Hermione and Snape come together for one evening in the face of insurmountable odds, daring to find comfort in each other, if only for one night.

Author's note: This story is not canon-compliant in that Professor Slughorn is the Potions Master in Hermione's 6th year, not Snape. However, for the purposes of this fiction, Snape retained his old job.

It started with her breath on his throat.

She was working on her Independent Potions Project in her sixth year, and the year was coming to a close. There were a few months left, but the teachers' hearts weren't in it like they used to be with the threat of the war darkening every morning, and the students could barely be contained in their naïve urge to fight for hearth and home.

But for some, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was hearth and home, and for these people, it needed to be protected.

Professor Severus Snape and Hermione Granger were two such people.

And they carried on as usual: one a snarky, vicious bastard, the other the quintessential know-it-all. Their roles were set and the actors played their parts.

So it was only fitting that Hermione found herself in the Potions Master's office almost daily, pestering him with questions and research and theories and recipes. Her final project, kept a secret to all except one Severus Snape, was a Wolfsbane derivative with painkilling and sedative properties, as well as nutrients and supplements. It would essentially render a werewolf completely harmless upon a full moon, removing the excruciating pain from the transformation process, halting the restless pacing and listlessness of a transformed werewolf by sedating it, and increasing the werewolf's lifespan by increasing its nutritional and restorative value. She was even trying to make it taste good. So far, all alterations save the last had been successful in seven out of ten batches. It needed to be eight out of ten for a passing grade, and of course Hermione would settle for no less than ten out of ten perfect batches.

Snape had long resigned himself to the torture of her company. At first he had fought her tooth and nail on her independent project, but her research was more thorough than he cared to admit, and frankly, too expansive for him to even try to argue, let alone read. And so they were in each other's company too often for either of their tastes, getting in one another's way and all around becoming hazards to the other's health.

But then it started. She was brewing intently; he was supervising but mostly remaining at his desk, marking papers with impressive flourishes of red circles and Xs. He looked up to see her fingers caress the pestle lovingly before she added a pinch of her ingredient to the mortar, and the motion of her wrist, the twist and thrust was erotic to him in a way he would have been embarrassed to admit. She was precise, exact, and swift; her actions were sure and confident but measured. She was contained. He saw himself in her restraint and felt a clenching in his gut at the thought that her fate would be similar to his. As much as she frustrated, annoyed, downright exasperated him, he would not wish his own fate on his worst enemy. Well, maybe Voldemort himself. But not this young, innocent, fresh, pure…were those lacewing flies? That couldn't be right, the results would be….

Snape flew from his chair and grabbed her wrist tightly in his hand, demanding, "Do you have any idea what this would have done if added to your brew, Miss Granger?" His voice was low but the undercurrent of power was evident.

"Of course! It will neutralize the acid of the bubotuber pus and create a base for the sedative!" Hermione exclaimed in a voice that seemed certain but was tremulous at an apparent error.

"Indeed it would, Miss Granger. It would also create a reaction with the copper alloy of the cauldron and—" here Hermione had the grace to gasp as she caught on to her grave error, "—cause an explosion the likes of which this office has never seen."

Snape did not release her wrist, but took the measurement of lacewing flies from her grasp and set it far from the cauldron. He was standing behind her and slightly to her right, his right hand grasping hers in a manner that was no longer for their safety alone. His grasp loosened but did not break. Hermione turned her head to face him and looked up, exhaling sharply when she saw him looking back at her. Her breath hit his throat in a sharp puff and time slowed as the sweetness of her exhalation assaulted him.

Hermione was sure her life was over. Not only had she nearly killed them both and countless innocent victims in their vicinity, but she had breathed on him, and he seemed to be holding his breath, which only ever meant he was thinking of the nastiest, cruelest, most destructive thing he could possibly say. His nearness was having an undetermined effect on her, her body almost swaying and she was introduced to his aroma, which was slightly spicy and foreign; a smell comprised of a thousand ingredients, changing every day as his ingredients were used and discarded.

