly, Hermione heard them crack. Then the Potions Master's entire body began to shudder and quake as the light quills danced across his armpits repeatedly. He held his mouth tightly closed, his dark eyes closed as he strained to maintain his composure.

Well, to his credit, he gave it the old Hogwarts' try.

"Bwahahahahahaha!" the wizard chortled in a deep, rich laugh, writhing in his bonds. Hahahahaha! Hermionehahahahaha! Stopitmawhahahahahah!"

Hermione began laughing too as Severus laughed hysterically, the feathers mercilessly attacking his flexing body. He still looked quite delicious though, every muscle tensing up, his back arching, his head flailing side to side. One feather left his armpit to dance across his belly, the wizard bouncing off the bed as he continued to laugh uncontrollably.

Hermione smiled. She hadn't known Severus could laugh like this. She let it go on for several minutes. Soon, the wizard was gasping for breath, tears streaming down the sides of his face and into his lank hair. Feeling he had enough, Hermione stopped the torment, picking up her wand and flicking it toward the feathers. They faded away.

Hermione replaced the wand on the nightstand, her eyes resting on the wizard. Gods, he was so delectable.

Severus laid there, his chest rising and falling as he tried to catch his breath. He felt the mattress compress next to him and then felt Hermione straddle his belly. The Potions Master opened his eyes to see she was still dressed in his white shirt. By the heat that rested against his skin, he could tell she had nothing on under it.

Hermione leaned forward, her face just above his, her curling hair draping over his shoulders.

"Punishment is over," she breathed down at the wizard, "Now it's time to show you how glad I am you survived."

Severus looked up at her.

"I would have never suspected you were into 'hurt/comfort,' witch," he said to her silkily, his breathing slowing.

"You don't know what I'm into," Hermione said, kissing him and planning to look up what 'hurt/comfort' meant as soon as she could.

Severus sighed against the witch's mouth as her soft lips came in contact with his. It was a chaste, teasing little kiss, and he puckered reflexively for more when she pulled away.

"Are you going to untie me?" he asked her, trying to hide the growl in his voice.

Hermione caught it. She looked at his strong arms stretched out and tied to the bedposts, then shook her head.

"Not yet. I like the power," she replied, sitting up again. "Snarky Severus Snape tied spread-eagled to his four-poster and at the mercy of a student. I like the way that sounds. More than that, I like the way it feels."

She drew her hands slowly down his chest. Severus closed his eyes for a moment, savoring her caress, then they opened again.

"I hope you like how something else feels," the wizard said in a low voice, his dark eyes hot as Hermione slowly began to unbutton the white shirt she wore. Severus began to swell as he watched her reveal her full breasts, flat belly and soft pubic hair. Hermione slid the shirt off and tossed it over the side of the bed.

"My good silk shirt," Severus thought for a split second, then decided it could always be cleaned as the naked witch leaned over him again, her breasts resting against his chest as she kissed him again, deeper this time, her tongue snaking into his mouth and wrapping around his tongue before lapping at it. He returned the kiss, his hips jerking slightly as his swollen member began to throb. He felt as if he hadn't had Hermione for weeks.

Hermione kissed Severus with all the love and passion he had awakened in her, losing herself in his mouth, his taste, the feel of his supple tongue tapping and licking every part of her mouth, sucking and savoring, fire passing between their lips and coursing through their bodies. Severus pulled away from her mouth.

"Release me," he demanded hoarsely. "I need to touch you."

"Not yet," she breathed, nibbling on his chin, running her teeth over his jaw line before falling to his throat.

If Severus thought the hoops and feathers were punishment, they were nothing compared to the witch's mouth moving over his body with him being unable to touch her, to turn her…to mount her. He let out a groan that seemed to well up from his very soul as Hermione moved down his chest, her curls moving over him as she slid her body back, her core resting on the hard length of his erection, wetting his silk boxes with her juices. Hermione let out a small moan as she felt his thick, pulsing shaft beneath her and ground down on him reflexively, making the wizard hiss and yank at his bonds.

"Release me," Severus groaned as Hermione slid back on to his thighs, her mouth moving over the ridges of his pale belly. The witch didn't answer him as she moved lower, stopping at the elastic of his boxers and looking up at him, her amber eyes burning like twin suns.

