AN: I prolly should have stated that this might not make sense if you have not read The Safe House (by Aurette, there are now two of them) first. Though this will pretty much work on it's own, certain things are a continuation of ideas from that first story.

Also: Didn't write for moniez! All belong to JKR!

It was a busy summer for Severus Snape, what with things heating up on the warfront. His job as a spy ensured that he was smack dab in the middle of the two fronts and slowly getting squeezed to death. Periods of free time were few and far between and with the new school year starting up soon it was more than time for a little recreation. Thus on an evening where the Dark Lord wrapped up the mad cackling early and left him the use of his legs for once he strolled away from Malfoy Manor and apparated to Knockturn Alley where he tapped his wand on the doorplate of Number Five. The sounds of music and giggling swelled as the door opened to reveal a strikingly handsome woman. She was at least six foot five inches, probably due to the heels just peeking out from the red velvet skirts of her rather daringly low cut dress. Her hair was a confection of white and pale pink swirls twisted up to impossible heights, with corkscrew ringlets dribbling down one side of her neck. One thing detracted from the effect and that was the sheer amount of make up slathered on to a face that was fetching enough that even the hint of five o'clock shadow didn't really do much to detract. Seeing who was at the door, the musical greeting stopped. The lady's face hell a bit and her voice dropped two octaves as she stepped to the side and let him enter.

"Hello, Professor. Haven't seen you in a bit. Not like you to skip an appointment or to just drop in."

"Hello, Henry"

"It's Loretta!" she hissed.

"Whoever, you'll always be Henry the Hufflepoof to me."

"I want to be called Loretta!" she whined with a stamp of a large yet delicate foot. "So what did make you miss your last appointment?"

"Unforeseen events," Snape replied with irritation as he reached inside his robes. He pulled out a gilt embossed box that enlarged itself as he handed it to the host.

Henry's voice fluttered back up two octaves.

"Ooo! My scotch! You remembered! You are such a dear!" Snape followed his old classmate through the reception area scowling at the prattling voice. "So now that I have been properly bribed, what's your pleasure tonight? Something truly kinky this time like leaving the lights on?"

"Oh I don't know, perhaps I should live it up a little, maybe we should leave the lights on, or perhaps I could be totally decadent and indulge in some kissing."

"Oooo Severus! You are being naughty tonight." Henry pondered the dour man standing in front of him. "I'll see which of the girls can be sedated enough for you."

"Just makes sure it is a girl," was the snide reply.

"Don't be boorish, Severus, it is so unattractive." With those last words the Madam left him alone in a cramped but well lit room and closed the door behind him.

Snape cast a silencing charm around the room so he didn't have to hear the muffled sound of old bedsprings from other rooms. Then he began to shed his clothes and cast protection charms on everything below his belly button. He placed his wand on the nightstand, crawled onto the squeaky bed and relaxed letting his mind wander. Of course, like it had done so many times this summer, it immediately wandered onto the subject of kissing. He had recently discovered kisses were rather pleasant but had limited experience from which to draw firm conclusions on the subject and so tonight was as much about research as it was about tension relief.

His thoughts were interrupted by the door opening. A scantily clad woman of indeterminate age entered the room in a cloud of alcoholic vapors. Her white blond hair was the texture of cotton candy. Her watery blue eyes were unevenly outlined in sea green which clashed horridly with the thick, ruby red lipstick that was smeared all over her front teeth.

"Hello, my name's Taffy!" A quick shake of her shoulders started her large saggy bosom undulating, a motion that continued as she approached the bed.

With an expression that bordered on hysteria, Snape scrabbled for his wand on the nightstand and with a quick swish the room was plunged into darkness.


Severus Snape strode through the halls of Hogwarts with a determined stride. The halls, his halls, were blessedly empty. There were only a few days left before the start of the new term. He was almost in a good mood, he had his course syllabus done and the student supply closet was restocked and ready to be vandalized by the maddening hoards known as students. He was almost ready for the new year, all the was left to be determined was the schedule of chaperone duties for Hogsmeade weekends and nightly hall monitoring duties. He was on his way to the staff meeting where all that was to be straightened out.

