Thank you, everyone, for coming along on this journey with me. This chapter contains rated M material. It has been marked with oOOo. You have been warned. The song referenced in this chapter is called 'A song for a Stormy Night' by Secret Garden. A sequel has been posted, please check it out if you want more. Thank you for all the kind reviews. Kind Regards, R

Four Years Later

Early morning peeked over the horizon, illuminating a wonderfully elegant, yet simplistic two-story home. A soft high-pitched voice roused Hermione from her blissful sleep. She groaned softly as her bedmate also shifted to the soft disturbance. As the fog of sleep gradually lifted, she found her voice.

"Before coffee, he's your son." Hermione didn't think she could move even if she wanted to. A late night combined with an early start did not suit the witches internal body clock one iota. Her heart was calm as she knew the child wasn't in distress, he was merely announcing to the world that he had woken to a brand new day. She felt her lover groan and shift pulling his heated frame from hers. She heard a soft mumble before the bed creaked as he came to his feet.

"Clothes..." She lazily reminded letting out a deep yawn before turning her head toward the door. She shifted onto her stomach her hand reaching out. She registered soft fabric press into her fingers and sighed softly pulling it under the covers with her to warm it before she put it on.

Watching with sleep heavy, dilated eyes, her companion leaned down with an almost silent yawn, her eyes peeked open a little more to admire his form as he retrieved his lounge pants and tank-top, he slipped them on before dragging his feet towards the door.

Rubbing his face, he pushed his hair back before pushing open the cracked door to the nursery. His heart softened as he looked down at baby struggling to stand at the bars of the crib. His bright smile filling the room with unbridled joy. It felt like it was just yesterday they were bringing him home for the first time. But already nearly two years had passed since his miraculous birth. His hair had grown wild in that time, a dark, almost black, brown that fell nearly to his shoulders when it was sorted properly. With eyes of his mother and a face of his father's. He was the perfect blend of their most striking features. He would never have dreamed of the day when he would have looked into the eyes of something more perfect than the woman who shared his bed.

The boy bounced with excitement on his wobbly legs reaching towards the man he called father. His little hands opening and closing with earnest until he was finally lifted from the crib. Pulling him against his chest, the man allowed the squirming child kick his growing legs. He felt a hand take a fistful of hair and sighed as the boy pulled it into his exploring mouth.

"Must you?" He asked with a scowl and a raised brow. The boy just giggled and pulled it from his lips waving his trophy happily. The mock scowl disappeared instantly and he harrumphed in the back of his throat.

"I bet Mummy's hair tastes better." He said with a very Slytherin smirk on his lips, "Shall we go find out?" He raised his brow to him grinning as the boy squealed in delight.

It had taken months of coaching for the aged man to even attempt to interact with the child. Months of carefully supervised feedings and coddlings. He hadn't known the first thing about babies and the fear of becoming his father had been great. Though as the time passed and with Hermione's gentle encouragement the two of them had created a bond. A sort of communication all their own. His various scowls and sharp tongue had no effect on the boy's bubbly nature, he was relieved that he took after his mother in personality and found it easier to just be himself around him.

Pulling his hair free from the boy's grip, he returned to the master bedroom. He noticed Hermione had managed the shirt before falling back into a light sleep against his pillow, the light purr of her soft snore made him soften the steps of his approach. He put a finger to his lips silencing the squirming boy before carefully extracting him from his chest. He set him down on edge and released. The boy made a very impressive snake-like hiss as he climbed up and over her back and onto her head. Hermione gasped softly and caught him before he lost his balance. Laughing as he stuck out his tongue trying to hiss again.

"Ah! A snake! Whatever shall I do?" Hermione wrapped her arms around him playfully pulling him under her, making growling noises,

"I might just have to eat him up!" She leaned her head down as she blew a raspberry against the toddler's stomach making him squeal and flail. She laughed and growled low in her throat making her hand into a claw as she leaned up dramatically.

"Oh no! The lioness captured the snake!" She tickled the already squealing tot laughing in the back of her throat. When she relented she watched with a mindful eye as he tried to squirm his way free. She turned her head when she felt her lover join them, feeling his arm wrap around her waist, she sighed happily as he spoke into her ear.

"The snake has the lioness now." He smirked and kissed her cheek.

"Mmm, I think I can live with that." She chuckled softly turning her eyes back to their son as he righted himself. "What do you want for breakfast oh fearsome snake?"


"Mm, I think those are Papa's specialty." She looked back over her shoulder.

Taking the hint the man started to remove himself from the bed. "And what request of the noble lioness on her birthday?" He continued the game with a mock bow of his head.

"The same, can you put diced strawberries in? Those are my favorite."

"Of course." He leaned back giving her another soft kiss.

Hermione hummed into the kiss, her fingers taking hold of his collar when he started to lean back.



"One more."

"Mm." Severus pressed his lips back to hers meeting her sleepy passion. Only when Hermione felt the soft tug of captured hair did they relent.

Hermione would never tire of this side of him. Of course, his deep and brooding side was still there but only when he wasn't caring for their son or spending time with her did, she see his other side emerge. Especially, when he worked in his lab. She never asked him to change, never expected him to. She had fallen in love with his strong, silent, acentric side and in these small private moments when something more would shine through, she found that she only loved him more.

He was strict but fair when it came to raising their son and they had never truly argued on anything thus far. At least not in that regard. They had had their moments on other issues, and even lost a few nice pieces of furniture in the process. But even still, they remained together, united against everything else.

Hermione ran a hand through the hair sticking up at all impossible angles on her son's head and sighed softly, "Oh Toris, you've got your Mama's hair." She shook her head and gently pulled her own mess from his mouth. "Come on, a nice bath should sort it out." Toris squealed and launched into her arms holding himself up on her hip as she climbed out of bed.

