Disclaimor: All things Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling.

All Strings Attached

WIKTT Triangle Challenge by Sinho Badaro. Thank you Sinho Bardaro for the challenge!

Rules: The story HAS to start where Snape IS married -- to some one other than Hermione. The story HAS to end where Snape and Hermione are together.

A/N: Thank you to Shonagh for helping me fix this horrible thing the first time around and betaing for me. And Corazon for betaing it the second time around. You both are great! Especially considering I didn't even get started until Monday night. ;)

......

"Sevvy, come help me with the zipper please."

Her voice grated against Severus Snape... 'Why did I ever marry this... God, I can't even think of an appropriate name for her!' He walked into her bedroom and helped his wife zip up the dress. They had been married for nearly 10 years (awful 10 years). They hadn't had sex in...he couldn't even remember. Severus Snape only married Olivia Smyth because his parents arranged it - and he didn't want to put up a fight. So, he did as they asked and had regretted it since.

Olivia Smyth Snape was just an exasperating witch with no brains and even less magical talent. She was 32 years old herself while Severus was 39. They were going to a party to celebrate the recent defeat of Lord Voldemort, in which Severus had played a critical part in the final battle. He knew Hermione Granger would be there, and she could at least give intellectual conversation as his wife went off and 'mingled.'

For the battle to defeat Voldemort, Hermione had come up with a plan to dispatch of him. Severus and Hermione worked side by side and were able to work out the final details. The spell she worked enabling several key figures to each say part of the spell and the Dark Lord would be entrapped in a gem. When the gem was picked up unsuspectingly by Lucius Malfoy after barging into Albus Dumbledore's office, the gem burned Malfoy Senior's hand, causing him to throw it into the fireplace, thus killing Voldemort.

Severus had learned with time that Hermione and her friends weren't all that bad... even if they were Gryffindors. He had come to respect them each in their own way but Hermione had earned his most of his respect aside from Albus. Hermione had not only had his respect he admired her for her courage, intelligence and loyalty to her friends - even if her friends were people he use to hate.

"Olivia lets go," Severus called aggravatingly, once again wondering why he married his wife.

Olivia and Severus left the dungeons and walked to the edge of the grounds, apparating to the Ministry of Magic Ball Room where the party was being held.

......

Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley were getting ready in their shared flat for the party. Hermione was in her own room, sitting on her bed and thinking. She knew he was going to be there tonight, and why should he not be? He was one of the few that helped defeat the Dark Lord. When they worked together on the spell they had developed a friendship. When she was with him, she had the most enlightening conversations. Harry, Ron, Draco and Ginny were great friends but she was interested in more than Quidditch and craved intellectual conversation which she got from him. Through working together her feelings of friendship grew into more. Her crush from sixth and seventh year, which she thought she was over, grew to a deeper meaning.

Hermione Granger was in love with Severus Snape.

Severus Snape, on the other hand, was married to Olivia Smyth Snape. Hermione sighed - she didn't expect to find love. She was one of those brainiacs that lived alone and did wonderful things for the wizarding world. Instead, life threw her a curveball and she found love. With more than a curve, the ball decided to twist at the last second, and she found love in a married man. Hermione felt horrible, but there was nothing she could do about it. That was how she felt - her actions were under her control though when her feelings weren't. Hermione was raised to respect the bond of marriage and would never come near a married man. She knew Severus had been married for 10 years, and it wasn't bloody likely he would get a divorce any time soon.

"Hermione, you ready?" Ginny knocked on her door.

Hermione stood up. "Yeah."

And with that, they went to the party.

......

Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley each hurried to get ready for the party, though Harry and Draco were in their own room while Ron was in his. During Draco's seventh year he had rejected his father and Voldemort and built a friendship up with the three Gryffindors and fell in love within Harry.

"Hey, you two wankers, lets go!" Ron yelled to his friends.

"All right!" Harry yelled back, sounding a bit breathless.

Harry and Draco came out of their room looking immaculate as ever, ready for the party.

......

The party had been in motion for thirty minutes. The heroes of the night hadn't been able to see each other - each being swarmed by officials and groupies.

Hermione was able to sneak out to the garden to get some air, since she didn't really want to come tonight. She'd rather sit at home reading a book, but mostly she wanted sit and talk with Severus, as if that would happen though.

"Hermione?"

She looked up and to her surprise and delight it was Severus standing about ten feet back, looking sexy as hell in his black dress robes with dark gray trim.

"Hello Severus," she said.

"May I join you?" he asked.

"Please," Hermione scooted over on the bench for him to sit.

"Not enjoying the party?" his silky voice asked.

Hermione gave him a look he completely understood that clearly said 'I'd rather gargle rocks than be at this party'.

Severus chuckled, knowing full well he shouldn't have asked that question.

