Disclaimer: Not mine.


Hermione's Son

Chapter 19


Hermione woke in the middle of the night with a start as her old dreams returned. Sitting up, she turned to Severus, making sure he was sleeping before slipping out of bed and trying to open the door. Unable to break through his wards, and having left her wand in the kitchen, she padded across the room to see if his was on the nightstand. Not finding it, she began to pat his robes and trousers before frantically turning his pockets inside out in her quest.

"I do hope this is not what it looks like," Severus muttered, watching her go through his pockets.

"Where's your wand?" she whispered.

"Hermione?" he asked, rising up on his elbow to watch her frenzied search.

"I can't leave."

With a flick of his hand, he unlocked the door and fell back to the pillow, expecting Hermione to flee. She nodded as relief flooded over her at the sound of the dropping wards, stood and walked back to the far side of the bed, climbed back under the blanket and laid her head on his shoulder. "Thanks."

"Now, what was that all about?" He lifted his head enough to peer down at her.

"What?" she tipped her face to his, reaching up and tracing his mouth with her finger.

"Are you getting up or not?"

"Not." She reached up her mouth for a kiss then snuggled back to his shoulder. "I just wanted to know that I can. I dreamt that I was trapped. I couldn't get out…and…it's gone now. You know…you wake up and can't remember all of it."

With another wave of his hand, he opened the door, then uttered an incantation to ward Hugh's door before turning back to Hermione. "If it bothered you to have the door locked you should have said something."

"It's fine. What if Hugh…"

"It is still hours to daylight," he whispered as his mouth found her ear and his hand began its slow exploration for the hem of the shirt she still wore. Feeling her stiffen, he flicked a finger toward the nightstand, lighting the lamp. "Better?"

"Umm…" She grinned and stretched, arching her back and pushing her head back to the pillow. "I should have woken you earlier. You feel all warm and cosy."

Leaning on one elbow, he let his hand wander back to the outside of her shirt. He unbuttoned the top buttons as he leaned down to kiss her. Pushing the fabric to the side, he reached in and cupped her breast, rolling the nipple between his fingers before brushing it with his teeth and then gently sucking. His hand again sought the hem, again slipped under the shirt, stroking the inside of her thighs, his thumb brushing against her.

She held his head, burying her hands in his hair, until he released her breast. Pulling him up, she sought his mouth hungrily, feeling a passion and yearning she had not previously felt. She lost herself to the sensations, the tender caresses, the lingering touches, until she took him in, wrapping her legs around his thighs and digging her heels into his flesh. She felt a tightening, a building she had never felt before. Placing her hand on his chest as he stiffened and stilled, she felt his heart beating as strongly as she heard her own hammering in her ears, then she was awash as wave after wave of release and pleasure crashed over her. "It's too much," she gasped straining up to him as he gathered her in his arms, "too much."

Severus rolled to the side, pulling her with him, enveloping her in his arms as she fought to catch her breath. "My gods," he muttered, sucking in a great lungful of air. "I should have unlocked the door a long time ago."

"I didn't think it could feel like that."

"I told you, It gets better," he grinned, rubbing her back as she curled on her side to face him.

She snuggled against him, panting in exertion, as tears filled her eyes. "I'll miss you when you're gone."

"As headmaster I have more free time. I plan to come more often."

"Not that," she whispered, tipping up her face to see him. "When you leave me."

"When I…" he stopped mid-sentence, knowing that she was thinking not of the coming months but of the coming years. "I told you we would see where this was going."

"And now?"

"Sleep," he said, tapping her nose with one long finger. "It is almost morning."

~o0o~

When it was time for Severus and Hugh to return to Hogwarts, Hermione stood in the kitchen bidding them goodbye. This time it was different for her. This time she felt a loss and loneliness she hadn't thought possible. Snape sent Hugh out to the yard to wait for him as he pulled Hermione to him and kissed her lightly.

"As I said, I will come whenever I do not have weekend duties."

"We can meet for lunch when I'm in Hogsmeade." She grinned, seeing his frown. "I promise. No more public rows. I know as Headmaster, you need to be careful of your reputation but I don't want to wait until the end of term to see you again."

"Nor do I," he said, putting two fingers under her chin to hold her face up to his. "You will wear the combs if you go out. I worry about you by yourself."

