CHAPTER ONE

If any were to happen upon the girl, covered in dust with her head bowed over the ghastly large tome, they would think nothing of her 'bit of light' reading. It was not a rarity to find her thus and, after all, it was a very common place thing, but no one would happen upon her. Not here anyway.

So, she took no care to hide the heavily rune scribed cover. She feverishly read the words aloud with not a thought to listening ears. She'd been sure she would find the answer here, in his library. It had taken nearly a week to break the wards he'd placed on the dreary two-story home known as Spinner's End, but she'd done it.

It was another week before the little house elf made her presence known causing Hermione to shriek like the highland banshee that Hagrid, poor, dear dead Hagrid, had found so sweet last term. In all fairness, Hermione had scared the timid, little elf nearly as badly as the elf had scared her. Having searched the house from ridge pole to cellar by that time, but finding not even a living spider; it was nothing short of terrifying when she opened tired eyes to stare into the bulbous eyes of Dorie.

The little elf had come to her on the morning of the seventh day of Hermione's stay as she lay, in what had been her professor's bed and felt hope slipping from her like so many of her friends that final night, just two weeks past.

Dorie watched and rung her hands as each syllable uttered by the girl became increasingly dark. She shouldn't have shown young miss the book, kept so hidden, Sir would hate- but Sir was not here; Sir was lost to her now. Except that as she watched young miss lifted her head and Dorie could see the girl's mind whirl with calculations, her eyes sparking with understanding and determination as she stared into the distance, just as Sir's had always done.

"It will take an enormous amount of power and control," Hermione spoke speculatively as her eyes fell to the aged parchment beneath her fingers. "I'll have to prepare, Dorie." With trembling hands the girl set the book beside her on the floor and bowed her head between her knees. "I'll need to know him…All of him; he must be made to trust me."

"Sir is not one to trust, young miss." Dorie twisted her hands in the dish towel she wore. "Even if he could, it would profit you nothing to go to him. The war is over… Sir is dead. Why meddle?"

"That is why," the girl slammed her palm onto the floor with a loud smack. "He died, horribly! I cannot-The look in his eyes." Hermione clutched her other hand to her chest. "He was happy to die. The life he led…So that we could all lay our heads on our pillows and toddle off on our merry way as heroes! They call him traitor, murderer and death eater! "

Dorie wiped the tears from her own cheeks as the girl spoke of her Sir's ending. She had been with Sir from the minute he was birthed. Had rocked him to sleep when Master had beaten him for his strangeness and Mistress would not care for the child. "Dorie is loving, Sir! Dorie is knowing Sir was good and light!"

"They don't," Hermione whispered. "He will ever be what Dumbledore made him. Dorie, it isn't right."

"Sir was just needing someone...Dorie always loved little Sir but Dorie is elf it was not the same. Sir needed wizard love. Dorie thought Sir would find it at Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry." The house elf covered her bulging eyes as fat tears splashed onto the hardwood floor, "Oh, Little Sir!"

Hermione was touched by the little house elf's grief and found herself clutching the tiny figure to her as they both cried. When the tears dried and they were both puffy and splotched Hermione gingerly stood with the exhausted elf still in her embrace and carried her up the creaking stairs to the professor's bed. Gently, Hermione tucked the elf in before shucking her denims and crawling in the other side. The room was dark and Hermione nearly asleep when Dorie's voice sounded with conviction from beside her, "Dorie will help Sir's Miss twist time; for Sir."

Hermione reached across the mattress and grasped the gnarled little hand, "Thank you!"

"Dorie!" Severus Snape bellowed as he entered Spinner's End in a swirling maelstrom of ebon silk robes. It was not hard for any that looked upon the dark man to see he was beyond irate. With ruthless disregard for the fine fabric he ripped the clasp open and shrugged the robe from his shoulders; a flick of angry fingers and it winged its way to hang from the coat tree. Heading purposefully into the interior of the main floor, Severus called out again. "Dorie, Where…"

The agonizing cry of a woman, echoing through the house from upstairs, froze him mid-stride and mid-rant. As quick as a snitch his wand was in his hand and he'd vaulted over the banister to take the stairs two at a time. Coming onto the landing his eyes opened wide in shock, "Dorie!" He thundered.

For, there, upon his bed stood his house elf wielding a ritual dagger and carving into the arm of a young woman whose cries struck terror in even his darkened soul. In two long strides he was beside the bed and reaching for the hilt of the blade, intent on ending the girl's torture. His fingers never made contact as the girl who lay stretched naked across is bed caught his wrist in a surprisingly strong grip.

