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Severus moved deliberately about his chambers and marveled at his belongings as if they were treasures. Everything seemed wonderful to him in this instance, for this was his first private moment as a man who knew that he was loved. The woman who loved him had only left to see that the children in her care were safely tucked in for the night--and she would soon be returning to afford him the same kindness.

As he disrobed, he elected not to shower lest he lose the sensation of heat from the press of Ree's body against his own.

He wanted to remember everything.

He also wanted to experience fully the disorienting effects of having half-undressed a beautiful, willing woman not an hour ago, of having pushed her to a worktable heedless of the materials lain upon it, of having felt her exploratory hands laying claim to the territory of his shoulders, his chest, his thighs--gods!

"What is taking her so long?"

Severus' senses reeled as if he had drunk just a dram more than was wise. If he had been a man with less self-control, he knew that the powerful recklessness thrumming through his veins would have had him yelling for the sheer joy of hearing the sound.

Touching his bruised lips, Hogwarts' Potions master took consolation in a rather more dignified whisper.

"Harry loves me, and I her."

On a whim, he quit his bed chamber and returned to the classroom where Ree's perfume lingered above the odors of the day's experiments. Notes of rosemary asserted themselves above those of salt and summer rain--each blending with something intrinsically part of the woman to become her scent.

It had always amused the Potions master that the Girl Who Lived favored rosemary, an herb associated with clarity of thought, for Harry--Ree? No, being honest with himself, Severus knew that she would always be his Harry--did not often allow herself the time for clear-headedness before charging off on whatever task she had set for herself.

"Though perhaps I would not love her quite so well were she as methodical as I."

As soon as he spoke the sentiment, he knew it was untrue; he, himself, had loved Harry for far longer than was appropriate, and he knew that there was nothing about the young woman that he could not love.

Running a hand through his hair in a gesture of nervousness, Severus tried to control himself. Soon, the corridors would ring quietly with the footsteps of his concealed lover as she carried herself discreetly past any impediments to his door, to his bed.

His fingers came away from strands of hair that hung stickily with the fumes of the baffling contents of student cauldrons, and he swore. Before midnight, he would have hundreds of memories of Harry, but not unless he properly prepared himself.

Over the steaming hiss of the shower, Severus did not notice the disembodied chanting that vibrated through his rooms, and this emanation stopped with the cessation of the water. The strengthened wards shimmered slightly and then faded into the walls as the privacy of the Potions master's suite, at least for the next several hours, was assured.

Rising through the ceiling in search of Peeves, the Bloody Baron wore a rare pleased expression. He had long been of the opinion that Snape needed a woman, and as a Slytherin and a gentleman, he felt it was his duty to help his favorite inhabitant of the castle enjoy her properly.


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