Disclaimer: I own them not.

A/N: Thanks to my beta, I heart you FOREVER! Also, this is a work in progress, and this might take a while, threats on my life to hurry up will get you nowhere. Flattery just might. ;)


He sat in his small holding cell, his head in his hands, trying with all his reserve power to block out the incessant chattering outside the entrance. With two raps on the door, the ceiling above him opened and his cell slowing rose to the center of the platform.

"Day Sixteen of the trial of Lord Severus Snape, accused of murder using the Unforgivable Curse on Professor Albus Dumbledore. Please come to order, the prisoner has entered the chambers." A bored looking wizard droned the words by rote; he was, perhaps, the only person in attendance who was bored with the much-anticipated proceedings.

Snape couldn't see much, being unable to turn his head, and his vision was restricted to the panel of judging witches and wizards, and his one defender, Professor Minerva McGonagall, who had faithfully attended every day of his trail. She had been there since his capture, she had found his attorney, she was the one who handled his affairs. He cursed himself silently, and her, for she was suppose to be the key, Dumbledore had promised that she would take care of him. That, even though he had to perform the despicable act, she would save him when the time came.

Not that he didn't deserve Azkaban; no, he deserved much more than that, but he gave up everything he had when Dumbledore died. He killed the only person who truly loved him. But now, seven months after his "capture" and over two weeks into the trial, today was the day he was to be judged and sentenced. Really, it was a sham, he was guilty and had admitted as much, and would spend the rest of his life in prison. He let out an audible sigh before he could stop himself.

"The defense would like to present to the court a final witness, before judgment," said Snape's attorney, Mr. Treed. High-priced, even for an attorney, but incapable of saving anyone with the kind of evidence against Snape.

Snape strained to look around, glancing up at Minerva who gave him a slight smile, and pressed her hand against her heart. There wasn't another witness, no one left to testify on his behalf. He watched as a pensive bowl was set in front of the judges and grew even more concerned.

"Pensive testimony has been thrown out in this case, your Honors! We cannot trust anything Lord Snape remembers, and Professor Dumbledore left us no evidence! Please, pray tell, who else was there that cannot speak but must give testimony in a pensive?" said the Prosecuting Wizard, angry at what he felt was simply a stunt to save Snape, or hold off the sentencing for another day.

"My evidence is pure, and there is another pensive," said a calm female voice from behind Snape's cell. He watched a small figure, wearing a long black hooded robe with a small crest at the bottom, enter into his line of sight. He focused on the crest and was shocked to see it was his own family's. Her robes billowed much like his did, when he walked the halls of Hogwarts. A long slender arm extended out the right side, covered fully with a falconer's glove, and perched on it was a very untamed Phoenix.

"A pensive? From a beast?"

Loud noises proceeded to emit from the large creature on the woman's arm.

"I suggest you refrain from insulting Fawkes. He doesn't take kindly to such words," the voice stated. A black gloved left hand slowly went to the temple of the bird, and a soft incantation was murmured. A silver thread was dropped into the pensive and the members of the court looked inside.

The interior of the Headmasters Office appeared.

"Severus, you must do this for me, not for the Order, not for the Wizarding World, but for me," said a very much alive Dumbledore. "The only way to defeat Voldemort, and to save Draco, is for me to die. And you must be the one to do it. I don't trust anyone else."

"Kill you? I care not for anyone on this earth, save you, and you are asking me to not only have your blood on my hands but to spend the rest of my life either being hunted like a damn animal or rotting in Azkaban? For what? A world that could care less if I lived or died? I've given up my life to serve you and play spy and traitor to Voldemort. I've denied myself any chance of happiness. I've even watched over that wretched Potter-boy. I've never refused you anything, Albus, but this –"

"You've never refused me anything, Snape, because you love me as if I was your father. And you won't refuse me this, because of that love. And I promise you, my boy, I promise you that she will save you, because of her love for you."

"She?"