As he swept past the Great Hall Minerva McGonagall came out and he held his step politely until she fell in next to him.

"Hello Minerva, welcome back. I trust you had a pleasant summer?" He always made an effort to be polite to Minerva. Of all his co-workers, she was the least offensive, despite being the Head of Gryffindor.

"Thank you, Severus. It is a pleasure to be back Spending the summer with my sister and her family always seems a good idea until I actually get there. And what about yourself? Did you get a chance to…" what ever she was going to say next was lost as she turned and peered closely at his face. "Severus, is that a cold sore?"

His hand few up on its own accord and covered his lip. He scowled furiously.

"No. It is not a cold sore. It is an injury I sustained after the last meeting with the Dark Lord," he replied honestly.

"Were you cursed?" She stopped and grabbed his arm in concern.

"I assure you , there was a lot of cursing involved," he relied in a flat voice.

"Are you sure? It looks like a cold sore."

"It's not a cold sore!" he hissed.

"Well, if you insist," she sniffed.

"I do."

They continued on to the staffroom and he paused to let her enter first.

"Perhaps you should have Poppy look at that for you, it does look rather nasty."

"I'm fine, thank you, it will be gone in another day," he gritted out through clenched teeth as he followed her into the room.

The level of noise in the small room was cacophonous after the silence of the halls and dungeon. People were happily filling each other in on their doings over the summer. Albus Dumbledore presided over the chaos with his customary twinkle, making no effort to call anyone to order. Severus growled under his breath and angled through the mob toward his customary place next to the fire only to see his chair taken up by Nymphadora Tonks. With a muttered oath he turned back towards the table and snatched a chair and dragged it over against the wall.

"Hello, Severus, How's tricks? I haven't seen you at the house since June. What have you been…" She leaned in closer and squinted at his lip. "Is that a cold sore?"

"It's not a cold sore!" he huffed. Gods, he hated his life sometimes. "What are you doing here anyway, doesn't Lupin need a rabies shot or something?" He folded his arms across his chest and turned his body away from her. She laughed at his remark and turned her attention to the front of the room where Dumbledore was clearing his throat and people were seating themselves and slowly coming to attention.

"Greetings, my friends. Welcome back to the new year. I won't keep you long, I know many of you are anxious to start getting ready for the term we only have three days to do so and I know your time is precious." He smiled and looked over at Severus who had snorted. "Here are your schedules for your Hogsmeade weekends and your nightly hall duties, as always if you need to make arrangements on days you cannot fulfill your duties, work it out with your fellow staff and then please make sure I am advised of the situation beforehand if possible." He turned towards the fireplace and waved his hand expansively. "Please welcome Nymphadora Tonks, she will be teaching Defense Against Dark Arts this term. I ask you to welcome her to the family and lend her any assistance needed to help her get settled in." He paused to let the wave of polite greetings and welcoming noises wash over the room and settle a bit. "Last, I would like to ask that you give our Head Boy and Head Girl any assistance they might need settling in, to their new duties as well. They will be arriving tomorrow."

"Excuse me, Albus, but who are the Heads this year? I only got in an hour ago from Vegas," inquired Irma Pince.

"Mr. Draco Malfoy and Miss Hermione Granger," he replied with a happy smile.

Unbeknownst to him, Severus's hand flew up and covered his lip. It stayed there until everyone had left the room. No one noticed except the Headmaster.


Hermione Granger left the Great Hall after the Welcoming Feast and tottered her way to her new rooms. She was frustrated and sore. Her first night here and so far her plan was a total failure. Standing outside the portrait of Portia the Parsimonious she shifted from foot to foot. The woman in the portrait gave her a disdainful look and went back to staring at the empty spaces in her painting. She had forgotten to get the password. She contemplated walking back to the feast to ask one of the staff but the concept of walking that far was farther down of her list of things to do than playing hopscotch with Voldemort himself. Just as she was scanning her memory for helpful levitating charms a voice spoke next to her.

"Did you forget your password already, Miss Granger?"

She spun around and almost lost her balance. Grabbing the wall to hold herself up she looked and saw no one at all.

