Hermione goes back to Hogwarts with Harry and Ron to retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. The only problem...Severus has no idea where the Sword is...

Chapter Six: Statues of Ivory and Gold

Hermione walked silently into the cottage, wiping sea salt and tears from her face. The door creaked open, and Hermione halted. A part of her prayed that it was Pansy who was at the door, but her heart sank to the pit of her belly as she looked up into wide emerald green eyes.

"Hermione?" Harry whispered.

"I was taking a walk on the beach and-"

Hermione stopped as she saw Harry's eyes glint in the moonlight.

"You saw."

"I didn't see much," Harry said. "But enough."

Hermione thrust her hand up and combed her fingers through her ocean damp hair nervously. "I—there isn't anything I can say."

Harry closed his eyes. "I love you, H-Hermione," he stuttered awkwardly. "You're a sister to me. I just—I'm-I'm scared. He-"

"He's not who he seems to be," Hermione interrupted. "He's different, with me. Severus..."

Harry's eyes narrowed.

"Do you love him?"

Hermione's breath caught in her throat.

"Yes."

"You can't be with him, you know."

"It's like Romeo and Juliet," Hermione chuckled weakly, attempting to break the ice that was slowly melting between herself and her best friend.

"Come in, we'll sit by the fireplace and have a cup of tea. Ron's snoring upstairs and everyone else is asleep."

Hermione stepped into Shell Cottage and sat down in one of the chairs by the fireplace. She cast a spell over the wood, and a warm fire gently started.

She shivered despite the warmth of the flames.

Harry came back from the kitchen and placed two cups of tea down on the small end table in front of the chairs.

Hermione sipped her tea, drawing the cup back as she scalded her lips.

"So..."

"So." Hermione said.

"It'll never happen, Hermione."

Hermione's head shot up. "It's already happened.

Harry sighed in a resigned manner. "I mean, I—I'll always be here for you, Hermione. No matter what happens. I just don't want to see you hurt. He's a Death Eater, he has a death sentence..."

Hermione knew good and well that Severus' days were numbered. She was by no means a foolish girl, but at the same time, she didn't want to think of it. Life without Severus...

It would devastate her.

"I have to search for the Horcruxes," Harry said. "With Pansy here, we can't talk about it. I have to go by myself. The locket is gone, but we have to find the rest of them. The Goblet of Hufflepuff, and Nagini...something of Ravenclaw's..."

"No, Harry," Hermione said. "You aren't doing this alone. The only way I can be with Severus is if the Dark Lord is defeated."

"But he's—he killed Dumbledore! He's on Voldemort's side!"

"I don't believe that," Hermione said adamantly. "There was a reason that he did what he did, and there is something more to his story." She didn't feel like divulging what Lucius had told her. It wasn't her business; it was Severus', and if Severus had been infatuated with Lily, it wasn't her right to tell Lily's only son.

"We have to get into Gringotts," Harry said. "Griphook is upstairs, along with Ollivander."

"I do have something," Hermione said and reached into her pocket. "Bellatrix's hair. I only have a few strands, but-"

"Brilliant!" Harry exclaimed. "First thing in the morning, we'll go to Gringotts."

Hermione smiled weakly. She felt remorse settle in her bones; she felt happy with her best friends, but—her home was with Severus.

/

As Hermione felt her skin bubble and her legs stretch as she gulped down the Polyjuice Potion, she shuddered. "Essence of Bellatrix. Urgh. Well, how do I look?"

Harry and Ron shivered.

"Hideous," they both chorused, and Hermione smiled.

"Just what I wanted to hear."

Griphook the goblin, who was on Harry's back, whispered coarsely, "Put on your Invisibility Cloak, Mr. Potter. And it doesn't matter how she looks; it's if the goblins will fall for it or not."

Hermione felt dread and anxiety settle in her veins. She inhaled a great gulp of sea air, and then said, "I've been around Bellatrix enough. I can do this."

I can do this

Hermione patted the locket that hung around her chest; the Portkey that Severus had given her that was now useless. Yet, still, it held such value to her. It was as if a part of him was with her, and it gave her strength.

Hermione stumbled in Bellatrix's awkward heels and long, gangly legs as she climbed up the sand hill and grasped Harry and Ron's hands. Together, they Apparated to Diagon Alley, and Hermione started to tremble. She pressed her hand to the locket once more and began to saunter into Gringotts.

Death Eaters were guarding the door like vultures waiting for to pick at her carcass. Hermione glared at them and forgot for a split second that she was in Bellatrix's skin.

"Madame Lestrange," they mumbled and moved aside. Ron, Hermione, and Harry and Griphook walked over to the main desk.

