A/N: Holy smokes I am the worst FanFictioner ever. I am SOOOOO sorry I haven't updated! Study, work, life and a terrible case of writers block got in the way. I literally haven't written a single thing for months, not on this or any of my other projects! Let's all agree I'm a bad person and move on with this chapter, shall we?

I hope you all enjoy it! It took me a while to write! Haha!

Oh… I'm an awful person.

I'm so sorry again! And thank you all so much for sticking with me!

The week before class resumed found Hermione walking briskly across the grounds, her coat tugged tight around her body against the chill of winter. She bowed her head against the breeze, thankful that it wasn't snowing. Today, at least. It had snowed for days before this, and the grass beneath her feet was soggy and soft.

Beside her the Forbidden Forest loomed tall and dark, promising danger to anyone who entered. It was in to the forest she had to go, to find the one person she'd been dying – almost literally – to see since Christmas. Of course he didn't want her in his dungeons, and there were precious few other places in the school grounds that two people could meet secretly.

Her heart beat wildly in her chest, a strange sensation that made it both painful and pleasurable to breath. It was a reminder that she was still alive, despite all the emptiness inside her. And it was because of him that she felt it at all. Snape.

Hermione crossed the threshold into the forest and immediately found her shoes covered in muck. She grumbled under her breath and watched a white cloud erupt from her mouth. On she walked, further and further between the trees, ignoring the strange noises she heard now and then. The forest had scared her once, but now it seemed less like a place of death and more like a fine example of how much disparity there was in nature. She wondered absently if her logical approach was a product of the return of her academic nature, or more evidence that she simply didn't feel.

At last she found him, exactly where he would be. It was strange that he asked to meet her at the one place she knew in the forest – the clearing where Grawp had lived. Did he know about her involvement in that, or was it pure coincidence? Hermione often thought that Snape knew a far lot more than he let on.

He was standing between the roots of a particularly menacing oak, looking for all the world as though she were walking into his classroom. With his hands behind his back and a familiar sneer of contempt, she wondered if she ought to find a place to sit while he lectured her. The thought made her grin.

Amazing. Just by being near him, she could feel silly and happy. This would work, she knew it would. And maybe, just maybe, in the process of healing herself she could heal him of his own darkness. The one that put the stick up his ass.

Again she grinned, this time wider and somewhat deliriously. She lifted a gloved hand to cover her lips.

"Is something amusing you, Miss Granger?"

God, his voice was beautiful.

"Yes," she said. There was no point in lying.

He watched her approach, his black eyes annoyingly blank. She hated it when he wore his impassive mask. "There aren't many who find humour in the Forest."

"Well, there aren't many like me." She came to a stop a few feet from where he stood, and looked up at him earnestly. "You wanted to talk."

"Yes, I did."

Snape was not a man to display any kind of anxiety, and so the second he dropped his eyes from hers and began pacing, she knew something was bothering him. Something in her mind told her she wouldn't like what he had to say, and it quickly put an end to her good mood.

"Out with it," she demanded. Her arms crossed over her chest, as much for warmth as to show him she was wary of his next words.

He snapped his gaze back to her. "Very well. Concerning the agreement-"

It happened very quickly, the flashback. It wasn't one of terror or grief, but one of absolute need to do something. The forest flashed through her mind, the smell of blood lingered. Ron, on the ground, splinched and in pain. Harry, rummaging in her bag for the Essence of Murtlap. Snatchers… nearby... listening…

"Wait," she said, ignoring his glare as she interrupted. Her eyes darted around the clearing. "Are we safe to talk here? Is the area warded?"

"Do you think I'm a fool?" He snarled.

"Of course not, I just-" She had to cut herself off, not knowing what she wanted to say. Suddenly the odd beauty of the forest she'd been admiring only minutes before disappeared completely. Everywhere she looked seemed dark and dangerous, and the chill that crept up her spine had nothing to do with the weather. The forest was watching, regardless of whatever magic he had put in place. What secrets could it tell, if someone asked?

"Never mind." Hermione turned back to him, blinking her confusion away. Snape looked back at her with suspicious eyes, but she waved a hand at him impatiently.

