A/N: Written for the Prompt of the Day challenge on the Hogwarts Online forum for the prompt snuggle.

For Loten, because she introduced me to the world of Snape/Hermione in the first place. I hope you like this one better, my dear. :)

Disclaimer: I own nothing and I am making no money off of this story.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry's conversation prior to Potions was abruptly cut off when the door slammed against the wall, rebounded, and shut with a bang. Professor Snape stormed into the room, and Hermione was strangely reminded of their first potions class ever in the beginning of their First Year. For some reason it made her smile.

"Where's Professor Slughorn?" Ron hissed, looking thoroughly annoyed, as they hurriedly pulled out cauldrons and books. Hermione kicked him under the table, but it was too late.

"Ten points from Gryffindor, Weasley," Snape hissed, "for asking questions about subjects that do not concern you."

Harry opened his mouth, presumably to argue, but Hermione kicked him, too. He should know better than to talk back to Snape. The Head of Slytherin then proceeded to set them brewing one of the hardest potions in the book, at which point Harry realized that he had forgotten his special potions book in his dorm. He and Ron together ended up losing Gryffindor thirty more points after failing to make the potion correctly, and she could almost see the steam coming out of both of their ears. Hermione just felt grateful that Snape didn't appear to have noticed that she had almost added too many salamander scales to the potion, or she would have lost Gryffindor even more points.

Luckily for Hermione's foot, both boys managed to stay silent until they were out of the room. As soon as they were out of earshot of Snape, however, they both started talking as once.

"Not fair-"

"How dare he-"

"Forty points-"

"Be quiet, both of you," said Hermione sternly. "Maybe this will teach you to actually learn the material for once instead of just relying on that terrible book!"

"Oh, shut up, Hermione," Ron snapped. "You're just pleased that you made a perfect potion and were finally better than Harry!"

Hermione's eyes narrowed. Before she could say anything, however, Ron dragged Harry off to discuss some Quidditch maneuver or other. She sighed as she continued on her path to the library, absolutely not wondering why it felt as though she had been sticking up for Snape.

The next Potions class, everything was back to normal – Slughorn had returned, Harry had the Half-Blood Prince's book, and her potion was second best once more. Still, something seemed off – she couldn't concentrate on brewing or Harry and Ron's somewhat random conversation, although since she hadn't quite forgiven Ron for his earlier Potions crack, that was no great loss. She managed to get through the class with no mishaps, unlike last time, and felt relieved.

That night, however, Hermione still couldn't concentrate on anything. She plowed resolutely through both her Arithmancy and Transfiguration homework before giving up and starting out on rounds early; Ron joined her halfway through, looking rumpled, and Hermione made a point of not asking him why he was late. They finished rounds in silence, and Hermione bade him good night at the staircase and turned in early, hoping that tomorrow would see her restored to her old self.

As Hermione was trying to fall asleep, her thoughts turned back to the Potions with Professor Snape. She realized with a start that she had missed him teaching that class. After being taught by him for five years, he had become a rock in her otherwise hectic life at Hogwarts, like Professor McGonnagal or Professor Sprout. Or even Hagrid. And now that she thought about it, his teaching Defense, even though it was his coveted position, seemed wrong. As Hermione drifted off into sleep, her last thought was of how Snape had seemed to be watching her out of the corner of his eye, and how that didn't make any sense, because he would have seen her make that mistake and would have said something about it… and why would he have been watching her, of all people…

Her arms were wrapped around something soft and warm. She pulled him closer, and smiled into his back, feeling his arms tighten their hold on her in response. It was morning, and this was the best she had slept in ages. She didn't want to wake up, she really didn't, but she was afraid she was going to be late for class. In her dream, Hermione slowly forced her eyes to open, curious about exactly who had allowed her to have such a wonderful night's sleep…

Hermione's eyes flew open with a gasp. She realized three things at once – she was flushed and warm, even though it was a cool night, she was clutching a pillow to her body with both arms, snuggled up to it as though the pillow were a lover, and she had been dreaming about Professor Snape.

