Disclaimer: See Chapter 1

A/N: All praise and much thanks to my betas, Alienor and Septentrion, for their kind words, hard work and input.

The world around her was dissolving into a swirl of colour, creating the sensation of flying backwards very fast. Hermione's eardrums felt like they were going to burst under the pressure as an icy-cold wind whipped against her face, robbing her of her breath. There was a moment of blind panic when she feared she might lose consciousness—or worse, then the ground was rushing up under her feet again, and she had to stagger to retain her balance. She was back in the lane. Gasping for breath, Hermione grabbed hold of a nearby tree trunk, fighting down the nausea as she tried to orientate herself. All she knew for sure was that it was dark. But at least the moon was out, helpfully lighting the way as she cautiously approached the entrance to the Burrow.

Judging by the noise coming from the house, the party was still going strong. Hermione sighed with relief; the Chrononavigator had done its job. Warily, she hung back a little longer while she made doubly sure that there was no one else around outside.

A sudden flash of light near the window made her choke back a gasp of surprise. What the...? She watched as a cloaked and hooded figure stepped out of the shadows, his features briefly highlighted by the moonlight before he Disapparated. Mundungus? What was he doing skulking about the place at his hour? She shrugged. There was no time to worry about that now. On tip-toe, Hermione approached the same window and peeped inside. There was no sign of her younger self, but there was Harry. Oh, God, Harry! He looked so young. And Ron, holding Lavender's hand and smiling. Ron, before he'd started to lose his hair. Ron, looking happy.

As she stood there, transfixed by the scene, it occurred to Hermione that the persistent urge to be close to Ron wasn't tugging at her. The spell had lifted, or rather, it had yet to be cast. Hermione momentarily closed her eyes and gave a small prayer of thanks; there was still time to stop the disaster from happening.

She was still marvelling at her new found freedom when a soft pop announced someone else's arrival. Hermione leapt back into the shadows. Luna. If memory served, she was returning from the apothecary's. So, that must mean her younger self was asleep upstairs, and it would not be long before Ginny and Luna started brewing. Hermione decided it was time to take the Invisibility Potion and go inside. But before that, she took out her wand and Banished the Chrononavigator.

Ooh... Peppermint. A warmth spread through her body as the potion took effect. Hermione watched her hands, waiting until they had faded clean away before walking around to the back of the house. Glancing through the kitchen window, Hermione checked once more that the coast was clear before quickly opening the back door and slipping inside. It closed behind her with a loud click, which made her jump, but luckily, nobody was around to hear her squeak. Heart beating furiously, Hermione approached the door that led to the rest of the house, straining her ears for the sound of footsteps or voices on the other side. Hearing nothing, she slowly opened the door a crack and checked that no one was there before stepping into the hallway.

The sound of a heated argument coming from the living room made her pause a moment out of sheer curiosity. Then the door flew open, and Hermione flattened herself against the wall just in time before Molly Weasley stormed past, muttering something under her breath. She could hear Ron and Harry yelling now, and, occasionally, Lavender's voice butting in, trying to calm things between them. They were talking about her, Hermione quickly realised, and it wasn't hard to guess what about.

'I told you to tell her yourself, didn't I? How did you expect her to react?'

'Have you any idea how much this hurts?'

'Oh, Ron...'

'Think yourself lucky. Now go and apologise, you twat.'

Hermione smiled wickedly to herself. It was a pity, really, she hadn't cast a more permanently damaging spell. It might have saved her a lot of trouble. Still, there didn't seem much point hanging around to listen to Ron whingeing; she'd had enough of that to last her a lifetime. Turning her back on her friends and their woes, Hermione made her way up the stairs.

Up on the first-floor landing, Hermione remembered to avoid the creakiest of the floorboards as she inched towards Ginny's bedroom. Pressing her ear against the door, Hermione tried to make out the muffled voices coming from the other side. Someone giggled.

'I don't see the point in leaving it to chance. I know exactly what I want. Your turn.'

A pause.

'A prince amongst wizards, noble and pure,
For House and his kin will hardship endure,
Heart of a dragon, masterful, strong,
Umm... and who'll... put up with my weirdness.'

'Oh, Luna. Please, don't ever change.'

Downstairs, the front door slammed, the resulting current of air making the bedroom door rattle on its hinges and open with a soft whoosh. It was time. Hermione stepped quickly over the threshold and stood to the side as Ginny came to investigate. While the other girls' attention was diverted, Hermione uncorked the phial of dragon bile and poured it into the cauldron.

