And here lies the last chapter! I will probably do an epilogue or two because I think I shall miss these two, but this wraps up the story. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 26 – Happily Ever After

After a metaphorical hail of goodbyes, hugs, and best wishes and a literal hail of white flower petals enchanted to float slowly through the air, Severus and Hermione held hands as they made their way to the apparition point just outside the main gates of the castle. Albus had made them promise to stay away for the rest of the summer to enjoy their honeymoon, but informed them that as soon as September drew near they would be welcomed back with open arms to resume their roles as teachers at the school they both loved so much. Hermione didn't think she could get any happier until she reached for Severus so they could apparate together and he instead swept her up into his arms. She giggled and looked up to see his signature smirk plastered on his face.

"Tradition." He said simply, clearly enjoying the peel of giggles that had been unleashed as her feet left the ground.

"Do I get to know where we're going?" She had a feeling she could guess the answer, but she was enjoying her husband's playful mood.

"Now what fun would that be?" He buried his face in her hair in his attempt to give her a kiss as they apparated away. Hermione gasped when they materialized already inside the nicest hotel room she had ever seen.

"Severus, where are we?" She almost whispered as she looked around at the room. Everything was clean, large, and white. There were flowers on a large round table in the center of the room, as well as on the side tables on either side of the fluffiest and biggest bed she had ever seen.

"Surprisingly enough, our amenities were provided as a wedding gift from the Black family. Well, it came by way of Sirius, but I'm sure Bellatrix would…"

The ambush of Hermione's lips on his cut his sentence short. After a few seconds of a passionate embrace, Hermione pulled her lips away from his just far enough to make solid eye contact.

"Severus, you cannot possibly fathom how little I wish to discuss Bellatrix Lestrange at the moment."

"Oh I think I can imagine…wife." He stressed the last word in such a way that his steely velvet voice left nothing to the imagination as to what he was thinking. She exhibited an intoxicating mix of blushing and grinning, at which he yanked her hand in such a way that she fell into his arms. Anticipating her trajectory, he met her lips for lips, arms for arms, and quickly pushed all thought from her mind. The kiss grew more and more heated until he had the sense to break apart from her before he took her right there on the entryway floor.

Panting, she looked up at him, torn between dismay at the absence of his lips on hers and anticipation of what was to come. With a wandless, wordless spell, Severus turned off the fluorescent lighting of the hotel room and instantaneously replaced it with the light of countless, well-placed, conjured candles. Even in the newly-dimmed lighting he could see Hermione live up to the moniker of a true blushing bride.

"Are you ready, Severus?" she said, trying to use a joking tone to lighten the ever-mounting tension that seemed to be crackling throughout the room. However, the dark eyed man staring hungrily down at her did not seem to perceive her attempts at lightening the mood. He peered fiercely into her eyes as he spoke in the huskiest version she had ever heard of his cool steel and velvet voice.

"Madam Snape, I have been waiting for you my entire life."

She could do nothing but blush, swallow nervously, and hang desperately on to her connection with the dark eyes she had come to love. Slowly, he reached into her hair and began taking it out pin-by-pin, placing them one by one on the table next to them, all without breaking eye contact. When her hair had been freed and was falling in gentle waves down her back, she turned slowly, now facing away from him and gazing back at him over her shoulder. He gently swept her curtain of hair over her shoulder and began to undo the lacing down the back of her dress, pausing every so often to kiss the newly uncovered skin of her back.

When he reached the bottom of the laces, he gently grabbed the top of the dress and began easing it down her body, lowering his body as the dress fell so that when the shimmery white fabric was fully pooled on the floor at her feet he was kneeling in front of her. He planted a delicate, chaste kiss on her stomach and rose, trailing his lips over her body as he made his way back up to her mouth. As he rose, he gathered her in his arms and, without removing his lips from hers, slowly carried her to the bed. He deposited her on her back, but Hermione seemed to finally have found her Gryffindor courage and swung her legs over the side of the bed, sitting up and bringing her hands to his neck to begin undoing the buttons of his shirt.

