Chapter 47 Epilogue

Hermione sat in front of the fireplace, staring into the flames and listening to Vivaldi on the Wizarding Wireless, a glass of untouched Firewhiskey on the table beside her. The students were gone, so she didn't even have prowling the halls for rule breakers to entertain her. And although she had poured herself a drink, she really didn't feel like drinking it.

She sat there brooding. It was hard to even remember what she did for entertainment before Severus invaded her life. Now, for the first time in many years, she felt . . . lonely. She had been fine with her own company for years, enjoyed it in fact. Now one over-emotional and love-struck wizard had thrown her off her game. He'd ruined her.

Hermione sighed. If it were this hard now, how much harder would it be years from now, when he was a fully adult wizard and she was turning into a crone. How would it be to watch him walk out of her life? She had made a mistake accepting Severus, but now . . . she couldn't bear the idea of letting him go for both their sakes. She was selfish, terribly selfish. She'd deal with him until she was no longer what he wanted, and then let him go. Maybe end her own life afterwards instead of dealing with the ache.

Hermione had never known love. She couldn't be sure about it. Until Severus, she had thought that she loved James Potter, but maybe . . . maybe it was just a mad infatuation that didn't let her see him for who he really was. He did go for Lily after all. It could be he just felt sorry for her.

Severus openly declared his love, the foolish young wizard. But, secretly, it was something Hermione treasured, even if she didn't return it. Everyone wanted to be loved after all, even snarky Potions mistresses too proud or too stupid to admit it to themselves.

She blinked at the flames, then started as she heard the door to her study slide up. She stood up and turned to see a smiling Severus standing in the opening, a carry-all in his pale hand.

"Hermione, I'm hooooome," he said, grinning at the witch.

Hermione couldn't help smiling in response before she caught herself, scowling fiercely.

"Couldn't you even spend a week away from me?" she griped, sitting back down in the chair. "I was enjoying the peace and quiet."

Severus let the wall down, dropped his carry-all and strode over to the chair she sat in, standing in front of her.

"No, I couldn't spend one more hour away from you," he said softly, "I missed you, witch."

Hermione blinked up at him. Did he just address her as "witch?"

Well, she addressed him as "wizard" a lot of the time. So turnabout was fair play.

"Besides, I have a gift for you," Severus said, reaching into his pocket and drawing out a black velvet box.

Hermione furrowed her brow at it.

"If that's an engagement ring, you can take it back to the store right now," she hissed at him.

"No. Not yet," he grinned at her. "Actually, I made it for you."

"What is it? I don't do jewelry, Severus. You've never seen me wear any gold or any expensive adornments. They're flashing, showy and a useless expenditure of money," she said, "meant only to show off wealth. I'm not wealthy."

"I think you'll like this," he said softly. "It only has a very small touch of gold for the setting of the stone itself. It had to be gold, because only gold would work," he explained, opening the box.

"I don't do diamonds either," Hermione snapped, eyeing the box as he opened it.

"It's not diamond," Severus said to her, lifting a pendant out of the box.

It was a thimble-sized green stone, with a small gold setting and a black leather thong attached to it. It wasn't a showy piece of jewelry by any means, but . . . for some reason, Hermione found she liked it.

She stood up and examined it.

"Is it jade?" the witch asked him.

"Ah no. It's not jade. I just made it green because I know you like green. You wouldn't like the other color. Too close to scarlet. Gryffindor color," Severus said evasively.

Hermione touched the stone and a feeling of well-being washed over her. She pulled her hand back.

"Is it charmed?" she asked the wizard, knowing how adept he was at spells.

"Kind of," he said, taking a deep breath. "Let me show you."

Severus put the box back into his pocket and took out a rectangular piece of grainy gray metal and set it down on the small table next to Hermione's Firewhiskey. Hermione watched silently, wondering what he was doing.

Severus rested the green stone on top of the metal. Hermione watched, her eyes rounding as the grey bar suddenly seemed to melt, flowing over the table before it coalesced, forming a bar of bright gold. Her eyes round with amazement, she looked at Severus.

There was only one thing that stone could be.

"A Philosopher's Stone?" she said to the young wizard incredulously.

Severus nodded, a slight smile on his face.

"Where did you get this?" Hermione hissed at him, picking up the necklace and staring at the stone in disbelief.

"I told you, I made it," he said again, his black eyes glistening as he looked at the witch he loved. "I made it for you, Hermione."

Hermione looked at Severus, shaking her head slowly.

"But only Nicholas Flamel knew how to make a Philosopher's stone, and he's dead," she said in a low voice. She couldn't believe this, but she had to believe it. The bar of gold was proof of the stone's validity.

"Well, let's just say I learned the recipe," Severus said softly. "I want you to wear it, Hermione. I want you to wear it, and wait for me."

Hermione blinked at him.

"Wait for you?" she said hollowly as Severus approached her, taking the necklace out of her hand and turning her, sliding the thong over her head, lifting her hair and placing it around her throat. Hermione felt power wash over her and a sense of well-being. Severus turned her back to face him.