"I wish to open my vault," Hermione pronounced haughtily. The goblin sneered down at her.

"Yes, well—oh! Madame Lestrange! We...do need wand verification, if you could please be so...kind..."

Hermione's heart leaped to her throat. "I do not see any need for that," she snapped, and out of the corner of her eye, she could see movement in the air where Harry must have been. Suddenly, the goblin smiled kindly.

"Right this way, Madame Lestrange," the goblin simpered. Hermione's heart beat like a staccato note on a broken piano.

Suddenly, she heard a quite familiar voice echo in the quiet hall, and she turned; no, it couldn't' be!

Severus stood talking to the Death Eaters at the entrance of Gringotts, and his eyes narrowed slightly when he saw her. Hermione gulped nervously and turned, her heart feeling sour from ache.

Severus' boots made a clicking sound on the ground as he walked towards them, and Hermione could hear Harry's sharp intake of breath, and Ron's low growl.

"Oh, why, Bella!" Severus said, his eyes scanning her face. Hermione averted her eyes and cocked her head down, and Ron jabbed her in the side inconspicuously. Severus' brow furrowed.

"What are you doing here?" he said smoothly, as Hermione's veins jumped around underneath her skin at the sound of his voice. "I thought you were at the Manor."

Hermione's eyes widened, and she cleared her throat. "I—what business is it of yours, Snape?" she said cruelly, cursing herself inwardly.

"Ahh, but it is every bit my business, Bellatrix," Snape murmured, and Hermione blinked. "The Dark Lord trusts me."

"And are you saying he doesn't trust me?" Hermione blasted, trying to stay in character as much as she could.

"No, Bella, no..." Snape surveyed her one last time, and Hermione could feel Harry's eyes on her despite the Invisibility Cloak. "Good day, Madame Lestrange."

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, and together, Harry, Ron, Griphook, and herself followed the goblin to Bellatrix Lestrange's vault.

/

"HOW are we going to destroy the Horcrux?" Ron exclaimed as Harry shook his head. "And where is the last one? We have the Goblet of Hufflepuff, but-"

"Hogwarts," Hermione muttered. "We have to go back to where the Founders first spread their roots."

"How are we going to get in there, Hermione? There are Death Eaters around every bloody corner!"

"H—Hogsmeade," Hermione said, shivering as her cold, wet clothing stuck to her clammy skin.

"Well, it's worth a shot," Ron said.

Harry stared at Hermione, "More than worth a shot, Ron; it's what we have to do."

As they Apparated to Hogsmeade, Hermione felt the chill of the air whip around her bare arms. She clung to Harry and Ron, her best, dearest friends...

She didn't want to lose them.

She couldn't lose them.

A siren went off, and Harry's eyes widened.

"Potter!"

Hermione snapped her head to the sound of the voice.

"Go—GO! The Hogshead!" Harry said hurriedly, and the three rushed to the inn.

"Mr. Harry Potter," a man said, and Hermione looked up; he bore a striking resemblance to Dumbledore. Hermione looked back at Harry; it must be-

"You're Aberforth. Dumbledore's brother," Harry pronounced, and as they talked amongst themselves, Hermione found herself straying farther by the portrait of a girl, and the table in front of it. Her eyes grew like saucers as she saw a copy of the Daily Prophet lying on the table.

She glanced sideways at her friends, and then back at the front page to see Severus' visage striding to and fro on the newspaper. It was a familiar picture, one she had seen before, but with one difference-

There was a red X over his face.

"What's this?" Hermione asked innocently, pointing at the paper.

"Ah, that, that—is none of your concern-"

"But it is...

Harry shook his head slowly, as Ron frowned in confusion.

"...just curious, I guess," Hermione finished. Aberforth chuckled darkly.

"Just as curious as Dolores Umbridge, I'd wager," he said. "This is war, girl!"

Hermione's heart constricted as she gazed at the picture, the red ink following where Severus' face turned.

"We have to get into Hogwarts, Aberforth," Harry said.

"Why on God's green Earth-" he turned to the portrait, whom Hermione now recognized as Ariana, his sister, and said, "You know what to do."

Ariana vanished into the distance, and after a few moments, there was a knock on the back of the portrait.

It swung open. Hermione raised her wand, until she saw Neville's face, bloodied and bruised, peek out from behind it.

"Need a ticket on the Hogwart's Express? Hop on!"

"Neville!" Harry exclaimed.

"Follow me," Neville said, and they climbed into the hidden passageway.

/

"Ravenclaw's Diadem is what we need."

