Author Note – I know…I'm awful. No excuses except real life being a b*tch.

But I still wake up

I still see your ghost

Oh Lord I'm still not sure what I stand for

What do I stand for?

What do I stand for?

Most nights I don't know anymore

I try twice as hard but I'm half as liked

I found a martyr in my bed tonight

She stops my bones from wondering

Just who I am, who I am, who I am

Oh who am I?

Less than a week after Dumbledore's funeral Hermione was sat in the empty Gryffindor common putting the last couple of things in her trunk. As soon as she'd been able to get away from everyone Hermione had snuck down to Severus' office and took all the notes from their meetings. Those were now tucking inside her special box alongside her own notes.

Severus had not responded to her message but she hoped that by now he would have at least had the chance to read it.

Closing her trunk Hermione sat back and slipped her own slate from her pocket. Professor McGonagall had told her she could stay at Hogwarts as long as she needed to but Hermione knew she had to leave. She had to go to the Burrow to meet up with Ron and Harry, but there was something else she had to do first.

Hermione tapped a message onto the slate and pocketed it. Then she stood up and left the common room with her trunk.

I'll be at the Leaky Cauldron from one o'clock. I'll let you know what room.

Hermione sat on one of the chairs in the room she had rented at the Leaky Cauldron. It had two chairs and a table in front of the window which looked over the Alley. A small sofa was placed in front of the fire which had a warm fire burning in the hearth. There was also a large double bed on the other side of the room. Hermione ignored the bed. In fact she ignored everything except the clock on the wall. She had arrived at the Leaky around one o'clock that afternoon. It was now nearly eleven. Hermione sighed and looked at the clock again. Only two minutes had passed since the last time she had checked.

On the table in front of her were two untouched plates of food. When she arrived at the Leaky to rent a room and order some food, Hermione had glamoured herself to have short black hair with pale skin and blue eyes. She didn't want anyone seeing both her and Severus in the same place on the same night.

If he arrived that is.

Hermione had waited so that the inevitable celebrations the Death Eaters were having would not be going on and he could make excuses to be absent for a while. At least she hoped that was the case.

Just as she went to check the clock again there was a light knock at the door to the room. Hermione quickly drew her wand and went to the door, but didn't open it. 'Who's there?'

'It's me.'

Hermione recognized his voice but still didn't open the door. 'Prove it.'

There was a pause and suddenly the slate in her pocket vibrated. Hermione took it from her pocket and read the message there.

Open the door Hermione.

Hermione sighed in relief, dropped the wards she'd put on the door and wrenched it open. Severus quickly came in and she shut the door behind him.

Hermione turned from replacing the wards to find Severus stood in the middle of the room watching her as he removed his cloak.

'I'm so glad you're okay Severus.'

'Are you?'

Hermione stopped in the middle of reaching for him. His voice was so cold, so unlike the way he usually spoke to her.

'Of course I'm glad you're alright. I've been worried about you.'

'I'm fine.'

Hermione couldn't understand why he was so distant. He was obviously pushing her away, but why? 'Severus, instead of being a git, just tell me what's wrong.'

Severus walked around the room a little as though looking it over, but Hermione knew he couldn't care less what the room looked like. 'I am now the most hated man in wizarding Britain.'

Hermione felt her eyes widen at his statement. 'So that's it.' Severus looked at her briefly when she spoke.

''So that's it'? That all you've got to say?' Severus turned to glare at her and stomped over to tower over her. 'I just brought up the fact that the only people who don't hate me are the worst scum of our society, that I murdered the greatest leader of our time, and all you have to say is 'so that's it'?'

Hermione looked up at him and could see the torment in his eyes. She knew how guilty he felt over something he'd had no way out of. Reaching up to stroke his cheek Hermione spoke to him softly. 'Do you have any idea of how many times I begged Dumbledore to find another way? To tell someone else what was going on?' Hermione continued without letting him reply. 'At least three times a week I would go to his office and ask him. The closer we got to the end of term the more I begged. I didn't care that I was basically telling him about our relationship. I didn't care that any other plan might not have worked. I just wanted for you to not have to kill him. I didn't want this to happen.' Hermione lifted her other hand to cup his face in a tight grip. 'I didn't want you to end up feeling so guilty for something he gave you no choice over.'