"Go on. Tell me your conditions."

He curled a lip disdainfully. "I have no conditions. Our agreement is ended. I will have no part in it."

Was there snow in her ears? Or did he really just back out?

You selfish, arrogant -

"Excuse me?" Her words came out in a high-pitched rush as she stared at him, open-mouthed.

"I will have no part in it." He said it slowly, drawing out her torture into syllables like she was a dim-witted first-year. As if she had ever been dim-witted.

"You've got to be kidding me."

"I assure you, Miss Granger, I am quite serious."

"You do realise that they'll send me to St. Mungo's?"

"I am aware."

"And what, you don't care?"

"I never did."

It all happened so quickly, this exchange, that it almost didn't register. What he said. Of course, he'd been saying it all along. She knew that, but she hadn't wanted to believe it. That he could admit to his indifference without so much as hesitating… it made her wonder if maybe he'd been telling the truth. Maybe he really didn't care.

Bullshit he didn't. He wouldn't dream about her if he didn't. He wouldn't treat her like a pariah if he didn't. He wouldn't have taken the courtesy to refuse her now, to her face, if he didn't care about her in some way.

Snape was an accomplished liar. Everyone knew that, and she knew things about her professor that none of her classmates did. He was lying to her now, she was sure of it. It hurt, for some reason. She'd always assumed he would be truthful with her, even if she didn't want to hear it. But this blatant lie cut deeply than she would have ever guessed a teacher's lie could.

And it made her angry.

Pursing her lips together, Hermione clasped her hands in front of her and bowed her head, breathing the forest air in deep gulps. Merlin, how she wanted to scream at him, to hit him, to throw something and break his perfectly hooked nose.

He can't do this to me. Not now, when I'm so close to being happy. That stupid, smarmy son of a-

She dropped her hands to her sides and looked up at him, angrier than she had ever felt in her entire life. He was giving up on her. The one person she thought would understand. The man she'd saved was walking out on her, refusing to act to save her.

Her voice shook as she spoke, sending uneven clouds of warm breath into the air. "Then why you did accept in the first place?"

"I had a moment of pity," Snape said, so casually as though he were discussing the weather. He kept his hands clasped behind his back, and his eyes away from hers. "It passed quickly, and now I must rectify the mistake."

The act was almost perfect, but he forgot one crucial detail: she knew better.

"Liar." It came out in a snarl. The Sorting Hat told her she was a lion. There was no better time to get her claws out then now, fighting for her life.

He looked at her with narrowed eyes. "Careful with your words, Miss Granger. I do not take insults from children."

"It wasn't pity. You just don't care to admit that you want me."

"What is there to want?" He leered.

That didn't hurt like he thought it would. Once, she might have feared that she wasn't beautiful, or that she wasn't desirable. But she was older now, and fretting over which boy would ask her to the Yule Ball seemed was a memory she was sure belonged to someone else. Besides, she had seen his dreams. And he dreamed of her.

Fine. If he wanted to play games with her, she knew just what to hit him with.

"Did I not hear you right?" Her tone was sweet, her eyes were hard. She didn't let him look away as she slowly inched toward him.

Snape watched her approach with wary eyes. "What are you doing?"

"That night, in the hall with the chairs laying everywhere and the big windows. Did I not hear you right?"

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she had the pleasure of watching Severus Snape go pale. An impressive feat, for a man who rarely saw the sun. His eyes widened ever so slightly and his lips parted in surprise.

Good. She was getting to him.

"Let me think, it was something about… wanting to rip the clothes from my body and take it for your own?"

Only feet from him now, she let a smug smile grace her features. He was paralysed, and she didn't even need a wand to do it.

"Or that night in the garden, when you saw my naked body and told me I was perfect?" She came to a stop directly in front of him, their bodies only inches apart. His eyes were dark tunnels, bottomless and eternal. And they were trained exclusively on her face, all his effort at nonchalance completely gone. She had him.

She made a show of looking up at him from under her lashes, unused to flirting and being seductive, but somehow knowing exactly what would undo him. There was no room for error here.

"You would have me believe that you don't want me, Professor, and yet in your dreams you can barely keep your hands to yourself."