"Not yet," Hermione breathed as she unabashedly reached under his boxers, gripped his hard member and pulled it out in all its rigid glory. His erection was beautiful to behold, the long, thick, pale shaft encircled by throbbing veins, the bulbous head a deep, weeping purple.

"Damn," Hermione breathed, licking her lips, her fingers curled partially around his girth. "You're so big and hard, Severus."

"Release me," the wizard said, pushing his loins upward, his tool sliding deliciously in her palm. It was as if those two words were the only words he could say.

"Not yet," Hermione breathed, engulfing him in her hot, wet mouth.

"Fuck!" Severus hissed, his body arching upward as Hermione sucked him hard, then began to bob her head back and forth, his member sliding between her lips over and over, the wizard gasping with pleasure.

Gods, he was so stiff and hot, the soft skin covering his rigid member moving with her motions. Hermione gripped the base and ran her hands over his length as she continued sucking him, turned on by his very vocal response.

Every vein in the Potions Master's body seemed to be standing out as Hermione applied herself, running her tongue up and down his length, planting sucking kisses, her lips slipping down to his nads and sucking them in, one after the other, then both together, rolling them over her tongue.

Severus strained against his bonds with all his strength, willing them to break. Hermione was tormenting him beyond his ability to cope.

"Let me loose, witch!" he cried out to her hoarsely as her sweet mouth brought him closer and closer to climax. He didn't want to come…because he didn't want to wait to bury himself inside the witch.

"Let me loose, Hermione," he gasped. "Let me love you."

Suddenly Hermione stopped, releasing the wizard from her mouth. Severus was caught between wanting her to continue and wanting her to release him.

"Love me?" Hermione asked him huskily, holding him just out of lip range.

"Yesssss," Severus pressed, "Love you, Hermione. It can be nothing else witch."

Her body aflame, Hermione stared at the wizard. Technically, he hadn't said he loved her, but his meaning was clear. He wanted more than shagging. He wanted everything.

As if mesmerized, Hermione moved upward so her breasts hung over his face, reaching for her wand on the nightstand. The wizard wasted no time latching on to her nipple and sucking hard, making the witch gasp as she grabbed her wand.

"Libertius," she moaned, lost to the feeling of his mouth.

The ropes restraining the wizard snapped back into the tip of the wand, freeing him. Severus immediately wrapped his arms around the witch, still suckling her breast, Hermione groaning with pleasure. After switching to her other breast and eliciting the desired response, he released the firm flesh and pulled her downward so her face was over his.

"Now witch…it's my turn," he growled, rolling over with her and trapping her body beneath his.

First, Severus kissed Hermione soundly, catching her wrists and stretching her arms out on either side of her body. Then he pulled away from her mouth, his black eyes glittering down at her.

"What you did to me was highly embarrassing, Hermione…making me chortle like a clown," he said to her in a low voice.

Hermione looked completely unrepentant.

"You probably needed it. When was the last time you laughed? I mean really laughed…and not for nasty reasons," she said rather sharply.

Until Hermione tacked on "nasty reasons," Severus was going to say he laughed all the time. But the witch had him. Most of his chuckles over the years were because of someone else's misfortune…a misfortune he usually had something to do with.

"It's been years…but still you had no right to tear it out of me," he griped.

"I had every right. It was your punishment. I imagine your idea of punishment was something like spanking my ass until it was bright red," the witch said with narrowed eyes.

Severus looked down at her, his lip quirking.

Add a bit of hard shagging to that, and she had it about right. Ah well. The Potions Master figured he would have plenty of better and more deserved opportunities to put it to the willful little witch. As for now…

"Something like that," he purred at her before shifting to the side and sticking his tongue in her ear, wriggling it.

Hermione let out a shriek and a rather breathy giggle as she twisted her head, the wizard not relenting.

"Stop it!" she gasped.

Severus did stop.

"Don't you want a bit of foreplay?" he asked her silkily.

"That's not foreplay…that's revenge," Hermione replied, frowning at him.

"I say it's foreplay, and so is this," he said, attacking her neck, nibbling on it lightly, tickling the witch with his teeth. Hermione stretched out underneath him gasping and wriggling, trying to get away.

