AN: My dearest minions! Err..I mean followers :P You have my most humble apologies for keeping you waiting this long for a new update. I had good reason however as my mind has only just stopped spinning after handing in several essays and working all weekend in my job. What can I say, capitalism at its best! But here is another chapter for you, and I hope some steaminess will make up for the long waiting you had to endure. On top of that, I promise you ANOTHER chapter either this weekend still or on Monday the latest, as it will be a piece that goes hand in hand with this one. There is warning however, this story is rated for Mature, and with a good reason as most of you by now that I am a fairly explicit writer. Those of you who are under 18, I know you will read it anyway so you may as well enjoy it :P Those of you who are adults already, I hope it tickles your senses at least a little ;) And a BIG THANK YOU for your continued reviews and support, I aim to please even if it costs me sleep sometimes :D Here is chapter 20 for you, enjoy!

Love,

Raven


Dumbledore was pacing in his office, a dark frown marring his forehead. Things were not going to plan at all! The Potter brat made the know-it-all his sister by blood and formed his own political party! This was not meant to happen! To top it all off, they killed Tom for the whole of Wizarding World to know, and kept the fame. He was consorting with the enemy at Malfoy Manor, and even his ever loyal Severus has abandoned him! He should have realised that the man was nothing but a slippery Slytherin.

And now William was minister. If only they had put Arthur forward as their own candidate in order to control the ministry. But with being cut off from the Potter vaults AND the restitution on his shoulders, Dumbledore's funds were more than tight. Even the members of the Order were starting to grumble about the lack of support they were used to before now. His whole campaign was going downhill and that simply wouldn't do. But he would get his revenge. No one will take down Albus Dumbledore...not after the many years he had been planning this...

…...

It was a madhouse. Bill had to leave to make a statement for the media, taking his fiance with him in support to show a united young family front for Magical Britain. Hermione and Harry sent the prepared statement to Daily Prophet and all other major newspapers, to express their delight at Bill's election and to show their continuous support. They had the ministry now as well, and they would make the changes necessary for peace in their realm.

Severus noticed Hermione's smile carried an edge to it, probably because of the great fatigue after the week of preparations and campaigning. But he did wonder it was not Ronald and his spiteful words that unsettled something deep within the young woman.

"Shall we retire?" he asked softly, holding her close in his arms as Champaign was flowing freely and everyone continued to celebrate.

Hermione turned to look at the dark man. "Is it not too early? We should stay and celebrate with Bill and his family." she said, fighting the tiredness in her eyes.

Severus shook his head. "There is a time for etiquette, and then there are times when one needs to listen to their body." he said and stood up, the young woman still in his arms as he carried her out of the living room and up the stairs.

Hermione, much to her mortification, let out a small squeal of surprise and wrapped her arms tightly around Severus' neck. "I am perfectly capable of walking!" she protested, worried he would drop her.

Severus only chuckled. "Perhaps. But would you really begrudge me the pleasure of carrying you to bed, my Lady?" he asked charmingly, knowing that might work to reassure her a little at least.

Hermione relaxed her hold on his neck somewhat and let one of her hands slide from his shoulder to rest on the firm chest, right over his heart. "How can I protest such a galant offer?" she replied with a tired smile.

Severus carried Hermione into her room and settled her gently on the bed. "You should rest and in the morning we shall celebrate." he suggested and stood to give her privacy if that was her wish.

Hermione however shook her head. "I..don't want to sleep. I would have nightmares." she admitted softly before standing once more before the man. She unfastened her dress and let it flow to the floor, leaving her almost bare to the man's gaze. Severus inhaled sharply at such an open display, praying for his resolve to remain firm. Something wasn't right. He could see it in Hermione's eyes, clear as day, that something was brewing inside her mind. But in the end he was powerless until she shared herself with him. Perhaps there was a way...

He stepped forward and let his hands caress the brunette's soft curved hips before pulling her closer to his body. "What do you wish then, my Lady?" he asked against the skin of her temple, the caress of his lips barely there but still making Hermione shiver.

She looked up and begun to unbutton his shirt. "What you did once already...but together this time." Her fingers were steadily making their way through all the buttons until the shirt fell open and she slipped her hands over his pale chest, letting her fingers bury in the small smattering of dark curls over his breastbone. "Shower with me." she finally suggested, making her intentions clear. She wanted nothing more then to just feel the man without the constant barrier of clothing each time they came into contact. She wanted to be able to touch him without it being a mere affection, but not necessarily to rouse him either. There was something sensual about nudity with a purpose, such as a simple shower.