"Down here, Miss Granger." She looked down and saw Professor Flitwick smiling up at her with amusement. "My, you did grow up over the summer!" He laughed. "You must have gained four inches!"

"Actually, no," she said with a smile, "it's just the new shoes, sir." He looked down at the purple pointy toes poking out from under her Head Girl robes.

"Ah, I see, so it is!" he let out a happy little laugh that grated on her nerves a bit. Was he laughing at her shoes? Or just her obvious discomfort?

"Well, then I will tell you the password is pickled parsnips and let you get inside to rest your poor feet. As you know, once inside you can reset the password, but please let the Headmaster know the new one as soon as possible. A word to the wise, Miss Granger. Sometimes it is best to start off small and work your way up." He gave her feet a significant look and winked at her. "Have a good night, Miss Granger and welcome back."

"Thank you, sir," she replied. Turning to the portrait she muttered pickled parsnips and struggled over the threshold. Once inside she kicked off her shoes and gave them a murderous glare. They had seemed so lovely when she saw them in the shop window and they hadn't felt that bad when she tried them on. But after tottering through the train station the love had started to fade and after stomping through the castle and up four flights of stairs she wanted a divorce. Thinking of her Professor's advice, she flicked her wand at them and lowered the stiletto heals to a more realistic two inches. Then she scooped them up and tossed them into her closet. They might be more realistic, but it would be a month of Sundays before she put them on again. Standing in front of her closet she contemplated the rest of her wardrobe. She had finally been allowed to go home to her parents' house for the last two weeks of summer when it was possible to have aurors watch the property 'round the clock. Her mother had been delighted when Hermione had asked her for advice on boys and if she could take her shopping for clothes. Actually, delighted was a rather staid description He mother had burst into tears and clutched her to her bosom whispering 'finally' over and over. It had been a tad annoying. The two Granger women had run the gamut of stores from Harvey Nichols to Dorothy Perkins, and spent hours in a hair salon learning how to control her unruly mop, lessons that were immediately lost the next morning when she managed to make herself look like a panicked hedgehog. They had put a large dent in the Granger family fortune. Mrs. Granger waved away any guilt, telling her to think of it as what she had coming to her, having saved them money with those horrid old t-shirts and used jeans from goodwill. Having no idea what her personal style was, Hermione had pretty much grabbed one of anything that struck her fancy. However, now she was struck by the thought that if the rest of the clothes were as ill thought out as those shoes, she might have a whole closet full of torture devices. Oh well, she could just wear her uniform on the weekends until her mother sent her back her t-shirts and baggy jeans and her comfortable, sturdy shoes.

She opened back the door to the closet and looked in the mirror on the door. Standing there in her school uniform with her Head Girl robe over it she looked just like she always did. Shapeless and non-descript. Really, the only way to personalize the uniform was with shoes, so she had purchased several. But the pins and needles sensation of blood returning to her toes told her she was really going to have to do more research. She looked back up to her face and contemplated make-up but as usual with that thought she brushed it aside, not willing to look tragic, as she had been told she was in danger of. There must be some middle ground between tart and dowdy. Perhaps she really should give her hair another try. Making a mental note to find time to speak with Parvati at some point the next day she reached in and grabbed her pajamas and headed to bed.

Settling in under the covers with her lists she separated them into tree subjects. She placed the pile she called NEWTs to the side, she had revised all summer long and knew that she was as ready for the school year to begin as possible. She glanced through the pile she called Helping Harry and jotted some notes on her brief but curiously non-antagonistic interactions with Malfoy. She understood that things were getting tense all over and had a few ideas about perhaps luring him into the fold. He seemed strained and sad during their meetings with the Headmaster and appeared to respond to her politeness with aplomb. Setting that pile of parchment aside, she grabbed up the pile she called Transmission Plan and started to make furious notes about shoes. That done, she blew out the candles with a muttered spell, placed her wand on the nightstand and, as she had every night since June, closed her eyes and started thinking hard about kissing.


Severus Snape glided along the edge of darkness closing in on his prey. As had become his custom for the last two months, he paused to gather information on technique first. If there was any new techniques to be learned he would sometimes take almost five minutes to strike. After all, good research demanded patience. However if, like tonight, there was no elegance to be seen, he would waste no time.

