This is a response to the HP Chapter Challenge issued by Southernwitch69 over at her Yahoo! Group: Potter Place and at The Petulant Poetess. Rules are at the end of the first chapter.

Disclaimer: I own nothing that you see here. All characters belong to the wonderful and talented Ms. J K Rowling.

Huge thanks go out to JuneW and SnarkyRoxy for beta reading this chapter for me. Thank you, ladies:-)


Winning Streak Over For the Chudley Cannons

The Cannons lost to the Wigtown Wanderers Friday night, breaking their twenty-game winning streak and dropping them from a slot in this year's Quidditch World Cup. The loss was largely blamed on the Cannons' Keeper, Ron Weasley, who allowed through an unprecedented forty goals from the tenth-placed Wanderers.

'I haven't seen him play this bad since his first year of Quidditch back in school,' says Fred Weasley, brother to the Cannons' Keeper.

Weasley spent most of his time during the game absently flying towards the middle of the pitch. After the fifteenth goal was scored, the Cannons' captain had Mr. Weasley examined to ensure that he was not cursed. When play resumed, he seemed to be back on form until halfway through the game when he became distracted again. As any Quidditch fan knows, the Keeper should beware of straying too far towards the other end of the pitch, in case his baskets come under threat in his absence. There is much speculation that Mr. Weasley's distraction was related to the Victims of War Remembrance Service set to take place today, and his obvious concerns about his former girlfriend's reported wedding to ex-Death Eater Severus Snape. (See scheduled events for the Victims of War Remembrance Service and the reported Granger-Snape Wedding on page 2.)

I turn to page 2 and skim the article.

War Remembrance Will Be Graced with a Wedding

Last year at this time, we published that following the Victims of War Remembrance Service at the Hogwarts cemetery, ex-Death Eater Severus Snape was captured by Auror and long-time adversary Harry Potter. Severus Snape was later released and all charges dropped when evidence proving his innocence was brought to light by a long-time friend of Mr. Potter's — Miss Hermione Granger.

Today, following the memorial service at Hogwarts cemetery, Miss Granger and Mr. Snape will be wed near the lake on Hogwarts grounds. The ceremony is by invitation only and will be heavily warded against intrusion. Those reported to be on the guest list include: Hogwarts Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, Professor Filius Flitwick, Professor Rubeus Hagrid, Auror Nymphadora Tonks, Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, Auror Harry Potter and wife Ginny Weasley-Potter, and Keeper for the Chudley Cannons, Ron Weasley (for more information on Mr. Weasley and his performance at Friday's game, see page 1).

I toss the copy of the Daily Prophet aside. "How dare they print that without our permission?" I bite out with disgust.

I can feel my tension starting to build, and I slowly begin to massage my temples. It's obviously going to be a long day, if the Prophet is blaming yesterday's Quidditch match on me.

"You actually sound surprised by this, Hermione," come the silky tones of my soon-to-be husband.

"They didn't even mention that Draco would be in attendance today," I say, ignoring Severus' snide reply.

"Did you honestly expect them to?"

"Well, I guess that I foolishly thought that they would mention it. I mean, they seem to think that everything else that we do is news," I answer honestly. "Draco was acquitted after you were. He helped the war effort, in his own way. He's news, isn't he?"

"Hermione, the wizarding world doesn't even see me that way. Why would they see Mr. Malfoy as some unsung hero?" comes the sardonic reply.

"Well, at least they accept you." At the quizzical quirk of his one dark eyebrow I add, "…now."

"That took time," Severus mutters as he takes a sip of his coffee.

He's right, I must admit; it did take time. I was grateful for how the information came out at his trial. Apparently, when I released the memories from the runic box, it also opened another box that was in the possession of Aberforth Dumbledore's son, releasing another memory. When Severus had devoted his life to Dumbledore all those years ago, he had made an Unbreakable Vow and pledged to do anything that Albus had asked of him in service to the Order of the Phoenix. Albus had called upon the only person available as their Bonder – his brother, Aberforth, who had later been killed during Voldemort's final downfall.

Unfortunately, when everything finally came out after his trial, Severus had not been welcomed back with open arms — quite the opposite, in fact.

When my involvement in Severus' acquittal was made public knowledge, I received quite a bit of flack as well. For starters, I lost my job at St. Mungo's. They were not happy that I had spent my free time using their lab equipment to analyze the poison Albus Dumbledore had drunk when he attempted to retrieve the locket Horcrux with Harry in that cave, or to examine the curses that had riddled Albus' body for months after retrieving the ring Horcrux.

Next, the Daily Prophet began publishing every nasty story about me that they could. The stories ranged from how I had turned to Severus to make Harry jealous in order to win Harry away from Ginny, to me being Lord Voldemort's long-lost daughter now out seeking followers so I could take over the wizarding world.

To say that it was easy to find another job after all of that would be a huge lie.

