Being married to Hermione is not unlike not being married to Hermione. Their life doesn't change all that much. There are two distinct changes and those are her name and their bank accounts. Snape almost instantly gets used to the feeling of a ring on his finger. He gets used to coming home at a predictable time and owling ahead if he is going to be late. He is already used to her cooking, the smell of the detergent she prefers in his clothes, how she hums when she showers alone.

The one thing he can not get used to is the cat. It is small, it is gray, and she adores it. It isn't even practical, like an owl. It serves no useful function except to steal all of Hermione's affection away from him. She brings it home one night – a child had been giving them away from a cardboard box. She says she is rescuing it. What can he do?

"We should call him Wolfsbane," she says. "He looks like a little silver werewolf."

"Why not just call him Remus?" Snape mutters.

But Hermione loves her cat. It sleeps at the foot of their bed, creeping north all night long until Snape wakes up with the beast sleeping on his head. During the day, it purrs and wraps itself around Snape's legs, leaving fur on his black trousers. It laps at his cereal when he turns away; it pads across all of the counters.

"Unhygienic," Snape complains.

"So precious," Hermione coos, rewarding it for its poor behavior.

There have been other sacrifices, of course. The flat is already equipped with electricity, and Hermione insists on getting a telephone installed so that she can talk to her parents easily. Snape has a hard time getting used to the intrusive, jangling ringing of the horrible device. He'd made the mistake of answering it once while she was out and the awkward conversation with Hermione's father that resulted convinced him to never touch the telephone again.

"I don't understand why you hold on to the Muggle world so tightly," he says on the day that she starts subscribing to both the Prophet and the Muggle newspaper.

"It's part of me," she says. "You're a half-blood, you know, it wouldn't hurt you to learn a little something about this culture."

"I am not proud of my father," he says, tossing the Prophet onto the counter and locking himself in the lab for the rest of the day. She lets him alone and he gets hardly any work done. She finally comes in with a meal for him and finds him sitting quietly in the dark.

"I'm sorry," she says, touching his shoulder. He touches her hand and feels the ring there. She is the one thing in life that he has done correctly.

"No need for apologies, Mrs. Snape," he says, kindly. He brings the food out into the kitchen and they eat it together. The cat mews pitifully for scraps and Snape, in a rare mood, indulges him with bits of fish and a dab of butter.

Snape knows that this is probably as normal as they will ever be. While Hermione has acquaintances from work, she has few friends. She will not be able to renew the sort of closeness she once had with Harry, with Ron, even with Ginny. But Snape is used to being alone and he knows that if Hermione can be happy with just him, he can be happy with just her.

The Snape's against the world, so to speak.

On the weekends, when there is no work to be done at home, no potions to be sent out, they travel. At first, they take day trips. Hermione has never seen Stonehenge, so he takes her and explains this history of one of the earliest wizarding societies. They go the coast on warm days and visit museums on dreary days full of rain. Hermione forces him to venture out into heavily populated Muggle areas and they do this until he is comfortable in either culture. Then they venture further – France, Spain, Switzerland. They travel well together.

Six years into their marriage, Hermione loses her father. It is sudden and unexpected. Mr. Granger has a heart attack and the Muggle doctors assure Hermione that it was quick if not painless.

"He did not suffer much," the doctor says. This does not console Mrs. Granger at all, and Snape watches Hermione carefully. He sees what she was before – empty. She does not talk to him when they leave the hospital. She drives her mother's car and Snape sits in the back, his long legs up, seemingly, around his ears. He does not complain. Mrs. Granger weeps silently, pressing Snape's handkerchief to her face. When they get back to the house, Mrs. Granger takes Snape's arm and lets him lead her into the house. Hermione follows solemnly, holding a paper bag containing her father's clothes, his wallet, his watch, and a plastic comb. Snape can hear the bag crinkle with each step.

Inside, Hermione puts her mother to bed with a glass of sherry.

"I'm going to stay," Hermione says, closing her mother's door softly. "Maybe for a few days."

"I'll stay, too," he says.

"Severus, I need you to go feed the cat, I need you to owl my work and let them know I'll be out for a few days," she says. "You're already behind on your latest shipment. I'll be fine."

"I'll be back in the morning," he assures her, reluctant to go.

The cat is fed. The owl is sent. The potions are made – or at least started. Snape lays in bed with all of the lights – electric and natural – out. He is trying to remember, but cannot, the last time he and Hermione spent the night apart. It was definitely before the wedding. He doesn't sleep much and goes back over to the house too early. Mrs. Granger sits at the kitchen table in her robe with a cup of cold tea and he can hear that Hermione is in the shower.

"Sit down, Severus," Mrs. Granger says. He sits across from her slowly and she reaches out and takes his hand. She has warmed to him considerably over the years. She can see that he loves Hermione and that he doesn't let Hermione boss him around, which is also important. He holds her hand until they hear the shower turn off and Hermione comes into the kitchen in a white robe, drying her hair with a towel.

