Disclaimer:- I neither own nor earn anything from this story. Harry Potter and his world are the intellectual property of JK Rowling and associates

sSs

A/N:- Well, here we are at the end of our Christmas story, and the Christmas holidays are almost over (here in Australia, anyway). It has been a fun story to write. Thank you all for your comments and reviews, favourites and other alerts; I have loved getting all of them. Please enjoy the last chapter.

hHh

Chapter Nine – Resolutions

Severus returned as quickly as he could from his lab. Apart from the fact that he hadn't bothered to dress completely and had just thrown his cloak over his trousers and boots, he wanted Hermione back against him as soon as possible. The thought of sitting behind her in the bath washing her, caressing her skin, sent a curl of arousal through him that hastened his steps even further.

While he was hurrying back, Hermione had been discovering Severus' bathroom, and she had organised a bubble bath with essences of lavender, patchouli and sandalwood for them while he had been gone.

Piling her hair up on top of her head and placing a sticking charm on the bun, she examined her appearance in the mirror. She had a notion that she should look different somehow, because she certain felt revived and renewed in many ways. She hadn't bothered to dress, after all she was only going to get into the bath, and it was warm in Severus' quarters.

She bent down to test the water, just as Severus walked back into the room. The sight of her peach-shaped bottom framing her intimate delights as she checked the water for temperature almost made his mouth water. "Now, that's certainly a delectable sight," he told her, shedding his clothing with a flick of his wand. He placed his wand on the vanity next to hers and the cauldron of salve next to them before coming right up to her still bent over form.

Severus ran his hands over her bottom. "Stand still and hold the bath," he told her.

Hermione did so and looked around behind herself to see him crouching, naked behind her, his mouth at the same level as her pussy. Hoping she knew what was about to happen again, she adjusted her stance so she was standing with her legs further apart.

"That's right," he whispered hoarsely, "You like this don't you, love?" and his mouth engulfed her.

She groaned deeply and shuddered, she was already so turned on that it didn't take look before her legs were shaking and she was biting her bottom lip in a desperate attempt to make this last longer. Hermione felt Severus then chuckle against her and up-the-ante, concentrating his mouth on her clit and exploring her internally with his fingers. Then Severus suddenly stopped and stood, and he heard Hermione whine in frustration, but he knew it would last long.

She was just about to berate him when he entered her to the hilt in one movement. The swift change just as she was starting to keen from his ministrations saw her orgasm slam into her so quickly that her legs gave out under her, but she didn't fall, a strong arm looped her waist, supporting her as all she could do was whine and scream her satisfaction while he repeatedly thrust into her. Then she heard Severus' voice joining hers, and she went into pleasure overload.

When she came to her senses again they were both in the bath and Severus was caressing her body. She whimpered, and managed to turn so she was hugging him. "You've made this experience so wonderful for me," she murmured against his chest.

"I'm glad," he replied, kissing her head. "You are mine now, and I will always make it wonderful for you."

Hermione felt tears filling her eyes. "I love you," she whispered, but then looked up at him uncertain of whether she should have said anything. His eyes were so soft and deep, and he smiled at her.

"I believe it's safe to say what that confounded charm has already revealed to us. I love you too, and I intend to keep showing you for the remainder of our lives."

"Oh Severus," she gushed. "This has been such a wonderful Christmas, when I thought it could never be. I am shocked by the strength of what I feel."

"Don't be, love. Our magic has told us what our hearts desired, and now we have each other."

"I love being yours, Severus," she told him, and reached up to pull his head down as she lowered herself onto his once more rigid member, and they both sighed.

xox

Lunch time the next day came around quickly. They had only managed to leave their bed long enough to eat breakfast and feed Houdini this morning. After they had finished their bath the night before, Severus had applied the salve to Hermione's arm, and now as she scrambled for the shower as they realised the time was almost twelve thirty she still marvelled at the smooth skin on her arm.

Severus had deliberately not encouraged Hermione to shower in his bathroom, even if he had been sorely tempted, they didn't have time to turn it into a play session. He had watched her dress quickly and run to the floo to shower and dress in her own quarters.

He walked to his own shower and stepped in, he was tired—as he thought she probably was as well—they had coupled once more after their bath last night, and twice more this morning, and the memory of her mouth around his length this morning, when she declared that this time it should all be about him, made his tired member twitch in interest yet again. "Oh stop it, you greedy little bugger," Severus scolded his cock. "You've just had more sex in the last twenty four hours than you've had in the last ten years and you're still begging for more," he said.

