Harry Potter and his world belong to JKR

Hermione stepped outside into the cold, shutting the heavy door behind her and locking it. She picked up the two light bags she had in her hands, held them tight, and scanned the street for any sign of people. Seeing that she was alone, she twisted her entire body in a sudden movement, intently envisioning where it was that she wanted to Apparate to.

She opened her eyes again and was not very surprised but, rather, very happy to see the giant castle she had called home for the past seven years. There were a few inches of snow which coated the grounds and the castle, as well as the empty gatehouse to her right, and it was still flurrying softly. However, she was blocked from the grounds by the large and impenetrable Hogwarts iron gates; she had hoped her owl would have gotten the message here sooner. Just as she was calculating how long ago she had sent the mail, she saw a figure in black treading down the long drive, his hands in his pockets and his heavy winter cloak trailing behind him. He was the man she most wanted to see, but despite the pleasant fluttering sensation that appeared in her stomach she forced a frown onto her face.

He approached, muttering a string of counter hexes and rescinding charms before coming to a stop, quickly twisting his wand so as to create the motion which would unlock the gates, and stood silently, waiting for Hermione to approach.

"Good day, Miss Granger," resounded the Potions Master's deep voice. "Allow me to get your bags." Professor Snape flicked his wand once more, and Hermione loosened her grasp around the handles. Both of her bags remained levitating, and smoothly glided through the air back towards the school.

Frowning still, she said, "Thank you, Professor, but might I ask what you are doing here?"

After she had crossed the threshold and he had reestablished the protective spells on the gates, he turned back towards her and then began walking towards the castle. "I am here to collect you, obviously. If you should have liked me to ignore your letter-"

"I asked you to make sure someone was at the gate when I arrived, not for you to personally come down. You shouldn't be out, in your state. Madam Pomfrey even told you…." Her eyes unconsciously moved up to his neck, where she could see the white of fresh bandages poking out from behind his collar. She then took in the perfect hook of his nose, his straight jet black hair, and the thin creases around his eyes. And was there a faint blush of red to his cheeks, as they were stung by the cold?

"Although I respect Poppy's skill at healing, I believe I can take care of myself. And I have dealt with my injuries for over six months now; I can judge whether or not a walk around the grounds will risk any further danger." They were passing the black lake, its surface calm. "Your holidays?" he inquired.

"Fine," she answered promptly, still slightly peeved at his lack of caution. She wore her school uniform and a winter cloak as well, even though it was not required of her. Realizing that her comment was a little harsh, she reciprocated, "And yours?"

"Dreadful," he began. "Ever since Pomona Sprout was appointed Headmistress, the entire school has smelled of fertilizer. And now-"

"I know that, sir. I've been attending since September, don't you remember?" Hermione jibed. However, she was frank when she exclaimed, "I still don't see how she gained the position. Honestly, if McGonagall hadn't retired…. But even so, Flitwick would have been up to it, although it was obvious he didn't want the job to start with, eventually chalking up his inability to be Headmaster to his participation as choir teacher! And you-"

"Enough," he snapped. "I have no desire to ever run the school again, and I am sure very few people would be pleased even if I did accept. I was only extended the invitation from the school governors out of respect, not out of the hope that I would take their offer. I have enough duties as it is, being Head of Slytherin. And anyway, although it pains me to admit it, Hufflepuffs are known for their hard work and loyalty; Pomona resolves issues quickly and fairly, and is quite good at disciplining the students. However," he continued, his voice taking on an angrier timbre, "now that it's the holidays, she insists on holly bushes to be growing within every classroom and around the hallways, miniature Christmas trees in every corner, as well as mistletoe to be hanging from the ceiling. Before the break, I was unable to make my way to my office without finding myself surrounded by students who were more intent on snogging than being publicly decent."