Hermione's face turned bright red in the dark dormitory. She had never felt so mortified. She never, ever wanted to find out what his reaction to the events in that dream would have been, if it had been real! Did she?

Don't be silly, he's your teacher! Hermione chided herself, rolling over and pushing the pillow onto the floor, where it landed with a thump. Not to mention the fact that he is about the last person you should be wanting to snuggle with. Despite this, however, Hermione couldn't fall asleep again, and she lay wide awake until morning, trying hard to forget about the fact that tomorrow was Defense, where she would be seeing Professor Snape again.

Severus Snape watched his class practice worldless magic, while an expressionless face hid the fact that he was exhausted. The Dark Lord was not happy, and he had been feeling the brunt of it for some time. What he wouldn't give for one night of good sleep…

As he walked among the students, his eyes landed on Hermione, and he frowned as he remembered the Potions class he had covered for Slughorn earlier in the week. It was strange, he thought; she had never been one to make careless mistakes, but adding those extra salamander scales was something a first year would do, and would have made the potion explode faster than he could have yelled stop.

And why exactly had he been going to yell stop in the first place? And why had he not taken points away from her? This was not the first time he had asked himself that question. He had tried to reason with himself, saying that she had not made the mistake and so did not deserve to lose points. But this would not have been the first time he would have taken points for a Gryffindor almost making a mistake… he pushed the matter from his mind, to return to on another day. There were more important things to worry about than his momentary kindness toward the best friend of Harry Potter.

That night, Snape had a dream. This was unusual in and of itself, as he did not normally have dreams, but this one was especially strange. In the dream, he was extremely nervous. Someone was coming to his quarters – someone he cared about a great deal. He scoffed at his dream-like self – who would come to visit him, anyway? – but could not stop it from moving forward.

She sat in front of the fire, curled up on the couch with a mug of tea in her hands. He sat beside her, wishing she would make the first move so that he did not have to. But that was absurd. He reached out, took her cup from her hand and placed it back on the table. Snape reached out and pulled the unresisting girl into his arms, where she sighed and snuggled closer. Unable to stop himself, he twined a hand through her curls, something he had wanted to do for a long time now, even if he hadn't consciously known it. Her long, messy, brown curls…

Severus Snape sat straight up in bed, horrified and trying to ignore the fact that his breath was racing. There was absolutely no way in hell that he could want Hermione Granger sitting on his couch in his quarters, much less in his arms. Was there?

One week later, Hermione was cursing the blush that spread across her cheeks as Professor Snape stopped his pacing to watch her and Pavarti Patil practice Stunning each other soundlessly. Was it her imagination, or had he been watching her more as of late? She was probably just wishing he would take more notice of her. Why, oh why, had she ever had to realize that she was attracted to him? Because after sleepless nights of wondering and trying to deny it, she had finally been forced to concede the fact that she did, indeed, find him extremely attractive. She sighed. Life had been so much easier when she had liked Ron…

Severus Snape tried to watch her out of the corner of his eye. It was pathetic, and he didn't think it was working, but it was better than staring at her wide-eyed, like a man dying of thirst. He couldn't believe himself. He had thought that he would always love Lily… why in the world had this brown-haired girl decided to walk right into his heart, through all the barriers he had constructed? More importantly, how had she done it? He would never know. What he did know was that lying to himself wasn't working anymore. She had captured his attention, and showed no signs of ever letting it go. The worst part was, she hadn't even done anything. She was just herself, and that was enough.

Hermione was horrified. She couldn't do it. She couldn't cast the spell without speaking. He was going to be so angry. He was going to take points away from Gryffindor, and Ron was going to yell at her, and why did she have get stage fright now? With anyone else it would have been merely an annoyance. With Snape, on the other hand, it was terrifying.

