This is for the Seven Kisses Challenge over on the HPFC Forum. I've gotten quite a few Favourites for it, and I'm ecstatic that people are enjoying this, but a review with your favourite would be 10 times more satisfying! Just let me know what you think; god, bad, ugly, whatever!

Thanks loves.

What strange idea possesses her, she doesn't know. But as she stares at Professor Snape sweeping up and down the aisles of the Defence classroom, the urge to smooth her fingers over his brow and lightly feather kisses up and down his jaw until all of his worry lines fade away grips her and refuses to let go.

A blush suffuses into her cheeks at these thoughts, and she bows her head to the text in front of her, eyes trained upon a paragraph discussing the psychological effect of Inferi on the human population. So singular is her concentration, background noises fade away into a slight hum.

Snape doesn't need anything from you, she tells herself firmly. He needs a nice long rest, a fine bottle of wine, and a beautiful woman who isn't a Gryffindor with bushy, dry hair and purple bags under her eyes, sorely lacking in the cleavage department. Really, any department not involving books and –

'Miss Granger,' a low drawl cuts through her thoughts 'What has you so enamoured that you cannot deign to pay attention in my class?'

Deciding that the honest answer – you, Professor Snape – is just as suicidal as slitting her wrists, she mumbles some idiotic statement. He greets it with a snort of derision, and orders her to stay after class.

Her cheeks feel as if they are on fire now, but she avoids Harry and Ron's questioning looks and begins to pack up her books and quills. She screws the cap onto her ink bottle with steady hands then places it atop the pile of school things in her bag with the utmost care. Everyone around her has shuffled out, as she begins her trek to his desk.

He glances up at her suspiciously, but gestures towards the chair in front of him. She sits gingerly, pulling her bag onto her lap as she does so.

'I would like an explanation,' he hissed 'As to why you think it acceptable behaviour to ignore a lecture during the one class that will actually prepare you for what is to come.' She tries to tear her eyes away from the deep creases in between his brows, but can't.

'You may be a partial member of the Order, but that does not give you the right to completely disregard Defence lessons.'

'I wasn't, sir.' She whispers. 'I was just –'

'Just what?' He snarls.

'Just-'she breaks off her sentence and leans out of her chair, presses her lips onto those of Severus Snape, and sighs very softly. His mouth is warm, a little thin, but relaxed under her lips. He smells like spicy aftershave and herbs, and his face is surprisingly soft. She half expected it to be made of stone.

But when her hand brushes against his on the desk, something in the moment breaks and he flies backwards, tearing their kiss apart. She in turn grabs her bag and sprints towards the doors, tripping slightly over her robe, but getting into the corridor relatively unharmed.

She glances around to be sure she is alone, then leans back against the cold stone wall and begins to sob quietly.

She's uncomfortable, her hair is slowly frizzing around her, Cormac has been trying to force his tongue into her throat all night, and now she's standing behind one of the curtains Slughorn has strung up, trying to make it out of this party unscathed.

Her dress is a little too short, her shoes a little too high, and her confidence a little too low for this debacle of a night. A hot cup of tea, the down pillows on her bed, and the battered old copy of Jane Eyre that's been with her since the day she turned six sound like heaven.

Chamber music echoes in low strains around her, and the three glasses of elf made wine she drank are making her head a bit clouded. It crosses her mind that Harry is here somewhere, and he may be able to help, but she's too tired to leave this safe haven in an attempt to find him.

Someone stops directly in front of her hiding place; she can't see who it is, as the hangings provide only a shadowy outline, but she prays to the gods it isn't Cormac. However, when the fabric is ripped away, she immediately wishes it had been.

It's Snape. Snape. The very man she hasn't even been able to look at since that day in the Defence classroom. He stares down at her, and she feels her legs turning to mush. He shouldn't have this effect on her. He's a teacher, for Merlin's sake. He's hardly even attractive, what with the hair, and the nose, and those crooked teeth.

But he's brave. He's loyal. He puts himself at risk for all of them, every day. And what woman doesn't want a man like that?

