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

Chapter 23

Hermione quickly ate her dinner. She sat next to Neville and the two of them discussed some new plant that had been discovered in Thailand.

She watched with a smile as he talked excitedly about the plant. It made her happy to see him so excited about something. If there was anything Neville was good at it, it was plants. She had no doubt that he'd go into botany.

"Neville, that's great," Hermione said, putting her arm on his.

He grinned. "Well, I'm glad you think so."

The two of them finished eating. "Harry, I'll see you in an hour." Harry nodded to her, then returned his attention to Ginny.

Neville walked Hermione back to her room. Hermione went inside, and Neville followed her. "How are you doing?" He asked, taking a seat on the couch.

Hermione shrugged, pulling her knees up to her chest. "I'm a bit scared to be honest."

"Don't worry Mione, you'll be fine. I just know it."

Hermione smiled at Neville, leaning into his shoulder. "I sure hope so."

Neville nodded. "You will be. You have tons of people who love you and want to protect you."

"But what if I can't protect myself?" She asked softly. That's what she was afraid of. She didn't know how she'd measure up in a fight. Besides the incident at the Ministry, she hadn't ever been in a duel.

"We'll make sure you can." Neville turned to look at her. "Let's start up the DA again."

Hermione's eyes widened. "Neville! That's a brilliant idea!" She hugged him tightly. "I'll talk to Harry about it when he comes by to walk me to the dungeons."

Neville grinned. "And if you're still worried, well, come work out with me."

Hermione bit her lip. She had never thought about that. "That's not a bad idea."

Neville grinned. "I go running every morning. Come with me tomorrow."

Hermione nodded. "Okay, but it's actually been years since I've had a good run."

Neville chuckled. "We'll go slow." He glanced at the clock. "I'm supposed to meet Luna in the library now, so I'll see you at six am."

Hermione nodded, walking Neville to the door. "Thank you," she said, giving his hand a tight squeeze.

He pulled her into a tight hug. "Anything for you." Neville disappeared down the hallway.

Hermione realized she only had a few minutes before Harry would be here so she quickly ran to her room. She changed into some Muggle jeans and a tee-shirt before slipping her robes on. Hermione hated wearing her uniform longer than she had too. With a quick brush of her hair and a dab of lip gloss, Hermione was ready.

Her heart fluttered knowing she'd be spending the evening with Severus.

A knock on the door sounded out and Hermione made her way over. "Harry!" She cried, pulling the door open.

Except it wasn't Harry.

Ron was standing there, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. He gave her a smile.

"Ron?" She asked. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I know Harry was supposed to walk you, but I thought I would, because it's been awhile since we've spent any time together."

Hermione internally winced. "Oh, okay then. Well, let me just grab my wand and we'll be all set."

Ron followed her into the Head's common room, looking around with wide eyes. "This place is nice!"

Hermione shrugged. "I suppose. I usually spend all my time in my room though."

"But why? I can definitely see you curled up in front of this fire reading or something."

Hermione blushed. "Yes, well, you seem to be forgetting who it is I share this room with."

"Ah." Ron said, his face getting a bit red. "I don't like you sharing a room with a boy, Malfoy nonetheless!"

Hermione winced. "Ron, I live with him, not share a room with him. Besides, Malfoy and I don't usually cross paths."

The two of them started to make their way towards the dungeons.

It was quiet, and that was how Hermione liked it. She didn't want to deal with his ramblings. She internally winced once more when she recalled the jealously in his voice. I don't like you sharing a room with a boy. If only he knew….

Ron cleared his throat, breaking the silence. "You look nice today Hermione."

She blushed once more. "Thanks Ron." She started to walk a bit faster. Ron was her best friend! She didn't like him that way. And Hermione wasn't one for confrontation, so she did her best to hurry along.

Hermione stopped outside Snape's office. Raising her hand, she knocked on the door.

Ron stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Well, I suppose I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah Ron, see you later!" She said as the door swung open.

Severus stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind him. Ron sent him a glare. "You've walked her down here Weasley, you can leave now."

Ron grumbled under his breath before turning and disappearing down the hallway.

Hermione smiled at Severus. He grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze.

"Well, we should start bottom to top," Hermione said.

He nodded, motioning for her to go first. The two of them walked along in silence. By the time they had reached the second floor, Hermione was itching for conversation.

"Sooo…" she said, casting a sideways glance at Severus.

He chuckled. "Yes Hermione?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, it was just too quiet."

"Ah, I see." Severus responded. "Well, tell me something about yourself."

"What?" She asked.

"Hermione, you just said it was too quiet. Tell me something about yourself, something I didn't already know."

She smiled. "Okay." She wracked her brains for something interesting. "OH! I've got one. It's sort of stupid, but oh well. My Mum told me when I was younger, about four or five, I was manifesting my magic. Apparently, I used to change the color of the cat. Mittens used to run the other way when she saw me coming."

"Your poor cat." Severus responded.

"Mhmmm," she responded. "I used to change the colors on everything. My mother was annoyed at first, but she came to enjoy the living room changing colors multiple times a week."

"Mmmmmmm." Severus responded.

Hermione tentatively reached out and grasped his hand. Severus squeezed it tightly in response before letting it go.

"So…." She said, sending him a look. "How about we find some broom closet and make out like two randy teenagers?"

Severus chuckled. "Is that what you'd like to do?"

Hermione shrugged. "It'd be nice," she said.

Severus remained quiet. The two of them walked along the hallway in silence.

Hermione let out a small yelp when Severus grabbed her arm, pulling her into an empty classroom.