Unsure if he even wanted to start-unsure if he could possibly bring himself to the beginning of the process that would end this-he forced himself to pull back from her.

Once again, with a strength that surprised him, the witch clung to him with fierce determination. When he pushed back inside of her, it felt like her whole tiny body was sighing in relief at his return.

She moaned beautifully for him and, seeming satisfied that his movements within her were not going to end, relaxed her body into the frame beneath them.

Hermione pushed her fingers into his lank, dark hair as the liquid in her eyes escaped in the form of several warm tears. Severus placed his cheek to the side of hers and felt the salted wet soak into his own skin.

"Severus, I've never felt so full," she shivered the words into his ear, "it's never felt like this before."

Neither had it for him, not even close, though he didn't say as much aloud for fear of acknowledging the ridiculousness outside of the safety of his volt-like mind.

The small female felt like a pleasure from another world as her softness welcomed his hard intrusion, again and again, as though it were no intrusion at all. She was the warmest, safest feeling he had ever known and though his body begged to spill itself, his mind sought to prolong the experience for as long as possible.

Her feminine cries against his scared throat settled into a pattern as he pumped into her, and he heard them quicken and intensify at the exact moment he felt her begin to pulse around his prick.

"Are you going to come for me again, my dear?" he asked smoothly, surprised at his ability to keep from panting, "are you going to show me what a perfect, willing lover you are?"

She gave a sound a kin to a kittenish meow in response, finally too far gone to expend her sharp whit.

He couldn't imagine her walls feeling any tighter around him but they somehow managed to clamp down further as they fluttered and ached. She brought her lips to him again and this time he felt her kiss. He was consumed by her passion and her excitement, things he had never imagined someone might be capable of feeling towards him; but they were so clear in her touch and her revelry.

Snape had never in his entire life spilled his seed inside a woman—for good reason, given his former company—but he knew as he felt his essence build and sear its way out of him that there wasn't a single part of him capable of pulling away from his witch now.

He wanted it…all of it. He needed to feel himself empty his vulnerability inside the blessed girl and for once not worry about the repercussions of giving such an important part of himself to another human being. Surely there was no female in the world as pure in body and soul as Hermione Granger and it was only a fluke of fate that had led her into the bed of a man so unworthy of her divinity.

He melted into her as he gave her his seed, unable to see anything but a blinding pulse of white light as his senses were overwhelmed by the most powerful release of his life.

Severus barely had the foresight to roll his weight off his much smaller partner, less he harm her with his lack of strength. He did though, notice acutely the way Granger whimpered at the loss of their connection and how immediately she scrambled to attach herself security against him as he rested.

He didn't remember falling asleep; clutching his once-adversary as though she were the only good thing he'd ever known.

He had left the gorgeous witch asleep in his bed curled up with the child, having not noticed her retrieve the babe some time in the night to spoon against her breast. He had been so deeply asleep that he had no memory of Hermione spelling them back into their clothes. His chest felt tight at the sight of mother and son resting soundly across a small distance of soft white linen. He was disarmed by the sensation and glad to have hours worth of work to do in his private laboratory.

Severus was pleased to find that his incomprehensible lust for Granger and her residency at his home was not enough to effect his passion for brewing and his pride in his work. While a small corner of his mind lamented being away from her, he was able to keep the majority of his intellectual focus on the very important task of finishing the potion needed to save her child's life.

However, as the day wore on and he grew closer and closer to its final step, his trepidation grew distracting.

Despite telling Granger about the most pricey of the potion's ingredients, he knew that the snake was only second in importance and it's cost, though not monetary and blessedly, blessedly temporary, was far more distressing than the loss of unneeded galleons. Going into this arrangement the prospect of completing this task seemed not much more than an inconveniently dramatic step in the process but now, after just one night with the woman, his throat jammed with a lump of trepidation.

Setting his creation to simmer, Snape grabbed a small empty bottle on his way out of his lab and began his reluctant hunt for his final ingredient.

He found the happy pair on the second story balcony, the babe resting contentedly in his mother's lap as the two looked out over the sun soaked gardens. Hermione's eyes were closed lightly as she enjoyed the warmth on her pale face and she was so beautiful that the surly man stopped dead in his tracks.

He nearly turned a fled, leaving the errand for another time. The death dealer had destroyed more than enough beautiful things in his life time and this one felt all at once like the straw that would break the dragon's back. He had already taken a step to retreat as quietly as he had ascended when her lashes fluttered open and she caught him immediately in her sights.

It might have been the first time anyone had ever genuinely smiled in response to his unexpected appeared.

"Severus," she raised a lazy arm, gesturing loftily to a spread of treats on delicate, priceless china that his elves had apparently deemed only her worthy of—as he himself had never been served on them in all of his years in residence, "Can I interest you in some of your own food and tea."

He stood in place, quite sure that her playful invitation would be quickly withdrawn after the stunt he was about to pull.

Severus allowed his face to show his very honest emotions, a true rarity for him, because his upset suited his intentions.

"What's wrong?" the young woman straighten. Her air of leisure bleached away in an instant, her ability to socially reference from the expressions of those around her a trait born from war. Hermione's arms tightened about her son, "What's happened?"

He couldn't believe how difficult it was to force the words out of is mouth. He had on many occasions brought news to the Dark Lord he knew would lead to the lash of unjust torture but even those messages had come forth with less anxiety.

"There is no easy way to say this, Miss Ganger, so I will be quick and candid," he paused.

