Part XIX

Severus was not in the tent when Hermione woke up. She sat up slowly, ignoring the dull ache of her muscles. Her trousers, knickers, bra and shirt were at the edge of the tent where Severus had thrown them the night before. She scooted down the sleeping bag and reached for them. The cold air attacked her warm skin as she pulled her clothes on.

She pushed a shaky hand through her hair, knowing it wasn't going to do much good as she debated whether to sit in the tent a bit longer or head outside. He was sitting on one of the rocks near the fire pit when she finally emerged from the tent.

"Do you regret it?" she asked before she could stop herself.

His head jerked up at the sound of her voice, and he turned towards her. "No."

Hermione bit her lip, worrying the bottom portion with her teeth. Indecision was etched all over her face. She felt odd. The night before she had felt more alive than she had in years, yet this morning, waking up alone had caused nothing but doubts.

"I – last night…" she started to stay, but stopped. She let out a frustrated sigh. "I'm not very good at this," she admitted.

"I've no complaints."

"But… you…"

"I thought you might like some privacy this morning."

"Oh. Oh! Privacy! That... was thoughtful."

"But not necessarily what you wanted?"

"No," she said in a miserable voice. "I was afraid that you were disappointed and had left."

He stood up and walked over to her, tucking a thumb under her chin, he pushed her face up. "I was having similar thoughts and wanted to spare you any awkwardness."

"I wish you had stayed."

"What do you want from me? From this?" he asked her, his voice rasping out in some unnamed emotion.

"I don't know," she admitted. Her teeth pulled on her lower lip.

"Hermione…" he groaned as he watched her pink tongue dart out to slide along the lip she'd just abused with her teeth.

She dipped her head. "I told you I wasn't very good at this."

"Shall I assume that it was just a one off? Have a shag with your poor, pathetic older teacher, then run back and have a laugh with all your friends?" he asked ruthlessly, his body pushing into her personal space.

"No!" she gasped out. "How could you ask such a thing?"

His fingers curled around the nape of her neck and his free arm wrapped around her waist. He pulled her hard against him, causing Hermione to suck in a startled breath.

"Then tell me what you want!" he demanded and before she had time to react, he bent his head, capturing her lips with his. Hermione felt a surge of excitement spike through her. Her eyelids fluttered closed and her lips parted, allowing his tongue to enter her mouth. She let out a low moan and Severus tightened his hold around her waist.

She flattened her palms against his chest, feeling the smooth fabric of his shirt under her fingers, the warm, muscled plains of his chest, and the steady thrumming of his heart beating.

"I'm a bloody fool," he muttered against her lips. Somehow his hands had moved, they gripped her upper arms as if he were about to push her away.

"What?" Hermione asked groggily, pulling back. Severus stared at her swollen lips, let out a strangled curse, and then pulled her hard against his chest again. Hermione's mouth willingly opened, accepting the ferocious onslaught of his kiss. Warmth flooded through Hermione's body, and she moaned into his mouth.

Severus broke the kiss again, and started to shift his body. Hermione gripped at his shirt, trying to forestall his movement. She might not have been able to answer his questions before, but in this moment, she knew she didn't want him to stop – knew that she couldn't let him stop.

She opened her eyes. His face came into sharp focus above hers, his features set in a harsh expression. A frown creased his forehead, drawing his dark eyebrows down above his dark, glittering eyes. "Hermione," he said in a hoarse whisper.

She licked at her bottom lip and he groaned. They sank to the ground, his weight pulling her down. His long, elegant fingers started unbuttoning the front of her shirt. She let out a shocked breath as his cool fingers worked their way under the material, and she let out a ragged groan as his hand palmed her bra-clad breast.

His fingers plucked at her nipple, and she arched towards his hand. "Oh, yes, Severus," she whispered.

"Ah, Hermione," he said, her name like a soft benediction as his lips skimmed across her flesh. "Sweet, sweet, Hermione." He punctuated each word with a well-placed kiss against the column of her throat.

"What do you want?" he asked her again. "What do you want from me?"