'Strange...' said Ginny. 'Must have been the wind, I suppose... Oh, well... Ready?'

Hermione followed Ginny's gaze and was momentarily transfixed by the sight of her younger self. Was I ever that young and... thin? She shook herself, cast the shielding charm and crouched down at the side of the bed. She watched as young Hermione picked up the forget-me-nots.

'Brave as a lion with the heart of a lamb,
Willing to take me for all that I am.
A friend and a lover with a mind just as smart,
To love and to cherish 'til death do us part.'

Oh, you silly, silly girl. If only you knew... Hermione screwed her eyes closed and covered her ears, bracing herself for the inevitable.

The explosion shook the room. Hermione lifted her head warily and slowly surveyed the devastation; it was just as she remembered it from before. There was her other self, out cold, lying a few feet away. Reaching out, Hermione touched her, only to see her hand disappear into the unconscious body. She had time to gasp in surprise before she felt herself being pulled down a dark tunnel. Her last thoughts were of Severus. He's alive. He's alive! And then, nothing...

Blinking against the sunlight, Hermione opened one eye and groaned. Nope, not her bed then. The floor... somewhere. That has to be the most weird dream I've ever had, she thought, moving her hand to push herself into a sitting position.

'Ohhh... God' she moaned, shielding her eyes. 'What the hell was in that punch?'

She pressed her temples with her fingers as the room lurched, struggling to remember the previous evening's events. There had been a party; she could remember that much... Ginny and Luna... 'Oh, my God.' Hermione pressed the palms of her hands to her head and turned it to the left, only to discover her friends passed out on the floor beside her. She remembered now. The explosion.

Gingerly, Hermione crawled towards the still forms of the other two girls, trying to avoid the red goo that was liberally splattered over the carpet—and the walls, the furniture and... she touched her hair, ew, them. Please let them be alive. Please let them be okay... Please...

Hermione reached one hand out towards Ginny's neck to check for a pulse, just as her red-headed friend twitched and opened her eyes. Hermione breathed a huge sigh of relief. She turned her attention to Luna, who snored on cue, but showed little sign of waking up just yet.

'Wha-what happened?' Ginny asked a little croakily.

'The cauldron exploded. Don't you remember?'

'Vaguely,' Ginny replied, grimacing as she shook a dead leg, trying to ease the pins and needles.

'All right... Let's recap...'

'Ginny?' Knock-knock. 'Are you coming down for breakfast? It's getting late.'

'Come in, Harry,' Ginny called. 'Just do it quietly.'

Harry stuck his head round the door. 'What the hell happened? Are you three all right?'

'Think so,' Hermione said, massaging her temples. 'But my head is splitting. I don't suppose you know if George put some hallucinogenic drugs in that punch, do you?'

Harry looked at her blankly.

'Could be worse,' said Luna, sitting up and picking some of the red goo out of her hair.

'I think I've got some Headache Potion here somewhere.' Ginny rummaged around in her sock drawer. 'We're in luck,' she said triumphantly. 'Here you go, girls.' She handed them a phial each.

'What the fuck—?'

Hermione scowled at the sight of Ron in the doorway. 'What do you want?'

'I-um, I came to apologise,' Ron mumbled. 'I should have told you sooner. I'm sorry.'

'Yes, you should have.' Hermione palmed her wand and started clearing up the mess on her clothes. Snatches of the dream she'd had came to her mind—her and Ron unhappily married. A houseful of children. She shuddered. 'But it's probably for the best. I hope you and Lavender will be very happy.'

'Do you mean that?'

'Yes, Ron, I do.' Hermione smiled up at her old friend and held her hand out. 'Mates?'

Ron grinned and pulled Hermione to her feet. 'Yeah,' he said. 'Mates. Now, how about some breakfast? I'm starving.'

King's Cross, nineteen years later...

Hugo Weasley was hoarse from shouting his goodbyes as Rose and his twin brothers waved from the rapidly disappearing Hogwarts Express. He had run alongside the train almost to the end of the platform and was now clutching his knees, panting from the exertion. He wished he was going with them; he'd never been on a proper train, and it would be another two years before he would be old enough to go to Hogwarts.

Hugo turned and peered through the smoke and steam. All around him he could hear the pops of Disapparition as those adults without additional children vanished from the station. It must be funny, he thought, not to have any brothers or sisters. It was going to be very quiet with just the five of them at home. And now he was the oldest; that was going to be really weird. Hugo glanced down the platform to where Uncle Harry, Aunty Ginny, Dad and Aunty Hermione were standing, chatting to one another. He saw Uncle Harry nod briefly to a pale blond man and a very thin blonde lady, who vanished shortly afterwards.