"Sangue nel tempo eterno," his house elf's normal high pitched voice was gruff and low as she chanted along with the whimpering murmur of the girl. "Due cuori attraverso il sangue del puro intrecciate ," Dorie made another cut as the two incanted the spell in perfect harmony, "Attraverso gli occhi aprire la mente e sappiamo tutti!" Their voices rose upon the last word and magic flared in the room as Dorie continued to carve the ritual symbols into the girl's arm.

"Anime montate," Dorie called and the girl answered, "e spiriti uno."

"Sementi," Dorie cut another symbol as she uttered the next word and was answered by the pained voice of the girl, "e terreno fertile."

"Bianco," Dorie muttered.

"E nero," was the reply and it continued in this vein.

"Caldo"

"E freddo"

"Benedizione"

"E maledizione"

The girl's blood filled the earthen bowl and where it had once run freely was now slipping sluggishly from her mutilated arm. Severus was relieved when the two voices joined once again as one calling, "Maschio e femmina si incontrano."

It was only then that he understood the words uttered in tandem by elf and witch, dark blood magic prickled along his spine and he felt his body harden, responding to the intrinsic call of the ritual. Fear touched his mind as his eyes met the golden brown pleading of the witch's. Her fear that he would not understand licked at his mind like fire as she showed him what should come next. Clearly, he saw the final details of the ritual. The binding of her soul to his across time required two blood sacrifices; he searched for the reason behind this madness, but she held it away from him, demanding that he complete the task before allowing him answers.

With a growl he pulled his mind from hers and raked his eyes over the writhing woman's body. Her only modesty in the ritual was the large tome spread open across her hips and thighs. Her breasts were unrestrained and tipped with turgid peaks; the pulsing magic shivering her skin and puckering her nipples. Her chest and abdomen were marred by the cross-hatching scars of a familiar curse. Her left forearm rested over an earthen ware bowl which collected her life's blood and would carry the marks made upon it by the ceremonial dagger for all time.

Why was she here? Did she know…Did she understand that she was essentially binding herself to him in slavery? That if he did as she had shown him she would be subject to him in every life here after? Did she know that if he refused her, and did not complete the ritual, healing her elf inflicted wounds with his blood, she would be lost from this time as well as her own; ceasing to exist for all eternity? Letting his eyes slide back to the warm, glassy gaze he welcomed her mind as it slipped into his again with an ease that made his body throb. Already the magic was working to bind them through this life, without a drop of his answering blood, if he submitted to the call they would be irrevocably bound in every life until the end of their souls. Understanding tickled his thoughts, she understood…She knew it all and still she lay before him ready to accept his decision.

Severus found himself offering his left forearm to the house elf that raised him. He hardly felt the magic that swept over him removing his shirt and jacket. When the tip of the blade nicked his wrist and drew a line upward toward the dark mark that had inexplicably begun to darken three weeks previously, he let his voice join theirs as the repeated the incantation. Watching his blood mingle with that of the witch, Severus pressed the gaping wound on his arm to the rune carved forearm of the girl; eliciting a pleasured moan from them both. He felt his eyes fall closed as the magic warmed and turned sensual as his blood sealed the girl's wounds and he smiled as she gasped and shivered as though in release.

Dorie continued the chant without them and sometime later, how much later he didn't know, Severus slumped over exhausted. He could feel his arousal demanding satisfaction, twitching with need of the girl, but he restrained the baser need as his forehead came to rest on the trembling shoulder of the girl. He thought perhaps he ought to move away from her as their predicament was highly inappropriate, his body was throbbing to take her properly, but darkness crowded his consciousness and he soon found himself succumbing to sleep's grasp.

Severus Snape came awake with a start; his eyes instantly open and alert. Focusing on the puckered flesh, mere inches from his nose, he frowned. Had he fallen asleep with one of the Knockturn Alley whores? No, he surmised when he let his gaze widen and found that he was, in fact within his gloomy house, in the dark dampness of his dingy room with his head pillowed upon the bare breast of the woman sharing his normally solitary bed.

The oddity of his position puzzled him for a moment before the events fit themselves together into a most disturbing picture. Pulling away to sit up he mourned the loss of the soft flesh along his cheek; which, made him frown. Narrowing his eyes on the sleeping form beside him he catalog what he found.