"I don't know," she gasped out, arching into his hand, which was still teasing her nipple. "You – I… please, Severus." Her hips writhed against his, and she could feel the burgeoning evidence of his desire against her.

He groaned and buried his face against her neck. "You're going to kill me," he muttered, his hot breath fanning against her skin. "I should leave you," he muttered. "I should just go."

"Severus," she hissed, bucking up against his hand. He let out a soft chuckle and withdrew from her.

"Patience," he muttered, looming over her. He sat back on his haunches, pulling his clothing from his lean frame. "What?" she gasped out in shock. "Shouldn't we…" She nodded towards the tent as he threw his clothing over his shoulder.

"What for?" he asked, reaching over and tugging her shirt off her shoulders. He reached around and deftly unclasped her bra. The sailed over his shoulder and landed not far from his own clothing.

"We're outside," she squeaked, pushing his hands away.

"So?" He placed a small kiss on her stomach, his fingers slowly drawing her trousers down her hips. Hermione shivered. He trailed kisses down, moving lower, causing Hermione to loose her train of thought.

Part XX

They both jumped up from the ground at the sound of someone crushing through the leaves. Severus pushed Hermione behind him, in an effort to shield her from an attack. Hermione scrambled to grab at their clothing. She pulled her shirt on and threw Severus his trousers. They dressed as quickly as possible. From the thick growth of trees, two figures emerged.

"Potter!" Snape spat, taking a menacing step towards the shorter man. Hermione placed a restraining hand on his arm.

"Now, Severus," Draco cautioned stepping into the light.

"Malfoy!" Hermione growled, narrowing her eyes.

"You're not going to hit me again, are you?" Draco asked, hiding half-way behind Harry.

"You hit him?" Severus asked, placing his hand on top of hers.

"Once." She gave him a chagrin look. "I was only fourteen at the time," she admitted sheepishly.

"Once was enough," muttered Draco, rubbing his jaw at the memory.

Snape narrowed his eyes. "Then I suggest you explain this situation to us right now, else I'm apt to let Hermione have her way."

"She really wouldn't hit you," Harry tried to assure the blond man.

Hermione glared at him. "I wouldn't be too sure of that, if I were you, Harry."

"Ah, come on Hermione…" Harry started.

"Really, Potter, you're not helping," Draco interjected, cutting Harry off.

"You're trying my patience," Snape growled.

"Right," Harry gulped.

"Look, Severus," Draco said and the same time. He gave Harry a look, and Harry simply shrugged his shoulders.

"One of you better start explaining…" Severus warned.

Harry cleared his throat. "Well – see… I knew Hermione had to take some time off."

"And, well, I knew that you'd not be missed, Severus," Draco interjected.

"You've just been so miserable, Hermione," Harry continued.

"You can't tell me that you're not lonely," Draco threw out. Harry nodded in agreement with Draco's sentiment.

"You both so much alike – so…"

"We figured we'd throw you together and see if something sparked," Draco finished.

"So you Portkeyed us out here, without our wands because you wanted to play match maker?" Hermione glared at Harry. "You really thought that it was a good idea?"

"We've just been over there," Harry said, waving his hand towards the west. "It seemed prudent to be near, in case you needed anything."

"Or killed each other," Draco muttered under his breath.

"You've been here the whole time?" Hermione gasped.

Harry nodded.

"You've been here the whole time," Hermione slowly repeated herself. "And you've been watching us?"

Harry flushed. "I – err…"

"What he means to say," Draco threw in. "Was that we've been close by, just in case… you know… an accident happened or something. Not that we've been watching you."

"Yes," Harry said quickly, grasping the safety line Draco threw to him. "We've only been near by for accidents, we haven't been watching you. I mean, I certainly didn't want to see you and Snape going at it like rab –"

"Harry!" Draco exclaimed.

"What?" Harry glanced at Draco, then up at Hermione's face. She had that look – the one he remembered quite well from Hogwarts. "I – um… what I mean to say is we've been nearby. For worse case scenario things."

"We've been wandless for a week," Severus interjected. "I would say that is pretty much worse case scenario for Hermione and myself."