"I'll be nervous wearing something so expensive to the green grocer." She grinned and stepped back, picking up a box of pastries and handing them to him. "Hugh forgot these."

"And you conveniently forgot to sign this." He pulled the birth certificate from his breast pocket and handed to her. "It is time to decide."

"I didn't forget I'm still…Severus…are you sure? Truly sure? If you are just doing this for me…just because…" She flopped down at the table and smoothed the parchment flat, accepting the quill Snape produced, trying to ignore the darkness that had fallen over him. "Sorry. I know it's not that. I shouldn't have said that. But, Severus, this is forever."

"If it were not, it would not be necessary. It is his future you should be concerned about, not the present."

"Hugh thinks there is more to this than simply giving him a place in this world. You do understand that I hope." She dipped the quill in the inkpot and poised it over the parchment, hesitating.

"I am not unaware of his…attachment to me." Severus stood with his arms folded over his chest, nodding to the certificate. "He has no one but you in either world. What would you have him do if anything happens to you?"

She studied his face before signing the paper and watched the yellow glow that engulfed the parchment in shimmering light before it disappeared, magically filing itself in the Ministry. "You said you don't want attachments. I don't take this lightly, Severus. If you ever…ever go back on your word to him…"

"Have I ever given you reason to think I will?"

"No, but…I've never trusted anyone before, not with something like this, not like I trust you. It's hard, harder than you know to give him up." She looked up at him tearfully. "I feel like I've just lost him. Silly, I know…but I …I hope this is the right thing."

"You are not giving him up, Hermione. What makes you…"

"I know." She stood and put her arms around his neck, pulling him down for a kiss. "Just know that I'll hex your nads off if you hurt him."

He lifted an eyebrow and looked at her quizzically. "Where would that leave you?"

"I'm not joking. Not about Hugh, not ever."

~o0o~

Once again, she made the trip to visit Dr. Mueller. Not finding him in the gallery, she proceeded to his office only to see a note stuck on his door informing the students that he would be gone for several days and to seek out Professor Hammond with any questions or problems that may arise. After asking for directions from one of the students, she made her way up to the top floor to find his replacement.

"May I ask if you are related?" Professor Hammond responded to her inquiry of Dr. Mueller's whereabouts.

"Umm, no," she stammered, knowing something was amiss. "We are collaborating on a…a history book."

"Ah, so you must be his Hermione," Mark Hammond grinned. "He speaks of you…or rather of sharing his old works with you, something he is reluctant to do with most of us. He must trust you."

"He has been quite useful. I'm working on a study of post war crimes and the fact that many went unreported. It may seem rather a trivial matter after all these years, but it plays into what happens after every conflict, including what is happening in the mid-east today. Is it possible that I see him?"

"I am afraid that his visits are very limited. Only family and…I am sorry. You are not aware of his medical condition. I thought that was why you were here today."

"No," Hermione said quietly, feeling awash with worry and concern. "I had no idea."

"Cancer. He has been in remission for a few years. Now it's back," Mark shook his head and indicated a chair for Hermione to sit in. He gave her a brief history of Dr. Mueller's treatments, repeated visits to the clinic and the fact that this time the doctors had found it spread to his internal organs, offering little or no hope of another recovery. "It's only a matter of time now. He refuses visitors, as far as I know the only person whom he has allowed in to see him, other than me, is his housekeeper. "

"I am sorry. Would you send a note for me? Just to let him know I came and that I am still working of what we spoke of?"

"I don't think…"

"No, please, just a word. Just…he was badly treated after the war, I want him to know that it has not…will not be forgotten. Just that. I think it will give him some measure of comfort."

"Dr. Mueller has left me his final instructions," Mark said, walking to the bookshelves in his office. "He has left three of the journals to you. However, you will understand that I am hesitant to give them to you as of yet." He picked one up and flipped it open, pulling out an envelope, which he handed to her. "He wrote this but said to give you the books after he was gone."

"I understand." Hermione stood and held out her hand for the letter. "Please, convey my sympathy to his family…or his housekeeper. You have my address?"

"Yes, if he improves I will…" He shrugged and returned the book to the shelf. "There is no real family. A couple of his old buddies from the University, only the housekeeper, Emma, that seems to be more than just that, and me…we have become rather…close."