The tome that had protected the girl's modesty had been removed and she now lay before him completely exposed. She was young, perhaps, barely older than a seventh year Hogwart's student, but she sported the tell-tale scars of battle. Without conscious thought he reached out and traced the thickest of the scars that traversed from her left hip diagonally across her belly to the full globe of her right breast ending just below her pert nipple. Who had used that particular curse on the girl? It seemed an abomination to mar such fresh, beautiful skin with such an ugly curse.

"Dohlov," was the murmured answer to his unspoken question.

Unnerved, to have been caught unawares again by this woman-child, Severus rolled smoothly from the bed. Striding stiffly to his wardrobe he withdrew a fresh black shirt; angrily he thrust his arms into the sleeves and fastened the column of buttons. Pausing to study the unmarred section of his arm that had recently been open and bloody in completion of the ritual, not even a smear of blood remained.

"Pr-professor," the title uttered so weakly brought a hiss to his lips as he turned on the girl.

"I do not know who you are," his silky smooth voice caressed each syllable as he stalked toward the prone figure on the bed. "I do not know from whence you came…What evil are you?"

Hermione tried to focus on his words, but she'd used every ounce of her magical power crossing over and she was spent both in mind and body. Her limbs felt like lead and her mind, usually so quick felt thick, her thoughts like treacle. "Not…" Her voice was a breathy whisper.

"We shall see," Severus sneered, lifting his wand. "Incars-"

"No," Dorie's voice interrupted him appearing between the witch and his wand. "Miss is come to save, Sir."

"I shall deal with your treachery later," Snape growled. "What possessed you to aid this…Girl…Across time?"

"Sir is not Dorie's any longer," the tiny house elf glared as she faced him her fists on her hips; tears filling her enormous eyes.

Oddly, Severus was hurt by this pronouncement. Dorie was one constant he had come to count on and to have her disavow him tightened the area around his heart. "Dorie is helping Sir's Miss because Miss wants to save Sir and Dorie is not wanting to lose Sir again!" Then without warning Severus found himself set upon by the weeping house elf, clinging to his shirt and by extension him.

"Dorie," Severus stared aghast at the weeping bundle. His voice a cross somewhere between confusion and perplexed, "This is ludicrous behavior and I demand you release me immediately."

"D-Dorie," the weak voice of the girl in his bed drew Severus' gaze. She tried to lift her hand to the crying elf, but her arm fell limply back to the blanket. Severus frowned; the girl was unnaturally pale. The ritual utilized a great deal of magical energy as well as an exceptional amount of the traveler's life force. He would need to brew a blood replenishing potion and perhaps even a restorative for the foolish chit.

"Dorie," Severus snapped, "Your Mistress is in need of tending."

The elf immediately pulled away with an apologetic, "Oh, Miss!" Snapping her fingers Dorie covered the girl to the waist with a cotton sheet. "Dorie is apologizing for forgetting her duty!" Then snapping her fingers again the elf blinked out of view.

Glaring down at the bleary eyed girl Severus sneered, "You are a very foolish girl! Meddling in time can only result in horrifying consequences, of which none of us will wish to endure!"

"Perhaps, Pr-professor," she murmured, her honey-brown eyes meeting his without reservation. "However, the future as it stands is horrifying in its own right."

"I am dead," Severus stated with an arched brow, "In that future."

"Yes-s," she nodded her eyes losing focus.

This was not news to Severus; he had known since the day he went to Dumbledore that he would die in the wizarding Armageddon to come. "And- him-," he inquired, "did he prevail?" The girl was silent for so long he thought she would ignore the question. When she spoke the answer was not what he had expected.

"N-no," she shook her head for good measure.

Severus had never been so angry; in fact, he would have doubted that even he could boil with such rage. Reaching out he grasped the girl's upper arms hauling her into a semi-sitting position, her head lolling backward as if too heavy to hold erect. There were so many things he wished to say, shout and snarl, but all he seemed capable of was an animalistic howl of outrage.

"He was defeated," he snarled.

"Ye-yes," she murmured thickly, causing Severus to thrust her from him. She fell back to the bed like a rag doll and absent the strength to move remained sprawled before him.

"What have you done," he whispered his face ashen with fear and disbelief. "You've doomed us all!"

"No," the girl's voice was stronger now, but her movements were still laborious as she struggled to rise, as she grasped his left arm with hers. "No," she shook her head. "My t-time is already gone and this time things wi-will- be different…You and I, we can save Lily's son. We can give him the life Dumbledore denied him…You can live…Please, I-," Snape listened to the impassioned pleas of the girl and was not surprised when her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she passed out, slumping on to the pillows her cool fingers covering the hideous mark on his skin.

