Well, here we are at the last chapter. I can't thank you all enough for your support and fabulous reviews. This has been a fun story to write and it's been a blast sinking my teeth into a new fandom. As per usual, I couldn't have done it without the help of my lovely and talented beta darnedchild. Thank you, sweetness! And also my amazing friend MrsMCrieff, who hasn't seen this chapter yet but did help with British-isms (as always!). The mistakes blong to me and only me, and don't you forget it!

Couple of warnings: First off, things get smutty, folks! I had always wanted to add sexual content to this story, but wasn't sure if it would fit. I'm fairly confident that I made it work. Secondly, there are some 'different' sort of parings near the end. We don't actually see them together, just conversations about them. This is, in a couple of cases, basically comic relief and in one, just because I thought it sounded interesting. If they aren't your cup of tea, that's cool. Please don't beat me up about it. The story is finished and I don't plan on elaborating as to the future of these rare pairs.

I own nothing. Enjoy ~Lil~

Hermione stared at her best friend, her arms clinging tightly around Severus' neck, as she thought about how she was supposed to respond. "Ah, no… no, Harry, I'm not... sick."

Severus sat her gently back onto her feet, keeping a hand on the small of her back until she had her balance. "She fell," he blurted out.

Harry looked back and forth between the two of them, finally stopping on Hermione. "You fell?"

"Yeah. I, ah, stumbled and turned my ankle. Severus picked me up!" she said, a little too brightly.

"O-kay," Harry said.

Hermione turned to Severus. "Why don't you go upstairs and look for that missing sock?"

"Missing sock?" Severus questioned looking slightly confused. But he quickly caught on. "Oh... yes, my missing sock. The sock I must have left when I moved out."

"Exactly! And when I'm finished with Harry here, I'll come up and help you. I'm sure if we work together we will be able to find it quickly." She ended with a satisfied nod.

"Indeed," Severus said before turning and glaring at Harry. "Potter. Don't overstay your welcome." He managed to billow out of the room, despite the absence of his teaching robes.

"Hermione, why is Snape…" Harry started, but was interrupted by another whooshing from the Floo. Suddenly Luna stepped out, dusting off her multi coloured frock.

"Hello, Hermione. Oh, don't you look lovely," she said before kissing Harry on the cheek.

"Afternoon, Luna," Hermione replied, wishing there were two less people in her home.

Luna eyed Hermione carefully. "Is the professor here?"

Harry turned to his girlfriend. "Yes, how'd you know?"

"Just a hunch. But mostly I thought it unlikely that you gave her that lovebite," the blonde explained, gesturing towards the other witch.

"What?!" both Harry and Hermione exclaimed, the latter reaching up to cover her neck with both hands.

"I thought he was here to look for a sock!" The poor man was properly confused.

Luna, with an excited look on her face, asked, "Is that some kind of kinky game? Because if it is..."

"It's not a game!" Hermione interrupted.

"Oh," Luna said, looking a bit disappointed. "It's just a euphemism, then." She turned to her boyfriend. "Come along, Harry. Hermione and the professor want to have sex and we're interrupting."

"They want to…" Harry mumbled as he was dragged toward the Floo by his girlfriend.

"Have fun," Luna tossed back at Hermione as she grabbed some Floo powder.

A speechless Hermione waved goodbye then started for the stairs. Just as the pair disappeared, however, she decided to do one more thing. Pulling her wand from the hidden pocket in her dress, she warded the Floo before leaving the room. "No more interruptions," she mumbled as she walked determinedly down the hall.

When she reached her room she found Severus sitting on the bed, frock coat and boots missing, looking decidedly eatable, if a little bit grumpy. She continued to eye him up as she shut the door behind her.

"Did Potter finally get the message?"

Giving him a nod, she walked toward the bed, stopping only to lay her wand on the bedside locker. "Thankfully Luna showed up and explained the birds and the bees to him." Slotting herself between his splayed knees, she threaded her fingers through his hair as she said, "Sometimes I think Luna might be too much for him, poor boy."

Severus' hands found the backs of her knees and slowly worked their way up her bare legs, stopping at the edge of her knickers. "You do know that I don't give a damn, right?"

Hermione bit her lip and nodded again, loving the feeling of his callused fingers against her skin.

"Now where were we?" he asked.

"You said something about devouring me, I do believe."

"I believe you're right." His hands cupped her bottom as he buried his face between her breasts. "Merlin, I've dreamt about this."

