A/N: This chapter contains scenes only suitable for adults.

Chapter XXI: Professors Black and Snape

They had Flooed from the Leaky Cauldron directly to the Three Broomsticks, and Severus had barely exited the fireplace when he found himself being pulled into a tight embrace. Highly perplexed, he let it happen.

'Oh, Severus, dear Severus.' When Rosmerta finally released him, there were tears running down her face, and she hastily wiped them off with her sleeve. 'When Minerva told me that you were alive, that you were coming back, I almost could not believe it. It made me so, so happy, Severus. And now you're here. You are really here!'

Once more she brought her sleeve to her face to dry off the tears that still came rolling down her cheeks. And Severus took the opportunity to pull Cassandra to his side. 'Rosmerta, may I introduce …'

'No need, Severus,' Rosmerta interrupted. 'I would never forget that smile. Welcome back, Cassandra.'

Severus frowned. 'You two know each other?'

'During my seventh year, I practically spent every Hogsmeade weekend here,' Cassandra explained.

'You always ordered peppermint tea with honey,' Rosmerta filled in. 'And you always came alone.'

The smile faltered from Cassandra's face. 'It's not like I had an awful lot of friends to hang with back then.'

The bitter tone in her voice caught Severus by surprise. Would she ever be able to make peace with her past, he wondered. He himself had the advantage of being able to actually meet most of his ghosts, to look them in the eyes and make his peace with them. But Cassandra's ghosts really were ghosts. Anyone who had ever meant anything to her had died during the war, and so had those who had hurt her. For her, there was no one left to make peace with.

When Rosmerta left to fetch Butterbeer, Severus wrapped his arms around Cassandra's shoulders and kissed her gently on the forehead. 'I am here for you now, beloved,' he whispered. 'You will never have to be alone again.'

Hogwarts. Severus stopped dead in his tracks and swallowed dryly as the castle came into sight. He had visited a couple of times over the last months, but he had always Flooed directly to Minerva's office. It was the first time in almost a decade that he actually saw the castle from the outside. Had it always been that big, that majestic? To a Muggle it was just a jumble of battlements and towers, a huge, rambling ruin. But a wizard could see a magnificent castle, with towers and turrets so numerous that one would lose track of them should one start counting, surrounded by luscious green hills, the dark Forbidden Forest and the Enchanted Lake. But Severus Snape saw more. He saw the huge oak doors that made up the main entrance, remembered how safe he had always felt behind them. He saw the tower that held the Headmistress' office, remembered the year he had been Headmaster and how he had never been able to make himself call that office his. And he saw the Astronomy Tower, the place where he had cast the spell that had killed his dearest friend and sent himself onto a road that led straight to hell.

Yes, Hogwarts castle held all kinds of memories for Severus Snape: good ones and bad ones, joyful ones and those that had made up his nightmares for so many years. But most of all, this was home.

He felt Cassandra take his hand and reluctantly took his eyes off the mighty castle.

'Ready to go?' she asked.

And he just nodded and followed her home.

'Are you telling me that you lived down here in this dark, damp dungeon for almost two decades?'

The tone of her voice suggested that she sincerely doubted his sanity. And Severus lifted his eyes from his trunk to look at Cassandra, who was leaning casually against the doorframe, a broad grin on her face.

'I always appreciated privacy,' he explained. 'Very few people voluntarily came down here to the dungeons.'

'Must have given you quite a reputation,' Cassandra went on, looking around curiously. 'Gloomy, no sunlight. No wonder your students called you a bat.'

Her laughter spread through the dungeon like the first breeze of spring over the still frozen grounds. And all Severus could do was stare at her, captured by her smiling lips, enchanted by the sparkle in her eyes.

'A house-warming gift,' she finally said and handed him a small silver box, decorated with a dozen snakes with emerald green eyes.

Severus opened the lid and frowned. 'Floo Powder?'