Now, there is a way to kiss and enjoy a woman's body that does not result in conniptions. Unfortunately for Hermione, Severus seemed to conveniently forget just how to do that, and every place he placed his mouth and hands tickled her to no end. He wasn't actually tickling the witch, just making his caresses and kisses so light, that the effect was to make her howl.

"Severus, stop!" Hermione gasped as he moved back and forth from breast to breast, flicking his tongue over her nipples. She was helpless because he had a good grip on her wrists and held her arms out to the sides. Her struggles made her breasts bounce side to side invitingly. Severus stopped and looked up at her with a smirk.

"I have no intentions on stopping, witch," he growled, running his tongue down her belly and twisting it into her navel, making the witch squeal.

"No…nononono! Severus!" Hermione wailed as he moved toward her core, pulling at her pubic hair with his lips as he slid lower. Gods, if he kept this up, she'd break apart.

Suddenly the wizard rose to his knees, releasing her arms and grasping one of Hermione's legs firmly, lifting it and attacking her toes, sucking and licking them, running his tongue between each one as Hermione laughed and twisted, kicking at him with her other foot, connecting with his side a few times before the Potions Master caught her ankle tightly to stop her.

"You little minx," he said to her, returning to her foot again, running his mouth over the sole of it, thinking about those damn feathers tickling him.

"No fair…no fair!" Hermione gasped.

"When have I ever been fair?" he murmured, now running his lips over her leg, nibbling at it as if it were a long ear of sweet corn. He tormented her a few minutes this way, before switching to her other leg and giving it the same treatment.

Hermione was screaming with laughter now, flailing at Severus with her hands…but she couldn't reach him until he moved down to her thighs, then she caught his hair and tugged it hard. Now the wizard did tickle her around her waist to make her let his hair go.

As Hermione squealed, Severus couldn't remember the last time he'd had so much fun. And he had never enjoyed himself with a witch this much in his life. He felt free, uninhibited, as if he didn't need his cold veneer with the witch. It was a wonderful feeling, one he hoped to experience all his life.

The wizard parted the giggling witch's thighs and dove in, flicking his tongue against Hermione's nub unmercifully, the witch's hands locking back in his hair again, but this time he didn't care. She could tear it out by the roots…the pain only made him more ardent, his tongue lashing the witch, Hermione's hips bucking as she cried out in pleasure as he drank her in. She might have complained, but her body definitely responded to his attentions.

Hermione suddenly stiffened, her body quaking before she orgasmed strongly with a shriek, Severus' face glistening with her release as he swallowed down every sweet drop, holding the witch's thighs firmly until she ceased undulating and fell still, her breasts rising and falling.

Severus lifted his head and looked at Hermione. Her hair was a wild halo around her head, and her amber eyes hot and half-lidded with satisfaction. Gods, she was beautiful and he felt hard enough to drill through stone as he studied her. The wizard slowly raised himself on his hands and moved over Hermione's body, positioning himself between her thighs, his shaft resting heavily against her core.

Playtime was over.

"This is my first time having you as a free man, Hermione," Severus said in a low voice. "I am free of service…free of the Dark Lord… "

Hermione blinked up at the pale wizard, who looked down at her with sober eyes. He drew in a breath and slowly released it.

"Free to say…I love you," the wizard finished.

"Oh Severus," Hermione breathed, reaching up and wrapping her arms around the Potions Master's neck and drawing him down into a very passionate kiss, Severus letting her control it, reveling in the emotions he felt washing over him as her mouth met his. As Hermione kissed him, the wizard shifted slightly, reached down and pressed himself against her opening, then entered the witch slowly, groaning as he slid through her tightness, Hermione moaning into his mouth as she felt him part and pierce her.

Severus slid from Hermione's mouth to her ear as he stroked her gently but fully, the witch arching into him as he penetrated her body over and over, his eyes fluttering with pleasure as she wrapped around him, a pulsing sheathe for his pale sword.

"I have never told a witch I loved her until you," he said to Hermione silkily, his rich voice washing over the witch like another caress, "And I would not tell you this if it were not true, Hermione. I feel as if all the fragments of my life are slowly coming together, and when you give yourself to me, I am whole."