If anything, she's fallen farther for him. It's gone beyond wanting to give him some peace. They're dangerous, these thoughts. She's feeling something more than a student should for a Professor. More than a girl her age should feel about a man twenty years her senior. She's falling into something with him. And it isn't good.

She feels naked and exposed standing here under his scrutiny.

He hates her, she can feel it. It radiates off of him like heat from the sun. Wild, half-formed escape plans run amok through her head, and she's just prepared herself for a mad dash to the door, when he steps closer and lets the curtain swing back.

He still smells like that aftershave, though now there are hints of wood smoke, and leather. He's looking down at her with a fire burning in his eyes, and she doesn't have time to question it before he leans in and covers her mouth with his own.

This time, he pulls her against him, parts her lips with his tongue, and then they're moving together, slowly at first, but it builds to a frenzied pace. This kiss is all urgency, all heat and need. He tastes of scotch and sugar, and she could lose herself in this feeling forever. His arms circle her back tightly, his thumb rubbing her shoulder blade leaving trails of fire in its wake. She presses herself even closer than before, trying to move against him, but then he's pulling away slowly, panting lightly, and it's over just as suddenly as it started.

'I shouldn't be doing this Granger.' He purrs quietly, with that voice that makes her feel sinful, but in such a delicious way.

'I know,' She replies quietly. Heart in her throat, she meets his gaze dead on. 'But if you shouldn't be, why are you?'

She doesn't give him time to answer before she breezes past him back into the party.

They told her to find Professor Snape. Find Severus, they all shouted. And now she has, and he's Stunned Flitwick and Luna right in front of her eyes. He doesn't see her, standing there in the doorway of his office as he pulls back his sleeve and presses his Mark with a hiss of pain.

She trusted him. She trusted him, more than she's ever trusted anyone in her life. A man she's kissed twice. A man whose classroom she has sat in for six years. The man her friends have called a liar time and time again. Severus Snape, the man who was branded by a sociopath and spent the rest of his life trying to atone for it. Trustworthy men don't do that, don't seek forgiveness, only to return to their past evils, she tells herself. Do they?

She doesn't believe what she's seeing. There's more to this, she tells herself. There has to be. But she's still scared, still suspicious.

He looks up at her, and she wonders, only for a moment, if he's going to kill her. But then he's crossed the room and grabbed her upper arms tightly. He's staring into her face, searching for something, and then, she finds her voice.

He may have killed. He may have tortured. He may have been the most despicable being to walk the Earth. But that was a long time ago. And that was before she ever sat across from him at a desk and felt his lips touch her own.

'I trust you.' She whispers hoarsely. 'I trust you.'

His shoulders sag in relief, or maybe resignation; she isn't sure which.

'Remember,' his voice sounds scratchy 'It's not all that it seems.'

She stands up on her toes as he bends down. There is no hesitancy, no urgency, only the two of them searching for comfort, and safety, and a connection. He reaches up and buries his hand in her curls as though he's trying to anchor himself to her.

That does it. That one, desperate little move and she's given her heart away. She will be his anchor. She'll be his safe harbour. She will be everything that he needs her to be. This kiss, she ends. She ends it with her eyes open so she can see what he looks like when he pulls back from her, and it doesn't disappoint.

He looks at peace for a split second. Before he slams his shields back down. But that second when his unguarded expression met her eyes is all she needs.

He looks down at her again, but with an unbearable sadness in his eyes for reasons she cannot fathom.

'I'm sorry.' He mutters darkly. 'I'm sorry. Please, remember…'

She's about to ask him what he's apologising for when he raises his wand. She hears him whisper 'Stupefy' and she closes her eyes in acceptance as the spell hits her.

The wind is howling outside of the tent, and she draws the blankets around herself tighter. Harry went off somewhere, for reasons unknown to her but he's been harder and harder to reason with as of late. Alone here, out in the forest, every twig that snaps sends her shooting upwards. Every leaf that rustles leaves her clutching her wand a little tighter.

This mad hunt for Horcruxes is wearing thin her nerves.

She's just pulled off her jumper when she hears movement outside the tent. And it isn't from an animal. Her heart starts racing immediately. The only people able to get through her protective enchantments unharmed are Harry and Ronald.