'I took the liberty of letting your fireplace being connected to mine,' she explained. 'You can visit any time you like.'

'Is that an invitation, Professor Black?' he asked, smirking at her.

Cassandra smiled and got onto her toes to kiss him. She tasted of honey, and Severus found himself melt at the feather light touch of her lips.

When they broke apart, her blue eyes locked onto his dark ones, and she smiled once more.

'No, not an invitation, Professor Snape,' she whispered. 'Rather a request.'

To Severus' surprise, teaching proved to be rather pleasurable. Of course, there were still some dunderheads is his class, but they did not enrage him as dunderheads had done ten years ago. Maybe they had become smarter? Or had he, against all odds, become softer?

He snorted at the mere thought. Softer? Severus Snape? Ha! That was just ridiculous. There had to be another explanation. There just had to be another reason for the fact that his students didn't make him fly off the handle anymore. It was probably due to the fact that most of them were Ravenclaws. Or that they were in their seventh year and therefore somewhat more mature. Or that they were taking his subject, Healing Charms and Potions, on their own account. They were all aspiring to become Healers and were therefore quite eager to do well. Yes, that had to be it. Definitely. Because Severus Snape had not become soft.

Cassandra, too, seemed to enjoy her teaching duties. But now and then, she would shake her head at her students, rolling her eyes. And this seemed to be one of the nights when she seriously doubted that there was even one intelligent student in her class.

'This is not even a mandatory subject,' she groaned. 'One might think that the students who study it would actually … study.'

She rubbed her neck, took up the quill and returned to grading. And Severus leant back in his chair, his arms folded in front of his chest and his eyes fixed on her.

He loved looking at her when she sat opposite him grading papers, loved how the candle light made her red hair look like dancing flames, loved how she now and then rolled her eyes at some student's essay. And he would gladly have sold his soul for every time she looked up from her work to smile at him.

'Oh, for heaven's sake,' she exclaimed and slapped her forehead with her hand. 'Those nincompoops can't even get their prefixes right. Have a look at the translation of this spell: instead of moving the object from the table into his hand, this student will hex his own hand into the table.' Then a mischievous grin appeared on her face. 'How about I don't correct the translation and let him practice his spell during the next lesson?'

The vicious undertone in her voice made Severus laugh out loud. He remembered a time when he had let his Potions students test their antidotes on their pets. They had managed to poison quite a few of them. He leant over the desk and took Cassandra's hand in his. 'I like the way you think, Cassandra,' he said and placed a tender kiss on her knuckles. 'It is very Slytherin.'

She smirked at him and rubbed her neck with her free hand once more. 'I'm done grading for today,' she announced. 'One more bad translation and my brain might just explode. Mind if I take a nice hot shower?'

Of course Severus did not mind. Cassandra taking a shower in his quarters meant that she would stay the night. And that was something Severus never minded.

He uncorked a bottle of wine and put it on the nightstand, pulled back the bedcovers and smiled as he let his hand glide over the soft silk sheets. This night was going to be special. Tonight, he was going to propose. And this time, he would not let her turn him down.

He heard Cassandra sing in the shower and grinned. She had taken a liking to Muggle music. What was it called again? Hard Rock? It was the most dreadful excuse for music Severus had ever heard of, but still he lingered at the entrance to the bathroom to listen. Cassandra always smiled when she sang, and her smile was a sight he would never grow tired of.

When the scent of musk and honey filled his nostrils, Severus decided that he did not want to wait. He wanted to touch her now, feel her skin against his, taste her, love her, make her his. He stripped off his robes and carelessly let them glide to the floor, let his vest and boxers join them. When he reached the shower, he was completely naked and his arousal already clearly visible.

Cassandra gave a small gasp of surprise when he wrapped his arms around her from behind. And as he started placing small, tender kisses on the side of her neck, she let her head fall to the side, and he felt her body press up against him. She moaned softly as he cupped her breasts with his hands, and the sound send jolts of pleasure to his crotch.