Emotion made Severus reflexively thrust into the witch hard, Hermione crying out as he hit bottom with some power and held himself there. The wizard lifted his head and looked into her eyes, his own so dark they seemed like two black holes, threatening to swallow her down into their depths for all eternity.

"You have become the center of my universe," he breathed. "Now that I am free of the Dark Lord, everything, my hopes for happiness, my dreams for a full life revolve around you. I would never have believed I needed another human being as much as I need you. After so many years of solitude and cynicism, I too, have become a fool for love. You have broken me, Hermione Granger…you have taken my hardened heart and softened it without even trying. Now only you can pierce it by denying me."

"I would never deny you Severus, not even if I faced death. Never," the witch whispered up at him.

"Then don't deny me now," he breathed, beginning to move again, thrusting into Hermione hungrily, passionately, his heart swelling as she received him.

Hermione clutched at the wizard's back, her nails sinking into his flesh as Severus drove into her, his pale body undulating, his organ an insistent and welcome intruder. She could feel his desire…his need as his mouth locked to hers, his tongue a second seeking intruder adding to her possession. Hermione felt herself becoming one with Severus, her body melding with his, her heart capturing the rhythm of his own powerful pulse as they lay skin to skin, their bodies moving in perfect counterpoint. It had always been good with the wizard from the first night…but now, knowing he loved her made the sharing of their bodies more than that, now it was a sharing of souls and Hermione immersed herself…she wanted to drown in his fire, burst into flame and be consumed by the wizard.

As he felt the delicious friction of his penetration of his lover, Severus also felt as if he could ignite, the beautiful young witch beneath him serving as kindling, the fan to his flame and the wizard lost himself in her fire, his hips rising higher and higher, his control diminishing as he plowed into Hermione, gasping, his mouth falling slack with pleasure, the witch's voice fueling his passion, driving him to a greater frenzy

"Hermione," he gasped, clutching the witch closer and rolling to his side, possessing her passionately, the witch's cries making him crazy with lust. He wanted to hear more, to feel more as he held Hermione close, his hips blurring as he increased his speed, his muscular buttocks clenching and unclenching as he drove between her thighs.

"You sweet sweet witch," he breathed, pulling her on top of him and ramming upward, Hermione buckling, crying out his name before catching the thrust and taking over, falling forward, her hands resting on his shoulders as she rose and fell on his thick, questing tool. Sweat streamed down Hermione's body, her curls now dark ringlets as they loved, Severus once again rolling with her, then pulling out and backing up on his knees.

"Turn over," he panted at the witch, pulling her to a sitting position, then helping her to turn so she was on her knees. Severus gathered her hair together gently, holding it in one hand as he entered Hermione, pulling her head back as he thrust forward, his loins bouncing off her buttocks rhythmically.

This was the first time Severus had treated Hermione in such a manner, holding her by her hair and waist as he penetrated her. He didn't do it full power, but the wizard was making his presence known, yanking her head back lightly as he plunged in and out, Hermione gasping at how deep he was hitting her, juicing up at the slight roughness he was showing.

"You belong to me," Severus said, his voice raw with passion as he rode the witch, caressing her back and bum with one pale hand as he watched his glistening member fill Hermione over and over, his chest tight with the knowledge he was the only man the witch would allow to do this. "Tell me you belong to me."

He stopped moving, tugging on her hair slightly as he waited for her answer.

"I belong to you, Severus," Hermione gasped.

It was as if her reply shot straight down the wizard's spine, and Severus quickly released her hair and bent over her, wrapping one arm around her throat, resting his chin on the top of her head and placing his hand on the bed to support himself. He drove into her again, his dark eyes closing with pleasure Hermione's petite body jerked under him.

"You do belong to me, witch…every inch of you," he breathed as he flexed into her, "I will keep you happy and satisfied. You'll want for nothing. Nothing. Just stay with me."

Severus' words were as much a plea as they were a statement. Hermione's heart swelled as she heard the catch in the Potions Master's voice, the need and desire underneath the silk as he possessed her. Gods, he was so overwhelming. Hermione felt herself rising, pleasure spreading slowly, radiating outward from where his hardness struck over and over, his sweet sting becoming sweeter and more intense.