Seconds later, Dorie popped into existence beside the girl and began murmuring to the girl, stroking her hair away from her face as she cooed and soothed the girl lovingly. Severus remembered nights when he'd been locked in the basement and it was only Dorie's gnarled fingers smoothing his hair that let the tears cease and allowed a scared and lonely boy to sleep.

"Dorie," he sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose and let his eyes travel to the house elf that had been his constant. "What have you done?"

His, no, the girl's elf turned large, misty eyes on him as she tended to the girl. "Miss came here after-after Sir was gone. Dorie watched as she searched, looking for a way to save Sir. I listened as she wept; tears for Sir and Harry Potter and tears for Miss and felt her magic touch this place and it felt like Sir's magic and I knew Dorie would be Miss's and Miss would save Sir and Sir wouldn't leave Dorie."

"Dorie," he sank to the bed beside the girl. "I have known since that day, the day I betrayed Lily that-," his words were interrupted by a disapproving mewl from Dorie.

"Sir made a mistake and Sir paid," she thumped his left arm where the dark mark was beginning to gain power, "Keeps paying!"

"Betrayal has a higher price, Dorie!"

"Sir paid," the little house elf growled.

"They died because I-," Severus cried, standing from the bed, turning his back on the elf as his fingers pulled at his hair.

"No," it was the quietly spoken words from the girl that had him turning around, "She died because Peter Pettigrew betrayed her. You saved them more than once; even though you hated James for the way he'd treated you and were heart broken by Lily's inability to forgive such a little thing."

"You don't know," he growled as he narrowed his black gaze upon the girl.

"I know," the girl assured him, "I know that you deserve better than to die hated and reviled by your own side, our side, and unappreciated by the other because one megalomaniacal old man decides to play a real-life game of wizard's chess." Her words were weak, but she kept her gaze steady upon him as she spoke. "You helped Lily incant the blood magic that she used to protect her son and you warned them numerous times when the Death Eaters got too close."

"Dumbledore," he muttered as he shook his head denying her words.

"Dumbledore," she sneered, and he couldn't help but frown at the hatred she seemed to display in each syllable of the name. "Has no right to dictate the price for your forgiveness; he is the one that allowed Tom Riddle to go unchecked. He saw the boy, twisted by hatred and neglected, and he knew what he could become, but Dumbledore did not wish to change the boy. The things I know about Dumbledore would send him to Azkaban for the kiss and believe me if I get the chance that is exactly where he'll be."

"I warn you," Severus growled through gritted teeth as he leaned close to her face, "I will protect Dumbledore he is the only hope the wizarding world has left."

"And he is waiting for a boy to become a man before he does anything," she lifted her head until she was nearly touching him as she continued. "I know you do not believe Harry Potter is the only way to end this; divination is a wooly subject and Trelawney gave one true prophecy and is a laughing stock. Complete the ritual with me and you will understand."

"Understand what," he raked his eyes down her exposed body before meeting her gaze again with a cruel sneer on his face, "I doubt there is much you have to offer."

Her laughter was not the response he expected, "Oh, sir, I am so glad to see you again," she smiled at him with what he believed to be a look of relief.

"You have no idea what you are saying!" Severus moved to step away, but the girl caught her fingers in his hair as she held him still with a hand at his neck.

"I do," she murmured as she let her thumb slide along his throat to rest upon his erratically beating pulse. "I came here to right many wrongs, but if all I do is safe you from them it will have been worth every drop of my blood. We can do this without completing the ritual. I know all I need to know to end this before it begins. I will not be another master to you; I am willing to accept your decision as long as you are willing to work with me."

"You would allow yourself to cease to exist if I should decide against completing the ritual?"

"That was always a possibility," She smiled a little sadly at her erstwhile professor, "You never liked me I was a frizzy-haired, buck-toothed little know-it-all sorted into your rival house. I just want to set you free." The last words were gasped as the girl once again lost consciousness and her fingers slithered along his exposed neck like a caress as her hand fell to the pillow beside her head. Severus frowned and grasped the girl's wrist between long, pale fingers, her pulse was erratic and she had not regained her color.

"Dorie," he demanded, "Bring me the book quickly." No sooner had the words left his lips than Dorie was gone and back again holding the large book out to him. Opening it and flipping to the Blood-Time spell. "Indietro Nel Tempo," Severus mumbled as he began to read and with each word he began to understand exactly what she had done.

