Disclaimer: I own nothing of the HP universe.

His touch was all I ever craved. All I ever wanted. I imagined it night and day, day and night. Morning, noon, it was a desire that waited for my mind to stop working, to stop analysing the thoughts I was having and to simply feel.

In those brief moments where I found peace, I found him.

I thought of those long fingers tangling in my hair, pulling my head back so he could nip at the line of my throat. The way he would moan against my mouth, my name, the syllables stolen from his lips, the name he would never speak aloud to me in any other situation but this.

It was a foolish schoolgirl crush. A crush that I dared not to confide in to any other of my friends.

It's not like they would ever understand.

How could they? How could they see what I saw?

Especially after the last year.

I reach out for him, taking a cool hand in mine, bending the unyielding fingers to my will until I can cradle it (caress it) in both my hands, stroking it as if I could take away whatever pain he had felt.

How awful that he had been alone.

I fought tears, knowing they were useless, born of frustration. I thought back to the first year, our first lesson with him. Stopper death. The words seemed so futile now. Why? I wanted to scream, to take him by the shoulders and scream at him, demand to know why he hadn't been prepared. Hadn't he known that he would be betrayed? That there could be no ending but death for him?

He should have known.

I don't remember how it started. What person ever does? My pragmatism refuses me to allow myself to believe in love at first sight, love is born of lust, nurtured carefully until it becomes something organic, grown to such great proportions that only the strongest can cope with it. The rest of us struggle as best we can, coping with the tumultuous highs and lows, the ecstasy and the horror.

I treated love with the detachment of an analytical mind. I waited, and watched, and most importantly, I observed. Each little quirk revealed a new nuance of his personality, each snarled, thinly veiled insult was a window to his inner soul. I did not giggle at the thought of him. I did not wonder what lay under the dark robes and many buttons, I did not idly write my name and his entwined on parchment. I never imagined my wedding. I merely existed each day, wondering and waiting for any moment where I could see him and learn more about him.

He was a creature of habit. Our paths crossed several times as I learnt his routes around the castle. There was never a flicker of amusement on his face at our regular meetings, never a curious glance my way. I barely registered in his world.

Apart from when there was points to be deducted. A faint smile breaks onto my face, and I feel my eyes dampen again.

A deep breath stops that nonsense. He wouldn't appreciate it.

Did any of the other girls ever notice the length of his fingers? Did they haunt their dreams as frequently as they haunted mine? I would wake gasping in the night, with barely remembered images and a dampness between my thighs that caused me to flush with embarrassment even alone in the dark. There was no tenderness, not even in the fleeting images I could recall, just a stark examination of a body that I gave to him nightly, against my will but with all my desire.

In the classroom, I would suddenly stop, frown and my eyes would flick towards him. The lack of control I had of my own being scared me, but not half as much as the look I saw in his eyes.

I would redden, and he would scowl. But there was more than that.

It was unfathomable, but for some reason I was sure that he knew.

He was aware what he did to me, what his dream being did to mine.

When I learnt that he was a Legilimens, I realised how careless I had been. Such powerful emotions, well, it was no wonder that he had been able to pick them up from across the room. It would not have been necessary to fight his way into my mind to see the images in my head, I practically projected them across the room for him to see.

I became careful. Harry had told me enough of Occlumency for me to be able to envision a simple defence. A locked door. When he glanced my way, I saw the dark wood blocking the way into my inner thoughts, a heavy silver padlock on the lock, intricately carved.

The first time I employed the defence, he raised an eyebrow. It was barely noticeable to anyone but me, and I had been watching for it. I had merely tossed the mass of my hair over my shoulder and continued with my potion. He could read what he will into the gesture, he would not read the answer in the book that was my thoughts.

At night, when I dreamt, I tried to look beyond the significance of a silver key tied around my neck, nestling coldly between my breasts, engraved with a single 'S'.

It had been after Christmas in the sixth year when I had let my guard down. He had seemed determined to humiliate Harry, and then Ron as he had quizzed them on Inferi. As I had stopped Harry from arguing further, I had glanced upwards and for some reason, I deliberately opened the door.

His mouth was on mine, his tongue flicking lightly against mine, his body against mine, his hands on me, his legs pinning me to wherever we where. He was strong, so strong, lean and muscled, and I was helpless to do anything but resist and soon, even that wavered as he continued his assail of my body. The words he whispered in my ear were coarse, almost vulgar, but deliciously delivered in that silken voice.

As he parted my thighs, and slipped a hand between them I almost screamed with impatience. I was begging him, pleading with him…

I held his gaze as I felt him retreat from the onslaught of the images.

Why had I chosen then to show him? Anger? Humiliation over the encounters with Ron?

Or just a rash, brazen moment? I was growing more comfortable with my sexuality, aware that in terms of development I was light years ahead of my two dearest friends.