"But you weren't in any danger," Harry retorted.

"Give me one reason not to turn you into a toad, Harry," Hermione said through clenched teeth.

"Um – cause you love me?"

"Only a toad?" Severus asked her. "I can think of much worse things to do to the both of them."

"Now, Severus… don't be too hasty. You wouldn't really do anything to me. Would you?" Draco asked, backing away from the taller man. "I mean, we're practically family."

"I've never let sentiment stop me before – why would I let it do so now?"

Harry's green eyes grew large behind his glasses. "Hermione?" he squeaked.

"I'm inclined to agree with Severus on this," she told him. She took a menacing step towards Draco.

Draco shot Harry a haughty glare. "If I end up as an eye of newt, you're not getting shagged, Potter!"

Severus snorted.

"Harry James Potter," Hermione shrieked. "Are you telling me you're a bloody poofter?" She whirled around to face him. "Oh, this makes so much more sense." She thrust a finger at him. "You're worse than Molly! Finally in a relationship, so of course, everyone has to be as happy as you are." She poked him in the chest. "It's…" She poked him again. "Not…" She poked him a third time. "Your bloody business!" She went to poke him a fourth time but he moved back.

Harry raised his hands, palms out, in supplication. "Hermione…" he sighed. "Ron's dead."

"Don't you think I know that!" she yelled at him. "Don't you think I have to live with that every day?" She turned from him and walked towards the tent, her shoulders shaking as she tried to suppress the sob building at the back of her throat.

"This is a blood disaster," Draco muttered under his breath.

Severus arched an eyebrow at him. "Yet, it appears you were a willing participant." He turned away from both men and went to Hermione. She let out a shuddering sob as he draped an arm over her shoulders and pulled her to his chest.

"Hermione," Harry called out desperately. "Don't… don't cry. I –" He walked over to Hermione. Severus glared at him as he placed a hand on her arm. "I just want you to be happy." He brushed the tears from her cheek with the pad of his thumb. "You're the closest thing I have to a sister," he sobbed.

"Look, Granger," Draco said from behind them. "He – we had good intentions. And, you can't tell me that you two haven't connected." He threw a look at Severus.

"I know you, Hermione," Harry said softly. "You wouldn't have willingly gone along with some plan just to set you up on a date – you've been dodging Molly for how long?"

"Too long," she said wearily.

"Too right." He gave her a small smile.

"And," Draco interjected. "You wouldn't have been willing to either, Severus. I know you. So, we had to be inventive."

"Still, Harry," she sighed. "Can't you see how wrong this was?"

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I thought…" He shook his head. "I don't know what I was thinking."

"You weren't thinking," Severus told him. "Neither of you were."

"You're right," Harry said dolefully, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Now that we have the matter of your ineptitude settled, give us our wands."

Harry shot Draco a look, and he shrugged as if to say 'up to you'. Harry turned back to Severus, and pushed his glasses up his nose. "Only if you promise not to hex us."

Severus released Hermione and took a menacing step towards Harry. "The only think I can promise you is that if we do not have our wands in two seconds, I'm going to beat you to a bloody pulp."

"I – uh," Harry gulped.

"Severus," Hermione said, shaking her head.

He let out a sigh, and muttered, "Fine."

"Give me our wands, Harry. Severus isn't going to hurt you."

"You shouldn't make promises for me, Hermione."

She lifted her chin just a notch and gave him a quelling look. He sighed. "I'm not going to hurt you, Potter." Hermione smiled at him. "No matter how much I might be inclined to," he muttered under his breath.

Hermione held out her hand. "Now, if you please," she told Harry. Again, Harry shot a questioning look at Draco, and the blond man merely shrugged.

"We really did have your best interests a heart," he told Hermione, digging into his robes for her wand. He pulled the slender wood from his wand pocket, and handed it to her as Draco pulled Snape's wand from his robes.

"Harry, I'd rather not talk about it," she said, taking her wand from him. "All I want to do is go home, take a long hot bath, and forget the past couple of days." She wagged a finger at Harry. "You're quite lucky I'm in a forgiving mood, because if I weren't, I swear you'd be missing some pertinent bits right now."

