She pulled back from him and her eyes opened, searching his for knowledge of the truth behind his feelings for her. Whatever she saw must have been what she was looking for because she leaned forward and, unbelievably, pressed a soft, quick kiss against his lips.

"I don't want to pretend it never happened. I want to celebrate the fact that you see me as a desirable woman and I want to follow that line of thought and see where it leads." She studied his shocked face with a smile. "Don't you see? The things I am wearing I wore for you, even if you never ended up seeing them. I want you to desire me like I desire you." She took a deep breath for courage. "I find you desirable, Severus, very desirable."

He scoffed, muttering something about an old, ugly, miserable grouch. She covered his lips with hers again to shut him up.

"Silly man," she said. "Don't you know how greatly I admire your mind as well as your sense of honor and justice? And I very much appreciate your ability to tolerate me, especially when I'm in full know-it-all mode. Plus I like your nose. It's very noble."


He scarcely dared believe her but the truth shone from her eyes so blatantly that he could not ignore it. She wanted him. She really wanted him. He'd find time to ask questions later. Now was the time for action. He could not resist leaning down and kissing her again, his elation uncharacteristically visible. The feeling of her willing (enthusiastic, even!) lips beneath his own were stirring his heart in ways he'd not experienced in years.

When Severus pulled away, the sound of the people with them in the foyer of the museum brought his attention back to their surroundings. "I agree we cannot pretend there is nothing between us," he said, trying to catch his breath, "but at this moment we must make a decision. Shall we attend our lecture, as planned?" He paused briefly to stroke her cheek with his fingertips, still rather unbelieving he had the right to do so. He exhaled loudly as she turned her head to nuzzle her lips into his palm before continuing. "Or shall we do as you mentioned, and 'follow this line of thought and see where it leads'?"

Hermione did not answer him with words, but rather, after a long, lustful look that emphasized a tightening in both his heart and his trousers, took his hand and, lacing her fingers through his, led him back out the door and down the front steps of the museum. She began to walk in the direction they had just come from, toward her apartment building. Severus felt overwhelmed by the unexpected turn his day had taken.

"Are you certain about this?" he asked, pulling her to a stop in the middle of the block and turning her to face him. When she nodded her assent, her face aglow with delighted happiness, he said, "I feel like a blind man who's just had his eyes opened. And, oh, what wonders await this man who is finally seeing all the possibilities of his life for the first time." He pulled her into his arms for yet another kiss and allowed himself to step boldly into a future he never thought he'd have the opportunity to attain.


Author's Note: Fluffy ending, I know! Sorry; Severus wouldn't let me end it any other way. He really is a marshmallow inside that crusty exterior, you know? Tell me what you thought!