Look at me, the action demanded. And truly see me. Not the Know It All. See the girl becoming a woman.

Desire her. Want her. And know you'll never have her.

Later I coloured. Later I felt embarrassed. Later…

Later I wondered if he thought of me.

I want to ask him now, but somehow it seems crass to disturb his peace with such trivial questions.

Anyway, I tell myself firmly. You know the answers.

When Luna and I had waited outside his office for him, I had been scared. Hearing the loud, solid thump, I had jumped, and had to stifle a scream when he had suddenly appeared, wild eyed, there was almost colour in those pale cheeks of his.

Professor Flitwick had collapsed, he said. Luna had immediately dashed into the office to help her fallen House Master. And I had stared. And stared.

'Get out of here, you foolish girl,' he had whispered, not with malice but with concern.

My eyes had widened at this. Concern? His wand was drawn and I had watched it nervously.

'Go,' he had hissed, frantic, his head turning from side to side, watching, anticipating something.

'Where…' I had struggled with the word, had to stop and start again. 'Where are you going? What will you do?'

'What I have to,' he had snapped, still not meeting my eyes. 'This isn't safe, Miss Granger, I told you to go, now you will obey me. Don't make me…'

The threat had trailed off, and he had glared at me instead.

'The Death Eaters…' I had started.

'Will kill you if they find you,' he had interrupted. 'And I -'

He seemed to think he had said too much.

'What?' I had insisted.

'Do you ever stop asking questions?' he had snapped, but despite himself and the horror of the situation, a corner of his mouth had turned up.

'Not until I get an answer.'

'You want answers?' he had asked suddenly, and he had reached for me, gripping my jaw, tilting my face to his. For a wild moment I had thought he was going to kiss me, but instead, he stared intently into my eyes, his thumbs gently tracing the curves of my cheekbones. 'Relax…' he had whispered and I had understood. I had simply stood and let him enter.

I had been assaulted by images. They were so similar to mine, but instead I saw my naked flesh, not his, I saw my breasts, arched upwards against a long fingered hand, a sweep of dark hair obstructed the view of my face as he leant to kiss me, his body covering mine, claiming me, his voice almost cracking as he gasped my name, Hermione, and I whispered his in return.

Again and again I saw it, in different positions, different ways. I blushed as I saw his dark hair between my thighs and heard my cries as he lapped at the wetness between my legs.

And suddenly they were gone. Gone as my other being writhed in her final pleasure.

I had staggered and only his arms had stopped me falling.

'You,' he had said brokenly. 'You put those images in my head, you made me think those things. You've tortured me for years in my classroom with your knowledge, your intelligence, your insatiable thirst for wisdom and then, then you found a new way to torment me. With your body instead of your mind, and fuck, how I've wanted both.'

It was the swear word that caught my attention, and despite what I had seen, the images he had of me, it was that that had shocked me. Before I could protest, his lips had been on mine, hungry, pulling at my mouth, demanding entrance, his tongue tasting me, testing me, seeing what my reaction would be…

It had been instinctive. I had reached for him, tilting my head back, parting my lips, letting his tongue wrap round mine, kissing him back hard.

Not my first kiss. Not my first passion, but the one that would remain in my memories forever, as if seared there.

He had backed me against the wall as he had kissed me, one hand snaking down to cup my breast, and with a slight sigh against my lips he had fondled me.

It had made me uncomfortable. I had wriggled against his touch, unsure, frightened by the sexual contact. I had suddenly been aware of my age, of his age, of my relative inexperience to his, and I had been frightened suddenly. My kiss had become hesitant, shaky, and he seemed to sense my reluctance, pulling away.

'Thank you,' he had whispered.

I never asked what he was thanking me for. I had merely tried to support myself against the wall as my knees threatened to give way, though through lust or fear I didn't know.

He had kissed me again then, gently this time, intimately, and the fear had faded.

Until later when I had realised what he had done.

The man I wanted was a murderer. He had taken Dumbledore's life, but had spared Harry's.

And mine.

In the days after that, at the funeral, in the summer, those were the thoughts that comforted me.

We knew he was a spy. We knew he fought for the light and pretended for the dark, but now the tables had turned and we knew nothing for certain.

Voldemort's loyal servant.

I stroked the length of his cold fingers, the nails pale slivers in the moonlight. I tried to warm them, but they stayed frozen, cold.

This was no reward for loyalty. To either side.

No one knew, but I had seen him again. Had touched him again.

Had made love to him on the cold, damp grass, our breath like clouds of ice, mingling as intimately as our bodies.

I knew we were being trailed, long before Harry did. I should have been concerned, but instinct told me not to be concerned.

I volunteered to find food. To gather mushrooms. It was easier when it was just Harry and I, without Ron's sullenness. I missed my friend, but was relieved to have escaped his attentions.

The hands snatched me from behind, dragging me backwards, suddenly. In spite of my fear, I didn't scream.