"Twenty points from Ravenclaw for such a disgusting display!" he hissed as he loomed out of the darkness.

The sound of wet suction breaking its hold echoed in the hallway and the two Ravenclaw fifth years jumped apart in total mortification. Gods, he loved his life sometimes. Seeing what looked like bruises forming on the boy's lips he leaned in and in a deadly whisper said, "Each."

He left his victims scrambling in tears to get their common room and glided back into the darkness in search of fresh prey, or new tips, whatever.


Hermione Granger sat at her usual place at the front of the potions classroom. She had her books put and placed to the side, her parchment set just so in front of her, her feather quill placed next to her ink bottle at a precise forty-five degree angle. Her hands were folded gently in front of her on the desk. Her posture was flawless and her legs were crossed at the ankles and canted off to the side just slightly. On her feet were a odd pair of mustard yellow, low-heeled pumps and she appeared to be wearing stockings instead of her usual one up, one down socks. It was her hair, however that made his eye twitch. It was silky straight and pulled back in a severe ponytail that seemed to give her a face lift. It was also platinum blonde. She seemed utterly oblivious to the stares and murmurs going on around her. Parvati Patil was whispering furiously to her neighboring students and looking quite smug.

"Miss Granger," Professor Snape asked when he stopped in front of her desk, "Pray tell, what is it exactly that you are doing?" The class sucked in a collective breath in fear.

Hermione smiled sweetly and simply replied, "Transmitting, sir."

His eyebrows flew up and he paused to look her over quickly before staring hard at her hair.

"Yes, well. I would say that you are almost successful in your pursuit. Perhaps some fine tuning? Yes?" Confused by the cryptic exchange, the class was amazed to see their dread professor simply whirl away from her and, with a flick, post the lesson on the board.


Hermione woke up and dressed quickly. Stuffing her book bag full she set it on her shoulder and ran to her mirror. It was time to pick a new hairstyle. She had made extensive notes on people's reactions so far and had come up with a definite trend as to who liked and who disliked her hair. She was definitely transmitting now. Unfortunately, she wasn't thrilled with what she had attracted. Ron had started to drool when he talked and Lavender was giving her killing glances. All in all the average intelligence of those receiving was sub par. A few conversations with interested parties and she decided to eliminate stupid and illiterate from her list of qualities she was looking for. Looking over the list of charms Parvati had given her she looked at her hair and started to swish and flick. Platinum blonde turned to golden blonde. She left it straight and left it down and hurried off to breakfast.

Severus sat at the head table and stared down the entire room. Of course no one was looking at him, students never willingly looked at him, but he felt it was his duty to make sure any thoughts of mischief they woke up with were summarily dealt with first thing. The guilty minded had a tendency to look at him despite themselves. And he was always ready with a scowl.

A buzz across the room attracted his immediate attention. Miss Granger had made an entrance and people seemed to be reacting to her new choice of hair. He stifled the amused smirk that almost popped onto his lace, that wouldn't do at all. He had to admit the girl was trying. If not all that successful, at least she was trying. He was rather fond of the girl since their escapade last summer. She was actually rather easy to get along with, when not hopping up and down trying to get approval and she had done precious little of that this year so far. She was sensible and had never mentioned their interaction, thank the fates. He would always be grateful for his first kiss. Guilty, but grateful. It had set his mind to thinking and given him something to ponder besides his most likely imminent demise. Before he went down he was going to kiss a real grown-up woman he didn't have to pay and he would be sober and it would be perfect. A squeal from the Gryffindor Patil girl brought his mind back from his quest. She was dancing around Miss Granger and clapping her hands in approval. Silly dolt. Anyone with taste could see her hair looked like shite. He found himself rather protective of Miss Granger and had taken house points from every student he had overheard make a disparaging remark about her this last week of white blonde hair. It would seem that this week it was to be a dreadful shade of golden blonde that looked awful with her skin tone. After the excitement died down and everyone turned towards filling their plates Miss Granger looked around to make sure no one was looking at her anymore and then looked up to the head table. Catching her looking straight at him he lifted one eyebrow in question. She fiddled with her hair and gave him a questioning look of her own. Glancing quickly around to see if anyone was looking at him he looked back at her and made a moue of distaste, shaking his head gently. She nodded and then looked down, sticking one of her feet forward she showed him her shoe and raised a questioning eyebrow. Again he shot a glance around the room and then looked at her soft, caramel, kid skin loafer. He looked back at her and raised both eyebrows and nodded his head just bit. She beamed and whirled around to sit at the table. He dismissed her from his mind and went back to scowling at the room in general. Dumbledore looked from under lowered lashes at the Head girl and the Potions Master


