AN: Thank you to all my readers, all my reviewers, Karelia, Dressagegirl, and my Hebe GB. And special thanks to DarkRiverTempest for her generosity to The Petulant Poetess site, and her wonderful imagination.


"Hey, sleepyhead. Are you going to wake up?"

Hermione blinked behind her bandages and then remembered she no longer had any eyes. "Ginny?"

"Yeah. And Ron and Harry, too. How are you feeling?"

She shifted in the bed. "Good. A little muzzy-headed, but good. No pain. What time is it?"

"Six in the evening," Ginny replied.

Hermione felt a small stab of an ache. All day and still no word from Severus. Lavender had said he would be discharged at noon.

She felt a weight settle on the bed. "Hermione, what happened?" Harry asked, taking her hand. "I'm asking her, if you don't mind."

Hermione tilted her head at that last, but then remembered Ron was there. "It's a long story, actually."

"We're not going anywhere in a hurry," Ron said belligerently from a few feet away.

Hermione tilted her head, confused. She pulled her hand back and crossed her arms over her chest as she briefly told them an abridged version of the facts. She left out the part about the demon owing her because of the Horcrux, and let them think she had figured out which demon it was through research. If they knew the truth, they would put two and two together, and who knows what stupidity they would get up to. She also skipped over anything to do with her intimate relationship with Snape. That wasn't their business.

"But why?" barked Ron when she was done. "Why would you do that? I know you needed to help people, but you took it too far! You lost your eyes forever. Your scars are permanent. Hermione, you're—"

There was a sudden scraping of a chair to her left and then Ron snapped, "She's not fine. She's disfigured for life!"

Her throat closed over, and she reached up and touched her face around the bandage, feeling the healed slices on her cheeks and temples.

Ron continued to shout. "But it's the truth, innit? And it's your bloody fault! You took advantage of her kind nature! She was vulnerable. You should never have made her do this!"

The room erupted in sudden violence as furniture was overturned and spells ricocheted around the room. Ginny jumped up, screaming for Ron to stop, and Harry threw his arms around Hermione and tucked her head against his chest.

"What's going on!" she cried.

"That's right," Ron yelled, "just get out, you bastard! She doesn't need you lurking about! Ginny! Get me unstuck."

Hermione panicked. "Harry, what's happening? Who is Ron yelling at?"

There was a pause, and the room went silent. "Snape. Couldn't you hear him?"

Hermione felt her heart slam in her chest. "Severus?" She pushed Harry away. "Severus? Is he still here?" She scrambled off the bed and threw her hands out before her, vaguely aware that her arse was on display. Someone grabbed her elbow but she knew it wasn't the right hand. "Get off me! I have to go after him!"

She felt his familiar hand close over her own, and she grabbed at it, tripping over an overturned chair in her rush. He caught her and pulled her close. She felt a cloak drape around her shoulders and was enveloped by his smell as she turned into his arms and sighed.

Ron muttered behind her, and Ginny barked at him to shut up.

"You're here," she whispered.

She pressed her head against his chest and then replaced it with her hand. A cold blade scraped along her spine as she pressed her ear to his chest again. Her lip began to wobble out of control. "I can't hear you!" She turned toward the shuffling footsteps behind her. "What's happened to him? I thought he got his voice back!"

She heard everyone go still again.

"Hermione," Harry said in a careful voice. "He did."

"Yeah. Shame he's not still hissing like the snake he is," Ron spat.

"Get out!" she yelled. "Ginny, get him out of here!" She turned to where Harry's voice had been. "I can't even hear his heartbeat," she said, feeling her bandage start to get wet from her tears. "I can't hear him at all." She heard the memory of a voice in her ears, saying, 'There is a price… Balance had to be restored.'She pushed down the rising panic, whispering, "Oh, gods…"

She heard the sound of a chair being righted, and then gentle hands guided her down to sit.

"Say something," she said.

There was nothing.

She felt a breeze against her face, and Harry asked, "Did you hear that?"

"No, what did he say?"

There was a pause before Harry answered. "He didn't say anything that time. He clapped his hands in front of your face."

"Oh, gods," Hermione said in a small voice. Rage flooded her. "Damn them all to hell!"