"Yes, she, will save you and love you, and all you must do is accept it. You cannot abandon me now, we are too close to the end."

"Another blasted prediction? Love can't save us all, Albus."

"That is where you are wrong, my boy. Love saved Harry, and love will save you if you will allow it in and accept it."

"Fine…I concede," sighed Snape, "but, but you promise she will come?"

"She will come, and she will love you."

A beautiful, yet sad song began to be sung, by Fawkes from her perch.

Thrown out of the pensive, the courtroom was in an uproar. Judges looking confused, watching wizards and witches whispering to each other, news-wizards frantically scrambling to take notes and pictures, and in the middle a very tranquil woman in a hooded House of Snape billowing black robe. Severus watched as she pulled the hood further on her forehead and exited the platform, straining to see her face and glimpsing nothing but shadows. He shot a look up to Minerva, who had both hands over her mouth, stifling a smile and, what he was sure, was a few undignified noises.


Six hours later…

He had been removed from his cell and taken to a small room, with a private shower, after his non-guilty verdict. The main charge of murder had been dropped, and he was waiting for the final stipulations from the judges. Sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair, he pulled on his shoes, just as Minerva swept through the door, Mr. Treed close behind her.

"I told you we'd do it, Severus!" she exclaimed, clapping a hand on his shoulder.

"Minerva, I'd quite like not be touched, thank you very much."

"Lord Snape, if we could just go over the last minute details of your release, then you can be on your way."

Snape couldn't help but notice the look that passed between the Professor and his lawyer. It was a look of guilt. He snorted, damn Gryffindors and their inability to lie.

"Professor McGonagall, if you have something to say, please spit it out."

"You aren't going to be pleased, Severus, but understand it was the only way."

"Spit…it…out…Minerva."

Instead Mr. Treed cleared his throat, and began to stutter. "Well, you see, Lord Snape, you've been restricted to your manor for the next three months, and your wand has been taken away for the next three months, and, um, you've been assigned a guardian for the next three months."

"And? Who is my guardian?" queried Snape, none of the decisions surprising him.

The lawyer's voice dropped to almost a whisper, as he subconsciously backed away. "Your wife."

"MY WHAT?"

"Your wife, Severus, take a deep breath," said Minerva.

"Professor McGonagall, how long have you known me?"

"Years, dear, years."

"And when in those years, did you ever meet my wife? Wait, I am not married, so that would be NEVER! RIGHT PROFESSOR MCGONAGALL?"

"SEVERUS! Stop shouting, and let us explain."

Snape's look of pure anger remained while his inner thoughts twitched between sheer fury and a sick desire to know exactly how this had happened. "Fine," he said through clenched teeth, "explain."

"There was a law passed, Severus, while you were imprisoned. Frankly, I didn't want to worry you over it. It was this silly law about ex-Deatheaters and stripping them of their titles and land unless they had a redeemer, and well, no matter how hard we tried to fight it, technically you still fell under the category of ex-Deatheater. And I know how much your family name and your title and your holdings mean to you, and how you are an only child and the only heir of the House of Snape. And we knew that you couldn't exactly petition for a bride, not only because of your state as a prisoner, but also because, well…"

"Because I'm the greasy bat from the dungeon of Hogwarts and no one would come near me? Much less marry me, and bind themselves to me forever, simply to serve as my redeemer? Then, pray tell, how did I find one so fortuitously?" Snape snapped.

"She came to us."

"Someone came to you?" Snape's eyebrows shot up in surprise, before he could gain control over his thoughts on that statement.

"Yes, Severus, she came to me and said she wanted to be your redeemer."

"Most likely a money-hungry witch, after a title and fortune," snorted Snape.

"Oh, I really doubt that was her intent, Severus, I really doubt that at all," Minerva said, trying to remain serious through her giggles.

"Minerva, it's very unlike you to snicker, and quite rude to do so at my expense. What makes you so sure she isn't a blood-sucking grub?"