Soon the two were talking about different subjects as they seemed to do whenever they got near enough to each other.

Severus took in Hermione's beauty and intelligence. He didn't know what was different about this night, but something was. "McWilliams theory on..." he heard her say.

A sudden thought came to Severus. 'I'm in love. For the first time in my years I'm honestly in love.'

Hermione enjoyed the conversation as she usually did whenever she was with Severus but she wished they could talk in another language that required tongues mating but they couldn't. His marriage stopped that for them. Plus, she didn't even know if he felt the same about her…not that it mattered in the very least.

......

The night was wonderful for most involved. The party also honored Hermione, Severus, Harry, Draco, Ron, Ginny and Albus. Orders of Merlin First Class were given to each one in part for their help in defeating Voldemort.

The guests of the party surrounded the honored guests once the awards were given and Severus and Hermione weren't able to get anymore time alone. Hermione wished they could get more time alone just even to talk, they were friends. But it was not to be so and Hermione noticed Olivia hanging around her husband more than usual since he was honored - and Hermione most certainly didn't want to be around her.

......

A few weeks passed...

Severus had thought constantly about Hermione. He had analyzed his feelings and knew they were true. He loved Hermione. He remembered the time spent working together or just talking. They were comfortable in each others presence. Severus wanted to be with her but several factors stood in his way and he didn't even know if she felt the same. Severus took his problem to the one person who always seemed to have the answer.

"Albus we need to talk," Severus walked into the Headmaster's office.

"What can I do for you Severus?" Albus asked.

"I have a situation and I have no idea what to do..." Severus said.

"What is it, my son?"

"I'm in love."

A twinkle was back into Albus' eye, "Wonderful! I always thought Olivia wasn't right for you anyways. Now you can leave the marriage and marry who you truly love."

"It's not that simple," Severus sighed.

"Oh but it is my boy. You know the customs!"

"Yes I do... but she doesn't."

Curiosity got to Albus, "Who are you in love with?"

Silence fell through the room for five minutes before Severus spoke.

"Hermione Granger."

Albus smiled. 'This IS wonderful!' But another thought came to him, "I can see your point Severus." Since Hermione was raised with muggle customs she probably wasn't aware of wizarding marriage customs.

"I don't know what to do. I love her and I'm married. I don't even know if Hermione feels the same."

Albus thought for a moment. He knew of Hermione's feelings, even though she had never admitted them out loud. Albus was known for being omniscient for a reason. This would call for some measures on his part. "Severus go back to your lab and do some research. I'll see what I can do," Albus said.

Severus nodded and went back to his labs. He wasn't a professor anymore but he lived at Hogwarts still. He had his own labs and researched various new potions and theories. He gave up teaching a year after Voldemort realized his true loyalties.

Albus, in the meantime, owled Hermione to have a heart to heart talk.

......

Three days later Hermione sat in Albus' sitting room having tea.

Albus had thought about how to approach this subject and for once he decided to use the direct approach.

"Hermione I asked you here for a reason today," Albus started off.

Hermione took a sip of her tea, "And?"

"I know you are in love with Severus," he gently said.

Hermione's hands jumped from surprise and she set her tea down on the table. "What would make you think that Albus?"

The older wizard gave her a pointed look, "Age and wisdom do coincide and being omniscient also helps, my dear."

Hermione sighed it wasn't worth denying to her old Headmaster, "All right yes I am in love with Severus but nothing can come of it. He is married."

"How much do you know of wizarding marriage customs?"

Hermione thought for a moment. "I know that parents can arrange their child's marriage up until they are 50 but only if the child agrees to the marriage. Or wizards/witches can choose their own spouse. But that's about it."

Albus nodded, "Hermione I have a book I would like you to read. It is about wizarding customs, pay close attention to the marriage customs." He handed her the book.

Hermione looked over the book then scanned the index. It looked like an interesting book to read. "Albus what is the point of giving me this book?"

"Read it, my dear, and think about it. I believe you will come to understand."

They continued to have tea but Albus would not go into further discussion of Severus or the book.

......

Hermione sat in her room in her favorite chair with her feet curled up under her. She was getting settled in to read the book Albus gave her.

About an hour later having read through half of the book she came upon the wizarding marriage customs.

"To leave a spouse of an arranged marriage the wizard or witch must find love. Once love has been found they must consummate the relationship to dissolve of the first marriage. Upon consummating the new love, the marriage between the two new lovers will be enforced."

Hermione stared in shock. She knew that Severus' marriage was an arranged marriage. Hermione continued to think of why Albus would give her the book and confront her about her feelings for Severus. Did Severus perhaps feel the same? And Albus knew, so he wanted to inform her?

