I know I'm a little late with this but I didn't get the idea until the day before Christmas Eve. (Kinda like how my life goes) Anyway I hope you all enjoy.

Disclaimer: Nope still don't own anything you recognize though the idea of the valley of the lighted trees was something that I have no idea if it exist or not but thought it would be nice.

Merry (Belated) Christmas Every one Enjoy oh and comments make me smile and brighten my day.

Hermione gasped as she sat straight up in bed, looking around herself wildly before realizing it was a nightmare. She tried to calm her breathing as she walked to the bathroom to wash her face. She looked at herself in the mirror, she looked so much older than the last time she had spent Christmas here.

Was that really two years ago? Last year she spent her Christmas trying to reverse what she had done to her parents, and the one before that with Harry.

She threw her robe on as she made her way out of the room she was given when she returned to finish her last year, being twenty-one did have its advantages. Well that and being one of the few that returned to finish their seventh year, she made her way down to the great hall.

She sat at one of the tables just watching the lights on the trees that lined the room, she had always loved Christmas. It always seemed magical even in the muggle world, after the last two she needed something special this year. Though she doubted it was going to happen, she stayed at the school because she couldn't face being home alone and since things didn't work out with Ron she had nowhere else to go.

She was so intent on the lights on the trees that she never heard the footsteps coming up to her and jumped at the voice.

"Miss. Granger, it is after curfew."

Slowly she looked up at Professor Snape sighing before saying,

"I don't suppose you'd overlook it this once?"

Severus was going to say, 'I highly doubt that' but when he looked down at her he was struck by how haunted she looked. The next words out of his mouth surprised him,

"Something might be arranged." His words gained him the most shocked look he had ever seen on her face. "May I?" he asked sitting when she nodded.

Several minutes passed with neither of them saying anything, finally she asked.

"How do you keep the nightmares from ruling your life?"

"Who says they don't?" he asked.

"I see." She said quietly.

She lost all track of time they sat there, she never realized that she had been crying until she felt something pressed into her hand. Looking down she saw his hand, he was handing her a handkerchief. She took it wiping at her face before she looked over at saying,

"Sorry, I didn't even realize."

"I am aware." Severus wanted to ask more. "Miss. Granger, if I may why are you here?"

Hermione's eyes never left the lights on the trees as she said,

"I had a nightmare and knew I was not going to get back to sleep, it's Christmas Eve and I use to love sitting up watching the lights they always seemed to calm me before."

"I meant why are you not with your family for Christmas." He said.

Hermione sighed, she thought everyone knew by now what happen. But then again, Professor Snape had been in a coma until almost this time of year after the final battle and by that time her problems were old news.

"Two years ago this past July, I used the Obliviate charm on my parents. I gave them new identities and the idea to move to Australia and no clue that they had a daughter. After the war was over I found that my memory charm was very good, or maybe it was very bad. What I did to them cannot be reversed."

Severus listened to her talk in an almost monotone of someone who had given up. Finally he said,

"I'm sure the Weasley's…." he trailed off when she started shaking her head before saying.

"It's too strained since I broke things off with Ron."

"I see."

Silence descended once more, Severus finally looked over at her to see tears running down her face again. He finally reached out taking her hand in his, she never turned to look at him just kept her eyes on the lights.

Hermione felt her small hand in his much bigger one, she didn't turn to look at him. This was the best she could ever hope for from Severus Snape and she knew it. In all honesty this was the best present she had ever received and it would live in her memory for the rest of her life.

She wasn't some silly girl, she knew there was never going to be a way to approach him about her feelings for him. Even if she did she knew that he would never return them, she had played every scenario over in her mind and they all ended badly. No it was better to keep it to herself and hope that when school ended she could end her feelings for him as well.

Severus moved his hand intertwining their fingers together then rubbing his thumb along the inside of her wrist and palm. He knew to his very soul that this was all he would ever have from her, she was still his student. He knew from experience that professing his feelings for her would lead to nothing so there really was no point. No he would take this memory and when he was back in his rooms he would remove it so he could see it when he needed to be reminded that sometimes nice things happen. He was a foolish old man, but this one time he would allow himself this indulgence. A present to himself, it was after all that time of year.

After what felt like minutes but she knew to be hours she finally squeezed his hand before saying,

"I guess I should be going back."

"If you must." He said to her.

Hermione wasn't certain but she thought she heard regret in his voice, that couldn't be right though. Severus Snape didn't comfort students, and that was all she was. He would never see her as anything but a student. She stood before saying,

"Merry Christmas Severus." She leaned over kissing him on the cheek before she turned walking away.

Severus watched her stand up, then was surprised when she leaned over kissing his cheek. Could she see him a someone other than his past? Could she see him as someone other than the professor that threw barbs at her every chance he got? He stood not realizing what he was going to do until he was reaching for her arm, when she stopped turning toward him he said the first thing that came to mind.