She held his head in place, savouring the moment.

Abruptly, Severus pulled back. "Is there a zip or something?" he asked, looking at her dress as if it were offending him.

Hermione turned and lifted her hair out of the way. "Is this what you're looking for?" She felt the zip moving down, then Severus was standing behind her, pushing the dress off of her shoulders.

As he switched their places he said, "Lie down for me."

There was usually a moment of shyness the first time a wizard saw her without clothes, but she wasn't feeling it at that moment. Whether it was because Severus had already seen most of her body before or because she was simply much more comfortable with the man, she didn't know, but she followed his directions without hesitation. She started to situate herself in the middle, against the pillows, but Severus stopped her.

"At the edge, facing me," he said as he unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt, then started working on the multitude of buttons up the middle.

Hermione complied, watching a bit mesmerised by the unintentionally sexy striptease. When his chest came into view, she bit her lip. She knew he was strong, he had picked her up many times, including just a few minutes before, but she hadn't anticipated him having such a defined body. Yes, he was thin, but also toned and simply lovely.

He smirked. "What?"

"Just enjoying the show," she answered, putting her hands behind her head.

He paused. "Are you now? There's not much to see."

"I'll be the judge of that. Continue," she said with a raised eyebrow.

Severus went back to work, dropping the crisp, white linen shirt carelessly onto the floor before removing his trousers, leaving him in a pair of black (of course) boxer briefs.

"I always pictured boxers," Hermione said, staring dreamily at his crotch. In all the time he had lived with her, he'd never let her do his laundry.

"Always pictured?" Severus questioned. "Dare I ask how long you've been thinking about this."

She sat up. "Oh come on! I was a teenage girl and you had... that- that voice!" And those long dexterous fingers, and all that brooding mystery! she added in her head.

"I was also evil and cruel!"

"Well yes, but hormones don't really care much about those things. After you kicked Lockhart's arse that day I have to admit… I had a little crush for a while."

"Miss Granger, who would have known?"

She giggled and ran a finger just inside the waistband of his pants. "We keep getting off track."

"I noticed."

"Do you have a solution?"

"Yes, lie back and shut up!" he said, determinedly, but with a mock sneer.

"Good idea." Hermione laid back on the bed.

Severus braced himself over her then leant down, kissing her and removing any and all other thought from her mind. This wasn't the frantic snog she'd experienced in the sitting room, but something more sensual and inviting. Even with Severus hovering over, keeping his body from touching hers, Hermione could feel his need in the urgent press of his lips. His teeth nibbled at her bottom lip, his tongue following in their wake before finding its way into her mouth.

A needy moan broke free from somewhere deep inside as he kissed across her jaw and down her neck. He grasped one breast with his left hand and pushed the material aside on the other, closing his lips around the upturned point and pulling the bud into his mouth. Letting go, he switched sides, lavishing the other nipple with the same attention. His tongue was a marvel! Every flick across her sensitive skin sent shocks directly to her core.

Pushing up quickly, he took a step back, his breathing laboured. When his eyes traveled down her body and back up again, his mouth turned up at the edges. "I was wrong. It's closer to four or maybe four and a half."

She sat up on her elbows. "What?" How can he possibly form cohesive sentences?"

"You've gained weight in the most delectable places, wife." He knelt between her legs, looking at her like he was a man starving and she was his last meal.

Starting with her knees, Severus placed delicate, teasing kisses along first one leg and then the other, ending where her thigh met her pelvis. By the second leg, Hermione was worked up into a tizzy and had to lay back; the visual was too much. He then nibbled just above her panty line and sucked on the skin at her left hip, hard enough to leave his mark.

I'm his, was all she could think as he continued to torment her without even removing her undergarments. His downtime during Harry's interruption must have done him some good considering their frantic interactions in the sitting room. But Hermione was starting to lose her patience. She was just about to say something when she felt him hook his thumbs in her knickers and drag them down her thighs.

Good, they were starting to get uncomfortably wet, she thought as he started working way back toward her core. And then he was there and she was in heaven. Severus licked and nipped at her folds for seconds, minutes...days? until she felt his lips latch onto her clit and his fingers enter her. Then she was seeing stars, so many stars. Hermione's body spasmed in the most lovely way possible, the polar opposite to the months of torment she'd experienced at the mercy of the curse. Her world consisted only of Severus' mouth and hands; her mind adrift in a land that knew nothing but pleasure. As she floated back to earth, she realised that she was gripping his hair so tight that it must have hurt and that her throat was a bit sore. Was I screaming? I must have been screaming...