His nearly black eyes locked with her frighten, unblinking gaze and he shocked at the sensation of her attempt to probe his mind. Her legilimency was strong, incredibly strong, but it was no match for his walls even though it had been half a decade since they had last been tested. He could not let her in now under any circumstances. While an attempt to invade him in such a way from anyone else would have earned his formidable furry he merely raised a brow in acknowledgment.

"I'm sorry, Pro- I'm sorry… I'm just-"

He lifted his hand to silence her, not needing to be reminded about her insatiable need for information. "The virus in the blood samples I have taken from your son are very unlike those seen in Scorpius Malfoy several years ago. In short, the virus has mutated and the antidote I had created is useless."

Hermione's express did not change. Shock.

"So what does that mean-" she asked quietly, "What do we do- what are the next steps-"

He swallowed hard and felt vaguely light-headed, "There is nothing we can do, Hermione," Severus used her familiar name to drive home the severity, "The best we can do is make him comfortable," he used trigger words that he knew would wound her, words she had been told by every other explored avenue of aid.

Not unlikely those days long passed, when he had delivered unfavorable news to a master that hadn't the tolerance for such things, he realized he was currently preparing for pain.

He didn't expect Granger to draw her wand on him, not really, but he braced himself almost physically for the bite of her anger and the accusation of his betrayal. He was sure beyond the willingness to waste a single sickle's wager against the probability that the previous night's connection would be a hiss on her prefect lips as she wrote it off as payment for services not rendered. He knew that the sinking feeling he had been experiencing all day was the certainty that the gifts the little witch had bestowed upon him would be ultimately exposed for a brilliant performance by a desperate mother and something inside him feared that more than an Unforgivable.

But as he watched the girl's face for the appearance of wrath he realized that the reality was much worse. The pain inflicted was not to himself and for once he wished it could be.

The brave witch shattered before him like an irreplaceable work of crystal against the assault of a rock.

Her golden hued skin looked instantly grey and her body crumbled around the child in her arms. Severus bit back the wave of self loathing, the impulse to speak the truth that would so quickly set the witch's happy little world back on it's axis and reminded himself that this too was one of his life's long lists of necessary evils.

The sound that escaped her lips was part internal death, part undirected cry for help and it was a sound that would stay with him forever.

They came almost instantly but it felt like an endless agony of hours.

The tears that poured from her eyes were haunting and flawless and the most beautiful thing he had ever seen because they were all he needed to stop her torment.

The dark wizard leapt into action, pulling his wand and the empty bottle from his robes and sweeping towards the woman before she had the opportunity to protest his invasion. She didn't seem to care or even notice as the liquid beads streamed obediently through the air and into the vial at his command before they would have been lost inside the babe's locks of red hair. She kissed his tiny head and rocked him gently with murmurings that were rendered unintelligible with grief.

The vial was fairly large but he garnered more from the emotional mother in seconds than he was able to pull from Draco in over a half hour of coaxing and leading conversation. His adoration for his son was profound but Slytherin tears were harder to come by than unicorn.

When he had collected enough for all the weeks off brewing he corked the lid and spelled it with what was probably an excessively strong protection charm. He's sigh of relief was more of shudder.

"Granger-" he tried to catch her attention but she seemed incapable of hearing him, "Hermione- please."

The elder man knelt at her feet, to comfort and to humble himself before one of the greatest displays of maternal love he had ever witnessed. He raised his voice to fight the volume of her cries and the sound of the baby's growing alarm,"Granger- it was a lie. He's fine, sweet girl. Your son is going to be fine."

Her ashen face darted out of the boy's hair when she registered only that final word, "Fine?"

He held up the hard-earned clear liquid, "More than fine. He'll be perfect, because of you." He reached forward—slow and cautious as one would while trying to stroke a lovely but entirely feral animal—and wiped softly at the tears coating her left cheek.

Her breath was unsteady and her brow creased with confusion but she held a shocking absence of anger as she slowly came to. Draco had punched him square in the nose like a muggle street youth.

"Are those- are those my tears? Why would-" her keen mind worked to answer the question herself before it could be surrendered to him.

"It's not your tears specifically," he explained, his voice soft as he pocketed the precious collection, "It's a token of parental love, suffering, devotion… It's-"

"Elemental magic-" she whispered. "It's what saved Harry from Voldemort."

A decade of practice hid the sting he felt from reference to the night that changed him so irrevocably. His mind flashed like subsequent lightning strikes of Lily's lifeless face and Hermione's mouth shaped around a bone-chilling groan of heartbreak.

He vowed at that moment, on a level much deeper than their indecent agreement, that he would never see this fire-filled muggle-born suffer separation from the son she loved more than her own life.

"Scorpius-" she stammered in a daze, trying to make sense of things, "His mother's so cold. How did you-"

Severus crooked a brow, "Believe it or not it was Draco's love that saved his son. Slytherins… they are capable of such things."

The stunning girl looked at him with an expression he'd never seen before.

"I'm starting to see that," she breathed. She closed her eyes and rested her chin on her son's head. Granger sighed with the exhaustion of someone who had aged ten years in ten minutes.

"I am sorry, Hermione, truly," he apologized to some one for the first time in longer than he could remember, "Your son isn't just sick, he's cursed, and breaking a curse requires-"

"Sacrifice," she grave him a tired grin and shocked him when she leaned in and kissed him full on the lips. He felt her magic surround them like a cloud of pure, unbridled joy. "You are the most amazing man I've ever known."