Hermione giggled, looking around at the grounds and the great addition of foliage that had occurred since the Battle at Hogwarts. There were trees, both magical and ordinary, which had been transplanted on either side of the path, as well as flutterby bushes quivering under the snow and red poinsettias for the holiday season. No one would have been able to tell that, not a year ago, many had died upon these grounds as they fought Lord Voldemort. Since then, everything had changed. Ron and Harry had left to train for the Ministry's Auror Department as she continued attending Hogwarts to officially complete her education. Although she had always been independent, she had never spent such a long time away from her best friends, and had been thoroughly depressed at the beginning of the year. However, she quickly found other company in substitution of theirs.

"Watch your step," Snape warned quietly, sidestepping a large patch of ice which had formed on the slate tiles leading to the Entrance Hall. Her bags zoomed ahead, the large wooden doors opening briefly to allow the entire party through the entrance before slamming shut behind them, keeping out the cold air. The welcome smell of peppermint and evergreen reached her nose, but so did the musty stink of compost. The air inside was uncomfortably warm because of the fires that were burning, and she was glad when Snape led her to the staircase on the left, down towards the dungeons.

After descending a few flights of stairs, he led her through the dim and drafty corridors where the only light came from torches in sconces on the wall. After a few minutes, they finally arrived at his private chambers, a few halls away from both the Potions classroom and his office. He pulled out his wand, cast a spell so that the door swung open, and allowed Hermione to walk in before him, taking her coat on his arm as she did.

She took in his dark but cozy living space, the fire alive in the hearth to the right and some potion bubbling away on the table nearer to the back. It was one large room, but with clearly defined areas for work, in the back, and leisure, towards the right when walking in through the door. The walls were made of stone, as were the floor and ceiling, but underfoot were thick rugs of a conservative style. In the back, beyond the table, there was a sink and some pots and pans, and in the front of the room there was a large bookcase as well as a small table between an armchair and a long sofa facing the fireplace. Beyond the armchair was the entrance to his bedroom, his bed pushed against the left wall and, to the right, was his small bathroom.

As Snape hung up their cloaks onto a row of pegs affixed to the wall on the left and directed Hermione's baggage into his room, she sifted through his collection of books, picked out The Potions Potential of Puffapods off of the shelf, and sat down in her usual corner of the sofa by the fire. She took off her shoes, laid her wand on the table next to her, and leaned into the black cushions which were comfortable without being overstuffed. She had only just opened the book to a page which diagramed the germination phases of puffapods when Snape came to her side and, instead of sitting in his armchair as was customary, he sat down at her feet, supporting his back against the soft fabric of the couch and stretching his legs out in front of the fire to warm them.

Hermione softly closed her book and immediately stretched her hands out, threading them delicately through his thin, long, soft black hair. After a time she put the book aside and sat down next to Snape, her legs tucked under her and her body leaning against the couch, one of her hands on his back and the other moving from his stomach to his shoulder, and then chin. His eyes found hers, the darkness of them softer than the cruel black she remembered from a long time ago, and she leaned towards him, her right hand on his cheek as she kissed him softly on the lips.

She blushed at the unwavering gaze she merited from him, the edge of his mouth twisting upwards in a half-smile. "I… I had forgotten to th-thank you," she stammered, unable, for once, to be coherent.

"But it is you I have to thank," replied Snape, turning towards her. "You've decided to spend the rest of your holiday with me, rather than your family. It would have been rather dull here, alone," he explained.

No matter how many times Hermione thought about it, it was still the strangest sensation to be sitting so close to her Potions Professor, the relentless man who always had asked the most of her in class and yet had given the least praise, always distant and angry, unfathomable and untouchable, and yet her hand was right here, above his heart, feeling it thrust strongly against her fingertips.

She bent closer to him, leaning her head against his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her. Hermione closed her eyes, pressing her cheek and nose against Snape's chest, feeling the soft fabric of his well-worn clothes against her skin and breathing in his subtle earthy scent. They sat there for a long time, enjoying each other's company in front of the fire, Snape leaning his head on top of hers and peering into the flames.

After some time he lifted his head, his hand reaching up to his neck where he was hurting, and instructed, "Miss Granger, help me to my feet."

