Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: For those of you who were wondering, yes, Dumbledore knows what's going on between Snape and Hermione, to some extent at least. Not that I think he'd be thrilled about a teacher fucking a student, but he's probably open-minded enough to see the situation for what it is.

Hermione was curled up by the fire in the sitting room when Severus got back. She looked surprisingly calm as he walked over and sat beside her.

"I know I shouldn't have walked off when I did, and I apologize."

"Where did you go?"

"I needed to think, and I think best when I'm walking."

"Did you reach any good conclusions?" she asked tentatively.

He nodded. "I think I have." Severus turned to face the young witch, taking her hands in his and looking very serious. "I wanted very badly to believe that I didn't love you, and even more, I wanted to believe that you didn't love me." Her heart fluttered a little when he said the word love. "I know I hurt you more by trying to protect you, denying what was happening. I'm truly ready to try now, if you still want to, that is."

"No matter how many times you ask me that, the answer will stay the same."

"How are you feeling?"

She looked at him, a little puzzled. "I'm fine. Why?"

"I mean about earlier. After what happened. Are you okay? Is there anything you want to talk about?"

She rolled her eyes. "I'm not entirely naive, and I'd really rather talk about what you mean when you say you want to try, what any of this is to you."

"I'm saying that for the next couple of years, we won't have many chances to be together, and if, at any point, you don't want to do this anymore, I promise to let you walk away and never look back. You're too young to be tied down, but I do love you, and this-"

"I love you too." tumbled out of her mouth before he could finish his sentence. "I'm sorry. Go on."

He smiled. "I've been talking too much anyway. I want to hear where you'd like to go from here. I think you can understand how careful we have to be if we see each other, and I'm curious about what's going through your head right now."

"I don't think anyone could understand me better than you do, and I don't know anyone who could even come close. I know we can't see each other much, but we'll have to get by on the time we have, and I'm willing to wait for the rest."

"Take some time to think about it." he said softly, brushing her cheek with his fingertips.

"I've barely thought about anything else."

Before Severus could say another word, she was straddling his lap, kissing him in a way that made him forget everything that had been going through his head. He savored the weight of her body and the warmth of her skin, holding Hermione close. A wicked smirk tugged at her lips.

"Is that a wand in your pocket?"

Snape rolled his eyes, but couldn't help but smile as he followed her to his room. Her kisses grew more urgent as their clothes fell to the floor, and the cool sheets felt exquisite against their skin. She pushed him onto his back, eliciting soft moans as she explored his body with her mouth and hands. He inhaled sharply, startled as she bit down on his neck. A vague part of his mind wanted to protest as she moved closer and closer to his throbbing arousal, but he could barely think over the sound of his heart pounding. Slowly, cautiously, she slid her tongue over the head of his cock before the warmth of her mouth engulfed the tip. She sucked gently, easing more of his shaft through her lips, tensing and pulling away slightly as he felt himself come up against the back of her throat. He gathered up her hair, holding it back with one hand while the other caressed her cheeks, neck, and shoulders. The thrill that rushed through him as he became acutely aware of her innocence left Severus feeling guilty. Hermione must have sensed this, because she paused to smile up at him. Somehow, it made what they were doing and everything they had done feel a lot less wrong.

"You don't have to do this."

She shot him an annoyed look, stopping only for an instant to say "I want to." like he was an idiot for thinking anything else. Her hands moved over his thighs as her mouth slid up and down his length. He guided her body so that her legs sat on either side of his face, nuzzling her inner thighs and pushing his tongue between her lips. Hermione moved her mouth with less precision now, making soft noises against his cock and grinding enticingly against his face. Despite the slight decrease in attention, Severus felt himself getting closer to the edge as he tasted her and felt her wetness on his lips. When the desire to thrust hard into her mouth started to get too intense, he guided her head away and moved her hand to replace it. Her small, soft hand immediately wrapped around him and started moving up and down his shaft in exhilaratingly unpredictable strokes. She cried out as he slid two fingers inside her, bucking wildly and pressing against his mouth as she tightened around his digits. His deep moans as he came only made her orgasm more overwhelming. Once he had cast cleansing spells, he pulled her up to hold her close, enjoying the warmth of her body and the scent of her hair.