As a result, I was forced to give up my flat. I had a choice of going to live with my mum and dad, or coming here to live with Severus. It was an easy decision; I came to live with Severus at his childhood home. It isn't much, but it's comfortable; and after some cleaning, it is now surprisingly homey.

My Gringotts account became depleted as I continued to look for work. Severus hunted as well, and we were both becoming frustrated in our search until one morning an owl dropped off two letters from the Hogwarts Headmistress. She had offers for both of us. Slughorn couldn't get out of the school quick enough for his tastes, and Severus was able to begin teaching mid-term. I was actually surprised that he didn't complain about not being offered the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, but he assures me that he wants nothing to do with the Dark Arts position, as long as it's being held by a competent professor.

I will be taking over Arithmancy from Professor Vector when the new school year begins in September. She had wished to finish out the school-year, but tendered her resignation back in January when she was offered a position as a Ministry of Magic Member of the Wizarding Examinations Authority.

I've been meeting with her, going over lesson plans, and familiarizing myself with old O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. tests. I believe that I will be more than ready to take over classes when they resume.

Fine, I admit it; I really didn't want to teach. I think that if I have to do it for years to come I will go quite mad. However, for now, it will do. I truly believe that it won't be forever. I just need time for the rest of the wizarding world to see that I'm not an awful person who betrayed her friends and society as a whole. I'm grateful that Minerva stands up to the school board the same way that Dumbledore always did, and is prepared to stand by us. She's already taken quite a bit of guff for bringing back the dreaded Potions master.

Things between Harry and me have gotten better. It was a tough blow for him when he learned of the relationship that Severus and Lily shared.

No, no, no… It was nothing like that.

They were friends – good friends – nothing more. However, theirs was a strong friendship, the kind that one never forgets. Severus betrayed it once when he called Lily a Mudblood, and he regretted it from that very moment on, swearing he would never betray her again.

It was all very hard for Harry to accept.

Harry and Severus have spoken and attempted to clear the air, so to speak. Harry explained his feelings of how he had felt betrayed by Severus. I could understand it, I suppose. Every person that Harry ever saw as a parental figure was taken away from him. He blamed Snape for those losses – even for the loss of Lupin. Although in regards to Lupin's death, Severus had simply been associated with the man who killed the werewolf; he hadn't even been present… he was just the face and the name that Harry could put behind the killing.

In the last year, Harry has let go of some of his anger. There is still friction, however. I would like to believe that in time Severus will be relating stories of Lily to Harry… well, one can always hope, at least. It will definitely be a good day when I can say that young Harry Potter has finally grown up and put his past behind him.

I can say now that it has been Harry's gradual acceptance of Severus that has stemmed the tide of letters demanding Severus' resignation. Before that, Minerva was receiving at least four letters a day demanding that she fire Severus and rescind the offer for my employment. She said she could handle them until a few nutters began sending cursed letters and Howlers. By the third time Minerva had to replace her desk she started having her mail screened by the post office in Hogsmeade. Then, a good word from The Chosen One, and the letters have nearly stopped.

"Hermione!" Severus snaps. My eyes shoot up to meet his. "I've been trying to get your attention for several minutes. What are you doing?"

"I was just thinking about what I would say if I were to write my memoirs," I say with a cheeky smile.

His eyes narrow, causing my smile to grow. He stands from his chair and reaches out a hand for me. "Come."

I take his hand, nod my head, and reply, "Yes, we need to get ready. It's going to be a long day."

He pulls me close to him. "Yes, it will be a long day. However, I do not wish to get ready — just yet. I had something else in mind," he whispers in my ear.

A shudder runs down my spine as his words wash over me.

He pulls away and leads me out of the kitchen and upstairs. His long fingers are still loosely in my hands. It still amazes me that even after all this time he can cause my cheeks to flush, my chest to tighten, and my stomach to flutter the way that he does — all by his simple touch. We reach the top of the stairs and he turns to look into my eyes. I swear that I could get lost forever in those inky depths.

I will be forever grateful for whatever force it was that sent me to Dumbledore's grave that day, all those years ago. For whatever it was that gave me the compulsion to go back — it made me seek the truth and gave Severus his freedom.

His mouth slowly descends and his lips brush across mine, sending a shock directly to my stomach. Twining my hands in the back of his head, I moan in his mouth and deepen the kiss.

I have a feeling that we will be running a tad late for the memorial service this morning.

--fin--


Quidditch Through the Ages quote: The Keeper should beware of straying too far towards the other end of the pitch, in case his baskets come under threat in his absence.

A/N: Thanks so much for all the kind reviews and thoughts. I appreciate all of those that have taken the time to read through this story. I also love when someone has been able to take the time to let me know what you think.

For those that are interested, the story title was inspired by a song "Voice of Truth," from a group called "Casting Crowns". All of the chapter titles are lyrics that are either directly or slightly modified from that same song. The story was not written around the song. The titles were chosen afterwards.

Thank you, Southernwitch69, for all of the hard work and friendship. I do appreciate all of it.