The dungeon torches crackled and burned brightly to illuminate the dark corridors. Every now and then, a thunderous boom sounded, echoing across the hallways, causing the flames to flicker.

Professor Snape sneezed into his hankerchief. The resulting sound reverbated across the dungeon walls.

'Blast this cold!' he cursed, blowing his large nose, 'and blast Granger for challenging me not to heal this magically.'

He dropped unceremoniously onto his couch and sniffled miserably. He had started feeling poorly upon his return from Diagon Alley. Now he was in full blown sick mode. Severus Snape rarely got sick but when he did, he went all out.

'I'll just sneak a Pepper-Up before she finds out,' he thought snarkily, 'she'll never know.'

Making up his mind, Snape approached his potion stores, uncorking the vial that would cease his suffering. Before he could drink it however, he heard his wards being unlocked and knew instantly it was her. Hastily, he turned around, pushing the potion behind him while silently admonishing himself. She's just a 95 pound witch, he's taller, older and more powerful and a Death Eater for Merlin's sake. He'll drink as many Pepper-Ups as he wants... as soon as she leaves.

Hermione entered his room, saw him by his Potion stores. He looked horrible, paler than usual, dark shadows below his eyes.

'Are you alright, Professor?' she asked, concerned.

He nodded, swallowing with a click. She watched him walk over to the table, retrieve a stalk of flower and came to her. He put the flower, a sunflower, she saw now, between them where it lay suspended in mid-air. A wave of his hand and the flower glowed softly, illuminating the room in streaks of gold. Snape pushed the flower to her.

'For me?' she asked, a smile playing on her lips.

He nodded again. Hermione narrowed her eyes. No sarcastic remark? No comment at all? Highly unusual for him. He was hiding something.

She hugged him, muttering a small thank you. She felt him return her hug, squeezing her gently and looked up to see him looking down at her, his eyes soft, his features unguarded, an expression she knew he only reserved for her.

'Why are you being so silent, Severus Snape?' she asked. He responded by rolling his eyes, kissing her forehead. Hermione ran her fingers along his ribs, watching his lips twitch upward, suppressing laughter.

'What are you hiding?' She tickled him further as he struggled to still her wrists from attacking his sensitive spots.

'Stop it!' he finally croaked in a cracked voice, laughing as she attacked him mercilessly.

'Ah...' noting his rough voice,'you've got a cold, sir.'

'Yes, yes...Granger,' he sighed, managing to pin her elbows by hugging her tightly.

'And you haven't had a Potion to cure it?'

He shook his head, looking at her in amusement.

'For me?'

A nod.

Hermione smiled happily and rested her head on his chest, hearing his heart beat steadily.

'You need to rest,' she muttered into his chest. A deep growl vibrated from his chest in reply. She pulled back and he released her. She pulled him towards the bed. He went willingly. She sat, her back resting against the head board and patted her knee.

He rested his throbbing head on her knee, sighing contentedly as he did so. He felt a cool cloth on his face, she wiped his face gently, finally resting the cloth on his forehead. He raised a hand up to caress her face. She kissed his palm and his heart clenched. Everyday he woke up he thanked the Gods that he was bestowed the love from this brilliant woman.

'Sleep, Sir. You'll be fine in the morning.' And she started humming a tune, a song he had told her about from his childhood.

And Severus Snape closed his eyes with a small smile on his face, finally happy and loved after all the hardships he had gone through.