Hermione jumped up and then bent back down to allow his arm to encircle her neck, straining as she helped him off the floor. He walked over towards the potion brewing on the table, his hand still at his neck, Hermione trailing behind him and asking, "Is there anything I can do? Have you changed your bandages? You should do that as often as possible, you know, probably every day, to ensure that you heal as fast as you can…." She stopped and quickly turned pink as he glared at her. Lecturing Ron and Harry had been one thing, for they needed someone to harangue them every day to do their homework and brush their hair and any other number of things. Snape, however, greatly disliked anyone telling him what to do, although he allowed her this pleasure from time to time. He knew that it would be a nearly impossible habit to break.

Snape looked into the small cauldron at a thin green liquid in a rolling boil and seemed pleased with its progress. He opened up a wooden cupboard above the sink and pulled out a large vial filled with powder, taking a pinch with his fingers and sprinkling it into the potion before returning the vial to its place. Hermione watched from the other side of the table as the solution immediately turned a deep purple and became thick and viscous.

"Remove it from the heat," he instructed her, his back still turned. She lifted it away from the flame and extinguished it as he opened up his wooden icebox and pulled out another vial, this time filled with a transparent orange liquid. He uncorked it and downed it in a gulp, his face twisted in disgust from the bitterness, before refilling the vial with water from the faucet and drinking that as well. Snape laid the glass in the sink, and said, "After drinking that twice a day for six months, you think it would grow on me…." Then, directing Hermione, he said, "There are fresh bandages in the cabinet next to you. Take out three of them and find the tape to affix them. Bring the cauldron over to the table by the couch when the poultice has cooled."

"Yes, go sit down," she told him, happy to be doing something. She did what he told her and found him on the couch, unbuttoning his black jacket and then, underneath that, his white collared shirt. There was a little stain of blood near his right shoulder, but not much. He lay on the sofa with his head nearest the door, so that his feet were up on the opposite arm of the couch and the left side of his body was against the back.

Hermione brought everything he asked for and pulled the small table from between the armchair and sofa to her side, setting everything on top of it. She knelt at his side, brushing his hair back from his face and looking over the expanse of skin before her. It was certainly not the first time she had witnessed him undressed, but she had always wondered what it would be like for his body to not bear the great wounds that it did. She ran her hands along his ribcage, down to his navel, and back up to his throat, touching him softly to calm him.

Hermione then turned her attention to the bandages which were comprised of wads of cloth, a dark red color staining parts of them. She pulled away the tape to reveal where his white skin was broken, green and purple in places, almost as if severely bruised. Closer to his neck there were large gashes beginning to scab over, but they were still bloodied. She remembered back to when it happened, how terrifying that night had been….

She remembered walking back up the stairs, after Harry and Ron had left. She just couldn't, she couldn't leave a teacher there, even though she didn't know whether Voldemort or Nagini might still be close by. Clutching her wand tightly in her hand, she listened quietly for anyone's footsteps. "Homenum revelio," she whispered, flourishing her wand. Not picking up on any threats, she slowly stepped over the creaking floorboards, wincing as the wood cracked beneath her feet. Her heart was pounding as she stepped over to the pale man lying on his stomach in a pool of his own blood.

She bent down, tears in her eyes. No one deserved to die like this…. As much as Snape disgusted her, no matter how cruel he had been, he was just a man, and he shouldn't have been murdered as he was. It took all of Hermione's willpower to turn him over on his back, her hands bloodied in the process. She watched as his head rolled to one side, his hand still clutching at his throat from where blood was gushing. Hermione looked away, trying to breathe deeply as her stomach turned.

From behind her, a deep voice choked, "Granger?" Her heart pounded in her ears as she turned and looked into the black eyes of the man lying on the ground.

"You're alive!" she exclaimed. "How-"

"Not long," he whispered. "Here…. Pocket." He motioned with his free hand, although weakly; he had barely any strength left.