Dad said something and the other three laughed. Hugo grinned. It looked like they were all in a good mood. If he played his cards right, there might be an ice-cream in it for him. He stuffed his hands in his trouser pockets and made his way slowly towards the barrier.

'Blimey,' said Ginny. 'I know there's a saying that you can never be too rich or too thin, but Draco's wife looks like a wraith.'

Hermione shivered, feeling like someone had walked over her grave. 'Positively anorexic.'

'Indeed.' Ginny patted her matronly stomach. 'I know I could do with losing a few pounds, but I'd hate to look like that.'

'You look fine,' Hermione said. 'Oh, and while I remember, I had a postcard from Luna this morning.'

'Oh, yes? How is she?' Ginny asked. 'Lily, come here, please.' She reached for her daughter's hand.

'Fine as far as I can tell,' Hermione replied. 'She's met a fellow believer in the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, and they're hot on the trail in Latvia.'

Ginny laughed. 'So it looks like Luna may have finally found her soulmate.'

'It would be nice for her, wouldn't it?' Hermione glanced up the platform, watching the small figure of Hugo ambling towards them.

'Do you want a lift?' Ron asked.

'No, it's all right, thanks.' One white-knuckle ride through the streets of London was enough for one day. 'But, I've got the rest of the day off; I could take Hugo off Lavender's hands for the afternoon, if you like.'

'Are you sure?' Ron asked. 'I'm sure she'd only be too happy.'

'I wouldn't offer otherwise.' Hermione smiled at her friend. 'You know he's my favourite godson.'

Ron grinned back. 'You're really good with kids, Hermione. It's a shame—'

'Now don't start,' Hermione interrupted. She was very fond of all her friends' children, and it was nice to borrow them from time to time—it was also nice to return them to their parents after a few hours of their entertaining company and go back to her flat. Alone.

Ron waited for Hugo to catch up before saying his goodbyes and leaving for work. Harry lifted a squealing Lily onto his shoulders and followed through the barrier soon after.

'Can you do lunch tomorrow?' Hermione asked Ginny.

'Sure.' Ginny smiled at her nephew and ruffled his hair—much to Hugo's annoyance. 'That would be lovely. Meet you in the Leaky?'

'Great. Twelve-thirty suit you? We can decide where to eat from there.'

'Sounds fine. See you tomorrow, then.'

Hermione watched her friend disappear in the direction of Muggle King's Cross. 'Right then, Hugo,' she said. 'What's it going to be? Bus or Tube?'

Hugo's face lit up in delight. 'Tube!'

It looked like he was going to get a train ride today, after all.

Hermione wiped the ice-cream off Hugo's mouth with a paper hanky in spite of his protestations that he could do it himself. She wasn't going to take the risk of getting it on her business robes while she Apparated them to Ron and Lavender's home. The Floo was out of the question; knowing the state of Ron's chimney, she'd be covered in soot. It was an undignified mode of transport at the best of times, anyway, and as a possible future member of the Wizengamot, Hermione could not afford to be seen looking anything other than immaculate—you never knew when there was a photographer lurking around the corner.

Arriving at the house, Hugo rushed through the back door, eager to tell his mother about his afternoon in Muggle London and the enormous ice-cream he'd had all to himself.

Lavender struggled out of her chair and waddled to greet them. 'Thanks for taking him, Hermione. But there was no need to spoil him so much.'

'Nonsense,' Hermione replied with a dismissive wave. 'He's always a pleasure to be with, and besides you needed the break. Sit down, and I'll make us some tea.'

Gratefully, Lavender eased herself back into her chair and stuffed a cushion behind her lower back. 'I know Ron and I both wanted to go for an even ten, but I think this is going to be the last.' She patted her swollen belly affectionately. 'Octavia, darling, that's a lovely drawing of Daddy on his broom, but do it on some parchment, not the walls, will you? There's a dear.'

'If you don't mind me saying so, Lav...' Hermione frowned with concern as she spooned some leaves into the tea-pot, 'you don't look so well on this one.'

Lavender grimaced as she tried to get comfortable. 'No, you're right. I suppose it must be my age, but this one is really taking it out of me. I think I need to persuade Ron to call it a day.'