Hermione shows no surprise at the sight of her husband. She looks tired when she sits near her mother. In her hand she has her wooden hair brush and some dark, elastic bands. Her mother takes these and brushes out her daughter's hair – she begins to plait it as if Hermione were still a very little girl. When Hermione sits, Snape can see the softest swell of her stomach – the very first evidence of the child within.

They have not yet informed Mrs. Granger of the impending birth. It is still several months away, after all, but Snape can now see that Mrs. Granger already knows. Hermione's mother has figured it out and is being pulled between two painful extremes: gleeful and desolate.

"I've made an appointment at the funeral home," Hermione says, when her hair has been braided. "I've got to get ready if I'm going to make it on time."

"We'll all go," Mrs. Granger says, rising. "You too, Severus."

"Of course," Snape says. He is curious, despite himself, to see how the Muggles deal with death. This time, Mrs. Granger drives and Hermione rides in the back seat with her eyes closed to hold in her tears. Every other block, Snape reaches back to touch her knee reassuringly. This seems only to fuel her despair but he cannot stop.

His mind wanders as they speak to the funeral director. Snape eyes the caskets warily but the Granger women are practical and choose cremation. They choose an urn and an hour for the service set for tomorrow. Snape is glad to leave the dusty mortuary.

Hermione spends the rest of the day on the telephone informing family and friends of this sudden tragedy. It is tedious, dreary work, this death. Mrs. Granger takes to her bed. Snape brings his wife tea, sandwiches, sticks of carrots, bread and jam. She is ravenous, always.

"I'll stay," Snape offers again, but she sends him home. He fails to sleep soundly again and his tossing and turning disturbs the cat. Even Wolfsbane abandons him.

At the memorial service, he spends the day shaking the hand of strangers. He is tall and dark and no one knows why, exactly, he is there until Hermione introduces him. Perhaps it is his own fault for wanting a small wedding – none of these people had been invited.

All these strangers follow them to Mrs. Granger's house with pots and dishes of food. Snape helps Hermione warm and serve it and when she is tired, he makes her excuses for her and puts her to bed.

He cleans up alone.

Mrs. Granger comes down later in her bathrobe again.

"I'll send Hermione home in the morning, my dear," she says.

"You shouldn't have to be alone," he says. "I am used to it." He is not any longer, but he can remember if he tries.

"Still," she says. "In the morning."

He kisses Mrs. Granger on the cheek and she pats his face a few times. Her wedding ring is hard against his cheekbone. There was a time, not so long ago, when he would have been lost in such a situation – completely unable to empathize but now he feels sharp pangs of sadness on Mrs. Granger's behalf. To lose a spouse seems unthinkable, intolerable.

He kisses his wife before he leaves but she doesn't stir.

She comes home the next morning, as promised. She brings leftovers and he helps her put them in the refrigerator.

"Hi," she says, smiling at him.

"Hello," he says as she takes his hand. "How are you?"

"A little sad," she says. "A lot sad, actually."

"That's all right," he tells her, knowing it's better for her to feel sad now than to allow the sadness to crush her as before.

"I'm going to change – to go to work," she says.

"I'll meet you for lunch," he says and she nods.

"I'd like that," she says.

They meet at the deli near her offices that they both like. He orders for her while she sits in the sun. He buys her something sweet on a whim while he watches her. She is not beautiful like the women on the magazines in the nearby newsstand, but she is pretty and her pregnancy is beginning to suit her. She eats her treat first.

"I feel bad," she says.


"I miss my father, but still, after all these years, I miss Harry and Ron more," she admits. He considers this for a while.

"I think," he says, "We are meant to lose our parents. It is harder, much harder, to lose our peers."

She nods. She can buy this; allow this bring her comfort.

"Thank you," she says. They eat, and she rests her feet on his knees. He loves being married to her – he loves that she is not ever ashamed of him. "I've got to get back," she says.

"I'll walk you," he says. When he kisses her goodbye, he rests his hand on the mole hill of her abdomen. It is solid under his fingers.

He will never leave her.

Oh, there will be times, of course, when he wants to. She will lose her mother, later, and take it much harder than her father's death. She will mope and wilt and ignore the children and he will want to give up. There will be the birth of their third child, a surprise, the same year their eldest goes off to Hogwarts. It will be a girl she will come out with a twisted foot. She will always walk with a limp and Hermione will blame herself. He will want to leave her then, but he will not. There will be other smaller fights; there will be nights on the couch and screaming battles and broken dishes and feuds that go on for days.

There will be the unfortunate and humiliating feeling of their second child being sorted into Hufflepuff. Neither will like that.

But Snape does not know all of this as he walks away from her office building, back toward Diagon Alley where he can safely apparate into the living room of their flat. All he knows is that he has a young wife, the early bloom of a new family, a fully stocked lab, and all the time in the world to be happy.

And he will be happy.

So will she.

That's the end! The very end. Thanks for reading.