Disclaimer: I own nothing.

The Aftermath

Hermione sat next to Snape's bed, anxiously watching his face and hoping he would wake up. The healers had hovered over him all day and forced Hermione to leave his side at night. So, she had returned to St. Mungos the next morning. Harry sat with her ignoring her insistence that he needed to get some rest. Hermione's eyes jerked to the door when she heard voices outside of Snape's room. Dumbledore and McGonagall entered the room, followed by Hermione's parents. "Hermione!" Emily Granger cried, rushing forward to embrace her daughter. "We've been so worried about you. Professor Dumbledore allowed us to come here to see you. I'm so glad that you weren't hurt," she said, moving aside to allow Stephen Granger to hug his daughter.

"You look a little tired, but not hurt," Mr. Granger said looking at Hermione's face with a frown. "Why do you need to be at the hospital?" He then noticed that Hermione was holding the hand of the bed's occupent. Realizing that it was Snape, he took a step back looking furious.

"He's hurt dad," Hermione said sadly.

"It serves him right," Stephen growled harshly.

"Stephen Granger," Emily admonished him, but he ignored her.

"He was one of those evil wizards," Mr. Granger snapped. "He took advantage of my little girl. I will not sit by while you throw away your reputation for this pathetic excuse for a man," he hissed at his daughter.

Hermione swiped at the tears on her face, hating to see her father so angry. "Please dad," she whimpered.

"Enough Hermione," Mr. Granger said firmly. "I cannot accept this. You could have died."

"She nearly did," Harry said calmly, stepping forward. "Professor Snape threw himself in front of some curses that would have hit us. That's why he's here. He was protecting Hermione. In fact, he tried to convince the headmaster not to allow Hermione to participate in the battle."

"That's true," Dumbledore said helpfully. Mr. Granger frowned, obviously thinking hard. "Severus was quite distressed by the thought of Miss Granger being in mortal peril."

"Professor Snape nearly died protecting her," Harry continued. "I doubted his loyalty as well. But, I have no doubts after that battle. There's more to him than I ever realized."

"He's still twenty years older than her," Mr. Granger said stubbornly.

"It's just a number," Harry said with a shrug. "Hermione's an adult. Snape may not be my favorite person, but I'm happy if she's happy. Seeing him risk his life for her makes me see him in a whole new light." He turned to cast a glance at the sleeping professor only to see that Snape's eyes were opened and focused on him in surprise. "You're awake," Harry said stupidly.

Snape snorted. "Indeed," he grumbled quietly. Then, his eyes fell on Hermione, still standing nearby. "Hermione," he said softly. "Are you ok?"

Fresh tears spilled over Hermione's cheeks. "I'm fine," she replied with a watery smile. "You had us worried." She sighed as he pulled her down to embrace her tightly.

A sob startled the couple and they pulled apart to see Emily Granger watching them tearfully. "Thank you for saving my girl, Professor Snape," she said approaching the bed. "You are truly a brave man and I'm glad that Hermione has someone like you around." She threw an expectant look over her shoulder at her husband. He hesitated before sighing in resignation and taking a small step forward.

"You have my thanks Professor Snape," Mr Granger said stiffly. "And I will make an effort to be more accepting. She is my little girl, after all."

"I understand," Snape said with a polite nod.

"How lovely," Dumbledore said cheerfully. "Well, Severus, your healer said that you may be released today. There's a feast being prepared at headquarters that will commence this evening. So, we should all leave our potions master to rest and recover." Hermione gave Snape's hand an affectionate squeeze and allowed her parents to lead her out of the room.

Harry hesitated and then held his hand out to Professor Snape. Snape took his hand and shook it briefly. "You've got me convinced," Harry said with a lopsided smile. Snape nodded and watched as Harry turned and left the room.

Hermione sat down at the table in the dining room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. Molly was happily placing dishes of hot food on the table. Neville had been released from the hospital wing that morning with a long, thin scar across his chest as a reminder of the final battle with Voldemort. Everyone crowded around the table, chatting excitedly. The room fell silent when Severus Snape walked into the room. Without a word he moved around the table and sat down next to Hermione. She beamed at him and patted his arm fondly.

While everyone was eating their dinner, Hermione and Snape were talking quietly. Dumbledore and McGonagall exchanged grins and then McGonagall aimed a spell at Snape. Snape looked around and then shrugged, returning to his conversation with Hermione. Harry looked at Dumbledore in surprise, wondering what was going on. Dumbledore caught his look and winked mischievously. Harry shook his head, knowing that he'd see the result of that spell soon.

Dumbledore cleared his throat to draw everyone's attention. "I would like to thank those that fought in the battle..." he paused and gave Fred and George a slightly baffled look, "and the twins, who played Marco Polo." Several people snorted with suppressed laughter before Dumbledore went on. "We fought hard and we prevailed. Harry Potter rid us of Voldemort with the help of his friends. Severus put himself in danger to keep us informed. We've all had losses. I am so proud to know each and every one of you," he said, with misty eyes.

Snape shifted in his seat, causing a few people to glance his direction but they quickly looked away. Dumbledore eyed Snape for a moment, but turned away when the potions master scowled. McGonagall was biting her lip and looking everywhere but at Snape. Harry watched all of this suspiciously. What on earth were McGonagall and Dumbledore up to? And what was wrong with Snape?

"I must say," Dumbledore said with a chuckle, "it was great fun to watch the Weasley twins playing with the Death Eaters."

McGonagall snorted with laughter. "If I didn't know better, I'd say that the only reason we won was because the twins had the Death Eaters convinced that we were all deranged," she chortled.