Snape walked up to the two of them and gestured for them to stop. Hermione lowered her wand, heart pounding. "Miss Granger, please see me after class," he said quietly, which made her blink – she had been expecting point loss, not a private meeting – and continued on his tour of the classroom, barking out criticism with sudden vehemence.

Hermione hung back after class, trying not to figure out if the butterflies were from fear of what he would say to her or for another reason entirely. "Miss Granger," he began, staring at his desk, "I noticed you were having some trouble with casting that specific spell soundlessly."

"Yes, sir," Hermione said, swallowing several times. "Yes, I was." She couldn't believe how inarticulate she was being. She wanted to sink through the floor and never come back.

"Would it be beneficial for you to practice with me?" Snape asked expressionlessly.

Hermione nearly choked. But then, to her absolute horror, she heard herself say, "Perhaps some other time would be most beneficial, when we don't have class in five minutes?"

One of Snape's eyebrows rose, but inwardly he was astonished. She was offering to spend extra time with him, of all people? Surely Gryffindor's star girl had better things to do with her time than practice silent spellwork with the Head of Slytherin? Apparently not.

"Perhaps that would be the most mutually beneficial," he heard his voice say, and cursed himself. Since when did he speak without thinking? And the worst part was, if she didn't accept, he would be crushed. This girl stripped away all his inhibitions, all the walls he had spent so long building. And the strange thing was… it was almost a welcome relief.

There was a silence. Then Hermione spoke. "I'm free tomorrow night at eight," she said cheerfully, without thinking, and froze as she realized the implications of her words. They could not meet in a classroom at 8 o'clock in the evening…

"Very well," Snape said, annoyance painted across his face in effort to hide what Hermione had no reason to suspect – extreme nervousness. He knew what she was suggesting as well as she did, and he did not disappoint. "Be at my chambers at 8 o'clock sharp tomorrow night." As a Prefect, she would know where they were. He turned away, ending the conversation rather abruptly, and Hermione shot out of the room, trying in vain to calm her furiously beating heart.

Hermione didn't sleep at all that night. She carefully avoided snuggling with her extra pillow, as she had been doing every night since her dream, and tossed and turned instead, telling herself she did not miss the comfort it brought her, and that that comfort did not come from imagining her pillow was her Defense teacher. She rose early in the morning and pulled on her best student robes, checking again and again to make sure there was nothing wrong with her hair even though she didn't have a class with him that day. The rest of the day, she tried desperately to stop thinking about her evening, even as she tried furiously to figure out what to wear on what she was definitely not thinking of as a date, because there was no way he ever would, even though she might wish it were.

The closer it got to eight, the more nervous she became. Eventually, Hermione ended up pacing in her dorm room until a voice from the doorway asked, "What in the world is going on with you, Hermione?"

Hermione stifled a shriek and spun around. Ginny stood just inside the door, frowning. "Is something wrong? You've been acting weird all day long."

"No," said Hermione too quickly, "no, nothing's wrong, I just don't know what to wear." Like that would make any sense to an obviously confused Ginny. Suddenly she gasped. "What time is it?"

Ginny gave her a strange look and cast Tempus. "Five til eight."

Hermione groaned. "I'll be late!" She flung on the clothes that had landed closest to her during the earlier ransacking of her closet – her favorite pair of dark blue jeans and a sweater that was a beautiful purple-pink color, the same as her Yule ball dress had been – and pulled on a pair of plain dark blue robes on top of them. Not the greatest, but they would have to do. Then she snatched up her wand and ran for the door.

Ginny reached out and snagged Hermione's arm as she passed. "Just exactly where do you think you're going?" She asked sternly.

Hermione yanked her arm out of Ginny's grip and turned to face her. Ginny noted with interest that the older girl's eyes were shining and terrified at the same time. "I've no time – I'll tell you later, I promise – assuming he doesn't kill me for being late!" Then she sprinted out the door and down the stairs, heading for the dungeons with a thundering heart.