"I am sorry," Hermione said softly, seeing the set of Mark's shoulders as he turned away from her. "I'll see myself out. But…if there is any change…will you contact me?"

Hermione returned home and sent a missive to Severus, explaining that Dr. Mueller was ill and asking for any help he could offer. She was aware that certain types of cancer were curable, or at least held at bay, with magical potions, and was not surprised when Severus's return letter said he would have to have more information. Pacing in her small sitting room, she thought of Healer Clough, and wondered if he would be willing to help get Mueller's hospital records. The next morning, she headed for St. Mungo's where she found him in his lab, inspecting his staff's work.

"Healer?" she said, peaking into the white porcelain and stainless steel room. "May I have a few moments of your time?"

"My, my," he said, smiling at once. "So you heard about the opening?"

"The opening? No, I…what kind of opening?"

"I need a qualified assistant to head up the research here," he said, waving his hand to indicate the lab. "I can't be here full time while I am seeing patients and I will not transfer their cases at this time. You know yourself starting over with a new therapist could put them back years. In the mean while, it's impossible to run this efficiently."

"You think I'm ready? Last time you were…"

"Quite ready, quite. I need someone that knows proper protocol, can compile reports and stay on top of things. I've had to throw out several samples due to contamination already which put me back months and …enough of that. Turn in your application again and we'll set up an appointment. Now…what brought you here?"

"I have a friend, an acquaintance, in a Muggle hospital." She paused, chewing her lip and wondering how to approach this. "He has cancer. I can get a potion to him…I think…but I need to know about his medical history. I was hoping you would…"

"He is a Muggle?"

"Yes, but he…"

"You know better. Interfering with the Muggle world is against the Security Act. Hermione, I am surprised that you of all people would want to risk that."

"He's dying. He's…he had his family destroyed by Voldemort. We owe him. Even if we can't cure him we owe him a pain free end."

"Who is he to you?" Clough asked, indicating that she take the stool next to him. "Family?"

"No…I won't lie to you …but I could. I could say that he's related to my mother's side of since I was Muggle born. His name is Mueller…I have his information written down." She dug in her pocketbook and shoved a piece of paper in his hand. "That's his whole name and the hospital he's in. We need to get his old records, diagnoses, what treatments he's had …his whole medical record if possible. I don't have any credentials here or I would do it myself. "

"And I do?"

"Well…not in the Muggle world but I am sure you have Muggle contacts in the medical profession." She locked her eyes on his and held his attention, her mind screaming at him, silently begging him to help. "If I were in the States I could use my own medical title so don't tell me it can't be done."

"You can't save the world one at a time, Hermione. You have to let go."

"It's not that…truly," she said, laying her hand over his. "I know the difference between what I should let go of and what I shouldn't. It took me a long time, I know that, but this is right. I know it is. He's a good man…a very good man. He has suffered enough in this world."

"I'll make inquires and send the information on to you brewer," Healer Clough said evenly. "I take it you are still in touch with Snape?"

"Yes," she murmured. "He hasn't said he'll do it…or if there is a potion…without knowing more he can't be sure."

"If he can't help I doubt anyone else will be able to. Give me a couple of weeks. If I learn anything before then I will contact you. They can send over his records on the…what ever that thing they use is…you know…that compute thingy. Intake down on first has one set up across the street they use. Won't work here…the electricity … well, we can try."

"Internet," she laughed, standing up. "He may not have a couple of weeks. Please? Hurry?"

~o0o~

When the package of medical charts finally came from Healer Clough, Hermione was at once relieved to have received it and afraid of what it might contain. After sending Raven off with a hastily written note to Severus, she tried to read the records only to find she was unable to concentrate. Knowing from her medical training that the case may be hopeless, she didn't want to accept it. Needing to share what she had with Severus, and not able to contain her impatience, she hurried to change clothes and apparate to the castle.

It had been years since she had been back to Hogwarts and now that she was, the castle looked smaller than she remembered the halls darker and the air staler and danker. Pulling her jumper tight, she waited just inside the doors, her eyes trained on the stairs at the end of the hallway where she knew Severus would come from if he had been paying attention to the gate's wards that had sounded when she had entered.

"Miss Granger," Minerva called her attention back to the present as she walked up behind her. "I am indeed glad to see you back."

"Profess…Headmist…it's good to see you. I need to see the new Headmaster."