Hermione let go of his face and took a steadying breath. 'Did you get my message?'

Severus nodded slightly. 'Yes, but I – '

'No buts Severus. I loved you before and I still love you now.' Hermione looked away from him. Unable to face him if he rejected her. 'I understand if you don't feel – '

Suddenly Hermione found herself unable to talk as Severus' lips crashed against her own. Clinging to him Hermione kissed him back. Desperate to feel him again, to make sure he was really okay.

'Oh Severus,' she whispered against his lips, 'I love you so much.'

'I shouldn't but…I love you too.'

Hermione felt a thrill go through her at his words and she looked up at him. Letting her feelings show in her eyes. 'Severus, make love to me tonight, please.'

Severus watched her for so long she feared he would refuse and then, he nodded.

As they began kissing again, they started removing each other's clothes. By the time they reached the bed they were naked, but ready to take their relationship to the next level.

The early hours of the morning found Hermione still awake, as was Severus, and still naked in bed. Hermione lay tucked into Severus' shoulder, her arm across his stomach and his arms wrapped around her.

Not wanting to disturb the comfortable silence but knowing she had to Hermione spoke for the first time in hours. 'You know it's not your fault, right? That he gave you no other choice?'

Severus kissed the top of her head. 'Intellectually. That doesn't mean I don't feel responsible.'

Hermione scowled in frustration. 'You're as bad as Harry with your irrational guilt.'

Severus sounded peeved. 'I'd rather not talk about Potter while we are naked in bed thank you.'

She giggled and sat up to look at him, not at all worried about her naked assets being on show. 'What, Harry isn't in your thoughts in bed? I'm surprised Severus, you two are usually so close.'

'Minx.' Severus said with a growl before tickle her sides and making her squirm.

'Okay, okay, I'm sorry! Stop, please!' Hermione giggled and gasped her pleas out and Severus relented, smirking at her.

'That's better. Honestly are you trying to give me more nightmares?'

Hermione shook her head and smiled softly. 'No, but I hope I've given you some good memories to think of instead.'

'Yes. The fact that you should not love someone like me and yet still do…it does give me good memories.' Severus shifted and held her closer to him. 'Especially of the last few hours.'

After finally eating the meal Hermione had ordered, the two of them got dressed and then stood together watching the sun rise over Diagon Alley. Severus was stood behind Hermione with his arms wrapped around her waist.

'You need to go now, don't you?' Hermione asked him sadly.

'Yes.' Severus tightened his grip on her briefly. 'I've stayed too long as it is.'

Hermione sighed and turned in his arms to look up at him. 'I'll hang around for an hour or so and then leave as well.'

Severus nodded as he looked down at her. 'I do not know how often I will be able to send messages.'

'I know. Given how I expect things to go…it's the same for me.' Hermione picked up her slate and murmured a spell over it. 'There, I've added a charm that will make the slates retain messages for longer and keep them in the order they were written.'

'I take it they are both changed when you alter one? Since you are not asking for mine.'

Hermione nodded and put her slate back down. 'Yes, now just tap it to reveal the messages, tap to scroll through and then tap individual messages to clear them.' She didn't look at Severus as she spoke, wanting to delay the time they would have to say goodbye. Who knew when they would see each other again? Let alone what circumstances would surround that next meeting.

'Hermione, look at me.' Severus' hands rubbed up and down her arms. 'Please…' She lifted her head trying to hold back her tears. 'We might not know when we'll see each other again, but we will – '

Hermione shook her head and put her finger over his lips. 'Don't…we both know that we are about to do very dangerous things.' She sighed and dropped her hand. 'There are no guarantees in life. So don't make promises you can't keep.'

Severus watched her for a moment before hugging her to him. 'I may not know what will happen to us but…I can promise this. I will always love you. I don't know how, but you worked your way into my life and now I can't help but want to keep you in it.'