Severus didn't know how many times he'd read the passage through before he couldn't bring himself to look at them again. She had essentially damned her own soul in crossing from her time to his; she had not only bound her body in servitude to him, she had surrendered her magic and soul to him as well. She knowingly used virgin's blood in the spell and in so doing had sealed her fate. They would have to seal the bond if she was to live longer than a few lunar cycles, it was the only way. If she'd cast the incantation sans maidenhead she would have been recovering so much faster, but because Dark Magic twisted anything of purity and worth she would take several months to waste away unless they completed the bond.

"I don't expect you to seal the bond," she murmured, moving her hand with great effort to rest upon his on the book. "I know you love Lily."

"Love," he sneered. "I am incapable of that emotion."

"No," she shook her head and with a slight smile upon her lips she continued, "You loved her before he twisted it."

Severus narrowed his black eyes on her as he all but through the book across the room. "You believe I do not deserve to die defeating the Dark Lord and yet you come here resigned to a slow painful death. If I am this paragon of virtue, surely, I would do all that is in my power to save you."

"I know you would," she sighed and looked away, "but I made a choice when I came here. I cou-could have gone to s-someone and-and-," she blushed, stammering to a stop, biting her lower lip.

"Fucked them," he sneered.

"Yes," she turned angry eyes on him as she hissed the one word.

"Why didn't you," he demanded, reaching out to wrap the fingers of his left hand around her throat, exerting just enough pressure to ensure she felt the threat they implied, and using them to hold her gaze, "Why didn't you?"

"You've been owned," she murmured and her eyes filled with tears, "I won't be like them, but this magic can put right something Dumbledore and Lily Potter did to you."

"You believe the feelings I have held in the darkest recesses of my heart are not true," he asked as allowed his finger to gently stroke her chin.

"I believe them to have been true," she shuddered and he saw her thighs shift restlessly beneath the sheet from the corner of his eye. "There is one other effect of the blood magic Dorie and I invoked."

Severus frowned; she was implying Dumbledore and Lily had manipulated his feelings in some way. Searching his own memories and studying the emotional connection he felt for his now dead best friend Severus was shocked to realize the little witch was correct. "I have been—made to feel as I do?"

"Yes," she murmured and he frowned when a tear slipped from the corner of her eyes and slid into her hair.

"What," he demanded.

"Amore Per Sempre potion," she licked her lips and met his eyes as she explained. "The Love For Always potion is not like other love potions because it can only be brewed using the willingly given blood of the subjects, but there is no stipulation that the blood donor know it is to be used in the potion, just that the blood is from a willing participant and willingly consumed."

"While I was helping her secure her son's life," Severus murmured.

"Yes," she agreed, "Dumbledore told her that you could not be trusted to remain true to Harry unless they used your deep abiding love for her."

"But she loved Potter," he denied.

"The Love For Always potion only affects the principals if they take it," she murmured. "Can you think of anytime you ate—or drank anything given to you by her hand?"

Severus laughed, a deep pain filled laugh that sounded more like a wounded howl than mirth, "She gave me cake. We had finished the wards of the safe house and the blood magic that would insure her son's life if she sacrificed herself for him in that place. She made a small birthday cake, but refused to eat any because she was still trying to lose the baby weight." He could tell his story was not news to her, "But you knew this did you not?"

"Yes," she admitted.

"And what will you do if I say that I would prefer to remain as I am," he demanded.

"Then I will give you all of the information you need to save yourself, Harry and the rest of the wizarding world," she answered without a pause.

"So," he arched a brow as he spoke, "You will lay here in my bed wasting away to nothing? What will that accomplish?"

"You can search my memories and do what you have always done; the right thing," she muttered. "I trust you."

"Dangerous," he sneered as he let his eyes skim over her face to her throat watching his fingers stroke the graceful column.

"Imperative," she whispered, "He will come soon and ask something of you that you should never give."

"You think so," he murmured as he let his fingers trace downward to skim along her collarbone and trace patterns on her flesh just above her bare breasts. She was trembling beneath his touch and he was sure if she had not lost so much blood during the ritual she would be flushed with her desire.

"Yes," she answered.

Severus sat quiet for a moment and then he stood from the bed releasing her; looking to Dorie he spoke, "I am going to prepare a blood replenishing draught you are to prepare Miss for the completion of the ritual as outlined in article sixteen on page three hundred and ninety-four of that abominable book!"