"And how the bloody hell are we going to destroy it? " Ron snapped.

"Well...Basilisk fangs can destroy Horcruxes, once we find it, of course..."

"I have a better idea," Hermione interrupted.

"And what's that?" Harry asked, even though, Hermione could tell from his eyes that he knew.

"I retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor."

Ron's jaw suddenly lost its hinges. "Wh—What?"

"I know where it is," Hermione said firmly. "Let me go get it, and I'll meet you in the Room of Requirement."

"No!"

"Alright," Harry said, his voice booming over Ron's, "Just be careful, 'Mione, okay?"

Hermione drew in a shaking breath. "Always am," she chuckled weakly. She made her way to the door, but Ron's arm drew her back.

"Hermione, what are you doing? Snape has the Sword, you can't possibly think you can overpower him-"

"Let go of me, Ronald," Hermione hissed. "I have to do this." She wrenched her arm away from his grasp and raced down the corridor to the Headmaster's office.

When she had arrived at Severus' door, she whispered the password as softly as she could.

The door didn't budge.

"Damn," Hermione muttered to herself, hearing footsteps coming closer down the hallway. "Snape. Snape!"

The footsteps neared. "Severus!" she called out, and the door swung open.

"Her-"

"Let me in!" she gasped, "someone's coming!"

Severus let her in and closed the door. "What are you doing here? I meant for you to be safe-"

"None of us are safe until the Dark Lord is dead," Hermione said, and Severus' dark eyes glinted. "I need the Sword."

"Ah, I see," Severus murmured, stepping closer to Hermione, so close that her breath seemed to leave her. "You didn't come here to see me."

"I—I have to-"

"Yes?" he whispered, his mouth brushing up against her, his lips caressing the shell of her ear, his hot breath wafting over the side of her face.

"I just need the Sword."

Suddenly, Severus stepped away, and Hermione's chest heaved. "I cannot give it to you."

Suddenly, a spark lighted in Hermione's head. Two could play at this wonderful-horrible game.

"Severus," she muttered, glancing down his body, and then back up to his bright, shining night eyes. "Please do this for me."

"Do what?" he said softly, his eager eyes following her every move as she came closer to him.

"Just-"

A step closer...

"give me-"

...body's brushing, hands touching, breaths mingling, heart beats racing—and Severus swooped down to cup her face, staring into her eyes deeply. Their lips met in a kiss, and Hermione moaned into his open mouth as he plundered her ruthlessly.

"Give you what, now?" Severus purred, ripping the shirt from her chest, and encasing one of her rosy nipples in wet warmth. Hermione trembled and quaked around him as if a tornado were whipping through her body.

He gently bit down and pulled slightly on her as Hermione grasped a handful of oily hair between her clenched fists. "Oh-oh-"

Severus' hand snaked down her body to cup her through her jeans, and she bucked up to meet him...feeling the heat of his hand through the thick fabric, and he moved, he pressed down slightly, moving his hand slowly, and Hermione ached with the need to feel that sweet, wondrous rush once more.

So soon—oh, so soon—she could feel it building in her pit of her belly, even the ends of her hair were quivering with anticipation—pleasepleaseplease

She hadn't realized that she had said it out loud until Severus smirked, and unbuckled his trousers. Hermione's hands groped blindly to find him hard and dripping, her hand slipping through coarse hair to settle on his hardness. She could feel him jerk against her at the slightest touch. As he moved his hand to and fro, applying more and more pressure to her, she caressed him, feeling the hot, hard flesh slide against her hand.

"Yes," Severus growled, gazing down at Hermione as his fingers finally crept down her jeans to touch bare, real flesh-

Hermione choked on her moans as he flicked the little peak between his fingers, pulling and pinching and caressing, and her head moved from side to side on the stone floor. She couldn't think—she could barely breathe, it was so much, too much...

Suddenly, the motions of Severus' hand ceased, and Hermione let out a little moan of disappointment.

He plunged into her, and Hermione shrieked against his neck, feeling tendons and muscles tense as he thrust, feeling slick—hot—fast-more-more

She could taste it, as she placed her lips on his throat, and tasted the salty sheen that pearled down his flesh.

She could smell it, the musk of sex rising as they both neared the edge.

She could see it, a bright sprinkling of stars behind her eyes as she closed them...

And she could feel it, yes! She felt it rise through her body like a tsunami, and she clutched the anchor that she felt underneath her fingertips...felt muscles ripple as she held on, and on-

-and it hit her suddenly, even though she knew it was coming, and she could make no noise, only tremble as the unbearably sweet pleasure coated her insides, rushed through her veins like a drug that she would never get enough of.

