"Hermione, what have you done?" Kinsley Shacklebolt stood up, staring at her in horror. Everyone else in the room, eyes wide and hands on their wands, followed suit.
The girl in question stood tall under everyone's gaze, and stared them down. "I did what I had to do, when no one else would." But she knew it wasn't her they were staring at. There, in the shadows behind her, was the very imposing, very alive, figure of Severus Snape.
It had been three months since the end of the war - three long months of weeping for those who died, of mourning those whose lives had been cut short or scarred. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had all received the First Class of Merlin for their efforts in defeating Lord Voldemort, and were, even now, being jostled from party to freakin' party. Ministry officials seemed to think that that was the way to win back the trust of the people, after being taken over by Death Eaters for more than a year. But it was ridiculous! No one was given any time to breathe, let alone properly mourn for their lost loved ones. Hermione was still struggling with Fred, Remus, and Tonks' deaths, and hadn't had a good night's rest since the start of the bloody war.
Oh sure, she'd put on a mask for the celebrations, pretending she was okay, but on the inside, she was broken. And she knew the others were the same. Even the so-called relationship she and Ron had did not help. It was in saving her Professor that Hermione felt like she had a purpose. She found she could breathe again and forget about the darkness surrounding her, at least for a time.
Ron, face red with anger and betrayal, stood up and stomped up to her. "So this is what you've been doing, all this time! Why would you help him? He nothing but a right-foul git!"
"Stop it Ron! He's a hero! If it wasn't for Professor Snape, we'd all be dead, or worse! He's the one we should be thanking, not leaving him to die on a dirty floor where no one would find the body!" Her eyes flashed with her anger and disgust at everyone in the room for not seeing what she saw.
After the battle, Harry told everyone about Severus Snape's sacrifice for them all, trying to clear his name. It was hard, but he eventually convinced them to honor the dead man. It was this testimony that prompted Hermione to find the Professor and give him a proper burial. While everyone was busy with family, Hermione ran off to the Shrieking Shack, determined to pay her last respects to a man who she never truly understood. But when she got there, she found he was still breathing, but barely. Not wanting to desert him again, she quickly apparated the two of them to her parents' old home, and set about healing him. Hermione kept it secret, not sure of how the others would react. Even now people had an innate distrust for the man who saved them all. After a month of continuous healing, he finally woke up, to her greatest relief and excitement.
Of course, things weren't all peaches and cream for the young witch. After a couple of days of constant glaring and yelling for saving him, he then progressed to outright ignoring her. But this didn't deter her from helping when she could. She brought him food, and helped him eat it, even if he had to be restrained. She also brought him the newspaper and potions magazines, and going so far as to read it to him while he slept. After another month and being repeatedly told by him that she wasn't needed, she left him in his home in Spinner's End (she had transferred him there as soon as he woke up). It killed her, but there was nothing more she could do for him. He was completely healed.
Now, a month later, Hermione could see that he at least tolerated her, if his sudden appearance at Number 12 Grimmauld Place meant anything. This man, whom she had feared and even hated at times for his cruelty, had wormed his way into her heart without even trying. And while she knew he would never want to be her friend, let alone anything more, it was enough to just be near him. She felt more comfortable with the man constantly shrouded in shadows than the people with whom she fought and grew up with.
Even Ron Weasley, her supposed boyfriend.
Minerva McGonagall, hoping to release the tension in the room, stepped between Hermione and Ron, followed closely by Harry. "How did you do it Hermione? From what the three of you said, Nagini-"
"You really think I didn't prepare for that inevitability? I expected more from you, Minerva." Severus moved from the shadows, stepping up behind Hermione as he spoke for the first time. "I developed a resistance to that damn snake's venom behind Voldemort's back, knowing he'd try to kill me one day."
Hermione spoke quietly, though with conviction. "It was the wounds and blood loss that I had to heal, and considering the shape we left him in, I was afraid he would never wake up…"
"So you've been healing him this entire time…?"
"Yes and no, Prof- Minerva. He was-"
Snape interrupted Hermione, getting straight to the point. "I was in a coma for the first month, woke up, and have been taking care of myself for the last month. Any more questions?" he stated impatiently.
