Disclaimer, see chapter 1. I apologize that it's been so long since I've updated! Hope you all enjoy!

Chapter 21

"So, are you still mad at me?" Harry asked, almost afraid of her answer.

She huffed, rolling her eyes. "I'm not angry with you Harry; I just think you're being a bit foolish."

"It's just a book though!" He protested, wishing she'd see reason.

She rolled her eyes once more. Harry was one of those people that couldn't really see past the obvious. He was brilliant when he applied himself, but he had this problem of not really thinking things over. The past few years could attest to that. "Harry, this book could be dangerous. You don't know who wrote those side notes. What if it was a Death Eater? You could hurt someone Harry, or even worse, yourself."

"But they're helpful hints Hermione," he protested.

She held her hands up in defeat. "Fine Harry, whatever. Just don't come crawling to be when it turns out I was right."

"So you're not mad?" Wanting to clarify that the witch wasn't going to hex him.

"No Harry, you can make your own decisions." She said distantly. Her thoughts had already wandered towards Severus. She was excited to start Occlumency with him. Harry had said it was difficult, but she thinks that had more to do with his terrible temperament and dislike for the Potions master.

"So why are you getting special lessons with Snape?" Harry asked, wondering what exactly was going on.

Hermione bit her lip. "He's going to teach me Occlumency." Curious as to how Harry was going to respond to that.

He chuckled. "Good luck with that! He isn't exactly the best teacher."

Hermione slapped his arm. "He's a brilliant teacher Harry! Just because you don't like him, doesn't mean that he can't teach others." Harry was so immature sometimes.

Harry shrugged. "Sure, sure. I mean, you're smarter than I am, so maybe it'll be easier for you."

"We'll see." She replied. Leaning forward, she gave Harry a quick hug. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Harry said goodbye, then turned, walking back down the dungeon corridor.

Hermione shivered, pulling her sweater around her tighter. Lifting her hand, she knocked on the door. It swung open, revealing Severus.

She offered him a small smile as he stepped aside to allow her entrance. She followed him to his office, where he firmly closed the door behind them.

She took a deep breath, her heart beating rapidly. She breathed in the familiar scent of sandalwood, smiling.

He stopped before his desk, figuring out how best to approach the subject of Occlumency. "So, I've trust you've read up on the subject."

Hermione nodded. "I did."

"All right, let me just quiz you, to see how much you've actually retained."

Hermione laughed. "Do you doubt my abilities Severus?"

He flushed as she used his first name. "Of course not, just making sure you've been thorough." He said with a small smirk.

Hermione nodded, her cheeks growing hot. She was trying to keep her focus, but the thought of snogging him senseless kept appearing in her mind.

"So," he said, leaning back against his desk crossing his arms. "Explain to me what you know."

Hermione took a deep breath, twisting her fingers together. She tried to avoid looking at him. "Well, it's the act of magically close your mind against someone using Legilimency. It can prevent someone for accessing your thoughts and feelings, as well as influencing them. I know it's highly useful, and you are very skilled with both."

Severus smirked. "That I am, Hermione." He said, deciding that since they were alone, he could use her first name. Her cheeks flushed, causing him to smirk.

Her eyes moved upward and locked with his. Brown eyes stared into obsidian, and vice versa. Before either of them realized what was happening, they were tangled with each other. Their lips locked, her hands gripping his chest, while he had one hand tangled in her hair, the other on her lower back possessively.

They stared that way for a few moments, their tongues dancing with each other. Hermione had never felt so happy, so good. She wondered if it would always be this way..

Severus groaned, knowing he needed to untangle himself from the small witch. They had important things they needed to be doing, not groping each other like two horny teenagers.

Oh shush Severus, enjoy this while you can. His conscience chided him for over-thinking the situation as he usually did.

He closed his eyes, committing every little detail to his memory. The feel of her small fingers on his chest, clutching at the material to tug him closer, the taste of her soft supple lips, the soft of her soft sighs, and the pure bliss he felt. Severus slowly opened his eyes, looking at her face. Her eyes were close, and he could count the lashes on her eyes. He noticed there were a few freckles near her nose.