"Merry Christmas Hermione." He leaned down kissing her on the lips, at first he thought he made a mistake she didn't move at all. But then she fisted her hands in his robes pulling him closer, running her tongue along his bottom lip lightly allowing him to know that he could deepen the kiss if he'd like.

When he ran his tongue along her bottom lip she snaked her arms around his neck pulling him closer to her. His first taste of her was of mint and sweetness, she slid her tongue along his as he wrapped his hands around her waist pulling her closer to him.

When he finally pulled back he laid his forehead on hers saying,

"I'm sorry…"

Hermione pulled back from him before saying,

"Don't you dare apologize."

"It's wrong."

He saw the hurt pass across her face as she took a step back from him before she schooled her features saying,

"I should apologize then for I was the one that kissed you, I am sorry you regret it."

She was down the hall before Severus had time to form any kind of reply, he turned but didn't see her. He growled, yeah leave it to him to fuck it up. He turned going back to his rooms to come up with a way to have her at least explain what she meant by being sorry that he regretted it, nothing could be further from the truth.

Several hours later Severus had an idea about what to do for her, he obtained permission to leave along with her. He shook his head as he left the Headmistress's office, she seemed to be happy that he made the request.

He sent a note to Hermione asking her to meet him at the gates at sunset.

Hermione spent time that early morning berating herself for allowing even a small fraction of her feelings show. She knew better, now she was going to have to face him in class knowing that he could kiss like no one else she ever kissed and that he regretted kissing her.

When she received a note in the late morning asking her to meet him at sunset she almost tore it up then sent a reply to say not in the lifetime. Of course she didn't do that, instead she met him at the gates.

Severus looked up when he felt her coming down the path, once she was out of the gate he said.

"Miss. Granger, I would like to show you something." He held out his hand to her, hoping she would take it but not letting any emotion cross his face.

Hermione looked at his hand then back up at him, sighing she took his hand. He pulled her closer before apparating away.

When the world was right again he turned her, hearing her gasp he knew that he had made the right choice. In the small valley below them were hundreds of trees, all were twinkling with lights.

Severus took her hand leading her down a path to the entrance, as they walked among the trees she would stop and look at each of them.

There were trees that were lit with only one color, others were a multitude of colors. Some with fairy lights and others with candles.

Hermione never let go of his hand as they walked along the winding path, it was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. She couldn't help stopping at every tree just to gaze at the dancing lights.

The lights are what drew her, and for reasons unknown to her because she never thought about it too hard, they calmed her.

When they reached the end of the path she stopped turning to her professor saying,

"That was beautiful, thank you."

He pulled her a little further down the path then over to the side so as not to be in the way of anyone else as there were still a few people out here on Christmas Eve. Finally he turned to her before saying as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

"I don't regret kissing you Hermione, I regret that you are still my student for another six months."

Hermione was shocked into silence, she never expected him say that. Every scenario that ran through her head was him telling her that she was nothing but a silly girl. She finally said,

"So if I asked you to dance with me at the graduation ball, you would accept?"

"Yes." He said.

"If we kissed after that dance, you wouldn't regret it?"

"No." he answered.

"Could you promise me something then?"

"I would depending on what it is." He said.

"Would you promise to dance with me at the graduation ball and kiss me when the dance is over."

He studied her face for a long moment, it was a promise of something more. Before he answered her he had a question of his own for her.

"Is this something that is going to be fleeting, something that once you leave on the train you would just retain a memory of?"

She knew what he was asking, she knew before he ever gave full voice to the question what her answer would be.

"No, but I don't want to say more until I know what you think about it."

"I'll tell you in June."

"Then so will I."

He knew that was the fairest thing to do, then she said.

"This is the best present anyone could have given me," when he started to shake his head she said, "I know you are not intending it to be such. But it will still live in my memory as what I thought would be the worse Christmas turning out to be the best one."

She grabbed his cloak in her hands pulling him toward her before saying,

"To give me something to look forward to in June."

When her lips met his he could do nothing but kiss her back, he still couldn't decide if this choice was a bad one or a good one. All he knew in the moment was that when her arms went around him and his around her pulling her closer, everything else in the world melted away and it was only her and him.

When she finally pulled back and he let her go he knew that she would be right back here in his arms in June.

Hermione smiled when she looked up at him before saying,

"In one hundred and sixty-two days I expect to do that again."

"I'll be counting down each and every one of those days." He said as he stepped away from her taking her hand in his so he could take them back to the school, he really would be counting the days down until he could kiss her again. For some reason he felt that his life would not be beginning for one hundred and sixty-two days, but it would be well worth the wait.