Disclaimer: I own nada.

Stealing from Thieves

Silence Is One of the Hardest Arguments to Refute

I flew for the better part of four hours over the Forbidden Forest and the Hogwarts grounds and then back over Hogsmeade. I cursed Hermione for making me angry as well as Voldemort for teaching such a wonderful spell that no matter how much I tried to enjoy it I could not help but be reminded that it was tainted with his dark magic. The clouds were low and full and I flew in and out of them without a care, hitting myself with warming and drying spells as often as not.

It was past midnight already when I finally had enough. I had charmed my dripping and freezing clothes more times than I could count, but they had still begun to itch in the way that soaked clothes do as they dry. I sighed in defeat as I landed lightly outside my house. I could not run, or fly, away from any of problems in the past and there was no point in starting. It was just another argument with Hermione that would pass, but it did nothing to improve my mood. As I walked in all the same complaints I had came back again. It was not just about Hermione proving to me that she loved me. I already knew that without a doubt. I did not expect her to be any more adept at proving her love for me than I was at proving my love for her. No, it was the wizarding world in general that I felt like owed me a little more gratitude. I expected the Daily Prophet to write about me as the continuously did, I knew that Witch Weekly would ponder every week if Severus Snape could be trusted again, even the school governors did not surprise me with their decision, but the worst part about it was that it exacerbated the tension I was feeling everywhere else. I was sick to death of people treading so carefully around me and then waiting for me turn around so they could wag their tongues.

There was a light burning in the window so I assumed that Hermione had indeed returned. As much as I wanted to resolve any conflict with her, I did not want to talk about it. Not even a little bit. It was not Hermione in my sitting room who greeted me though, but Harry, who was dozing over a copy of Moste Potente Potions. The page had flipped open to a rather gruesome potion that turned one's skin inside out. How he could fall asleep over that without nightmares was beyond me. On second thought it wasn't because the real horrors he had seen in his life certainly outstripped a drawing from an ancient book.

I tried to slip the book out of his hands without waking him, but he started awake when he felt it move.

"It wasn't me!" he shouted before fully waking and looking up at me guiltily.

I grunted. "I seriously doubt that's true."

Harry stretched languidly and settled back onto the couch.

"Comfortable, Potter?"

He closed his eyes and stretched out. "Yes, quite. This is a lovely couch."

I moved over to him and stood with my arms crossed staring down at him as I had done many times over the years in the potions classroom. Apparently I did not intimidate him anymore because after a few moments he cracked an eye open and grinned.

"I defeated Voldemort and you think that your looming is still going to scare me?"

I considered hexing him and even pulled out my wand to do so. Harry's reflexes had grown quite remarkable because he had his trained on me without even moving from his position any sooner than I had mine.

"I came here with a distraught Hermione. I promised her I would not leave her alone, but I did not promise her I wouldn't curse you into next week for whatever it is you said or did to her." Harry still did not move from his clearly comfortable position, but his eyes were fully open and hard as he stared me down.

I sheathed my wand in an exasperated gesture and he slipped his back up his sleeve. "Where is Hermione then?"

"Your room, I gave her a sleeping draught. She was as hysterical as I've ever seen her, but she wouldn't tell me what happened. She just kept saying that she didn't how to prove anything. In fact, she sounded a lot like she did before exams. All panicky like the world was going to end if she made even the tiniest mistake." Harry sighed heavily and sat up. "Drink?"

"It's my house. I know where my liquor is."

"Aye, but this is my bottle." Harry produced a bottle of Old Ogden's from in between the couch cushions, which I suppose was an effective enough storing place if you wanted it close at hand. He sat up and wordlessly conjured a couple of glasses. He was finally learning how to do silent spells. The teacher in me felt a rush of pride that a student as challenging as he was finally learned something.

I took the glass and drained it. The burn of the liquor warmed me better than the charms, but they only reminded me that my clothes were still slightly damp and itchy. I considered throwing Harry out, but I could tell from his position that he was not planning on leaving any time soon, not without force anyway. He was clearly on a mission for his friend and since that friend was Hermione I could hardly fault him for it. We would have to talk someday about his fearlessness since he defeated Voldemort though, it would do him good to still be afraid of something or he was going to become incredibly reckless. I put the glass on an end table and made to move towards my room.