Still suffering the shakes from the cruciatus, Severus struggled down the hallway to the kitchen of Number 12 where there was an Order meeting in progress. His entrance was, as usual, filled with snide comments and terse insults, but he shrugged them off to give his report on the escalation of attacks and the newest infiltrators in the Ministry. His duty done he slumped down in a chair and closed his eyes to focus on calming the pain. He listened to Moody and Lupin give their reports and his attention drifted around the room. Potter had his fists clenched, nothing new there. Molly was wringing her hands in her apron, same as usual. Albus was acting all wise and knowing, check. Kingsley was nodding sagely, righto. Granger was…she was looking at him with what looked suspiciously like concern. Odd. No one looks at him with concern. Oh, right, this week's hair. He looked at the odd cinnamon color with chunks of gold and then back at her. He shook his head. She gave him a rather odd look of disbelief. 'What? It's awful,' he mouthed. He nodded his head towards her feet hidden from sight. She made a choking sound and then smiled. Sliding her foot out from under the table she showed off a rather sensible hiking boot in a deep forest green, now that he could approve of and he gave her a very satisfied nod. Then he let his eyes slide shut.


Hermione made her entrance into the Yule Ball on the arm of Draco Malfoy. It was customary for the Head Boy to escort the Head Girl. She wearing a silver sheath dress set off her shoulders and a fake fur wrap. She struggled through the throng of boys vying for her attention until she spotted her Professor guarding the punch bowl. She didn't have to try to catch his attention, he was already looking at her with amusement. She rolled her eyes up towards her pile of ebony black curls artfully placed atop her head and then raised an eyebrow. He cocked his head to the side and gave her a look that plainly said, 'Oh, please. Try again.' Then she slid her leg through the slit of her dress and showed off a strappy heeled sandal with a chunky sole. He shrugged slightly and gave her a look that said 'meh.' She gave him an exasperated look and stuck her tongue outand he gifted her with out of his rare smiles of amusement. Then she hesitated a moment and raised a hand and made a gesture towards her face make-up. She looked at him and bit her lip. His face fell into seriousness and he bestowed upon her a solemn nod of approval. Her face broke into a glorious smile and she gave him the slightest of curtsies and turned back to her admirers.


Professor Snape limped through the front door of Hogwarts, scattering students left and right. His face was a mask of fury as he made his way swiftly towards the gargoyle guarding the Headmaster's office. The Head Girl was leaving the Headmaster's Office and she jumped to the side, her bright auburn hair flying as he swooped down on her with a fierce growl.

"Sir! Are you alri…"

He never broke stride as he whipped out his wand and slashed at her hair with it in passing. As he hit the first step on the way up he turned and aimed his wand at her feet and kept going.

Hermione looked down at her feet, now encased in black boots up to the knee. They were soft as glove leather, with a low heel like riding boots and they folded down at the top in points to reveal an emerald green lining. With a soft gasp she reached up and grabbed a handful of hair and brought it around in front of her face to see it. It was her own soft brown, complete with maddening curls. She loved it.


