Chapter 13: In which the story leaves our protagonists in bliss
In my entire life, I've written numerous letters. I believe however, this is the most difficult one.
These past months, with you, are undoubtedly the happiest days of my life since I can remember, probably since I was born, but that sounds rather over-the-top, doesn't it? Very unSnapish as you might say.
Yet being with you has truly been incredible. It has made me aware of the commitment we've given each other, and shown me how much I love you.
Do you remember how you trusted me to make my own decision when you waited for me, without resentment, without scorn, in the guest quarter a year ago?
It is your turn to come to me now, for I'm giving you a choice. You'll see the box on your dressing table beside this letter. I'll be sitting in the kitchen, waiting.
Yes, I'm proposing to you.
The Hogwarts newsletter is going to have a field day once the students find out about it.
Whatever your answer, I respect it.
It was the point of no return when Severus placed both objects in her bedroom while Hermione was out to buy some groceries.
He sighed and settled for brewing a cup of coffee over tea. Tea soothed. He wished to remain tense.
Things had changed since he visited the city in 1975, with Hermione showing him about London. There was more hustle and bustle than he remembered, and the citizens were ruder. The Underground was appalling in its filthiness.
There were marked improvements of course. While the current fashion of the Muggle world was abysmal in taste (grunge, good grief!), the conventional style Hermione chose for him was at least appropriate and the Armani cashmere and overcoat his favourite. The latter swept about in the wind like his usual cloak. Hermione the hostess had looked after his needs well.
Although the looks some women had given him were disconcerting. Hermione had noticed them too and could not resist pointing out that they seemed to be ranging from age fourteen to fifty. She had laughed when two of them had come forward to ask if he were a celebrity and if so, could they have his autograph please.
'They are flirting with you Severus,' she had cried. Severus had stared at them until they meekly backed away, although the stare was not so much malicious as it was horrified.
The plays and musicals they had attended were magnificent. Severus was absolutely astounded by 'The Phantom of the Opera'. He had raved about it for days, to Hermione's bemusement. He had even sent the music magically wrapped in a box to Albus for his listening pleasure.
In short, the winter holidays had been fascinating.
Most importantly, they proved that he did not mind living with Hermione. In fact, he wanted it. They had enjoyed each other's company for a month and were not suffocated by it. Neither was demanding of the other nor too intrusive.
Now, Severus was threatening this very contentment they were feeling.
'Hello Severus!' Hermione called out as she stepped in with a paper bag.
Severus took it from her. 'Is it my turn to cook dinner?' It had astonished her when she learnt about his cutlery skills and experienced them.
Hermione beamed, 'Yes, please. I'm going to take a shower.'
He watched her anxiously as she went to her room. He put the paper bag on the table and forgot about it. He heard a gasp and his heart beat rapidly. He watched her as she walked out.
Her eyes were prickling with tears. He felt his throat constrict.
Did I bungle it? Was she happy? Did I upset her?
She was holding the box that contained the ring. It was a simple design, Severus suspected Hermione's tastes did not veer to the outlandish. The band was pale gold, with a diamond set in it.
'If you don't like it, it doesn't matter. Do what you will with it.' Severus said flippantly, unable to show his sorrow. 'I have my belongings packed.'
'I'm ready to leave whenever you please.'
'In fact, I can step out now.'
'Severus, it's beautiful,' Hermione said softly.
Severus made a strangled noise. He asked slowly, nervous to tempt fate. 'You like it?'
'Where did you get it?'
'Severus, it's…' She took out the ring and slipped it on her finger. 'It's perfect.'
Severus stared at her and at the ring she now wore, shining dazzlingly.
'Truly?' his voice was ragged.
Hers was equally so. 'Truly.'
Severus felt a dam breaking within him and strode forward to twirl her around the kitchen, laughing.
The next day at Hogwarts, where every friend and colleague was informed of the recent news, people were either giving each other a resounding clap on the back as if it were they who were responsible for the happy match, or having apoplexy and fainting on the spot.
[Dear Harry and Ginny,
How are you? How's my godson, Bruno? Have you taught him to whistle?
Thank you for your wedding present. A chess-set is miles better than the empty box Ron gave us. I think he's still in shock and forgot to put the mantle-clock in it. At least he didn't hex Severus or anything.
Severus and I are fine. He sends you his regards and wants to remind you he's not going soft in his head and will be as he always is when he teaches Bruno. You have been warned.
Hermione sent out the letter and went in search for her husband. She found him puttering in the greenhouse for Potions ingredients.
'A dubious honour it is to see the Potions Master dirty and sweaty.' Hermione joked as she went to help Severus.
'As it is to see a respected member of the Ministry getting her hands soiled,' he grunted as he passed a pair of gloves to her.
'Aren't you writing your report?'
'It can wait.'
'This, from our Miss Hermione Granger? Tsk, she is getting lax.'
Hermione slapped him lightly. 'It's Mrs. Hermione Snape, Professor. It doesn't have a ring to it, unfortunately. Have you forgotten about your vow yesterday?'
She saw the corner his mouth twitch upwards.
'Never that.' Severus said.
'I'm glad marriage suits you.' Hermione said sincerely.
'Indeed?' His voice resonated with suppressed amusement. 'Well, may I say how relieved I am to see that it appears to suit you as well.'
Hermione was touched constantly by Severus' subtle ways of proving his concern for another's wellbeing. Who would have thought Professor Snape to be sensitive to a person's feelings?
Severus had been bending over a tiny plant, plucking out some of the pollen. At her words, he straightened his back and faced her.
Hermione chuckled, 'Goodness, no.' She gave her reassurance by kissing him back, heedless to whether a student may enter the premises.
'Does it warrant detention?' she teased.
As they continued a playful exchange of words as they worked, Hermione would squeeze Severus' hand now and then, telling him what words could not express.
And he would reply in kind.
Author's Note and Acknowledgements:
Yup, this is it. I could go on but I don't want to drag this until it becomes, heavens forbid, senseless.
It's been a wonderful experience writing this and receiving all your awesome reviews, (giddy with joy). Thanks to all those who have constantly encouraged and urged me to continue.
And thanks too, for the detailed replies pertaining to my inquisitive questions in the last chapter, i.e. Chapter 12. The one on DM is a real help because I'm planning to write another SS/HG fanfic.
So please, look out for it!