Hermione thought over the matter for the next several days. She had come to the conclusion Albus would only confront her if he had the suspicion of Severus feeling the same. And if he did feel the same, would she be able to make love to him immediately and be prepared to be married? If things went the way of him loving her, she knew he would be open to 'dating' but 'dating' while he was married to Olivia still would be too much for her. But what if he wasn't even in love with her? Then what, she would make a fool of herself and lose the friendship she had built with him and valued greatly.

She needed to talk to Severus. But doing this took several days of gathering her courage; it was going to be an interesting conversation.

......

Severus sat in Hermione's flat she had invited him over for tea the other day. He wondered if Albus had anything to do with this... then he knew better of course he did. He only hoped it would be positive and not negative. Considering they were in her private residence it can't be that bad... if it was in public then that would mean a fast escape but this wasn't a means to a fast escape.

Hermione sat in a chair across from him, tea was on the table between them as he sat in another chair. To him she looked a bit nervous while anxious at the same time. "Hermione are you all right?"

Hermione eyes snapped up to his and she gulped, "Umm... yes." She paused for a long moment, "Severus the reason I asked you over is Albus asked me for tea a few days ago and we talked."

Severus dropped his head and immediately concluded it was a mistake to tell Albus. "He told you didn't he?"

Hermione was confused, "Told me what?"

He looked back up to her, she didn't know? Perhaps it was just time to tell her himself if he needed to explain the customs to her, then he would. But at least he would be honest with himself and her. "Hermione a week ago I went to Albus and told him of my feelings for you."

Hermione was in shock. "He didn't tell me that. He confronted me of my feelings for you and gave me a book to read on wizarding customs."

Severus had to shake his head, it would seem that Albus had yet again set him up. He had no doubt that Albus had some how planned this.

"Albus did it again didn't he?" Hermione muttered.

"Yes it would appear so," Severus agreed. "Hermione you said feelings, what kind of feelings?"

Hermione blushed but still gazed into Severus' eyes, "I'm in love with you."

Severus only paused for a split second before he stood up and walked over to Hermione and kissed her softly. Hermione encouraged the kiss by opening her mouth to allow his tongue entrance. Her hands locked around his neck ensuring he didn't escape. Severus knelt before her, pulling her against his body. When they each pulled back after a few minutes, both were breathless.

"Am I to take it you feel the same?" she smirked.

"Very much so," he answered. "Hermione in that book, you read about wizarding marriage customs yes?"

"Thoroughly."

"Have you decided what you want to do?" Severus asked nervously.

"Yes," Hermione stood up and reached for his hand.

Severus stood himself and followed Hermione as she guided them to her bedroom.

When they were in the bedroom Hermione warded her door to make sure they were not disturbed. Severus pulled her back into his arms and recaptured her mouth. Hermione greedily accepted his kisses and started to unbutton his black shirt. Once the clothing article was off Severus helped Hermione out of her clothes and they finished getting him naked before they fell back onto her bed.

~~~

"I love you Hermione," he whispered fiercely staring into her eyes.

Thrill rushed through her body and she repeated the words, "I love you too Severus. Make love with me." Her hands pulled on his waist to know she was ready.

"As you wish," he said.

~~~

Severus let them relax and bask in the glow of post-coital bliss.

Severus kissed her lips gently before asking, "So how does it feel to be Mrs. Snape?"

Hermione grinned, "Right now I would have to say exhausting."

"Hmm... I'll take that as a compliment," he teased.

"Oh it's most definitely a compliment love," Hermione mumbled before drifting off to sleep with her head resting on his chest and her arm over his abdomen.

......

"Married?" Harry exclaimed.

"Yes," Hermione answered calmly.

"But... you could have at least invited us to the elopement!" Harry claimed.

Hermione blushed, "Um, no Harry I couldn't. This wasn't according to muggle customs but wizarding customs."

Harry looked puzzled, "Wizarding customs?"

Draco pulled Harry to the side and started whispered rapidly. Ginny and Ron smiled at the new couple both knew Severus and Hermione would be great together. After a few minutes Harry and Draco came back, Harry looking a tad flushed. "I understand now. Thank you for NOT inviting us!"

Everyone started to laugh at this. Hermione's friends congratulated the two.

......

Hermione asked Severus if he wouldn't mind having a muggle wedding for her parents and family to witness them together. She explained the customs of wizarding world to her parents while they understood they would've liked a wedding for the two. Severus readily agreed he knew she was close to her parents and if going getting dressed up in a penguin suit made Hermione happy he would gladly do it. He had his Hermione so he was content.

Olivia was grateful to be out of the marriage and quickly packed up her belongings and moved in with her lover.

Severus and Hermione moved into his estate instead of at Hogwarts, he wanted a new start with Hermione and she agreed.

The married couple quietly enjoyed their lives, staying out the public eye and worked on potions together.

Perhaps down the road children would enter the picture for them?

......

Expletio
(End)