Authors Note-I finally did it! This is the end. Except, should there be any questions, or any points, mistakes I need to clarify or correct, please let me know so that I can either correct them, or add a chapter to cover any details. Well, I was going to make you guys beg for it, but I decided at the last moment to be merciful,( that's once in a lifetime occurence, trust me! and post the epilogue. Please tell me that it ended well:( after having written on it for so long, the ending felt so abrupt!

excessivelyperky-Hey, it's not his house:) He just wanted to get in a little revenge.

Darth Depravious- snort If I were the Twins, that's what I would do to Percy. Among other things.

Erica Dawn-Here 'tis. The shocking windows, btw, are to keep out any snoopy Muggles that might be passing by. I revised that part to make a little bit more sense. :) Glad you picked up on some of the humor bits. ..I was afraid they might have been lost in the chapter detail.

billiejoe-oh, it was both of them, definitely!

thinkvixen-Thanks:)

Epilogue-

( A few months later, after the start of school.)

" Look at that!" Lupin grinned. " Just look at him!"

He was gesticulating wildly in the direction of Hermione, who was coddling an infant against her chest. She looked exhausted, but ecstatic, as she basked in the attention administered by Molly and Tonks.

" Do you see him? That's my son." Lupin nudged Severus hard in the ribs, leaving a bruise and knocking him against a table.

" I am neither blind, nor stupid." Severus assured the other man, with a sigh of exasperation. He had been the witness of this exuberant display of paternal pride for over an hour now; the two new parents had been so distracted by the baby that they could barely focus on the meeting.

And now the meeting was over, and everyone who had been impatiently behaving like adults earlier, were now gathered around the funny little infant, cooing and pulling the most hideous faces at it.

Everyone that is except for Ginny and Dumbledore, who were both engaged in a serious and hushed conversation, standing off to one side.

He found it much easier to watch Ginny than to listen to Lupin; even though Ginny seemed to be rather irritated by what she was being told. He seriously hoped that Dumbledore had not found out about their midnight tryst on the astronomy tower. It had been one of those little incidents where he lost all self control; a breach in his impeccable demeanor that only Ginny could cause Therefore, he viewed it logically as her fault.

Briefly he toyed with the thought of wandering over to investigate, but doubted that the subject would justify the journey. He had grown terribly lazy over the last couple of months, which could also be blamed on her. . .she was very therapeutic.

He and Ginny had settled in perfectly with one another, he in his home, and she in hers; always just the right balance between privacy and company. And now that they were teaching again, he found less pleasure in harassing students, than he did in harassing Ginny.

Especially since he now knew not only what type of person she was intellectually, but also what color of underwear she preferred. It was a beautiful relationship. With a plethora of yet unopened possibilities.

Their rivalry was good natured, if not sometimes brutal, always to the amusement of the staff, and the general dismay of the students, most of whom did not even guess what the secret nature of the relationship between the sour Potion's master and the fiery DADA teacher was.

Certainly there were times, when Dumbledore saw the need to call one or the other of them down, and once he had even warded them both into the cold locker in the kitchens for two hours

until '' their tempers returned to room temperature."

But that had really only been an intellectual discussion gone slightly sour. The raised voices were necessary only they had both been determined to out-talk the other, . . .or at least that is the defense they had both pleaded to Dumbledore later when he had released them, and lectured them in his office as if they were unruly third year students instead of grown professors.

Ahh...but Severus had never imagined just how. . .dare he say it? Fun? How fun it could be to argue with a woman who was magically, intellectually, and emotionally his near equal? And if one couldn't say that the arguments were fun, then no one could deny that making up was sheer glee. As were the personal pranks they had taken to trying on each other. . .

" He does NOT look like a monkey, Ronald!" Hermione snapped suddenly, distracting Snape's thoughts away from particularly satisfying memory of the time he had charmed Ginny's brassiere to unclasp anytime he said the word ' Undoing'. Then he had forgotten and uttered the forbidden word at the teachers table one morning. . .

" All I meant was that he is an odd looking bloke." Ron held his hands up in defense, and Snape decided it was almost time to depart the scene. " I mean. . .do all babies look like that?"

Hermione answered him with a sharp glare, tucking the Gryffindor colored blanket tighter around the baby's tiny form.

" That is a direct result of people tampering with love potions. " Fred spoke Snape's thoughts. '' Let that be a lesson to you other blokes."

Molly reached across the chair and flicked the wrong twin's ear.

" Ouch! Really woman! Are you never going to get us straight? That was Fred that said that!" George rubbed his pinkening ear.

" Sorry George. Well. . .pass that on to Fred." she shrugged. " It's all right dear." she patted Hermione's hand, ignoring the twins, as George began stalking his brother, holding out a thumb and forefinger while making the most hideously malicious face.

" He doesn't look like a monkey." Harry said. " He looks like. . .you, Hermione. Only,. . . with Remus' eyes."

Very suave, thought Snape.

" Severus. . .what do you think?" asked Hermione.

His attention had already been creeping back to where Ginny stood, reading a scrap of paper that Dumbledore had pushed into her hands.