"Hermione—"

"No!" she snapped before Harry could get another word in. "Don't you see? It's the price! When the demon took my eyes, I was supposed to be in pain for the rest of my life! But then the other one healed me, so instead, that stupid, poxy Bardo took away Severus! This is their balance! I can't see him, and I can't hear him! What use am I to him now? It's all—"

Her words cut off when Snape took her hand. She stifled a sob and wrapped her other hand around his, trying to control her crying enough to speak clearly.

"I promised Lavender I wouldn't despair, and I only managed to last half a day," she whispered in a broken voice. She felt him rub her hand against his cheek and realized he'd crouched down next to her chair.

"So that's how it is," Harry said quietly.

"That's exactly how it is," she answered. "And you can tell Ron that's why I did this. I couldn't let him go."

Harry sighed. "I'll tell him. He won't like it, but I'll tell him."

There was a pause, and she felt Severus' jaw move. "No," Harry replied. "That's a bad idea. I think she should come back to Grimmauld with me tonight. She needs people to watch over her."

"What did he say?" she asked.

"Don't worry about it. Look. You're being released. Ginny brought you some things to wear home. Let's get you dressed and get you out of here. No! Think about it! She can't hear you and she can't see you! It's not a good idea."

Hermione felt Severus let go of her hand as he stood up quickly. Obviously, whatever he said wasn't sitting well with Harry. "I get it! 'You owe her.' I can't say I'm pleased, but I get it. I know the two of you have been through a lot, but I'm trying to think of what's best for her! How the hell—urk!"

The cloak slipped off as Hermione jumped up from the chair and flung her hands out in front of her. "Stop! What's happening? Harry, tell me what he said!"

"All right! I will. As long as he stops jabbing me in the throat with his bloody wand." Harry took a deep breath. "He wants you to know you have a home, if you still want it. I think the idea's crap, but he's obviously not inclined to listen to reason."

She sighed, feeling her heart start to beat with a steady rhythm for the first time in ages. She knew there was so much more being offered than what was on the surface. She knew this time he was offering to sharehis bed.

She answered in kind. "If Severus doesn't mind me bumping into the furniture, I'd prefer to be with him."

She felt the cloak drape around her shoulders again and smiled. Severus's hands settled on her shoulders possessively.

She heard Harry scuffing his feet in that frustrated way of his. "Are you sure about this?"

"Very," she replied.

"All right, then." His voice sounded as if he had accepted her choice, and she smiled. "Look," he continued. "If you need me for any reason…"

"I know," she said. "I'll call on you at any time, day or night."

Harry huffed out a breath. "Exactly."

She jumped when she felt Harry's kiss on her cheek. "I'm glad you're safe," he whispered with emotion. "Take better care of yourself, won't you? No more saving the world. We're done with that. I can't lose any more people I care about."

"I promise."

When the door closed, Severus turned her in his arms. She felt his hands stroke her face, the pads of his thumbs caressing her cheeks, and sighed. "Severus, I know we need to have a long talk, but that's not exactly possible now, is it? I just want you to know that I'm very sorry for ignoring your wishes. I promise that I won't make a habit of it." She wrinkled her nose. "Unless you order me to do something stupid again, and you would have to figure out how to get me to hear it anyway." She sighed, lifted a hand until she found his face, and caressed his stubbled jaw.

"We rushed, I know, and things have grown exponentially more complicated. What I'm trying to say is… You don't have to do this because you feel obligated. I understand if you feel guilty or responsible, but that doesn't mean you are in my debt. I'm done with debts, and you should be too. I rushed things with Ron, and it all fell apart. Now I've rushed things with you. If you need time, or if you feel trapped by what I did—"

He silenced her with a kiss, cupping his hand behind her neck and gently pressing his lips to hers. He pulled away, and she could feel his hair tickle her cheek. He stroked the back of his knuckles down her face with a trembling hand.

"Good," she said, swallowing the lump in her throat. "I'm glad we got that discussion out of the way. Can we go home now?"

He tapped her once on the forehead and then took her hand, carefully guiding her back to the bed. Calm hands tapping and patting here and there for her attention directed her through the procedure of getting dressed. She laughed through the process of getting her bra on. He was a perfect gentleman, but the mechanics escaped him, and it kept ending up twisted. He placed her hand on his shoulder and tapped her leg so she could step into her trousers. He guided her hand to the hem of the t-shirt, laid out on the bed, and she smiled and picked it up and put it on. By the time she was working her feet into her shoes, they already had it down to a dance.