Severus felt Hermione heating up and pulled out of her, quickly flipping the witch to her back and capturing her legs under his arms. He wanted to see her orgasm and thrust himself deep inside the witch, feeling herself tighten around him spasmodically before she burst with a shriek, her hot release boiling over him.

"Yessssss," he hissed down at her. "Yes, Hermione."

Hermione's head pressed back into the pillow, her mouth in an "o" as she came, bliss lifting her, Severus staring down, his eyes possessive as she pulsed around him. Gods, there was so much more he wanted to do to her, but the look of love in her eyes as she focused on him was enough to make the wizard grunt in protest as he felt himself tighten.

"Oh damn," he groaned as he slammed into Hermione and came, pleasure streaming through him, his mouth falling slack as he filled the witch beneath him to overflowing. When his pulsing ceased, Severus gently lowered himself to Hermione's still quaking body, brushed her hair aside then kissed her lips, sighing with satisfaction.

"You're all I need to make my life complete," he intoned, rolling off Hermione and pulling her into the crook of his arm.

"I would never have believed you could be so passionate…so…so accessible," Hermione said to him softly.

Severus turned a dark eye on the witch.

"Hermione, I assure you…any accessibility I show is for you and you alone, and that is because you have my heart. No one else will reap the benefits of my being in love," the wizard said, his nose wrinkling at the thought of it. "In fact, I may have to up my 'snark factor' to compensate for this state of affairs."

Hermione smiled and shook her head, nestling closer to the wizard, who held her possessively.

"So, how did Voldemort die?" Hermione asked Severus, twirling one finger in his damp locks.

"Well, it was a combined effort on the part of Lucius Malfoy, the Whomping Willow and myself," Severus replied, his eyes closed.

"What?" Hermione said, surprise and curiosity in her voice.

"Harry had just drawn his sword and the Order members attacked. Lucius immediately went for me and I slipped into the entrance under the Whomping Willow. While trying to fire off a good blast at me, Lucius accidentally stepped on the rootlet that turned the tree back on and…" the Potions Master said.

"And the willow whomped Voldemort!" Hermione finished for him, her eyes wide.

Severus nodded.

"Then I struck what was left of him with the Blade of Dresden…and that was the end of the Dark Lord," the wizard said with a smirk.

"So…you killed him, Severus," Hermione said.

The wizard shrugged.

"I see it as a combined effort. I don't need or want the glory for his death. I am just glad he is gone," Severus said.

"You're a hero," Hermione breathed, staring at him.

Severus snorted.

"Hardly. Even if I did strike the actual killing blow, my reasons were hardly heroic. I wanted the evil bastard out of my life so I could be free to pursue a life with you. A purely selfish motivation at best," he said, nuzzling Hermione with his big nose for a moment.

"So are you saying you killed him for me?" Hermione asked the Potions Master, who looked at her soberly.

"You were the final, most poignant reason…but I've wanted him dead for years. So I can't say it was totally for you, Hermione," he said honestly. "But what matters is he is gone and I can now live my life like a normal human being…make up for all those years of being an outcast and pariah. You are going to help me recover all I've lost, witch. Your love will be the balm that heals me."

Severus pulled Hermione closer and kissed her deeply.

"Thank the gods for ghosts and curses," he breathed

After a rather sloppy, soapy shower, Severus and Hermione prepared to face a new, Voldemortless world, starting with lunch in the Great Hall. Severus transfigured Hermione's house robe into a proper set of school robes. After a rather hot parting kiss, he sent her through the floo directly to Gryffindor tower's common room.

As luck would have it, Ron was there, playing wizarding chess with Dean Thomas. The moment Hermione entered through the floo, he was up and at her side.

"Hermione, where were you? I was worried," the red-haired wizard said.

Hermione, still mad at him, frowned.

"You needn't have concerned yourself, Ron. I was fine," she said coldly, walking past him.

Ron blinked after her before running up behind the witch and catching her by her arm.

"Let go of me, Ronald!" Hermione demanded, trying to pull her arm away.