"Are you going to throw her over?"

Harry was standing behind me.


"Hermione is really broken up about whatever happened between you. She cried a lot when Ron ditched us last year while we were hunting Horcruxes, but that was nothing to tonight." Harry's stance was protective. I didn't need the reminder of her time with Ron Weasley, but it was effective. I had hurt Hermione, but she had hurt me this time as well and I was not in the mood to be forgiving yet.

"I am going to change my clothes. You can leave now." I walked away and slipped quietly into my room. I knew very well that Harry was still going to be there when I came out again so I considered not, but Hermione looked peaceful in her potion induced sleep and I did not want to disturb her just yet because if I woke her she would want to talk and I did not want to talk to her yet. It was still good to see her though and have her in my bed. I pressed a soft kiss to her lips that did not wake her before walking out. I was hurt and angry, but still very much in love.

I returned to the sitting room and helped myself to another glass.

I sat next to Harry and inquired about the potions book he was reading.

"I was going through your bookshelves trying to find a recipe for Wolfsbane and I came across that one. I felt nostalgic so I took it down. I'm not surprised you have a copy in your house," he said the last bit as if the book proved that I was every bit the dark wizard the world took me for.

I ignored the implication. "Nostalgic?"

"Polyjuice Potion, second year. Hermione got Lockhart to sign a slip so that she could take the book out of the restricted section. We were trying to figure out who the heir of Slytherin was. Hermione turned herself into a cat. Don't you remember any of this?"

"So you did steal potions ingredients from me."

"No. Never. Hermione stole them," Harry grinned at the memory.

"What about the Gillyweed?"

Harry's smile faltered. "That was Dobby."

In memory of the elf I chose not to comment on that. "The potion could not have been brewed properly if Hermione turned herself into a cat, which I do remember her doing, by the way."

"It was. She used cat's hair in hers. It worked fine for me and Ron. We pretended to be Crabbe and Goyle and Malfoy had no idea. It was too easy."

"And very Slytherin of you."

"I am a descendant of Slytherin in a distant way," Harry said.

I looked at him in confusion and he elaborated.

"During our hunt for Horcruxes we learned about the Peverell brothers. I am descended from the Peverells; it is how I inherited my cloak. The resurrection stone was in Marvolo Gaunt's family and he was proudly a descendant of Slytherin even if they did squander their money and ruin the family name. The original owners of the Hallows were brothers, so in a distant way I'm related." Harry settled back into the couch comfortably. I could see that he was exhausted, but was trying to fight it in order to keep his promise to Hermione.

I could not really argue with his logic and was surprised that he had even come up with the conclusion on his own without balking at the idea.

"Being in Slytherin is not such a bad thing. They produce good people just as the other houses produce plenty of bad," I commented.

Harry looked at me for a long moment. I could not really read the expression in his eyes. It was not pity exactly, but something that said that he understood the injustice of unfair judgments.

"I know that," he said softly.

"Why Wolfsbane?"

"I want to learn how to brew it and start distributing it to people who need it. Greyback and his friends bit a lot of people and in memory of Lupin I want to help them. Until we can find a cure they need affordable Wolfsbane and I can provide that." Harry sat up once again with a light in his eyes. This was something he had clearly given a lot of thought to.

"Wolfsbane is incredibly difficult to brew," I countered, but not convinced his idea was without merit. It was the until 'we find a cure' part that was bouncing around in my head. I had no such delusion that I would be the one to find a cure for lycanthropy, but the inclusion in such an endeavor was heartwarming.

Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm not bad at potions when you aren't trying to sabotage me. I was hoping you might actually try and help me for once. You need a new job, don't you?"

The prospect of brewing again for a purpose other than stocking the hospital wing had its appeal. Wolfsbane was a thrilling potion to make because of its complexity and it would be for a good cause. I was intrigued. If anybody had the funds to start up such an enterprise it would be Potter. I could probably get the Malfoy's to chip in as well. It could be part of the charity foundations they were required to support in order to contribute to rebuilding after the war effort.