"No titles anylonger, please," Minerva said, lifting her head and giving her a thin smile. "I have had quite enough of that and it must be confusing to one such as you that has not been back for so long." She gave Hermione a brief hug then stepped back, smoothing her robes. "I flooed him as soon as you arrived at the gates. There has been a minor accident in the lab the professor could not deal with. He said a student will accompany you. Although why, I have no idea. You know the way unless you are not the same Hermione Granger that was once a student here."

Hermione turned back to the stairs, hearing someone running towards her, breaking out in a wide smile to see Hugh. "I missed you, kid-o," she said quietly, pulling him into a hug. "What's up?"

"Nothing." He toed the ground, looking at Minerva uncomfortably.

"I see I am not needed here," Minerva said, fighting back a smile. "He may give you his version of what happened before our dear Professor does. I will be in my quarters if I am needed."

"It's good to see you, Minerva. I wasn't expecting you to be here," Hermione said. "Perhaps we can get together over tea some time soon."

"Yes, yes…that would be quite nice. " She cocked an eye at Hugh and gave him her best glare. "I am the resident grouch here or so it seems," she chuckled. "A prize position that affords me to come and go as I wish. They call it advisor…I, a paid retirement."

Waiting until she had left, Hugh threw his arms around Hermione's waist, hugging her tightly. "I want to come home."

"I thought you liked it here, you couldn't wait to get back. Now, tell me what happened in the lab?"

"I think they read our mail."

"Oh." Hermione tried not to laugh. "They didn't when I was a student here and stop avoiding my question."

"You weren't in Slytherin and didn't have you as a …didn't have a mother that…bloody hell. It's hard to have a mother they teach about in history and now your name is even in the potion text with the new way of doing some potions."

Hermione assured him he was mistaken about having his mail read as they walked down the hallway side by side. The closer they got to the stairs the less she heard what he was saying, until a sharp tug to her hand brought her back to reality.

"You're not listening again. Do you want to hear my side or not?"

"Yes I am. I was just thinking about what you were saying." She started down the steps, clutching the banister and walking slower the closer she got to the bottom. She smelled smoke and heard the cries of battle behind her and saw the darkness in front of her. This is foolish, she thought, I'm over this. "Hugh? I have something in my shoe. You run and let the Headmaster know I am here while I fix it." Sitting on the bottom step, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, waiting for the feeling of panic to leave her. Hearing two sets of footfalls, she recognised one as Hugh's stride and knew he had brought Severus before she could see them.

"You okay, Sis?" Hugh's voice forced her eyes to focus on him.

"I…I…yes, of course. I told you it was just my shoe."

"Allow me." Severus took her elbow and helped her up. "Mr. Granger was very concerned as to your well being."

"I am fine, Hugh. Goodness, I'm just…fine. It's the first time I've been back." She smiled thinly at Severus. "I wasn't expecting this."

Severus held on to her elbow as the three of them walked to his personal quarters. Dropping the wards he opened he door and stepped aside, letting Hermione enter first. "Mr. Granger, you are already late for Charms. I suggest you hurry. If Professor McMillan has any questions he may contact me."

"Is she going to be okay?" Hugh stood on his toes and tried to see around Snape.

"If not you will be the first to know," Snape said flatly. "Do you plan on forcing me to deduct points from my old house again or do you plan on doing as you are told?"

"As I am told, sir." Hugh swallowed hard, turned and ran away, casting an occasional glace back over his shoulder as he went.

Severus closed the door, went to his liquor cabinet, and poured Hermione a drink watching her closely as he did. "If you need the loo it is through that door."

She grimaced and ran from the room, making it just in time to vomit. Sitting on the floor next to the toilet, she thought she was as embarrassed as she could be, until Severus handed her a flannel and laid another one, dampened with cool water, on the back of her neck. "I am not like this anymore." She choked. "It's this place. I hate it here. I hate it. You should have taken the headmaster chambers in the tower instead of staying down here."

"You shouldn't have come," he said tersely. "Your son will expect an explanation as to your illness."

"I know. I'll be honest and tell him it is only memories," she sighed. "I passed a plaque on the way in, out by the gate. I was going to ask Minerva about it but Hugh was there."

"The war dead. It was the Ministry's idea."

"I know what it is. I was just surprised that you never mentioned it. How long has it been up?"