However, if the truth was known, Severus was intensely pleased to be finally doing normal things without fear of what it would cost him if anyone found out. He hadn't thought he would survive the war, because he hadn't thought any one would care if he lived or died. Well he had been disabused of that notion when Hermione saved him, and now she was the one most important thing he had. He sighed happily and finished his shower.

xox

There was more fresh snow on the ground today, and it was beautiful. This was the first time they had been in public as a couple and both were exhilarated but nervous about it as they made their way up the main street of Hogsmeade.

Of course there would be whispers, he was a headmaster and she was recently a student, but neither cared because those who mattered knew the truth of it.

When they arrived at the Three Broomsticks, Harry and Ginny were waiting for them. "'Mione, Professor, over here," Ginny called.

Harry stood and kissed Hermione cheek before shaking hands with Severus. These actions were being keenly watched, especially after the couple had walked in hand in hand.

Severus seated Hermione before acknowledging Ginny, and the two women leant across to hug one another. "It is so good to see you two out and about together," Ginny said as she straightened again.

The professor's brow darkened, "We have nothing to hide, Miss Weasley."

"I'm not saying you do, you are both consenting adults, and I think it's wonderful."

"Geez I wish that's all we were," Harry groused, "I'm right over being a student, you know. I want to move on, face my next challenge."

Watching Hermione blush prettily at her Ginny's remark, Severus inclined his head to her in apology for misunderstanding her before smirking at Harry. "Life becoming a little boring for you, Mr. Potter?"

"As you know, sir, I've never been much of a student, but when even my favourite subject is not interesting this year. That Defence teacher is hopeless, where did you find her? I know more about defence in just my little finger than she could ever hope to know."

"And would you care to put your money where your mouth is?" Severus asked him.

"Oh most definitely," Harry grinned.

Severus cocked an eyebrow of interest at this statement. "Well," he replied, "I am in the position to assist you with that venture, if you truly wish to teach. I have noticed your gift for defence..."

At the bar, Madam Rosmerta had been watching the quartet after seeing the professor and Hermione walk in. She now arrived for their order before Severus could finish that sentence.

The vivacious blonde was happier than she could say. Over the years she had watched both Severus and Hermione being alone in the company of others, and she had wondered when they would find someone special. The fact that they had obviously found each other made her very happy, every one deserved to be happy.

She did not believe that their difference in age was a problem. May people in the wizarding world were not of similar ages. Their excessively long life spans made it equate out. She glanced over at Hagrid stowing another crate of butter beer behind the bar for her as she waited for their table's order. Rubius is at least twenty years older than me, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to be better acquainted with him.

The genial half-giant was always here helping her now, during his holidays and after his chores at Hogwarts were complete. She smiled realising that perhaps he wanted her as well, and she decided that tonight after closing she would show him how she felt, and see what he thought. It had been far too long between wizards for her. Her husband had been gone for many years now, and the war was over they should celebrate.

The quartet of people at the table were unaware of her thoughts, but finally decided what they wanted to eat and drink and she went back to deposit the order at the kitchen and get their drinks.

Back at the table Severus continued on the subject that had been interrupted. "Mr. Potter what if you were able to come to an arrangement similar to the one Hermione has, but involving an apprenticeship with me that would enable you to teach Defence Against The Dark Arts next year, would you be interested?"

"Would I? Yes, please," Harry almost shouted.

"Very well, it's settled," and he turned to Ginny. "You have an interest in children and healing I've noticed."

Ginny spluttered a little. She hadn't thought that this professor would recognise something like that in her. "Y-yes," she replied.

"Well since we are doing this for Hermione and Mr. Po… Harry," he corrected himself, before going on like nothing had just happened. "Would you be interested in doing the same and becoming Madam Pomfrey's replacement in time? The apprenticeship would be longer, and would entail some units studied under a healer ay St. Mungos, but it would keep you on an equal footing with your beau."

Ginny beamed, "Yes," she replied, grabbing Harry's hand.

They were interrupted this time by their lunch arriving, and the subject changed as they ate, and they caught up on all their other news.

They talked the rest of the afternoon away, and it started to turn into twilight outside. They were all preparing to part company when Severus told Harry and Ginny, "Professor McGonagall will not be back until next week. Come to our office on Monday at ten and we will organise all the particulars."