"Does this mean you have forgiven me for whatever it was I supposedly did to Hermione?"

"You never did say whether you were ditching her or not. This has nothing to do with her though."

I looked to the carpet in front of the fireplace where I had last dropped the stone. It was still there almost hidden against the dark bricks. Harry sat nursing his glass patiently waiting for me to say something. I did not have to tell him anything and I knew that, but having him as a confidant did not seem like such a bad thing anymore. In fact, I was welcoming his friendship almost as eagerly as I did Hermione's love once I got past the fear and hesitation.

"Did she tell you I used the Resurrection Stone?" I could not bring myself to look at him when I asked. I felt no small measure of shame that the temptation had overpowered me.

"No, she would not tell me anything. I can't say that I'm surprised, but at the same time I am. Does that make sense?"

I laughed softly. "Only you can make sense when you don't actually make sense. Hermione caught me as I was about to use it. She automatically assumed that I was going to summon your mother because I am still in love with her. Hermione got jealous and refused to leave while I used the stone and we had an argument about it. It was something private and personal and she pushed me to my limit."

"You're leaving something out," Harry said wisely. "She assumed you were going to summon my mother, but you didn't?"

"I was going to let the stone decide who came."

"Did my mother?" he whispered.

"Yes, but not for me, for Hermione. She told Hermione she was happy she was your friend and slightly chastised Hermione for doubting my love. It was my mother who came for me."

"Ouch. No wonder Hermione was so upset. She must feel really stupid right now. I can't believe she would insist on staying for something so personal. I can't believe she doesn't trust you either. She was always the one who told us you were trustworthy," Harry said.

"When it comes to matters of the heart, trust is a little differently defined. She thinks that if I have any bit still attached to Lily, it is a bit she will have to compete against. It's not true. I am not in love with your mother anymore. I haven't been in years. Anyway, I told her I was sick of her using Lily against me and having to constantly prove my love for her and I suggested that maybe she try proving it for once." There it was out and it was a relief just to get it out.

"I never thought Hermione could be such a prat," Harry said thoughtfully. "I know you can be a prat."

The last was meant to be a joke to lighten the mood and it worked.

"I was harsh with her, but I will admit that I am completely unapologetic. I have grown quite weary with proving to the world that my intentions are pure and good. Hermione was the last person I thought I would have to answer to. I shed many inhibitions to be with her and it felt as if she was throwing them back in my face over a memory of something I once felt." I took one more swallow of whiskey and banished the glass. I needed sleep.

"I'm sorry you two are fighting. I want things to work out for you."

"I appreciate that. I am interested in your Wolfsbane proposal. Perhaps tomorrow we can discuss it further?"

Harry looked at his watch and whistled. "Do you mean later today?"

"I suppose."

"I should probably get back to the castle," Harry said with obvious regret at having to leave the soft comfort of my living room for a more noisy and cluttered common dormitory.

I stood up and stretched my tired body. "You can sleep here tonight if you'd like." I offered.

It was really a pivotal moment in our lives. My offer to let him crash at my place made our friendship official. He was welcome in my home.

"I mean, I have a spare bedroom and it is furnished."

"No, I think I'll stay right here by the fire," he said stretching out along the couch for the umpteenth time that night. "Just bung me a blanket and I will be good."

I tossed him a blanket and went to my room. Hermione remained as she was when I had walked out the last time, the potion clearly still in effect. Either that or Harry overdosed her. I felt a momentary twinge of panic so I did quick check of her vitals just in case, but she was stable. I shook off the ridiculous notion that Hermione would allow Harry to attempt to poison her at all and shed fresh clothes I'd just put on an crawled into bed next to her. I lay awake for awhile listening to her breathing softly and just absorbing the situation. Up to this point in our relationship whenever we had shared a bed it was as a result of sex, and usually didn't even involve a full night's sleep. It probably would have been prudent to wake her or transfer her to her own quarters in the castle, but prudence was something I was not inclined to practice with her anymore. I let her sleep and eventually fell into a sound sleep of my own.