Tempting though it would have been to say, 'I think you need to persuade Ron to visit a vasectomy clinic,' Hermione held her tongue. This was probably just as well since the Floo activated at that moment, and Molly Weasley stepped into the kitchen.

'Lavender, have—' She stopped short. 'Hermione! How lovely to see you, my dear. It's been ages since we've seen you at the Burrow.'

'Hello, Molly,' Hermione replied. 'I know, and I'm sorry. But I've been so busy lately—'

'You work yourself much too hard,' Molly said, wagging a finger. 'You need to get out and socialise more—after all, you're not getting any younger.'

'Molly,' Lavender admonished. 'Leave Hermione alone. She enjoys her work. Not everyone is cut out to be a wife and mother.'

'Thank you, Lavender.' Hermione smiled, pouring the tea. 'But there's no need to defend me. Molly's quite right; I should get out more.' Her friends were well-meaning, she knew. They just didn't like seeing her on her own when they were all paired off and raising a brood of children apiece. Lavender was the only one who understood that she had never met anyone she wanted to share her life with—at least, not yet.

Molly huffed. 'Well, anyway, the reason I called round is this.' She brandished a copy of the Evening Prophet. 'Look! Severus Snape is alive!'

Hermione had an overwhelming sense of déjà-vu. 'But that's not possible. I saw him... with my own eyes, I saw him.' She picked up the paper and looked at the photograph. It was unmistakably him—she'd recognise that nose anywhere. Snape stared back at her, looked her up and down and smirked.

'It can't be him...' Hermione whispered, still not believing what her eyes were telling her.

'But it is,' said Molly. 'Minerva called just before I came over, and she's spoken to him. It's not an imposter; she assures me.'

Hermione read the article and shook her head. 'Does she know what happened? He's not giving anything away here, is he?'

'No,' Molly replied. 'But no doubt we'll find out tonight. Minerva and Kingsley are holding a small party for him at the Ministry—you're invited, of course.'

'Damn,' said Hermione. 'I can't make it, but please, pass on my regards.'

'I will,' said Molly. 'It's a shame you can't come. He's really made quite a name for himself by all accounts—and some money, too, judging by the cut of those robes. He's really quite eligible—'

Lavender and Hermione burst out laughing. 'Oh, Molly,' said Hermione. 'You're never going to give up, are you?'

Molly sighed. 'I just want to see you happy, Hermione. That's all.'

Hermione turned down the gas as the spaghetti sauce came to the boil, stirring with the same concentration as she would for the most delicate of potions. She had come to view cooking as a form of relaxation from the stress that was her job, and even though Hermione cooked for one most of the time, she saw no reason to let it spoil the pleasure of eating good food.

She let it simmer for a moment before putting the water on for the pasta and uncorking a bottle of Merlot. Pouring herself a glass, Hermione gazed out of the window over her small, terraced garden with its pots of herbs and potions ingredients. One day, she thought, she'd have a proper garden and maybe even a dog.

It had been a long week. Having been embroiled in a lengthy, but successful, court appeal to reduce Lucius Malfoy's sentence and grant him parole, Hermione was looking forward to a well-earned weekend of relaxation. She was quite rightly proud of her performance: her legal argument had impressed the Wizengamot—enough hopefully for them to consider her as a suitable candidate when the next vacancy came up. But even more than that, Hermione felt a great sense of personal achievement in that she had done something positive to put the past to rest. After all, the world had moved on; the man had served his time, and despite his failed attempt at blackmailing the Minister for Magic, Malfoy was entitled to the same justice as everyone else.

She sighed and sipped from her glass. Not bad. A pity that she had no one to share it with or talk to about her success, but Hermione was used to her own company and refused to get maudlin about it. For in spite of her friends' attempts at matchmaking over the years, and a couple of ill-fated short-term relationships, she'd never met anyone that was special enough to allow into her life. And, being Hermione, she refused to settle for second best.

A sharp rap on the front door shook Hermione out of her reverie. Wondering who it could be at such a late hour, Hermione put her glass down and went to answer it.

Severus Snape was standing on her doorstep. 'Good evening, Miss Granger. Have I come at an inconvenient time?'

'Prof-Mr Snape!' Hermione could scarcely believe her eyes. 'Come in. Please.'

Severus followed her into the hallway. 'I apologise for calling on you unannounced, but I only received my official pardon today, and my movements were restricted before that. I took the chance that you would be at home.'