But when he let out his breath, it was not with a stream of vitriol so vicious she would want to curl up and die. Instead, his grip loosened ever more and he was holding her wrist loosely, softly. Gently. He lowered his great nose to her wild hair and inhaled deeply. The sound went through her body and her overactive mind begged her to break his hold—it would be easy enough—and run to the safety of her dorm. But her body, her long-neglected, over-stimulated body begged her to stay and just let him smell her. And so she did.

She smelled of Italy. Snape had never been but he'd heard good things. She smelled of what he imagined good things to smell like. Her skin was so soft and smooth, so pliable. She was so pliable. He could form her, mould her, and shape her. She would let him, too; she respected him, and he knew that. But he didn't want that. He only wanted to taste Italy on his tongue and remember what it was like to have something to look back on with fondness. He only wanted to feel something.

Hermione was frozen; he didn't seem to be moving, and she was overtaken with the urge to touch him. Her left arm was firmly at her side and her right was encapsulated. She only wanted to know what it felt like; there was no harm in a little knowledge. It never hurt anyone.

She stepped back slightly, allowing her back to align with his front. His hand lowered hers to her side and he wanted to step away. Her body was pressed against his, and now her breath seemed to be held. Her temerity was impressive but he could sense, through her determination to do whatever it was she was doing that she was anxious of his rejection.

And it would be so easy indeed to reject Miss Granger. To thrust her away from him and fail her project for their near demises, and never think back on this moment, for truly only a moment had passed, or was it a year? But Snape remembered all too well his own third year Potions final when he had brought his very own copper cauldron to class in which to brew his project. He had been so proud; it was the first thing he bought with the money he'd been saving for years. And it had reacted to his ingredients and had destroyed his potion. And his cauldron. He had failed, had been ridiculed by the students and admonished by the faculty. And he had decided never to take pride in possessions for they were volatile and had no loyalties. Only personal attributes were to be rewarded, like valor and intelligence.

But how he wanted to possess Miss Granger like she was a copper cauldron he had bought with his own money, that he coveted above all else, that would bring him happiness if only he knew how to keep it from the wrong elements that would destroy it.

His hands rested on the narrowest part of her waist and he was lost.

He pulled Hermione against him and let her feel the effect she had on him, the effect the grazing of her wrist had. His hands moved to her stomach and caressed her through her robes. She was very slender, and he was painfully reminded of her youth.

She turned in his arms and held her breath again as she looked up. She had to lean her head back as he was very tall and was looking down his nose at her as if he did not know how to look at a woman so close to him. And maybe he didn't. But it wasn't important because she grazed her lips just so against the underside of his jaw, all she could reach at her vantage point. She held her lips there and felt the fluttering of his pulse followed by a rapid swallow of his Adam's apple. Her hands moved to his chest and hesitated for a moment before boldly travelling to his lapel and then around his collar, to meet and entwine behind his neck.

He held her jaw with one hand and placed the other firmly on the small of her back.

"It would be wise to leave now, Miss Granger." His voice was husky and unrecognizable even to himself.

"I don't doubt you are right about that," Hermione rejoined, not making a move to exit his arms. Her lips parted as she watched his face, and when she saw hunger flash across his eyes, her tongue wet her lips in anticipation. His eyes followed the movement and he tilted her face up. Her eyes closed and her lips parted. She waited until she was certain he would not make a move, and just as she was going to pull away and apologize, he pressed his mouth to hers in the gentlest of couplings.

His lips moved experimentally against hers, learning the shape of her mouth with his. When she responded with barely restrained passion, he moaned in his throat and her mouth parted beneath his ministrations. Unable to keep a gentle pace, his fingers tightened on her jaw and his tongue plunged into her mouth, exploring her soft heat, desperate to find answers there.

She responded with vigor, matching his actions in a way that told him she was learning him, learning his moves and what pleased him. Trust his little know-it-all to approach kissing with clinical intelligence. His hands were moving freely over her, though hers remained anchored on his neck, and they both knew for her to let go would send her to the ground.

He removed her robe and school sweater, barely breaking their kiss. His eyes searched hers and saw a fevered lust that must have been mirrored in his own. She seemed awakened from her lassitude and began unbuttoning his many fastenings. He grew weary of her fumbling, however, and with a much-practiced non-verbal spell, all of his buttons were undone. She smiled and pushed his coat from him, then his shirt. He allowed her small, cool fingers to explore his chest, grazing over the many scars there. Oh, yes, he had been deserving of his Lord's punishment on countless occasions over the years. She did not touch him with pity, more like curiosity, as though she wished to know the story behind every scar and burn. But those were not tales for her ears.

He unbuttoned her oxford shirt and pushed it from her shoulders. A simple white bra met his gaze, and her small breasts rose rapidly over her rapidly exhaling lungs.

"You are…quite lovely." Snape was not used to waxing poetic, and no Byronic platitudes were coming to mind. Honesty would have to work here.

"You have been much abused," she answered, smoothing her hands over his chest. "I wish things were different for you."

With that honest proclamation, he knew he had to have her. He could not romance her as she deserved and he would not promise her anything. But he would please her and that was all they could have. It would be enough.

Snape lowered his lips to her neck and nibbled gently on her pulse point. He nipped and laved her collarbone, its frailty feeling all the more delicate beneath his teeth. He unhooked her bra and let it slip down her arms to the floor. At that moment, he regained his senses before he allowed himself to gaze upon her breasts and put Silencing and locking charms on the door. He turned back to her, pressing her gently but firmly against the unused portion of her workspace. The table pressed into her backside and she leaned on it slightly, never taking his hands from the exploration of her person.

He kissed a trail from her mouth to her breast and drew a turgid nipple into his mouth. He flicked his tongue against its hardness and Hermione arched her back, her hands on his neck, clenching gently. He rewarded the other breast with his hand while his mouth feasted. He mimicked his movements so a gentle bite of his teeth equaled a pinch with his fingers, and a suction into his mouth was followed by a tight pull on her nipple. He moved his mouth to the other breast and repeated his efforts. Hermione was moving her hips forward but he had pulled just beyond her reach. Her moans were becoming louder, more insistent as she wanted more.

She tasted even better than she smelled, Snape thought as his trailed his tongue past her belly button. She tasted like every book he couldn't afford and every friend he never made. He effortlessly unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor. He was harder than he could ever remember being, and the sight of her white cotton panties was nearly enough for him. He caught his breath and paused, knowing if he knelt right away, the friction of his pants against his arousal might take him over the edge.

Regaining his control, Snape slipped to his knees before her. Hermione gasped at the sudden rush of power she felt at this man, this man, on his knees, almost in supplication, before her. It was enough to make her mad with desire. He took hold of her underwear and reverently slipped it to her feet. This creature, this goddess, was now nude before him, and he could only presume to be permitted to know her intimately. Her light brown curls met his gaze, and he longed to dive into her.

Snape ran his hands up her thighs, and Hermione was grateful for the support of the table. When he looked at her as though for permission, she could only whimper her assent. He spread her legs gently and slipped a finger into her folds. She was so wet, she smelled so delicious and suddenly he could not bear it. He plunged his tongue through her lips and dragged it across her seam, ending at her clitoris, where he circled and sucked. Hermione could only gasp and throw her head back, and when he looked up at her, he could tell she was restraining herself from calling out, her teeth biting mercilessly on her lovely bottom lip.

"Don't contain your cries, I want to hear them. I want to hear every noise you make."

She could only nod and keen as he returned to her pussy with renewed vigor. He slipped a finger inside her and she cried out softly at the intrusion. He had a moment to be grateful she was not a virgin, for a man like him surely deserved no such honour, before he plunged a second finger within her. He moved them in and out with steady force, kissing and licking her clit until her legs began to shake and he could feel her insides fluttering around his fingers. He thrust harder into her and she came with a force that held her body stiff for several moments, her cries like the sweetest music, her flavour like ambrosia.

Her eyes opened to see him watching her intently, and her desire flooded her again at the unshuttered longing she saw there. Right now, she knew she was the only woman in the world. Her hands were on his belt as his mouth crashed onto hers, his tongue drawing hers into his own mouth where he sucked it gently before nibbling on her full lower lip and caressing it with the tip of his tongue. When her hand freed his cock, he was sure he must have been a good, good man in a former life. Though inexpert, she was enthusiastic and learned so quickly through his encouraging noises. He stopped her before she took him too far though, and she made a disappointed sound.

"I wish I could take you in a proper bed," Snape told her. But they both knew this moment only existed right now and was not meant to be carried out like a love story.

"I wish you would take me," she answered honestly, uncaring if he fucked her against this table or against the wall or even on the hard stone floor, stained with centuries of spilled potions. He growled his approval and led her to his desk chair. It had no arms and a high back and he figured if nothing else, it would give her control over her own actions, instead of him getting carried away in his passions if he were to fuck her with abandon. He lowered his trousers and sat upon the sturdy wooden chair, bringing her ever closer until her legs were on either side of his.

Hermione knew what he wanted her to do, what she desperately wanted to do, her arousal was insistently slick between her thighs and his was all too obvious between his. His cock was thick and desperate, velvet upon steel, and she knew she needed him in her. Without preamble, Hermione centered herself over his lap and lowered herself to him. He held the edges of the chair as if he would fall off otherwise, and so she held him as she steadied herself, placing his head at her entrance, moving it along her folds to slick it before sinking down onto it. Their moans were twins as she sank to the base of his cock, her hands moving to his shoulders and his to her hips.

She could feel every ridge within her, swore she felt his pulsing vein, and she pressed her breasts to his chest and began to move. He helped her by pulling her hips up and letting her sink back down over him. Together they found a rhythm that moved them both quickly toward completion, their mouths meeting in a desperate clash, him swallowing her cries and moans, her devouring him in order to know him, to have him just right now.

Her hands found purchase on his shoulders and her nails dug in deeply, using him to thrust herself upon him over and over, and his fingers grasped her hips tightly as he drew her over his cock until he knew neither could take any more. He dragged the pad of his thumb over her clit almost too roughly in his fervor, and Hermione cried out and clenched her eyes shut as she tightened from her toes to her jaw and finally culminating in her pussy, and her muscles spasmed around Snape, strangling his orgasm from him nearly unwillingly with a determined grunt, and they pulsed together in the final moments of abandon, panting in tandem.

Snape allowed Hermione to kiss him for several minutes, his cock still within her as though she could not bear its departure. Her kisses were sweet and innocent and tasted of the days when there were no summons from either master and he was permitted a moment to ponder his life without a leash.

Finally, she raised herself from him and he helped her collect her clothing. No words were said as they dressed and replaced the items that had fallen from her workspace in the throes of her ecstasy by his tongue. Her potion was ruined for today but he knew she would start afresh the next day.

As Hermione made her way to the door, there was a moment where both wanted to say words that would allow this to happen again between them. He needed her youth, and she needed his passion and in a different world they may have been great together. But in this world, brave witches married young and had children, and courageous heroes died at the hands of a fickle master. The world where they made love was not the world in which they lived.

"Miss Granger, tomorrow we will continue with your project, and I will have an iron cauldron to utilize in order to prevent any further grievous mistakes."

"Of course, Professor Snape. Thank you for… saving us." She didn't say from the explosion I almost caused because that's not what she was talking about anyway.

Snape took down the wards and the locking charm, and Hermione let herself out. He picked up his quill and dipped it back into the red ink. She walked slowly but with purpose as she always did.

And it didn't matter how they worked together casually for the rest of the year. It didn't matter how their eyes never met or her fingers never shook when he lectured. It didn't matter that he swore he could smell her when she sat at the front of his classroom or that she was always the last to leave.

It didn't matter because they always had those moments together, the moments that made them feel real and human, and no matter what happened as the war ended and new lives were able to truly begin without fear or pain, no matter what happened they had that one night.

And that had to be enough.