"Yes, wait for me. This stone will slow your aging to about one year for every ten years that pass, Hermione. I can . . . grow up, catch up to you in years, then we can grow old together. Don't you see, Hermione . . . we can be together for the rest of our lives and you'll never have to worry about me leaving you. You'll be just as beautiful twenty years from now as you are today to me. Please . . . please say you'll wear it. Please say you'll wait for me," he breathed.

"You . . . you made this for me? But how? How . . . Severus?" she asked him, her voice low with disbelief.

"Well, I'm not going to tell you exactly how. Aspiring Potions masters have to keep some secrets," he grinned at her, "but I did have to get an ingredient from you. Quite a bit of it actually."

"What?" Hermione said, knowing she wasn't missing anything out of her stores lately.

"Urine," he said.

Hermione stared at him, then scowled blackly, pointing a finger at him accusingly.

"It was you!" she hissed at him. "You were the reason I was pissing like I'd sprung a leak!"

"Well, I had to get it somehow. It only was for a few days," he said lamely.

"Do you have any idea what I went through with Poppy trying to find out what the hell was wrong with me? And do you know what the fuck she told me after doing . . . doing all kinds of uncomfortable things to my body? That I needed to drink more water!" Hermione growled at him.

Severus tried his best to look repentant, but couldn't quite pull it off. He started to say he was sorry.

"Don't bother," Hermione said, throwing up her hands and dropping them, before grasping the stone and studying it. "No apology is better than an insincere one, and I'm sure you aren't the least bit sorry you created this stone for me."

"No, I'm not," Severus admitted, "it will give me what I want most in the world. You. Can't you see now how much I love you, Hermione? How much I want to be with you?"

Hermione looked at the young wizard. Gods, he had actually created a Philosopher's stone for her. She wondered if he had killed many people to do it? She didn't ask though. As she met his innocent, hopeful eyes, yes . . . yes . . . she really could see it.

Hermione nodded slowly, letting the stone drop back down.

"So, that means you'll wear it . . . you'll wait for me?" he asked her, trying not to become too excited and stay the way she preferred him.

Hermione gave him a wan smile.

"I suppose so," she said softly, "possibly you could use my continued youth to market a line of absolutely useless beauty products in the future and make an unconscionable amount of money."

"Yes!" Severus cried, his youthful exuberance once again rising to the fore because he calmed enough to pull the witch into his embrace and kiss her lovingly.

Their future was assured.

Later that night they retired to the bedroom and made love, the Philosopher stone around Hermione's neck as they did so. Later, when she was wrapped in a sleeping Severus' arms, the witch looked over toward the rose and was amazed to see two new branches and several more vibrant blue-black flowers.

"I'm going to have to pot that rose," she thought idly as Severus tightened his hold

For the next twenty years, Hermione wore the Philosopher's stone, with no one the wiser. Her continued youth was attributed to her "having good genes." Twenty years really wasn't that long after all.

Severus became a well-known Potions master, opened an Apothecary shop and wooed Hermione away from Hogwarts and the dungeons, making her a partner. Together they made a nice little living, not to mention earned quite a bit of residuals for their original potions work, Severus finally convincing Hermione to market her own discoveries once she got the business bug and began to enjoy making money and watching it grow, though she didn't spend much of it.

Severus grew tall, broad and rather dark and snarky under Hermione's influence. The saying "association brings assimilation" was quite true in this instance. But then again, he was a Potions master and he had to be both alert and aloof. His success made him a target of other lesser masters who wanted to know what he was up to. A number of attempts were made to break into their business. A number of corpses were removed from the premises as a result. Severus was still adept with spells and had some very nasty and fatal security hexes guarding their premises. The couple was soon left alone.

On Severus' fortieth birthday, Hermione removed the Philosopher's stone, returning it to Severus, who stored it in a vault at Gringotts. He was now two years older than Hermione, which suited the witch just fine.

She loved calling him "Old Man."

They married, had two children named Rose and Hugo, and lived out the rest of their lives in snarky happiness and love. Severus never once abandoned Hermione, just as he promised, loving her and only her for the rest of his long life.

But potions, children and the Philosopher's stone weren't the only legacy the couple left behind. Oh no.

When they moved to their first home, Neville Longbottom came by for a visit. He was still rather jumpy around Hermione but Severus was his friend, so he braved the scowling witch. Neville was a Herbologist. He saw a trestle of beautiful blue-black roses on the side of the house and asked Severus about them. He told Neville the story of how he had created the flower for Hermione so long ago. Neville made an offer that they go into business breeding the rose commercially. He was sure such a lovely rose would catch on with the public.

Neville was right. In less than thirty years the blue-black flower replaced the red rose as the standard representative flower of true love in the wizarding world.

It was fittingly called, "The Hermione Rose."


A/N: And that's all there is . . . there ain't no 'mo. lol. Thank you all so much for reading. Happy endings all around. Take care.