The kiss was brusque and didn't seem to evoke much emotion within Severus's gut, just as he had expected-kissing a sleeping girl, but an odd feeling had replaced it. Instead, he felt as though a hook had been placed behind his navel and was lurching him forward through space.
He stumbled, trying to regain his balance and not fall on top of Hermione on the bed. But he didn't catch himself in time and lunged forward, arms flailing to try to soften his fall. But instead of falling onto a nice pile of soft bed and woman, he hit stone. Hard.
His heart was pounding as he sat up, rubbing his head irritably, to find that he had landed right in front of the staff table in the Great Hall. He looked around in confusion, scanning the hall with dark, narrowed eyes, and half-wondered where Hermione was.
"Hermione?" he muttered, his heart plunging. Maybe it had all been a dream, maybe he had passed out at Dumbledore's party and nothing had ever happened…
But no, everyone else around him looked just as confused, including the students who stared at him, and muttered among themselves. He also heard the familiar "I thought he was dead" from various tables in the room. Severus sighed.
"Severus, you missed the chair," Dumbledore said from behind the table, climbing slowly to his feet. He was wearing his dress robes, the ones he had worn to the party that was supposed to be Severus's wedding.
Severus looked to his side to see two chairs, high-backed and upholstered in crimson, and one occupied by a very awake, very confused-looking Hermione Granger. She gazed at him, her eyes narrowed in perplexity. Then a soft sound escaped her lips, one that was the sweetest sound that Snape had ever heard, "Severus?"
He knew he couldn't walk, and the broomstick was back in Hogsmeade. He lurched himself up on the chair, gazing at the girl with something that the students couldn't believe resembled awe.
Dumbledore was muttering apologies and explanations to Severus and Hermione both, but neither of them seemed to take any notice. They stared at each other in amazement, and the entire student body gasped in disgusted unison when Snape's hand snaked over and grasped Miss Granger's in his own.
"Terribly sorry about this whole mess," Dumbledore mumbled under his breath. "Umbridge was a complete surprise, though part of it was a setup, I admit. Quite a good thing, though, I think. Turned out nicely…of course, we need to put that toad in jail before she causes any more problems, which I believe the Ministry is seeing too straight away…yes, the Portkey was a good idea, wasn't it?"
Dumbledore finally noticed that Hermione's hand was being held firmly in Snape's and smiled warmly. The rest of the people in the hall had pulled faces, and there were a few exclamations of "I think I'm going to be sick," and "Well, that's something you don't see everyday."
"Well," he said with the customary twinkle. "This did work out nicely, didn't it?"
"You're a sick, sick man, Albus Dumbledore," McGonagall muttered from his side, pulling her hat over her eyes and slumping down in her chair.
"Yes, I am, aren't I? Severus! Hermione! Stand up!"
The two gazed over at him and Hermione pulled herself weakly to her feet, feeling odd from having spent so long in bed. Rose petals of both burgundy and snow were still scattered in her hair, unspoiled and perfectly placed to compliment her complexion. She still held Severus's hand shyly, ignoring the looks of shock she was gathering from her friends. Draco Malfoy seemed to be the only student that was smiling, if one could even call it a smile.
She then noticed that Severus's leg was badly injured and he was looking at her with an expression that she had never seen him portray before: a mild plea for help.
She extended her arm and he grasped it firmly with his warm, large hand. Snape heaved himself to his feet while trying to put as little pressure on her as possible, and stood balancing on his good leg while still leaning a bit on Hermione for support. They remained silent, quietly confused and both wondering whether any words would spoil the moment that they had both been thrown into each other's company.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Dumbledore asked cheerily. With a snap of his fingers the Great Hall turned back into its arrangement as it had been on his announcement that Severus and Hermione were marrying. A fresh onslaught of flower petals fell from the ceiling and several people sneezed. Hermione grumbled something about being sick of flowers and about ready to tear the greenhouses to bits.
Severus just smiled. And the entire student body of Hogwarts, in all its glory and grumbling about having their dinner taken away, stared in shock as a forbidden expression came over their hated Potions Master's face.
Dumbledore lifted his hands into the air while McGonagall was slumped so far in a pew that she looked as if she would fall to the ground.
"Let the wedding begin!"
The afternoon had passed in a hurry, and after a reception in which the students were very cheery, but possibly only because they got to miss their last classes, Severus and his new bride barely had a possibility to talk to each other. When almost everyone had left for their respective abodes, Severus caught Hermione's eye from across the room and swallowed nervously. He thumbed pointedly toward the door and she nodded in understanding, then turned away.