In what felt like only minutes I woke to the sensation of being watched. I did not move or open my eyes, but Hermione's gentle shifting next to me was a sure indication that she was awake.

"What time is it," I asked in a voice gravelly with sleep. I don't think I could have opened my eyes or moved a limb at that moment if I wanted to for I was so tired and comfortable.

"Nearly six," Hermione whispered.

I attempted to move a hand to reach for her, but all I managed was a little movement in my fingers that might not have even been perceptible to the human eye even though it felt like a monumental accomplishment to me.

"Go back to sleep," I grumbled.

Hermione shifted again. "Don't you think we should talk?"

My agitation was the only thing that gave me the energy to open one eye and glance at her. She was sitting against the headboard chewing on her bottom lip and looking at me nervously.

"No, Hermione, I really don't," I said closing my one eye. "I just want to have a lie in with you."

"But you're angry with me," she said incredulously.

I forced my eyes open and turned onto my side. Clearly going back to sleep was not going to part of that Sunday morning.

"I'm not not angry with you, but I don't want to talk about it." I patted the space in front of me. "Come, let's go back to sleep. You can explain your absence to Minerva later."

"We shouldn't go to bed angry with one another," she commented academically. "It's supposed to be bad for relationships."

"Bollocks. Not sleeping off a temper and fighting instead is bad for a relationship." I know there was a little more heat behind my response than I had intended, but I was not going to discuss the night before with her if I could help it. As far as I was concerned there was nothing to discuss. I knew how she felt about any lingering feelings about Lily, and she knew how I felt about that. Either we would move on or remain at an impasse. Either way I was not going to talk about it. Going back to sleep, however, was feeling like less of an option than either of the others. I forced myself up into a sitting position next to Hermione and glared at her.

"I'm sorry for yesterday. I really am," she said looking at me with tear filled eyes.

"Apology accepted," I said curtly. "Can we lay back down now?"

"Severus, you are clearly still angry."

I dragged a hand over my tired face and climbed out of bed. Not because I was trying to get distance between Hermione and myself, but because coffee was the only thing that was going to make me tolerable.

"Come," I said.

Hermione reluctantly got up and followed me down the stairs into the kitchen. I motioned for her to be quiet as I gestured through the sitting room door to let her know that Harry was still there and fortunately for him, still blissfully asleep as well. Hermione looked up at me in surprise but nodded.

I sat Hermione down at the Formica kitchen table, made coffee and toast, and waited for her to speak. After I had drained my first cup and refilled it I raised an eyebrow at her questioningly.

"What would you have me say?" she asked.

"I don't know, Hermione. You are the one who feels that talking is necessary."

"I don't want you be in a strop," Hermione replied adding cream and sugar to her second cup of coffee.

"I'm not in a strop," I snapped. "I am sorry we argued, and I am especially sorry about what we fought over, but there is nothing to discuss. Either you will understand my old feelings for Lily or you will not. I don't know what you have me say."

"I don't want to argue with you again," Hermione said quietly staring into her coffee cup. The cream swirled around the top as she tilted the cup from side to side. "I was so ashamed of what I did that I could not even bring myself to tell Harry about it."

"I know. He was ready to curse me for hurting you last night."

"Oh, Severus, I'm so sorry! It was me that hurt you and I should have warned him. I hope you didn't have a row with him as well." Hermione sloshed a little of her coffee onto the table as she set the cup down hard. I got up to get her a towel to clean it up.

It was our first morning together in what I considered to be our house and we were discussing an argument we had the night before. I almost pointed it out, but figured that would probably make her feel even guiltier. Instead I went behind her and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. I bent down so I could kiss the top of his head.

"I told him what happened."

"He must think I'm a bloody cow!" Hermione cried covering her face with her hands. "I mean, it's his mother and everything."

"Nah, I don't think you're a cow. Only human, like the rest of us, but it was a bad thing you did, Hermione."