Once she was dressed, she turned in place and smiled at where she hoped he was. "We're rather good at that, aren't we?" She felt him lightly snap her bra strap through her shirt and laughed. "Practice makes perfect."

She let her smile fall. "I do wish I could see you just one more time. All I have in my head are images of you covered in black, or hanging upside down trying to kill me, or looking like one of the three stooges." She frowned. "I'll explain that one over a greasy burger. If we're ready, that's what I want most in the world right now."

She startled when she felt his hands settle on her shoulders. They slid, ever so slowly, to her neck, her jaw, her cheeks and then…

She flinched away. "No, don't! You don't want to see that. Healer Pye said I can be fitted for glass eyes in a few days."

The hands returned and slowly, but determinedly, pulled away her bandages. Hermione tried to cover her face with her hands, but he pulled them away as well and wrapped them around his waist. Lifting her face up by the chin, he kissed her before placing a gentle kiss on each empty and scarred lid. Then he wrapped his arms around her and crushed her to him.

When she felt his shoulders start to heave and felt his tears against her temple, she laid her head against his shoulder and cried as well.


Hermione sat in the middle of the bed and mentally rearranged the room.

Severus had been gone for an hour. As they were leaving the restaurant, he'd asked the server to inform her that he would be running errands when they returned home. Then he'd whisked her home, led her upstairs, sat her on the bed, and kissed her forehead. She'd heard the stairs creak and the Floo activate shortly after that.

She hadn't sat still very long before she grew bored. She'd started exploring the room from memory, taking pride in the fact that everything was exactly where she'd pictured it in her mind. That lasted until she'd tripped over her new shoes in the middle of the floor and smacked her head on the bedpost.

She'd been sitting in the middle of the bed ever since. She knew it was the middle because she'd measured out the distance with her legs.

Clearly, being blind was going to lead to serious boredom issues if she didn't figure out how to entertain herself soon.

All that was left was to sink into a funk. How the hell were they going to make this work? She knew from her dismal experience with Ron that communication was vital, but it was the one thing she and Severus had been denied. They'd managed without speech before—they'd created a vast vocabulary based on blinks, and flicks—but she couldn't seehim now.

She flopped back on the bed and blew out a frustrated breath. She had chattered his ear off the entire time he was healing, assuming that one day he would be able to hold his own. Or at least tell her to shut up. Now, she felt self-conscious saying anything at all because there was no way she would know if she was annoying him or not.

It wasn't a total silence. She couldn't hear him speak nor hear if he clapped his hands, stamped his foot, or banged on the wall, but she could hear when he moved a chair, or tapped on something with his wand.

Perhaps they could learn Morse code?

She snorted, imagining arguments that sounded like drum circles.

The Floo activated, and she rolled off the bed in a heartbeat. She cautiously shuffled toward the doorway and couldn't help the huge grin on her face when she heard the stairs creak under his weight. She might just charm every floor to creak just to hear him walk around.

She squeaked in surprise when he pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead, even though she had been waiting for him with her arms out.

He smelled like heaven.

He took her hand and led her back over to the bed. She could hear a plastic bag crinkling in his hand, and sat down with her hands folded patiently in her lap.

"I'm glad you're back," she said quietly as she listened to him rustling with the bag. He sat down next to her and patted her leg.

She heard the plastic bag hit the floor. "Could you pick that up?" She heard a rustle as it was jerked off the floor and winced. "I tripped over my own shoes earlier. We're going to have to learn to watch the floor." She twisted her hands in her lap. "That is, if you wouldn't mind..."

He patted her leg again, and she quieted down and listened to the sounds he was generating. She heard several clicks, some clacks, and a mechanical whirr that sounded familiar. She tilted her head to the side, just as she heard the distinctive ker-chickof a tape cassette player. She grinned and pressed her fingers to her mouth.

When his voice came, it was in a tinny version of his former deep, resonant tone. 'Can you hear this?'It held a subtle rasp that it didn't used to, but was clear and strong and made her heart thump around in her chest.

