Title: Confessions of the Soul
Team: Spy for the Dark Side
Word Count: 100 * 11
Rating: Mature
Challenge: Lily
Characters: Hermione/Severus
Warnings: Angst angst angst, MLC, adult situations
Disclaimer: I am not JKR. I do not own the world of Harry Potter. I make no money from this.

A/N: Have you ever written a fic that worked for you at the time of posting, then after the 5th, 6th, or 457th read, it no longer works? The previous version didn't sit well with my muse (who loudly protested the ending) so here's the re-work. Thanks for reading (and not Crucio-ing me for my flakiness pertaining to my wrap-up of the Lily challenge). I never expected this to turn into a four parter.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"Hermione, we need to talk."

His voice resonated throughout the house as he looked for her, calling out her name. When he reached the sitting room, he saw her curled into a ball on the fireplace hearth, stroking her cat, muttering to herself.

"It's all my fault Crooks. I can't be what he needs. I'll never be able to replace Lily Potter in his heart or mind. It hurts so badly, knowing he can never love me how I want and need." She began sobbing brokenly. "He despises me so much. I can't continue living this stupid lie any longer."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"Hermione" he whispered as he entered the room.

She apparently didn't hear him, as she directed her words to Crookshanks. "I've failed him...as a companion, lover, wife. I can't even carry on a conversation with him as he doesn't acknowledge when I'm speaking. I'll petition the Ministry...Hell, I'll break my wand if that's what it will take to be free of the agony of this farce. I can't believe that Severus was my only reasonable match from that required Marital Compatibility Test. Marrying him was a colossal mistake."

"You honestly believe our marriage was a mistake?" Severus queried.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Hermione stiffened at the unexpected sound of her husband's voice. "So, how much of my private conversation did you hear?" she asked, her voice dripping with disdain.

"All of it. You want to break your wand, give up your magic, just to be free of me?"

"Why not? I've done everything I can to be a good wife to you. I talk about things you're interested in. I keep our homes spotless, given that it's my fault we can't get house elf help. I even do everything you like in bed. Tell me Severus, what do my efforts get me?"

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Severus winced as Hermione's voice became louder.

"ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING!" she screamed at him as fresh tears tolled down her face. "I would rather live life as a muggle than to spend another moment in Lily Potter's shadow."

Severus' face paled at her revelation.

"Oh, yes. Did you think I wouldn't know whose name you call out when we're being intimate? She's been dead for nearly two decades and she still haunts you, which in turn torments me. What do you expect me to do? Keep running into the proverbial brick wall? I'll never be enough for you, will I?"

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Severus finally found his voice around the knot of emotion in his throat, "I expect you to honor the bond we have. 'In good times, in bad times, and all other times in between'."

"Give me a reason why I should. Have you ever heard the term 'lusting in the heart'? That's exactly what you're doing whenever you think of Lily as you're with me. You've already broken your vows, so please get to the point already. I'd like to lie down if you don't mind. It's been a rather trying day. Make your point Severus and make it fast."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"I've been a complete and utter fool. You're right Hermione. I've given you nothing in return for you making the best of this. I'm not going to try and excuse any of my boorish behavior. All I can do is my best in earning your forgiveness. You think I haven't noticed all you do for me? My coffee is prepared how I like it before I'm even out of bed. My robes are always freshly laundered and starched. Our quarters are always clean and orderly. I've grown so accustomed to the everyday things. I'd be lost if you left me."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"Why are you telling me this now Severus? After all this time, you decide to recognize that you have hurt me beyond words, and you want to make amends? Who do you think I am, some simpering Hufflepuff who will just blindly follow you when you say you were wrong? I could care less if you're finally getting it. Too little, too late in my opinion."

"There's no way to sever our bond except through death. That's what you want? You would kill yourself to keep from remaining bound to me?"

"Who says I would be the one to die?"

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Severus was startled. "I'm sorry my short sightedness has led us here. I want to be the husband you need. Am I too late to fix my mistakes?"

"I wish I knew what to say to that. I could always leave the Wizarding world. I could snap my wand...live without magic."

Severus reached out and pulled her into an embrace "I'd have to snap my wand as well because I refuse to subject myself to the ridiculous marital lottery. Can we resolve to make our marriage work?"

"I wish that could be possible. I just don't think it can."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"I can't just give up my magic. It's like asking me to cease drawing breath. It's who I am and who you are. The compatibility test was not wrong and I'm an idiot for not realizing before now. Now that I removed my head from my arse, I understand why you would want to leave this farce of a marriage. Please stay. I can't undo the hurt I've caused, but I can vow there will be no one but you and I in my life and in our marriage." They felt the oath magic swirl around them, sealing Severus' vow.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Hermione sighed in relief. "I couldn't live in another woman's shadow any longer. I don't want our relationship to end up like my parents' did." Hermione recollects the screaming and arguments that arose from Hermione's deception, which ultimately drove her family apart.

"I don't want that for us either. I certainly don't want us to end up like my parents" Severus said grimly.

"What happened?" Hermione asked, seeking to understand him further.

"Nothing pleasant, believe me. They sniped and raged at one another until it drove them beyond the point of madness. I don't want us to end like that."

- - - - - - - - - - -

"Now that is resolved, I would like for us to be how we should've been all along" Hermione stated, her face in an unreadable expression.

Severus' eyebrow raised at her cryptic statement and he asked "What do you mean?"

"We should see this as a fresh start. Let's get to know one another properly."

"I should court you?"

Hermione snickered his outdated term "If that's what you call it, yes we should court. Perhaps later we could have a ceremony reflecting the renewal of our bond. What say you?"

"I say this could be a new start to something perfect."