I don't own HP at all, although I wish I did. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 27

Hermione and Severus quietly made their way to the office, ignoring the strange looks some of the students sent them.

Let them stare. Her mind told her, telling her not to feel self-conscious. It was all right for two professors to date, and the age gap wasn't that big of a deal in the wizarding world. She loved Severus and that was all that mattered.

She squeezed his hand tightly. Approaching the gargoyle statue, Hermione spoke the password. "Candy corn!"

Severus sent her a puzzling look. "Candy corn?"

She shrugged in response. "It's a Muggle candy."

Severus rolled his eyes. "I know what it is Hermione, I did grow up in a Muggle neighborhood."

Hermione nodded. "Right, let's go up."

Severus chuckled, but put his hand on her lower back, guiding her up the stairs.

Hermione paused right outside the door.

Severus, sensing her discomfort, pressed a quick kiss to her forehead. "Don't be scared."

"I'm not scared," she grumbled.

"Yes you are. But you needn't be. You're not alone Hermione." He leant down, giving her another quick kiss. "Now come on, let's not keeping Potter waiting anymore."

Hermione nodded, linking their hands once more. Holding his hand always made her feel better.

She pushed open the door, stepping into Dumbledore's office. Harry was sitting in the chair talking to his mentor. When he heard the door open, he turned, grinning when he saw her.

He stood and ran towards her, pulling her in for a quick hug. Squeezing her tightly, he mumbled "I missed you," into her ear.

Severus let out a soft growl. He knew the two of them were just friends, but he couldn't help the bought of jealously that was bubbling up.

Hermione released Harry, then quickly held Severus' hand once more. "I'm so glad you're back safely," she said to Harry, taking a seat next to him. Severus stood behind her, his hand on her shoulder.

Harry grinned. "Things went all right. I found out something interesting." He glanced towards Dumbledore, who nodded that he should continue.

Hermione listened, curious to see what he had found out.

"Well, I didn't see Dimitri, but I already told you that. He covered his tracks rather well, because no one had even heard of him."

Hermione felt upset. They would never find Dimitri! How on earth would they be able to stop him from attempting to take over the world once more? The whole thing felt hopeless.

"But," Harry added, seeing Hermione's sadness, "I did find something else out. If we manage to kill Dimitri, your humanity will be returned!"

Severus let out a small gasp. He wasn't one to show emotions like that, but he was absolutely gob smacked. Hermione would have a chance at a normal life! She'd have a chance at happiness. He squeezed her shoulder tightly.

Hermione gave a small smile. "I had no idea… I mean, I knew that could happen with weres…. But I never knew it could apply to vampires as well."

Harry nodded. "Someone mentioned it to me in passing, allowing me to look at one of his family tomes. It said if you killed the one who turned you, your life would be restored. Hermione, all we have to do is kill Dimitri, and you'll have your life back!"

Hermione nodded, the happiness spreading throughout her. Maybe all hope wasn't lost. Maybe Hermione would still have a chance at being a mother, experiencing love the way Severus did. She had to hold back often, because she was afraid she could accidentally hurt him. But the possibility of loving him without any hindrances sent shivers down her spine.

Dumbledore remained unusually silent throughout the entire exchange. He was lost in his own thoughts, unsure of how exactly they were going to get a hold of Dimitri.

"How will we find him?" Harry asked, as if sensing his mentor's thoughts.

"I'm not sure Harry," Dumbledore replied sadly. "I'm going to try finding him. I know he's most likely gathering followers, probably not in England though. But I'm going to contact a friend of mine, who happens to be a vampire as well, and move him to Romania. Hopefully there, he'll find something out."

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "So you want to use your friend as bait?"

Dumbledore sighed. "Hermione, you know I'd rather not, but I can't see any other option."

"But I just don't think it's fair-"

"Gustav has already agreed to the plan my dear. He's accepted the dangers and has agreed to move forward willingly. I know it's hard for you to understand, but I think this is what's best." Dumbledore said, giving Hermione a stern look.

She bit her lip, not wanting to retort. He was just trying to help after all, even if she didn't agree with his method.

Harry stood. "I need to get back to the office to fill out some paperwork." He pulled Hermione in for a hug. "There's a Hogsmeade weekend in two weeks, I'll see you then, unless we get more information before then."

Hermione nodded, hugging him back tightly. "Thanks again for doing all this for me Harry."

He smiled at her. "Best friends, remember? But take care of yourself, and I'll see you soon." Harry waved goodbye, disappearing through the fireplace.

Dumbledore stood. "Hermione, I know you are having difficulties with my plan, but just understand it's the best we can do. Now run along with Severus, as I'm sure there is much for you to discuss."

Hermione recognized the dismissal and exited the office, Severus following close behind.

"I don't understand why he does that," she mumbled once they were back in the dungeons.

Severus nodded. "Albus has always been one to do this. He'll put the "good of others" above one life. He cares for his friend Gustav, but if the vampire would die, Albus would be unaffected so long as he got the information he required."

Hermione turned to face Severus. "But it isn't right. People aren't expendable."

"He thought I was. During the War, he always had me putting my neck on the line to protect others. The sacrifice of one life was worth more than the lives of others." Severus moved forward, wrapping his arms around the small witch.

"It isn't fair." She mumbled into his chest.

"I know Hermione, but that's just how Albus works. I don't always agree with him, but I know he'll get us to where we need to be." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

Hermione looked up at him, brown eyes staring into obsidian ones. "What will happen if I become human again?"

Severus looked puzzled. "I'm not sure what you mean," he said carefully.

Hermione bit her lip. "Will you still be with me?"

Severus pressed his lips to hers. His hands moved into her hair, pulling her closer to him. She smelled faintly of vanilla, sending his hormones racing. With a groan, he broke the kiss.

"Hermione, I love you. And I'm not letting you go anywhere, human or not. Understood?"

Hermione nodded, a smile on her face, before capturing his lips in a kiss once more.