AN: This's the end of the journey. And what a journey it's been. Thank you, anti_social_ite for providing me with inspiration and encouragement! You've done an amazing job beta-ing this whole thing.

She sat in the comfortable leather chair in front of Severus's desk reading a book while she was waiting for him to finish grading his essays. His occasionally swearing sometimes caught her attention and made her look at him amusedly over the edge of her book. Sometimes their eyes met and his gaze would soften a little once it settled on her.

The scene was obscenely domestic, but she didn't care about that particularly, because never in her life had she felt so much at home than she did with him. True, living in the dungeons of a drafty old castle filled with noisy adolescents wasn't everybody's idea of a perfect life, but to her it came pretty damn close to it.

Ever since she moved in with him, they had had their occasionally rows. Alright, their rows occurred more than just occasionally. They came in fairly regular intervals, but they were never serious. Their arguments often circled around nonsensical everyday things. She secretly regarded their spats as stress-release and the reconciliation that always came afterwards was also very relaxing indeed.

The feeling of his eyes on her ripped her out of her reverie. She lowered her book to look at him questioningly. "Should I be flattered by the fact that you've been staring at me for at least five minutes or should I be concerned?"

"I wasn't staring at you."

"Gee, love! I sometimes wonder why I fell for you. You're such a sweet talker."

Her comment got her an evil smirk. "Actually, I was more interested in your book. You seem to be awfully determined not to let the subject drop."

"What subject?" She asked innocently, trying to postpone the inevitable.

He lowered his quill, leaning back comfortably in his chair. So this was going to take a while. "You know fully well what I'm talking about. You're still trying to find an explanation for the things that have happened."

"Frankly, I can't understand why you were so ready to let the whole subject drop. Especially something major as this. Normally you're the one between the two of us who can't let things go."

"Dream links, subconscious magic use, well all those theories sound awfully constructed, don't you think?" He asked her, his index finger tracing his top lip pensively.

"Yes, they do. But can you honestly come up with a better explanation for…well, for everything?" she disposed of the book, putting it on the floor next to her chair. The bolstering of the old chair squeaked ever so slightly when she moved.

"Fine, I'll humour you. So, what exactly did you manage to find out?" He looked at her expectantly, fixing her with his best arrogant I-am-smarter-than-thou professor gaze.

She hesitated briefly, because no matter how plausible her explanation might actually appear to her, spoken out aloud, it even sounded asinine to her own ears.

"Alright," Abigail sighed. "The theory is slightly, I repeat ever so slightly new-agey, so even though you think it all complete and utter rubbish, would you please hear me out before you start taking it apart?" He merely raised an eyebrow at her, but motioned her to continue.

"Good…Well, alright. Muggles think that when two people who are very close to each other…" He was about to comment on that, but she held up her index finger admonishingly, so he stayed silent.

"Remember? You've promised to be good. Now were was I…Oh, yeah, when they are very close to each other, say mother and daughter or husband and wife, and something terrible happens to the other person, they somehow know. This book says it is because they share a mental connection."

Having explained that part of the theory, she stopped to allow him to voice his criticism. If she didn't, he would only grow impatient and more acerbic, she had learned.

"See, your little theory is flawed to begin with. We didn't even know each other back then, so how could there be a connection?" He reasoned, unable to keep a complacent under-tone from his voice.

"Good point. I gave that one quite some thought. Maybe it was because our situations were pretty similar that day. I mean, well, I don't know about you, but for me that was pretty much rock bottom. I didn't expect to come out of that one alive." She paused, feeling somewhat vulnerable and ridiculous actually saying out the next part aloud, but then she did anyway. "In all honesty…I expected to die that night."

"I understand," he said.

"As did you, I assume." The question mark at the end of her sentence was hard to overhear.

"Yes," he answered simply.

"Well, there you have you're explanation."

"Very far-fetched," he observed contemptuously.

"Maybe, but can you come up with anything better?"

"No, not off the top of my head," Severus relented. "So let's hear the rest of this truly asinine theory of yours."

