Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any characters.


"I'm crazy for doing this," Hermione muttered under her breath.

Ginny looked up from her transfiguration essay, "Yes, you are."

Hermione rolled her eyes and nibbled on the end of her quill as she worked out the final sentence in her essay. The new Transfiguration teacher was extremely picky with his N.E.W.T students. She still couldn't believe that they'd let Snape teach here again, even with his innocence proven.

It had been eight months since the battle here at Hogwarts and Voldemort's death.

Eight months since the truth behind Snape's true allegiance had been discovered.

Eight months since Voldemort had unintentionally committed suicide.

Eight months since Harry had died and come back to life.

Eight months since Ron had died and stayed that way.

Hermione squeezed her eyes shut at the thought, trying to stop the tears from coming and soaking her Transfiguration essay – Snape would probably take points off if she got it wet.

Despite the war, horcruxes, and Voldemort, things had been going so well between them, they'd finally kissed. She still remembered the feel of his lips on hers; his arms wrapped around her, making her forget the battle raging all around them. Little had she known that was the only time she'd feel his embrace. Less than an hour later he'd been struck by a killing curse.

"Hermione, you alright?"

She looked up to see Ginny's concerned face across the table.

"Ya, I'm fine," she roughly wiped her eyes as she said this.

Ginny's face softened, "You're thinking about him, aren't you?"

"No," Hermione said quickly as she jotted down a final sentence.

"Hermione–" Ginny started.

"Ginny. Drop it," Hermione said harshly as she rolled up her parchment.

"Hermione–"

"I said to drop it!" Hermione almost shouted before grabbing her stuff and heading up to the dorm.

She was sick and tired of people trying to comfort her about this. None of them really understood what she was going through. Not even Harry understood entirely. He'd been losing those he cared about his entire life; he'd learned how to cope with it, how to keep going even when you think you can't take another breath.

She hadn't.

All she knew how to do was study and bury herself in work. She'd been doing that ever since the battle. Most nights she didn't fall asleep until it was almost time to get up. It was all she could do to drag herself out of bed in the morning.

Pushing open the door to her dorm she saw a letter lying on her four poster bed. Picking it up she saw it was from Harry.

"Why can't he be normal and send it with the morning mail?" She muttered, trying to ignore the small glimmer of happiness she felt over getting a letter from her best friend.

A few minutes later she was rolling her eyes and wondering if she should toss the letter on Ginny's bed. A third of the letter was about his training in the Auror program, the next third was asking how she was doing and how Hogwarts had changed, but it was the final third that made her roll her eyes. He was asking about Ginny, wanting to know if she was dating anyone or if he might have a chance when he saw her again during Christmas.

Harry and Ginny hadn't had much time to talk about their relationship before he'd had to go off to training. All of the funerals had put a bit of a damper on relationship talk anyway.

The door creaked open and Hermione looked over to see Ginny standing there, a look of determination on her face.

"Hermione, you can't keep running away."

Hermione ignored her comment, "I got a letter from Harry just now."

Ginny's eyes narrowed. "Don't change the subject. Just like you, we all miss him, but we're not letting our grief stop us."

"You'll love this letter; he's worried you've gotten a boyfriend." Hermione said, desperate to get Ginny sidetracked.

"Oh, stop it, Hermione. He was my brother! I miss him and Fred horribly, but that's not stopping me from living! Wake up and realize you still have friends!" Ginny shouted, annoyed with Hermione's avoidance.

All the past months of grief and pain twisted through Hermione. She felt like she was drowning as memories of Ron flashed through her head. "You don't understand. You still have four brothers left!"

"What do you mean I have four brothers left!" Ginny yelled in a voice steeped in pain.

"Just what I said!" Hermione yelled back as the dam holding all of her emotions finally broke. "At least you're not alone! You still have your parents! Mine don't even know they have a daughter! You have a family! I have nobody! I lost Ron, my–" Hermione stopped, unsure of what exactly to call Ron.

"Your what?" Ginny said cruelly as her own pain and grief was rekindled. She'd lost two brothers last May and several of her classmates, like Colin Creevy. "Your lover? Your boyfriend? Your friend? You don't even know do you?"

Hermione let out a sob and pushed past Ginny. She ran down the staircase, through the common room, and out through the portrait hole. She didn't look where she was going, or even stop to consider why she was running, she just ran. She was trying to escape the nightmare she'd been living in since last May.

When she finally stopped to look around she realized she was down in the dungeons. Pushing open a nearby door she found herself in a deserted potions classroom. Not really in control of her body, she sank down onto the cold stone floor and give into sobs. By the time the sobs finally disappeared she had fallen asleep, all the sleepless nights finally having caught up with her.

XXX

Severus prowled down the corridor, unable to sleep yet again. He didn't know what he was living for anymore. He'd finally avenged Lily's death, and made sure that her son survived. That's all he'd been living for since that fateful Halloween. And now he had completed it, so what did he do next?

Did he stay here and teach Transfiguration? That wasn't even a subject he really enjoyed, but they wouldn't let him near Defense against the Dark Arts and Slughorn was teaching Potions.