Snape paced in his chambers, cursing yet again whatever had possessed him of opening the channel that had led to this meeting. He couldn't remember the last time anyone – student, teacher, whoever – had been in his chambers. He had barely been able to keep his mind on teaching today, and as soon as his last class was over, had come immediately down here to clean and figure out what he was supposed to wear. Once things were in order – which actually hadn't taken that long, he was a very organized person – he had settled on his usual black pants and white shirt, with simple black robes over them. Although he wasn't sure why he was so worried about what was under the robes, since you couldn't see it with the robes on.

Between taking deep breaths, wondering where in the world his self-restraint had gone, and reminding himself that Miss Granger – he absolutely would not think of her as Hermione – was only here to work on casting spells soundlessly, Snape cast Tempus. It was two minutes past eight. Before he could panic, however, there was a knock on his door. Taking one final glance around the room, he opened the door and caught his breath.

Hermione stood there in dark blue robes, face flushed, breathing hard, and hair everywhere – she had obviously feared she would be late and so had come running. There was a sparkle in her eye, and she looked stunningly beautiful in a simple, natural way that left him speechless. It hit him in that moment, the depth of his feelings for her. But he could never tell her, not in a million years, because there was no way she could ever return his affection.

Hermione spoke first. "Hello," she said shyly, shifting her weight a bit. "I'm sorry I'm a bit late, I didn't realize how late it was getting."

Snape's heart sank before he could remind himself that he didn't care. She obviously didn't care enough about this encounter to keep track of the time. He might as well give up now.

"I don't think this qualifies as late in the scheme of things," he said smoothly. "You may come in." He stepped back to allow her to pass through the doorway and enter his chambers.

There was a fire blazing in the hearth, throwing light throughout the small sitting room. A couch sat in front of it, while a table was on the other side of the room, several doors leading off of the room into what were presumably a bathroom and bedroom. Rugs covered the stone floor and made the room seem much warmer. Hermione stopped just inside the room and let out a small sigh. Somehow, it was exactly as she'd imagined it would be – it was exactly right.

Professor Snape, who now stood beside her, raised an eyebrow. "It's cozy," she said by way of explanation. "I like it." Then she bit her lip.

"It can be cold here." Snape lowered his eyebrow. "Even I do not like to be cold all the time." Hermione was sure she was imagining the double meaning in his words.

"Shall we begin?" He invited, and Hermione jumped. She had almost forgotten the real reason she was here – to practice casting spells wordlessly, something that, in truth, she needed no practice with. She nodded. "What seems to be your problem, other than the fact that you cannot cast a wordless Stunner?"

"I have no idea," Hermione admitted. "I can cast other spells perfectly fine without speaking. I think it might have been because I wasn't concentrating very well that day."

"Why was that?" Her professor asked neutrally.

"I was nervous," Hermione answered without thinking, and blushed a deep red. "Can I just try it again?" She asked hurriedly, before he could ask her what was wrong – not that he would care, anyway.

"You may continue," he answered. Hermione frowned at him before she realized what he was saying.

"Oh, no! I couldn't Stun you, Professor!"

"Since we are here because you could not Stun anyone, I should have nothing to fear, should I not?" He answered her, a smirk on his face.

Hermione's eyes narrowed. If he was going to be that way about it…

A few seconds later, Severus Snape opened his eyes, stifling a groan, to see a worried looking Hermione Granger peering down at him. "Oh, sir, are you all right? I think you may have hit your head." Ignoring her protests, he got to his feet.

"Yes I did," he muttered, and a bottle zoomed into his hand. After taking a sip from it, he fixed her with a glare. "It seems," he said slowly, "that you can cast a Stunner perfectly well without speaking, Miss Granger."

"Yes, sir, it does," she answered. "But I didn't mean for you to get hurt."

"I'm fine," he muttered, realizing both that the lesson, or what there had been of it, was over, and that he did not want to let her leave.