She knelt over him and pushed his cloak away, exposing a pocket within. There were broken vials on the inside, many of which had cut through his clothing and skin when he had fallen, but a few holding a transparent orange liquid remained intact. They were labeled BRP. BRP? she asked herself. Bruise… banishing… burn… Blood-Replenishing Potion! Had he known what was going to happen to him? She uncorked it quickly and poured it into his open mouth, watching, horrified, as some of the liquid seeped out through the wounds in his throat.

Hermione remembered when Snape clutched her hand, and she could see the pleading in his eyes. She remembered casting the charm to levitate him and directing his body through the maze that was the Shrieking Shack and out into Hogsmeade, moving him more gingerly than she had ever done with anything in her life, crying for Aberforth amongst a mob of confused and frightened parents and students to let her have a room to lay him in, running through the portrait into the Room of Requirement and then down to the hospital wing, grabbing that which she would need and then almost flying through the castle to return. What was happening outside and within the castle concerned her so little, the frenzied shooting of hexes and curses and the confusion of it all; this life that she had to save, this was real. If she could save one person, then all the terrible destruction and evil that had led to this moment would be gone, annulled. She had to heal him; if he died, part of her would die too. He was just going to amount to a casualty, just one of the hundreds who had been tossed aside on a madman's quest for power, and she would not allow it.

She remembered sitting at his bedside, her hands shaking as she poured out an innumerable amount of solutions, some which stopped the bleeding, others which helped the preliminary healing, some to give him his strength back, a few to end the pain, more to help him sleep. As he dozed off soundly, she sobbed into her hands because of her rage and sadness until she was so exhausted she couldn't cry anymore. She remembered, most vividly, waking up after sleeping the night on the floor and seeing him lying there, his eyes open at the sun on his face, and when she sat next to his bed he reached up and cupped her face with his soft hand, saying in a throaty whisper, "Thank you… thank you…." He paused and rasped, with a hint of sweetness in his voice, "You must be a vision…."

Hermione shook herself from the reverie and bent down, dipping her hand in the cauldron and pulling out some of the sticky purple substance to spread it thickly on the bandages. It caused a rapid cooling sensation to spread throughout her hands and arms, and she knew that it was meant to soothe and heal his wound. Something in the venom had refused to let the wound scab like it was supposed to. When Mr. Weasley had been bitten in her fifth year, he had taken nearly three months to fully recover, and his wounds were not as extensive as Snape's. Hermione, sometimes, thought that maybe they would never mend completely, but she could see some progress. His throat had healed first, for it had been an open wound with little of the venom penetrating it. However, the rest….

She tenderly dressed the lesions in the way that she had been doing since the night of the attack, one large piece of cloth on the expanse of skin from the middle of his ribcage up to his shoulder and then two smaller ones up along the right side of his neck, attached by tape. When she had finished she circled her right arm around his body and bent closer, kissing him fully on the lips and brushing his coal black hair away from his forehead. Her fingers graced the side of his face and moved up along his cheekbone, tracing his left eyebrow, stroking the hook of his nose and tugging playfully at his ear.

He gazed upon her face, intently, wondering how a girl as beautiful as she found something within him that inspired affection. Even before his wounds, he was nothing less than a monster, and yet…. She could not stop caressing his face, as if he were a young and handsome boy she doted on. Her lips met his again, but this time with more intensity than before, and she could feel his hand slip behind her head and into her thick bushy hair, pressing her closer, kissing more deeply. Hermione pulled away, but not before placing quick kisses on Snape's nose, cheek, forehead, eye, and chin. She smiled at the fury of their emotions, and saw him smirk back up at her.

Quietly, he said, "Now, Miss Granger, if you're finished, I have several exams which I have put off grading. My shirt," he instructed, reaching for it. After replacing it he picked up the cauldron with the healing poultice inside and placed it back on the work table. Hermione took his black jacket and folded it, placing it on his armchair, and grabbed the book about puffapods she had barely been able to open earlier, quickly getting lost within the pages.