"So very gracious of you, thank you," her eyes sparkled at him dangerously from across the room as she continued. "Anyway, does it seem very likely that two people should find themselves in almost the exact same situation at the exact same time? Didn't you like me wish for another chance back then? I know I most certainly did."

His silence spoke volumes, so she refrained from digging deeper.

"Then tell me, dearest Miss Carter, how I came to survive Nagini's attack."

"Subconscious magic."

"And how did you subconsciously keep me from dying? By sheer willpower maybe?" By then his tone was heavily laden with irony.

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm thinking. They say that Muggles are sometimes able to channel into unknown physical strength in situations of extreme distress. There was a mother, for example, who was able to lift the weight of a whole car to free her children who were trapped underneath it. If things like that can happen in the Muggle world, why shouldn't it be the same in the Wizarding World?"

He rolled his eyes. "You have to be kidding me. Honestly, do you even hear what you're saying?! You're sounding completely ridiculous. You'd better stop spouting this nonsense before I start second guessing your intellect. You don't believe in Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny too, do you?"

She glared at him, suppressing the urge to say all those nasty things that lay on the tip of her tongue. Instead she got to her feet and started pacing in front of his desk. Back and forth, back and forth. Keep calm. Just keep calm.

"So how come you can accept what has happened so easily? How come you didn't feel the need to find out the truth?"

"Maybe, because I didn't want to waste my time reading trashy books filled with half-assed theories."

"Oh, you think you're so clever, aren't you? The great almighty and wise Professor Snape of Slytherin!" Her loud voice carried through the heavy wooden door of his office and made a bunch of second year students that were just walking by, speed up considerably.

"They're at it again! Let's better hurry before…" The door behind them swung open with a bang and Abby stormed out seconds later, brushing passed the group of children with a couple of angry strides without even noticing them. An angry groan could be heard coming from Professor Snape's office, before the very same also appear in the corridor to follow the angry woman that had just taken off seconds before.

His eyes were sparkling dangerously as he looked around the corridor in search of Abby. Unable to tell whether she had taken a turn to the left or to the right, he questioned the only witnesses available.

"You!" The students froze in terror when Snape's irate voice boomed through the corridor.

"Yes, sir," the bravest one of them answered, a little Gryffindor with light-brown hair.

"Tell me where that infernal woman ran off to!" He snarled ill-humouredly.

The boy nodded dimly and pointed to the right, at which the Professor stormed off in the indicated direction without even a single word of thanks, not that the students were particularly sorry he had. Actually, they were rather relieved to see him go

He caught up with Abby before she could make her way up the stairs that led out of the dungeons. A couple of angry glares and muttered insults were exchanged, before both of them become aware of the fact that they were once again making a public spectacle out of their spat.

"The garden?" he hissed.

"Again? I'd prefer the greenhouse."

"Alright. Let's go then shall we?"

They made their way in complete silence, briskly walking next to each other without sparing one another a single glance. By the time they had reached their destination both of their tempers had cooled considerably, though not to the point were a normal and above all rational conversation was possible.

The greenhouse lay in front of them completely deserted. Thankfully Sprout scheduled most of her classes for the morning, so that by late afternoon the greenhouse was rather peaceful and quiet. Abigail liked spending time there, sometimes brought a book and a cup of tea along to enjoy the blissful silence of the place. However, standing in front of the greenhouse's entrance now, shooting daggers with her eyes at Severus, she highly doubted that her stay here would even be half as pleasant as it usually was.

He pushed the door open and motioned her to enter with a mock bow. His display of manners was of course only meant to irritate her further. She carefully schooled her face not wanting to afford him the satisfaction of actually seeing her get angry, and walked past him.

"So why did you come after me?" she asked, the second he had pulled the door behind them closed and placed a Silencing Charm on it. "We both know that right now there's no point talking, unless you feel like trading insults. I don't know about you, but I'm more than up to the task."

"By Merlin, one day I swear I will hex you, woman! To think that I was actually trying to reason with you, explain why I didn't…Oh, forget about it! You're right. There's no point in talking right now."