Harry instinctively covered his crotch. "Aw, Hermione."

"No. Not aw, Hermione. I'm done, Harry. I want to go home. And I'm sure Severus wants the same." She shot a glance at Severus, and he nodded his head. "I'll talk to you when I feel more human. But, Harry - it's going to take me a long while before I reach that state."

"Okay," he sighed.

Hermione gripped her wand, preparing to Apparate home. "But, what about...?" Harry asked before she could depart.

"What about what?"

Harry nodded towards Snape. "You know... him?"

"What about Severus?"

"You're not going to just take off on him, are you?" Draco asked, indignant on Snape's behalf.

"Why shouldn't she?" Severus asked.

"But - you..." Draco spluttered.

Severus arched an eyebrow. "Yes?"

"Nothing," Draco mumbled.

"It's been fun, Severus. Perhaps I'll see you around," Hermione told him before Apparating away.

"If you gentlemen will excuse me," Severus said as soon as she disappeared. "Hermione had a rather grand idea - a long bath sounds just right." He flicked his wand, and was gone in a moment.

Draco gave Harry a confused look. "Shouldn't they be thanking us or something? I mean, they did spend the week doing... that."

Harry shrugged. "I guess we didn't do such a hot job."

"Straight people," Draco sighed. "They're just bloody confusing."

Part XXI

"Should we take pity on them? I mean they did work so hard to get us together..."

Severus shook his head. "They should suffer for a bit." He placed his hand under her chin and tipped her face up. "Just think of all the trouble they'd get into if they realized their plan worked," he muttered just before brushing his lips across hers. Hermione rested her palm against his chest and leaned into his kiss. "Could you imagine," he whispered against her lips, "who'd they try to get together next? I've nightmare visions of Longbottom and McGonagall."

Hermione giggled and dropped her head onto his shoulder. "Be nice," she warned him.

"Really! I wouldn't put anything past those two - they could try all sorts of combinations; Flitwick and Firenze, Trelawney and Hagrid." Severus shuddered.

Hermione groaned. "Enough all ready. You've made your point. Those two are entirely too dangerous."

"Exactly," he whispered, kissing the base of her neck. "Now, can we talk about something important?"

"Hmmm, important..." she repeated.

"Oh yes, very important," he said, taking her hand and sliding it down to his crotch. "See how important it is?"

"Oh, my... yes," she said huskily. "This time, though, I'd like a real bed."

"As you wish," he groaned against her skin.

~~ Finito ~~

Authors' Notes: This is actually based on the art prompt I chose to fulfill. I worked on the art piece, and suddenly I felt as if I just had to write the story that went along with the artwork. It somewhat fits your third story prompt, so I do hope you don't mind.

Many thanks to S for her super fast beta job; you know I love ya! Any mangling of the English language is solely due to me.

Original Prompt: Severus disappeared after the battle of Hogwarts. Years later, he bumps into Hermione in an exotic location. What is she doing there? Is she married? Do they have hawt sex0ors (yes please)?

Cancer survivors who have lost their voice box due to cancer of the larynx often need a mechanical larynx – it produces a mandible vibration to allow speech. While survivors can no longer breathe air in and out of their mouth, some survivors can work air into their throat muscles enough that they can speak without the mechanical device. This causes tonal vibrations, which, with some speech rehabilitation, they can turn into audible speech. Sometimes they have to use their thumbs to create tonal variations. I know this for a fact because my grandfather is a 15 year larynx cancer survivor. He was initially given an electrolarynx but he disliked it so much that he learned to "talk" without it.

I know, I know, y'all are wondering what this has to do with anything… Well, I postulate that the poison from Nagini's bite damaged Snape's larynx, so his voice and way of speaking will be remarkably different… quieter in some instances and more deliberate (as he has to use his hands) in others. Remember, not every injury is magically fixable in the Harry Potter universe.

Note after the exchange:
My grandfather, the one who I used as inspiration for this story died in Jan... so the story is a bitter sweet testament to how much he impacted my life.