I don't own Harry Potter, but I hope you all enjoy! Thanks to everyone who's still sticking with me and the story.

Chapter 24

Hermione sat at the Head's table, tapping her foot excitedly. Any moment now, the older students would file in to take their seats.

Severus grasped her hand tightly. "Calm down will you?"

"Sorry," she whispered back, a small gracing her lips.

Dumbledore watched the two of them with a twinkle in his eyes. It seemed that the two of them really were meant for each other. They just needed a little push, that's all. A push he was more than happy to give.

Minerva, meanwhile, watched the pair with a confused look on her face. She was happy that Severus had finally found someone, but was surprised to find out it was her golden student. It was simply so unexpected. But the more she thought about it, and the more she observed them, the more the two of them seemed to fit.

Severus patted her hand comfortingly, trying to soothe her. The bloody witch wouldn't sit still, causing people to stare. He saw Minerva's gaze linger on them. She's probably in a fit that I'm with her lioness. He chuckled silently to himself. A lion and a snake together; who would have thought?

The doors to the Great Hall swung open, allowing all the students to file in. There weren't as many as usual, but that was expected.

Hermione grinned as she saw a few familiar faces. Ginny gave her a wave, which she happily returned. Looking towards the Ravenclaw table, she saw Luna talking animatedly to a younger student.

"Don't forget," Severus said, leaning over to whisper in her ear. "That they're your students foremost, friends second."

Hermione nodded, storing his words into her memory. She knew that it would be difficult.

Moments later, the first years came in, following Filius. Hermione watched eagerly as the first years looked around nervously.

Immediately, she saw one student that reminded her of herself. The young girl was looking up at the ceiling, explaining it to the student next to her. Hermione smiled, watching the girl with interest.

Severus caught her gaze and chuckled. "Don't go picking favorites just yet." He said, leaning towards her a bit.

Hermione turned and shot him a sly smile. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she said, returning her gaze to the young girl.

Severus snorted. "She may look like you Hermione, but she's got a feel to her. She'll be in Slytherin." He shifted his gaze to her so he could catch her reaction.

Hermione was appalled. "No Severus. She'll be in Gryffindor, don't you worry."

He smirked. "Care to place a bet?" Leaning over, he captured her hand in his. She remained silent, biting her lip. "Well Hermione? Hurry up, because the sorting is about to start."

She gave a nod. "Fine, I bet she'll be sorted into Gryffindor." Inwardly, she prayed to Merlin that she would be right, just so she would be able to brag.

"Very well. I bet she won't be." Severus replied, a small twinkle in his eye. Hermione, focused on the girl, nodded.

"Yes, it's a bet." She sat there, her fingers crossed, waiting for the girl to be called up. Finally, a name was called. "Farvil, Emily."

The Hermione lookalike stepped forward, nervously sitting upon the stool.

Hermione waited to hear what the hat would say. Please say Gryffindor, please say Gryffindor…

"Hufflepuff!" The Hat shouted.

Hermione's shoulders sagged in defeat. It wasn't what she wanted to hear, but at least it wasn't Slytherin. "Well, it seems neither of us was right." Not noticing Severus' grin.

"Actually, I win our little bet Hermione." Severus said quietly, watching the rest of the students be sorted.

Hermione shot him a puzzled look. "No you didn't… you bet she'd be in Slytherin."

Severus smirked. "Yes, well, I said she would be placed in Slytherin, but I specifically said, 'she won't be'."

Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but snapped it as soon as she realized he was right. "Bugger," she said to herself, crossing her arms.

He laughed, turning to the meal on his plate. The sorting had finished, placing six new students in Ravenclaw, seven in Hufflepuff, ten in Gryffindor, and five in Slytherin. It was a small group, but that was expected. Severus wasn't surprised many weren't placed in Slytherin. There was still a lot of tension between houses, but he hoped that would soon clear up.

Hermione, however, was still angry about the bet. "You purposely used those words to trick me Severus," she complained, pushing around the food on her plate. She didn't want it to seem like she wasn't actually eating… which she wasn't of course, but the students didn't need to know that.

"I'm a Slytherin Hermione, full of cunning. It's the trademark of my house, or did you not listen to the Sorting Hat's song?" He teased her.

She huffed, turning her attention elsewhere.

Later on that night, Severus entered the bedroom to find Hermione already in bed. He had thought she'd be up reading, preparing her lesson plan, or something. Not staring at him, a fierce look in her eyes.

"You're not mad, are you?" He asked, lifting up the duvet. Sliding underneath, he scooted close to her, pulling her into his arms.

She turned over, pushing her face against his chest. "No… I could never be. Not for long anyways."

He smiled softly. "Good." He began to stroke her hair, taking pleasure in the way her small arms wrapped around his waist. The two of them were a perfect fit.

After a few moments, Hermione broke the silence. "I wish I could feel you." Her voice was raw, filled with emotion.

Severus closed his eyes, wishing himself not to cry. He could hear the pain in her voice. He wished he could take away her immortality… her curse. He wished he could give her the life she obviously wanted.

His throat constricted. Severus couldn't find the words to respond. What could one possibly say in a situation like this? Nothing would make it better. So he remained silent, simply pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

"I wish I could feel the warmth of your skin, without it bothering me so much." She nuzzled his chest with her nose, planting kisses here and there. "I wish we could be the same temperature."

"Why aren't we?" He asked, without realizing he had actually said it out loud.

He felt her shrug against him. "Not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that my body doesn't circulate or anything."

Severus simply hugged her tightly. "I love you, Hermione."

She pressed a kiss to his chest. "I know." Softly, she began to hum, waiting for him to drift off to sleep.