Everyone laughed until they began to notice that Snape had a white knuckled grip on the arms of his chair. "Is anything amiss Severus?" Dumbledore asked kindly. Snape rolled his eyes and then seemed to struggle with himself for a moment. Suddenly, his hands shot up and he gripped Hermione's arms, pulling her into his lap. Before she could react at all, Snape kissed her full on the mouth, right in front of the rest of the Order of the Phoenix.

For a few moments, the others just sat and stared as Snape held Hermione close. Remus cleared his throat and Snape jerked away from Hermione with wide eyes. He glared at Dumbledore furiously. "What did you do to me?" Snape demanded.

McGonagall cackled while Dumbledore said "Oh, it's just a little spell Severus. I invented it especially for you." When Snape just continued to glare, he went on. "Your desire to kiss Hermione had to be there already. The spell simply made that desire irresistable."

"A kissing spell?" Snape growled as Hermione slid back into her own chair loooking flustered and a little breathless. "Why would you waste your time on something so pointless?"

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled merrily. "Well, let's see," he said carefully. "Who else thought it was quite funny?" Hands shot up all around the table and the twins roared with laughter.

Snape sneered at everyone and then looked at Hermione thoughtfully. He grasped her hand and stood up swiftly, bringing her with him. Without speaking to anyone, he hurried out of the dining room, pulling Hermione behind him. Looking very curious, the twins, Harry, Ron and Ginny started to follow, but Dumbledore held up his hands to make them stop. He sat quietly for a moment until he heard a door close softly. He stood up with a mischievous grin and beckoned for the others to follow him. The twins began pulling extendable ears out of the pockets with delighted smiles.

Inside the drawing room, Hermione was struggling not to laugh while Snape paced irritably. "You must admit it was a little funny," she said with a grin.

"He did it in front of the entire Order," Snape growled.

"It wasn't that bad, was it?" Hermione asked playfully. Snape smirked and then sat down next to her. "Is that why we're hiding from everyone now."

"We're not hiding," he said with a frown. "I wanted some privacy."

"I see," Hermione said with a smile. "Well, now what?"

Snape hesitated and then met her eyes. "I wanted to talk to you when I was summoned," he began carefully. "But, I thought that perhaps it was not the best time." He looked away and Hermione frowned at him.

"What is it Severus?" she asked gently.

He reached over and took her hand in his. He pressed a kiss to the inside of her wrist, making her shiver slightly. "I love you Hermione," he said quietly.

Hermione's eyes glittered with unshed tears. "I didn't think that I'd ever hear you say that," she said softly. "I've wondered for so long. I love you too," she added shyly.

Snape captured her lips in a tender kiss, cradling the back of her head and one hand and caressing her face with the other hand. "Marry me," he murmured against her lips. She jerked back to look into his eyes in surprise. "The war is over. I am free to live as I see fit, and I wish to have you at my side," he told her.

"Yes," Hermione replied, sounding stunned. After a moment, she threw herself into his arms. "I'll marry you."

"Good," Snape said, rising from the couch and bringing her up with him. "Let us say goodbye to the others and we'll return to Hogwarts. I have a ring for you there and I plan to keep you busy for the rest of the evening."

"Are we brewing potions?" Hermione asked with a grin.

"No," Snape replied, smirking. "We won't be working in the lab. But I assure you it will be an enjoyable experience," he murmured in her ear. He led her to the door and pulled it open, only to see the rest of the Order crowded around the doorway. Several of them were holding extendable ears with slightly guilty expression. "Can I help you?" Snape asked irritably.

Dumbledore and McGonagall exchanged grins. "I believe that congratulations are in order," McGonagall said.

"Thank you," Snape said curtly. "But at the moment we have more pressing matters to attend to."

"I bet," Fred snickered. Snape glared coldly at him.

"Severus it was all in good fun," Dumbledore said gently. "We're thrilled to see you happy for once. You deserve it."

"Thank you," Snape responded, wrapping one arm around Hermione. "I believe we will take the floo." He steered Hermione away from the others and toward the fireplace.

When they had disappeared into the green flames, George chuckled. "Well, that was fun," he said lightly.

"I'm just glad that they decided to finish their 'conversation' elsewhere," Fred commented. "Can you imagine eavesdropping on Snape and Hermione when they..." He didn't finish since Ginny had indignantly smacked the back of his head.

Hermione lay in bed, curled up against Snape's bare chest, admiring the engagement ring nestled on her finger. "Are you pleased?" Snape purred at her.

"Very," Hermione replied, moving her head to place a kiss on his neck. She smirked when he shuddered slightly in response. "Are you?" she asked quietly.

Snape eyed her hungrily and said "I could be more pleased."

"How so?" Hermione asked coyly.

"I'll show you," he growled softly, rolling her onto her back and covering her body with his own. He looked down at her and murmured "My future bride. Less than two years ago, I never would have suspected that you would be mine."

"We've had to alter our views of one another," Hermione said, running her fingers through his hair. "I'll always be grateful that Dumbledore made you take me on as your apprentice."

"So will I," Snape agreed. "But never tell him that. I would never hear the end of it." Hermione laughed softly and pulled him down to her for a tender kiss. "I love you," he whispered as he made love to her.

She would never tire of hearing it.

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm working on finishing my other two stories as well, since I have more ideas... It'd be pretty crazy to have 5 stories going at once. Thank you to all my reviewers. Ya'll are awesome. If you haven't already, check on my other stories. I'm told they're pretty funny. You know me...