Severus moved into the kitchen frowning slightly at the work that had been left out on the beautiful dark wood table. Hermione had managed to get her Birthday off, but it appeared as though she'd brought half of her work home with her to do instead. She had come to bed rather late last night and he scowled at the culprit. He frowned more as he diverted from his original plan. With a heavy sigh through his nose, he glanced at the official ministry documents and other miscellaneous things spread in a neat but slightly haphazard array. She had just returned a little under a year ago. Filled with a new drive and purpose. Severus had encouraged her, he knew she wouldn't be happy with just research, she was someone strictly bound to change the world.

When he picked up her date book an official looking letter dropped out. He paused, picking it up. It had a broken ministry seal and he slowly turned it around to see whom it was addressed to. Finding nothing but her name on the front, his brows rose with curiosity. With a glance toward the archway, he slipped his fingers inside pulling out the rather thick stack of parchments.

He thumbed it open, quickly scanning the text. It was an itinerary for the ministry's commemoration and memorial service on the 10th anniversary of the 2nd greatest wizarding war. He shuffled through a bit more noticing that Hermione had been tasked with giving a memorial speech over those who had died. His eyes scanned down the list with a heavy heart, so many children lost that day...

His brow ticked as his eyes came across his own name, it was listed under the honorable hero's list. His eyes slowly rose to the ceiling, she had never pressured him to reveal himself to the world, never once had she complained. His heart grew heavier as he looked back down at the list.

Hermione hummed softly as she gently massaged the soap into her son's hair. She could hardly believe she would be turning 29. It felt like such a huge milestone in her life. Though she hadn't made it as far as she had thought she would by this time in her life, she still found herself more than content at how it had played out.

She had a beautiful home, filled with love and a wonderful library, she had a son, who she loved without measure and a man, that she would burn the world to the ground for. Though they never married, not that they could, she didn't feel as if she had lost out on anything. The bond between them was solid and no piece of paper could ever compare to the promise their souls had made.

Toris giggled softly as he tried to grab onto a rubber ducky that was bobbing just out of reach. Hermione leaned over and pulled the miscreant closer, her heartwarming at the beautiful smile, just like his father's, that grew along his face. She picked up a small cup and proceeded the process of rinsing his hair. Her mind drifting to the party that evening. It was the first one she had actually had since returning to health, as she always found some excuse or another to avoid them.

She had been shocked when Draco had appeared at her office just one week prior, a very proud and haughty look on his face as he delightfully informed her of her oncoming age before graciously offering to host the event at his finally finished and refurbished manor.

Too shocked at the sudden gesture she had hesitantly agreed, but now, it suddenly occurred to her that she hadn't informed Severus of her acceptance. She had never pressed him to go out with her in public before, but she really didn't want to celebrate her special day without him. If she could trust Draco, which part of her still found hard sometimes, then the guest list was to be rather small. Only those who already knew of his existence were slated to attend. She curled her lips wrapping a towel around the lightly protesting child. She wasn't very fond of surprises and she knew he hated them more than she. Hermione stilled the boy's protests as she pulled him closer.

"Alright young man." Her voice went playfully stern as he shook out his head sending water flying in all directions. The boy roared in a rather impressive imitation of a lion cub before trying to give her a glare of his own. Hermione's face broke at the tiny resemblance of Severus before shaking out her head. "Your father is the snake darling." She said between stifled giggles as she carried the boy into the nursery to get him dressed for the day.

Severus turned the pancake he was currently on as he heard the raucous laughter and the little thump, thump, of tiny feet. He had decided to discuss his previous discovery at a later date. After all, there was still plenty of time to be had. He set the strawberry pancake onto a plate and set it aside glancing up as he heard the heavier thumps of Hermione trying to wrangle their son. He snorted with mirth through his nose shaking his head.

A sharp knock at the front door disturbed his preparation of the next pancake. With a furrowed brow he turned off the burner, thankful to be somewhat decent as he hadn't been expecting visitors. As he neared the door he felt a gentle caress against his mind.

Who's at the door this early?

About to find out. Where's my jacket?

In the hall closet behind my cloak.

Severus made a small detour opening the closet, he pulled out his frock coat slipping it on quickly, he waved his hand slowly down the front, pulling the buttons through the holes with quick effortless ease. He straightened himself up, though he was still in his sleeping pants, he was at least covered. He slid over the peephole cover and frowned from a flash of red hair before the person stepped back a little, their large brown eyes turning up to look at something above the door.

Mrs. Potter.

Why...? Can you let her in Severus? I'll have to get dressed, I promise not to be long!

Severus let out a soft sigh through his nose but did as requested pulling open the door with the same flourish as he had in his teaching days, he looked down marginally pleased that he had startled the red head before lowering his voice down an octave to finish the job.


Ginevra felt 12 years old all of a sudden, even with his mismatched attire, and yes she did notice, he was still a very intimidating man. She swallowed nervously giving him a half-cocked smile.

"Is Hermione home?" Her voice felt a little squeaky and she cleared her throat trying to remember that she wasn't 12 years old anymore and this man, was actually, her best friend's lover.

"She will be down momentarily." He turned his body standing aside to let her pass. Ginny kept her head low as she entered into the moderately sized entrance way. She had never been to their house before. She had gotten the unplottable address from Harry just that morning. It was gorgeous in its simplicity. The entrance walls were a soft yellow with a deep wooden trim void of knick-knacks or useless decorations giving it an inviting but rather unemotional appeal. She swallowed and tried to keep from jumping as he closed the door behind her.