If it was an intruder, she would know.

The footsteps come closer, and she tucks her hair behind her ears.

'Harry?' she calls softly.

The flap opens, and it takes only a moment for her to squeak in shock, and dive under the bed, non-verbally throwing up her Shield Charm. It couldn't possibly be him. Her eyes are playing tricks, or she'd finally gone mad.

'Come out from under there Granger,' she hears him call 'If I wanted you dead, you would be already.'

'Where did I first kiss you?' she asks from under the bed. Constant vigilance, she tells herself. But she really just wants to hear it from his mouth.

'At my desk, in my classroom.' She can just imagine the scowl on his face. 'And I'll have you know I couldn't sit there for the rest of the year without thinking about it. Minx.'

That's all it takes. She crawls out from under the bunk, scraping her knees on the carpet, but she straightens up and brushes herself off in the most dignified manner she can muster.

'How did you break my wards?'

'You shouldn't have used my name as the keyword in the spells.' He replied, looking slightly annoyed. 'Although I must admit it took me approximately 87 minutes to run through every password I could think of, before I finally shouted my own name in annoyance.'

'Oh,' she feels her cheeks begin to heat up 'Well you see, no one would have guessed that…'

'Certainly not.' He says darkly.

'Why are you here?' she blurts out.

'Why aren't you running away like any sane person would?'

'Why do you think I would?'

He stares at her as though she's just torn the head off of a Pygmy Puff and eaten it.

'Why wouldn't you?'

'Because I told you I trusted you.' She says firmly.

'You're mad,' he mutters 'I killed Dumbledore!'

'I never said you didn't.'

'Then what?' he shouts suddenly. 'What has you so convinced that I am someone to be trusted?'

'The way you kiss me.' She whispers meekly. 'The way you look at me sometimes.'

He sits heavily on the bottom bunk, pinching the bridge of his nose, his eyes screwed shut.

'I never should have-'

'Don't!' she cries fiercely. 'Don't you dare say it.'

'Hermione, the fact remains I was your teacher. I took advantage of you, I instilled some sort of blind trust in you, and now I cannot take it back.'

'You don't have to.'

'I refuse to allow you this mad belief that I am, at heart, innocent. The fact remains, I am not a good man.'

'Why did you kill Dumbledore?' she asks quietly.

'That is irrelevant.'


'It has nothing to do with it!'

'You daft, stubborn man. It has everything to do with it! Just tell me. Please.' She pleads.

He stares at her for a long moment, and she knows that he's weighing the benefits of telling her. She lowers herself onto one of the fluffy old wingbacks, and tries to look intimidating. After what seems like an eternity, he sighs and opens his eyes.

'I cannot reveal it all. But I was making good on a promise.'

'A promise to whom?'

'Someone on your side.' He answers through gritted teeth.

'Our side, you mean.'

He looks as if he's going to argue but closes his mouth and nods mutely when he catches sight of her glare.

Suddenly, a twig snaps outside and she hears Harry's voice. Snape stands quickly, and strides towards the opening of the tent.


'Whatever it is, I'm not sure I want to hear it.' She replies quietly. He moves to leave again, but she runs after him and grabs his arm just before he sweeps out of the tent.

'Unless you wish Potter to catch us, I suggest you unhand my person.' He growls.

She stretches herself up and presses a kiss onto his mouth, her fingers running through his hair as she does so. She wants him to feel how much she cares, how much he means to her. She pulls away with a shy smile, and he looks down at her with what is quite possibly the nicest expression she's ever seen grace his features.

'Granger?' he says with a slight smile tipping the corners of his mouth.

'Yes?' she replies, her lips parted slightly, longing clouding her eyes.

He leans in and his mouth almost brushes her left ear, his warm breath making her knees weak.

'Put a shirt on.'

And then he's gone into the night, leaving her with a red flush over her entire body, and the embarrassment only felt when one realises they've just had a fifteen minute conversation oblivious to their state of undress.

Her breath keeps catching in her chest, a pang of pure agony coursing through her each time she inhales. Dried blood covers her arms and neck, and she's trying not to cry here, all alone in her room here at Shell Cottage.