Severus spent several slow moments thinking of what he could say to her, how he could express himself without making things more complicated, but by the time he drew breath to speak, he was too aware of the steady rise and fall of Hermione's chest to interrupt her sleep. As he laid there, afraid to move lest he disturb her, he found himself drifting off as well.

The sky was dark when they awoke. Severus felt her body shifting, and his eyes sprung open as images of what had happened flooded his mind. He pulled her close.

"Are you alright?"

"Fine." she sounded irate. "I just need to use the bathroom."

"Right. Sorry."

The toilet flushed and he heard the tap running. He had never been cold at night in the castle, but he shivered, missing the heat of her body. When she got back, she sat on the edge of the bed.

"It's very late. You should go to bed."

It was too dark for Severus to see her biting her lip, but somehow he sensed it. "Can I stay here?" she asked, tentatively.

He didn't know what to say. He wanted to keep holding her, but all too soon, he knew, the term would start and they'd have to get used to seeing one another very little. It hurt every time he pushed her away, but wouldn't indulging in this closeness now make it harder for them to separate when they needed to? Still, he found himself nodding, knowing she would see the motion in the silvery glow of moonlight falling on his onyx hair.

For the first time in weeks, Hermione slept peacefully. The rise and fall of his chest against her back, and the warmth of their tangled limbs left her feeling safe enough to drift into nothingness, for a while, at least.

The sun was rising by the time she woke again. She knew it must be early, and was amazed by how rested she felt. She shifted slowly, carefully, so that she could face Severus without waking him. The blended burning magentas and creamsicle oranges of the sunrise shone on the hair that fell over his pale face. When he slept, there was an innocence and openness in his face she'd never seen before. He looked younger, almost vulnerable. His eyes drifted open, and she blushed, knowing she'd been caught staring, but he only smiled and pulled her close, kissing the top of her head.

"Good morning." he murmured into her hair.

Hermione was lost in thought for a moment, wondering if, perhaps, she was still dreaming. He nudged her gently and she looked up into his eyes.

"Would you like some breakfast?"

She groaned in response. "All you ever do is feed me."

"You need to eat."

Her stomach growled and he smirked at her, raising one eyebrow. She let out an indignant huff, sitting up, still holding the bed sheet to her chest self-consciously. "Can I at least take a shower first?"

"Fine, but no stalling for time. You get an hour."

The hot water felt wonderful running down Hermione's body. She had thought, for a moment, of asking Severus to shower with her, but her insides twinged nervously at the thought. Letting him peel away her clothes in the heat of passion was one thing; she wasn't sure she was ready to stand before him naked with nowhere to hide. She washed her hair slowly, carefully working the sweet smelling suds through every strand. It had been nearly an hour by the time she was dressed, even though she hadn't been intentionally slow.

"I almost came in after you." Severus remarked, looking over his paper as she sat down across from him. Hermione blushed, and quickly poured herself a cup of tea.

"It takes women longer to get ready. You should know that."

"Obviously I should be an expert on the habits of women."

"What are we doing today?"

"First we'll have to remake the potion that was... compromised yesterday. I also need to prepare some things for the supply cupboard."

Hermione shuddered, and Severus raised an eyebrow, encouraging her to speak. "I'm not going to spend all afternoon gutting slugs, am I?"

A smirk tugged at the corners of his lips. "I would think, Miss Granger," he said, suddenly adopting the stern tone he often used when addressing a particularly frustrating student, "that by now you could appreciate the importance of even the subtler details involved in potion making."

Years of being reprimanded in class made Hermione sit up straight and look remorseful for a moment before realization flashed across her face and she stuck her little pink tongue out at him.

"Very mature." He remarked drily, but she could see the suppressed laughter sparkling behind his eyes. "I'd like to get started shortly." He glanced pointedly at her plate.

She smiled at him sweetly. "I'm not really hungry. We can get started now if you'd like, Professor."

He folded his arms stiffly across his chest and looked at her.

"Oh fine," she huffed, "but will you at least go back to reading? I hate it when people watch me eat."