"I saw no point." He helped her up from the floor and held her arm until she was seated in the sitting room. "When Minerva stepped down, she insisted she did not want her picture hung with the other Headmasters but preferred instead to be remembered as the one responsible for the memorial."

"It has Voldemort's followers right there with the…"

"No, it has all of Hogwarts' students, those past and present. Yes, some were with Voldemort, but her idea was to remember all. It is Minerva's idea of healing old wounds and showing the youth the true cost of war. Perhaps I should point out the names of the Dark Lord's men to Hugh and explain that you knew most of them."

"No!" She spat, scrambling to her feet and facing him, poking him in the chest with her finger. "If you ever….ever, do you hear me? If you ever tell him such a thing, I will hex you. I will hex you until you wish you…"

She stopped seeing him raise his eyebrow and a look of mirth cover his face. "I see you have recovered. Quite the cure for a Gryffindor. Anger works every time."

"Arse," she hissed, pushing pass him.

"Know-it-all."

"Bat."

"Bushy haired teacher's pet."

"Greasy haired git."

"Bossy toe rag."

"I have more." Hermione started grinning.

"As do I." Severus folded his arms over his chest, smirking at her.

"Who called me a toe rag?"

"Since it is a Muggle expression…"

"I know." She held up her hand to stop him. "Not one of your Slytherins."

"No, not one of mine." He set his glass down and picked up his quarterly potions journal. "Your idea of melting chocolate and tempering eggs has been quite the success."

"You wrote an article on it?'

"No, I submitted your study and findings."

Hermione flipped it open and rifted through the pages until she found the article that had her name in bold letters under the title. "I wish you hadn't done this."

"It was…is…your work."

"Now, tell me what the problem is with Hugh then we can go over the medical records." She said evenly, tossing the journal of the end table.

"He is exhibiting uncontrolled temper. Whereas I would normally contact a student's family I thought in this case it was not warranted."

"How so?"

"Do you need to ask?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to insinuate that you couldn't handle it, just that I should know what is going on."

"Teenage drama, do you need to know more?"

"Severus, I've had enough today," she said, unable to hide her frustration. "I saw Minerva on the way down. She said something about Hugh giving me his side of the story."

"He hexed two of the older students, resulting in their spending the night in the infirmary and today a caldron exploded under rather suspicious circumstances."

"They have retaliated then?"

"A strange question. I thought you would be more interested in what hex he used, or why he did it."

"Of course I am. However, I remember how things work around here and I want to make sure he's safe or he comes home with me today."

"They have satisfied themselves with simple things, tripping him in the hallways, destroying his homework, the usual teenage revenge. I believe today's incident was an unexpected result of trying to foul the potion he was brewing."

"Now, why did he hex them?"

"It seems one of his housemates has a mother that worked in St. Mungo's. She remembers your parents adopting a…"

"Fuck!" Hermione spat and headed for the liquor cabinet. "What did Hugh say before he hexed them?"

"Nothing," Severus said with a smirk. "A good Slytherin would never warn his opponents."

"And his punishment?"

"That is what we have to decide." Severus sighed heavily. "The new rules say he could be expelled. Minerva is against the idea."

"And you?" She held her glass in both hands, turning to study his face.

"If he does not alter his ways, what we have seen is only the beginning. I agree with Minerva in her assessment that making him face up to what he has done is best. By removing him from the situation you will be condoning it."

"We both know what they were saying to him and why Hugh lost his temper." She tipped up her glass and emptied it in one go. "It is bad enough to know I gave him away, but now…to know I was on the loony ward … good grief. He'll come home with me."

"That is your choice," he said coldly. "However I do not think you understand completely what was said to him."

Hermione watched as he went to the floo and contacted Minerva. "You…you don't approve. I…I am still new at this mother thing, but I know how things work here. I remember enough to know it's not safe." She tuned and walked to the door pulling it open and watching for Hugh to come down the hallway.

"He has to face his history. If in doing so he fights, better to do it here then on the pavement when is older and strong enough to do some real damage. Hermione, stop doing this and listen. For once in your life think before you run away."

"How dare you!" she spat.

"He knows you were raped. It seems that Jenkins's mother felt free to impart that bit of information as well."