Hermione laughed. 'I'm rarely anywhere else in the evening. I was just making dinner.' She led the way to the kitchen. 'Please. Take a seat. Would you like a glass of wine? I've just opened a bottle.'

'If it is no bother—'

'No bother at all.'

'Then thank you. That would be most kind.'

Hermione handed him a glass and checked the sauce. 'So, what brings you here?'

Severus sat back in the chair and took a sip. 'Minerva has been telling me about her star pupil's progress. I hear you are likely to be elected to the Wizengamot in the not too distant future.'

Hermione raised her eyebrows. 'That remains to be seen.'

Severus smirked. 'It pleased me greatly to learn that one of the brightest witches it was ever my privilege to teach has accomplished so much.'

Hermione felt herself blushing at the compliment. 'Mr Snape—'

'Severus, please.'

'Severus.' The name seemed oddly familiar on her tongue. 'Would you like to stay for dinner? I've made far too much sauce as usual and—'

'I would like that... Hermione.' He sniffed. 'Is that Spaghetti Carbonara?'

'Yes,' Hermione replied in surprise. 'It's become a sort of staple sauce for me. How did you know?'

'It is... a favourite dish of mine.'

Slightly disconcerted, Hermione unwrapped a lettuce and started tearing some leaves into a salad bowl. 'I'm glad you came, actually, seeing as I couldn't make it to the reception that was held in your honour—'

Severus harrumphed. 'You didn't miss anything. Bloody sycophants.'

Hermione giggled as she took the oil and vinegar out of the cupboard to make the vinaigrette. 'But still, I would have gone, if only to thank you for everything you did for us during the war, keeping us safe all those years...'

'I did what I had to do.'

Hermione did not push him further. She sighed, gathering her nerve. 'There is one other thing I wanted to say, though... All these years, I have lived with the guilt that I did nothing to help you... in the Shrieking Shack, I mean. I want to apologise. I should have done something.'

'Oh, but you did.'


Severus rubbed his chin thoughtfully. 'I wasn't sure what I would find when I returned home, or the welcome I would receive. I expected you would be married...' He dropped his gaze to the floor. 'I did not know whether it would be better to leave sleeping dogs lie—at least until I'd ascertained your circumstances... but, now that I have seen for myself... and I owe you my life...'

'Sorry, you've lost me.' Hermione turned the gas off, frowning uncertainly. 'I don't understand—'

'You will.' Severus took a deep breath. 'I modified your memories, you see—'

'You did WHAT?' Hermione cried. 'When?' To her horror, Severus drew his wand. 'Wha-what are you doing?'

'I've no intention of harming you, Hermione. Trust me, please. Just close your eyes.'

And trust him she did. As the barriers fell, and the memories came tumbling back, Hermione grabbed the back of a chair and sat down heavily. Groaning, she put her head in her hands. 'Make it stop! Make it stop!'

'What do you remember?'

'Everything, Severus,' Hermione whispered, wiping the tears from her eyes. 'I remember... everything.'

Raising her head from her hands, Hermione risked a glance at the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago and knew instinctively that nothing had changed. Severus silently offered her a handkerchief; she took it and walked over to the window to blow her nose.

'All these years... all those strange dreams... there were times when I thought I was going mad... Why now, Severus? Why come back now?'

Severus got up and stood beside her. 'Because I made you a promise. Because I owed you my life. Because... as much as I tried to forget you, there has been no one... nothing that ever came close to my—our... first time.'

It took a moment for that to sink in. 'What?' Hermione clamped a hand over her mouth as she started to giggle. 'I was... That was your first time? You never said anything.'

'I thought you'd worked it out for yourself,' he mumbled, blushing. 'You said something about first times always being a bit clumsy, as I recall.'

'I meant the first time with a new partner—not the first time.'

He glared at her. 'Did you expect me to admit to being a thirty-eight-year-old-virgin? I felt out of my depth as it was.' Sighing, he reached inside the neck of his robes and pulled out the chain that was around his neck. 'Anyway, do you remember this?'

Smiling, Hermione took a step closer to him. 'You still have the cauldron after all this time?'

'I have never taken it off.' With his thumb and forefinger, Severus carefully extracted the lock of hair that was inside it. 'Before I left, I took this while you were sleeping. Up until last month, I resisted the temptation, but I finally asked someone to take Polyjuice... and, well, when I saw 'you' in the flesh, I knew that everything I had worked for, all the wealth I had accumulated amounted to a grand total of nothing. All the true happiness I have ever known... I left it behind in Ireland. That is why I came back.' