"What are you doing?" Severus asked looking over to the couch Hermione sat on as she wrote in the black book she intended to give her sister as a wedding gift.

Hermione wrote with a fancy, feeling her emotions pour onto the blank paper through her fountain pen. When she began this little book she remembered it being so hard, nearly impossible, to write what she wanted. Trying to remain positive when she knew she would be leaving her sister and everything else forever.

It wasn't like the novels or the movies. Hermione, though feeling ready, was terrified of dying, and would be until it happened. But she did feel better about it, as if she could help in the healing process before she left. Left? Before she died. She had to get used to that.

Writing her final note to her sister, Hermione felt a huge release, knowing that she said all she needed to. Phoebe and Elizabeth both would never doubt she loved them, and no one would need to feel guilty or hurt about any amends not made.

But what to do about Severus? She loved him, he loved her, and they were still running around in circles for many reasons. The main one being, did Hermione want to be involved with him, or anyone for that matter, when she was going to die? She didn't know and it killed her.

"Hermione?" Severus spoke again, eyes now fixed on the ceiling.

"I'm done," she said feeling rather satisfied with the entire work. She went to turn the lamp off. "I hope I didn't keep you up. You said you didn't mind the light being-"

"I didn't," he sighed and rolled over on to his side to look at her. His eyes scanned the room a moment and then looked back into hers, the corners of his mouth quirked into a slant in deep thought. "I've been thinking about last night. I meant what I said, Hermione."

Hermione hoped to put this off longer. She didn't know what she wanted, or what was best for him. Why did it have to be so complicated when it was obvious what they wanted? Hermione couldn't look into his eyes without feeling shivers running up and down her spine, at least most the time. It seemed so simple, but it never would be.

"I know," Hermione sighed walking over to him and sitting beside him, clasping her hands around his. "I meant what I said too."

The two gazed into eachothers eyes with their faces so close together that she felt his warm breath on her face raising the hairs on the back of her neck. In his eyes there was a wealth of feelings that could never be better expressed for all the words Hermione knew.

She knew he loved her and that he recognized the complications around their situation. That he wanted nothing more than the same thing she did. If only it were that simple...

As if he were reading her mind he touched her face lightly and gave her a half-hearted smile before kissing her forehead. "If only..."

"If only," she sighed.

"We do need to talk," he said now running his hands through her hair not averting his longing gaze. "To try and figure out what the hell we're going to do here."

"I suppose ignoring it got us nowhere,huh?" Hermione scoffed knowing the answer already.

"I never thought it would." He shrugged before folding his arms over his chest. "You live as long as I have and you begin to realize pretending your problems aren't there causes more problems than you think it solves."

Hermione groaned cupping her hands over her face feeling as though he was using this as yet another oppertunity to chastize her way of coping with her illness. Along with everything else...

If she knew she couldn't find the answer somewhere in her brain or in her books ignoring the problem at hand seemed simplest. But she hadn't run away from all her problems. She had been far in to deep with Harry and Ron to have done that. Wasn't she willing to die so that others could know peace? Or was it because she knew she was already dying that she wasn't afraid to give the cause her all?

"You can't hide everything, Hermione," he continued moving her hands away from her face. "Believe me, that is something I can probably relate to better than most."

Hermione sighed again and shook her head lightly before meeting his eyes once more. She knew he had so much from his youth to hide, even now, Hermione knew she never knew everything and never expected. It seemed he would still be hiding things now and she couldn't expect him to share. This made him a hypocrite, yes, but also, it made him the only person who she could believe actually knew what it was to wish to disapear and ignore entire peices of who you are.

To be cut off from pain and disapear always seemed to be what he wanted. Until now, he wanted them to figure this out, and she could see it in his eyes.

Hermione wished she could stop withdrawing, but she didn't know how.

Severus craned his neck forward to see the opening in the hallway, he then turned to Hermione. "Is there somewhere you can think for us to go?"

"There's a strip of beach along the bay where there are caves nobody frequents. Phoebe and I used to play there as children late at night. We were the only ones ever there." Hermione smiled wistfully remembering the late night escapes. There were only three of them, but she'd always cherish the memories.

"Where exactly are these caves?" he getting to his feet and helping her to stand.

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him and her mouth stretched at the corners with uncertainty. "It's about an hours walk just to-oh!" she slapped her forehead feeling embarassed.

"Will you stop that?" he hissed grabbing her wrist.

"Do I have any other life long habits you'd like to take up an issue with?" she sighed.

The two traded exasperated glances before Hermione felt the lip she'd take to bitting curl up into a weak smile. To her surprise Severus did the same, mouth forming a crooked smile that she so seldom seen. It was amazing that at the hieght of such a tense moment the two could find time to bicker like children or an old married couple. Apparently Severus found this as funny as she did where he was laughing with her.

"Alright," she said after their bout of shared laughter. She described the location to the best of her abilites and then leaned her head against his chest circling her arms about him. He returned the embrace and lingered a while before whispering in her ear. "Are you ready?"

"Of course."

There was a pop in the air and then they were gone.

The beach was quiet, only the crickets dared chirp with the echoing waves that crashed against the rocky coast in the moonless smell of the salty filled the clear and light air and Hermione's lungs as the soft, cool sand moved beneath her barefeet.

It was dark, but the stars reflecting off the water made it easy enough to see what was nearby.

Severus walked along the edge of the water arm-in-arm with Hermione, she wished he would say something, his silence disturbed her. She wished she could fully make out his expression, but it didn't look like a happy one, though it was plenty pensive.

Hermione kept her eyes on the swirling stars above for the moment anticipating what he might say. What did he want? And why wasn't she asking him? She let him stay silent.

Hermione, against her better judgement, lead him toward a cave that she had accidently discovered on one of her childhood escapes. She hadn't even told Phoebe, nor had she been all the way in it as it was an off shoot of one of the many main caves in the cove.

The cave was much lighter than she expected, much of the rock was uncovered by seaweed and had peices of crystal strewn through-out them which glinted in the starlight that came through a gaping whole in the cave ceiling. There was sand along the floor of the cave at parts that was relatively dry, the water didn't flood this cave when tide came in. She led him by the hand to the back of the cave and sat on a large flat rock looking up at him, praying he had time enough to think.

He sat beside her and with a wave of his wand cast a dim light on a nearby rock which reflected off the glinting quartz. He then took her hands looking her in the eye. "I want this to work..."

"Something we agree on, finally." Hermione offered him a half-smile. "We might be able to."

Severus bit his lip and shook his lightly. "And spend the rest of our lives dodging glances and meeting in secret? You have enough to worry about without being burdenned with more secrets and lies."

Hermione sighed feeling as though this were going nowhere, despite the palpable pain in his black eyes. She knew he wanted the same thing she did and that he was hurt by this. But still she wanted to say damn the circumstances and damn the judgements, they wanted to be together and that was all that would matter. It was right. "I don't care about that. Nobody needs to know and it doesn't matter to me if we have to act like nothing happened most of the time."

"I care about that, Hermione," Severus sighed and stood up, folded his arms over his chest andscanned the cave with his eyes. "You're sixteen! You can't be keeping so many secrets and hanging on the chance we're not caught? Forget judgement on the part of other students, if we were found out it would ruin your life from that point on! I won't have it!"

Hermione stood and walked toward him and raised her hands to clasp around the back of his neck. He looked down at her slightly confused, but that was short lived and there was a hint of desire, though he hesitated before folding his arms around her. Hermione rose to the balls of her feet and gently touched her lips to his.

He froze for a moment. It was the first time she made the first move and he was in no way prepared for it. But sure enough, his mouth moved with hers welcoming her gentle sucking and cautious tongue.

He returned the kiss just as tentively. The two separated and looked into eachother's eyes a lingering moment. Hermione felt the world around her stop and a pounding in her ears that nearly drowned out the sound of the ocean outside. She lowered herself slightly, pulling him down with her. Sitting on the rock once more, Hermione pressed her lips to Severus's.

Severus gathered her in his arms in laid her down staring deep into her eyes. The black eyes gleaming above her showed no sign of anger or indifference as they so often did, but instead she could see desire and love, along with a questioning unsettled look upon his face that was further revealed by the fact that his mouth hung slightly open.

Hermione kissed his mouth and ran her hands through his hair with an eagerness that couldn't be misinterpretted. She felt the world stand still once more. She was ready, she hadn't been with a man since...

She didn't need to think of that now. She separated her lips from his a moment and gazed lovingly into his eyes feeling a world of warmth and safety she had never known.

Severus kissed her back with a fervent passion, their tongues mingled breifly before he softly nibbled on her bottom lip. As he began to kiss down the legnth of her neck Hermione began to lift his shirt. Allowing her to remove it, he began to undress her as well.

Hermione felt all the weight of the world roll off of her as he laid her down and a rush of feelings wash over her as he slid into place with only a slight feeling of discomfort for a fraction of a second followed by mounting pleasure as he began to move.

Severus stopped, Hermione opened her eyes to see him staring at the long scar between her breasts. That damned scar would always serve as a reminder of her illness and what she could never get back. Hermione bit her lip as she tried to tame the thoughts that assaulted her mind. Nothing seemed to work and she only became all the more anxious as he traced the line lightly with his fingers.

She remembered the anger from her dream and how disgusted he was with her. (I)Nothing here is mine, it's not even yours! He didn't even need to say it in real life for it to torment her. She knew he was thinking it.

Hermione's mind began racing and refused to settle on a thought for more than a second. Was he disgusted with the very idea someone else had to die in order for her to live? Did that make her evil in his eyes? Did he somehow associate her lack of her own physical as lack of a heart to give him? Was he disgusted with the idea her body wasn't completely hers? How did he feel about the fact his best friends heart was beating inside her chest? Hermione involuntarily cringed at the idea.

Severus traced the line feeling as though he never really looked at it before. He noticed it, of course now of all times. Would he ever get over the fact Lily's heart beat inside her chest? And for that matter would Hermione?

He looked down at her wide brown eyes welling up with tears as she bit her lip, staring up at him, waiting for him to say or do something.

Were you not making love to her just now? Do you have any clue what all this staring is doing to her? I'm glad any heart came through, but why did it have to be Lily's?

Severus looked down at Hermione knowing what his pausing was doing to her. She worked so hard to hide her illness, and there he was, in the midst of everything, focusing on it. Does it matter? She's alive, you fool! That's what matters.

He moved his hand to the side of her face and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I don't care who was born with it, so long it's beating."

It was a lie, but he'd have said anything to relieve the guilt she'd been feeling. Her concern should only have been the fact it meant she was alive.

Hermione's eyes brimmed over and she let out a small squeak as her trembling lips formed the faintest smile. Unlike most of her weak smiles, this one was sincere, he could see it in her eyes. She gingerly took his face in her hands and kissed him on the lips. When they parted she lifted her head to whisper tenderly into his ear"I love you, Severus."

"I love you too, Hermione."

Severus and Hermione sat on the rock after they redressed basking in the after glow. Hermione folded safely in the circle of his arms still grew colder and seemed to be distant, as though the cold and jetlag combine had finally caught up with her. Looking down at her, she smiled back up at him with blue lips.

"We should get you indoors," he said kissing her forehead before helping her to her feet.



"Where do we go from here?"

"I suppose we'll find out soon enough." He said taking her hands. "But I have a feeling this is the begining of something amazing."