Hermione felt her stomach fall as she yanked the door to the hall open. Looking to her left, she had a sudden vision of the last time she was here. She stepped out and walked further into the corridor, puzzled by something she could not place. "Severus?" she said, hearing him walking behind her. "I…where does this go? I don't remember ever going beyond here…doesn't it just end at the back stairs?"

"Yes. There is an old storage room. You are in front of it now. We keep it warded and under a cloaking spell to keep the students away. You have yourself to thank for that precaution."

"Me? Oh," she laughed thinly. "I didn't steal the ingredients from here. I took them from your lab. Severus, the night of the battle…why would Death Eaters be down here? If they knew you weren't here, and had been gone for hours, and your chambers… I don't remember your chamber doors that night." She looked back at him confused and lost. "Did you hide them the same way when you went out? Cloak them from sight?"

"At that time I did not reside down here. So, yes, these chambers were hidden."

"Someone must have been looking for it. They opened the door to the storeroom instead. It opened here," she said, pointing to the space Severus had said the storeroom was. "There were more. There were more than just the two I remembered!"

"Hermione?" He crossed the distance between them and grabbed her upper arms, watching her face carefully for any hint of another break.

"I remembered someone grabbing me, pushing me against the wall and fighting him…duelling. Then I …when I threw the hex and fell…I was surprised at how fast he got around me and behind Ron, but it wasn't him at all. There had to be more. The one behind me, the one that raped me, and the one behind Ron, but there were more. More that came out of the room."

"What else do you remember?" He pushed a stray wisp of hair from her face.

"Ron and I were in the middle. They were fighting each other when I surprised them. That's why they didn't kill me. The Death Eaters…they were fighting each other and we were caught in the middle!"

"Come back into my chamber, Hermione."

'No, not yet. There… I was standing there." She moved to the place she had indicted and pulling her wand threw a Nox down the hallway, the only light now was the one that spilt out of Severus' doorway. "There…it wasn't completely dark. I should have been able to see more. It was like this… light coming from the doorway. Why did I remember it as completely dark? If it were…how could I have seen at all?"

"Anything else? Who raped you?"

"Nothing," she sighed. "I am glad for that. Not knowing…at least I don't completely remember that part. Only Ron, the pain…the pain was worse than anything I can imagine. Even what happened to me at the Malfoy Manor…the pain was…blinding.

It was later…I thought it happened at the height of the battle. It's the way I remembered it." She pushed away from Severus and turned back to look at the spot where Ron had fallen. "Or the way I wanted to remember it. It was after. We were looking for survivors. I came down here because I heard something and thought someone may need help. I must have surprised them."

"We kept the rare ingredients here. It is possible they were taking the opportunity to loot."

"It could be. I guess I'll never know." She turned back to him and smiled thinly. "I dreaded coming here, now…its nothing. He died here. He died but that's all, it's not as scary as…"

"Who died down here?" Hugh asked.

"Someone a long time ago," Hermione stammered. "I swear I'm going to tie a cow bell around your neck so I can hear you coming. Now, what's this I hear about you cursing your housemates?"

"It was their fault," he said defiantly, lifting his chin.

"No one pointed your wand for you did they? No one put the words in your mouth." She said, her voice getting louder.

"They said things about you."

"Did they say anything that didn't happen? Or did they say your mother is a crazy unmarried witch?"

Hugh swallowed hard and glanced up at Severus. "They called you names and said…said other things."

"I see," Hermione said, knowing the types of words they would have used and tried to hold back the rage that she felt spinning out of control. "Should I tell you what can happen if your curse goes wild? Should I tell you what happens if you throw a hex without thinking? Do you want to kill your best…"

"Hermione!" Severus stopped her short, waving Hugh off to his chambers as he crossed to her.

"She don't understand," Hugh said, looking up at Snape.

"Does not, and yes she does, only too well," he said, automatically correcting the boy. "Your mother is not…" he stopped, glancing at Hermione, "we will finish this discussion later."

"A tart? A whore? I really think I know every thing they could have called me. What did you expect them to say? Why do you think we wanted to keep you away from this world until you were old enough to understand? Why…"

"Miss Granger, I am sure…Mr. Granger, you may wait in my chambers." He waited until the boy was inside and the door shut before turning back to her. "A boy of that age would also describe what he wished to do with a …loose witch. I am sure he does not want to say that in your presence, nor do you want to hear it."

"He knows I was raped?"