We both looked to the doorway to see a sleep rumpled, but relatively cheerful Harry in the doorway. In the last twenty-four hours I had seen him moon over his ex-girlfriend, dump off the Hallows in my lap in a fit of agitation, prepare to fight me in defense of his friend, offer me a business proposal, and then wake up in a cheerful mood as if none of the other things ever happened. I reaffirmed my decision that he was going round the twist, but decided that I liked Harry Potter in a good mood.

I relinquished my hold on Hermione and poured Harry a cup of coffee glad to play host. I may not be going back to sleep anytime soon, but at least Harry's presence summarily ended the conversation.

Harry took the cup of coffee I offered and took a long drink. "That's good. Breakfast anyone?"

Harry then proceeded to chat about Quidditch as he went about my kitchen preparing eggs, bacon, more toast, sausages, and beans. He worked gracefully and confidently as he through the ingredients for the full English breakfast together and sat three heaping plates on the table. If only he could have that kind of ease behind a cauldron he could be as good of a potions maker as his mother was, if not better with more training.

"I didn't realize you could cook, Potter," I commented trying out a bit of the sausage.

Harry nodded and swallowed a large mouthful. "I did for the Dursley's since was about eight and tall enough to see over the top of the stove."

"That's rather depressing," I replied. "But nonetheless a good skill to have."

"Can you cook?" he asked me.

I shrugged. "I dabble. I find that recipes for potions and food are the same. The first time they must be made exactly as detailed, and the experimentation comes later. I like to be creative in both areas, however."

Hermione and Harry both glanced at me. I am sure we were all thinking about my sixth year potions book that was full of suggestions to improve each of the brewing recipes, as well as some of my original spells.

"I am not a good cook," Hermione admitted. "I mean, I am not an original cook. I tried really hard with the few things we had to work with while we were hunting all last year, but I never really succeeded in making anything more than merely edible."

Her potions performance was actually reflective of her admission. She was very talented with making potions as they were explained to her, but she was not original in the lab either. I wondered if she would be able to create a potion on her own. That was another skill that could be learned with practice.

Harry laughed. "I guess we know who is going to be the one in the kitchen in this relationship."

Hermione blushed deeply.

"Ah, come on, Hermione. You know I'm kidding. I am eternally grateful for the array of mushrooms and roots you presented to me last year. Without them I would have starved and I admit that I was a bit preoccupied and did not really help you."

After that the conversation faded as we finished our food. Hermione was reluctantly picking at hers at first, but at the end I was pleased to see she had eaten most of the food on her plate. After breakfast Hermione sent a message to Minerva alerting the Headmistress of her and Harry's whereabouts. She responded by stepping through the fireplace and finding us in my kitchen.

"I figured you would be here, Hermione, but didn't I send you to find Potter for me last night?" Minerva chastised.

Hermione blushed again and gestured towards Hermione. "I found him," she offered sheepishly.

"She told me you were looking for me. I'm sorry I didn't come right away." Harry set a plate of breakfast down in front of Minerva at the table. She sniffed it approvingly and tucked in.

"I suppose I should blame you for their absence?" she asked me in between mouthfuls.

"You could if it makes you feel better. I daresay you have had years of practice finding ways to avoid blaming certain Gryffindors for their transgressions," I quipped easily smirking at the three them as they all shot me reproachful looks.

"We all had a hand in it," Harry admitted.

Minerva sniffed. "Well, be lucky it was only the small matter of your future that I wanted to discuss with you, Potter."

Harry sat up. "Really?"

"Yes. I have an application for the Auror Training Programme for you." She produced a thick scroll from inside her tartan robe. "Enclosed is my letter of recommendation. You will need to fill out the application, complete the essay, and get one more letter of recommendation. You are also required to visit St. Mungos for a physical examination."

"But I thought I was already in. Kingsley said as much that fighting Voldemort and everything I did last year was good enough!" Harry exclaimed.

I raised an eyebrow at him. "I thought you were above being given handouts due to your status as savior of the wizarding world."

