I Don't Remember

The Key

Hermione

It was hours after the party on one of the best days of my life. I could hear music and laughter still coming from inside 12 Grimmauld Place, the remainder of celebrates who wanted to take the fun into the wee hours of the morning.

I was stuffed, in a good way. Gently I swung back and forth on a wooden board tied to a tree behind the house, my rhythm in time with how the breeze blew me. It was calm, peaceful, serene, and wonderful.

The door behind me opened, and for a second the sounds of gaiety intensified before the door closed and they were muffled once more. Footsteps crunched, and then cool hands wrapped themselves around my shoulders and neck. I sighed and leaned back happily into the scent of lavender.

"They're missing you in there, you know." Severus's deep voice mused next to my ear, his head buried in my neck.

"I know." I smiled. "I'll be in again soon; I'm just enjoying the night."

I felt him look up. "It is beautiful out." Gently he rocked with with me keeping his arms around me as he did. My dress fanned out with each soft sway. A few moments passed like this in silence as we looked up.

"Hermione?" Severus asked.

"Hmmm?" I muttered, relaxed.

"When did you know you loved me?"

I pondered this for a moment. "Truth be told, not until the truth serum made me stare it in the face." I took a few more moments, reflecting over my thoughts and feelings the last year or so. "But if I had to make an actual guess.... it probably would have been one of the later times before Hogsmeade. I don't know exactly when, but I must have at least been attracted to you by then subconsciously because when I finished my Amortentia potion it reminded me of visiting that town."

He had been stroking my arm as I spoke, and while he didn’t say anything I felt that he was listening intently. When I had finished he leaned into me more with a soft sigh.

“Why do you ask?” I questioned.

He raised his head slightly from it’s position on my shoulder. “Curiosity I suppose. No one’s ever been in love with me before.”

I looked at the ground, embarrassed. “I kind of understand that. No offense, but you haven’t been the most personable of men in the past.”

“I know.” he responded, then paused to allow me to say more if I felt like it.

I did. “Severus... I love you. I can’t believe that I do- that you, you of all people, would become so important to me. I know we’re not the same people we were five years ago, but back then, I would have put myself near the top of your Most Hated list. I know now you had no real enmity towards me, but you still seem so changed. I know I love you, and I believe you love me as well, but, can I trust that this is real?”

There it was. It was out. The words I had wondered about Ron as children, the words that meant so much more now. My breath held as I waited to see how he would respond, and continued to be baited as his hands slid from me and he walked around the swing to be in front of me.

A cool hand slid gently under my chin and raised my face to eyes bathed in moonlight.

“Hermione.” he said, and I could have purred at the way he caressed the letters in my name, as though each was a treasure in and of itself. “You were a girl five years ago, and I was already an old fool. Even if I had seen what a stunning, brilliant creature you would become, I never would have acted on it. I was too afraid of myself, too tied to my duty, and convinced that I would never find love. I am pleased to say I stand before you today a man with a clearer mind as to his desires and goals, and you fit all of them. You have healed me, Hermione, in ways I did not think were possible, and using only your own presence. My love,” and he brought his voice to a whisper, a soft breeze meant only for me, “I could never tire of you. In the time we’ve been together I have known laughter, kindness, conversation, wit, and had my senses stolen by the feeling you give when you are close to me. Though it is sudden, I know with no doubts that I would rather be with you than with anyone else in the world.”

He gave me a quick kiss and then turned away from me, pulling out his wand as he did.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He looked back to me for a moment and smiled, and I saw in his face none of the Potions Master- only Severus. “I’m proving to you once and for all who it is that I love.”

He uttered the Patronus charm, and for a split second my mind flashed back to the story of the silvery doe in the woods that had lead Harry to Godric Griffyndor’s sword. I wondered why he was showing me this. Then I saw what shape was swirling through the air- it was long and sleek, and swam through the air like water. I recognized it immediately, even before it danced close to my view.

“An otter.” I breathed. “Your Patronus... it’s an otter now.”

He didn’t say anything, merely stood there in the night as the silvery glow faded.

I rushed to him, closing the distance instantly. His arms were ready for me, and once again I was enveloped in lavender, in herbs, in sweet smells as deep as the duskiness around us. I buried myself in his chest for a moment before I looked up at him.

“I return this love.” There was only time for a heartbeat before he kissed me. It was a kiss like I had never had before- all warmth and lilacs and lips like silk. It flowed through me and into my blood, filling my heart. His arm gathered around my waist and pulled me towards him, as my hand moved from his shoulder to his cheek, fingertips tangling in his hair. I felt the ring on the finger still on his other shoulder and I gripped him, pressing solidly and feeling a gentle heat creep into our touch. He was roses, and summer evenings, and cold nights with hot chocolate-

A particularly loud noise reminded us of the gathering inside. We broke the kiss looking sheepish, and slowly pulled back from his other. We cleared out throats and brushed our hair out of our faces, then laughed at each other.

“Well, shall we go in?” I asked, still laughing a bit.

He stopped laughing and offered his hand to me, and I took it, with all the meaning I could.

“Yes,” he replied, “We shall.”


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