Harry stepped up, looking straight into the man's eyes. "Professor, I'm sorry for leaving you-"
Ron, finally recovering from Hermione's outburst, pushed past his family, McGonagall, and finally his best friend. "Harry! Why are you apologizing to him? After everything he's done to all of us! I don't care what you said, about him actually being on our side or something, he's still a greasy-git!
"And what has he done to you Hermione? He must've brainwashed you or something. Come on, I'll protect you," and grabbed her arm.
Before anyone could react, Severus had his wand out, pointed straight at Ron's throat, his other hand seizing the boy's wrist in a bone-crushing grip. "I suggest, you release her, now."
"Ron! Let go of Hermione! You're hurting her." Harry tried to reason with him, pulling on his shoulder.
"NO! He did enough to us during school, I won't watch him corrupt her now!"
Hermione struggled in his grasp. "Ron, let me go. Please."
"I won't say it again, Weasley. Release her." Severus tightened his hold.
"Ron, listen to him…" Harry tried again.
Done with the redhead, Severus twisted his hand, breaking Ron's wrist in the process. Ron yelled out, immediately letting go of Hermione's arm and falling to the ground. As soon as he did, Severus pulled Hermione away, making sure she was out of the boy's reach. He kept his wand pointed at Ron the entire time. No one in the room moved, not sure of how to intervene.
After the initial shock of pain, Ron glared up at the two, shooting daggers at Severus. "We were doing just fine before! Then you show up! What do you want, huh?"
Severus met Ron, glare for glare, without even breaking a sweat. All those years teaching weren't for nothing.
"I'm here to take what is mine."
With that, he reached behind him, grabbed Hermione by the waist, and sealed his lips to hers. Eyes wide, Hermione just stood there, not knowing what else to do. But after a minute, she gave into her hidden desires, closed her eyes, and began to kiss him back. Forgetting everyone else, she wrapped her arms around his neck, hands diving into his surprisingly soft hair, to deepen the kiss. She could feel and hear his approving growl before a tug at her naval alerted her to her changing location.
The two were jolted apart as they landed, and Hermione took the moment to look around. The room was dark, courtesy of the long dark green drapes that had been pulled closed, with just enough light for her to see the more obvious details, such as a rug covering the wooden floorboards, an old mirror, the walls covered in books… a queen sized bed…
Hermione wasn't given any more time to explore as she felt a hand grip her chin, forcibly turning her head. Soon enough, a pair of deep black eyes met her own chocolate brown ones, captivating her with the lust shining in them. "My room…" Severus whispered before he resealed their lips. She gasped as she felt his hands roam down her body, arms trapping her against his own. Taking advantage of her slip, he darted his tongue into her mouth, tracing every cavern and even playing with her own tongue, enticing her to join in the fun. After a second's hesitation, she did, and found herself lost in the feelings he inspired.
Before she knew it, they were laying on the bed, him on top, one knee between her legs and two sets of hands roaming everywhere. But when his hand started to unclasp her bra, she suddenly pushed him away, disconnecting their lips in the process. He stopped his ministrations, though kept his hands where they were, and just stared down into her eyes.
Feeling a blush begin, Hermione quickly stomped it down as she regained her breath. "Wait… I-I… What are you doing?"
Severus raised an eyebrow at her, obviously amused. "I would think it were obvious, Her-mi-one."
The way he said her name made her shiver in pleasure, and blush like crazy in embarrassment. "Not what I meant. I meant, why me? What could you possibly see in me, Pro-professor?"
His face softened, and his hand moved to cup her cheek. "Why not you? You, the most brilliant witch of your age, savior of the wizarding community, the world… me. You, who should have been off celebrating, went back and saved me from death. You, who stuck by me, enduring my rants and less-than-pleasant behavior. You, who then left…
"I won't lose you again, Hermione. As I told Weasley before, you are mine. And I will not have some dunderhead boy take you from me. I need you." There was a possessive gleam in his pitch black eyes, but, more than that, Hermione could see love and adortion. She knew he was telling the truth, no matter how unbelievable it might sound to others. He then dipped his head to whisper in her ear, "And you will call me Severus."
Shivering from his husky tone, she just nodded her head. "I'll never leave again… Severus."
He smirked at her, growling his approval before attaching his lips to hers once more, finding a better use for their tongues.