"YES!" she screamed as she bounced up off the bed and danced. "You wonderful man! That's what you went to get! Ha! Fuck that demon!" She continued with her happy dance, but stopped when she realized she wasn't sure which direction she'd ended up. She turned when she heard the whirr of the tape recorder rewinding. She cautiously made her way back to the bed as he pressed play again.

'—went to get! Ha! Fuck that demon! Settle down before you brain yourself again. You have a marvelous lump on your forehead already.' His amused voice cut over hers uselessly. 'This is a temporary measure. I shall endeavor to find something less fiddly. They have all sorts of new-fangled things, but I didn't have the patience to listen to their explanations. I just bought what I remembered using before. I wanted to get back to you quickly—and before you ask, I took so long because I needed time to record the lecture I will force you to listen to shortly.'

"Oh, do I have to?" she whined as he guided her back down onto the bed. "I know what you're going to say."

There was a click and a pause before she heard the tape rewind. 'Some things are worth hearing.'

She swallowed and nodded her head as he changed the tape. She heard the clunk as he set the tape player on the bedside table and the click as he pressed play. As his melodious voice began speaking, he took her hand and gently stroked his thumb across her knuckles. She leaned her head against him and listened.

'I've figured out how to erase tape rather well in the ten minutes I've been sitting in this blasted bench mumbling to myself like a git with my brand-new bit of archaic technology. I still don't know how to start. Should I tell you that I love you? I do. Although, I know it's wrong. Should I tell you that I still want to throttle you? I do, but I won't. Should I tell you how terrified I was? How angry? How much of a fool I felt like when I realized you were Petrifying me and not killing me? That I was determined to see you dead before you paid the price so your soul would be free? Well, I just did, didn't I?

'I could mention the indignity I suffered from being dragged to hell in my nightclothes. You have a knack for leaving me undressed. However, that would be petty.

'Perhaps I should start with how terrible I feel that you suffered for me. That I cost you your sight. Hermione… I don't know how I can ever make it up to you. I don't know how I can get past this guilt. You cannot understand how divided I am in my mind. I'm still reeling from the fact that you took such a risk. My stomach is in knots just remembering what you faced down, and just what you were facing if you had failed.He sighed heavily.

She threaded her fingers through his and began to speak, but he placed his free hand against her mouth.

'I can't help but feel you betrayed me by doing something so rash. Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel a giddy euphoria that you would think me worthy of such a spectacularly stupid act. I sat by your bedside all day while you slept, marveling at how such a little bit of a thing would risk hell for me. The betrayal fades quickly in the face of that.

'Oh, Christ. Now I'm getting odd looks from the mothers in the park. Marvelous. They probably think I'm a paedo.'

Hermione let out a musical giggle and clutched his hand tighter.

'And while we're on the subject, I must say your… youth… is your least attractive quality to me. You were spared the looks Potter gave me when he realized the nature of our connection. I'm not looking forward to more of them, or having people mistake you for my daughter, or, God help me, finding out that you're just looking for a father substitute. Are you? Christ, I hope not.'

"I'm not," she said, laughing. It wasn't funny, but the horror he managed to convey was. "You're just about the last person that comes to mind when I think of fatherly types." He tried to pull his hand away, but she clung to it, laughing harder, as she turned her attention back to the voice.

'What I really want to tell you is that I understand what you said in the hospital about rushing. I feel the same. Only I fear that you rushed in, and now you will realize the mistake you made, or that the price was too high, and I'm not worth it.

'If you do feel this way, I will understand. However, I ask that you at least let me help you. I would like to make the burden of the price you paid for my life less onerous. I will do whatever I can for you. I… There was another, long, shaky sigh. I will do anything for you.

'You see, despite all the logical reasons why we don't suit, I'm rather desperately in love with you. I fear no one has ever gone out of their way to make me feel as if I had worth before, and it quite overbalanced my reason.

'I did my level best to keep my feelings under control—I tried to focus on being a mentor, or perhaps some sort of a beloved uncle, not that I have a clue how to be either—but when I saw you dressed for your new job… Christ, you were so lovely. I was lost.'

His voice fell silent for a while. They listened to the background sounds of birds, and children playing, and the occasional sound of a car passing. When his voice came again, it sounded so wistful. 'How stupid to fall in love on one's deathbed.'