He looked up, grinning like a cocky little shit. "I assume you enjoyed that?"

"Oh… My… Gods!" she rasped, releasing his hair and rubbing his head. "More."

Severus quickly shucked his shorts and picked her up, placing her in the middle of the bed before straddling her hips. "We don't need this anymore." He trailed a finger over the bit of lace still covering her left breast. "I want to feel your skin against mine," he said, suddenly sounding needy and desperate.

It was incredibly sexy.

Sliding his hands underneath her back, he had the clasp freed in one quick move. Hermione raised up and he pulled the bra away, tossing it off the bed. She was surprised she could even register what he was doing. Now that she had gotten a good look at what he was hiding underneath all those layers, she was honestly a little intimidated. But she wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing! Reaching out, she wrapped her hand around his length and pumped.

His hips surged forward as he gasped, "Fuck!" and immediately grabbed her wrist to halt her movements.

Licking her lips she looked up to find him staring at her intensely. Finally the reality of the situation came crashing down on her.

Severus must have seen a bit of fear in her eyes. "Hey, do you trust me?" he asked in a voice so soft and so kind, it nearly broke her heart.

"Of course I do, Severus." She hadn't meant to look scared. Quite the contrary, she was more than ready to be his. But the afternoon had taken a very different turn from what she had expected, and it was definitely catching up with her.

"You know I wouldn't hurt you, that I…" He swallowed deeply and she could have swore that his eyes looked slightly damp, but maybe it was just the lighting. "I love you, Hermione. By the Gods, I never want hurt you," he said, stroking her cheeks.

"I love you too, Severus," she replied in a choked voice.

He kissed her briefly, but soundly, then situated himself between her legs. When she felt the head of his cock nudge at her opening, she shut her eyes tightly, waiting for him to continue, but he didn't. A moment later he spoke.

"Look at me."

Opening her eyes, she saw her husband above her… waiting.

He's waiting for me, she realised. "I'm fine, Severus. It's just been a little while, as you can imagine, and this is all really intense. Amazing but intense." She paused. "But I want it. I want… you."

He smiled knowingly, kissed her brow then started to ease his way in, very deliberately. He filled her slowly, exquisitely, not stopping until he was fully seated. It was glorious.

She was staring up into his fathomless black eyes, wishing that he'd give her more, when he did. She tried to match his movements, needing to feel more and soon they were moving in unison; her hips surging up as he thrust. Sex had never felt this right before.

Hardly breaking his rhythm, Severus slid his arms up underneath Hermione's shoulders as she locked her ankles just below his arse.

"Is it coming back to you, love?" he whispered into her neck.

"Oh Gods, Severus!" His pelvis was grinding down on her clit as he drove into her over and over again. "I'm close!" She dug her nails into his shoulders, feeling her orgasm just out of reach. "Harder! Please!"

His hips snapped against hers as he complied with her request. "Thank Merlin!" he whispered against her skin. He sucked on the flesh at the base of her neck then moved lower, capturing an erect nipple in his mouth, scraping it lightly with his teeth. "Come for me, Hermione. Gods, I need you to come now!"

Her orgasm took her by surprise as she threw her head back and called out his name, tightening her legs and arms around his body. His thrusts became erratic and even harder than before. With a growling shout he came, whispering her name through the aftershocks.

He stayed, arms wrapped around her, for a minute or so before rolling off to the side. With a tug, he pulled her onto his chest as they caught their breath.

After a few moments she said, "So that's how it's supposed to be."

A deep chuck erupted from the man next to her. "Indeed." He kissed her forehead.

Several minutes passed in contented silence, before he spoke again. "You said that what you wanted to do wasn't an option…"

She sat up, leaning on her arm, to look at him. "What?"

"When we were arguing. I asked you about pursuing a different career path and you said it wasn't really an option. What did you mean?"

"Right…" She looked down at his naked chest and busied herself with tracing the thin patch of black hair between his pectoral muscles.

"Hermione," he said her name in warning tone.

"I was thinking about medical research."

"Okay. Why was that so hard?"

"And possible getting a Mastery in...potions." She gave him a worried look, wondering what he thought about her pursuing his chosen field.

"You were a competent potions student, I'm sure you would excel in the Mastery Programme."