"Well, there were certain perks." Harry unrolled the parchment and hissed at the quantity of questions he would have to answer. Hermione reached over and took the application from him to read thoroughly.

"Yes, yes, Potter. You did very well, but there is still a lot for you to learn. As an Auror you won't have Hermione and Mr. Weasley with you at all times to make sure you get out of every situation you find yourself in alive."

Harry turned red with barely suppressed frustration. "Fine. I'll do it."

"Good. Even if you had already been guaranteed a spot by Kingsley you would be required to fill out the necessary paperwork. Now, if you remember correctly, I told Dolores Umbridge during your fifth year that I would see you become and Auror if it was the last thing I do and I intend to keep my promise."

Minerva rapped the table with her knuckles as if to say "and that's final."

We all sat in a stunned silence for a few moments. Finally, Harry stood up from his chair and went to Minerva and hugged her. Minerva responded by awkwardly patting him on the shoulder, but I could see that she was well pleased.

"There, there, that's a good lad," she said as Harry pulled away. "We must begin right away, so as your Headmistress and former head of house I am ordering you back to the castle to get to work."

Harry gathered up the paperwork. "Severus, I guess I will have to meet with you again to talk about my potions proposal."

"Send me an owl."

"Would you be willing to write my other letter of recommendation?" he asked.

I nodded pleased that he asked. "Of course."

Minerva spelled her plate clean and stood up to leave as well. "Hermione?"

"Um, if you don't need me at the castle right now I think I'd like to stay here awhile longer," Hermione said.

"It would be wise if you were present at dinner," Minerva warned.

Hermione nodded fervently. "I will be."

After they took their leave I finished cleaning up the kitchen and then led Hermione back upstairs to the bedroom. I pulled her against me and kissed her languidly.

"So you're really okay with not talking about last night? I mean, you really forgive me?"

I was not sure if I was at the point where I had forgiven her, but I was not angry anymore. I shifted my hips so that she could feel how not angry with her I currently was. She smiled at me a hopeful smile that things were going to be all right. It was only a matter of moments before we were freed from all our clothing and she was straddling me. I drank in every curve of her body from the line of her throat as she threw back her head in pleasure to the gentle slopes of her breasts. How could she think I could ever have anything left for Lily when all I could do was worry that I would never be enough for her? I wanted to unzip Hermione open and crawl inside.

"I love you, Hermione," I gasped as we climaxed together. "Only you, always you."

When we were finished and spooning in the bed getting ready to finally have that few hours of sleep I still craved Hermione spoke.

"You asked me to prove to you that I love you," she began.

I pulled her closer and kissed her neck. "Shh, I was angry."

She turned her head towards me a little so that I could reach her mouth with mine. "I know, but I really thought about it."

"Don't over think it, love," I said kissing her again. "I know you love me."

"I'll try not to, but if there is anything in the world I could do that would make you understand how important you are to me I hope you'll tell me. I would do anything for you."

I indulged in a brief moment of base male fantasy while I imagined Hermione giving me a luxurious blow job, but I figured it would hardly be nice to suggest she do that at that moment in time. Instead my thoughts turned to the emerald ring still burning a hole in my coat pocket. There was definitely something she could do that would demonstrate her feelings for me. There is always a slight imbalance in relationships, one person always loves more or less than the other, but if we were going to fight over who got to be the one to love the most, then I didn't think we were going to have too many more problems.

"Promise me, Severus," Hermione murmured sleepily. "Anything you want me to do, promise you'll ask."

I pulled her close to my chest and rested my cheek against the back of her head. "I promise I will ask."

Finally we got the few hours of sleep I had been hoping for all morning long.

A/N: Sorry for the long time in between updates! I am trying to be better about not taking anymore long breaks, but I got tied up. I am taking summer classes on top of work, and in a couple of weeks I am going to Orlando for a week and I am excited! I have to get ahead in my schoolwork though, so I don't know how many more chapters I will be able to write before I go. Thanks for all the reviews! They are very much appreciated and extremely motivating! I am trying to get this chapter out to you quickly so I am sorry about the errors just in case there are more than usual.