"We will, thank you, sir," Harry enthused.

"Good bye," they both called and walked further up the street to apparate away.

Hermione and Severus then watched Harry encircle Ginny with his arms and turn on the spot. They too started to walk up the street as the sun was just starting to set. Severus was surprised that he had felt so comfortable talking and eating with Hermione's friends. He wasn't certain, but he thought that they had just taken the first tentative steps towards being his friends as well.

He wrapped an arm around Hermione as they walked and leaning over kissed her temple. He was happy and content, and he reflected as they walked on how his opinion had changed since he had been reacquainted with her in the infirmary following the battle. How when he had been released from care, he found himself confused at first when he started seeking her out, wanting to talk to her. Then he remembered the hate and jealousy he felt as he watched her starting this year as a student again, and he had not been able to be with her as he wanted to be, and especially with the ginger idiot sniffing at her heels.

He realised that sub-consciously he had been progressively dropping his guard with her ever since their work in the library, and now they were a couple. He was pulled from his thoughts as Hermione suddenly stopped walking. He looked at her, and saw her contemplating a fluffy, untouched, snow drift in the bushes off to the side of the road.

Without warning she grinned at his questioning look and scurried over to it. He followed without question and saw her smile at him. She then turned and allowed herself to fall backwards into the soft snow. "What in Merlin's name are you doing, witch?" he asked, in a bemused voice, as he appeared over her and saw that she had a lovely smile on her face.

"I'm making a snow angel, love," she proclaimed; her smile increasing as she extended her hand to him. "Help me up so it doesn't get ruined as I get up?"

Severus wrapped his long fingered, leather gloved hand around Hermione's almost delicate, woollen gloved one and he pulled her upright. He is still wearing a quizzical expression, but then he looked at the imprint in the snow as she brushed herself off. "Oh I see, it looks like an angel."

Hermione beamed at him. "Yes, it looks like an angel," but then she blushed. "It must seem silly to you, but I'm so happy that I just wanted to do something a little frivolous."

He found himself grinning in return, as he said, "No, love it's not silly," and his head bent down to capture her lips. They stood there kissing in the failing light for some moments, but eventually Severus lifted his head and glanced around at the rapidly setting sun. "I think we best take this somewhere more comfortable, if we don't walk on or we will freeze standing here kissing."

It was true, as the sun dipped slowly below the horizon, the frigid air became even more so. Their breath was frosty in front of them, and it was getting quite dark. By the time they got to the bridge which was about half way, it had also started to snow, and Severus could hear Hermione's teeth chattering. "I think it might be prudent to speed things up a bit, love. Come, I'll side-along you straight into the castle."

"That would be an excellent idea," Hermione answered, moving to hug him so they could just go.

"Well, isn't this cosy," a voice behind them said, snidely.

Even before the sentence was finished Severus' wand was at the interloper's throat and he had pushed Hermione behind him. "What do you want, Weasley?" Severus snapped.

"You're not in charge of me now, Snape," Ron spat, "I'm not your bloody student any more.

"Oh how kind of you to remind me," Severus replied, sarcasm dripping off his words. "Then I have no restraints then do it?"

He felt Hermione clinging to him, and even in the dying light, he saw the moment it filtered into Ron's brain exactly what his words indicated.

"Y-you wouldn't?" Ron stuttered.

"Oh I think you know me better than that, Weasley. I restrained myself when you attacked Hermione because of the circumstances, but now, as you have so kindly pointed out to me, the tables have turned, have they not?" He jabbed his wand a little deeper, and felt Ron recoiling away. Severus took a step forward for each of Ron's backwards steps, and with it he told him how things stood. "You have no right to comment on anything concerning Hermione and I, and you will keep yourself out of our business. At the time I mourned that I had been unable to defend Hermione, but I knew given time and your reputation for being an idiot that I would get my chance. Well, it appears that my opportunity has come quicker than I thought it would, so if I were you, I would be very worried, Weasley. Do not ever approach either my witch, or I again."

Knowing this wizard's fearsome reputation, Ron turned tail and ran, but he heard the curse sizzling through the air behind him as he did so. He dived headlong into the snow at the side of the road and he thought it had missed him as it sailed over his head, and a grin started to twist his features thinking that Severus had missed.

However, as Ron was opening his mouth to gloat, Severus' voice reached him. "Look up, you stupid boy."