The moonlight pours in through the small window next to her bed, as the waves crash onto the beach just out of her reach here, in this room.

Dobby's little gravestone rests alone atop the small sandy knoll Harry chose, and the sight of it sends the tears she's been holding back running down her face. She makes no sounds, only shakes with supressed sobs.

Her chest feels ready to burst from the sharp pains that stab her with each breath, and a small part of her wishes it would so she can be done with this war and this pain and this hurt.

The curtains, a pale lace, flutter slightly and her brow furrows. The windows aren't open, nor is the door. There is no cause for the curtains to move. Every hair on her body stands on end, and she finds herself burrowing under the covers, pulling them over her head.

They can't have found where they are. It's a Secret-Kept location – no one can enter, she tells herself.

But then a hand grabs her shoulder.

A shriek almost passes through her lips, but she goes rigid, clutching her wand tightly.

'Harry?' she whimpers. 'Ronald?'

'Not even close.' A voice drawls, and her heart flies into her throat.

The bedclothes are thrown off of her in an instant, and she's staring into his eyes.

'Are you hurt?'

She shakes her head mutely, and he snorts lightly.

'You're covered in blood.'

'Well spotted.' She wheezes with a slight smile.

'I fail to find the humour in this. Bellatrix could have – would have – killed you.' He says grimly.

'But she didn't. There's no use dwelling upon it.' She gasps.

'You can't breathe.' He falls to his knees beside her, placing his hand over her diaphragm gently. 'Were you cursed prior to this occasion? Your air intake is practically non-existent.'

'Fifth year. Dolohov.'

'The Cruciatus does have the tendency to renew old injuries.' He mutters to himself. 'Don't move, I'll cast the counter-curse.'

She's more than content to lay back in the warm bed with his hand on her, listening to him whisper words she hasn't the energy to try and process.

Some minutes later, he leans back on his heels and removes his hand from her person.


She takes a deep breath in before grinning at him.

'Thank you.'

'My pleasure.' He says in a low voice.


'Don't call me that. I'm no longer your Professor.'

'What then? Just Snape?' she replies, though it is only a half-jest.

'Severus would be…acceptable.'

'Thank you. But how did you find me? How did you get in? This is a Secret-Kept location!'

'Draco heard Mr. Weasley tell the elf where to take them.'

'And he didn't tell anyone else?' She could feel her jaw dropping.

'He is unable to. His tongue will stick to the roof o his mouth should he attempt to mention it.' He replies nonchalantly.

She doesn't know how to respond other than with a small 'Oh.'

He barks out a laugh, and stands. 'If you need nothing else, I will take my leave.'

'No!' she cries, before slapping her hands over her mouth in embarrassment. 'Well, I mean to say…couldn't you stay?'

He sighs, rather dramatically in her opinion, and gently sits on the very edge of the bed.

'I don't bite.' She says indignantly.

'My apologies.' He answers stiffly, and swings his long legs onto the bed. His arms are folded across his chest , and she snuggles against him, trying to hide her wicked smile.

'Miss Granger,' he says sternly, staring straight ahead, 'I am not made of iron. Cease this immediately.'

'But Professor Snape,' she laughs gently 'If you can hold a conversation with me only in my bra, you must be more than able to handle some cuddling.'

'I assure you, I barely handled that.' He mutters under his breath.

'We could die tomorrow, you know.' She whispers. 'What can it hurt?'

She sits up and tentatively throws her leg over both of his. He makes no sound as she straddles him gently, and lowers her forehead to rest on his shoulder.

'In the beginning, I only wanted to make you realise someone cared,'' she murmurs 'But then I kissed you and I wanted more. I wanted you to think of me when you thought you couldn't go on. I wanted you to have a reason to keep going each day. I wanted to be what I'm sure someone else already is to you. I told myself it was stupid, and immature, and wrong. And then you kissed me at Slughorn's party and it took off.'

He's rubbing small circles on her lower back, and she can hear his slow, deep breathing.

'You're the bravest man I've ever known,' she breathes, and then his hand is under her chin and he's turned her head so she's looking into his eyes, those black eyes that could melt an iceberg, or a glacier, or an eighteen year old girl who's fallen in love.