His Adam's apple bobbed in front of her eyes as he swallowed. Was this a fantasy of his that she was unknowingly playing out? Had this been the key to winning him all along? Not pleas and friendship, but seduction and temptation? It was a foreign idea to her, but she would do it. She had to do it.

Raising herself to the balls of her feet, she closed the distance between them and tilted her chin up. Not even a breath lay between her lips and his, and still he didn't move. She wondered if he could.

"I don't mind, sir. I don't mind if you dream about fucking me. I really quite like it."

The opportunity wouldn't come around again, and before she realised what she was doing her mouth was on his, warm and soft amidst the backdrop of the cold, hard forest.

But then it struck her like the Hogwarts Express. She was kissing him. Her professor. Snape. Not in a dream, but in the Forbidden Forest, where Grawp had lived. The whole reality of it was mind-boggling, but she couldn't think of it for long. Because she had underestimated the power of a kiss like this.

Hot fire ran through her veins, beating from a heart made of stone. Gone were her fears of never feeling again, this was the answer. This… this…

It was pure fucking bliss.

The cold didn't bother her. The forest didn't scare her. All there was in the world was her and this man, who was just as confusing and stubborn as he was beautiful and brave. A man who had yet to move away from her lips.

Hermione wound her arms around his neck, as she had dreamed of doing for months. Now, with her body against his, she could fully appreciate the strength he hid from his students. A shiver ran the length of her body. Her heartbeat sang like a war drum in her ears. Feelings of all shapes and sizes pummelled her conscious like an angry mob, desperate to be heard.

Fuck. Whoever knew this could come from a kiss?

And she felt it the moment he gave in. The resignation swept out of his body and into the night.

And she felt it when he raised a hand to her hair. It was a hesitant gesture that showed her he wanted this, and still didn't want it.

And she felt it when he first moved his lips against hers. Sweeter than heaven. Hotter than hell.

It was too much to bear.

Hermione pulled herself away from him to gasp in the chilly air, her mind spinning in wild circles that started and ended with Severus Snape. No sooner had she moved away than the hand in her hair tugged her back, and she felt his fevered whisper against her mouth.


And so began another kiss, this one harder and more demanding. Snape wrapped his free arm around her waist and crushed her to him like a python.

He really is a Slytherin.

The thunder in her heart only grew the longer they were connected, until it felt like it would consume her, body and soul. She was more than willing to let it. All her worries, all her fears and her months of suffering, they were all dwarfed in comparison to this one feeling he was giving her. It was something she couldn't name for fear of knowing what it really was.

Yes, this was the release she needed. Everything swept away in one touch.

It surprised her when she made the first move to deepen the kiss. It wasn't like her to be so forward, but then she had said and done things with this man that she had thought she'd never do with anyone. He made her strong, and he made her bold, even if she didn't quite understand why.

She flicked her tongue across his mouth, hoping to entice him into parting his lips further. There was no way to know how he would react.

In less than a second she found herself dreadfully cold and empty, feeling for all the world like her very soul had been ripped from her. Hermione's eyes opened in shock to find her professor feet away from her, breathing heavily with a hand across his brow. Obviously, she had gone too far. Maybe he wasn't up to tongues just yet, even though they had progressed far beyond this in their dreams. Maybe, like her, he hadn't counted on the raw power of a real touch. Or maybe he'd regained control over himself, and would now hex her to oblivion.

She didn't care. She was already there.

But he didn't do anything of the kind. There were no insults, no curses, no harsh words of reprimand. Instead, he looked up at her with a strange mix of surprise and what she could only call desire. Or possibly, a better word would be heat. Just pure, unbridled, all-consuming heat. He was overcome with it.

Knowing that she had won, even this small victory, made her grin like a temptress. He rewarded her with a moan of defeat. Yes, she had him.

"So," she said, pressing two fingers to her mouth. The skin of her lips was tender to the touch, and hot.

"What were your conditions?"

A/N: Yaaayyyy! I'm so glad it's done! Now let's hope I don't take another 4 months to write the next chapter…Uggh, I'm a bad person!