Severus shifted in his seat at the table and feigned interest in the conversation. His arse had gone to sleep thirty minutes ago and his date was a dead bore. But he was on a date and that fact alone kept him from falling asleep completely. It had taken months to find someone he thought he would have a chance with. Weeks to work up the nerve to ask the shop girl at the apothecary out. Days of deciding where to take her. Hours to pick out what to wear and scrub himself pink. And now it seemed years since he had brought her to this restaurant. Good, lord, how could he not have realized she had no personality whatsoever? He considered getting drunk but he was determined to kiss her and wanted to be sober when it happened. Things were getting ugly fast. Everything could go down the crapper in a matter of days. He was going to get that kiss before he checked out of this life. He didn't want to spend eternity thinking the only decent kiss in his life was one of his students. The whore didn't count, that was a nightmare, he shuddered. He had come to the conclusion that only decent folk kissed well. And boring as this girl was, she was certainly decent. He knew, he had run a background check on her. He wished she would just shut up and finish eating so he could walk her up to her door and kiss her. He longed for it. He just knew it would be good. It would be all butterflies in the stomach and ringing ears, just like the first time. He had his technique worked out in his head, he would slide a hand around her waste and tilt her head back, while looking deep into her eyes, mesmerizing her with his stare as he leaned closer and closer. A soft brown curl would fall just so across her face as her lips parted. He groaned.

"Are you alright, Severus? Is the haddock not sitting well with you? My Aunt Irmagard told me you sometimes seem dyspeptic, are you dyspeptic? I have a remedy back at the shop that relieves gas pains." The rest of what she said was lost. He looked into her beady little piggy eyes, glanced at her straw colored hair and gave up.

"Yes, I do think dinner is not settling well, if you don't mind Mademoiselle, perhaps you will excuse me for tonight and I will make it up to you at a later date?"

"Ooo, Severus, you say the most romantic things. Yes, yes, go. I assure you I will just be finishing these tarts and I will apparate directly home."

"If you are sure you don't mind…" he said. Signaling for the waiter he paid the bill of fare and ordered another desert for the lady, who simpered. Then he got the hell out of there.

Returning to his rooms he got very, very drunk.


Draco Malfoy paused outside the staffroom and waited for Granger to catch up. They had just left a meeting with the heads of houses to discuss emergency procedures in the event that the escalating hostilities spilled onto school grounds. He was more than a bit frightened at the prospect. Now that his father had disowned him and his mother was in hiding, the school was the only safe place for him. Granger had become his friend over the year and with her eventually came Potter and the weasel. Working together with them gave him a sense of purpose he had always lacked before and he had developed a liking for doing good deeds and for Granger in particular. She wasn't bad looking and had great tits from what he could see. As she stepped out of the room, letting the door swing shut behind her, he was struck by the immediacy of events and thought it would be a shame if things came to a head without declaring his intentions of getting in her knickers. Of course, being a Slytherin, the term 'declaring' had a lot of leeway.

"Hey Granger."

"Yes, Draco?"

"I was thinking. Perhaps we needed to spend some time going over these plans in a little more detail. Maybe we could come up with some ideas that the teachers missed."

"That's a great idea, Draco! I'll get Harry and Ron…"

"Hold up. Don't bring them in on it yet. Let's just work on this ourselves for now." At her confused look he expanded. "Potter's got enough stress right now without feeling he needs to be the one to save all the students. Let Weasley keep an eye on him, you and I can work this out."

"Yes, I see your point. Okay."

"How about you meet my in my quarters around, say 7:30? Tonight?"

"Alright," she replied and with a wave, she turned and walked off down the hall.

Draco stood there watching the sway of her robes as she walked away, her light brown curls cascading down her back.

"Oh yes, she will be mine," he growled to himself. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he missed the staffroom door flying back on its hinges and yelped when he was swatted on the head by a sheaf of papers.

"Detention, Malfoy! 7:00 sharp!"

"What for?!" he demanded, holding the back of his head and staring at his Head of House stomping away, robes billowing, with a wadded up stack of papers clenched in his hands. He skittered back when Snape turned on him once again.

"For cluttering up my hallways and being a dunderhead."