"This way." He swept soundlessly around her, walking into what she assumed was a sitting room. She scurried after him; eyes lingering up the beautiful arched staircase that had a twist near the top. She flicked her eyes back ahead of her as she stepped into the soft burgundy room. The fireplace stood centerpiece with tall book cases on either side. They were lined to the brim with meticulously dusted and organized books. Ginny's eyes lingered around the room taking in. Aside from the two flanking book cases, there was a small toy chest in the corner near a bay window that had a soft mat outlining the space. Two wing back chairs sat opposite the other, one a deep green, the other a deep red with a black couch in the center. There were matching tables setting at the corners creating a very comfortable looking sitting area in front of the fireplace. Its mantle was simple yet elegant all the same, a small clock sitting center. Ginny came around sitting gingerly on the edge of the couch, nervously folding her hands into her lap. Something was niggling at the back of her brain as she felt as if something were missing from the room.

"Wait here." Severus leveled his eyes at her before all his hospitality ran out and he left the woman to wait alone in the sitting room. He turned back towards the kitchen. He caught sight of Hermione's legs on his way, passing from the nursery to their room on the second-floor landing. Turning his head back to task, he continued moving into the kitchen to finish breakfast.

Ginny simply nodded turning her eyes back to examine the room. It suddenly hit her then, there were no pictures. Not a single one, her head turned a bit more openly as she was surely mistaken. Her original observation went unchallenged and a small tick came to her brow. Why weren't there any pictures?

Hermione rushed into getting dressed while her son happily jumped on the bed; having cast a small protection spell against him falling off, she turned away as she quickly pulled a bra on. She winced as she unintentionally scratched the small crease that ran down her spine. She wiggled and rubbed her fingertips over the spot, soothing away the small bit of pain before finishing her task.

The scars on both sides of her body had healed very well, but the skin was still extremely sensitive and thin in some areas. The discoloring had faded and now there was just a small, deep red line that ran in their place. Though the one on her chest was discolored for a different reason as the curse she had been hit with in her fifth year had not healed very well and thus left behind a bit of a red tint along her sternum. She never minded her scars, as time passed, she barely gave them a second glance in the mirror anymore. Hermione huffed as she pulled her arms through a random t-shirt pulling her hair free before taking an elastic from her wrist. With a glance back at the boy who was still happily occupying himself, she pulled her hair back away from her face before pulling on her muggle jeans. Deeming herself presentable, she turned to the bed catching Toris mid-air with a happy squeal and pulled him down to her hip. Pushing a bit of stray hair from her face she turned quickly to the door. Her bare feet thumping a bit loudly as she hurried down.

Toris giggled as he bounced against her though held on tightly to her neckline so as not to sway too much. His light beautiful eyes turned and he pulled a bit of hair from her pony tail into his tiny fist. Hermione huffed softly before straightening up, she took the small turn that led to the sitting room, a smile growing on her face as she came in.

Ginny had turned to the thump of the steps and when Hermione had entered the room a bright beaming smile broke out on her face. She hadn't seen their son since he had been born, they had both been way to busy, Ginny traveling around the world, and Hermione moving up the ladder in the ministry.

"Is that Majestas?" Ginny couldn't help but giggle a bit as she pulled herself around the couch. The boy in question turned his golden eyes to the strange new person and made a very impressive scowl. His hand holding tighter to the hair in his grip.

"We call him Toris now." Hermione informed, "It's his middle name." She looked down trying to pull her hair from his vice-like grip, "He likes hair..." She said with a soft sigh through her nose, though her brow curled curiously at the scowl he was giving Ginny.

Ginny couldn't believe it, her hands came to her mouth and she lowered herself down looking into that adorable little face. "He looks just like him." She said not at all cowed by the tiny tots glare.

"I would say so," Hermione smirked, lightly poking his nose garnering the boy's attentions. The scowl immediately disappeared when his eyes met hers and he gave her his wonderful crooked smile.

"Like magic." Ginny said with a soft smirk, "He's beautiful Hermione."

"Thank you." She readjusted the boy, "So um...not that I'm not happy to see you but...why am I seeing you?"

"Ah yes!" Ginny smiled straightening up to address her properly, "So I was hoping, that maybe you and I, and perhaps this handsome young man, could go out this morning before I have to leave for training so we can pick you out a beautiful dress to wear for the party."

Hermione made a bit of a face her eyes darting to the kitchen. Her mouth moved in weak protests as she tried to form some sort of logical excuse.

"Don't tell me you didn't get the day off? It's your birthday Hermione." Ginny's whining tone brought her focus back to her and she gave her a sympathetic look.

"I did, I just..." She lowered her voice though she knew it wouldn't actually do any good, she could already feel him brushing against her outer walls, "I forgot to tell Severus."

Ginny's mouth formed a silent 'o' and she took looked to where she assumed him to be. She grimaced as though she had just started something she definitely didn't want to be involved in.

"Okay, how about this, you tell him and if all goes well, I'll meet you at the three broomsticks by say 10:30?"

Hermione glanced over her shoulder at the clock on the mantle, "11:00. That should give me plenty of time to plead my case." She gave her a joking look but her smile didn't fully reach her eyes.

Ginny's eye twitched and she looked at her very closely. She and Harry had had numerous arguments over whether Snape's temper was something to be worried about. Though Ginny had always protested that Snape would never, ever, harm Hermione. However, time had passed. Nothing notable stood out at her, Hermione just looked guilty, not afraid. She took a deep breath before nodding her head.

"Okay 11:00. Three Broomsticks." She smiled and with one lingering glance, made to find her way back to the door. Hermione followed after her with a gentle smile.

"See you then."

Hermione shut the door after the red head waved her goodbye, and blew kisses at Toris who looked at her strangely again.