She heard him fill his lungs with a loud sniff through his incredible nose. 'Of course, I didn't die, now did I? Because of you, I'm alive and still in love and here you are.

'Hermione, you said once that you needed to belong, needed to be wanted. I would very much like it if you felt you belonged with me, because I want you very much…'

Hermione turned and found his face with her hands and kissed him. "That's all I needed to hear," she whispered.

He reached across and fast-forwarded the tape, taking a moment to find the part he wanted. '…protective of you, but I still think he's a little worm. He's lucky all I did was pin him to the wall. I wanted to smash his face in, but it would have been beneath me. And he was dead wrong about your scars, as well. You're not disfigured. He made it sound as if you're gruesome to look at. You're fucking beautiful to me. He had no right—'

He clicked the tape off, and she wrapped her arms around him, preventing him from straightening up.

"Show me what else you wanted me to hear," she whispered.

He slipped his arms around her, and she felt the breath of his sigh just before he kissed her. She smiled as he pulled her tight against his heart.


:

Six months later…

:

Hermione stepped out of the fireplace and hit herself with a quick Anti-Soot Charm before turning her wand back into a long, thin cane. She pulled her mobile out of her pocket and hit the auto-dial.

"I'm home, as you well know. Where are you?"

"In the bedroom," his voice replied in her ear.

The sound quality was much better than the cassette player, but the phones had a dreadful habit of dropping the call when magic was used and wouldn't work at all in St. Mungo's, Hogsmeade, or Diagon Alley.

She started through the sitting room, sweeping her cane before her by force of habit. She didn't really need it. As long as no one added anything without telling her, she could run full-tilt through this house. Since Severus had sold off his Dark Arts books and shelved the books that had been stacked on the floor, there were no longer any tripping hazards. They had kept everything else the same, with the exception of the cooker and the upstairs plumbing.

"I had a fun day at work," she said into her phone. "That's a joke, mind. My dicto-quill broke, and I didn't notice until I handed the completed schedule to Miranda to copy and it was blank. I know, nothing was lost because it's all in my head, but it still was a pain in the arse to repeat the whole bloody thing."

"One would have to agree."

"I met with Filius for lunch, and he's onboard for the project."

"Good. I'm glad, although I had little doubt. He loves a good project."

"He did seem very excited. He thinks there's a chance he can charm my glass eyes to be like Moody's. I'm really glad you approached him about it. I admit I had thought of it, but I was afraid I might look a bit freakish with my eyes rolling in two different directions."

"I couldn't care less."

"True, but that's you. You know I get self-conscious. I almost prefer the dark glasses."

"They don't stop the pillocks from pointing when you ask for directions." he grumbled.

"Also true."

She felt the brush of air against her face and pulled the phone away so he could kiss her. He always waved his hand at her to keep from startling her when he came near. It wasn't necessary, she could track him by his cologne.

She put him on speakerphone and placed her mobile on the bed when she sat.

"Anyway, he said it would take a while, possibly six months, to fully research, and then there is a seventy percent chance of failure. However, if he did figure out the charm, he was sure he could make them with limited motion so I couldn't look behind me without turning my head."

She reached out, and he took her hand. "How was your day?"

"I believe I have worked through the problem," his voice replied from the coverlet.

She sighed. "Severus—"

"It will work this time. Let me try."

He had yet to stop trying to find a way to repair at least part of her damage. She wished he would. It was difficult enough for her to accept her limitations without his constant hope. The guilt he carried pressed against their relationship, adding a weight that was difficult to bear.

"Very well. Did you want to do this now?"

"I do."

She nodded and turned her phone off with a beep. His beep swiftly followed.

He tugged on her hand and she stood. As always, she let him lead her where he wanted without resistance. Her memory of the room told her they were standing next to the bed facing his wardrobe.

He pressed her shoulder in the gesture that had come to mean, 'stay put,' and she did.

She tilted her head to the side as he shifted until he was standing behind her. When he pressed her wrist, she nodded. He always warned her when he was about to use magic on her. She sighed.

She felt him remove her dark-tinted glasses and place them in her pocket. He swept one arm around her, gently pulling her back against his chest, and she felt the tip of his wand press against her temple just before his magic washed over her.

