Severus Snape admired the back of his wife's neck. Her hair was pinned up in a complicated style decorated with sparkling green and gold combs, and her kimono had been tugged down slightly at the back in traditional fashion to display the delicacy of her neck. Although she was at her loveliest stark naked, Severus thought she was rarely more beautiful than when she donned traditional Japanese garb. It emphasized her fragility and grace, while concealing those areas he didn't like anyone else looking at and displaying to best advantage those he didn't mind sharing. He had been the happy recipient of a great deal of admiration and envy on their last visit, and anticipated more this time. (There would also be envy to be credited to the award being presented to them for their latest bit of brilliant research, but he had several of those and enjoyed envy of his beautiful and clever wife much more.)
"You're ogling my neck again, aren't you?" Hermione smiled at him in the mirror, where she was putting the finishing touches to her makeup.
"Of course." He leaned down to kiss the back of said neck lightly. "I'm very fond of your neck."
Hermione laughed, leaning back against him. "I've noticed that. Although this feels all wrong."
"All wrong how?" He investigated the soft skin below her ear. Lightly perfumed and as sensitive as it always was.
"Well, you're kissing me, and there are no children telling us how revolting it is, no apprentices demanding our attention, no desperate emergencies interrupting -"
"Severus? Hermione? Are you still here?" The call came from the outer room of their hotel suite, sounding rather plaintive.
"And the balance of the universe is restored," Severus muttered. The neck would still be there later, he supposed, although he would have liked to have more time with it now. "Yes, Draco, we're still here. What is it?"
"I need help. This isn't an outfit designed for putting on with only one hand." When they entered the outer room, Draco took one look at Hermione's pink cheeks and rolled his eyes. "Were you two snogging again?"
"We would have been if you'd given us a minute." Hermione started adjusting and tying things. Draco had selected a very attractive grey and silver kimono, when Severus had told him that traditional Japanese dress would be required for this dinner, but he clearly had no idea how to put the thing on.
"That's revolting, it really is. You two are grandparents now, you shouldn't still be getting all romantic." Draco grinned. "Of course, you two have always been disgustingly sentimental."
"We've been disgustingly sentimental?" Severus snorted. "Draco, how many times have you mirror-called home since we got here?"
"Once or twice."
Hermione cleared her throat.
"All right, a couple of times."
Severus cleared his throat.
"All right, all right, five times. So far."
"Draco, we've only been here for four days," Hermione said, folding Draco's empty sleeve to a graceful angle and fastening it there with a tap of her wand.
Draco looked sheepish. "Well, I called just quickly to tell Susan we got here all right, and then every night to say goodnight to Athene."
"You spoil that child." Severus snorted. The first four Malfoy children had been sensible enough, but Susan and Draco babied Athene outrageously. Hogwarts was going to come as a terrible shock to the girl. "She's eight years old, Draco, she can manage without you for a week."
"I know. It's more for my benefit than hers." Draco looked down at himself and grinned. "Thanks, Hermione."
"You're welcome. And speaking of being grandparents." Hermione beamed, going over to an open letter lying on a small table. "Martin sent us a picture. Want to see our granddaughter?"
"Of course." Draco accepted the picture eagerly. Taking one look, he started to laugh. "I see that the Snape nose and the Potter eyes were both defeated by the Granger hair."
"Lots of babies have hair that stick up," Hermione said defensively. "It doesn't have to be my fault."
Severus looked over Draco's shoulder at the picture, smiling a little. His granddaughter did have an impressive tuft of brown hair, even at one day old. Martin looked extremely smug, naturally, and Lily terribly proud. Lily strongly resembled both her mother and her grandmother, with straight red hair, fair skin, Lily Evans's green eyes and Ginny Weasley's freckles. Severus had always liked her. "They've named the child Jennifer. A nice, sensible name."
"Unlike mine, you mean," said the father of Atlas, Hestia, Persephone, Xenophon and Athene.
"Precisely." Severus watched Hermione tuck the picture into a convenient sleeve. She would, he knew, display it to everyone who took even the slightest interest at the banquet.
Hermione looked, to his eyes, as lovely as she always had. Maturity had refined her face, and there were only a few threads of silver in her soft hair. She was still slender, still graceful, and her eyes were as beautiful as ever. For the first time in his life, his own hair was being cooperative - instead of the usual scattered grey, he had acquired touches of silver at the temples that were broadening at a slow, dignified pace. Otherwise, so far as he could tell, he looked much the same - aside from the terrible indignity of a slightly thickened waistline, which his robes fortunately concealed.
"Stop that," Draco said, and Severus looked around in surprise.
"Gazing adoringly at your wife. If she's all pink like that when we go downstairs, everyone will think you two have been doing something all grandparents should long ago have stopped doing."
Hermione grinned impishly. "There's a thought. We've got at least twenty minutes."
"So we do." Severus looked at the clock, and then smirked at Draco. "We'll see you downstairs."
Draco blinked, and then blushed hard. "Er... right. I'll just... go then."
"Do." Severus shut the door pointedly behind his godson. He met his wife's eyes, and they both laughed. "You'd think he'd know better than to suggest that sort of thing by now."
"You would, wouldn't you?" Hermione smiled bewitchingly at him. "Now come over here and kiss me."
They were slightly late getting to the banquet. Fortunately, the letter and the picture of their new granddaughter proved to be an adequate excuse.
(really the end this time)