"Hermione…wait. Just wait. I want to apologize for being such a bloody idiot the past few months," Ron said sincerely, "I don't want to lose you as a friend. I was jealous, but for all the wrong reasons. I am an insensitive, stupid git and always have been. I just want you to know it's all right you have a boyfriend and a love life. I have one…and so does Harry. You have a right to one too."

Hermione arched an eyebrow.

"Harry?" she repeated.

Ron reddened and nodded.

"Yes. He and Ginny…go out," the wizard said, his voice just a tiny bit strangled.

Hermione stared at Ron. Harry and Ginny were shagging and he wasn't ranting about it? Wow.

"Well," the witch said slowly, "I appreciate you giving me your permission to have a boyfriend, Ron."

Ron beamed at her, missing the sarcasm by miles.

"So, are we still friends?" he asked her.

Hermione gave him a smile. Ron was such an idiot, but he was her idiot. And she did love him despite his stupidity.

"Yes, as long as you respect my privacy," she responded, hugging him.

Ron let out a sigh of relief as Hermione released him. His blue eyes fell on the pendant and narrowed slightly.

"He's a Slytherin," Ron said, staring at the little snake. The emerald eyes seemed to glitter a challenge at him.

Hermione touched the pendant, lifting it and looking at it fondly before letting it drop.

"Yes he is," she agreed.

Ron was burning up with curiosity and wanted to ask the witch who he was, but he had just made up with her and privacy was an issue. He would just have to suck it in and keep an eye out. Maybe he'd be able to identify who it was in the Great Hall.

Ron nodded.

"Okay. As long as he treats you nice," he said evenly.

"Oh he does. Very nice," Hermione said, a faraway look in her eyes.

Ron wanted to snort derisively. Obviously she was thinking about shagging. But that was a topic that wouldn't be broached again.

Instead he said, "Are you going to lunch?"

"Yes, in a minute," Hermione replied.

"I'll wait for you," Ron said.

"All right," Hermione said, "I'll be down in a moment."

Ron sat down on one of the sofas to wait as Hermione headed up the stairs. Well, she looked happy enough. It seemed having a boyfriend agreed with her.

Hermione graduated Hogwarts with the highest marks seen in over fifty years, the exception being her Potions grade. Severus still held the highest marks. Hermione might have called foul except the Potions Master had nothing to do with the final exam. The witch was called to the podium several times to receive various awards, Severus looking on proudly.

Hermione believed Albus was done with her, but he called her up one more time.

"Miss Granger, it is my pleasure to inform you that not one, but two four-year apprenticeships have been extended to you. The first, an apprenticeship in Charms and Spellmaking by Professor Filius Flitwick, and the second, an apprenticeship in Potions by Professor Severus Snape," the Headmaster said to the surprised witch. "Both would be served here at Hogwarts…however you can only accept one offer."

Ron nudged Harry.

"She'd have to stay with her Master. Hermione would never take the Potions apprenticeship. Imagine, being locked in Snape's private rooms night after night," the wizard said to Harry. "She'll never do it. Flitwick is nice and safe. He'd be the better choice."

"Well, Hermione likes Charms and Potions," Harry said diplomatically.

He knew Hermione was as good as packed and moved into Snape's rooms already. But Ron still didn't know the two were an item. The couple had done quite well concealing their relationship from the rest of Hogwarts.

Minerva looked a bit pale as she listened to Severus' offer of apprenticeship to Hermione.

"The sneaky wizard," the Transfiguration Professor thought, "It's bad enough he's been creeping around with her most of the year, now he's going to move her into his rooms?"

Albus could see the look of disapproval on Minerva's face, but his eyes twinkled anyway. Though Severus didn't seem to evidence any personality changes since starting his relationship with the young witch, the Headmaster could see he was a happier man in subtle ways. Of course, no one else could. He took points, assigned detentions and terrorized students with as much dark joy as ever.

After consulting with Harry and Albus, it was decided that Voldemort's demise would be attributed to the Whomping Willow. The Potions Master didn't want the limelight to follow him all his days. He wanted a quiet life. Let the tree take the honors. And it did…Argus Filch attending it lovingly, fertilizing it, turning the earth and pruning off the dead branches.