It should have some as no surprise that Snape's aim would be impeccable, and the curse was waiting for him, and just a single word from the caster, had it hitting its mark. "Attack," Severus whispered, above Hermione's head. He had gathered her into his arms as soon as Ron had run.

The curse dove down and in an instant rendered Ron black and blue with various blows to his face and body. However, it was actually a cocktail of curses, and the physical blows were masking a more serious threat that entered his mind and would assault him internally every time he thought of harming Hermione, or any other witch for that matter. This coupled with a deflation curse that would see him sexually impotent for a long time, completed the attack.

Severus watched on impassively, and shushed Hermione when he heard her sniff from within the cradle of his arms. "Shhh, my darling, we will be home momentarily, but what's left of my responsibility to my fellow Order members cannot let me see the idiot freeze to death. His parents and siblings do not deserve to lose another of their number, no matter how tempting it is."

Hermione didn't answer, but Severus felt her snuggle in closer to him. He was just preparing to send a Patronus message to Arthur when an out of breath wizard lunged out of the darkness behind them. Of course he instantly found himself on the wrong end of Severus' wand.

"No, professor, it's me, George. George Weasley," and George took in Hermione softly crying in Severus protective grip, and he looked up the road and saw his brother in a heap. "Damn, the stupid idiot," he muttered under his breath. "I'm sorry," he told Severus, "he saw you coming out of the Three Broomsticks and after Harry and Gin apparated away he took off without me. I apparated to the gates of Hogwarts thinking that would be where he went, but it must have only come half way. I'll take care of things, professor, you take Hermione home."

Severus did not speak, he merely nodded, and turned on the spot.

Hermione felt Severus' magic encapsulate her. It felt very comfortable, very right, and thankfully also warm, and it was only a moment and they were in the great entrance-way behind the huge bolted doors. "We're home, my love. Let's get you into a hot bath," Severus murmured, and they walked to his quarters. "It's over, he will never bother us again."

xox

Five years passed, and Severus' words proved very true. Ronald Weasley never did bother them again, and the redhead learned after a few stray malicious thoughts towards them that being assaulted mentally, by a picture of Dolores Umbridge, naked and being taken from behind by an equally naked Argus Filch—via Severus' well placed mind curse—was more punishment than enough each time his thoughts got out of line concerning Hermione.

Harry trained and became a wonderful Defence teacher, and they all breathed a sigh of relief when he entered his second year of teaching. It appeared that he had broken the curse on the position.

It took Ginny four years to become a Mediwitch, and now she was the new school matron. During that time Harry and Ginny married and now a two year old, Remus James Potter, who sat at high table between them.

Severus had only sniffed when he'd found out the name they'd chosen for their son. "It could have been a lot worse," he commented quietly to Hermione, following the birth.

As for Hermione and Severus they had also married a year ago, and every night when Hermione came back to their quarters she was thankful for that Heart's Desire charm that showed her what she already knew but didn't dare hope for.

"Darling, are you home?" she called as she came into their sitting room. It was close to the summer holidays and she had shed her outer robes as soon as she entered their rooms.

"Over here," came the reply from his favourite chair. "Did the little dunderheads give you any trouble today, my love?"

Hermione's arms came around the back of the chair and she watched as two arms came out and brought her around the chair. Her eyes were fixed on the eternity ring Severus had given her only two months ago as she allowed him to sweep her into the chair.

Sitting her in his lap he patted her slightly distended stomach, and smiled. "How are my two favourite witches tonight?"

Hermione laughed, "Our daughter hasn't even been born yet, and you've already marked her as a witch."

Severus gave her a heated kissed, "Naturally, with us as parents she will be the smartest witch of her generation, just as her mother is of hers."

Melting further into his embrace, Hermione pulled his head down to hers. "I love you, Severus."

"And I you," he whispered against her lips.

-: Finis :-

oOo

Notes:- I know Harry and Ginny's first born was called James Sirius, but if they were friends with Severus and Hermione in this alternative world, that's a very insulting thing for Severus, so I modified it to be less offensive, and anyway I think Remus was Harry's best father figure.

You may have noticed that I added to the scene in the Three Broomsticks some comments by Rosmerta about her friendship with Hagrid. I'm thinking of writing an off-shoot scene between the air of them as an autonomous one shot. It isn't a popular pairing, but it kind of interests me.

Thank you all for reading, your reviews are always appreciated if you feel you could. You know, just a smiley if you like it constitutes a review if you don't know what to write. :-)