It was always the question they asked, when they heard that she'd married him. Why Snape, they'd ask, why on earth choose him?

It was as if they thought she was under some sort of obligation to explain her relationship, whilst the rightness of their choices could be taken for granted. As if Lavender and Seamus were somehow destined for each other. Though it seemed to her that anyone with a pretty face would have done for Lavender, and anyone with a pulse for Seamus, which was cruel and probably only half-true. But was it any worse than the blank look of incomprehension, that they didn't even have the courtesy to hide, when they found out who she'd married?

Arrogant – and nosy – little shits.

She knew they wouldn't understand, so there was no point trying to explain, and she'd taken to fobbing people off with the platitude that he was different when you got to know him.

It was the literal truth, after all. It was just a half-truth, carefully edited for their understanding.

The whole truth was too complex to be easily condensed. Severus was like an old, ramshackle house. It was gloomy and forbidding from the outside, looming up at you and trying to frighten you into going away. The door was heavy and difficult to open, and, once through, the entrance hall was no more promising. Like all good wizarding houses, it was bigger on the inside than on the outside, and there seemed to be hundreds of rooms. The first rooms you entered were cold and uninviting, and it was easy to see that most people would turn back, but if you pressed on then there were other rooms that were well-cared for with light and warmth and plump inviting sofas.

Of course, it was a tricksy house, and you couldn't assumed that, just because one path had worked last time that it would work the next time you came to call, but you learned to tell when a corridor had moved or a door had been hidden and ignored the attempts to lead you astray.

After several visits, the front door would open before you had a chance to push at it, and the journey to living rooms seemed shorter and easier, and you thought you'd learned all the secrets of the house.

Until one day, when you spotted the door hidden in the library, and you managed to half-open it and squeeze yourself though the small gap to find that this was where the owner of the house lived. And you knew no one else had ever been here but you and him.

It was a little untidy, with clothes scattered on the floor, and books left half-open on the table that sat by the side of the large bed with the covers thrown back and rumpled sheets as if the owner had just left.

There was no one there, but you knew you were being watched.

Being a neat sort of person you spend a couple of minutes picking up the books, and putting them in a neat pile with the reader's place carefully marked, and the clothes folded and put on the chair.

Then, you dimmed the lights a little, shed your clothes and slipped under the covers. A shadow, a little darker than the rest, detached itself from the others, and then there was someone next to you wrapping you in their arms.

So, how could you explain that to Lavender when she asked why? That you felt that the Hidden Room was home, and that he made ordinary, prosaic Hermione think in poetry.