After learning Crookshanks had almost been fried by Voldemort, Hermione began to pay more attention to the half-kneazle, giving him the attention and affection he needed. Of course, Crookshanks didn't make it easy at first, and Hermione spent a lot of time trying to coax him out from under the bed, or calling him back as he trotted across the grounds, his tail held high in her direction. Eventually he allowed her to lavish her love on him, an "it's about time" expression on his squashed face.

As expected, and much to Ron's chagrin, Hermione accepted the Potions Master's offer of apprenticeship, and after spending two weeks at home with her parents, she returned to Hogwarts and moved into her own room off the Professor's study. Technically.

Hermione explained to Severus that she thought it would be a good idea if she stayed in her own rooms and why. The wizard listened to her patiently, and when she had her say, proceeded to pick her up bodily and carry her kicking and struggling to his bedroom, slamming the door behind them. It took him a mere two hours to "convince" Hermione that she would be better off staying in his bedroom for the duration of her apprenticeship.

Then he asked her to marry him. She agreed, but they didn't marry immediately but waited two years and had a small ceremony on the school grounds, attended by staff, Hermione's parents and a few close friends.

Ron was resigned.

"I can't believe it was Snape all the time," Ron said, frowning as he watched the couple kiss and be received as Mr. and Mrs. Snape. Hermione looked very happy and the Potions Master looked less sour than usual.

"They make a good couple," Harry said as he watched them walk back down the aisle, Severus holding Hermione's arm possessively. When they reached the end of the aisle, the wizard apparated with her, shocking the guests.

Albus grinned. Severus was not about to hang about mixing when there was honeymooning to do. The Headmaster himself served the wedding cake.

"He has some nerve. Couldn't he keep off of her for an hour or two?" Minerva complained as she sliced through her cake with a fork.

"Now Minerva, they're newlyweds," Albus chided her gently.

"There's nothing new about what they're going to do," she sniffed.

"When you're in love, Minerva…every time is new," the wizard replied, his eyes softening as he looked at her. Minerva blushed.

"Never you mind, Albus," she said, though her eyes were bright as she looked at the man she'd loved for over thirty years…since she was a student herself. Hermione and Severus' story was not that much different from her own. Minerva needed to remind herself of that from time to time. Though she and Albus never married to keep her safe from his enemies, they loved each other dearly.

"Oh, but I do mind," Albus replied softly, taking the fork out of her hand and sliding a beautiful golden ring on her finger. Minerva looked down at it, blinking back tears as the guests looked on…other eyes filling as well. Albus raised her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly.

"Minerva McGonagall, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" he asked her, his blue eyes sober.

Minerva looked up at him and promptly dropped her cake. She looked at the mess, then up at the Headmaster.

"Why? Why now, Albus? We've done fine all these years," she said to him. Albus covered her hand with his own.

"Voldemort is dead, Minerva, so there is no further danger from him or his lot…and I don't like the idea that another wizard could come along and sweep you off your feet. I want you to have my name and share my bed as well as what life I have left. You have always acted the loving, sharp-tongued wife towards me…I want to make it official, Minerva. I always have. I love you. Marry me," he said.

Minerva stared at the Headmaster for a moment, then said, "Of course I'll marry you, you old coot."

Albus smiled broadly and embraced the witch as everyone cheered and cried and cheered a bit more.

You were never too old for love.

Hermione received her Master's in Potions and was quickly snapped up by the Ministry, where she served as Potions Mistress. At the age of thirty, she bore Severus a son, Augustus John Snape. While she was in labor, Poppy found that the birth magic used to make delivery easier would not work on the witch, so Hermione had to have the child naturally, which made Severus wild with worry. Yet she did fine.

Still, when Poppy tried to use magic to check the squalling baby, her wand wouldn't work.

"Now that's odd," she said, shaking her wand and trying several times.

Hermione and Severus were forced to take the baby to a muggle hospital to be examined. He was fine. Albus came to see them shortly after Augustus was born. The way the wizard looked, it was clear he had some news for them. Poppy had informed him of the difficulties she had with the delivery and the baby, and the old wizard immediately looked for any similar occurrences during childbirth. What he found out was amazing.

