Disclaimer: As I'm sure all of you are well aware, I own nothing from the Harry Potter series. I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling and she is one incredible lady.

Author's Notes: Speaking of incredible ladies, this was written for my Beta's eyes only, as a gift to her – and I thank her for allowing me to post it. I am hesitant to do so, because perhaps my Beta is the only one who could truly understand the sorrow Hermione feels in this, the anguish, and then the hope, the frail hope when she wants to believe so badly that things can be different, and happier times can come.

Let me make it clear that I am not advocating the idea of infidelity, and I don't believe two wrongs make a right. Like I said, this is a very touchy subject and a difficult one, and my only goal when writing it was to soothe my Beta and perhaps restore her hope. Let me make it clear that if you don't think you can handle the subject matter you might want to use the back button. Also, I know some are sick of Ron always being the "bad" guy, but I promise it ends well.

Since my Beta loved it, I suppose I shouldn't care who tries to flame this story; on the other hand, if there is someone out there that is in a similar situation, I hope it gives that someone hope, as well.

I love you, Slytherin-Me!

H~S~H~S

Present Day

Hermione stood under the hot spray of the shower, sighing happily as it took the soreness from her muscles and filled her nostrils with steam. This had to be her favorite way to wind down after a strenuous work day. She always made it home before her husband, with plenty of time to enjoy this guilty pleasure. But her smile faded as she heard the bathroom door click open and then closed; Ronald must be home early from Quidditch practice with his all-star team, though she hadn't expected him until much later. She rinsed the shampoo out of her heavy hair and reached for the conditioner, applying it liberally and leaving it to soak in, then started scrubbing her body with cherry blossom body wash.

"Ronald? You're home early," she said lightly, not wanting to set his nerves on end after his practice. He always came home from Quidditch practice with a scowl on his face, and several times had set off at her for no reason at all.

He didn't answer her, which she bristled about briefly, but decided it wasn't worth it to dwell on. The man was in such moods these days! And yet he blamed her for the hostile environment that had become their home.

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard the crunch of the shower curtain being pulled back, and unwelcomed cold air hit her bottom. She gasped and turned around to ask Ronald what in Merlin's name he thought he was doing, but instead came face to chest with none other than Severus Snape.

His dark eyes were filled with desire as he watched the water sluice down her body. He had stripped completely and stepped into the other end of the shower, and so Hermione was temporarily distracted from trying to cover herself up with a well-placed loofah as her eyes settled on his deliciously naked form.

"You shouldn't be here," she told him, her throat tight and mouth dry. Her eyes were glued to his obvious arousal, which twitched each time stray droplets of water splashed onto him. As he started toward her, her eyes flew back up to his, and she put her hands out in front of her. "You have to go!" she urged, though she didn't sound very convincing, even to herself.

Severus snatched the loofah from her as he came to be only inches from her, and used it to wash a path from her breastbone to her bellybutton. He smirked as her eyelids drooped, and circled the netted material around her bellybutton as he held her eyes captive.

"Did you think I wouldn't be back?" he asked her as he slid the loofah back up, and circled it around her left breast. He so loved the way her body responded to him, even if her stubborn mind was too hesitant to accept his rule over her body and heart.

"Severus," she whispered, and tried to move away, but found herself pressed against the wall at the end of the tub. She couldn't deny that she wanted him, wanted him so much that it hurt, that knots were forming in her stomach from the need of him. But she was torn, just as she had been two months ago when he had come to her at the New Year's Eve party. She wasn't happy in her marriage, but she didn't think this would solve anything, even if Ronald had taken part in his fair share of extra-marital affairs. Still, she contradicted herself; I loved Severus before I married Ronald…

Severus knew she was thinking much too deeply about things, and it wouldn't do. He wasn't here to make her feel guilty, to create self-loathing in her, or construct even more problems for her; he was here to give her the happiness he knew only he could – and once he confirmed that that was the case, he would take her away from here. The shower had provided a perfect way to make that mind of hers stop ticking, and just feel. He wanted her all to himself in this moment, and have her he would.

"Turn around," he commanded, but when she didn't obey, he impatiently slid his arm around her soapy waist and pulled her back against him. His sizable erection pressed insistently at her bum, and both of them shivered. "Put your hands on that wall," he ordered in a groan against her ear, then nibbled the lobe as she did as she was told. He reached up and snatched down the shower head, examining it behind her back for a few moments, then smirking arrogantly as he adjusted the setting of the spray.

One of his hands cupped her breast while he lowered the shower head to rest over her mound. He felt her jerk at the sudden pressure on her loins, but then her head titled back to fall against his chest, and he noted with masculine pride that her eyes were closed in ecstasy. Keeping the shower head and its massaging pressure right over her clit, he bent his head to nibble on her neck, alternating between sucking the sensitive skin and nipping it playfully.

