Chapter 53

AN: Thanks for all the reviews, for reading, for favoriting this, and for putting me on alert! I'm glad everyone's still liking this story!

I still own nothing you'd recognize.

Hermione dragged herself downstairs to the dining area with one eye still closed. All night she had been fighting fantasies of creeping into Severus' room and confessing her feelings to him. Around midnight she had finally drifted off to sleep, only to dream of him bursting into her bedroom and making love to her. She'd awoken extremely frustrated in more ways than she cared to admit.

"Morning Mistress!" Filbert began as he bounced into the dining room.

"Morning," she yawned as she sat down at the table.

"Does Mistress need anything? Maybe a cup of coffee, some toast, Master Snape?" he asked.

"What?" she asked as she shot up and opened both eyes.

He laughed. "Filbert just wanted to see if you were awake!"

She shook her head and ran a finger through her hair. It wasn't tangled, though the tossing and turning had made it stick out some. She sighed and bemoaned the fact she would have to spend half her morning making her hair presentable. Maybe if she was lucky Snape would sleep in and wouldn't see her like this.

"I'm awake," she replied. "I'd like a cup of coffee, but I can make that myself…"

"No!" Filbert exclaimed. "Let Filbert get Amy! She makes the best coffee according to Master!"

"Really, I can make my own," Hermione began.

"No! It is Filbert's sworn duty to help, and Amy's too! She's awake; she just doesn't like to come around strangers!"

"Filbert," Hermione replied, "Really, you don't need to serve me."

"No! It's Filbert's job to serve you! Master will be very angry if I don't!"

"What exactly does Master Snape do when he's angry?" Hermione asked.

Filbert appeared confused and thrown by the question. He blinked a few times and answered, "I don't know. Filbert, Amy, and Sparky have never made Master angry before. We always obey Master, and Master gives us Oreos as a reward."

"Oreos?" Hermione asked, now interested. It had been years since she'd had an Oreo.

"Yes!" he answered. "Master goes into Atlanta and gets Oreos for us if we're really good!"

"How often?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Depends on how busy he is brewing and how good we are with our chores, including taking care of guests."

"I see," Hermione replied, beginning to understand Filbert's insistence on helping her. "Would helping me make you happy?"

He nodded.

"Does Amy mind?"

"No!" he exclaimed. "Amy loves to help, but she's just shy and doesn't trust people unless the Master does. Sparky is weird, but he's friendly too. They'll like you once they see how much the master likes you."

"Okay," Hermione answered. "But if it's a burden for you to help me, just stop. You're more than a servant."

"Whatever," Filbert answered, the speech going completely over his head. "Filbert's going to get Amy to make Mistress coffee now!"

He Pop'd away, leaving Hermione to meditate on what had just occurred. Usually when she saw house elves they were beaten down and depressed. Filbert was high strung and a little obsessive, but he definitely seemed happy. Something told her he wouldn't be very receptive to the idea of being freed.

"Good morning, Hermione," Snape drawled as he entered the room.

She turned and smiled at him. He was still in his night clothes and his hair was somewhat matted from the night. Still, he was handsome. Damn why did she have to wake up so excited?

Snape sat down and looked at Hermione. Her hair was the bushiest he'd seen since she'd become an attorney. Still, something about it made her appear wild and untamable. It was exciting Snape to no end, though he refused to show it. Damn those dreams he'd had about Hermione sneaking into his room for a nighttime romp.

"How was your first night out of jail?" she asked.

He smiled. "Better than I could've imagined. It felt great to sleep on an actual bed instead of a metal cot."

"I'd imagine," she replied with a smile of her own.


Snape and Hermione turned around to see a house elf wearing a ribbon dangling from her left ear. Severus sighed and gestured for her to come over. The elf obeyed. "Lucius didn't change your bow, did he?"

"Master Lucius didn't know how," she answered as she sat on his lap.

He sighed again and removed the ribbon from her ear. Then, he placed the ribbon back on her ear and tied it into a bow. "There, that should stay," he answered.

She gave him an appreciative smile then jumped off his lap. "What kind of coffee does Mistress want?" Amy asked. "We have French Vanilla, Nutmeg, Regular, Decaf…"

"French Vanilla sounds good actually," Hermione answered.

"Okay! I'll make French toast and cinnamon rolls to celebrate the Master's return!" she replied.

"Sounds good," Snape answered.

She skipped into the kitchen. Hermione laughed as Snape gave her a playful glare. "I'm sorry, it was just so cute to watch you and Amy. I presume that's who that was."

He rolled his eyes. "I can't teach her to do it herself, and the others have trouble gripping the ribbon without tearing it."

"That makes sense," Hermione replied. "Still, it was cute."

"Witch if you insist on calling me cute I shall have to prove you wrong," Snape teased.

"How?" Hermione teased back.

He smirked and whispered, "I'll wear black robes into the courtroom during the evidence hearing and spend my time in your words, 'looking like the Grim Reaper.'"

"You wouldn't dare," she growled.

He smirked. "Try me witch."

She leaned over to him until she was mere inches from his face. "You pull that stunt and the first day of your criminal trial you will be in pink."

"You pull that stunt and I'll dock your pay," he whispered as he leaned closer until their noses were touching.

"No you won't," Hermione answered.

"What makes you so sure?"

Before she could stop herself, her lips were on Snape's reveling in the feel of his soft skin. Snape recovered from his shock and opened his own lips, inviting her to deepen the kiss.

Across the room, Amy watched in shock as Master Snape snogged the Mistress. "Master Lucius was right," she whispered to Filbert.

"Yes," Filbert answered with a smile as he held the tray with the coffee. "Master loves the Mistress, and Mistress loves the Master."

"Does Master know?" Amy asked.

"No," Filbert answered. "That's why Master keeps lying and saying he doesn't love her."

"What can we do?" Amy asked with a gleam in her eyes.

"Simple! We keep Master from messing up until he realizes that Mistress loves him!"

Severus and Hermione pulled away from each other, both stunned and excited by the kiss. Before either could speak, Filbert announced, "Filbert has coffee!"

"Thanks," Hermione replied still hazy from the kiss.

Filbert gave them a mischievous smile as he set the tray on the table. Then, he returned to the kitchen with a million schemes going through his mind, each more promising than the last.