She feels his lips brush hers hesitantly at first, but then he presses into her harder, their tongues meeting and she feels a jolt of pure pleasure travel through her body, and she squirms against him involuntarily. He growls deeply through the kiss and shifts his hips in such a way that she can feel his erection against her thigh, unbridled lust passing between them as his arms wrap around her and pull her close, rocking them both.

One of his hands, big and lightly calloused slides under her shirt, and begins to stroke the heated skin of her back, little mewls of pleasure escaping her mouth. She runs her tongue over his lips, and pulls back, sliding her mouth down his jaw and onto his neck. He buries his other hand in her hair, arching his neck slightly as shes sucks and pulls gently at his skin with her teeth, coaxing a small groan from him.

'We have to stop.' He gasps finally. 'We have to stop, or this will be going farther than we intend it to.'

She kisses his neck gently before sitting back.

'You're right.' She concedes a little sadly.

He pushes her off his lap, but draws her back in against his chest, cradling her almost a bit possessively.

'Where the bloody hell did you learn to do that?' he says in her ear.

'I may be a know it all bookworm, but that doesn't mean I'm a virgin.' She laughs lightly.

'Touché, Granger.' He smirks. 'Touché.

She smiles benevolently into his neck, breaths in his scent which is now as familiar to her as Harry's or Ron's, and falls asleep wrapped in his arms.

She streaks round the corner, directly past Amycus Carrow, and throws a Stinging Hex over her shoulder, fear and adrenaline pumping through her bloodstream. It's all coming to a head now, and she doesn't know where she's going but it feels good to run, to be alive again.

She hasn't felt like this - like she could wrestle a dragon, or tame a chimaera - since her last meeting with Severus.

She takes another corner with a mad grin on her face, and runs directly into someone. She looks up and it's him. Shock registers on his face before he grabs her by the arm and heaves, dragging her behind a suit of armour with him.

'What in the name of Merlin are you doing here?' he hisses, eyes darting around, scanning their surroundings.

'Something Harry had to do.' She smiles, panting slightly, her hands resting upon her knees.

'After you broke into Gringotts? You've all gone off your bleeding rockers.' He snarled. 'Are you trying to be killed?'

'Not at all.' She responds. 'But I've got to get moving. Will I see you, after all of this madness has subsided?'

'Perhaps,' He whispers, his voice breaking slightly, this chance meeting growing serious. 'Perhaps.'

He steps to her and cups her cheeks with those strong, warm hands, his mouth insistent against hers. There is desperation in this, longing, and need, and sadness, but she clings to him even as it ends, her hands around his neck, his upon her shoulders.

Footsteps echo around the corner, and he looks up wildly.

'Minerva's coming.' He whispers. 'And someone's with her. Listen to me, Hermione. Be careful. Do not attack, merely defend, especially Potter, he'll need it. Do you understand me?'

'Yes, and Severus – please, please be careful.'

He nods sharply, and she runs away, her fingers on her lips, which are still tingling from his kiss.

She's seen people die before. Just not like this. Not with blood pouring out of their body, eyes leaking tears and memories even as they lose their light, lungs fighting for another breath of air.

Yes, she's seen death, but she'd rather relive each and every one she's witnessed every hour and every minute of the day for the rest of her life if it meant Severus could live.

Bile rises in her throat as Harry leans over him, and she knots her fingers in her hair to keep from falling to her knees at his side.

Does he know she's here? Does he know he'll die with a woman who loves him within arm's length of him?

She hears him rasp 'Look. At…me' and as she does, his eyes widen marginally. Something like peace washes over his face, and with a gurgle and a splutter, he's gone.

She crawls over, and under the guise of checking his pulse, she presses the softest of kisses against his mouth. It's hardly more than a touch, but it's all that is needed.

Ron taps her shoulder, and she stands, even though she wants to curl up here with his body and sob until she dies as well.

But life is for the living, she reminds herself. And there's a reason you still are.

She almost kisses him again, one last time, but she realises it isn't needed.

Wherever he is now, he knows.

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