Severus moaned as he felt her climax, and Hermione surmised that Snape's sound of pleasure was certainly the most beautiful noise on the face of the Earth. She closed her eyes and smiled, as she felt his thrusts become more frenzied, and less controlled.

He spilled himself inside of her, and Hermione embraced him as he groaned and trembled.

He pulled out of her slowly, and Hermione sighed, spreading herself upon the cold stone floor. Severus turned on his side, and Hermione was quick to catch the smile that spread in his eyes and stretched his thin lips.

"I don't want you to ever let me go," Hermione whispered, and Severus murmured,

"Why would I? You are the one keeping me from drowning."

Hermione's eyes widened. Severus cleared his throat.

"Now, what is this silly business about a Sword?"

"About the Sword, Har—I need it—I can't really tell you why—"

"You don't trust me."

It was stated simply, in a dead tone, but Hermione could taste the bitterness on his tongue.

"Please, Severus," Hermione said softly.

Severus sighed and rubbed his brow. "I don't have it. It vanished again."

"Vanished? That means Harry—" The Sword had to appear to Harry, this was—

No, no, this was bad. They didn't know the exact location of Godric's Sword now. There was no telling that Harry would get the Sword in time to destroy the Horcruxes.

Hermione inhaled a labored sigh. Severus bent down slightly, and ran his thumb down her lower lip. She looked up at him, all dewy eyelashes and trembling lips.

/

Severus bent forward to kiss Hermione once more, to feel her warmth again over his cold flesh. Such beauty was wasted on him, he thought. An ugly, darkened man with a stormy soul...what could she possibly want with him? A future was something he couldn't give her.

His days as a triple agent were numbered.

There was so much Hermione didn't know about him, and yet she put all of her trust into his outstretched palm. He didn't understand how something so delicate, so young and intelligent could possibly want Severus Snape.

A loud crash echoed through the corridor, and Severus snapped his head from Hermione.

"Wait here," he said, his voice low yet stern.

He rushed into the corridor, away from Hermione and her warmth.

"Hello, Severus," Lucius said, yet his voice was blank and devoid of emotion. "Our Lord wishes to see you."

"I have some business to finish, Lucius," and Lucius' grey eyes were downcast.

"I came to warn you, Severus."

"I know," Severus said. "Thank you."

/

Hermione snuck out of the office. No one was in the corridor, and she needed that basilisk fang to destroy the Horcruxes if the Sword was nowhere to be found.

She met Ron and Harry in the Gryffindor Common Room, which was completely vacant.

"Snape. He's talking to the students in the Great Hall," Harry said.

Hermione blinked. "What—"

"We have to go."

"But the Death Eaters-" Ron started.

"There's already a war starting," Harry snapped. "Let's finish it once and for all."

Hermione grabbed Harry's arm as Ron started out the door. "You know he isn't a villain," Hermione hissed. "Don't do this, Harry."

"They need to know he killed..." Harry sighed. "...killed Dumbledore."

"You don't understand! Harry, please!"

"So he's really gotten under your skin, huh?" Harry seethed, as Hermione felt a storm brewing in her heart. "Look, 'Mione, I've got to stop him. He's a Death Eater. I know you fancy hum but—"

"Fancy him? That's what you'd call it, eh? It's deeper than that, Harry. You have no idea what...how I feel about him. Please, let's just find the Horcruxes."

There was a bang that echoed from the Great Hall, all the way up to the Gryffindor Common Room.

"You guys comin'?" Ron asked nervously, "I think something bad's about to happen."

Harry gave once last glance to Hermione.

"Yeah,we are coming."

Hermione felt the salt sting of tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes.

/

Harry had appeared just in the nick of time, and Severus dueled McGonagall, but Hermione noticed all the little subtle hints-how he knocked out those horrible Carrows with a simple flick of his wand, instead of hurting Minerva.

And—

"COWARD!" Minerva cried, as Severus flew out the window of the Great Hall. Hermione could only watch with a mixture of fear and awe—she never knew he could fly without the aid of a broom.

"Harry Potter."

That horrible, oily voice like a thousand hissing snakes echoed throughout the Great Hall.

"Bring me Harry Potter, or watch your friends die, one by one. Bring the Mudblood with you. I want her to see..."

No.

SeverusSeverusSeverus

"Hermione! It's okay! Hermione!"

Her nails dug into her palms. She unclenched them, little crescent moon marks littering her skin. She had to go. She had to—

"Hermione! We can't—"

"We have to go or he'll kill Severus—he'll—"

They couldn't lose this battle, and Hermione couldn't lose Severus.