Flitwick was in the middle of giving him a rather thorough and disturbing account of his own wedding night when Severus cut in, feeling incredibly rude but not really minding at all. "I hate to interrupt," Snape said smoothly, pulling at his collar. "But I really haven't gotten to speak to my wife in a number of days, and we would like to retire now."
He blushed and gave out a high-pitched squeak. "Oh, of course. I understand, Severus." He patted him on his good leg. "Best of luck, my boy."
"Erm, yes." Leaning on the cane that he had summoned early in the ceremony, Severus hobbled toward the door. Hermione quickly caught up with him and took his arm.
"Hi," she said shyly.
"Good evening, Hermione," he said, very aware and unused to the warmth that she was transferring to him. The skin underneath her hand tingled, while every part of his body down to his bruised bum and scorched leg burned in anticipation. The ring on her finger glittered occasionally as they walked past torches and candles in silence, obviously embarrassed about what they were thinking about, and what might happen next.
They reached Severus's private rooms and entered, and Hermione engrained his password in her mind. He began to give her a tour of his quarters, but as soon as they reached his bedroom, he hesitated.
"Well, this is the bedroom. You are free to take it, for now. I will sleep on the couch…"
"No," she said stubbornly, furrowing her eyebrows. "You're my husband now. Even if this is one big, screwed up mess, I want to enjoy it." She smiled coquettishly, the shyness disappearing.
Severus's face flushed a very bright red. "I-I do not want to take advantage-"
Hermione released his arm and instead took his hand. She led him to the bed and kicked out the cane from underneath him. He fell onto the black satin, frowning.
"Miss Granger, I assure you this is not very funny."
But she said nothing and laid down beside him, gazing into his eyes and reaching to his face to swipe away the hair from his face. His hand moved to her waist and migrated to her back, pulling her closer to him. Then, with a kiss that was much less chaste than the one applied to her both in the Shrieking Shack and at the wedding, he began to draw the blankets over them.
"Hermione," he muttered, pulling away momentarily and beginning to unbutton his shirt. "Please tell me that you don't want ten children."
She looked at him in horror, and for a minute, Severus considered the possibility that she might crawl out of the bed and run screaming back to the Head Girl's room.
"What on earth gave you that idea?"
He closed his eyes and sighed, then pulled her back to him and buried his face in her hair. "Never mind. Just…don't worry about it."
That very night, Severus resolved that he would never mention what Sybill Trelawney had said. Especially if she turned out right.
So, with a bit of reluctance from both parties, and many disgusted grimaces from the whole of Hogwarts, Severus and Hermione Snape lived happily ever after.
Of course, Severus will never admit that.
My deepest thanks to: Anarane Anwamane, Draco-FutureBF, Raclswt, Ann-MCN, Melwasul (of course), Dues Ex (I know, I'm disappointed to. I'll have to finish my other stories...), fleria, sweetevangeline, baboon (yeah, I just like to think he's inexperienced. He's cuter that way :)), DarkShadowFlame (hmm...Shrek? I don't think I did. But it's very possible, I pretty much have that movie memorized), Zervius Snape (mmm...snogging), Rylee Smith, Joshua Glass (haha, that's why Hermione is there), the soul cage (his only love-life was with me. Poor man), Hogwarts, A History Girl, Doneril, sakhara291 (I think the one-word reviews must make me laugh. A lot), Silent Cobra, Danric-Lover, Madame Plot Bunnie (that's a good idea. I should have written the fairy tales. Of course, I've already done some of that...), Aindel S. Druida, Music/Atropos (same here :)), cherriebaby (the worst things can happen with the best intentions. Of course, I think Dumbledore was spot-on in his ideas on how they would be happy), Belladonna4, Ezmerelda (two challenges? The marriage law, too? Wow, that wasn't even intentional. I do, however, plan on writing one for that, but I'm going to try to make it different from all rest. Wish me luck!) and everyone who will review this chapter (since this is the last one and I won't have the opportunity to thank you later). It's so sad that this is over. I hope you enjoyed the last chapter.
P.S. If you're looking for something new to read, I suggest the one-shot I uploaded yesterday called "A Well-Known Cure", and Fairy Tale Trash (non-HP).
Other fics I recommend:
A Blue Stocking Thing by JustJeanette
Red Satin and Christmas Pudding
And anything by Shiv
Also check out my favorite fics and authors.
Best of luck to you all, and I'll see you in my other fics.