She waited patiently while he performed whatever spell he had looked up this week and tried to keep her expression as neutral as possible. Draco and Lavender had told her that now that she couldn't see herself, she was even more likely to convey her opinions by the expression on her face. She leaned against him and thought about pleasant things instead, like the dinner they had shared the night before. He was a lovely cook, but had outdone himself with the roast lamb. She'd taken some to work and had eaten it all long before lunch.

Of course, thinking about dinner made her think about what they had got up to after dinner, and she was hard put to keep the smile off her face then. Severus might be reserved in many areas, but the bed wasn't one of them. She smirked, remembering with relish the time she had snuck the tape recorder under a pillow and played it back the next day when he'd run errands. Severus had grown rather accustomed to the fact that she couldn't hear him. He'd grown very vocal and deliciously foul-mouthed. She'd saved the tape and played it whenever she started to feel blue. Hearing him scream how much he loved her was a potent cure for the blahs.

Her reverie was interrupted by a quick, sharp pain in her head. She hissed in a breath and flinched, but he kept his wand against her temple.

"Severus, it hurts, stop."

He rubbed circles into her shoulder, but kept her pulled tight against him as the sting grew.

"Seriously, Severus, it's—"

Pain exploded in her head, and she saw bright spots of light. She pressed the heels of her hand against her eyes, feeling the glass balls behind her lids. "Please, you're hurting me!" she gasped out.

The arm across her chest relaxed, and he continued to rub at her shoulder in apology, but it was too late. The pain was crippling. When it started to recede, images began to form in her mind. At first they seemed like memories, but they grew in clarity and definition.

Her breath caught in her throat when she realized the image in her head was of her and Severus. He was standing behind her with one arm over her chest, looking grim and determined and she, pale and distraught. They were looking at the mirror on the door of his wardrobe.

She could see.

She gasped and spun in his arms, looking up to his face, but the image in her mind showed only that she had turned around in his arms. She felt dizzy and nauseous until she understood.

She was seeing with his eyes.

"Severus! It worked!" She spun back around and stared at him in the mirror, but his attention was focused on her. "Yourself! Look at yourself! I don't want to see me!"

He smirked and lifted his gaze. He was as pale and gaunt as she remembered, and the worry lines on his face were deeper than before. His hair, still fine and limp, hung down to his waist. She liked to feel it running through her fingers, so he never cut it. She sighed. "Oh, my heavens. You look so handsome." He glowered at her with a magnificent sneer, but she ignored that and broke out of his embrace. "Closer! Come closer to the mirror! I want to see you up close!"

He grimaced and followed her to the mirror, bending down slightly to keep his head in the glass. He gave her an eyehug and a small smile.

"Oh, Severus…"

His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw herself. She'd gained a bit of weight, and her glass eyes were a little strange. She could move them, but they were sluggish and uncanny. Her face was bisected by twin slashes that crossed the bridge of her nose and formed an X.

"I'm not bad," she said. "A little creepy looking."

He scowled at her, and she laughed. "I did miss your sneer. And your feet! Kick your shoes off and look at your feet. In fact, take everything off!"

He rolled his eyes and shook his head impatiently, pulling her back against him and raising his wand. He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.

"Oh! There's more?"

He nodded.

"Is it going to hurt?"

He palmed his wand and held his thumb and finger an inch apart.

She took a deep breath. "Okay. It's worth it. I'm ready." She took a deep breath and noticed that her fake eyes were rather expressive when she was afraid.

He sighed and closed his eyes briefly before aiming the wand, not at her, but at his own reflection in the mirror. The effect was that he was pointing it directly at her.

She watched through his eyes as he mouthed, "Legilimens!"

She felt a pressure in her mind that grew more intense until she felt as if her head had been shoved unto a vice. She tried to keep her eyes on Severus and then realized how silly that was and closed them against the pain.

When it came, it was the barest whisper spoken from far away. "Can you hear me?"

"Severus?" She focused on the image of Snape staring in the mirror. His eyes were narrowed with focus, and his face was drawn tight from the effort. In her mind, she heard the trace of a whisper again and threw her mind towards it. "Again! Call me again!"

"Come to me," she heard in his deep, rich voice. "You must bring your thoughts closer."