Hermione clung to him fiercely. 'I love you too Severus. Always.'

Hermione walked up to the Burrow and knocked on the kitchen door.

'Who's there?' Ginny asked through the door.

'It's Hermione.'

'Prove it.'

Hermione frowned and figured Mr Weasley was making them use new security measures. But how could she prove who she was…

'You are the only person who knows the identity of my boyfriend. And you kept teasing me by singing the 'sitting in the tree' song whenever you could.'

The door opened and she was dragged inside before being hugged tightly by her friend.

Ginny stepped back and then yelled out. 'Hermione's here.' She looked back to Hermione. 'We've been worried, Professor McGonagall said you left at lunch time yesterday.'

Hermione winced as she realised her mistake but before she could explain Mrs Weasley appeared on the stairs and came to hug her even tighter than Ginny had.

'Oh thank Merlin! We were so worried.'

Hermione patted Mrs Weasley's back. 'I'm sorry, I just had to sort my head out. I should have let someone know.'

'It's alright dear,' Mrs Weasley pulled back to look at her. 'You're here now. Ron's still asleep but Ginny and I have been up for a while. Arthur is at work.'

Ginny was looking at her strangely. 'You seem different, Hermione…' she looked Hermione over and then her quick mind put the very few facts together and she gasped. 'Oh! You were with him last night!

As her red headed friend gave a girlish, but un-Ginny-like squeal, Hermione blushed as Mrs Weasley was right behind Ginny in figuring things out.

'Hermione Granger!' She said in a shocked voice. 'You spent the night with a boy?'

Ginny gave a snort. 'You could say that Mum.'

Hermione could feel the heat in her face. 'We've been together since about Christmas time Mrs Weasley.'

Mrs Weasley frowned. 'I've told you many times to call me Molly, dear. How come I didn't hear of this?'

'We kept it quiet because…he's a Slytherin.' Hermione explained as she allowed Molly to usher her and Ginny into the kitchen to have some tea. 'Ginny's the only one who knows who he is, not even Ron and Harry know.'

Molly bustled around with the tea pot and cups. 'Well that's understandable. I love those boys dearly but they would be hard pressed to act normally around the boy if they knew who he was.'

Hermione smiled gratefully at Molly's understanding and the fact that she hadn't batted an eye at her mystery man being a Slytherin. 'Thank you, Molly.'

'Of course dear,' the Weasley matriarch set the tea down and poured cups for them all. 'All long as he treats you well, but you're a smart girl, you wouldn't be with someone unsuitable.'

Ginny and Hermione exchanged looks. 'Tell her Hermione.'

Hermione's eyes went wide. 'I can't! He could get killed! I won't risk that.'

'Mum can take a vow not to reveal anything,' Ginny looked at her mother. 'You'll do that won't you Mum?'

'Why? Why is it so necessary to keep it a secret?' Molly looked between the two of them closely. 'I know given the way things are it's…but surely a vow isn't needed.'

Hermione shook her head. 'I'm sorry Molly, I would love to tell you, but without a vow I won't even consider it. As it is Ginny took a vow in January. I found one that would even protect the secret from Legilimency.'

Molly sat back in her chair and looked to be doing so serious thinking. 'Very well. I'll take the vow then.'

Sagging in relief Hermione quickly cast multiple warding and silencing spells around the kitchen to keep from being disturbed.

'Thank you, now the vow is an really old style, it fell out of favour because it required a high level of trust between the two parties.' Hermione rolled her wand in her hands. 'I need to place the tip of my wand directly between your eyes, that's where the trust comes in, you need to believe, utterly and completely, that I would never harm you – '

'Well of course you wouldn't.' Molly burst out before she could go further. 'Silly girl.'

Hermione grinned. 'Okay well, here goes.' She put her wand in position and began speaking. 'Molly Delphinia Weasley, do you swear, with full awareness and willingness, to never – by look, deed or thought, willingly or unwillingly – reveal any information I would consider a secret without my express and willing permission?'

'I do so swear.' Molly said without the slightest hesitation.

