Chapter 1

Severus Snape sat in his dark study in a hard mahogany chair. The matching desk stood before him: bare, except for his writing tools, a candle, an empty bottle of wine and a nearly empty goblet.

His eyes skimmed over the page he felt them sting with fatigue. He rubbed his eyes sleepily and yawned. It was probably quite early in the morning by now.

The war was over. Harry Potter was a hero.

The trio had been inducted into the Order of the Phoenix upon their graduation. To his annoyance, Dumbledore suggested Severus Ďtake her under his wing,í as it were, and teach her the finer points of espionage. He found her to be not only competent, but creative with her plans.

Over the three years they worked together he had tried to keep her at the same distance he had been able to maintain at Hogwarts. For the most part he had succeeded. She was aware he didnít hate her, but wasnít overly fond of her presence.

She couldnít be more wrong.

He respected her, which is more than he had felt towards anyone, with the exception of Dumbledore, in years.

She was intelligent and her wit was entirely too sharp when she was tired. For some reason Severus found himself drawn to this and, to his horror, realized he had scheduled several late night planning sessions so he could see her tired and cranky.

She wasnít beautiful, but could pass for pretty. Severus found himself drawn to the curve between her nose and her upper lip often and prayed she never noticed when he caught himself.

In a word, he was obsessed.

This obsession was the reason for this late night prose session. He had to get her out of his system. After a couple bottles of wine he thought this was a good idea. He scrawled for hours in cramped spider-like handwriting by the light of a single candle. His needs, his wants, his excuses for the past and how he planned to make it up to her.

The letter went from sadness to fear, rage, repentance and desperation. Then it became racier and Severus accidentally slopped a bit of wine on a page as his pen raced across the page. He even doodled in an illustration or two. She would never see it, why not?

Finally he was done and it was very late. He stretched and heard his neck pop. He stacked the now manuscript on his desk and snuffed the candle out. Perhaps tomorrow he would have a chuckle and she would be out of his head.

He shuffled out of the room on the deep carpet and made for his chambers.

Most people will tell you the mark of a good house elf is that you donít notice them. Severus had excellent house elves. So excellent he never noticed the small form slip into his den to clean after his master was finished writing