Epilogue: Just Desserts, or Canon is Fine if You Like That Sort of Thing

Concerned that he would hear about her new love interest from other sources, Hermione told Ronald Weasley about us the day after our meeting at the Ministry. She reported that he took it rather poorly, even though he had long since gotten over their broken engagement and was seeing someone new.

"Just how many times did he refer to me as a 'greasy git'?" I asked idly, not surprised in the least that Weasley would react to the news that way.

"Twice," Hermione admitted, and I decided that Weasley was not nearly as upset as she believed. I had expected at least ten "greasy gits" and "black bats", along with a few choice slurs on my parentage.

The remaining Weasleys were more charitable, which was generous considering how many years they'd expected Hermione to become a part of their family. Potter, surprisingly, was not terribly shocked by Hermione's news.

"I never thought I'd say this," he admitted to me later, "but you two actually suit each other in a weird way."

"Thank you, I think," I retorted dryly.

Potter grinned. "It's good, though. Hermione seems genuinely happy, and that's what counts."

"Of course."

"However…"

I steeled myself. "However?" I echoed cautiously.

"I'm an Auror, Severus. If I hear that you've so much as frowned at Hermione the wrong way, I'll have your arse in Azkaban before you can even think about picking up your wand. Got it?"

Potter was still grinning, but I had a feeling that his warning wasn't strictly humorous.

"Got it."

The wedding was small. Besides the Ministry official, there were only two guests and two parents, along with the bride and groom. As Hermione had initially wished, we were wed in her parents' garden and attended by Harry and Ginny Potter. When the three minute ceremony was finished, Martin Granger opened a bottle of champagne and the six of us – the Ministry official declining, saying that he needed to be off as he had season tickets to the Kenmare Kestrels – toasted the new union as well as each other.

Then we were off to America, along with my in-laws. Martin joked that he'd never heard of a newly married couple heading off on a honeymoon with in-laws in tow, but Lynette Granger's yearly visit to the EPL was due, and Hermione and I had decided that we might as well combine our honeymoon with her mother's need for a wizarding chaperone. We deliberately located ourselves on different floors at the same hotel, however; I'm sure that Hermione's parents had no wish to speculate on what was going on behind the door of an adjoining room, nor did the idea appeal to Hermione or me. As it turned out, we saw very little of the Grangers during our week in New York. Hermione and I had our agenda and Martin and Lynette had theirs, so the whole idea of traveling with in-laws was less bizarre than it first appeared.

While in New York, I admitted to my new wife that I'd previously been offered a job in the States and was prepared to accept it if our relationship hadn't worked out. Hermione regarded me curiously.

"You were interested in working at the EPL?"

"I thought it would be quite stimulating, yes."

She furrowed her brow, deep in thought. "I never thought I'd leave Britain, but if it's something you would really like to do, I'd be willing to consider it."

That caught me by surprise. "But what about your agenda to correct the social ills of British wizardry?"

Hermione shrugged. "It might be a losing battle, Severus. I don't know. Change is so slow."

I tilted her chin up so that our eyes met. "You are a Gryffindor, Hermione Granger-Snape. You do not run from a challenge."

She smiled impishly at me. "Does this mean that you're willing to help out at the Elf-Fest next month?"

I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach that had nothing to do with the fact that we were in a rapidly-descending lift in the Empire State Building.

"But my community service sentence is over," I said faintly.

"But I know you'd like to help me out, wouldn't you?"

I took one look at Hermione's wide brown eyes and innocent expression and knew that I was utterly, totally lost. I would be entertaining and empowering house-elves for the rest of my natural life.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Author's Note:

First, I have to thank my beta, Keladry Lupin, for cheering me on and finding all the missing commas.

Believe it or not, this started out as an angsty fic about Post-Traumatic Stress. Because I was depressing myself and getting absolutely nowhere, I gave up and went back to the romantic comedy genre which seems to be my natural inclination.

This story was my first attempt to link Severus with a younger Hermione, a change from my usual M.O. By the end, Hermione is twenty-three – and that's about as low as I can go!

I felt strongly that Severus had to get rid of some of the guilt and anger in order to move on, and that prompted the Prologue and his encounter with Lily and Albus. My intent was to show a Severus Snape that was a bit kinder and gentler as a result of that experience, but could still take great pleasure in slinging his sarcastic barbs hither and yon (whether aloud or simply in thought). There was the very real possibility, however, of Severus sliding out of character due to his 'transformation', and I hope I succeeded in avoiding that heinous pitfall.

I also thought it necessary for Severus and Hermione to take things rather slowly – hence the five year time frame. One of the reviewers put it best, calling it a 'long, slow slide into love'. It's almost like love has to sneak up on the two of them to stand a chance; given how intelligent they are, they'd otherwise spot it a mile off and throw up defenses that would take years and years to abolish. I had to fool them.

While I knew from the beginning that canon Ron and Hermione were destined for each other (I could just hear Ron telling his child one day that "the first time I met your Mum, she told me I had dirt on my nose"), I maintain that they're really not that well-suited. And I know that if you're reading this, you probably agree with me. My motto is 'Canon is fine if you like that sort of thing…'

Thank you all for reading and reviewing; believe me when I say it makes my day to discover that someone took the time to actually read something I wrote and remark favorably on it.

And by the way – I'm not making a cent off this, and the word 'lexicon' is to be found nowhere in this entire story, so a lawsuit would be really, really a bad idea…