disclaimer: who owns this...JKR as usual (thanks for being a doll and letting us play around with them)

AN: ok so i wrote this in like 2 hours and i wouldn't let myself do any editing. i wanted it to be one of those i wrote this in the heat of passion. the idea came to me while reading another story and i had to stop to write it. it's not the best, i know this but there are parts of this that i am beyond proud of. i hope you enjoy it

Every time he kissed her the taste of salty angry tears poured into him. The curve of her neck, the swell of her breast, the dip of her stomach all held the same taste. It was as if the girl bathed herself in tears at the start of each day. If one wants to know what sorrow tastes like they need only ask Severus Snape. Sorrow tastes like Hermione Granger.

They had all lost friends, family, and lovers in the war. They all had to wear the scars of death. But life goes on, at least for most it did.

Emptiness lasted until the funerals passed, grief held steady for a few long months only to be replaced with stories about the one's who were gone. There were tears of sadness and laughter for the fallen Weasly and quiet jokes on whether or not Dumbledore had a boyfriend and what the man would've been like if he had. People moved forward, they remembered the fallen and they lived their lives and the wizarding community flourished back to life. That was the way it should be.

Harry and Ginny married quickly and quietly after the war. Starting their family was how they decided to heal their hurts. This doesn't mean that there wasn't hurt somewhere inside of them. It only meant that they had someone to share their pain with. Someone to hold, to love, to talk to when times were tough and it was what worked for them.

Ron immersed himself in the joke shop with George. It was good for them both. They needed the other to be able to focus.

Hermione spent a great deal of time watching over Severus Snape. The venom was tricky and even having had the anti venom administered he still wasn't up to par. Most said that the only reason Hermione chose to help him was because of an underlying sense of guilt, those people were wrong. The only reason that Hermione chose to be with him during his time of need was that he had no expectations of her. In fact he wasn't even grateful that she was there most of the time. He did not say thank you when she fixed him dinner or cleaned up around his house, he criticized the potions that she made to help him recover, and had even once bellowed that she was a waste of his space and that he'd rather have Longbottom in his presence than to have to look at her one more moment.

She merely said, "Of course you would Sir," and went about her business.

She had situated herself into his house quietly, much like she did everything now. She was always quiet and it unnerved him. It had been years since the war had ended and nearly 10 months since Severus had needed any assistance but the girl remained.

Hermione rose early each morning to fix a nice breakfast for him and to make sure that his mail was waiting on the table beside a cup of steaming black coffee. She left for work an hour early everyday and when she arrived back at Spinner's End in the evening she fixed his dinner and cleaned what needed to be cleaned. He had told her repeatedly that he could make his own damn supper but she insisted that she didn't mind. That particular fight wasn't worth his breath so he let it be.

She didn't speak unless spoken to and even then he felt like he was torturing the child for more than a one word answer to his queries. He put up with it. He didn't know why he put up with it or even why he still tolerated her presence but he did. He didn't care for the girl, not in the least, but that didn't mean he wanted her to be a miserable shell of her former self.

Every night at exactly half eight she excused herself and went to her room and he didn't hear from her until the next morning. He never wondered what she did, he never worried that she was going to harm herself. He simply thought that she went to shower and then she went to sleep.

But one night curiosity got the better of him and he went to check on the young Gryffindor. He entered her room without knocking, it's not as if he needed permission it was his house after all, and crossed the floor to the en suite bathroom where he paused momentarily.

The inside of the room was lit with pillar candles in colors of red, gray, brown, and white. The room smelled of dirt and rain and; Severus closed his eyes tight, and blood. This room smelled like the battlefield where they had all lost so very much.

He was suddenly very aware of the small girl sitting in a bath of steaming water staring at the wall in front of her. Her legs were drawn up to her chest, her arms were wrapped around them and her chin was resting on her knees. "I pray," she said quietly.

"For what Miss Granger? What could you possibly be praying for surrounding by this kind of sensory torture?" The candles were making his head pound and his blood rush through his veins. This was not a memory he wanted to relive.

"I pray for strength for those that were left behind and for peace for the one's that were taken away. I pray that we never have to know such devastation ever again." Unrealistic prayers of youth.

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose as he said, "you make it reek of death in this room just so you can pray. Give it up girl the war is over and everyone but you seems to be doing just fine." But as he spoke the words he took note of the book sitting beside the foot of the tub and the splatters of blood in the virgin white candle. "What have you done?"

She sighed, "I'm giving them happiness. I'd sacrifice everything to ensure that they lead good lives."

"It seems you already have sacrificed everything Miss Granger." Severus thrust his hands into his pockets and turned towards the door.

If the room hadn't have been so quiet, if he hadn't have been trying to push the scent of death out of his nostrils with heavy concentration, if the blood hadn't been rushing inside of his head amplifying every sound he probably wouldn't have hear her whisper five of the most beautifully confusing words.

"I still have you, sir."

He stopped, his hand falling from the door knob to his side in quiet realization. She was doing this for her friends, for people she didn't even know, for him. "I still have you, sir." With a deep breath in his lungs his mind shouted at him to save her but once the breath was gone he only said,"Yes Hermione you still have me."

"Then that's really all that matters," came the quiet reply behind him.

It took him years to convince her that she no longer needed to perform the ritual. It took him even longer to heal the damage that she caused to her own soul. He had grown to love her in his own way. He wasn't a sentimental old fool but he knew goodness when he saw it and Hermione was good. She was flawed, she was pig headed, she was passionate, she was smart, and she was his.

Broken, Hermione Granger tasted like sorrow. Complete, Hermione Granger tasted like life.