Epilogue- The Dreamers

He struggled into the heavy black robe, fastening the multitude of ebony buttons that would ensure that his image remained cold and aloof. Even today of all days he could not, would not, allow any semblance of emotion to escape. He had no wish for the other participants to know his feelings. Even after all this time he was still a very private man. He picked his wand up from the dresser, and slipping it into his inside pocket, making sure it was always within easy reach, he gathered up a small delicately wrapped present and apparated as close as he could get to a simple clearing in a forest, wildly decorated in gold and crimson streamers. He grimaced, and after scanning the sizable crowd he spotted man responsible for the decorations.

"Albus, as understated as ever," he drawled, sneering at the fluttering gold of a nearby banner.

"Ah, there you are my boy. For a while there I thought you might be late. It's never a good idea to be later than the bride, not if you don't want to be hexed into next week." The old man grinned, his delight was catching and Severus found himself smirking slightly.

"I still think the decorations are a little extreme. I had expected Gryffindor colours to be on display, but surely there could have been some variation?" the sneer had come back; it was instinctual whenever he said the word Gryffindor.

"Did you remember the ring?"

"Yes, and I believe I shall keep hold of it. We would not want it going astray." The dark man had visions of the ring coming up out of a fluff lined pocket, the old man searching and bring out only sticky half sucked sherbet lemons. No, it would not do to lose the ring. The bride would be furious, and that was something Severus did tend to avoid when possible. It wasn't that he was afraid of Gryffindors, but neither was he stupid.

He hadn't wanted to have such a large ceremony. The thought of being the centre of attention in such a large crowd was slightly worrying. But, the bride had insisted, and by the time the list of essential participants had been prepared it already seemed to have most of the wizarding world included. What was more, they all seemed to have turned up. Curiosity, he decided, was not the sole domain of cats, as he looked around and saw representatives from all the Hogwart's houses, along with ministry officials, celebrities and even the odd foreign dignitary. He sighed, running his finger around his collar and trying to quell the trapped feelings that were making his legs twitchy. He wanted to run, to escape, somewhere quiet, removed from the world. Somewhere for just him and Hermione, where no-one else existed. Maybe after the ceremony, he thought, if they could get away. He wondered just how long they would be obliged to stay. The party would certainly go on without them, they probably would not even be missed, he decided, picturing already the peace, tranquillity, the feel of her skin against his....

"Time dear boy." The headmaster seemed to be unreasonably calm, Severus thought, as they glided into place at the centre of the congregation. All thought was then suspended as the bride and her escort made their way into the clearing.

She was beautiful, he decided, no matter what she wore, no matter if she had not slept, or been ill, or was furious. It fact especially when she was furious, he felt himself beginning to grin, but didn't feel able to prevent it. The dress was white, like all the bridal procession and her unbound hair fell in waves, woven with tiny white flowers which twinkled as if they contained jewels of light. She was bare foot, and she was smiling at him with all her love in her gaze as she made her way to the spot where he stood, rooted to the spot.

Severus was aware of the other members of the bridal party as they too came into position, and the vows to bind, one to the other, began the solemn ceremony of joining.

Afterwards he had only he vaguest memories of the ceremony. He had made the appropriate responses, had produced the ring from his pocket, and had fulfilled his part with dignity and aplomb. His mind, however, had been on auto pilot; his attention had been riveted on her eyes. The golden glance had never wavered from his own, and he felt tied to her, the words of the joining creating a deep meaning which existed only for the two of them. She was his wife, by law and by the rings which bound them symbolically, but also by choice. They had chosen each other through the Dreame, and Severus could not, even after all this time, allow himself to take her choice for granted. He was still in awe of these feelings, so freely given and received. Brushing his thumb against the knuckles of her hand, he smiled. He was not sure when he had taken her hand, but he had no desire to let her go.

The ceremony was finished, the bride had been kissed, and the happy couple had been praised and feted. Severus felt he had played his part well, against the expectations of a majority of the crowd, and was now seeking out his wife. He had no wish to remain, and was hoping to persuade her to leave soon.

"I know, I know" she smiled indulgently, "but we need to wait, just a little while longer. I can't go until we see them off" she wrapped her arm around her husband's waist and leant into him, letting him support her weight slightly.

"You should be off your feet you know. It is not good for you, all this excitement. I am simply thinking of your health Hermione" he intoned silkily. She laughed, a deep husky sound that he could feel as well as hear.

"Liar!" she retorted gently, the laughter still evident in her voice. Raising her head so she could look him in the eyes, she kissed him gently.

"We need to see them off first, and then we can go relax. Okay?" she smiled, and getting a smile in return from the usually taciturn man, they turned to wave their goodbyes. The Threstrals danced slightly in the traces, causing the bride to giggle like a school girl, belying the years that showed on her face, whilst the groom tried valiantly to calm them.

It was then that Severus saw the notice pinned to the back of the carriage. He knew his best man duties included a few lighter activities, his thoughts wondered vaguely back to the nightmare that Potter had had the bad grace to call a stag night, but he had not initiated the notice that was now firmly attached to the back of the carriage.

He groaned, eliciting a query from his wife, and pointed in the direction of the piece of paper, emblazoned in red were the words "Just Married" and trailing a variety of cans, boots and saucepan lids. Red rose petals were dropping from the carriage in a drift of scarlet and the words on the notice were dancing to catch the eye.

"Merlin, thank the gods we had a quiet wedding." he said, tightening his hold around his wife. "I don't think I could have coped with that."

"Actually, I think it suited them. I couldn't see an Albus & Minerva wedding being anything but showy" she smiled, allowing him to draw her away from the crowd still straining to cheer the happy couple off.

"Thankyou" he said, looking deep in thought

"What for?"

"For choosing me, for letting me chose you, for not giving up on me, for us, and for this." he said, putting his hand on the swell of her stomach. She stopped walking and stared up at him, noticing the discomfort he still felt at expressing those feelings, but needing to hear the words. The child within her took this opportunity to make his presence known, and gave a hefty first kick. Hermione gasped, and holding his hand to the place where their child moved, they stood in the centre of the wedding noise and had a moment of pure peace and tranquillity, simply caught in their dreame.

The End

Many thanks go to all of you who have read and reviewed this story, your kind words have pushed me to finish this story, and have lifted my soul.

Susanne