Feeling a bit elated at finally getting the praise always denied her at Hogwarts, she added, "And I'd like to write a book."

He smirked. "And what will this book be about?"

She tucked her head back into his chest. "You're making fun of me."

"I'm really not." He tugged her up by the chin. "I meant it when I said you could do anything, Hermione. Research, get a Mastery, write a book, become Minister! Do anything or do nothing but lie in bed with me, and I'm a happy wizard."

Lurching up, Hermione kissed him hard and fast as she snaked her arms around his neck. As she broke the kiss, she moved to straddle his narrow hips, then leant forward to kiss his scarred neck. Severus mumbled something into her hair, but she couldn't hear him. She sat up, pushing against his chest. "What did you say?"

He paused, suddenly looking a little nervous. "I want us to magically bond."

Hermione sucked in a breath, too shocked to respond. To bond their magic together was so much more than being married. Their magical cores would be connected through an intricate series of spells. It was a connection so deep and so meaningful that few couples still engaged in the ancient ritual.

"I don't expect an answer right away. We should...date, for lack of a better word, even though we're already married and I don't expect to move back in here. Not right away. That would be wildly presumptuous. And…"

"Yes," Hermione interrupted.

"Yes, what?"

"I want to bond."

He stared at her. "You should think about it first. Perhaps I should have waited." He seemed to realised that they were both still naked and she was sat upon his hips. "Let's get dressed and discuss this properly." He tried to move her, but Hermione wouldn't budge.

Pushing his shoulders back against the mattress, she gave him a stern look. "You asked, don't take it back now."

"I'm not taking it back, Hermione…"

"Well, then I say yes!" She leant down and kissed him soundly. "And I assumed you would be moving back in, you daft man! I expect you to move back in this afternoon!"

He grabbed her by the hips and reversed their positions. "Has anyone ever told you that you are insufferable?"

"Yes." Kiss. "Often." Kiss. "In fact." Kiss.

"Oh Gods, Severus! That feels amazing," Hermione moaned.

The wizard just smiled. Nothing pleased him more than hearing his wife's breathy praise.

"Please don't stop."

"You are putty in my hands, witch," he whispered in a husky tone.

"Ooo-ooo-ooo, right there!" She shuddered at his ministrations. "That's it. Now further up."

"Demanding little thing, aren't you?" Severus complained, but followed his wife's instructions nevertheless.

Hermione shifted once he started on her calves, moving closer until her legs were draped over his lap where her feet had just been. "I can't help it. Those shoes were killing me!"

"Cushioning Charms, Mistress Snape. I think we can safely say that you have pregnancy brain. Also it begs the question as to why you put on shoes after the Bonding?"

"Because my feet are swollen and ugly. I didn't want our guests looking at my disgusting feet!"

"Your feet wouldn't be nearly as swollen if you hadn't been wearing those shoes in the first place! Merlin help me, this is a cyclical argument."

"Then less arguing and more massaging."

He had to agree that that sounded like a lovely idea, especially considering how enticing his heavily pregnant wife looked in her cream coloured gown. Her head lolled back as Severus' hands massaged higher, pushing up her skirt until he reached the edge of her knickers. He moved forward, kissing her neck. How much longer will these people be in our home?" he whispered against her skin.

It took a moment for her to answer, obviously distracted by his hands and mouth. "Ah, technically, they're in our garden. And we still have to do toasts and cut the ca… Oh, fuck… Severusss." Grabbing him by the back of the head, she turned and latched onto his lips.

"You two just lost me twenty Galleons," the voice of Draco Malfoy interrupted the kissing couple.

Hermione and Severus turned to see the wizard standing with his hands in his pockets, leaning against the doorframe, smirking.

Severus hurried to pull is wife's dress down to cover her exposed thighs. "How did we do that, Draco?" he asked casually, not at all like a man who was about to take his pregnant wife on their settee, with a garden full of their closest friends and family no doubt waiting for their return.

"I bet Potter that you two were upstairs shagging. The thought never crossed my mind that I'd find you in here making out like a couple of randy Hufflepuffs."

Hermione giggled. "You and Harry were talking? I wonder how cold it is in Hell right now?"

The blond wizard laughed. "I had the strangest conversation with his girlfriend. She's…"

"Wonderful," Hermione finished for him. "The word you're looking for is wonderful."

