AN: Dearest readers and followers, this is it, here we are, the final chapter :) I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the next story coming up in a week or two :)

Always,

Raven


23rd March 2002

There weren't many preparations to make, but they wanted to wait for the Spring Equinox to perform the bonding magic. Traditional bonding ceremonies were performed outside around the elements, connected to the very ground with their bare feet, and only covered by a traditional robe. Severus knew Hermione well enough to provide her with a book that explained the ritual, and another that gave her an idea for what kind of robes she might want.

They agreed to have a private ceremony, just the two of them, followed by a weekend in Aberaeron once again, and then the Easter holidays were beginning straight away. Their immediate friends agreed to have a celebratory lunch with them once they returned from Wales, and Hermione persuaded Ava to share the news of her second pregnancy. The more merry news they had to share, the merrier their lunch would be.

The ceremony itself took place three days ago as planned, and Hermione decided to forgo the traditional white and wear a deep sapphire blue to compliment Severus' black robe. They enjoyed a cup of morning coffee, showered together and slipped their ceremonial robes on, heading out into their garden. Severus had transfigured them a rug over the persisting snow, and they felt connected to the crisp nature around them as they stood above the magical soil in their garden. They clasped their hands and just let their minds connect, chanting the binding spell affectionately, willing their minds, bodies and souls to connect unlike ever before.

They repeated the ligo anima nostra chant merely three times, their magic reacting strongly and reaching for the other. It was breathtaking. Hermione didn't know whether to close her eyes and let herself feel it all, or watch enraptured as their chests shone brightly a soft golden light and she could feel a powerful tug on her magical core as it expanded to accept Severus' magic. She wavered and nearly closed her eyes before everything suddenly exploded and she could really feel Severus. His emotions, his wonder, love, she could hear the hum of his magic, nearly taste it like a flavour. Sweetbitter, like dark chocolate. Tainted with a hint of darkness but rich and powerful. She wondered what hear magic felt like to Severus, and he later told her she her magic reminded of him of tarte au citron; sweet but with a hint of bitterness from limes, and something fresh. It may have been the age difference, or at least in part, but Severus could have sworn he felt at least a decade younger. They stood on that small rug for long moments, letting the bond pulse and their twined magic settle within their skin.

Hermione set the large bowl of potatoes on the table and smiled fondly at the memory. Severus set down the fragrant beef and pulled the beautiful woman close.

They'll be here any minute, love, Hermione warned but her eyes shone with love and passion, the bond still making their bodies react a little heatedly when they were so close.

I but wished to hold you, wife… Severus caressed her mind, their magic pulling around them playfully.

"Oi, you two. Get a room or leave it for later. There are children present," Harry grinned from the doorway, little James happily holding onto his dada's neck.

"Yes, two that I see," Hermione teased back and pecked his cheek, tickling James' side as he happily asked to go on her arms. She took him over and smiled at Ava, offering a one-armed hug. "You look well, how do you feel?" she asked, knowing her friend has been suffering greatly with morning sickness. "I'm managing. Your potions are a godsend," she admitted and turned to Severus, smiling when the elder man kissed the back of her hand gallantly as he always did. "Congratulations sir, bonded life clearly agrees with you," she chuckled.

And pregnancy does not currently agree with you, Mrs. Potter. Come, sit. I shall fetch you a nausea potion that will settle you before lunch, he led her to a seat and pulled out the chair for her.

Ava nodded gratefully. "Thank you, sir," she sat down and turned away from the food for the moment.

"Are you sure you'll be fine? I can get you some of the banana bread from yesterday. There's oats and almond flour in it, if you prefer something dry to eat," Hermione offered as she settled James in a high chair beside her.

"Really, stop fussing. I'm sure I'll be fine," Ava promised and nodded her thanks to Severus when he offered her the nausea potion.

"Hermione? Severus?" came a call from the living room and Hermione headed over while Severus ran a quick scan over Ava.

"Bill!" she smiled happily and let the dashing curse-breaker sweep her up into a tight hug. "It's been far too long! Thank you for coming," she smiled and turned to the petite woman by his side. "Welcome, I'm Hermione Snape," she offered her hand.

"Caro Wilson. It's a pleasure to meet you," she shook Hermione's hand with a lovely smile. She had the most beautiful cocoa skin and her hair was as wild as Hermione's.

She instantly liked Bill's new girlfriend. "Come on it, Harry and Ava are already at the table," she ushered them inside and turned back to the floo when Charlie squeezed through, his shoulders wide enough to make it a bit of an effort, followed by a tall, slender young man with piercing grey eyes and raven locks that could easily rival Severus.

"Charlie," she let herself be squeezed tightly once again before turning to the long-expected guest. "And you finally brought Ivan with you. Seriously, about time," she mock scolded him and Charlie just rolled his eyes with a grin.

"Hermione Snape, may I introduce my fiancé Ivan Anikin," he offered, watching his lover relax a bit at the warmth Hermione greeted them with, and the lovely home they were entering. Molly, his own mother, told them never to come to her house again after they announced their engagement, and here were their friends greeting them with love.

"Dobry den, Hermio-na," he greeted with a respectful bow and a kiss to the back of her hand, his pronunciation accented but charming.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Ivan. We've heard such wonderful things," she smiled. "If I'm not mistaken, my husband speaks Russian, but I'm not sure his quill writes in Cyrillic. I'll have to ask him," she offered.

"Senk you, Madam," he replied shyly and Charlie led him through into the kitchen.