"What the Professor is trying to say, Lord Snape, is that Lady Hermione Sna—"

"WHAT THE HELL? I'M MARRIED TO THE GRYFFINDOR KNOW-IT-ALL? WHAT IN MERLIN'S NAME DID YOU DO TO ME, YOU EVIL WOMAN!"

"SEVERUS SNAPE SHUT UP!"

"Yes, please refrain from yelling, Lord Snape, and I would prefer to be addressed as either Lady Snape, Professor Snape, or even Hermione should you feel so inclined," came a soft familiar voice.

Severus turned to the door to see a very grown-up version of the Miss Granger he had taught for six years. The black outer robe covered a beautiful green set of inner robes, that accentuated the curves she had developed since leaving Hogwarts. Clinging to all the right places, it was offset by a double strand of pearls with a tiny silver Snape Crest hanging from the center, laying on her collarbone. She pushed the hood off her head, and it was then he allowed himself to realize she was the woman with Fawkes. Her brown curls tumbled out of the hood, and onto her shoulders.

"Leave, everyone. Leave me alone with him," Hermione ordered. Severus was surprised (and oddly, a little pleased) to see Mr. Treed and Minerva obey without question and slip out the door, closing it behind them.

Without asking, she pulled up a chair opposite him, and carefully sat down, arranging her robes about her body.

"You have many questions, but in the interest of saving time, let me speak first."

Severus grudgingly nodded.

"I have sold your small home in London, and reopened Snape Manor. We will apparate there upon leaving the Ministry. The house elves have been advised of your arrival and they have prepared the master bedroom for you. You wand will remain here for the next two months, and will be released to me at that time. I am to hold onto it for the final month at our residence. Minerva has been made Headmistress at Hogwarts and after your probation period, you will be reinstated as a professor. However, I am the new Potions Mistress, so you'll have to settle for being the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. We can leave here as soon as I sign the last paper, and you agree to come with me. Otherwise, your probation period will take place here, in your cell. Now, what would you like to say?"

"Most of what I have to articulate to you can wait, but pray tell how you managed to sell my house, and how you even knew to look for Snape Manor in the first place. The Snape name is Muggle."

Now it was Hermione's turn to snort.

"Severus, exactly how many generations of Squibs does it take to make a Muggle? You and I both know that your father was fourth generation Squib, married to other Squibs. How he got your Magical mother to fall in love with him, I don't pretend to understand, but you were the first Magical Snape born in five generations. Therefore, Snape Manor is yours. You did an excellent job of hiding it from most people, but a Lord you are, and a Lord you shall remain."

"And you get to be a Lady, how convenient."

"Lord Snape, I realize you have many things you want to share with me, and I use that term lightly. I am well aware of your ability to be snarky and, frankly, cruel. However, I chose to be in this position and I am willing to accept you just as you are. All I ask is that you do me the courtesy of giving me a chance to prove my intentions are honorable. At the very least, you'll be residing in your own home, with the freedom to wander about at your leisure, rather than here, under ministry scrutiny."

"And my private lab?"

"Unfortunately, part of your probation requirements is that your private lab has been locked by the Ministry wards, and they will be removed at the end of three months," At the sound of protest, Hermione raised her hand to hush him and continued with a very Slytherin glint in her eyes, "My private lab at Snape Manor, however, bears no such restrictions. Assuming that the Ministry even knew it existed. And I see no reason to enlighten them of that fact, do you?"

"No, no reason at all. Shall we depart to continue this enlightening conversation at my home?" Severus asked as he stood up to retrieve his own outer robe from the hook where it had been hung.

"Yes, let me sign the final paper and we can leave for our home," responded Hermione, her tone sending an unusual shiver down Severus' spine and her withering glare seemed to be taken straight from his first day Potions class. He watched her exit and wondered to himself if he might have just finally met his match.

He refused to speak to Minerva or Mr. Treed, tapping his foot impatiently for the return of Hermione, and racking his brain for solutions to this very unique situation he seemed to have found himself in.