Severus and Hermione had purchased a three bedroom house in Shropshire Gardens, and taken the house elf Eli with them. It took a bit of convincing on both Severus' and Eli's part before Hermione would agree, but the house elf looked so sad she didn't want him, Hermione relented. Immediately a golden tendril of light flew from the elf and wrapped around both her and Severus, squeezed them slightly then snapped back into Eli. He was bound to serve them and theirs for life.

Hermione invited Albus in, and escorted him to the living room, where he took a seat. Severus walked in holding Augustus who was wriggling quite animatedly.

"Headmaster," he said by way of greeting.

"Hello Severus," the wizard said, his eyes twinkling as the Potions Master gently held his son, the love in his dark eyes clearly visible. Severus sat down.

"A handsome child," Albus said, looking at the baby's dark hair and eyes. Luckily, Augustus had Hermione's nose. "And a special one."

"Special?" Hermione and Severus said together. True, there was something about their child that was different. But neither had a chance to investigate this fully yet.

Albus nodded.

"He will not be able to use magic," Albus said.

Severus looked down at his son, his heart sinking. He loved his child, but…a squib? His dark eyes shifted to Hermione's. She also looked disappointed.

"But he is not a squib," Albus continued, beaming at the baby boy. "There is a record of only one other wizard who had his gift. Christian Hornsworthy. He lived about two hundred years ago and was a great warrior for the side of light."

"Gift?" Hermione said, staring at Albus.

The baby gurgled.

"Yes gift," Albus reassured her. "Your son Augustus has the gift of Null Magic. In other words, no spell will work on him. He cannot be affected by magical means. And as he grows, this power will increase and he will be able to stop magic just by his proximity. It is a powerful gift. So he is, in effect…a wizard."

"Null magic," Severus breathed, looking down at his son in wonder.

Hermione crossed the room and sat next to Severus, staring at her son and taking in the implications.

"That makes him more powerful than any of us," she breathed, "Not even an Unforgivable will affect him."

"That's right. Nothing magical can harm him and eventually anyone near him. This makes him extremely powerful," Albus agreed, smiling at the child. "It also makes him a special case as far as his education goes. He will be accepted into Hogwarts, although he will have to have a special lesson plan developed. But we have a few years for that. In the meantime, I suggest both of you familiarize yourselves with the history of Christian Hornsworthy. It will be helpful."

The wizard rose and held out his arms.

"May I?" he asked.

Severus rose and carefully passed the baby to Albus, eyeing the wizard as he held his son. He needn't have worried. Albus had been holding little babies for years.

The old wizard smiled down at the child.

"Augustus Snape," he said to the baby, who gurgled up at him, his black eyes focused on the snow-white beard. "We are going to expect great things from you, my boy, great things indeed."

Hermione took Severus' arm and smiled up at him. Null magic. What a wondrous gift. Albus passed Augustus back to his father.

"Good thing you have a muggle background, Hermione," the old wizard said, "A regular witch might find herself overwhelmed having to care for a child without magic. You are the perfect mother."

Severus smiled at his wife.

"I always knew she would be," he said proudly.

Albus smiled, then said, "I'm afraid I must go. Hogwarts calls."

"Thank you Albus," Hermione said, walking forward, standing on her tiptoes and kissing the wizard on his cheek. He blushed.

"You're very welcome. I always knew the two of you would produce extraordinary children," the wizard said, his eyes resting on Augustus, "I just never dreamed how extraordinary."

Severus passed Augustus to his mother and showed the Headmaster out.

Hermione sat down on the sofa and stared down at her son.

"Null magic," she breathed, "I never knew there was such a thing, Augustus."

Life was certainly going to become much more interesting.


A/N: And that is the end of "It Happened One Hallow's Eve." Yes, yes…I know…this ending begs for a sequel just to find out what happens with Augustus. But I've already written a story about the couple's offspring, so I doubt it will ever be written. Anyone who might like to pick it up is welcome to, however. :) Whew. I'm going to take a break for a couple of days. I still feel out of sorts. There won't be a new HG/SS story for a bit. I have to write the original short story "It's All a Matter of Choice" first. To those who asked if I were going to wait until Valentine's Day to write the new story, the answer is a resounding NO. But most likely it will be a short tale. Lol. I always say that. Anyway I hope you enjoyed. Ciao ya'll