Taking a deep breath she looked down at Toris who had suddenly decided her shirt was a much better chew toy than her hair. She shook her head and turned down the hallway going to the very end. She came into the very nice and spacious kitchen with attached breakfast nook. Though, as soon as her foot passed the threshold, she felt his energy filling the room.

"I was going to tell you." She said in a rush moving to place Toris in his highchair. "I honestly just forgot." She said with a heavy sigh buckling the boy into place. "I'm really sorry, I can...not go, if you want. I'm not really looking forward to going alone anyway..." She was rambling, he knew.

Once the boy was safely in place, she finally turned looking to the silent man in black. He hadn't removed his jacket and his back was to her. He set some eggs on the small child-sized plate.

"Where is the party?" His tone was suspiciously light.

"Draco offered to have it at his home, he's just finished refurbishing the manor." She approached him with caution, he didn't like to be touched when he was upset. Her hands slowly came out to run along the dip of his waist, testing his temper. "Severus look at me please..." She gave him a bit of a squeeze.

Severus turned slowly, picking up their son's plate in the process. He slipped around her, taking the plate to the waiting boy before returning to the counter. He heard her sigh heavily through her nose as he started to fix another plate.

"Severus." Her voice was more firm now and she came to his side pulling gently on the waist of his jacket, not touching him exactly, to get him to turn. When he finally did, her eyes met his, a very fierce look, before his shot away again. She pressed herself closer her palms trapping him between her and the counter, calculated, but not without risk.

"I'm sorry I forgot..." She raised her arms, running them up the buttons of his coat, he was tense but he wasn't running from her. A good sign.

"But...maybe it's time, know, to come out with me..." She bit her lip as she poorly added fuel to the fire while trying to address another issue entirely. She watched his eyes narrow and knew her game was up. She stilled her hands, leaving only the lightest of touch behind. She had been working on him letting her bring him comfort when he was upset. They had gotten to the part where they discussed instead of yelled but he was always prone to stalk off alone and brood to himself.

"The boy."

"We're not having an argument. We're just two adults discussing something that we both share an opinion on." Her voice was calm as she tried once more to catch his eyes.

"Please just look at me." Her voice was a soft plea now and when he finally met her eyes, she reached carefully taking his face in one hand. He didn't flinch but he did tilt his head marginally in the other direction.

"That wasn't fair, I know." She sighed softly, "There is something else I wish to discuss with you, at a later time, but right now, I'm asking you. Will you be my date to my birthday party?"

He searched her soft honey brown eyes, she hid nothing from him during his search, his eyes grew softer and his chest relaxed as he found nothing but her admiration and love for him behind all that she was asking of him. He could see the hope in the very corner of her eye, her words held nothing the but truth. He brought his hands up, one taking her waist while the other ran up her cheek. She sighed and pressed into his palm closing her eyes.

"I'll go." He said finally, his thumb lightly tracing the side of her nose,

"For you."

Hermione smiled and pressed a kiss into his palm before leaning up onto her toes giving him a proper one on his thinned lips. She made a soft noise and poked his side to get him to relax his lips and kiss her back properly. The man grunted from his mistreatment but relented to her request. When they broke apart he watched her lick her lips and look around his elbow with anticipation.

"All for you." He said pulling the plate around, he had managed to get the biggest chunks of strawberry that he didn't add into the batter into the shape of a small, perfectly symmetrical, heart. Hermione smiled and rubbed his chest taking the plate. The tension was gone.

"Thank you."

Five hours later found Hermione tiredly returning to the front door of their home. She was hungry and a bit nervous at the dress she had allowed Ginny to buy for her as a birthday present. When she opened the door she set down the box and other small bags of accessories to go with the outfit: shoes, proper hair products, a new set of earrings to match. She sighed softly as she set her purse on the table near the door.

"I'm home!" She called out softly as she rounded the sitting room. A small hurricane had passed through and she smirked softly waving her hand absently, marching all the toys back into their little box in the corner. She could hear the sound of a soft piano twinging away from upstairs. She smiled and followed the muted barcarolle.

Hermione slowed her steps, her head peering over the bottom of the banister into the nursery room's open door. Severus had dressed, wearing a white button-up with a green trimmed cuff, a smart black angled vest and black pressed trousers. She smiled as she watched him sway back and forth to the time of the soft accarezzevole tempo.

Toris was laid over his forearm, his head tucked close to his father's chest cradled in the crook of his elbow. His arms and legs hung down, softly opening and closing to the beat. While Severus hummed along with the tune, his fingers gliding soothingly over his back and when his mouth opened Hermione's heart melted. She rested her chin between the bars just watching the love of her life sing the slow lullaby.

"Sometimes, we're just like the weather,

Changing by day after day

As long as we'll be together,

Storms will pass away. I said I would guard and protect you.

Keep you free from all harm;

And if life should ever reject you,

That love would weather each storm.

I promised I always would love you,

If skies would be grey or be blue,

I whisper this prayer now above you,

That there will always be you."

Hermione smiled more when he turned, catching her head peeking over the floor. As he repeated the final chorus one last time Hermione continued her climb rounding the curve and watched as he laid the boy carefully onto his back, exactly as she had shown him, and pulled the blanket up to his waist. The music box continued to play as Hermione gently pulled him from the room closing the door most of the way.

Now the early hours of evening Hermione sat in front of the bathroom vanity. She peeked around the corner with a small smirk as Severus relaxed into the large tub, Toris was doing his best to disturb his rest, Severus had wanted the boy properly cleaned and prepped for her party, as Toris had gotten a bit messy from the card he had made her. She giggled as Severus levitated a small sphere of water over the boy's head before letting it fall over the screeching child. Payback for splashing his tiny handfuls of water into the man's face no doubt. She shook her head pulling a bobby pin from her mouth. She continued to work on keeping her hair in place.