Snape walked past his armchair, paused to lay on kiss on Hermione's forehead, and lay on the couch so that his head was in her lap. He drew up his legs and laid the papers on his thighs in order to grade them, leaving his ink pot on the ground and dipping his quill in it from time to time. As he scratched away, Hermione leafed through the book and ran her fingers through his hair. Periodically, he would pause and comment on an obvious mistake a student made, or just turn his head and plant a kiss on the inside of her thigh. She smiled to herself, wondering when Severus Snape's head in her lap had become the most natural thing in the world to her.

After a time had passed a loud popping sound from in front of Hermione startled her into dropping her book. It landed on Snape's forehead and he cursed loudly before turning his head to look at the house-elf standing in front of his fire place. It had a large dinner tray with a silver dome and handle on top, balancing on its upturned palm, a plate much larger than one would think a creature its size would be able to hold.

"And you are?" growled Snape, rubbing his brow between his fingers where the book had fallen.

The little thing squeaked in fright, its left eye closing twice and then its right eye four times in a row. Its left bat ear flapped a little of its own accord, and then Snape looked down, bewildered, as the house-elf picked up its right foot and began kicking in the air, somehow managing to keeps its balance.

The elf began speaking in its high-pitched voice at such a rate that it was difficult to interpret just what it was saying, especially when it switched feet and began kicking, for no apparent reason, in the other direction. "Twitchy, dear Sir, has brought dinner from the kitchens to appease the appetites of both our most beloved and venerated Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House here at Hogwarts as well as his guest, neither of which were at the Great Hall for dinner this evening and must be most dreadfully hungry. Twitchy has, therefore, brought the Professor and his Miss hot shepherd's pie to eat, as well as roast sprouts and a small bowl of cinnamon stewed apples for dessert. If there is anything Twitchy has forgotten to bring for the Sir and Miss, or if there is an objection to the food Twitchy has selected, then Twitchy would gladly return to the kitchens and put right any errors in judgment."

"Thank you very much," Hermione said quickly, before Snape had a chance to intervene. "It was very kind of you. You can place the tray here, on the table right next to me," she explained, picking up her wand and placing it in her lap.

The little house-elf trotted over, bouncing and spinning once before finally setting the tray down. He then made a grand bow to her, stepped back a few paces and then bowed again to Snape, his ears flapping down over his face and his fingers wiggling in the air, before disappearing with a softer pop than before.

"Tiny fools don't even know how ridiculous they are," Snape sneered at once, standing up from the couch and going into his small work area for eating utensils. Hermione frowned but knew better than to get into an argument with him about this. House-elves were quite silly, but it wasn't their fault they acted the way they did; rather, it was the result of years upon years of unhappy servitude they had endured.

He came back and they dug into their dinner, each eating as much of what Twitchy had left them as they wanted for as soon as they finished one plateful another serving lay in its place. Snape summoned two high rimmed glasses and poured out some nettle wine for them both as they quietly ate from their laps on the couch. When they had finished, Snape gathered their plates, put them back on the tray, and then took some powder that had been sitting in a container on his mantel. He threw it into the flames, which turned green, exclaimed, "The kitchens!" and set the plates into the fire. They disappeared instantly and the fire turned back to the normal orange and red as soon as they were gone.

Snape turned to Hermione and smirked ever so slightly. She stretched out on the couch on her back, propped up by a pillow and the arm, her arms folded. Snape bent over her before sitting on the couch and then positioning himself so that he lay on his stomach, his head on her stomach. She smiled and quickly blushed as his hands searched her lower back and sides, and she wriggled when he touched a more ticklish area. She helped him push up her grey Gryffindor vest and toss it on the ground, growing redder as his intent became clearer. He had obviously missed her presence quite a lot when she was absent for the holidays.

He sat up, finding it difficult to support himself with his injured shoulder. He knelt on the ground and then bent closer, finding the knot in Hermione's tie and loosening it, pulling it away when he had succeeded and draping it over the back of the couch. Hermione was breathing shallower now as he ran his fingers against the white fabric of her shirt and then began to unbutton the collar. He stopped as her collarbone was exposed, leaning over and kissing it tenderly. He could not believe that this expanse of skin was his, which he could touch and kiss at his leisure and know that Hermione loved it as much as he did.

Hermione leaned back as his head and arms drifted lower, finding the zipper in her long winter skirt and undoing it, pulling it down past her knees with a few short tugs and then reaching back to take off her black tights. When he had succeeded, he noticed Hermione's rosy cheeks and glistening eyes, and rose to run his fingers through her hair to comfort her, kissing her forehead and lips, waiting for her to press back. Her right hand grabbed his shoulder; the other ran through his hair. He bent down, pulled away her knickers, and pushed his mouth to the inside of her thighs, softly, slowly moving closer to her as he waited for her anticipation to grow. She leaned back, waiting, unable to breathe until he met her and when he did, she gave out a high moan, arching to him. He pressed to her in earnest, teasing her, giving her what she wanted but not nearly enough of it. She moved her legs so that they hung down his back, her entire being focused on him as her heels dug beneath his shoulder blades. She gasped as he pressed his tongue against her with more intensity, caressing the hard bone of her hip and the skin stretched taut against it with his hand before moving his large hand to cover her smaller one, concentrating intently on how she moved and her breathing when he changed position. Finally, she cried out as he brought her into a rolling climax, her hips rocking as she shuddered and her hands grabbing onto the couch as she felt the release.

Snape crouched over her, pleased with himself, running his hand over her stomach and up the white buttoned shirt she still wore. She was trying to catch her breath, her cheeks flushed and a thin sheen of sweat covered her body, when he bent closer and pressed his mouth to hers, their passion flaring again. How could her Professor's lips be touching hers, his hands drifting over her body as though tasting her? It was surreal, that she could captivate him as she did. His hands and arms enveloped her and lifted her from the couch, her head leaning against his shoulder.

"But sir," she protested faintly, her hands grasping his forearm, "you're injured, you can't-" He silenced her with another long kiss as he carried her to his bedroom, her legs swaying back and forth. He laid her on the large bed with a kiss, and she could feel the mattress compress beside her. His fingers were on her cheeks and hair before he ran his hand along her side, and she was unaware of everything but him.

"Hermione…" he muttered, and she quickly helped him take off his shoes, socks, and long black pants, in the process shedding her own white shirt before rolling over to be on top of him. She smiled, and he surrounded her with his arms, kissing her forehead and cheek, his hands searching along her lower back and dipping past her hips. His stubble, a foreign feature to her, scratched and tickled her, and her hands drifted to the back of his head, running through his hair, part of him which she could never get enough of. He reached behind her back and unhooked her black bra, pulling it away from her middle. His mouth immediately found her breast and she moaned, moving her body up towards him before he softly pushed her to her side and moved on top of her.

He pressed her body down to the bed, wriggled out of his underpants and straddled her, bending his torso over hers, letting his hands play with her skin yet again. Her hands gripped his arms as he moved her closer to him, spreading her legs and positioning himself over her. Snape leaned into her, his forearms down by her side, kissing her lips as they both gasped.

"Severus!" she cried, the pleasure she felt so delicious and fulfilling that she never wanted it to end. Her hands moved across his shoulders, flitting across his bandages as their stomachs touched, and she held on as her legs circled behind his back. He groaned as she did, softly moving back and forth, pressing their lips and bodies to each other's with ecstatic bliss. It became more intense with each passing moment until he groaned one final time, drew away and lay beside her, kissing her fervently even though he was out of breath. She gasped as well, her heart pounding, as he placed his head next to her chest. She breathed in deeply, trying to calm herself, as he caressed the inside of her white thighs, kissing her shoulder again and again.

"I love you," he murmured in his deep voice, with such sincerity that it made her heart hurt with affection to hear it. "For everything you've done for me. And I will always love you."

He set to pulling the black comforter over her, and as she finally caught her breath, she sat up and framed his face with her small white hands, gazing directly into his deep black eyes which she could never fathom. "And I, you."

Thank you for reading, reviews are extraordinarily appreciated :)