"I was going to say interesting, but…" He moved to stand closer, then looked behind as if he were making sure they were alone. "Want to hear something really shocking?"

His wife nodded enthusiastically, Severus just rolled his eyes as he wondered if it was such a good idea that his godson and his witch had become so close. The gossip sessions alone were excruciating.

"I just saw Weasley and Pansy snogging behind your pear tree."

Hermione gasped. "No!"

"Not even lying." He snickered. "She'll tear him apart!"

Severus shuddered. "I've never been more happy at my decision to retire from education. Imagine their children."

The trio got very quiet for a moment, all obviously contemplating the product of a Weasley-Parkinson union. Hermione was the first one to recover from the disturbing imagery.

"I wondered why she was here, though I didn't want to be rude. I knew she had to be someone's date, but she and Ron weren't even sitting together earlier."

The Bonding had been private; only Severus, Hermione, Draco, Harry and the Ritualist had been present. Their guests had started arriving about fifteen minutes after the ancient magic had started to take hold. He was very pleased that his witch had opted for a private rather than public Bonding. That was their time and he didn't want to share it with anyone. Draco and Harry were part of the ceremony, acting as conduits for the magic.

"Parkinson's an odd duck, she's definitely with Weasley though. Anyway, I was sent in by Molly to fetch the two of you. She said something about a schedule," Draco explained.

"Molly?" Hermione questioned.

"She told me to call her Molly, thank you very much, while she was stuffing me full of crab puffs and telling me I needed to put on at least a half a stone."

With a giggle that turned into a groan, Hermione tried to get up off of her husband's lap. Draco immediately moved to assist her.

"Allow me," he said, holding out a hand. "I think between Severus and myself we might be able to move you."

"I'm not that big, yet," she growled as she stood.

"You're not small, Granger."

"Tread lightly, Draco," Severus warned.

"Calm down, Severus. I'm not insulting your witch!"

"I say that as your godfather. I am sworn to protect you, you know. The best I can offer you in this case is a bit of advice." He wrapped his hands around Hermione's rather large belly. "My witch has a nasty right hook, if you'll remember."

"And she is standing right here!" Hermione said, pulling away with an annoyed look on her face, and placing her hands on hips. "Also, she's hungry and not sure whey she's talking in third person." With a shake of her head she started for the back door. "I'm going to get more of Molly's chicken skewers."

Draco looked at Severus. "She's not really pissed off, is she?"

The older wizard chuckled. "No, she's hungry. The two have become hard to decipher between recently." And he wondered, not for the first time, if they shouldn't have just done the Bonding when he proposed it rather than waiting for the Vernal Equinox.

During their impetuous first time, neither of them had been thinking about silly things like pregnancy prevention charms or potions (not one of the three times they'd made love that day). Almost a month to the day after Severus had marched up to Hermione's door and demanded that she not go back to work, she sat him down and informed him that her cycle was late and asked him to perform the necessary charm.

She was pregnant. They were having a baby.

Though much sooner than they had planned (in that they had not yet even broached the subject of children), Severus was elated. He had never had a real family; his own parents were hardly parents at all. He could have been intimidated by the prospect of parenthood, should have been, most likely. But he wasn't, not at all, not with Hermione by his side. He was thrilled and excited and, yes a bit frightened, but he assumed (if all the advice that was being thrown at him was anything to go by) that it was a normal feeling.

However he was worried for Hermione. She had plans, plans that a child could disrupt. But like the true Gryffindor that she was, his beautiful wife had taken it bravely in stride. "I can concentrate on writing for a while," she had said. (And, of course, she preceded to finish the first draft of The Second Wizarding War: Causes and Effects by the end of her second trimester.) "I'm mostly working from home at this point anyway. And I can start my Mastery later, it's not as if I don't have an in with the Master." She then winked and started talking about nursery colours. He remembered wondering if anything could possibly phase the woman.

"Tell me…" he was pulled out of his reverie by Draco's voice.

"Tell you what?"

"What's the deal with Longbottom?"

Severus raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware that Longbottom had a deal."

"You know what I mean," Draco replied, not making eye contact.

And indeed he did, he just didn't know that Draco was ready to have that particular conversation, let alone have it with him. "I have long since had my suspicions about Mr. Longbottom. And I do believe that he shares your inclinations. However, I have no idea whether or not he is attached."

Draco was staring out the opened door, no doubt looking for his would-be lover. "He's not. That much I discovered."

"Well then, go for it, as they say."

