To say that everything from that moment onward was simple would be a lie.

Telling her parents had been a nightmare, same as telling Harry, Ron and Ginny. After a great deal of awkward conversations and even more awkward meetings, for her parents had insisted on meeting Severus, the general population seemed to get used to the idea that the two wizards loved each other. Surprisingly, Ron had put two and two together and had figured out that Hermione's feelings for Severus weren't new, explaining her reaction in the Shrieking shack. Even more surprising, he'd kept quiet about it all.

For Severus and Hermione had come to an unspoken agreement that they wouldn't reveal that their relationship had started when Hermione was still Severus' student. So far, Ron was the only one that knew for certain, but Hermione had a nagging suspicion that Harry and Ginny had their doubts too.

Their relationship wasn't simple either.

Yes, they had been secretive lovers for around a half year, but they didn't know each other yet. The only thing they knew were their feelings for one another.

So they started it all over again, from the beginning, in a more conventional manner.

It started off with invitations to eat together, rarely in a public place, for there still were a few renegade Death Eaters loose. With home cooked meals by Hermione, that were not always that good, but that Severus never complained about.

It started off with smaller, more casual the teasing, the laughs and the tentative smiles. With Hermione and Severus rebuilding the castle, together. With them brewing in Severus' private lab, brewing potions that Severus used to start his own brewing business. He was done with all the teaching now.

It started with the smallest of gestures, from surprises letters in the mornings when they were separated, to remembering a story one had told. With hesitant kisses, hushed confessions and lots of instances when Hermione would bite her lip.

When Severus asked if Hermione wanted to move in with him, in a very quiet, self-conscious way, after almost two years of them being an official couple, she still hadn't heard him say that he loved her out loud.

She'd witnessed his silent displays of love. From the way he listened to her with rapt attention, slowed his pace so that they could walk side by side, in sync, or asked about her day, every day. From the way he would unconsciously brush the back of her hand during the times they'd hold hands, notice whenever she'd put more effort into her appearance, or would let her hold him when, sometimes, he cried softly at night.

The war had left its scars after all.

And he witnessed her silent displays of love. From the way she prepared him his favorite tea in the morning, told him to go to bed when he would lose track of time working, or took care to put everything back in its place once she'd finished brewing in his lab. From the way she sometimes lost interest in her book and took interest to watching him read, adored stealing his woolly jumper, the only red item of clothing he owned, or asked for his advice and really took it in.

The first time Hermione had told him she loved him, it had happened after a very enjoyable supper during which she had ingested a bit too much wine than usual. They had strolled back out in the streets, holding hands close together to keep warm, as snow fell softly above. Severus had said something that Hermione, at the time had found so incredibly witty and hilarious, had burst out in her laughs that Severus loved to hear so much. Giddy with happiness from the wine, the lovely diner and the man staring into her eyes with a look of fierce affection, of love, Hermione had let the three little words slip out of her mouth before she could think twice.

It had been so natural, so effortless.

From that day onward, she'd repeat it often, whispering it in his ear softly or yelling it quickly as he left for work. She never expected a reply, she knew he'd tell her when he'd be ready.

Hermione had been on the verge of falling asleep that night, when she felt him shift next to her. Stuck in that realm between being asleep and being lucid, she'd barely registered his delicate touch as he traced the contours of her face, barely registered as he bent over her to kiss her lightly on her forehead before laying back down, wrapping his arms around her body and pulling her close to him. But she'll always remember the quiet way he whispered:

'I love you'

Author's note: Yes I know, rather short epilogue… I hope you guys like it though!

Actually, writing this epilogue has really reinforced my feeling that I'd like this story to maybe, eventually, have a sequel… What do you think?

Thanks once again for accompanying me on this journey. I hope to hear from all of you guys in my next fic Oh the places we will go ;)

Raven

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