They had undressed each other almost every night since their relationship first crossed the boundary into the physical realm, but both knew this time was different. She kissed the skin beneath each undone button and his hands ghosted over every inch of her exposed flesh leaving goose pimples in their wake. Soon their clothes had been carefully discarded on the floor next to the bed, leaving the newlyweds pressed against each other, savoring the sparks caused by their skin-to-skin contact.

After removing the last of her bridal white undergarments, Severus pulled her close to him. He was still standing by the side of the bed, placed between her knees as she sat on the edge. He kissed her deeply, gathering her head in his hands as he did. She felt his arousal pressing up against her stomach as he leaned into her. He slowly pushed her backwards, angling her head towards the pillows and shifting her feet towards the footboard. He looked down at the smiling, brunette angel looking seductively up at him and took a brief moment to thank whatever deity would listen for the second chance she had given him.

Growing impatient with the physical distance caused by her spouse's moment of introspection, she grabbed Severus' closest hand and gently pulled him until he was leaning over to kiss her. Without leaving her lips, he gently nestled himself so he was between her legs. Their kisses only intensified as he began rubbing himself against her wetness, causing her to moan audibly and press her hips up towards his. When he could wait no longer, he pulled his face back and looked into the light brown eyes he had come to love so much.

She smiled and nodded her silent assent to his unspoken question. Severus placed a small kiss on her nose. Taking a deep breath, he slowly pressed into her. He felt the resistance of the barrier that attested to the fact that she was his and only his. Looking in her eyes, she again nodded slightly, and he thrust all the way into her. His first thought was that this is truly what heaven must feel like. All the physical pain he had encountered in all his years as a Death Eater would be counterbalanced in the next ten minutes if this was how good it felt to be inside her.

A split second later, he saw the grimace that had flitted across her face and immediately regretted that his first thought had been a selfish one. He immediately began apologizing and moved to pull away from her, but was halted by one of her hands grabbing his hindquarters (with surprising strength) and holding him inside her. He looked down at her face to see what was going on, but finding no answers spoke his worries aloud.

"I don't want to hurt you." She thought his obvious concern was more than a little adorable. The radiance of the smile she directed up towards him began to melt away the ball of worry that had suddenly taken hold in his chest.

"We both knew that part wasn't going to be comfortable, but it's over," she kissed various locations on his face as she spoke, moving from his lips, to his cheeks, to his forehead, to the tip of his nose.

"Do you wish to continue?" She could tell from his expression that worry clearly functioned as the driving force behind his question, but the huskiness in his silky voice showed that he vehemently hoped the answer to the question was yes.

"Severus, you feel incredible." He almost couldn't believe what he was hearing, but seeing the hungry intensity in her eyes he couldn't help but be convinced. He was unsure as to how to proceed until he felt her draw her hips down into the mattress until he almost came unsheathed from inside her and then firmly thrust them up to meet his body. Both of them gasped as the sensation radiated throughout their bodies. "Yes, I wish to continue," she said with a devilish grin.

This was all he needed to dive headlong into another passionate kiss. As he lost himself in her luscious lips, tangling his hand into her mane of bushy curls, he slowly began moving her hips against hers. Hearing her moan into his mouth, he knew the sensation was just as wonderful for her as it was for him. They quickly found their rhythm, her nails dragging down his back as he steadily increased his pace. When she changed the angle of her hips to give him better access, she was pleased to hear what could have qualified as a gasp, a moan, or possibly an expletive, she wasn't sure which.

As the pace climbed faster, Hermione felt the familiar feeling in her core that meant she was close, but this time she felt that instead of being the familiar burst of pleasure when she came it would be an explosion of almost a frightening magnitude.

"I'm close," she whispered into his ear. Thank goodness, I didn't know how much longer I was going to be able to hold out. Severus thought, grateful for the fact that they seemed to be just as compatible in this area as they were in every other. Hearing her words, he sped up the pace slightly, bringing one hand under her rear to pull her hips even closer to his as he thrust. He heard her gasps growing louder as he felt her muscles begin to tense around him.