"What color is your dress?"


She peeked around again as he hummed and flicked a bit more water in Toris' direction when his back was turned trying to grab onto a boat that rocked nearby. The toddler turned and scowled accusingly while Severus did a very good job at feigning innocence.

"I want to surprise you. But I want you to see it before we leave. I want to make sure it's not too much...Can you get Toris dressed while I change?"

"I think I can manage us both. How are we traveling?" He reached around grabbing the boy around the waist keeping him from falling face first into the water. He shifted and pulled the disgruntled toddler to his chest, moving to his feet before carefully stepping out of the large inlaid tub. Severus cast a quick drying charm over the both of them before summoning a towel around his waist.

"Draco said he will send a carriage at 7. He wanted me to make a grand entrance or something." Hermione rolled her eyes and pulled her wand free from her hair, letting a tamed curl fall free. She smiled as they made their way out, with a renewed effort she worked on getting her hair to fall just right.

At a quarter till seven, Severus was making small adjustments to his son's vest. It had beautiful leafing embroidering down the front, originally white, Severus was turning it a deep Gryffindor red. However, the boy's squirming was making it a bit difficult. Severus mirrored his son's layers in design by not color. His button up was a deep silver that shifted in the light as he moved, his vest a deep pure black with what had been large silver buttons down the front. The only adornment was the beautiful clasp at the back keeping the waist pulled tautly. His cuff-links were originally green and silver but on the honor of her birthday he suffered and changed all his metals to appear gold and red.

"There." He pulled his wand back adjusting the boy one final time. his head turned when he heard their bedroom door open. Severus picked the boy up fixing his red shirt one final time before moving to the landing of the stairs.

All the breath in his body left as he stared up at her mesmerizing appearance. His face held nothing back, his eyes wide as he admired her beauty.

Hermione looked down at herself a bit nervous as she stood at the top of the stairs. Shyly, she lifted her head looking into the eyes of the man who's heart she had just surely stolen for the second time.

"Its...not too much?"

"Absolutely." Severus swallowed as he tried to get his jaw, that had hit the floor, to work properly again, "Perfect."

Hermione had tensed during his small pause but visibly relaxed as he finally managed to finish his thought. Slowly and carefully, she made her way down the stairs. Her heels weren't too high but they did show off exactly what they were designed to. She blushed as the split up the front reached mid-thigh opening to her step as the small train behind her flowed like black water down the stairs.

Her stomach jumped as his fingers grazed the exposed flesh of one side of her waist. The dress had a sweeping design in the front, that the shop keeper had modified to perfectly and completely hide all her imperfections. Three wraps around the front allowed for just the proper amount of skin to show while keeping an air of elegance. It was sleeveless but she had accented her wrists with unobtrusive jewelry. Her earrings were simple but elegant black diamonds. She gasped as she felt his hand slip under the back of dress through the split at the side, she narrowed her eyes at his smirk.

"What do you think?" Severus offered their son out to her for inspection and Hermione giggled, even as her flesh burned under his touch. She took in the alterations he had made to the clothes she had left out for him. She also liked the way he had pulled Toris' hair back from his face leaving only the back down so he couldn't chew on it.

"Brilliant." She kissed the boy's cheek. Her make-up was light accenting her eyes and cheeks, she had left her lipstick light as well and charmed it to make sure it had stayed in place.

Now almost level with him she only needed to straighten up to place a soft kiss on his lips. "You too." She tucked a lock of hair behind his ear. She ran her eyes down letting her fingers toy with one of the, now, gold buttons. "Are you still sure you want to go?"

"I can't very well allow you to go alone now." He gave her a gentle smile but he knew she could feel his nervousness.

"I promise I'll always stay by your side." She rested her hand over his heart.

He raised his brow to her, "Always?"

"Forever." She smiled and took a deep breath turning to the small knock at the door.

The coachman bowed his head to them as they opened the door. He led them to the carriage that awaited. Hermione took a calming breath as she climbed in, settling back as Severus joined her, Toris sitting in his lap.

"Mama, can you tell da story?"

"Which story love?"

"Ssserpant and da lionessesssss."

Hermione smiled softly as the carriage jerked into motion, "Of course." She pulled the reaching boy into her lap, petting the back of his head when he settled against her watching out the window as they rose into the sky.

"A long time ago, there was a lioness and a serpent. Both creatures were proud and strong in their own special way. And even though their lives had taken different paths, fate would see that one day they should meet.

Not too long after a great and noble battle was won, the lioness fell very ill. Her pride leader was so disheartened that she didn't know where to turn. She searched and searched for someone to help her cub.

Then, one day she found the serpent. The one spoken of only in hushed whispers. For you see, he was a very powerful serpent but his skills and talents did not always appease those of the kingdom. The pride leader knew, however, that the serpent was a great healer. But he had also been betrayed many times. As such, the mighty serpent had hidden himself away vowing never to use his magic ever again."

"But he did mama, he did!"

Yes, he did

"When the pride leader finally tracked down the mighty serpent, they dragged him out of his hole. She begged and pleaded with him but to no avail. Finally, the pride leader was about to give up, when an idea struck her. She knew the serpent valued his secrecy and in return for his services she promised to hide him away even better than before. The serpent considered her offer and told the pride leader, she had three days to deliver her cub.

The mighty pride leader knew that if she were to ever reveal her secret that the serpent would hide away and her cub would be lost. So in the middle of the night, she snuck out. Taking her cub to the serpents den.

The serpent wasn't kind to the pride leader but he accepted the cub anyway.

Time passed and the serpent worked and worked trying to find a solution to the cub's ailment. And when all seemed lost. He finally succeeded. The cub, who had fallen into a deep, deep sleep, awoke! She was so grateful to the serpent for his kindness but no matter how much the lioness tried to show him. The serpent just couldn't see.

