Fanfic: Follow Me by DeepShadows2 (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)

Description:

Severus said he was leaving Britain, and he’d meant it. What he hadn’t expected was the need to ask Hermione to come with him. Even more suprisingly, he’d never expected her to say yes. What had started as a desperate tryst in the midst of war had become something else entirely now that they were both free. Hermione had changed everything with her simple request to ‘Follow me.’

Characters:

No Archive Warnings ApplyHermione Granger/Severus SnapeSeverus Snape Hermione GrangerNew Beginnings Travel Developing Relationship Smut Fluff World Travel Romance Hurt/Comfort Falling In Love Happy Ending Happily Ever After Adventure globetrotting Other Additional Tags to Be Added Sequel photographer severus snape

Summary:

Summary:

Severus said he was leaving Britain, and he’d meant it. What he hadn’t expected was the need to ask Hermione to come with him. Even more suprisingly, he’d never expected her to say yes. What had started as a desperate tryst in the midst of war had become something else entirely now that they were both free. Hermione had changed everything with her simple request to ‘Follow me.’This is the sequel to “Calm is the Sea”.,Summary:

Chapter Summary:“You told me you wanted to get as far away from the Commonwealth as possible, and that you wanted the chance to properly get to know me.” Hermione threw his request back into his face, seemingly undeterred by his growl as a quiet desperation filled her voice. “Do both. Go with me around the world. We can see, taste, touch, and experience things neither one of us has ever imagined. We’ve earned this, you far more than I. Let’s just be who we really are.”Beta love to TheFrenchPress for not murdering me for writing an 8K first chapter and being able to discern what word my brain was trying to think of when I used the wrong word. Also Moodboard credit to TheFrenchPress.Also, a post production peckening by CorvusDraconis has happened.

Notes:

Beta love to my amazing beta team CorvusDraconis and TheFrenchPress! Once again this got beta’d under the wire and these two deserve all the love for their hard work.Moodboard love to TheFrenchPress!

Chapter 1: Chapter 1 – Renascence

Chapter Text
Chapter 1 – Renascence 

 
“No matter how hard the past is,

you can always begin again.”
– Buddha
 
A secret-kept location in the Faroe Islands.

The creaking old wood of the decrepit fishing cabin’s walls straining against the battering of the ocean wind kept him awake. It was not the only factor, but it was the easiest for him to place the blame on. It was much harder to blame the disorienting and warring realities he was struggling to come to terms with: the reality that the war was won. 

That the Sword of Damocles over his head had loosed from its string, and somehow he’d lived to see another sunrise when he should not have. 

And that Granger— 

No, he could not call her that. He didn’t believe he could ever call her that again. Not after they’d— 

His black eyes closed, and he could still feel her soft lips against his. As he let himself drift off into the memory, ghosts of her unsure hands spread over his skin, leaving behind a warmth that spread through him. He could remember her soft gasp as he pressed into her, the confirming kiss that threatened to consume him as he took her in that sandy cove. 

Severus shook his head as his eyes snapped open, forcefully pushing the thoughts away so he could focus on the matter at hand. It would do neither of them any good to have their judgment clouded with remnants of their stolen tryst.

Even if he was certain it was the motivation behind her seemingly inadvisable decision to come with him, Severus did not like to be confused or unsure. That was where he found himself though, as his thoughts were drawn to her joining him here.

Hermione had agreed to run away with him into the sunrise like some daft fairytale. 

Severus couldn’t fathom why she would have agreed to come with him.

Furthermore, he didn’t fully understand why he’d asked her.

He didn’t regret it, he knew that much, but couldn’t comprehend the reasoning behind it. It was emotional and irrational, not a way he’d ever made decisions before. Had he expected she would reject him, and that would give her the required push she needed  to go and live her life—a life she’d effectively given up now that she’d left with him.

What was she thinking? What was

he

thinking?

How could Hermione have agreed so readily to come with him when she had her whole future ahead of her?  She was young, with plans she’d adamantly defended to him over a starlit dinner, and now she’d thrown it all away without hesitation without even thinking about it.

It was something they would have to discuss once she woke from the slumber they had drowsily collapsed into on their arrival. Part of Severus knew that once she was rid of the clear exhaustion she’d suffered from the battle, she would immediately regret the choice to come with him. Another part of him, the one that had pushed him to ask her in the first place, considered that she might not. Severus did not want to hope for that; hope was dangerous and easily crushed. He would wait to hear from her if she was sure of her decision to come after she’d had a chance to sleep.

Resolving to handle that later, Severus contemplated the other things he had to stress over, the most prevalent being that he had no plan in place. This had not been the expected outcome, so he found himself woefully unprepared for his survival. It was an uncomfortable sensation, one that sat low in his gut. Severus’ survival during the war had come down to planning, preparing, and sticking to the plan, only improvising as needed. All that lay before him now appeared as though it would be nothing

but

improvisation.

The house creaked again loudly with a gust of wind from the sea. Severus assessed what resources he had available to him, to them, to work with. He felt sure that if he knew the parameters he had to work within, he could devise some course of action to still the nervous riot in his chest.

This secret-kept island with its fishing cabin was the only thing he inherited from the Prince bloodline. It had been a gift to his mother from her favorite uncle when she was a child; one that could not be disinherited when she was written off for her marriage or, subsequently, Severus’ birth. When she was struck down by his belligerent drunken father, it had passed to him. He imagined it might have been charming, a cabin where his pureblood relatives would escape the monotony of everyday life to enjoy the sea. But years of disuse, insufficient maintenance, or bolstering the magic that held it together had made it crumble into the worn building it was now.

Severus had at one time considered using it as his hideout—someplace where neither the forces of good nor evil could find him, and had stocked it with minimal supplies. But as the war dragged on and the writing on the wall began to spell his death, he stopped putting in the effort. No point in preparing a safe house when you were going to die. Or at least that’s what he’d told himself when he stopped making the quarterly trip to deposit goods there.

It was an unfortunate miscalculation on his part because now not only had he survived, but he also had someone with him who would need supplies to survive as well. That was never part of the plan. There was no one among his acquaintances that he would have considered running away with or harboring here for their safety. 

That knowledge returned him to the part of this entire scenario that he was having the hardest time swallowing. 

Hermione

had

agreed to come with him.

She’d chosen him.

No one had ever chosen him the way Hermione had over her own plans and goals for her future. Not Lily, who had chosen his worst enemy over him, taking his lapse in anger to sever ties from a friendship that it seemed she was looking for a way out of. Not Bellatrix, who had whispered lies into his ear to secure his loyalty to the Dark Lord, using him as a plaything and nothing else. Even Albus had never chosen him. He had only used him to his advantage, pushing and guiding Severus to be the perfect spy, the perfect

tool

. No one had ever looked at Severus as a person. And no one had ever told him, nearly begged him to stay alive, saying they didn’t want him to die. Nobody else in his life had ever given a whit if he lived or died. But Hermione, in that darkened cove, made him believe she did. That there might have been a reason to keep living. He didn’t know now what to do with it, or even how he felt about it.

It was the reason he sought her out on the battlefield. Severus had not known what to expect when he dragged himself out of those woods half dead, using the tracking spell on the two-way mirror to find her. 

It was madness—

A suicide mission— 

Severus knew he was wandering into the midst of Order Members who would likely cast spells first and ask questions later. Something deep within him wished that they would have; he didn’t deserve to be alive. But another part of him desperately needed to know that she was counted among the living. Severus needed to see her again, even if it had been the moment before he was killed, just to make sure she was alive.

The expression on her face when their eyes had met, the disbelief and elation in them shook him to the core of his being. Her face reflected his own desperation to see her, to know her fate. That anyone would ever look at him that way had stunned him. When Hermione crashed into him, breathing relief at his survival, he could do nothing but clutch at her, soaking in her warmth. This was not where he ever imagined his life would lead. However, it appeared the universe had decided that what he imagined and expected should turn on its head. 

A ripple of pain coursed through the nerves on the side of his neck, and his hand twitched as he repressed the urge to claw at it. No matter how much it hurt, touching it would only make it worse. Severus had no desire for more of the pain he experienced, nor did he wish to undo all the hard work the witch had done to mend it.

He shouldn’t have been surprised that Hermione had done an excellent job cleaning his injury, as he was unable to see it. The irony had not been lost on him, as she tended to the snake’s bite, that it mirrored the circumstance that had caused this state of affairs. His mind wandered beyond his control, a side effect of the pain potion being a loss of concentration, and he found himself reflecting on the events that had led him to feel anything for her in the first place.

Severus had struggled against regarding her as anything more than the irritant of his professional life. As he met with her to start purging the BloodRot from her cursed scar, he began to unwillingly perceive her not as the child she’d been but someone completely different. Hermione had aged in her time on the run, the wear of war had painted her with a weary expression he often saw in the mirror. To him, she appeared externally as he felt internally, as if the whole world was unjustly thrown on her shoulders.

What had begun only as a way to ensure that at least one of them made it to the final battle had shifted. Their interactions became something he coveted when he was not with her in that cove. An interest in her mind started festering within him until it manifested into a dangerous attraction.

He cursed himself the night he realized it. 

Hermione had clutched his arm, begging him not to die. Her brown eyes were desperate, pleading, and he’d witnessed a flicker of affection in them. Something in him stirred at her expression, and in his revilement of his own reaction, he’d fled. 

He was 38 years old; old enough to be her father!

Surely she’d not felt the same, and if she did, that was more worrisome.

Hermione was young, intelligent, witty, with a beauty enhanced by those aspects. She was everything he was not, and it was all the more reason to put a distance between them. Even if he’d unwittingly become attached.

That attachment heightened with the next encounter, where he had to stop himself from breaching the space between them, touching her–kissing her. And it did not take a mind reader to know that she wanted the same thing.

It had to stop then, he’d known it. 

He’d only bring her suffering and pain.

Severus only knew how to break people, and he had no desire to break her.

The BloodRot curse had been fought back far enough, he’d figured it would abate without his further care. He could not, for her sake, see her again. For her sake, he could not answer the repeated vibration of the two-way mirror against his chest . Even though it felt as if it shook his heart. Nothing but ruination and pain would come from what had almost transpired between them. 

She did not deserve that.

Then there was that fateful night when his resolve caved as the glass rippled gold in his hand. Severus had answered the mirror, only to hear her howling in pain. Her screams of agony rending his heart. On reaction, he’d gathered what was needed, rushing to the cove in a haste that had Amycus giving him a suspicious look. 

His fist curled around the arm of the chair he sat in as he remembered seeing her washed up on that rock. The sound of the sea outside was the same as the gusts blowing against the shore, transporting him back to that moment in time. Severus had thought she was dead, that the curse had taken her and what he’d heard through the mirror had been her death throes. Fortunately, he’d been wrong.

A tingle of pain crawled down his arm, and he shook it, exhaling as he let the memory of that salt-scented night take hold of him. Severus had known then that he was dangerously enamoured with her, so much so that she could be a weakness—a liability. His attraction to her mind, strength, and willpower had overcome his senses. That attachment had been what spurred him into giving her what she begged for on that moonlit night. 

It had urged him to worship her moon-kissed body with his hands, lips, and words. Severus wanted to prevent her from dying in this foolish war with the regret of having never known pleasure—or worse, only knowing pain. It was why he had done everything in his power to ensure that all she would have was pleasure, unlike his first experience of sex, where the sharp digging bite of pain preceded it. If he was to be her first, he wanted to make it worthy of her, and that is what he did.

He’d gone back to the castle that night expecting to feel dirty and used, as he did every other time he indulged in any carnal activities. He expected regret and shame, prepared to rage against himself for what he’d done to her, foolishly letting her talk him into it.

But that hadn’t happened. 

The warmth of her hands lingered, the taste of her moans and pleasure settled into him, bolstering him against the bleak depression of the castle. Severus hadn’t woken up regretting it, instead he regretted that he’d left her; that he might never see her again. 

It was puerile and had the potential to complicate everything, but Severus had not rejected his feelings then. He was a man on death row, knowing that soon, sooner than he would have liked to imagine, he would be shaken loose from his mortal coil. Selfishly, he’d tucked the memory of being with her in that cove close to his heart—just as the mirror had been—and let that be what fueled him through what were to be his final days.

Which brought him to where they were now.

Those had

not

been his final days, and he had to come to terms with that and what had occured between them. It was the only way he could attempt to determine where they could go from here.

He glanced at the leather trunk shoved against the wall. It contained all the supplies he’d stored in the house. He’d cast an extendable charm on it, and it was full, but it would still not be enough for them to stay here long without needing to venture out for more. Food had not been something he’d put as much thought into when originally planning his escape here. He’d been focused on other things, like defense and healing. He could brew any number of potions that were not included in the stash he’d already placed here. Those potions would help with their respective healing, but there was only enough non-perishable food for a few weeks if they were conservative.

An ache at his temples began and Severus exhaled heavily, pressing his fingers against the spot. Scanning the one room cabin, his attention stopped at the bed. 

Tucked under his black outer robes, Hermione slept with her back to the wall. One hand gripped the fabric, holding it to her chest, while the other was draped above her head, pressing her bushy brown hair into the single pillow on the bed. Severus wondered how she could slumber with the loud creaking of the house. It seemed to wane some as he sat there contemplating everything, but it was still too noisy for his liking. Her continued slumbering told him that she was far more exhausted than he’d anticipated. When was the last time she’d had a proper chance to rest?

As if summoned by his thoughts, one of her brown eyes cracked open sleepily, followed by the second. A smile crossed her face as she focused on him, and she sat up, stretching across the bed with a yawn. “Have you been up long?” Hermione asked him softly.

Lowering his hands from his temples, Severus leaned back in the chair he was sitting in. “The wind made it difficult to stay asleep.”

Her brown eyes surveyed him, and then the room. “Oh.”

“Did it wake you?” Severus questioned, watching her languid movements.

Hermione pushed her hair back with one hand before rubbing her eyes. “No, I sensed you staring at me.” Brown curls shook as she got to her feet, his cloak gathered around her shoulders. It pooled around her feet, highlighting how much shorter she was than him. 

It had not been his intention to wake her, and he frowned, “my apologies.”

“Don’t worry about it, I slept long enough,” Hermione explained. She approached him, her smile unfaltering, but worry creasing around her eyes as she appraised him. “How is your neck?”

Severus took stock of his injury, gingerly moving his head to test what pain it would rouse. It was better off than it would have been had he cared for it himself. “Tender, but healing. I may need your assistance again later” He hoped against hope that she would still be here later.

Hermione agreed wordlessly, her fingers moving to touch the bandage on his neck. 

He closed his eyes as he turned his face to offer her a better view. The featherlight touch sent a spike of pain down his chest and up behind his ear, and he grimaced. The spot was incredibly sensitive even with her tenderness.

“It looks satisfactory, the bandage held overnight,” she observed as she drew her hand back. 

Opening his eyes as she withdrew, he lifted an eyebrow at her. Severus was not the only one recovering from a life-threatening injury, even though she was farther along on the recovery path than he. “How is your arm?”

“Hardly feel the pain now,” she admitted, drawing the cloak back to show him the clean bandages he’d dressed her with before they’d fallen asleep nearly twenty hours ago.

He felt his lip twitch up on one side. “It pleases me to hear that.”

She glanced around the room and rolled her neck, yawning again before her gaze settled back on him. “Would you like me to make us some tea? Or coffee?”

Immediately he was drawn back to the dilemma over their supplies and how he did not have much in the way of food. He’d been expecting to add more to his stock over time before he abruptly stopped two years ago, and so they had only the barest of essentials. He gestured toward the worn leather trunk, frowning. “I don’t believe I have any here.”

“I have some,” she chimed. “We will need to inventory what we have between us, so we know what we’ve got before we move on from here.”

While she had caught him off guard with the fact that she had her own supplies, not that he should have been that surprised, he was even more confused by her statement of leaving. 

Was she intending on going home already, or had he missed something? 

“Move on from here?” he asked, pressing for an explanation.

Hermione nodded, opening her bag and pulling out a glass coffee press. “Not before you are healed, of course.” Her eyes closed as she took in a deep sniff of the coffee tin she withdrew from her bag. “I should recover sooner than you, but I don’t want to strain you with magical travel before you can handle it.” Her smile brightened as she pulled out two mugs. 

It made her eyes sparkle, and he realized it was the first time he’d seen her smile reach her eyes, making the light brown colour appear as if it were illuminated. It distracted him momentarily, and he watched as she deftly worked, measuring the grounds from the tin she’d opened. The smell of coffee was welcome to his senses, and he was grateful for her forethought.

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as she worked, and he watched a blush creep up over her face.

It reminded him that there was much they needed to settle and talk about before anything was decided. “I think we should have a discussion.”

“Perhaps you are right. What do you wish to talk about?” she asked, and he watched the flush leave her as trepidation caused her bottom lip to tremble slightly.

“This,” Severus began, gesturing between them. “You and I, and how you envision this going.”

Hermione did not answer him at first, heating the water with her wand before pouring it over the grounds. Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him fully. “Alright, you first. How do you envision this going?”

“I find myself unable to understand why you agreed to come with me.” Severus paused to swallow, pain shooting up the side of his face with the action. His eyes closed as he waited for it to pass. When he opened it, there was unmasked concern on her face. He continued, craving answers to what did not make sense to him. “You had plans and friends and a future, and yet you left without hesitation.” 

Severus watched her face fall, and he loathed that he’d chase away her smile, but it had to be done. “I want you to know that you are not captive, and are free to leave should you realize you have made a mistake.”

“Do you want me to leave?” she asked quietly, looking away from him to the percolating grounds.

No,

he thought instantly, restraining the need to reach out and have her look at him again. 

Severus did not want her to feel trapped, or to make a decision based on his selfish desire to have her. Even if the prospect of her leaving made some part of him squirm, he would not make her feel pressured by him to stay. “I do not want you to base your decision on what I may or may not want.”

Hermione’s gaze penetrated his, and if he didn’t know any better he would have thought

her

trying to read

his

thoughts. After a moment, she spoke with a matter-of-fact tone, “I’ll take that as a no, you don’t want me to leave.”

Severus did know if she’d assumed it, or if there was some tell he’d not concealed that had given him away. “Perhaps.” 

“Then I am staying.” She smiled, pressing the plunger down on the coffee press as if there was no more to discuss on the matter.

Severus didn’t understand, and he leaned forward, quietly voicing his confusion. “Why? Why did you come with me?”

“Because—” She stopped for a moment, and he watched her eyes grow distant and dark. A deep frown pressed her lips together. Hermione held that expression for a long moment, her eyes flicking back and forth as if she were remembering something distasteful. Then she exhaled, shaking her head from whatever memory had captured her attention. “Because when I saw you die in that shack, I felt the most indescribable pain.”

No!

 

Severus did not want her to stay due to that. If she were to stay with him, he would only accept it if it were out of more than pity that he’d suffered through that near death experience. “Hermione, you don’t—”

“I’m not done,” Hermione told him firmly, her hand coming up over her heart, fingers curling around an object through the fabric. “I felt pain and grief. I mourned you more than anyone else I’d watched die. And when the mirror vibrated, I realized what I wanted, what I truly wanted the most was you. For you to be alive and safe. I don’t understand it fully myself, I will admit that, but I have feelings for you; I care about you.”

“And you threw away your life for that? For those feelings?” Severus demanded. She had to know that by throwing her lot in with him that she would never return to the life she had. Even if she went home and told them he’d secreted her away in the night, there would always be suspicions.

“Threw away my life?” she laughed, pouring the steaming liquid into one of the mugs she’d withdrawn from her bag. “Throwing my life away would be doing what everyone else expected me to do. No. I’ve done enough, I’ve given enough, and so have you.”

Severus crossed his arms, examining her, and trying to connect the statement with some meaning. 

How did she equate those two statements? 

“I am afraid I don’t understand.”

“Harry and Ron can do it, and the rest of the survivors of the Order,” she explained. The lightness left her face and her eyes closed as she spoke, “I’m tired. I don’t want to carry that burden anymore, and you gave me a choice.” 

He understood that sentiment, it was one he was well acquainted with. “And you took the choice I offered on a whim?”

“No,” she set a steaming mug in front of him. “I put myself before everyone else for once.”

“So you would have run off if

anyone

asked you?” he arched his eyebrow picking up the cup into his hands.

“It was because you asked me,” Hermione answered him with a pleased hum.

He stopped the cup just before his lips, studying her. “Why me?”

“Because you deserved better, and I intend to give you better.” Her words were sure and confident.

“I don’t see any of your claimed selfishness in that statement,” Severus probed. She’d stated she was putting herself first, but then alternatively said it was because he deserved better. Severus had no desire to be the newest project for her to champion.

“Oh, I am giving myself better too.” She took a drink of her coffee, savouring it with a contented smile. “You’ll understand once we heal and leave here.”

Tilting his head, he crossed one arm over his chest, the other still holding the cup sending warmth up his arm. “I don’t plan on leaving here.”

This seemed to cause her to still, the mug paused at her lips as she questioned him. “Why?”

It seemed clear to him that perhaps she did not grasp that he was a wanted man now. He played his role well, and to presume that any of the Order would give him mercy was naive. He’d survived the Dark Lord, but in some ways he had only postponed his death. He had the skills to evade their detection, Severus was sure of that. Hermione didn’t seem to think he needed to. “I intend to lie low and stay put until they lose interest in finding me. A few years, maybe longer.”

Her coffee cup slammed into the table unexpectedly, the steaming liquid sloshing out of it as she fixed him with severe brown eyes. “Absolutely not.”

“I beg your pardon,” he examined her, searching for the source of her explosive reaction.

“You are not holing up in this cabin for the next couple of years and hiding away.” Her jaw was tight, her fingers gripped around the mug as the other hand was balled in a fist at her side. Hermione took in a breath, her face tight as she levelled him with a gaze that he considered would have shaken a lesser man to his core. Everything about her bristled as she continued fiercely, “you’ve hidden long enough. This is our time to start over, to see the world, and leave all that behind!”

It was fascinating to witness all that passion directed

at

him and be

about

him simultaneously. But her inspiring speech did not change the facts of the matter. “You do understand that I

murdered

Albus Dumbledore–in cold blood. They will not be satisfied until my head is on a pike, regardless of the reason for it.”

“I understand that clearly.” Brown eyes rolled as if he’d told her something droll. “I also know that Harry believes you were on our side the whole time and will likely push to have you acquitted.”

He pursed his lips, perceiving the void of the memories he’d given up and would never have again. 

Yes, he’d given Potter his memories enough to explain what needed to be done, and perhaps more, but that did not mean he’d get a free pass. Harry Potter was one person, albeit their confirmed chosen one now. He did not have the power to erase what had been done. “That was before I survived, and you ran off with me into the night.” Severus considered what any of her peers would think of what transpired between them only a handful of days prior. Even if she swore that it was at her insistence and gave her memories, it would be painted as vile coercion on his part, making him more of a blackguard than he’d already established himself. “Potter will likely assume I have forced you to come and that I have forced myself upon you against your will, regardless of how much you try to convince him.”

Hermione’s expression turned stony, a slip of a snarl vibrating her lips as she breathed out her words. “Then I will tell him exactly what I told Remus when he made the same accusations.”

Remus Lupin?

Lupin had

known

they’d met and that they’d— 

His eyes narrowed, wondering if she’d failed to conceal their meetings as he asked her. “What did Lupin

know

of our meetings?”

She put her hand on her hip defiantly. Severus watched as several expressions, as clear as if she were waving a sign, crossed her face: anger, betrayal, pain, and pride. “That morning—after

everything

, he cornered me. He said could smell you a mile away.” She paused, her teeth gritting as some flickering memory distracted her.

Some inkling of anger slipped up unbidden, the idea of Lupin cornering her in any fashion made the hairs on his neck stand up.

Hermione continued, her eyes narrowing as she looked at the wall away from him. “He accused me of feeding you information about the Order. On top of that, he had the

audacity

to insinuate that you’d taken advantage of me. That I was not a consenting party to what he could

‘smell that you’d done to me.’

Severus realized in horror that he’d not anticipated the olfactory senses of the werewolf being able to determine his presence. He’d unwittingly put her in danger by giving in to her pleas, that he’d sullied her in more than just his touch, but painted her as a potential traitor to the cause. His eyes widened as his nostrils flared with the realization.

 A scoff left her as she took a drink of her coffee, her face still hard. Severus watched her swallow and tried to calculate what that meant for her. 

Lupin would likely use this information to convince the rest of the Order she’d been a traitor all along. She was likely as wanted as he was by now. His words fulfilled themselves. He knew he was going to ruin her, and he’d done so against his greatest attempts not to. “I did not anticipate that he could smell my presence, Hermione. If I had I would have never put you in such danger.” 

Hermione smirked then, one eyebrow lifting as if someone had told her something amusing. “Before you worry too much about it, I told him to take his sanctimonious self-righteousness and shove it in the orifice of his choice. That I was an adult and no one forced me to do anything. To accuse you of such a thing when his own sins were far worse, was outrageous. Did you know that he tried to run away from his wife and child to play hero?” The disgust on her lips told him all he needed to know about how she felt. “There he was, telling me that he’d come after me if I betrayed Harry because he let Peter slip through his grasp, as if he was even trying to go after Peter at all. I am no fool, I know that he and Harry’s parents weren’t as

perfect

as everyone painted them.” She exhaled, her eyes meeting Severus’. “I firmly told him that anything between you and I was none of his business. I will gladly tell Harry the same.”

The conviction that sat behind her humour unsettled him. She’d defended not only herself but him. Hermione had done it when there would have been nothing for her to gain from doing so, in fact, she had much to lose in defending him, but she did it regardless. 

Severus had no doubt that she’d said it.

Grang—

Hermione was not a braggart. She was a great many things, but not that. Still, he felt compelled to confirm it. “You really said that to Lupin?”

“I did, and I would do it again if he hadn’t died,” Hermione ground out, a streak of sadness covering her face before she concealed it behind her coffee.

It was the second point that took his focus. 

Had he heard her correctly? 

The last of Potter’s gang had fallen? 

He found it hard to find his voice, a pain shooting through the healing tissue at an inopportune moment. “Lupin did not survive?”

“No, he didn’t,” she admitted quietly, her face mixing regret with grief. “Many people died, but I know for a fact, he was one of them.”

A weight fell on him, and he sank against the back of the chair.

Potter, Black, Pettigrew, and Lupin were dead. 

In some strange twist of fate, he alone still breathed while they had perished. A breath he didn’t know he was holding escaped him.

Severus was brought to his senses by a hand touching his, and he snapped his attention to her. There was a wordless question on her face, an expression of concern. Withdrawing his hand from hers, breathed in deeply. “To imagine I survived the lot of them is—

sobering

. I know not what to make of it.”

Her rejected hand moved back to her cup, and a slight smile softened the hardness of her earlier outrage. “All the more reason to look at this as your new beginning.”

“I cannot ignore the danger that would be posed to both of us if we venture out into the world,” Severus said plainly. Even without Lupin to paint her a traitor, her actions of running away with him had damned her. She’d been seen embracing and kissing him. They would come for her too, he knew this now.

Hermione set the cup down and closed the distance between them, her finger catching the bottom of his chin. Her brown eyes were tight and demanding. “I want you to listen to me and listen very closely, Severus. When you are healed, we are going to go live our lives to the fullest, see the world, and anyone who comes looking for trouble will have to deal with the business end of

both

of our wands.”

Severus bristled, both at her touch and tone, and pushed her finger from his chin, his jaw tightening even as it caused him pain. “I do not take kindly to being ordered around, Gr-

Hermione

.” 

“You told me you wanted to get as far away from the Commonwealth as possible, and that you wanted the chance to properly get to know me.” Hermione threw his request back into his face, seemingly undeterred by his growl as a quiet desperation filled her voice. “Do both. Go with me around the world. We can see, taste, touch, and experience things neither one of us has ever imagined. We’ve earned this, you far more than I. Let’s just be who we really are.”

And that was the crux of the matter in his mind. 

What did she expect from him?

Who did she think he was to her, and where did she imagine this going?

He’d be lying to himself

(not for the first time)

if he said he hadn’t meant what he said that to her. As he was dying, his regret was that he’d never see her again and had never gotten to truly know the brilliant witch that was the guiding star for him at the end of the war.

He would not tell her that he felt that way, it would only sway her into doing something she didn’t want to do. Taking in a breath, he relaxed his jaw and sought answers from her. “And just who and what are we, Hermione?”

“Right now,” she mused aloud, and she turned toward the door, tapping her fingers against her side. “I think I would like to explore the possibility of there being something between us. I would like to continue being able to kiss you.” When she looked back, her face was soft, her lips curved. “But if you are not comfortable with that, then we can be friends. We are two people who have come out on the other side of something horrible, and we will need to process that to heal. If you decide you want there to be something more, then know that I do too.”

His mind scrambled for an appropriate response as the two sides of him warred within, so he took a drink of the warm coffee, going over her words.

There was logic and sense to what she said. He had to admit to himself that most of what she’d said to him in this conversation had been reasonable. He was still searching for a reason for her to go, even against his own desires, against her own words.

Severus glanced at her, really examining her.

 Yes, she was young, but her mind had always been leagues above the rest of her peers. She had been forced to grow hastily in the wake of a war, and she had acquired wisdom and worldliness that he suspected many witches twice her age did not have. 

Her vibrance drew him in; she was like a font of life and light, and he was a half-dead moth, pulled in even though he knew it could burn him alive. 

Closing his eyes, he remembered she’d not burned him. Hermione had not been reviled by him, she had sought comfort in him, insisting on treating him with kindness when he was the last to deserve it.

The door opened and he snapped his eyes open to see her take her cup of coffee outside. A quick assessment told him that her bag and all her belongings were still on the table. She wasn’t running away in the face of his hesitancy to respond.

The thought of her fleeing had the part of him that’d asked her to come in desperate knots. It was the vulnerable side of him that craved more of her affection, to know her, to understand more of her. The part of him that had urged him to drag himself toward her in the first place when he could have escaped and let her believe him dead.

He sighed, knowing he’d already lost against himself.

He

wanted

her.

He wanted her there with him, and he wanted to know her, to understand what could compel her to perceive anything of value in someone as wretched and broken as him.

Rising from his chair, Severus followed her out onto the bright dunes.

His eyes instantly found her as they adjusted to the sunlight. She was standing amidst a cluster of wildflowers that were growing along the cliff, her back to him as she gazed out at the sea. 

This version of her was something he’d never seen. He’d always visited her at night by the sea, and while he believed the moon had enhanced her beauty, it had nothing on what the sun did to her.

Hermione appeared like Persephone returning to spring, the sun causing strands of her hair to glow like spun bronze as the wind whipped it around her like a halo. The profile of her face was not that of a child, as he had accused her of being before, but of a young woman. Her body was definitely that of a young woman, his cloak billowing back from her shoulders and showing the curves of her form cast in the golden rays of the light.

Hermione turned and glanced at him, and the sun warmed the shadows on her face, making her look even more like the incarnate goddess of both spring and the underworld.

You’ve gone soft,

he told himself half-heartedly, approaching her side. The sea air seemed lighter than it had been at the cove where this unlabelled relationship had begun, and he let it ease some heaviness from his shoulders. “Hermione, you are a strange woman.”

“Strange, but not crazy,” she retorted with amusement, shifting to stand closer to him.

He chuckled at her quip. “No, never crazy.”

The pull in his chest that made him feel as if he needed to be close to her sprung back to life. It was the same sensation that had first convinced him to flee from her. Severus was enamoured with her beauty, her strength, the vibrance that had not been ripped from her despite all she’d been through. How someone could suffer the war and even torture and not come out bitter was a mystery to him; she was a mystery to him. It enticed him, calling to parts of him he believed long dead. It would be nothing for him to lean forward and capture those lips with his own again as he wanted to.

She’d told him moments ago that she’d rather like the idea of continuing to kiss him, he reminded himself.

Self-indulgence won against any resistance he could find as he watched her eyes dilate and her face flush. Hermione wanted to kiss him as much as he wanted to kiss her, and he had no logical reason to deny her.

Bending his head down to her, he closed the space between their lips. 

Each kiss from her seemed to be wildly different, special in its own way. This was not like the first kiss of desperation and loneliness they shared in the cove. Nor was it like the relief and hope-filled one in the forest. This was stronger, warmth weaving through his chest with each second her lips firmly pressed back against him. Hermione was not passive in this at all, kissing him while grasping the front of his shirt as if she were afraid he was going to draw away from her. He captured her bottom lip between his and the gasp she let out spiralled down his spine. Severus could not have drawn back if he wanted to in that moment, and he wrapped his free hand around her, pressing her against his body. Neither one of them seemed to notice when she dropped her cup of coffee, wrapping both of her arms around him.

It was only the threat of expiring from insufficient oxygen that forced him to end the meeting of their mouths. He did not even notice the pain in his neck from bending it more than he should have until he was looking down at her breathlessly. The pain was worth it, as he saw it.

Hermione’s tongue drew out over her lips, and she hummed as she stared up at him. “I take it you would like to keep kissing me too.”

“Would you allow me to indulge in your affection selfishly?” Severus asked thoughtlessly, the words leaving him before he had considered them fully. He feared she’d reject him immediately for it.

Instead, she grinned. “Only if you promise me one thing.”

He did his best to look stern, and not as if they were both panting from the intensity of their kiss. “I do not make promises lightly. I only make ones I intend to keep.”

“I know,” she whispered, pressing up to peck his lips again. “I would never ask you anything unfair.”

“What do you ask of me?” Severus breathed out, his fingers curling into the back of her shirt.

Brown eyes sparkled in the sunlight, looking like poured honey as she gazed up at him, full of hope. “Promise me that you’ll follow me and take a chance at seeing the world.”

It was dangerous and foolish, and he could think of a million reasons why they should not go.

But the major reason he

should

was staring him in the face.

Even so, he could not ignore the danger they would be in. “And if they come for me? For

us

?”

Her chuckle was warm, lacking any mockery that he might have expected. “We’ve survived a war; you two of them. What could they possibly do to us that is worse than what we’ve already been through. Neither one of us expected to live through that battle.”

It was a point he found he could not dispute. “Very well. I will admit that living out my days in this cabin is less than appealing, even more so if you are not going to be here.”

Her face appeared impossibly happier; warmth, light, and happiness spreading across her features as she dug her fingers into his shirt. “So do you promise to go with me?”

Exhaling deeply, he glanced out at the vast sea at their side. White waves crashed against the cliffs, turbulent water bouncing back out to the ocean. Across it was the life he was fleeing from, a past that was sure to catch up with them at some point in the future. 

But there was also the promise of something more on the other side of it, a new life, a second chance, and adventure with her. 

She was right, as loathe as he was to admit it.

What could they do to him that had not already been done?

Was hiding and waiting for death to come find him any better than dying?

He didn’t think so.

He’d hidden long enough.

Severus stepped back from her, his hand leaving her back.

He watched as the light seemed to leave her eyes, but he hoped to put it back with his action. He took her hand in his, bringing it to his lips in a gesture he’d never done before.  His black eyes met hers as he breathed his promise into her knuckles. “I promise to follow you.”

Daily Prophet 

May 5th, 1998

 

The Dark Lord Confirmed deceased. The Boy-Who-Lived wins the day.

 

War Hero Muggleborn Hermione Granger and Former Headmaster and Death Eater Severus Snape are still missing in action. 

Last glimpsed together at the Battle of Hogwarts before Snape Disapparated away with a befuddled Granger. The Manhunt is being led by her compatriots, Potter and Weasley, who both swear to do everything they can to bring her back safely. Weasley swears he won’t lose her, too. 

If you see either of these persons, please contact the Ministry for Magic or Potterwatch.

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