"Yes, at least he was told. If he believes it or not you will have to wait to find out."

"Great," she sighed and stared at the door to Severus's chamber. "It's times like this I wish he was a girl. At least they only try to hurt the person they are talking to, not the whole fucking family. Who were they? Jenkins and who?"

"It is times like this that I am glad you are a witch." He tipped up her face and smirked at her before leaning down and brushing her lips softly with his own.

"He shouldn't see us like this…" she stammered, pushing him away.

"I disagree. Better that he learns from us then from his housemates."

"Learns what Severus? That we have been sleeping together? He knows that already. Do you think a boy needs to see that his mother is exactly what they say she is?" She saw his face grow hard and recognised by the set of his jaw that he was close to anger. "You have never made any promises other than to 'see where it goes', have never hinted that this is anything more than what it is. I can, and have, accepted that. I will be happy with the time you give me. It is more than I have ever had before, but a boy needs more. He needs to know that his…mother…or sister…will always be there…and not with a sometime lover or out whoring with his Headmaster. Isn't that what his housemates are saying? Saying that a raped witch was…was asking of it"?

"This is not the place for this discussion," he scowled at her.

"Where is the right place?" She shook her head sadly. "I don't want to lose you. Not yet. But I don't think I have any other choice."

"You won't," he leaned down and brushed his lips over hers. "We will talk tonight."

She sighed, looking over his shoulder to see the door to his chambers cracked open. "Great. Now he's watching us and listening to everything we say."

Severus stepped back from her and turned to the door. "I better have that talk now. He needs to understand."

"No, we just discussed this. No…no, not yet. You'll come for dinner tonight? Just dinner, but we can…talk about it then and Dr Mueller's condition. Its awful…even with a potion it may be too late."

"He needs to hear it, Hermione. I will be as diplomatic as possible. I do have experience with young boys. Leave the medical records upstairs in my office. I'll go over them before tonight." With a curt nod, he stalked into his chambers, his robes fanning the air behind him leaving Hermione to fume.

~o0o~

Later that night the sound of his apparation rattled the kitchen windows, a sure sign that his concentrations was off. Without knocking on the door, he stormed into the kitchen and began pacing, glaring at Hermione as he did.

"Now what did he do?" she sighed, trying to wrestle his wet robes off his shoulders as he walked.

"Nothing, nothing at all," he spat, taking them off and throwing them at her.

"Sit down. I fixed an old fashion Shepherds Pie. Eat, that always makes you feel better. I thought it just right for a cold stormy day."

"He tricked me."

"He what?" Hermione slid dinner on the table and turned to collect the serving spoon. "Just how did a thirteen year old trick you? I told you to leave it to me…but no…the voice of experience had to jump in with both feet."

"After discussing what he was not to do, and the fact that you are not…do not have the morals of a gutter snipe, he admitted his father's name was not amongst those listed on the memorial. In keeping with the lie you …"

"Don't blame me I …"

"As I was saying," he ground out, "in keeping with the lie you told him, he believes that whereas, yes, you may have been raped, he knows you were pregnant at the time. Since you delivered early, he believes you were already carrying him at the time. Remind me to move the tomes on human gestation to the restricted section. Then, when he inquired as to his father's loyalty, I, like the fool I have become, said his father was not a Death Eater. I blame you. You are directly at fault for putting me in this situation."

"What is wrong with that?"

"Miss Granger, if I were not privy to his father's identity how would I have known that?"

"He…he won't…perhaps he won't notice. If he does…now is the time to lie."

"Not notice? Not notice? It seems your friend Harry Potter already took care of that."

"What are you talking about?"

"It seems before Potter was no longer welcomed in your parent's home, he told young Mr. Granger a story. The story concerned my dying. I am sure he will claim some feeble-minded illness struck him and he never intended to brag to a young child about his part in the horrors of war. Potter! Fool!"

"He must have… he would have told…Hugh wouldn't …shite."

"So, you think you understand? I do not think you fully grasp the situation, Miss Granger. My name is not among the dead. I did not die as a Death Eater but am, on occasion, touted out as the Order's hero. As far as your dunderhead of a son thinks, you left the world thinking I was dead. Potter saw me die, you thought it, and later told him his father had died in the great…great indeed…battle."

"I did," she said meekly, standing with her back to the counter, her hand searching for her wand as she inched along.