Draco finally looked back over at Severus. "She's changed you."

Severus shrugged. "I suppose."

"Come on," He started to walk out the door. "I have a toast to give."

Severus found his wife sitting at 'their table' with a plate full of food. "Better?" he asked as he sat next to her.

"Much," she replied as she picked up a stuffed mushroom and popped it into her mouth. After swallowing she asked, "Did you talk to Draco about being godfather?"

After much discussion, they had decided on two godfathers rather than a godfather and mother. In the end they chose the two wizards who had stood with them at the Bonding.

"Not yet. He had other things on his mind. I will though, promise." He kissed her forehead as he stole a mushroom.

"There's a whole buffet over there!" she exclaimed, pointing at a table overflowing with food.

"Calm down, witch!"

Suddenly there was a tinkling of metal on glass and everyone looked up to see Harry Potter standing near the back of the house.

"Hi!," he said, looking as awkward as ever. "Um, so I had the privilege of standing up and witnessing my best friend bond with her husband today. It's the second time I've done this for them, so I should be pretty good by now." There was a soft smattering of laughter. "Though the first time was a marriage, not a Bonding… but, ahh..."

"Merlin help us," Severus groaned into Hermione's neck.

"Shhh," she hushed with a swat on his leg.

"I'm sure some people are surprised that Hermione and Severus are together, but not me. They make perfect sense if you think about it. Although I'm not sure that Hermione didn't just choose Snape for his book collection."

The crowd laughed again, this time more heartily. Severus just rolled his eyes.

"Seriously though, I couldn't be happier that these two found each other." He raised his glass and looked at the couple. "May a flock of blessings light upon thy back. To Severus and Hermione!"

The crowd repeated the last sentence as everyone drank to the couple. After setting down his flute, Severus leaned into Hermione and whispered, "Did he just quote Shakespeare?"

"I do believe he did," she replied with undisguised mirth.

"I think we should reconsider our choice for godparent."

"Give him a break, Harry's no orator."

"If Draco doesn't outdo him, I say we ask Lovegood and Parkinson."

"Severus," Hermione giggled. "You're being horrible."

He kissed her neck as he rubbed her belly. "You love my rapier wit."

"All right," Draco said, calling everyone's attention to him. "I suppose it's my turn." He cleared his throat. "It's no secret that Granger and I didn't get along in school. Of course neither did she and Severus, but clearly that's a thing of the past since she's as big as a house."

"Oi!," Hermione called out.

The crowd erupted in laughter. Once it died down, he continued.

"As you well know, we all owe a great deal to Severus Snape. And since it's unlikely I'll get another opportunity to do so, I'd like to take this time to thank him properly. Even though I know he'll hate it and most likely hex me for it later," he added. Looking directly at his mentor he said, "Thank you, professor. Thank you for putting up with me, for not hexing me and teaching me so much. Thank you for risking your neck for the Wizarding World time and time again. But most of all, and I know I speak for everyone here when I say this, thank you for saving Hermione. I personally didn't realise how much I needed her in my life until she was there."

There were a few sniffles and cleared throats while Draco paused and seemed to collect his thoughts.

"And Granger…" he said with a smirk. "Merlin, what can I say about you other than you talk too much and need a gallon of Sleekeazy to get out the door?" The guests chuckled as Hermione shot him a rude hand gesture. Draco just smiled, his face softening uncharacteristically as he addressed the young witch. Later, he would tell anyone who asked that he was completely pissed that night, but Severus knew the truth. Draco was simply happy and he let slip a part of his personality that few rarely saw, and never in such numbers. "You've brought a peacefulness into my godfather's life that I don't think he's ever experienced before. I've never seen him this happy, and it's all thanks to you and your bushy head." He paused, and looked at the witch appraisingly. "Thank you, Hermione, for loving him, for giving him a child and a real home. Thank you for saving him."

More sniffles followed and Severus heard the unmistakable sound of Hagrid sobbing near the back fence.

"Here's to hoping that snarkiness and the need to know everything aren't genetic traits." Everyone laughed as Draco raised his glass then said, "To Severus and Hermione,"

The crowd of guests repeated his toast, just like they had Harry's.

Severus bent his head to whisper in his wife's ear. "Okay, we'll keep him, but he's right about the hexing. Now I just need to decide on the right one."

Hermione laughed as she wiped the corner of her eyes with a napkin. "Oh shut it! That was beautiful and you know it!"

The cake was cut and eaten (Hermione had two pieces, she couldn't decide between the lemon or the chocolate, so she had both). Then it was time for dancing. Such a reception wasn't traditional (though not unheard of) after a formal magical Bonding. Hermione had insisted on having a gathering to thank everyone who helped during her illness. Then the guest list grew. And grew. In truth there were only about thirty people in attendance, but it was still a huge crowd to Severus.

"Thank you," his witch said, as they slowly danced.

"For what, exactly?"

"I know this isn't what you had in mind when you asked me to bond with you."

"What I had in mind was for us to be magically bound and we are." He kissed her cheek.

"You've been on your best behaviour all evening."

"Does that mean I get a reward?" he asked in his deepest baritone.

"After your performance tonight I'll let you have whatever I'm physically able to give. Anything else you want you have to settle for an IOU. Sound good?"

"Acceptable," he drawled.

They danced for a few moments, then Hermione softly spoke.

"I only wish my mum and dad could have been here."

"I know, love, I know." He held her a little tighter and kissed her temple.

"They would have loved you," she said as she pulled back.

Severus huffed. "I seriously doubt that."

"No! I mean it. My mum had a very dry wit. You two would have hit it off. Dad would have just asked you a million questions about potions and magic and whatnot."

"So that's where you get it."

Hermione suddenly looked to her right and started laughing. "It seems that Lucius has met his match. If she likes what she sees he's done for."

Happy that something had distracted Hermione from her somber thoughts, Severus followed her eyes and saw his old friend dancing very closely with someone he only vaguely recognised. "Who's that?"

"Flure's mum."

"See, this is what I was talking about with the guest list, Hermione. Why on earth is she here?"

"Her husband died three months ago, Severus! She moved here to be closer to the girls and I've gotten to know her... a little bit. I thought the party might cheer her up."

"It seems to have worked," he said with a raised eyebrow as he watch his oldest friend snog the French woman senseless. "I'm not usually one to judge, but are you certain her husband has only been dead for three months?"

"She's half Veela, Severus. They are biologically driven to find a mate."

"And Lucius is hormonally driven to seek out anyone who will tug on his tadger."

"That mouth of yours has gotten progressively filthier over the last year." She laughed.

He nibbled on her neck then whispered, "I blame my youthful bride. She brings out the worst in me."

"Seriously, I think it's a good thing. He shouldn't be alone, no one should. Everyone needs someone to take care of them."

Severus pulled his wife closer as the song continued, marveling at what his life had become. He never expected to be happy - left alone to wallow in self pity until age finally took him, maybe - but never happy. Though perhaps that wasn't a big enough word for how he felt about the witch who had not only given him her love and trust, but a child- a family. I have a family. He looked across their modest garden and watched as the guests laughed and danced, celebrating the Bonding that he and Hermione had just shared. Everyone was overjoyed for them. All these people and he hadn't felt the need to hex a single one. Draco was right, she had changed him.

Everything he had now was due to the curse and Hermione's need for care. She was one of the strongest people he'd ever known, himself very much included, but she had allowed him to care for her when she was most vulnerable. Once was a time no one have let Severus Snape take care of their house plants, let alone an entire person! He could still remember the resolve in her eyes when he proposed to her. The witch had been the epitome of fortitude, even as she lay in a hospital bed, barely able to feed herself. Looking back, he realised that he had started losing his heart at that moment.

Those months living as her husband, in name only - looking after her and searching for a cure - had shown Severus something, something he'd needed to see. It had shown him that trusting someone, wholey, would not lead to ruin. He could let go of the preconceived notion that everyone was suspect, everyone was a potential enemy. With a glance back up at their family and friends, Severus thought, well, everyone but Lucius. He still plays his games.

His eyes traveled down to the top of his wife's bushy head, thankful that he'd convinced her to leave off the shoes for the rest of the evening so that she fit just under his chin whilst they danced. "Hermione," he whispered.

She looked up.

"Thank you for letting me take care of you."

Her returning smile was incandescent. "And thank you, husband, for allowing me to do the same." She squeezed his shoulders a little tighter. "I plan on doing it for the rest of our lives."

And we are done! Thank you all so much for reading my story, I really hope you enjoyed it. If you did, drop me a review and let me know. Also, if it you're on tumblr, come visit me, same name! I have two other Severus/Hermione stories in the works, but it's early days for them. ~Lil~