Their conversation had started out as hissed sibilant whisper, but now feeling completely unobserved, they were nearly shouting at each other.

The flutter of wings over their heads directed their attention upwards. It was a little bird that had been probably scared up by their loud voices. She squinted her eyes to better make it out - a swallow. How on earth did a swallow end up in the greenhouse? Given Severus's frown he was probably thinking something along the same lines. The little bird was headed straight for certain death in the form of a glass window.

"Bloody suicidal bird!" She heard the ill-humoured man next to her growl as he begrudgingly drew his wand. "St…" The incantation died on his lips, when he saw her throw a stone from the edge of his vision. It neatly smashed the window towards which the little bird was so determinedly headed, allowing it to fly the greenhouse.

"You just broke a bloody window in the bloody greenhouse," he looked at her in surprise, entirely forgetting his anger and also his language.

She grinned at him somewhat smugly. "I know. It was kind of…."

"Liberating?" He offered.

"Yes," she answered somewhat wistfully. "Wanna try?"

He briefly contemplated her offer, then politely declined. "You know you can't come here and smash windows every time we have a fight, do you?"

"Of course, love. But didn't you see the greater good behind it all?" She asked with a smile on her face.

He grumbled something unintelligible, but their previous exchange had left her with no doubt that this was, just as usually, another display of ill-humour and not true, heartfelt anger.

"See, I'll even be nice and make up for it." She drew her wand and directed it at the window in question. "Reparo!" The shattered pieces of glass neatly put themselves back together.

"Happy now?"

"Hardly. Seems like you've finally learned to clean up after yourself, though."

"What's that got to mean?"

"Nothing." He glared at her.

"Alright." She took a couple of calming breaths. He was just trying to wind her up purposefully once again, so she would forget about what she they initially wanted to talk about. "We still have unfinished business to attend to. So…" She looked at him expectantly.

He rolled his eyes at her. Why are women always so obsessed with the idea that talking things through would make the world a better place? "Alright. Well, you wanted to know why I didn't investigate the matter…" Severus started reluctantly.

"Yes, I still do."

"Apparently," he muttered.

"What was that?" She looked at him disapprovingly.

"Have you suddenly gone deaf? I said 'apparently'." He said a little bit louder, looking at her challengingly.

"Gee, Severus, could it be that you're particularly testy today?"

"I'm just being my usual charming-self." He shrugged his shoulders. "But maybe it's just my reaction to you being particularly annoying today."

"Why? Just because I won't let this drop? Must be something really major if you're getting so worked up about it…" She threw him a meaningful look.

"I am not getting worked up." Each word was uttered with utmost precision and separated from the next by a meaningful pause. Of course, he was also shooting daggers at her with his eyes.

"Of course, dear." The smile that accompanied her words was rather disarming and made him realize that he could either have this discussion with her now or let it fester for a few days, during which she would neither talk to him nor let him touch her, so he chose the lesser of two evils.

"Alright, let's get that over with quickly then, shall we?" he sighed. "You see, well, maybe and let me strongly emphasize the 'maybe' I should not have been so quickly to dismiss your theories." This sentence vanquished the last traces of anger from her system.

"Yeah, maybe."

"Just explain to me, why is it that you seem so determined to not let this go?" He looked at her questioningly.

"Well, there's of course the fact that if things hadn't happened the way they did, I never would have found you. You know that I'm not a firm believer the Powers-That-Be or whatever it is that controls this crazy universe. I need explanation, something tangible I can intellectually grasp…So yes, those theories are rubbish, but at least they are something to hold on to."

"Abby…" He seemed to want to say more, but he didn't get past her name. The way he said it, though, the warm, affectionate, though ever so slightly begrudging tone of his voice, made her look at him with a smile. She impulsively reached out and took his hand in hers. He looked startled, but then a relieved expression flitted over his face. They were no longer arguing.

"So how come you're so calm about the whole thing? Aren't you supposed to be the one of us who's second-guessing everything?" She asked after a while.

"I don't know."

"Oh, come on. I don't buy that feigned ignorant act."