I knew.

'You,' I had hissed as he let me go, let me turn in his embrace.

'You,' he had replied, half mockingly. 'Are you safe?' he had murmured into my hair.

'As safe as I can be,' I had let a trace of fear slip into my voice. 'After all, I'm a Mudblood, aren't I?'

My bitterness was clear. I hadn't asked to be taken from my world and thrust into another, but I had accepted the opportunity for what it was. An amazing, wonderful, literally magical opportunity and I had been persecuted from the moment I had stepped into it. Or at least from my second year.

'But you're safe now,' he had embraced me tighter, and I had folded myself against his body, willing to accept anything he offered me.

'Dumbledore?'

His lips had tightened into thin lines. Mutely he shook his head, took a shuddering breath and then spoke once more into my hair. 'I will explain. Not now. One day.'

He had kissed me hard, possessing me once more with his mouth. This time I hadn't felt fear, only a desperate need. I had wanted it, had needed to feel alive at least once. Just in case. Just in case I died.

Hindsight gave me that rationale. At the time I had followed my heart and let him take me on the forest floor. His hands had been warm, despite the coldness of the night, his lips soft on mine. It was comfort for both of us. At least I think that was what it was for him.

Finally I got to feel what those fingers felt like for real, as they slipped inside me, teasing, pressing, searching out for those secret areas that made me quiver and gasp. His thumb pressed hard against my clitoris, rotating in small circles. I felt the flood of wetness as I came, barely aware of anything but his touch and the pulsing throb in my abdomen.

He didn't ask my permission before entering me, simply parting my thighs and thrusting inside me smoothly. By then I couldn't speak, and I wondered if he would be amused by that, that finally he had found a way to shut up Know It All Granger. I held on to him as he took his pleasure, fucking me, using me, and I let him.

I wanted him, and before we parted that night, I took him inside me once more, that time straddling him, that time I took my pleasure from him, chose my rhythm, thought nothing of him, just the feel of him inside me, and the guttural cry in his throat as he came.

Afterwards he held me, wrapped us both in his cloak, as we sat leant against a tree, kissing, talking, whispering. Of what, I can't remember.

Perhaps I don't want to remember.

He sent Harry the doe Patronus a few nights later. Harry followed it, and I followed him.

He saw me. He turned, his attraction wavering from the task in hand for a moment and I know he saw me. He looked at me and walked away.

I knew then. It would be the last time I saw him.

Harry and Ron returned with the locket. The chain of events spiralled out of control.

I know our side of the story. Harry has told me what he knows of his.

So callously killed. So close to surviving the Final Battle.

There is blood on the floor. His blood. It surrounds him like a dark halo. His throat is a mangled mess, and I wish I could find the courage to take some of his hair and arrange it so that the bite marks are hidden.

I feel almost empty staring at his lifeless body. It confuses me that this man who stirred such great emotion in me and who now no longer exists. I wonder how he shall be remembered.

I wonder how I shall remember him.

Harry is all graciousness, forgiving, understanding now. And I want to shake him and tell him there is so little that he understands about the man. He can think what he like, but no one will truly know him. Not even I, though I think I may have come closer than most. Who will ever truly know what motivated him to do what he did?

It started with a school girl crush and it's ending here. In death and emptiness.

'Hermione?'

I'm not startled. Nothing could ever startle me now. I turn, and see Harry standing there, in the entrance to the room. Harry is as rumpled as usual, one hand ruffling the ever untidy hair. I let go of his hand, and it drops palely onto his chest.

'It's time to go. They're going to come and get … him,' Harry says thickly, and I wonder what he was going to say before he changed his words.

I nod once, a dip of my chin towards my chest and a jerk back up.

It's not right leaving him here alone. He's been alone for too long. The dark eyes are unseeing now, staring into emptiness. I step forward, and I see Harry move too, as if to catch me, but he realises I'm not fainting a moment too late to stop the gesture. I reach down, stretching out my fingers onto his eyelids, and gently drawing them closed.

Now, now he almost looks at peace.

'I'm ready,' I say quietly. My legs are stiff with the cold and from standing in one place for too long. Staring. Simply staring and remembering.

I'm moving away from him, physically and mentally. Once I walk from him, I start anew. A life of peace. With Ron? I don't know. Does it matter what man I settle for now?

It's over. The War is over. All this is over.

Before I leave, before I turn away from him for the final time, I notice something. A string around his neck. I pull it free. There is a small pouch there, and I pull it open. Inside a vial, and a scrap of parchment. The vial is filled with silver, fluid, moving, swirling inside its small prison.

On the parchment there are two words.

'For Hermione'.

I clutch the vial to my chest, and crumple the parchment in my hand. Later on, I will smooth it out, and trace the letters written in the jagged, familiar scrawl.

Raising my chin, composing myself, I walk away to face the world once more, the vial still clutched to my heart.

Fin.