Severus rounded a corner in his beloved dungeon and continued prowling, trying to figure out what he'd do with himself when the year was over. He really didn't want to stay at Hogwarts, he loved the school, but there were just too many memories there.

Continuing his walk, trying to determine what he would do when June came around, he almost missed the door.

The door to one of the abandoned Potions classrooms was open.

It was too quiet in the room to blame Peeves. Cautiously, Severus pushed the door open slowly with one hand while he raised his wand up with the other, lighting up the room.

He gave the room a quick look, finding that it was deserted, he turned to leave, only to almost step on a black shape lying against the wall.

Seeing the bushy brown hair, he bent down and looked at the pale, tear-streaked face.

It was Granger.

What was she doing here? Sure, she broke rules, but only when Potter and Weasley–

Severus knew why she was here, the reminder of Weasley and the tear streaks on her face told him all he needed to know – she'd finally cracked and given into her grief.

He remembered when he'd finally mourned Lily's death. It had been rough and painful, but at least he'd been alone, he hadn't had people that didn't really understand try to tell him they did. Judging by the fact that she was sleeping in an abandoned Potions classroom at midnight, she'd been trying to escape someone.

Severus started to back up, content to let her have the alone time she clearly wanted, but was stopped when he realized she was shivering.

Staring at the girl shivering on the floor Severus felt torn. He wanted to just back up and leave her alone; everyone had to deal with loss on their own. The other part of him, the part that had loved Lily, wanted to comfort her, to let her know that someone out there really did understand what she was going through.

Hermione shifted a little in her slumber, moving so that she was now in the fetal position, trying to stay warm. Snape rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath as the softer side won out.

Without even thinking about it he drew up a fur-lined blanket for her. He felt a small smile tug at his lips as the blanket tucked itself around her.

For an unknown reason he found himself settling onto the floor next to her. It was funny really, he'd been trying for years not to see it, but now that his revenge had occurred, he couldn't ignore it anymore. The girl lying next to him reminded him so much of Lily.

Both of them were smart, pretty, confident, intelligent, true to themselves, and loving. He hadn't really seen it until her fourth year, when she'd done everything in her power to make sure that Potter had passed his challenges. That same drive and passion had been visible in Lily everytime she'd tried to get Severus to rethink his choices and be what he was supposed to be.

Still lost in his thoughts, Severus reached a hand over and ran it down Hermione's jawline, stopping at her chin, just mere centimeters from her lips. And – for the first time in almost two decades – Severus had the urge to kiss someone, but he resisted, he wouldn't kiss a sleeping girl.

His fingers ran back up her jawline and into her soft hair. He closed his eyes and bit his lip, trying to resist the urge to do more than let his hand rest on her head.

When he opened his eyes again he was staring into light brown eyes, completely unlike the emerald green one's he'd lost himself in when he was a child. Those eyes, so different, and yet filled with the same emotions and traits, made all of his good intentions fly right back out the open door.

He leaned forward slowly, keeping eye contact, but not using it for Legilimency, instead, he was giving her the chance to pull away.

But she didn't.

And then his lips were brushing hers as lightly as a butterfly's wings on a flower.

XXX

Hermione came back to herself slowly. Her first realization was that she was very warm. Her second was that there was something resting on her head.

She opened her eyes to see Snape sitting next to her, his hand on her head, and expression of pain on his face – pain that she recognized all too well.

In that instant, right before his lips began descending; she knew that he truly understood what she was going through.

When their lips met a thrill moved through her. This kiss was so different from the one she'd shared with Ron, and yet, it held the same magic.

When he pulled back she stared into his black eyes for a moment and then she leaned forward, and kissed him again.

As they kissed she knew that she wasn't forgetting Ron, or betraying him. She was healing by sharing her pain with one of the only people she knew would truly understand what she was going through.

XXX

The two of them slowly built a relationship; no one was ever quite sure how they did it. But, if Dumbledore was still around he would explain it thusly:

Their relationship was one based on pain and survival. Not in the traditional sense of course, but in a more spiritual sense.

Severus never truly had Lily, and so was always looking for someone like her in personality, if not in looks. He never realized this while he was busy seeking revenge and protecting Harry, his life was too full of Lily. But, once he was cut loose and free, he found himself drawn to the only woman that could've given Lily a run for her money.

Hermione's story was different, she had Ron, at least for a little while. Because of this she didn't want someone like him, rather, she needed someone who was the exact opposite.

And so, the two of them found what they were looking for in each other. They found comfort in their shared pain and the means to survive and thrive in their shared love.

Remember – in every darkness there is a light. Severus found his lying on a classroom floor and Hermione found hers on the wings of a butterfly.


Author's Note: So, um, I wrote this around my student teaching. Why? Because I'm crazy.

This is a little birthday gift to nicluvly, today (Jan 7) is her birthday and I told her I'd write her a fanfic story for her birthday a month ago. But I think she forgot about that or thought I forgot because when I got off chat with her last night she didn't even mention her birthday. Hehe.

So, if this story isn't my best, I apologize, I really don't care for this pairing, I just can't see Hermione with anyone except Ron, which is why I had to kill him off :(

Though, I hope you enjoy it! ;)

Wish nicluvly (Nicole) a Happy Birthday!

Enjoy! Read! Review!