He held her body close to his with one strong arm around her waist while he softly nibbled at her neck, only pausing now and then to whisper words of love into her ear. When he let his free hand slip between her legs, he felt a shudder go through her whole body, yet another as he applied pressure to her sensitive nub and a third one as he entered her with one careful finger. He felt her muscles tighten and let a second finger join the first, while the ball of his thumb rubbed against her. She gasped, moaned, wriggled in his arm, but he did not let go of her.

'Come for me, love,' he whispered into her ear. 'Come for me and tell me you are mine.'

She would have fallen had he not held her. He felt the blood pulsate in her core, felt her muscles contract around his fingers, heard her call his name. 'Yes, Severus. Yes, yes.'

With his arm still wrapped around her waist, they stumbled out of the shower, and he bent her over the basin, entered her from behind with one swift movement. It did not take more than three or four powerful thrusts for her to peak again, and Severus had to withdraw. The sensation of her muscles tightening around him would have driven him over the edge. And he did not want this to end. Not yet, not that soon.

He covered the back of her neck with tender kisses, let his hands slide over her shoulders, down her back and to her front, cupped her breasts in his hands and massaged them gently, rubbed his cock softly against her pulsating core. And as soon as she had stopped shaking and her breathing had slowed down, he entered her again, slowly this time, inch by inch. His hands came to rest on her shoulders, and he pulled her towards him as he thrust forwards. He wanted to bury himself inside her, fill her completely.

When he felt his own orgasm approach, he bent forward and whispered into her ear: 'Look at me, Cassandra.'

She lifted her head, and her blue eyes met his dark ones in the mirror.

'Tell me you are mine, Cassandra,' he whispered. 'Tell me you love me.'

'I love you, Severus Snape.' Her voice was hoarse and croaky, trembling, but the look in her eyes told him that every word she said was true. He could see heaven in her eyes. 'I love you,' she sighed. 'And I will always be yours.'

He wrapped his arms around her waist, pressed his chest against her back, and slid into her up to the hilt. He could not hold back any longer. Not that he wanted to either. A few more quick thrusts and he was there, felt the blood rush in his ears, felt his seed spurt into her warmth. For some minutes, he just clung to her, unable to move, unable to even think. This was paradise, sheer bliss.

When Severus had caught his breath, he brought his lips to her ear once more: 'Will you marry me, Cassandra?' he whispered. 'Will you carry my name?'

'Yes, Severus,' came her answer. 'Yes, I will.'

Hours later, the wine stood still untouched on the nightstand. There had been neither time nor the opportunity to drink it. They had re-entered the shower, had washed each other's hair and bodies, had dried each other off with soft towels and warm kisses. And before they had realised what they were doing, their bodies had already been entwined again, and it had been a struggle to even make it to the bed.

Now Severus was lying on his side, his eyes half-closed, one arm under his pillow and the other tightly wrapped around Cassandra, who lay curled up against his chest. 'We need a cover story,' he stated dryly. 'You know how nosy Minerva is. She will want to know every tiny detail about the proposal. And we can most certainly not tell her about that.'

Cassandra giggled. 'No, we cannot. And we can most certainly not tell our daughter.'

Severus gave a non-committal grunt and was just about to pull the blanket up to his chin when her words sank in. He shot up from the pillow and stared down at Cassandra, his mind racing. 'Our d… What did you just say?'

And Cassandra just smiled up at him and brushed his cheek with her fingertips. 'Our daughter, Severus Snape. I am carrying your child.'

A/N: This is the end of the 'The Way Home'. Severus and Cassandra are home now, and that was the point of the story. Originally, I did not plan to write a sequel, but I grew to like Severus and Cassandra so much that I just had to write more. Hence, I will not post the original epilogue here. Instead, I'll post the sequel 'A Gift of the Goddess'. Hope you'll read and enjoy.