Together, the lioness and the serpent went out in search of the evil monster that had cursed her. Their journey took them near and far. All seemed lost until that fateful day when both the lioness and the serpent decided to use their combined talents together instead of against the other.

Against all odds and even their very different natures, the lioness and the serpent were able to smite the mighty monster! The serpent had delivered on his promise. But the battle had been a hard one and when the pride had realized all that had happened. They took the lioness away, far away to keep her safe from the believed the evil the serpent still had inside.

The lioness felt so confused and hurt. She searched endlessly for the serpent. Day after day month after month she searched for the serpent because she knew, that no matter what anyone said against him, that he was a mighty healer.

Finally one day, the lioness stumbled across his den. He too had been taken into the company of his own kind. She waited and waited for him to make himself known. But by the third day, he had not emerged. Growing impatient the brave lion went into the den. It was a very dangerous move because even though the serpent was a great healer he was also very dangerous. For he had felt betrayed once again. He was no fool, he knew that the lioness wasn't of his kind. Even though they had shared a mighty journey, his old nature had returned."

"But the serpent didn't hurt the lioness he never hurted the lioness on purpose!"

"That's right, but the lioness had waited long enough and she grabbed him by his tail and pulled him out! The serpent was so angry and ran away again. Leaving the lioness sad, but determined. For you see, the lioness was very clever, she had found him once. She'd do it again.

Three times the lioness chased the serpent from his den, and each time the serpent refused to hear her pleas. Until finally one day, the lioness trapped the serpent, not with a cage but with her mind. She had given him an offer he couldn't refuse. She promised him, that if he would let her stay in his den for three days and still not wish her to stay then she would go and never bother the serpent ever again.

The serpent believed himself to be more clever than the lioness and agreed to her terms. But on the evening of the last day, the lioness did something that the serpent could never have expected. So taken aback the serpent allowed the lioness to stay one more day.

One day turned into a week, a week into a month, a month into a year and slowly, the lioness and the serpent were no longer apart. The fates that had brought them together sealed their bond from the heavens and the lioness and serpent lived happily ever after."

The party had been a rather pleasant affair, despite her dramatic entrance everyone had been pleasant and more than accepting.

She received many heart warming gifts: Harry and Ginny gave her a beautiful encyclopedia on magical creatures, Molly had made her a beautiful throw blanket, even Ron, who she was very surprised to see there, had given her a small trinket box. Their relationship had been on the mend since his release and she was happy to see him moving on with his life. He hadn't stayed long, but it had been nice to see him none the less. Minerva had given her a book on what to expect when having magical children. Draco and his wife had given the both of them a new set of promise rings. They were made of black titanium, one with a red inlay the other a deep green. Designed for the most powerful protections they were impervious to any outside influence.

It had been truly a wonderful evening. She sighed softly as she released the many pins from her hair. Her hair fell in messy waves down her back and she ran her fingers through giving it a slight ruffle. She cleared her make-up away with a small wave of her alabaster wand sighing softly into her reflection.


The only present she hadn't received yet was Severus'. He was usually the first to acknowledge her birthday. She pursed her lips as she turned back toward their room. She glanced through the open door and across the hall into the nursey. Smiling softly as the tinkling of the music box started its slow tune. Turning toward the bed, she reached behind for the clasp of her dress.

Hermione gasped as she felt warm palms run around the curve of her waist. Her body instantly reacting to his touch, her stomach churned and fluttered most pleasantly, begging for more. Humming deeply, she let her head fall to the side placing her hands over his as they came around.

His hands were one of Hermione's favorite things about him. The way they traveled over her body with spider-like grace, touching and grazing all the little sensitive spots he had discovered during his explorations. Hands, so rough and strict, bending and turning to leave the most gentle fires burning in their wake. She felt the bridge of his nose lightly trace the vein of her neck before soft lips tenderly kissed the junction.

Lips, so tight they could cut glass, relaxing from the contact of her skin, so warm, so unbelievably soft. Her eyes rolled back as she allowed herself to fall under his spell. Lips that had often produced words with such accuracy they could cut a grown man to his core by the sharpness of the tongue hidden inside. He wasn't one to platitudes, but when he did, she knew, it was only for her. That the words he would place so gently upon her heart had never been spoken to another. That they were hers, and only hers.

It was in these precious moments, that Hermione found herself completely at peace everything around her. Completely enveloped in the man that held her. Though she had never imagined, never in her wildest dreams, that her unwavering bravery would send her into the arms of such an impenetrable man.

Warm hands slid back around, knuckles lightly tracing the ridge of her spine, she couldn't help but arch when she felt the zipper slowly slide down.

"Severus..." Her arm lifted wrapping around the back of his head that had loved to trail feather soft kisses along her shoulder.

The man only hummed. He dragged his fingers up her arms leaving behind raised hair in his wake. Skillful fingers navigated effortlessly pulling away the beautiful onyx fabric. Letting it fall to the floor, his hands came around again, running languidly over the swell of her hip, before crawling upward.

Fingertips dipped and traveled along well-worn paths, tracing old lines of pain, leaving unadulterated pleasure in their wake. Hermione couldn't help but arch into his touch. His hands skillfully avoided her silent pleas coming to rest in the space over her heart. Her hands rose to meet his giving them a tight hold as he encaptured her lips sending a fire straight into her core.

In a dance as old as time, they turned and met each other. Lips only parting to allow for movement before joining again. He granted her access with a tilt of his head, her small agile fingers ran down the vee of his vest releasing golden buttons with practiced ease.