Severus was wavering. It was true they were not following the traditional rules of courtship but he needed to know Hermione would not regret this step. She had been very trusting and opening both verbal and tactile affection so far, but without the knowledge of what was bothering her at the moment, Severus did not know whether it truly was safe to proceed. "Is that your true wish? Would you rather not simply-" but he paused as a slim digit was pressed against his lips.

"It's what I would enjoy very much..if you wanted to share a shower with me that is." Hermione smiled and rose up on her toes to press their lips together in a fleeting kiss.

After praying to Merlin, Mordred, Morgan and Salazar Slytherin all at once, Severus really hoped he would have the strength to resist the beauty in his arms and finally nodded his consent. They walked into Hermione's bathroom as it was a little larger of the two and he watched as the young woman simply dropped the scrap of lace considered panties and begun setting the temperature of the shower.

Severus bit back a moan of delight at the sight of her dimpled lower back and rounded cheeks, the wild curls he adored tangling his long, potion-stained fingers in were bounding around er shoulders as she moved. She was a vision, making him think of the many depictions of ancient goddesses in his history tomes. He suppressed more of such thoughts as they were raising a desire within him unlike any other, and while he would not be ashamed for his body's natural reaction to Hermione's beauty, his pleasure was not this eve's purpose. Afterall, a gentleman always saw to his lady's pleasure first. And Severus most certainly was a gentleman. Even if it did not loosen the young woman enough into telling him of her thoughts, at least it would bring her some release from the tension of the past weeks.

Hermione did not turn around as she stepped beneath the spray of water and her curls became heavy with the water they soaked, reaching almost to her lower back. Severus dropped the last of his clothing and stepped in behind her, closing the doors of the shower stall behind them and letting the steam build and coil around their bodies. The stall was spacious and yet he only took a small step and their bodies were pressed together intimately as he reached around the young woman to take a hold of the soap. Hermione leaned her head back against his chest and lifted her arms to wrap them around his neck. Her body was taunt and open to his gentle touch as he caressed and lathered her skin sensually, inch by torturous slow inch.

Hermione felt Severus' desire pressing into her cheeks and her own belly tightened in natural anticipation. She knew this would not be the night still for them to be joined, but she wanted to at least be able to touch Severus, feel his body and his skin. She gasped however when long skilled fingers begun carding through the trimmed curls at the apex of her thighs and could not help leaving further back into the man's embrace.

Severus felt her form shuddering against him, her stance opening a little wider and he hips pressing just a little bit into the touch. It was perhaps time to finally let his touch become a bit more intimate... His fingers slid gently through the curls until they spread the already slick nether lips in exploration. Hermione was warm and pliant beneath his touch and he could feel her opening quivering slightly in anticipation of being breached. And yet he toyed with her, letting his fingers travel back to the little button of pleasure and circled it expertly, wishing to hear her pleasure.

Hermione did not disappoint as a soft mewl of pleasure left her lips, her hips unconsciously bucking into his hand. Oh how she wanted him inside, touching her deeply. It has been way too long since she felt that kind of touch by another's hand and she craved it deeply. "Touch me..." she whispered, turning her hand to capture the man's lips in a deep kiss, trying to show him just what she needed.

And who was Severus to deny her? He slid his fingers towards her entrance once more and let once of the caress her intimately before slipping inside, curling and pressing against her quivering sensitive walls to bring her pleasure. Hermione's arms tightened around his neck as she pressed her back further into his chest, her supple buttocks grinding against Severus' loins. He echoed her moan and prayed he could see this beautiful young woman to completion without taking his own pleasure from her this time.

Hermione was lost in the sensations, her skin sensitive to the coarse curls rubbing against her shoulder blades, the hard length pressed against her lower back and those talented fingers playing with her. She was so close after the weeks of tension between them, knowing it might be over as soon as Severus touched her just a little differently.

As if reading her mind, Severus pressed another finger within her and crooked them withing her depths, finding just what he needed by the delighted moan that escaped Hermione's lips. The brunette turned into a wild lioness, nails digging into his shoulder and the securing arm around her waist as she ground her hips against him, feeling the coils in her belly tightening. Severus knew just what her undoing would be and stretched his elegant thumb between the folds, rubbing against the little bundle of pleasure above her entrance to finish her off.

He was rewarded by Hermione arching into his body as seemingly endless shudders rocked her body against his. The deep groan of satisfaction was sobbed out, the relief of finally coming in the man's arms as she dreamed of late at night too great. Severus pleasure her until she felt her body protest the over-stimulation slightly and gently pulled out, wrapping his other arm around her resting form as well.

Hermione felt as if she had died and gone to heaven. Her body was weightless and heavy all at once, and she wished she could touch the man in return but the gentle cleansing hands were back and she knew Severus would not allow it. Not just yet. They kissed and lavished small affections on each other, Severus enjoying greatly the rosiness of her cheeks and the joy in her eyes as they stepped out of the shower.

This time it was Hermione who took the warm towel off the heated and took great care in drying the man of every last drop of water, standing on tip toes to towel his silky hair. They were in bed soon, forgoing any clothing just for this night, as putting a barrier between them felt somewhat wrong after such intimacy on the shower. Hermione curled herself into Severus contently and played with his chest hair as she often would in an unguarded moment of intimacy. She was however brough out of her content thoughts by a softly spoken question.

"What worried your mind earlier?" Severus braved asking, rubbing her smooth back gently to keep her relaxed.

Hermione contemplated not answering but knew Severus deserved honesty from her. If they were to continue getting to know each other better and courting, she should tell him. "Ron's words...they hurt in a way I did not expect them to."

Severus sighed softly. It was as he had predicted. Hermione did not let the world at large criticise her for no good reason. But when harsh words were delivered from once trusted friend, they appeared to have hit their target. "You know you are nothing as he speaks." Severus said gently and pressed a kiss to her damp curls.

Hermione nodded against his chest. "I know. He has been so bitter about being called a blood traitor. But what made Ron jealous the most was money. And Harry didn't even know he had it. He didn't want it. What Ron never understood and valued was the fact that he had a family. And what is a filled vault worth when you have no one to share it with?" she said and finally turned to support her chin on his chest and look the man fully in the eyes.

"And you wish for a family of your own one day?" he asked.

Hermione smiled. "I already have one. I have my parents, even though I am no longer a part of their world. They will always be my parents, and I will always love them, even if I have to do so from afar. I have Harry, and now I have you... and I have some great friends. It is all I need to make me happy." she said. "What about you?" she asked.

Severus chuckled. "For now I am content with the brother I have in Lucius and the partner I have in you, Hermione. And if we decide to continue courtship, perhaps one day you may grant me a child. But only if that is your wish as well."

Hermione's smile remained but her eyes turned said. "I am afraid that will not be possible." she said softly.

Severus looked at her in surprise. "How so?" he asked gently, holding her a little closer. He could see he was pushing her a little but hoped she would answer this one question for him.

Hermione's mind in a whirlwind, trying to figure out how to say the words that she knew may end their courtship. But she needed to do this, Severus needed to know before making any more serious choices. "Last year, while the Death Eaters roamed the castle, I was fighting by Neville's side. Bellatrix kept taunting him but she was really targeting me." she said and took Severus' hand into hers, leading it toward her lower belly, just where the curls begun leading towards her most private of places. Once Severus focused on the skin beneath his touch, he felt a scar, not wide and not too thick but still puckered and healing.

"What did she do?" he asked softly.

Hermione lowered her gaze, her words but a whisper. "Lilith's dagger. It was lost several decades ago but it seems it was only in the possession of the Blacks. Bellatrix always carried it on her to curse those whoo were her victim. When she stabbed me...I thought I would die. But no. She pulled me close and whispered into my ear that she would let me live. But only if I couldn't bring any more mudblood filth into this world..." she refused to cry, tears no longer wetting her cheeks as they used to every day for a week that she had spent in the hospital wing. But not anymore. She was alive and healthy, for the most part. She would have to live with her body as it was, since she only had one.

Severus pulled her close into her body and kissed her tenderly. "You are a brave woman. And it is of no matter whether you can give me a child or not. You are all I wish for." he replied openly, as they shared another kiss.

Hermione knew Severus was the one man for her. He was all she needed and wanted in this life. And she hoped they would remain this happy for a long time. Severus held her close and let the woman sleep against his side, curled into his warmth and safety. This brave young woman was all his, and he would be an idiot to let her go for such a thing. So that night, he remained ever vigilant and guarded her dreams devotedly...

AN: Hope you liked, let me know! What to expect in the next chapter? Well you know me. If one pairing has an intimate moment, the other one won't be left out. Guess what Harry and Lucius will get up to? ;)