As he knew she would, she became a wanton creature in his arms. She was squirming from the pressure of the shower head, and one of her hands had joined his over her breast in a combined effort in plumping and kneading the straining flesh. Unable to resist the temptation of her gyrating hips, he pressed into her dripping heat from behind, groaning in tandem with her as a solid thrust sent him home deep within her body. He gritted his teeth at the tightness of her, the extreme bliss of being inside of her once more.

He dropped the shower head and grabbed her hips as he began to thrust into her slick heat, so insistently that she had to brace her hands on the tiles of the shower wall. When she half-moaned, half-screamed his name, he lost complete control and spilled his seed. He tried to jerk away at the huge mistake, but she grabbed at his hands on her hips and kept moving back against him, before shuddering violently and squeezing tightly around him as she came.

Severus rested his head against her shoulder for a few moments, wondering how in the world he'd been so distracted as to come inside of her when so many consequences could result from it. She hadn't seemed to notice, and for that he was glad. He already feared she'd try to row with him after she came off her high.

He wasn't disappointed.

"Have you gone absolutely barking mad?" she demanded, and turned to lean against the shower wall. The shower head sprayed water all over her feet as she gazed up at him crossly… breathlessly.

"I told you I'd come back for you. I'm taking you away from here, Hermione." He bent to retrieve the shower head, and placed it back on its perch above their heads. He pulled her underneath the spray and kissed her deeply, tugging at her lips and rubbing his tongue against hers as he washed the remnants of body wash off of her.

"Severus," she began to protest, but he laid his hand over her mouth.

"I have a project I've been working on. Come with me to look at it." The corners of his mouth twitched up as he watched several emotions cross her face, not the least of them curiosity. He knew he had her whenever she showed curiosity.

"Alright… but we must hurry."

H~S~H~S

It had been two, long months since New Year's Eve, when last she'd been at Severus' home in Spinner's End. It didn't look any different, but then she didn't expect it to; Severus lived at Hogwarts, and he rarely frequented this place, even during summer break. Though, they had spent their fair share of time here together when they'd been able to get away from Hogwarts – as librarian, she had rarely had time off, and Severus was always busy with his potions. But this place held such wonderful memories, not the least of them the memory of New Year's Eve, when he'd made her feel more precious than she'd felt since marrying Ronald.

But that night was but a dream, an unrealistic foray into hopes she'd thought had been dashed long ago, when Severus had made it clear he didn't want a committed relationship with her. Though, as she mulled it over in her mind, she thought he definitely regretted it now. Or he seemed to. She'd been so sure of their love for each other, those three years ago, before it had ended. She thought he'd felt as she had, but was proven wrong by his sneering denial. And now? Now he was trying to save her from the abysmal life she led, proclaiming his love and making her feel as if anything was possible, as if she could truly escape and be with him as she'd always wanted.

She frowned up at him then, and placed her hands on her hips. "Where is it, then?" she questioned, ignoring a droplet of water that raced down the nape of her neck. She'd thrown her soaked hair into a messy bun and grabbed the first clothes at the top of her drawers, a faded brown jumper and cargo pants. She peered around him at the door that led to the lower level that held his lab, figuring his project was a potion. Instead, he moved over to the side table by the sofa, and picked up a small box.

"It's here," he answered, and grabbed her hand to pull her to sit on the sofa next to him. He held the box out toward her, and pulled back the lid.

Hermione couldn't breathe as she gazed down at the ring in the box, sparkling with a centered emerald, and two rubies on the side. The gold band was thick enough to have an inscription on the inside, and she bent close to read it. "Hermione Snape," she breathed, eyes filling with tears. She gazed up at him and shook her head. "How could you taunt me with this?" She glanced back down at the ring as she bit her lower lip to try to keep her tears controlled. How could he do this to her? So long ago he had been adamant about having only a sexual-based relationship, and now he wanted her for his own? He was too late. She was trapped in the life she had constructed by her own miserable hand, and he couldn't save her. It mattered not that it was what she wanted with all her heart – even if he was years too late. He had come at her most vulnerable time, as if he was her savior. But she knew the truth; she couldn't escape the life she lived now. Not even the mighty Severus Snape could rescue her. "This could never be," she murmured brokenly, shutting her eyes against the sight of him and his gorgeous ring, and standing from the sofa to put as much distance from what she longed for as possible.

"Like bloody hell it can't." Severus stormed over to her, grabbed her left hand, and pulled Ronald's ring from her finger. He thought briefly about throwing it into the hearth to be forgotten, but instead placed it in Hermione's pocket, not wanting to upset her too much. Swiftly, he positioned his ring on her finger, and pulled her close so that she couldn't get away. "You will be mine," he vowed, his hand curling around the nape of her neck to draw her even closer. "You were meant to be mine," he whispered against her lips, then fervently captured her mouth with his.

She didn't resist him. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she clung to him urgently, wishing with all her might even as she cursed herself for doing so that they could stay like that together forever. Just like he promised.

They knew then that they were lost. Each time they kissed and held one another, they were lost. Their movements became hurried and more amorous, and the world was forgotten as they consummated their love.