Hermione smiled when she saw everyone hugging and greeting each other in the kitchen while she waited for the twins to join them. It still felt so strange to call Severus her husband, and to know she was a Mrs now. But Severus delighted in calling her his wife every moment he could get away with it. Their bond was pulsing again and she focused her gaze on Severus who was observing her from the kitchen doorway.

I wish they were already gone, Severus' husky tones caressed her mind.

Hermione raised a brow. They're friends and family who want to celebrate with us. You will behave yourself, Mr. Snape.

And what incentive do I have to behave, Mrs. Snape? he responded cheekily, his heated gaze taking in her beautiful curves in the simple blue grecian dress. It was modest and reached her ankles, showing very little skin. But the outline of her form and the freckles on her shoulders were calling to his lips. It appeared the bond had no intentions in settling swiftly but he wasn't one to complain, especially if it meant having his wife naked and pleased.

Hermione could see the heat and desire in his gaze and shuddered in response, her body just as impatient for the intimacy. Later love, I want to share my happiness with the ones I care about…

Severus nodded and caressed her mind lovingly. Then remain by side, dearest. I do not wish to be far from your presence.

Hermione smiled affectionately. Neither do I, love, she promised and managed to tear her gaze away when the twins arrived.

It will be a long day but she couldn't have been happier, surrounded by her lover ones and by the side of man she loved above all.

1st January 2016

It was still dark outside and Hermione stretched her nude limbs luxuriously, smiling when she felt a pair of thin but warm lips pressing delightful kisses down the length of her spine. She shivered a little when the blankets were pulled off her warm frame but hummed when it was soon replaced by the heat of Severus' body pressed into hers.

Hmmm… already love? she hummed, feeling his passion and love through their bond and in every touch of his skilled fingers.

May I, wife? If you are not too sore, he nuzzled her neck and she reached back to cup his cheek.

No need to fuss, I'm fine…oooh so good, love, she gasped as he slipped inside her still sensitive and moist heat.

They were spending New Years night alone at their home, and Severus had been very fastidious to ring the arrival of the new year properly. They took a nap in between making love, but it seemed her husband desired her more than she thought he would.

They have been together for nearly a decade and a half, and sometimes it felt like a lifetime. And yet other days she woke and didn't know where all the time went when Severus held her so dearly into his warmth. 14 years of marriage, 14 difficult but loving years, and she regret none. They were both stubborn and difficult at times, and being the research power-couple of the academic world placed certain pressures and strain on them once in a while.

She remembered none-too-fondly a time several years back when their marriage had hit a crisis. They were in the middle of research, arguing constantly back and forth, and it came to Hermione moving into the guest room to give them at least some space. It lasted for five months until they finally had their breakthrough, and out of sheer joy they spent the night on the living room floor in front of the fire because they didn't even make it upstairs to the bedroom. It took time and effort, and being open with each other despite how they both were, but it worked. They communicated until nothing was left unsaid between them, and worked hard to have understanding for the other. Their life was sometimes hectic, and tiring, but they made sure to take at least two holidays a year just for the two of them to spend time with each other without the stress.

Their family and friends were growing and changing around them as well, and Hermione was now a happy godmother to not only young James, but also Therese, Bill's and Caro's precious little girl. Harry and Ava have been busy as well, their home now filled with three children and the madness of their familiars as well, not a moment of peace in waking moments. Charlie and Ivan never married as the law in Romania did not allow them, but they were most content together in their love, and just recently moved to Wales. The local dragon reserve welcomed them with open arms and they were closer to their friends and family as well. And the twins were, much to Severus' horror, raising each a set of twins to be the future trouble-makers of Hogwarts. Neither Hermione nor Severus envied the Hogwarts staff for the challenge…

The rest of the Weasley family was a different story. Ginny was doing well, married to Dean Thomas and working for the Prophet. Hermione refused to hold onto grudges and made her peace long ago. And above all, she was beyond wishing anyone else misfortune, so she was glad that Ginny was content with her life, she just didn't care to have the redhead in hers. As for Ron, he ended living in unfortunate poverty with his ever pregnant wife, their nine children a testament to his fertility indeed. They sometimes bumped into each other in Diagon Alley, but there was nothing left to say, so Hermione refused to acknowledge his looks. Life worked in the strangest of ways but through it all, she couldn't complain.

She gasped as Severus held her close and his hips gained pace. They couldn't possibly last long with how sensitive they both were after several bouts of passion, and she reached up to grip her pillow, groaning deeply at the pleasant angle of her husband's thrusts. Severus reached between her supple body and the warm linen sheets, his skilled fingers rubbing her in the most pleasing of ways. He felt her tightening around him and nipped the soft skin of her shoulder, pushing her over the edge of pleasure and following with a deep raspy groan.

Hermione shuffled out of his arms and turned to lie on her back, looking at him with a soft laugh. How you still want to make love so often is beyond me, she mused. I'm now the same age as you were after the war and I don't know about you but I could sleep for a few hours…

Severus chuckled and pushed a stray silver lock away from his damp forehead, wiping the strain off. As if it is possible not to desire you, sweetheart.

She shrugged, summoning a damp cloth to clean up before passing it over. I hope you remember that in a fifty years, she chuckled and curled into his body when he urged her closer. Well, if we don't blow ourselves up with an unfortunate potions experiment, she flipped cheekily.

Darling wife, as if a few decades would change anything, he chuckled and leaned down to kiss her lovingly.

Think so? she caressed his cheek as her soft breasts pressed against his chest.

Severus smiled fondly and kissed her forehead. Always…

THE END.