She felt his pace quicken and felt him hit the spot deep inside her that she knew would make her lose her mind. Then the world seemed to explode. In a burst of white light, she felt her back involuntarily arch off the bed as she felt the pleasure explode from the spot where their bodies joined and radiate throughout her body to her fingers and toes. She was not responsible for what noises she made or what her body did, but she was vaguely aware of her legs curling around Severus' waist and her arms clinging to his neck as if he was the only thing tethering her to this world.

As if the pulsing of Hermione's muscles around him wouldn't have been enough to push him over the edge, the sight of her face as she came undone beneath him, the sound of her voice huskily yelling out his name, and the feeling of her body on his as her back arched triggered a feeling he had never before experienced and had no words to describe. He felt his release continue as her body continued pulsing around him.

When their bodies' reactions finally stopped and their minds came back into their bodies, Severus' and Hermione's eyes found each other again. They saw their own exact feelings of awe and amazement mirrored in the other's eyes and both broke into giggles.

"That was…" he began, still trying to catch his breath.

"…amazing?" she finished, occasioning a vehement nod from Severus.

Slowly lowering himself to her side, he positioned himself on his back and wrapped his arm around her as she curled up against his side and placed her head on his chest. She absentmindedly trailed her fingers across his chest as they lay close enough to feel each others' hearts racing.

"That, my love, was most definitely worth the wait," Severus commented, leaning down to place a chaste kiss on the lips of the still breathless witch cuddled up next to him.

"I'm honored that you did wait." The sincerity in her voice floored him as she spoke. She planted another quick kiss on his lips, but when she pulled away her devilish smile had returned. "I do think that I should probably do something to make up for the years you spent waiting though, I mean it's hardly fair…" The twinkle in her eye and the mischief in her smile were contagious.

"Oh I'm sure we could figure out some way to make up for lost time," he said with his patented smirk. She answered only by pulling his face to hers in a passionate kiss. Principles of biology be damned, Severus thought as he felt himself harden at the suggestive way she pressed herself up against him. Feeling his reaction, Hermione pulled herself on top of her new husband as they continued to celebrate their wedding night.

The next morning over a decadent spread of breakfast foods that had arrived unsolicited at their door, Hermione and Severus, both clad in the hotel-provided bathrobes, basked in the joy of what had been a perfect wedding, a perfect night, and what looked to be the beginning of a perfect honeymoon. In the middle of a conversation on where they should begin their travels, Severus froze halfway through his explanation of the dangerous specimens of dark creatures that can be found in tropical islands at this time of year.

"Love, what is it?" Hermione asked, putting down the pancake she had been attacking.

"Do you happen to have a quill in that beaded bag of yours?"

"Here," she said, passing him the muggle pen with the hotel's name and logo on it. "It's like a self-inking quill, just start writing."

Severus shot her a raised eyebrow glare that clearly indicated he did not need to be lectured on the protocols of muggle writing implements. She received it in the spirit he had intended and returned the glare by sticking her tongue out at him and biting ferociously into her pancake with a giggle. Severus couldn't keep from smiling as he grabbed the pen and began scribbling on something she could not see over the bucket of ice in the center of the table.

Seconds later, he handed her back the pen, as well as a white napkin from the room service tray. She took both items in hand, looking quizzically at him. However, when she turned the napkin over, she clasped her hand over her mouth, eyes wide. When her hand fell away from her mouth, its absence revealed an awestruck grin. The white napkin had a familiar-looking monogram of the hotel stamping "The Corinthia" in the bottom corner. On the napkin, she saw a simple sentence written Severus' familiar scrawl:

'Listen to her.'

Eyes alight with excitement, she looked up at his face. Her gaze up at the face of her new husband revealed a knowing grin on his face.

"It appears we have one more journey to make before we turn the time turner in to Albus."

Still smiling from ear to ear, she took the pen and neatly added a line of her careful handwriting below Severus':

'…and they all lived happily ever after.'

And so they did.