Hermione's hands ran up the tortured plane beneath silk that held no comparison to the skin that lied beneath. It parted like a gentle stream, her fingers teasing the warmth beneath. His tongue was doing its best to keep her distracted but nothing in that moment, nothing could keep him from her. When her hands rose, his shoulders rolled to her will leaving the fabric to fall into a shimmering puddle at their feet.

His hands returned, gently guiding her unresisting steps backward. They stepped in time, hands dancing over the remains of battles long fought. His arms tightened as he arched her back, her body moved elegantly away but never gone. Their lips bruised, they panted as if learning to breathe all over again.

Severus looked deeply into golden eyes of the woman who had brought him so much more than his tongue could ever say. He felt soft fingers move to his waist and knowing she needed no assistance brought his hands up to her gorgeous mane. She was most certainly a lioness, proud and true. Strong and compassionate. She was everything he hadn't known he needed. Everything he never knew he could be.

The sound of heavy fabric and the metallic rattle of a discarded belt punctuated their passionate breaths and it was time to move once more. Hands came together twining as they moved together onto the bed.

Hermione raised her arms over her head with a deep sigh. She felt the bed dip before lazily opening her eyes, his head disappeared into her neck and she couldn't suppress the moan that tumbled out. Her knee bent trapping his hip over hers.

Severus moved with snake-like grace, tracing the line that had brought them together, he felt her hands come into his hair urging him away from her shoulder. He knew exactly what she desired.

She arched when his lips left her neck and couldn't resist leaning up into him. Her hands pulled lightly at his hair as he lazily kissed his way down. Fingers dexterously lighting the flames to his path while his lips lightly pressed against each inch of exposed skin. She couldn't help but whisper his name with need as he hovered over her heart.

A low whine left her throat when his fingers trailed along what her skin burned for him to touch. The cool air of the evening left a mixture of ice and fire as his soft hair glided over where she desperately wanted his lips. Heeding to her silent pleas he dragged the very tip of his tongue around the electrified flesh before taking it gently into his teeth. His fingers mirrored his tongue, eliciting the soft wanton mewl he had been waiting for. His eyes turned up, heavily lidded with desire, as she turned her head away hissing with need into the side of the pillow. He felt her hips rise and pulled himself free continuing his delicious torture where his hand had been holding his place.

Hermione was lost in a sea of bliss, her entire world was on tilt as her body responded heavily to his every whispering touch. Her heart swelled and her chest rose. Her breath shuddered with desire while she tried to remember how to breathe. Eyes rolling back, she tried to work her hands. Her head rolled center, her heavy eyes watching his devilish movements. Her body ached and cried out for more and she gave his head a weak push to answer the call.

She gasped as he gave her the faintest of nips before heeding to her direction. He released his hold and ran his hands back down. Slipping effortlessly through the last layer between them, his lips returned to their devoted worship. When the last of the obstruction was pulled aside he returned, brushing his nose along the hollow of her hip.

Her fingers tangled in his hair as he moved lower. A leg coming up granting him access. Her head arched back on the pillow, his name spilling passed kiss flushed lips


He grinned slowly against her inner thigh leaving the lightest of kisses along the sensitive flesh. His eyes turned up as he watched her face contort in pleasure. The hands on his hair tightened as he brushed his nose lower.

As always, he took his time, his hands moved down, lightly running up the outside of her thigh lingering on a particularly sensitive spot that made her squirm. She gave his hair another encouraging pull, a whimper coming from the back of her throat as her toes curled.

His tongue was magic in the more carnal sense as it dipped in slowly tasting her need for him. His eyes closed as he opened the connection between them letting her pleasure roll through him as he moved. His hands dragged over the top of her thighs, gently parting their quivering mass as he parted her most intimate place.

Hermione gasped, her back arching off the bed as he circled the most sensitive part of her. Her hands left his hair going over her head to curl tightly into the bottom of the headboard. Her breath came out in shuddering wisps as she bit her bruised lip, suppressing a deep moan. She was sure his tongue was classified as a lethal weapon, he moved it with practiced ease. She felt her first peak growing in her stomach. Her toes curled and her legs grew tight as he brought her closer to the edge. She could feel him inside her mind, filling her heart with all the joy she had brought to him over the years as well as the satisfaction he derived from watching her roll with extreme passion.

"Severus..." She hissed his name as she let out another low breathtaking moan, "Please..." Her voice pleading with his devilish tongue to finish what he'd started. Her body felt on fire as the first wave of her release washed over her. Her eyes shut tightly as she focused on him, and only him.

Severus watched as the woman he had come to admire so intimately, came unraveled so completely before him. He could never tire of the sight of her stomach rolling in time with his tongue. When she shuddered falling over the ledge into pure bliss he slowed. He felt her pulse with her afterglow her skin shining in the light the moon so graciously provided.

Licking his lips, savoring, forever memorizing the taste of her on his tongue. It's allure more powerful than any love potion ever conceived. He moved up her quivering body, dipping his head down to run his lips over her glowing skin as he made his way to her lips.

Hermione melted back to the bed her eyes sluggishly rolling forward before finally taking in his dark hair hovering over her stomach. She smiled softly, releasing the headboard to gently guide his head up to her own. She looked at him so filled with love, her lips still parted as she came down. She thumbed his cheek softly just staring into his endless obsidian eyes. She leaned up bridging the gap between them capturing his lips in hers. Her arms wrapped around his neck as she pulled him down over her, a leg coming up to keep him in place. Her hands left his shoulders in search of his own. He met her halfway twining them together beside her head as he tilted his head allowing her entrance, deepening their kiss.

"Mine..." She breathed watching the corner of his lips quirk, "Forever, mine..." a soft sigh passed her lips before she pulled him back for another searing kiss. Her arm wrapped around his neck the other around his shoulder meticulously letting her fingers explore the well-known ridges over his flesh.