" I. . .think that he is going to be more trouble than he is worth. . .in say, eleven years? Perhaps by then I will be mercifully retired."

Hermione and Remus both laughed, and Molly sent Snape a smile of thanks that he appreciated a lot more than he would ever admit. Even under torture. Everyone needed a mother, and it seemed like Molly would never have enough people to smother with her instincts.

" Severus." Ginny laid a hand on his arm. He turned to her, and found her expression to be inscrutable, pinched around the mouth as though she were trying not to be amused about something.

" Professor Weasley?" he teased, dryly.

Usually that remark made her smile but this time, her eyes widened a bit.

" Not for very much longer. . ." she muttered beneath her breath.

" Beg your pardon?" he leaned down closer, certain that he had misheard her. She only flashed him her trademark smile. The one that dazzled him, temporarily blinding him to whatever matters of importance were happening in the universe around him.

" If you're finished scaring the baby, maybe we could go back to my rooms? I have something I want to show you. . ." she said flirtatiously.

" A secret?" he asked back, his voice too low for anyone else to hear.

" Maybe. That all depends. ." she smiled again, and he felt his heart race a little faster.

It took them three minutes to say their goodbye's, ( or rather her goodbye's; he was perfectly content with just vanishing sans the au revoirs.) and Apparate to the school grounds. A few minutes more for them to go to their separate rooms, a measure of discretion that Dumbledore insisted upon, and they both agreed to.

By the time Snape had Flooed into the fireplace in Ginny's chamber, she was already out of her robes and her shoes, and was lounging on the sofa, a glass of Firewhiskey in her hand.
He sat down beside her, taking the glass she had already filled for him, and for a moment they were silent.

" You've been sacked, haven't you?" he finally blurted out.

" No. Why would I be sacked?'

" I thought perhaps the Astronomy tower incident might have came to his notice."

" Oh! No. Nothing like that." she blushed slightly." But I am afraid that I have been given some rather serious news. Have you read the newspapers today?"

He was leaning closer to her, inhaling the perfume of her hair.

" Mmm. I haven't read the papers in three months." he answered.

Ginny produced the paper scrap from earlier ,and held it out to him, and he took it after a few moments of pretending to sulk because she wouldn't kiss him.

He murmured over the first few parts of the article, and Ginny nodded her head, staring into the fireplace. Her ice clinked happily in her nearly empty glass.

" WHAT?" he demanded at last.

" Mmmhmmm." she smiled, still not looking at him. She was still gazing into the fireplace, pursing her lips thoughtfully as he struggled to sit up straight, his back stiffened indignantly.

" But I. . .I. . ." for once, he was lost for an adequate amount of meaningful words; and resorted to simply waving the paper in front of her.

" I know. I have already read it. Twice. " she informed him, pushing it away.

" I don't believe they can do this." he stated, sullenly. '' In fact. . .no, it is impossible."

" Did you read it closely?" she asked, still watching the fire."The part where it says that all persons of '' pure blood must petition for a magical person of non-pure blood? Marriage Law? Persons being required to marry or lose their Wizarding Rights, Which means handing over their wands, maybe even having their memories effectively cleaned to prevent them from revealing all of the dirt about the Ministry of Magic. . . " she waved her hand, almost knocking him in the jaw, as she indicated all of the unspoken complexities of life.

" Of course I read it!" he snapped. " But it's nothing to me. I'm not pure blooded, remember?" his eyes glinted broodily, as the were always prone to do when he was reminded of his lineage.
" No. . .but I am." she answered calmly.

The words went through him like a sharp winter's wind, cutting off his breath for a moment.

" You. " he said, stupidly.

" That's right. I am. and therefore. . .I have to petition for someone, don't I?" she turned now to look at him, and he read clearly the look of hopeless bemusement in her eyes.

" Me!" she continued." And I was determined to have perfectly happy life without ever having to succumb to the folly of wedlock." she moaned melodramatically.

He was about to go on a rant about how, only a few months ago, he had never even wanted a relationship, let alone a marriage either; and look how Fate had botched that one! Then his eyes were drawn downwards to where she had just crossed her legs. A glimpse of black satin and lace peeked out, and unconsciously, he moistened his lips with his tongue, letting the paper fall to the floor.

" It could be a hoax." he said lamely.

" It has Dumbledore convinced." she said, shifting so that her skirt climbed an inch higher.

" I'll bet." he muttered.

" Horrible, isn't it?" she simpered noticing that he wasn't half as infuriated as he would like the world to believe.

" Simply awful!" he agreed, leaning closer.

He made a semi-lunge for her, suddenly, and she intentionally allowed him to pin her beneath him; drawing one leg up so that she could cross it over his lean hips.

He lowered his lips to hers, and gave her a swift kiss.

" We can go down this afternoon and get the thing over with.'' he said.

" Who said I was asking you? " she retorted, kissing her way delicately across his chin.

'' Who said I was accepting?" he retaliated by blowing warmly into her ear.

" Well if that is your idea of a proposal! " she huffed.

" No, that is your idea of a proposal, I am the victim here." he answered against her throat.

" I seem to recall that you are the one who started this." she unbuttoned the top of his robe.