She seemed to realize the same thing. "I suppose I should be getting on, then, sir."

"Yes, yes," he said, trying not to let his disappointment show. It was pathetic, he knew, but he couldn't help it. "Ten points to Gryffindor."

Now at the door, she spun back around. "Professor?"

"Miss Granger?"

"You just gave points to Gryffindor."

"Yes, I did. Don't make me regret it," he answered.

She eyed him, and took a deep breath. "Perhaps you hit your head harder than you thought, and I should stay awhile to make sure you're ok."

She wanted to stay. The knowledge hit him like a ton of bricks. But he remained silent, still disbelieving.

Hermione sighed. "Or I could take you straight to Madame Pomfrey. Your choice."

"In that case, I suppose you may stay for a few minutes. Tea?"

They ended up awkwardly on the couch, both of them sitting stiffly upright. Never in her life had Hermione ever thought she would be willingly sharing tea with the Head of Slytherin House, in his quarters, but here she was and here he was, and it was almost too much to take in. There's a first time for everything, she thought with amusement.

"Miss Granger, why did you offer to come to my quarters tonight?"

She sighed again, surprised but grateful that this was finally being acknowledged. He must have been extremely curious – as was she, truthfully. "I don't really know, sir. It just sort of seemed the natural thing to do. And if I recall, you were the one who finalized this in the end."

He inclined his head at the truth of these words. "If I may ask another question?"

"Of course," Hermione invited him.

"You were nervous in class, but you are not now. Why?"

Hermione laughed. "On the contrary, I'm very nervous now." She kept talking before he could say anything, not that he knew what he would have said had he been able to speak. "But to answer your question, well…" her face turned red yet again. "I could feel you watching me in class, and I got more and more nervous, until you were standing right there and I probably couldn't have cast Wingardium Leviosa." She laughed a little. "But tonight, you didn't expect me to succeed, and I suppose that motivated me to be able to cast correctly without speaking in front of you. Beyond that, again, I don't really know." She shifted – her robes were hot in front of this fire.

He noticed her movement. "If you are uncomfortable, you may remove your robes."

Hermione's eyes widened, but she did as he asked, setting her teacup down and trying not to let it shake, and then pulling off her robes to reveal her sweater and jeans. She picked up her tea again and sat down with a sigh, curling up with her feet underneath her and missing the way her teacher's eyes flicked up and down her body as she moved. "That's better. Thank you." She eyed him, then said teasingly, surprised at her boldness, "You could take yours off, too, you know." Her eyes almost fell out of her head as he sighed, but stood in turn, pulling off his black robes to reveal his immaculately crisp white shirt and black pants. He completely missed the way his student's eyes flicked up and down his body in appreciation as he moved.

Snape sat back down with his tea and nearly spilled it everywhere as an exclamation burst from the witch sitting beside him. "The pillows – they're the same!"

"The same as what?" He asked her.

"As the extra one on my bed," she answered, and when she saw he didn't understand, elaborated further, "as the one that I sometimes hold when I sleep." She set her teacup down and snuggled down into the pillows, a laugh in her voice. "Who would have thought Professor Snape would have the same soft pillows on his couch?" In that moment, she felt as though she could stay curled up on his couch forever.

Snape was suddenly struck with the realization that this scene had turned out almost exactly like the one in his dream. He certainly didn't believe in all of that prophecy crap, but this was uncanny. And he might never have another chance… He had lost his chance with Lily, but damn it all, he was not going to lose this one, too, at least not if he could help it. He shifted closer and closer to her, holding his breath for the shout or word that would halt his progress as she realized what was happening.

He was right beside her now, holding his breath. She shivered involuntarily, and his arm rose unbidden to encircle her shoulders, and he nearly gasped aloud when he felt her relax into him and snuggle closer.