"Always..." His words ghosted over her lips in between breaths and he could feel her heart swell.

She beamed against his lips, her leg had snaked between his and with a bit of effort she managed to roll them over, she lifted her head from his waiting for his eyes to open, the back of her fingers lightly brushing against his cheek. "Always..."

They shared that moment for a long time, just staring deeply into the other's eyes, allowing their souls to be wound by the thread of fate between them, to pull them even closer, inseparable against the all that would dare to stand against them.

Hermione adjusted her legs so that they rested on either side of his waist and used his chest to push herself up into a sitting position. The moon had just begun its ascent behind her highlighting the gold in her hair giving her a most ethereal appearance.

No matter how many times he had gazed upon her, she always took his breath away, a feeling he found he would never, ever, tire from. His sharp features twitched into a soft curve as he shared her smile.

Hermione lavished the moment, looking into the very soul of a man so hard pressed against the world. That in this moment, just between the, she could see him so clearly. The man who he really was. Not the man he should have been, not the man he had to be. But the man he truly was.

She had seen his vulnerability from the start, but now in these moments, she could allow herself to raise him above his faults. To his heart's true desires. He was the kindest man in his own ways, no one would ever believe her to say, but she knew, she could see him when no one else could. Her keen and penetrating mind had taken to the task and persistently unraveled the mysteries of the dark man known as Severus Snape.

Severus watched the girl come woman. His hands ran slowly up her thighs. His mind drifting back, it had been a hard and long battle for what was left of his heart. The woman had been relentless in her pursuit of his secrets. Crashing through the walls and barriers he had placed around himself. Though her way of fighting for him had been so new to him, he hadn't even seen her coming for him until she was right before him. Though he wouldn't have admitted it then, he could now. He had lost the battle over his heart, his walls had crumbled down, leaving nothing but dust and faded memories behind. She had so craftily brought out all the best in him despite his repeated efforts to remain within his strict confines. She was, in every sense of the word, remarkable, unmatched by anyone whom he had come to meet. She was, truly, one of a kind.

Hermione admiringly gazed down at him, a loving smile painting her face. Leaning over his chest, her hair fell in loose tendrils around her head hiding her away. She ran her smooth finger tips over the broad rigid plane, her lips very lightly grazing the very sensitive skin around his throat. She could feel the rumble of a small moan inside his chest as she explored conquered territory.


She would never grow tired of hearing her name on his lips, she turned her head slowly meeting his eyes. She knew what he wanted, she always did. His hands had come to play in her hair, gently running through the passion tousled mass. Able to read him like one of her treasured books, she knew not to make the man of her life wait any longer. She gave him a mischievous smile hiding her head back down behind her hair as she lifted her body from him, the cool evening air seared their passion heated flesh. She heard him hiss and couldn't help but chortle ever so softly.

Just as he, she took her time, her fingers explored as if it was the very first time. The excitement and pleasure she brought to him were like a drug and she never wanted to quit. Settling herself over his hips, fingers preceded her lips as she moved down to his collarbone. Her nosed dipped into the small hollow before feeling the tension of the ridge pass under her finger tips.

She could hear his control falling away. Shifting lower she teased him through their final barrier. When his fingers pushed her hair behind her ear, she tiled her head kissing the battle-torn flesh. His dark mark had been torn away by the monster's teeth, the skin left behind was even softer than what should have been humanly possible. She dipped her tongue into one of the dimples its teeth had left behind.

Severus hissed low in his throat but didn't pull back. Instead, he watched her lazily kiss her way to the crease of his elbow. Her eyes opened then, gazing through deep dilation before she shifted down again, rolling her hips, a smile hidden in the very corner as his instinctually rose to meet her.

"Hermione..." It was a softly broken plea of someone who had given their control over to another. He felt her smile as she resumed her extremely thorough examination of his chest, her hair once again hiding away her wickedly delicious deeds.

When she could no longer reach her destination she lifted to her knees relishing in the deep moan of need the action left behind. With feline grace, she slipped her fingers into the final barrier keeping them apart. His aid only hastened her efforts. As the final article was tossed to the side she crawled forward, her hair fell forward framing her face as she captured his lips. There was no struggle, no bid for dominance as they connected.

The world around them both exploded in miraculous colors as two souls connected together in the basic of ways. Hermione rolled her hips slowly letting her head fall back, she felt him rise to meet her his arms wrapping so tightly around her back his lips moving to capture her own once more after a heated need for air. The world around them spun, it was an intoxicating feeling.

Hermione let out a soft breath as she felt her heart pounding in her chest. Her hands ran down his chest feeling his pulse through his glowing skin. She captured his lips in one more breathless kiss before her head fell back, an aching cry of release calling out to the man who brought her to rapture.

Severus fell in time with her. His body going tight as they tumbled over the precipice. Words that only they could hear passing between their connection. Words of a love that transcended all planes echoing against the gates of heaven so boldly that even God could not ignore.

When the world slowly came round again he opened his eyes to the face of his love. She panted softly against his throat and he brought a hand to lightly cup her cheek and she let her face fall heavily inside nuzzling its gentle but unwavering strength. She left fleeting kisses on his thumb as it passed over.

Severus let out a low breath carefully adjusting. Wrapping his arm around her waist he pulled her closer cradling her head beneath his arm. He ran his fingers listlessly through her hair as he watched her struggle to keep her eyes open. He leaned over kissing each fluttering lid closed, before pressing them against her brow. A gentle wave of his fingers brought the blanket over them and he pulled it close.

"I love you..."

"I love you, too...forever and..."


He wanted for nothing in that moment, let the world burn. For he, had found his heaven.