" Don't be immature, or I'll tell Dumbledore."

" Tattle."

" Hellion."

" So is that a yes?" Ginny

'' Are you asking?''

" Yess..." she hissed as he bit the soft skin of her throat.

" Then the answer is no." he stood up, and reveled in the look of absolute shock on her face.

" Why not?" she demanded with heated indignation, standing up as well.

" Because I refuse to be on the receiving end of any proposal." he stuck his great nose up into the air, reminiscent of his old, haughty self.

" Well. . ." she searched for an appropriate word, but came up short. " Well. . .fine. I'm not someone for asking twice." she turned away from him., so that they now stood back to back, each with their arms crossed in childish stubbornness.

So what are you going to do then?" he asked.

" I suppose I'll just have to find someone to petition for. "

" Not if I marry you first." he exclaimed.

" You! You just turned me down!"

" I said I wasn't going to marry you. . .you however will marry me."

" I will not!" she yelled back over her shoulder.

" Oh, yes you will, because I am prepared to genuflect at your feet if that is what it takes."

Ginny gave a sigh and leaned back against him, propping her head on his shoulder. She was grinning sweetly, if not mischievously.

" I wouldn't want you if you groveled." she said.

" How about if I take you by force?''

" Oh. . did you mean that to sound so. . .carnal?''

" No! " he snapped, trying to cover his own embarrassment over his lack of finesse. " I meant ' take you to the Ministry!' And request a marriage."

" Well, the answer is no then. I wouldn't want you forcing me. Into marriage, that is."

" How shall I ask then?'' he murmured, his voice going instantly silky. It was incredibly unfair, the way he used his voice.

" Just ask as frankly as possible. "

" Will you marry me?"

" Yes."

" You can be incredibly difficult sometimes." he glared at the wall.

" Oh, let's don't begin our engagement with a row. . ." she said teasingly, turning him around so that she could look into his eyes. A slight glimmer of humor had taken up residence in those once cold black irises lately.

" What shall we begin it with?" Severus' expression suddenly went predatory, as he pulled her tightly against himself.

" A decision. Whose going to be your best man?" she threaded her fingers into his thick hair, shaking his head affectionately back and forth, because she knew he liked it and it irritated him at the same time.

He drew a an over-exaggerated breath.

" No one."

She laughed.

" I won't risk it again," he swore. '' It's one thing to have your second turn out to be your lover, but I won't have my bride turn out to be my best man."

" Oh Severus, I wouldn't do that again!" she smiled innocently. " Besides, a very sly Slytherin altered my twin curse so that it only works on twins now. "

" How sad. If I find him, I'll give him a kiss."

" Oh, give it to me, I'll see that he gets it."

They sank back to the sofa, arms and legs intertwining of their own accord, and lips hungrily devouring each other.

" We can make the whole ordeal short and painless. As few witnesses as possible, nothing gaudy." she assured him between kisses.

" Acceptable. You handle the arrangements. . .since your the one in power." he mumbled against her skin.

" One more thing. . .Severus?" she panted.

" What?" he growled.

" Can the marriage wait until tomorrow?"

" But only until. If you don't wish to have to compete with all of those other women who are simply lusting for me. One of them could steal me away from under your nose. . .and I wouldn't have a choice. I would have to go. . ." he said, peppering her chest with kisses between her words.

Ginny giggled.

" After all the trouble you've been to me? All I can say to them is; Over. My. Dead. Body."

- Somewhere else-

Fred shook his red head in a look of woeful defeat, as George counted out one hundred galleons into Dumbledore's velvet money bag.

The Headmaster smiled, his eyes sparkling with mirth, and mischief.

" I never thought it would work." George lamented.

" I told you mate,she would believe any prank if Dumbledore told her." Fred patted George reassuringly on the back.

" I still can't believe Ginny would be so daft. Really , that paper had ' obvious hoax" written all over it."

" Maybe it was what she wanted to hear, old man."

'' Maybe it was the messenger that did the trick."

" I was most convincing." Dumbledore assured them. " A joke is only as good as the actor who delivers it, if I may say so myself."

" Maybe someday you could teach us how to be that convincing? " George sighed, dropping the last coin into the purse.

" We might even be able to fool Mum." Fred nodded.

" Not bloody likely!" George grinned. " But a few good pointers on deception would be appreciated."

" My dear Master's Weasley, given the nature of our last escapade, I doubt any of the three of us will survive that long.." Dumbledore patted them each on the shoulder. " But don't look so glum. Would either of you like a piece of candy?". . .

THE END


Special Note of Thanks to;

EricaDawn, Cat, excessivelyperky,LuSa, Dear Me, dubtheunforgiven, billiejoe, SeverusSnape'sLove, s.m. rahl, Queen of the Faeries1, Mrs. Green, KitKat07, Darth Depravious,. . .and everyone else. These are really cool people!

Note from the author-And please people, be generous and try to donate something to the RedCross, or any of the other charities for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Even if it is only prayers or kind thoughts, or if you are like me, and live in an area near enough to house evacuees, then remember to smile at them, and be patient. Thanks.

Sincerely, FairlightMuse

BYE!