She pushed her mind towards the voice hiding in the corner of her head, and when she heard it begin to fade, she mentally leaped for it.

"Severus?" she said in her own head. Her vision ended, and she realized he had closed his eyes. She felt nearly overwhelmed by the amount of warmth, love, relief, and joy that washed over her.

She felt both of his arms wrap around her, and his voice sounded like silk in her head, loud, strong, and utterly beautiful. "I'm here."

She turned in his arms and hugged him. "How long will this last?" she asked.

"I can keep this up for perhaps five more minutes, or… I could make it permanent."

She squealed. "Do it!" She felt an undercurrent of fear and insecurity ripple across her excitement.

"It wouldn't include the vision. That's a separate spell, but you will have new eyes soon."

"I might not, Severus. You need to accept that. Now, what are you waiting for?"

"Hermione, it would link our minds. We would be able to talk to each other, but we would also be able to feel each other's moods, eventually hear each other's thoughts."

Another wave of trepidation shivered through her and she tried to push it away. Why was she pretending she was nervous? "Do it!" she said firmly.

"Permanent means forever. If in the future you were to perhaps change how you feel about this arrangement…"

And then she understood. It was his insecurity that she felt. The link would be more enduring than even a marriage, and he worried that she would regret a hasty decision.

She lifted her face and leaned up on her toes. She found his mouth on the second try.

"If you think your feelings might change in the future," she whispered, "or if you're unsure in any other way, then don't. Me? I want this. I want you. Permanently." If he was feeling her emotions then he must now accept just how much she meant what she said. Perhaps now he would believe her when she said the only thing she regretted was how guilty he felt. Perhaps now he would understand just how happy he made her, how grounded she felt, how cherished and wanted. Losing her sight would be less of a loss if she could hear his voice in her mind and not on some piece of equipment.

She felt his answering thoughts and emotions. She was flooded with an exhilarating joy, the intensity of his love, and a primal surge of sexual arousal. She smirked, catching one of his stray thoughts. Apparently, despite his glowering and sneering, Severus never grew tired of hearing she found him attractive.

He kissed her back tenderly. "My feelings for you are impossible to change," he said in her mind.

She swallowed around the lump in her throat, feeling the truth of his words caress her as she felt his love envelope her.

"Then do it."

:

:

…and so it was done.

:


Thank you to my team for encouragement, Dressagegrrrl, Hebe GB, and karelia. Thank you to Dark River Tempest for her wonderful prompts and her winning bid in support of The Petulant Poetess Archive.

As promised, here are the original prompts I was given to choose from. They were all so good I just smushed them together!

Le Prompts:

~ Of course, I'm a sucker for angst, hurt/comfort, dark . Take a Grimm's Fairy Tale and put a SS/HG twist to it. I'm rather fond of Beauty and the Beast, but the Beast doesn't turn into a prince (I always hated that) or Red Riding Hood. Again, with a very dark slant.

~ I have a fetish for men with long hair (yes, I love Lucius' locks, but Severus' as well). Hermione must be forced to cut the beloved hair, possibly sobbing the entire time – how and why is up to you. Does Severus forgive her? This can be done during any time frame: pre/post war, doesn't matter. I also love strong, thin feet on men as well. Yes, I have an unabashed foot fetish. ;)

~ Hermione or Severus is blind and it cannot be cured, via magical or conventional methods. How does their relationship start? How did he/she become blind? I prefer nefarious reasons, such as Ron, in a fit of jealousy, hurled a curse at Hermione and refuses to offer the counter-curse, something along those lines. Also, how far will the other go to try and cure the blindness? Will Hermione make a deal with an up and coming dark lord for Severus' sight, or vice versa? What is the person with the blindness reaction?

~ Love Dark Mark stories. The Dark Mark is killing Severus. How far will Hermione go to keep him from dying? Will she do anything? Even give up her soul? Involve gods/demons of the Underworld for this: Lucifer, Hades, Leviathan, etc. Greek, Roman, or Christian, it doesn't matter. Bonus points if you have Tom Riddle as a disgruntled demon, miffed because he didn't get to rule Hell.

:


This one is dedicated to Mr. Aurette, because all of my fics have only ever been love letters to him…