They sat that way for a long time, Hermione leaning on his shoulder, Severus's arm around her back. When her leg started to fall asleep, however – she was still curled up in what had become a somewhat awkward position – she shifted, and somehow her face ended up right next to his and he turned to look at her, and heat seemed to surge through both of them, and then they were kissing.

It was like nothing she had ever experienced before. His lips were not hard, but gentle, almost uncertain. Her head was spinning, and her body felt weak. It's a good thing I'm sitting down, she thought hazily. Without thinking, she lifted her arms to wrap them around his shoulders and gasped when she felt one of his hands tangle in her hair as the other slid under her sweater to press against her lower back. And somehow, this felt fundamentally right in a way that nothing else ever had before.

Severus Snape could hardly believe this was happening. The witch in his arms was not screaming and running away, as all women seemed to do when they got this close to him, but instead moving closer towards him. Terrified that she would come to her senses and slap him across the face, he moved slowly to tangle a hand in her curls. She arched up against him, and with that movement he lost what little control he had managed to hold onto thus far, groaning softly.

He clutched her to him tightly and with a roughness that made chills go up and down her spine. Hermione had no idea what she was doing, and was terrified that she might do something wrong that would result in this heaven ending, but she let her mouth part as his became insistent. She felt his tongue brush her lower lip, and a moan escaped her before she could stop it. But suddenly, she was on the other side of the couch from him with no idea what had gone wrong, and he was breathing hard and straightening his shirt, eyes blazing.

"I'm sorry, Miss Granger," he said stiffly, looking everywhere but at her. "That was completely uncalled for."

He was upset with himself. Her heart went out to him, but at the same time, she had to make him understand. "It's Hermione," she said firmly before her brain could retake control of her body, "and for Merlin's sake, don't stop."

"We cannot do this!" he hissed, scandalized. "I am a teacher, I have a reputation! More importantly, you are my student!"

"So what?" She said, wondering where in the world her boldness was coming from. "There's a war on, isn't there? That always rewrites the rules. I'm 17, I'm of age. And-" she hesitated, but only for a moment. "I've been dreaming about this for ages." When he didn't answer, she leaned closer. "Look at me and tell me you haven't been, too. I don't think you're the kind of person who would kiss someone like that by accident." He did not answer, and Hermione felt vindicated.

"I am all wrong for you," he said, rising to stare blindly into the fire. Hermione felt a thrill go down her spine because, true to her hopes, those words didn't sound like he was thinking about a fling, and the longer they lasted, the happier she would be.

She rose to stand beside him, but didn't touch him yet. "Professor-"

"Do not call me that in this context."

"Then what am I supposed to call you?" She asked.

For a split second, Severus Snape stood in indecision. But truthfully, he did not have a choice anymore. He sighed. It was useless fighting it, anyway – she got under his skin in a way that no one else ever had, and besides, he had never been one to worry about what everyone else thought. They didn't even have to tell anyone. But he suddenly realized that he wanted to tell people – that he wanted people to see them together. He wanted to be with her, in the simplest form of the words. Just to be with her.

He turned to face her, throwing caution to the winds for what was possibly the first time in his life. "You may call me Severus, Hermione," he answered, and as her eyes grew wide with comprehension, he leaned down to capture her mouth in another searing kiss, this one lasting much longer than their first.

A long while later, Hermione lay in her bed in Gryffidor tower with a pillow clutched to her chest, smiling into it. Severus kissed like no one else in the world, although it was very possible that she was a bit prejudiced, since she was beginning to suspect that she just might love this smirking, sexy Severus that she had really just met tonight for the first time. But despite all of that, her favorite part of the evening had not been the kissing. It was when they had collapsed onto the couch and she had snuggled up against his chest, just as she had dreamed of doing, warm and peaceful and happy, and they had silently watched the beautiful orange flames as they danced in the hearth, and were just together, in the simplest form of the word.

In his chambers, Severus Snape slept peacefully for the first time in years.

A/N: Please leave a review!