In response a golden light flowed from Hermione's wand to bathe Molly completely before sinking into her skin.

Hermione started rolling her wand in her hands again, a nervous habit she'd had since starting Hogwarts. 'Ginny, you should probably pour your Mum a shot of firewhiskey.'

Molly lifted an eyebrow at this. 'I don't usually drink whiskey Hermione.'

Ginny snorted and set the wwhiskey in front of her mother. 'Trust me, you'll need this.'

Taking a deep breath Hermione braced herself. 'My partner is Severus Snape.'


'ENOUGH!' Hermione screamed as she jolted to her feet. 'I won't sit here and let you berate the man I love!'


'SHUT UP! I'm not finished! I'm sick of everyone worshipping the ground Albus Bloody Dumbledore walked on! That man forced Severus to promise to kill him!'

Molly staggered and sat down. 'What?' She whispered as Ginny hurriedly placed another whiskey in front of her. 'Albus did what?'

Hermione reined in her temper. 'Just before the beginning of the school year I overheard Albus and Severus talking. The curse on Albus' hand would kill him within a year in a very painful way, he made Severus promise to kill him before then not only to stop his suffering but because they knew that Voldemort would most likely get Malfoy to try to kill him, Albus wanted to save Malfoy from that.'

It was evidence of how shocked Molly truly was that she didn't even flinch at Voldemort's name being spoken.

Sinking back into her seat Hermione dropped her head into her hands. 'He didn't give the slightest thought to Severus being forced to kill him. I begged him, so many times, over and over, I begged him to find another way…' she paused to try and hold back her tears. 'I didn't care that I was confirming our relationship, I just wanted – needed – Severus to be free from that task.' Giving in to her wild emotions Hermione burst into tears. 'And now…god knows if we'll even see each other again…'

Two sets of arms found their way around Hermione and held her as she let out the emotions that had been building inside her for so long. Eventually as her tears dried Hermione gather the courage to look up at Molly.

'Please don't hate him,' she begged quietly. 'Hate me if you like, I don't care, but please don't hate him, I couldn't bare it.'

'Oh dear,' Molly hugged her close. 'I could never hate you, and given what you've told me…I can't hate Severus either. Though I wouldn't mind the opportunity to give Albus a piece of my mind.'

Hermione chuckled tearfully against Molly's shoulder and clutched the woman tighter. 'Thank you,' she whispered fervently. 'Thank you.'

'Of course, now dry your eyes,' Molly conjured a hanky and handed it over. 'What I want to know is – can the same thing be said of big noses as is said for feet?'

Hermione's jaw dropped in shock and then the three of them burst into laughter, which she suspected had been Molly's aim.

Summoning fresh tea, Molly looked back to Hermione curiously. 'Now, why don't the two of you tell me how this all got started?'

Hermione and Ginny spent the next hour going over everything that had happened during the year that they had kept from the boys – Molly had gotten a laugh out of the way she had confused Harry after his eavesdropping. The woman also proclaimed how proud she was of Hermione's contribution to the Order.

The Weasley matriarch had repeatedly uttered curses towards Dumbledore, much like her daughter had done at various times during the year. Hermione had found great comfort in the motherly figure Molly presented. Not having her own mother to confide these things in was hard but Molly made it easier.

The only slightly sour point was when Molly scolded her and Severus (despite his absence) for not thinking of protection, though she had accepted that they had been emotional and caught in the moment. Molly had then taught Hermione, and Ginny, a charm that could be used up to twenty four hours after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

They were also taught other charms that had made both girls blush. Charms that could be used in the bedroom. Hermione had seen a brief wince cross Ginny's face, most likely at the thought of why Molly knew the charms before resolutely ignoring that information.

The girl talk was only interrupted when Hermione's wards alerted them to Ron coming down the stairs. All in all though, Hermione was more than relieved to have another person to talk to about her worries for Severus.

Author Note - Thank you for all the favourites, follows and reviews that have been added since the last time I updated (over a year!). I really appreciate them and it makes my day to know someone likes my story.

Let me know what you think of this chapter.