Hermione looked around the table in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place and tried not to cry. The tears were more from the adrenalin running through her veins than anything else, though she would freely admit she was frightened to death, that wouldn't keep her from doing her duty. It was time. Harry would be leaving with the Headmaster, Moody and Tonks to go to the appointed place in the Forbidden Forest for the confrontation soon. Professor Snape would go to Voldemort to bait the trap at the same time. Everyone else would apparate there exactly thirty minutes later. She and Ron would return to Hogwarts to organize the protection for the castle with Ginny and Draco as well as ready themselves for the casualties that were sure to come. Madam Pomfrey had Healers from St Mungo's set up a triage center in the Great Hall and Professors McGonagall and Flitwick and Sprout were even now setting up the perimeter defenses around the school. It was time. This time tomorrow it would all be over, for better or worse. She looked around for the one face she would miss most of all. She didn't see him. She left the kitchen and wandered through out the house, finally finding him in the library. She quietly closed the door and just looked at the man leaning against the mantle staring into the flames. She had spent an entire year trying to figure out what it was she wanted in a man. Sorting through different looks and characteristics trying to find a boy that was close to the idea she had held ever since last June. He needed to be taller than this one, thinner than that one, nose too small, brain too small, fingers too stubby. She realized eventually she was trying to find a boy to replace a man. And that would never do. So here it was almost June again and Professor Snape was again alone in the library with her when danger comes calling. Only this time it was not going to be a false alarm. She walked over to him quietly and stood next to him staring at the flames and leaned her head against his arm.

"Only nineteen more years to go, sir."

He chuckled and lifted his arm around her and pulled her close, never taking his eyes away from the flames. His deep voice rumbled up from his chest.

"Promise me, you will be careful tonight, Miss Granger."

"Since you ask this promise from me, may I ask a boon from you?" she asked him softly.

He stiffened at her side and slowly turned to face her, his eyes wide.

She smiled knowingly and titled her head to the side.

He gave her a hesitant look and she nodded with a smile. His hand on her shoulder dropped down to her waist slowly. He raised his other hand and cupped her cheek, his face reflecting something that looked so much like pain she had to close her eyes against it as she nuzzled her cheek against his hand. His hand slid around to the back of her neck as his other arm pulled her in to his chest bending her back over his elbow. She opened her eyes and he smiled at her and lowered his lips to hers. And with that, they were home. Lips that had been missing each other for a year rejoiced at their reunion. Rolling across each other gently, urgently. Hermione sucked his lower lip into his mouth and he groaned and pulled back and looked at her with such joy. He crushed her to his chest, wrapping both arms around her and squeezing and then suddenly pulling her back to plunder her mouth once more. His tongue danced just inside her lips willing hers to come out and play which it did with abandon. She made glorious little mewling noises as her hands scrabbled up and down his back as if seeking entrance. He growled deep in his chest as he shifted her and pulled her up against his chest once more and his lips darted to her ear, making her gasp. Her hands ran down his back off their own accord and she grasped his arse and pulled. Their lower bodies met and started to dance together while they kissed; he dragged her up along one thigh while she wriggled against his hardness. His lips walked with steps made from little kisses down to her neck and the blood roared in their ears as they clung together. His fingers danced along the area between her shirt and her jeans seeking entrance. When he felt the warm silk of her skin all his breath whooshed out if his body. When her lips clamped down on his neck, he sucked all the air in the room back in.

When a throat cleared across the room he spun so fast her feet came up off the floor. Now wrapped completely in his billowing robes his voice was muffled as he looked back over his shoulder and said, "Yes, Albus?" in a voice far too rough.

"It is time Severus," she heard. When the door closed again she came struggling up out of his robes and threw her arms around him. They stayed that way, silent. She wanted to tell him not to go, but that would have been utter foolishness. He wanted to tell her he loved her, but this was patently not the time. He hugged her to him hard and then gently pushed her away.

"Yes, well then," he stroked a curl out of her eyes and then rubbed his thumb across her swollen lips. "Nineteen years isn't such a very long time in the wizarding world."

She snorted and rolled her eyes, as if she was going to wait nineteen days if they both lived through this.

"Please be careful, sir."

"Severus," he said, his voice still husky.

"Whoever you are," she quipped as her lips quivered.

He kissed her on top of her head and then with a final pat on her shoulders he turned and walked briskly out if the room.

Hermione stayed in there, listening to the cracks of apparition until Ron came looking for her. Together they apparated away from Grimmauld Place.