Hermione pulled away slightly, their foreheads touching. Hermione panted, feeling thoroughly snogged. Every inch of her body felt like it was alive. "Wow," she said softly.

He chuckled, his chest vibrating against her hands. "Wow indeed." Slowly, he peeled her hands off him and took a steep back. "Now that we've got that off our chests, back to business," he said lightly.

Hermione blushed, nodded. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Severus moved forward, putting a curl behind her ear. "There's nothing to be sorry for. I wanted it just as much as you, if not even more."

She shot him a smile. "I'm glad."

He found himself smiling back. Severus realized that the more time he spent around her, the more he found himself relaxed. The small witch was coaxing him out of his shell. Maybe she was just what he needed.

Closing his eyes to clear his head, he took a deep breath. Opening his eyes, he saw Hermione staring at him, her eyes wide. She looked like the small first year, eager to learn.

"Well," he coughed, "Occlumency is different for everyone, as the way you defend your mind varies for each person. For me, my mind is a lake. It's calm and cool, bright on top but with darkness beneath."

"And the darkness is where you store your memory," she interjected.

He nodded. "That's correct. The more important the information, the further down I push it. I only bring to surface what I wish the other to see. That way, everything stays concealed. Understand?"

She bit her lip, giving him a nod. "I think so." She closed her eyes, committing the information to memory. "So when He enters your mind, all he sees is the lake? And then your bring forward what you want him to see?"

Severus nodded. "I can also construct fake memories, or omit certain scenes from memories. It's quite useful when someone gets the hang of it."

"Okay, so the first thing I need to do is figure out how to store my memories." She looked up at him.

"Well, technically, you need to clear your mind. Empty it of all thoughts and emotions. That's the first step." He explained, hoping she understood what he meant better than Potter did.

She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. "I'm ready," she mumbled softly.

Severus nodded, entering her mind, as gently as he could. To his surprise, he was met with an empty room. He was impressed. Looking around, he pressed on some of the walls, seeing how strong her defense was.

Suddenly, he found a small crack in the corner. Pressing towards it, he broke through, a memory flashing towards him.

Surprised, he saw it was a memory containing her and Harry. It was the two of them hugging, moments before the beginning of the Triwizard Tournament. Severus ignored the pang of jealously as he saw Hermione's distress at Potter's situation. He wondered if they were ever involved romantically. He didn't like to think they were, but their body movement suggested otherwise. Pushing forward, he tried to bring up another memory containing Potter.

Severus felt himself pushed from the memory abruptly, and found himself back in the room. Looking around, he saw the walls were now solidified.

He withdrew from her mind. She bent over, huffing. Looking up, he saw her face was red.

Once she caught up to him, she sent him a nervous look. "Did I do all right?"

"All right? You did brilliant." He said, pulling her in for a hug. "I was very impressed."

She blushed, wrapping her arms around him. Hermione was surprised that he initiated the hug, but quickly nuzzled herself into him. "Thank you," she mumbled into him.

He stroked her hair for a moment, before pulling back. "Come on; let's get you back to your dorm."

She pouted, but nodded. Severus grabbed his cloak, shrugging it on. Holding the door open, he motioned for her to go out.

The two of them walked side by side, each remaining silent.

Before she knew it, Hermione found herself outside her room. Turning to Severus, she quickly placed her hand on his chest. "Thank you," she said softly.

He smiled, pulling her hands off his chest and holding them in his own. "Thank you. Practice on your own, and we'll meet again in two days."

Hermione nodded, bidding him goodnight. Walking inside her dorm, she internally groaned when she saw Malfoy sucking face with Pansy on the couch.

She tried to make it to her room, but failed.

"What do you think you're doing Mudblood?" Malfoy spat, sending her a glare. Pansy made a face of disgust.

Hermione ignored him, running to her bedroom, slamming the door shut. Pulling out her wand, she quickly warded it.

With a sigh of relief, she fell onto her bed. She realized she wasn't tired, so she decided she would meditate.