She watched him as he moved gracefully toward the door, even without his robes he cut an intimidating figure as he stopped in the door frame and his long graceful fingers reached out to grasp the wood. Turning back to her he let his eyes slide from her unruly hair along her body to her toes before slowly letting his gaze meet hers. The look in his eyes was intense and she knew the sight of her naked flesh had affected him. He licked his lips and she gasped making him smirk. "Eager are we," he lowered his voice to the smooth honey and whiskey drawl he reserved for his most subtle taunting. She would have blushed if she had enough blood within her body to do so. "Tell me, little lioness, what is your name?"

"Hermione," she sighed.

"Hermione—," he coaxed.

"Hermione Granger," she bit her lip as she answered shaking her head, "but that person no longer exists she ceased being when I crossed over." Severus raised an expressive eyebrow and left without another word.

Hermione felt too weak. The magic to bring her here had taken a toll on her and she knew she must have passed in and out of consciousness many times during Dorie's preparations and each time she awoke she could hear Dorie's one sided conversation. "Sir is a good man…Sir is light bound in darkness, but Sir has a good heart. Sir is going to bind you to him and Miss and Sir will keep them safe for all time."

She was naked again; even with her blood lose she knew Dorie was preparing her for the culmination of the blood magic; it caused a wing of fear to flutter in her belly. Hermione felt the stroke of Dorie's cloth over her right foot and heard the tinkling of water into a bowl. The warm water infused the room with the scents of lavender and sandal wood and there seemed to be a cadre of candles hovering above the bed a bit like those found in the Great Hall. "I'm frightened," Hermione murmured.

Dorie froze in the midst of gently cleansing her left calf and ankle, her high pitched voice was oddly comforting as she answered, "Miss is very brave, very noble, to give her blood, body and soul to do right. Sir—Sir will not understand what Dorie already knows—what Miss suspects. Sir has never had what his tender heart needed to flourish and he will kick against the pricks. You see, Mistress did not care for the boy, Master despised him—hurt him, and even the red haired witch did not appreciate his worth. Too long, Sir has been pulled like a bone between two dogs; he needs to know he is a wizard strong and true. He needs to know that when stars fall he will not stand alone."

"What do you know, Dorie," Hermione whispered the question fearfully.

"It took Miss a year to come here and Dorie watched Miss each day as she studied the dark book," the little elf turned and met Hermione's eyes with a smile that would have looked sinister if one did not know the sweet nature of Dorie. "Dorie knows Miss could have chosen the lessor spell from the other book and merged with Sir's mind across time. Miss could have given him all he needed and then gone back to Miss' life, but instead Miss used the Indietro Nel Tempo with virgin blood."

"Information without context would have wreaked havoc," Hermione muttered blushing.

"If Miss says so," Dorie snickered as she went back to her ministrations and helped Hermione raise herself to rest against the headboard. "Miss will bring peace to my little Sir."

"I will try," Hermione giggled, "He really hated me before."

"Sir did as Headmaster ordered him, Miss knows this, Sir will come to care for Miss the same as Miss cares for him."

"How can you be sure," Hermione asked, uncertainly.

"You will give Sir that which no other ever has," Dorie answered matter of factly, "You will trust him with all that is in you. When Sir comes to Miss she must open herself: mind, body and soul. It will break the hold Headmaster has on Sir and the walls keeping Sir a prisoner will crumble. " The cloth ran along the bottom of her foot again and then it was gone. "Soon now," Dorie murmured as she stroked Hermione's hair from her face and over her shoulder. "Sir is calling," the little elf murmured and then she was gone.

Severus stood with shoulders tense and head bowed over the gently bubbling cauldron. His hands braced upon the work table were white as they tried to dig gouges into the hard surface. The potion would be completed within minutes and all he could think about was the woman upstairs in his bed. What did she hope to gain; it made no sense to him. She was here in this time to make sure he lived through the war, but he didn't even know if he wanted to survive.

The potion shimmered and then it was ready; mechanically, Severus lowered the flame and bottled the brew. Calling, "Dorie," Severus stopped the bottle and waited for the house elf. When she arrived he handed her the vial and commanded, "Give her this to drink and finish preparing her. Once you have made her ready leave this house until the sun rises the day after tomorrow."

"Dorie will do as Sir asks," she nodded as she hugged the bottle to her tea-towel covered chest. "Dorie knew Sir would make Miss better. Miss is just what Dorie wanted for Sir when Sir went to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dorie watched Miss mourn Sir and Dorie knew Miss would bring Sir back to Dorie."

"You should not have helped her," he growled. "Do you have no idea what you have condemned her to?"

"Love," Dorie scowled at him, "Dorie has condemned her to love. Miss is ready for Sir." Then she snapped her fingers and was gone.