"It's not feigned."

"'Course it is."

"Alright." He suddenly seemed highly uncomfortable, therefore growing all the more ill-humoured. "If you must absolutely know…Sometimes I believe it could have been…well…it's not that important actually."

"Oh, please! Will you spit it out already?"

"Alright, I sometimes think that it was destiny," he finally ground out. A faint blush was colouring his cheeks red. Maybe it was a vestige of their spat or maybe he was truly embarrassed by his own words, she couldn't tell.

The thoughts that raced through her head upon hearing his admission were something along the lines of "What you're saying here makes me suspect you've been replaced by a poly-juiced doppelganger or maybe even worse, that late Dumbledore's theory of 'love conquers all' has finally made you go soft in the head." But of course any form of sarcasm was now completely uncalled for. It would have made him close up completely. But what was she supposed to say? His words were so unexpected and completely out of character, she didn't know what to tell him.

"I did it again, it seems. Shut you up quite thoroughly. I think I should be proud of myself. It's not easily accomplished." He was smirking at her. It was that trademark smirk - slight quirk of the corner of his mouth. But it looked strangely out of place in that situation. She could tell that underneath his act he was quite nervous.

"Severus, do you really think so?" She wouldn't let herself be sidetracked by his comment.

"You're not by any chance just asking yourself whether I've finally snapped, do you?" The look that accompanied his question could best be described as insecure.

"No," she said quickly. "I'm just not used to you being…"

"Being not cynical for once?" he supplied.

"Yes, exactly."

"Would it actually be so bad, if just for once I was trying to believe that there actually was a reason behind the things that happen in this world? That the universe wasn't controlled by some malevolent, chaotic force toying with humans just for its own personal amusement?"

"No, not at all." She shook her head in surprise. "But I'm not sure I understand. What are you trying to tell me?"

"I don't know. Maybe that I've started hoping again?"

She smiled at him, one of those deep-felt, genuine smiles, before she pulled him into a tight embrace. "Good," she whispered in his ear.

His arms encircled her without hesitation, pulling her closer to him. She could feel his warm breath against her neck. It tickled her skin. The tension melted from her. She smiled softly and rubbed her cheek against his with a content hum. The gesture had something feline to it and always made him want to kiss her. Maybe it was because it reminded him of how close her mouth was to his, but then it could have also been that attractive little noise she made when she did it. It almost sounded like a purr.

No longer willing or able to resist temptation, he kissed her. The kiss was slow and thorough and seemed more intense than others they had shared before, thanks to the emotional rollercoaster ride that had preceded it. Eventually they broke apart, mainly because the lack of oxygen was getting a minor concern.

"I think we should move this downstairs," she said, panting slightly. "I don't want to be responsible for emotionally scaring the little buggers or anybody else who could walk in on us. After all seeing us snog would be somewhat like catching your Mom and Dad make out."

"Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about potentially scaring those dunderheads…"

"So I've heard." She grinned at him over her shoulder as she slowly started walking towards the exit of the greenhouse. He was following her, trailing a few steps behind.


The credits are rolling :)

Stay forever who you are
don't change a thing
because you're perfect

You sway gently in the breeze
In between my dreams
It kind of makes me nervous

You're storm, yeah, the lightning striking down
To only strike me once, would still be worth it

In my dreams you were perfect
when I woke you were perfect

Love, as scaring as it is
Tell me is it real,
If it ain't perfect?

I pray with the sounding of you faith
My colours bleed to one
Nothing grows when your love is gone

In my dreams you were perfect
when I woke you were perfect

Hmm, even when you run you're still worth it
Here and now, the moments perfect
You're perfect
So perfect
When you run
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby
Oh run, yeah

Even when you're gone, even when you're here, even when you're not
You're still, you're still, you're still
Vanessa Amorosi - Perfect

AN: Another one of those infamous author notes at the end. First of all I would like to apologize for leaving you all hanging there without updating for months at end...I hope, I've managed to make up for that by posting the last three chapters all at once.

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for the coming year!!!