"That is not the point!" he thundered at her.

"You told him…that it's not you…you told him right? That you just added your name to his to make things easier. You told him on Christmas…but you reminded him again…right?"

"Several times."

"And?" she demanded, forgetting her wand and leaning her hands on the table and glaring at him.

"He smiled."

"Christ," she muttered, slumping into the chair. "It's your fault, yours and that damnable idea of redoing his birth certificate. I knew it was a stupid idea."

"Yes, I see you can still pay attention if I make myself heard," he shouted at her. "The boy is a dunderhead. I put the blame on your parents. That, and his close association with Potter."

"He knows we spent the night together and he saw you kiss me. He may think we were …close when I was a …fuck. Now he thinks his mother had an affair with her professor."

"He knows this is my home and that…"Severus ran his hands though his hair. "We should have been more careful."

"Now is a find time to worry about it. He saw me wearing nothing but your shirt! And if I remember you thought it was quite funny…quite the joke," she said, her voice becoming shrill. "It was wrong. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have done this…"

"Stop." He stood and walked around the table and pulled her up into his arms. "It was not a mistake."

"I didn't mean you were a mistake." She lifted her hand and put in on his face. "I could never think that. It was my mistake to let it happen here. I should have been more careful."

"He was sleeping. We didn't plan on…"

"I know," she sighed. "Sit. Dinner is getting cold. No point in letting it go to waste. I'll talk to him when he comes home. He thought you were going to dump me…I'll tell him you did."

"Joy," he intoned.

"Snape, it's only a matter of time. We both know that. You have never…"

"I have given you no reason to think that," he returned, his voice flat.

"Look at me. Now tell me you will always be here and pretend you mean it. You've never even said you care for me or that you ever intended this to be a long time relationship. I know where I stand…I just hoped…you know…that we would have longer."

He folded his arms over his chest and looked down his nose at her. "The fact that you distrust our…our….whatever, is an indication not of my shortcomings but of your lack of self-respect and self-esteem. Do not, I repeat, do not lay the fault for your ignorance in this matter anyplace other than where it falls."

"Are you trying to tell me that you…you care for me?'

"What does it sound like?" he mumbled.

"That has to be the damndest declaration I have ever heard." She smiled and began to laugh. "You do know the L word is not hard to say."

He reached in his waistcoat pocket and handed her a folded piece of parchment. As she began to unfold it, she saw the Ministry seal and sat down heavily in a chair as her eyes ran down the page. Looking up at him, her eyes welled with tears.

"You need to sign it," he said, waving his hand at the parchment. "It is a small thing."

"A marriage licence is not a small thing."

"It is a minor discrepancy," he smirked at her. "Did I or did I not take you to bed, at which time we engaged in sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse, which is needed to conceive a child? It is past due. Sign it."

"You're mad. What do you plan on doing? Leave this laying around for him to see and then pretend we signed it a decade ago but never made it to the Ministry? "

"Mad? Yes. Again, I place the blame on you. And yes, mere discrepancies in time that we can now fix and let that idiot son of yours believe what he wants."

"A fourteen year discrepancy."

"And a thirteen year old boy that does not object. It will be far easier this way. It will make a formal change of name unnecessary."

"He already has our names and I'm not sure that should change," she muttered.

"Your current name, yes. However once you change your name it will…"

"Mine?"

"Yes, once it changes to Snape, it will be easier to…"

"This is your idea of a marriage proposal?" Her eyes flew back to the licence and saw the date that of today.

"I…,"he tugged his waistcoat down and adjusted this cuffs, "if you need a formal…," he looked back at the door as if contemplating running, "I think we should discuss this…" He stopped and clamped his mouth shut.

"You," she said standing up and putting her finger in the middle of his chest, "are speechless. Hell has indeed frozen over." She laughed and dragged her finger across his chest and to his side as she walked around him slowly. "I may never see this again. Please…no…stand still…I want to engrain this moment in my memory."

He waited until she was again in front of him then grabbed her hand and yanked her to him. "Are you quite done?"

"Not a chance." She smiled and pressed her body against his. "I want to watch you squirm."

"That, my dear, can readily be accomplished." He pulled her through the sitting room and up the stairs to his bedroom hearing her laughter and thought it about time Spinner's End heard it as well.