She'd always said that Rose had Ron's smile, and a part of her that was filled with self-loathing, had wished it wasn't so, not wanting to spend the rest of her life being reminded of him.
But now she was filled with an undeniable sense of relief, because Rose didn't have Ron's smile at all.
She had Arthur's.
And locked away in the downstairs bathroom, Hermione wept at the relief that brought her.
There was only so long it could go on he supposed, this tentative happiness while waiting for the other shoe to drop. The home they had built, for it was not a home he alone had built, but one the three of them had created together... had become more a sanctuary, more of a safe space, more of a honest to gods home than it had ever been in his entire life.
Memories of dark days and darker nights, were covered with warmth and laughter. There was the cellar he would frequently hide himself in as a child, that had become the potions lab he would...frequently hide himself in as an adult...but now, there was light in there, better furniture thanks to Hermione's decorating skills and absolute refusal to leave him with the old stool that made his back hurt. Thanks to Rose it now had pictures on the wall. Pictures of the three of them, together... even if Hermione had admitted whilst giggling that the way Rose drew his nose and robes made him look like the count from sesame street. But she'd drawn it for him. Presented it to him with a smile, and smiled even more when he'd fixed it to the wall of his lab.
His days were full of warmth and love and Severus Snape was happy.
And then there were the nights, those sweet torturous nights as the dance between them continued.
Oh, how he wanted her. And it was clear she wanted him as well. But still, they danced this dance around each other, still afraid to upset the status quo. Though Severus knew where his heart lay. And when he pulled his great grandmother's rings from his vault at Gringotts, he knew for certain what he wanted. Even as he cursed himself a fool for wanting it. He should put the rings back. Forget that the notion ever entered his head and be grateful for what he already had. But he didn't, with a disgusted sigh he put it in his pocket and brought it home with him.
They had shared more passionate kisses, and he had continued to be utterly floored at how often she left him hard and aching. It was a state he hadn't been in for quite literally years until she entered his life and his bed. In fact he'd thought the response permanently parted from his life, after the amount of torture, stress and crucio he'd endured throughout his years, he thought to spend the rest of his miserable life celibate due to the dysfunction likely caused by the nerve damage from extended crucio.
But he supposed if there was anyway to prove that theory wrong, it was to spend the night in bed with a hot little witch, half his age, wrapped in his embrace.
Gods did he prove himself wrong.
He wanted her. He despised himself for wanting her, but he wanted her. He knew that if she could hear his thoughts she'd hex him for a being a self-doubting fool and logically he knew that she wanted him in equal measure, he even knew that she was waiting for him to move things along, would look at him expectantly with heat and passion but shame and self doubt meant he just couldn't seem to make that next step. After each passionate kissing session she would look at him with so much heat in her eyes, but he would just pull her into his embrace, and she would sigh deeply but settle there in his arms anyway.
How could he marry her and subject her to a life of being his wife...in every sense of the word? Was he even capable of even loving her, pleasing her, in that way?
Much to his surprised delight he had already discovered he was physically capable of becoming hard unlike he had previously believed, that much was abundantly clear the more time he spent with her in his arms, but he had never tested the limitations of that physical aspect with her. Never gone farther than heated kisses, though she was sure to have felt his responses to her. In the privacy of his shower though, he had done just want any man did and knew that depending on where his mind led him he was just as likely to come quickly and explosively with all the pent up frustration of a man who had not experienced release in many years, as he was to worry his erection away, or be left stiff and unsatisfied, unable to relax enough to reach climax. Severus had heard it said that sex was only 20% physical and 80% mental and as he felt himself soften despite the woman in his arms, he believed that much to be true.
And yet still the ring selfishly burned a hole in his pocket.
He had always felt like half a man, his whole life convinced there was something about him that was just...lacking. Yet she made him feel whole and Rose filled another long hidden part of him too.
He had wondered how long they could go around in this circle, when finally he pulled his head out of his arse enough to realise...for all his careful restraint, he was hurting her. She had taken to wearing sinful shorts with vests or camisole tops to bed, and the flesh on show had made him ache, especially when she was in his embrace. But tonight she just offered him a sad smile and donned one of his old t shirts once more, covering all of her upper body. When he skimmed the surface of her thoughts nervously, he got his answer. He'd made her self-conscious. She had wrongly assumed that as they became more intimate and he'd seen more of her body...including her scars and how her body had changed from her pregnancy, along with the weight she'd recently started to gain (Which Severus actually adored, as he watched her fill out) Instead, she believed that it had put him off her in a physical way, which was why he was not progressing into further intimacy with her.
She was covering herself because she thought Severus found her body distasteful. He had made her doubt herself and he hated himself for it. Pushing his own concerns about intimacy behind his occlumency shields, he knew the time had come to play his hand and it was now, lest he lose her forever.
"Hermione, there's something I wish to speak with you about" Her eyes met his then, wide and open and he saw her fight a tremble in her lip before steeling herself.
She thought he was going to break up with her. And that would never do.
"I apologise if I have been distant but there has been something that has taken a hold of my thoughts and refused to let them go, and I realise now that I may have been neglecting your emotional needs as I have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts."
She had frozen where she stood, not quite in the bed yet as though afraid he was about to evict her from their very bedroom.
"I have been considering our circumstances our...relationship, if you wish to call it that and I have come to a decision that I believe...that I hope will be mutually agreeable, though it is not one I have considered lightly"
Her lip was between her teeth and he could practically hear her heart racing as he approached her. "Do not ever doubt that I want you, Witch" He whispered as he pulled her into his arms and she sank gratefully into his embrace. The tension leaving her frame left her lax in his grip.
For long minutes he held her to reassure her, before pulling slightly away and reaching into his pocket. "I am unsure how familiar you are with pure-blood traditions and etiquette, so forgive me if I do not yet get down on one knee, for this is not yet a proposal, but a promise of one". He opened the ring box to show two rings inside, one smaller simple silver ring that bore runes and the prince family crest and a wedding band with a small cluster of white diamonds and another enviable and impressive black diamond.
He didn't miss her soft inhale, as her hand came to alight on his that held the ring box. "It is my intention, Hermione Jean Granger, to pay court to you if you would have me? Should you accept my court, it would become known to all that I cherish you alone, and exclusively and you would wear the sigil ring of my house to signify to any others the court I am paying to you and that I fully intend to claim your hand for my own, and that you are under the protection of my house. When a suitable time has passed should you have approved of my court, I would then ask for your hand, and replace my family's crest ring with my family's diamond ring, Will you accept my suit Hermione? Will you allow me to court you?"
The entire time he spoke into their entwined hands, only chancing a sly look through his eyelashes when a tear fell onto their entwined hands. They dripped freely from her eyes, and when he met her gaze she smiled at him and he released the air he hadn't realised his lungs were holding captive.
"Yes Severus, of course I accept you, Yes."
Swallowing thickly, he looked at her dumbly.
She said yes
"Yes?" He questioned almost hating the hopeful tone in his voice.
"Yes" She answered again with a smile.
He smiled so wide it made his cheeks hurt as she smiled just as widely back to him, though after a moment she chuckled.
"Severus?" She questioned him.
He looked at her questioningly and with an amused smile, her eyes flicked down to the ring box in his hands.
Cursing his own ineptitude, he got out the promised sigil ring and placed it on her offered hand, putting the diamond ring in its box and back in his pocket.
The kiss they shared then was full of passion and relief and tenderness, as tears of emotional relief tracked down her cheeks. When they broke apart, both gasping for breath, she rested her forehead on his as they simply stared into each others eyes, until she uttered those words that made him both panic and rejoice in equal measure.
"Take me to your bed Severus"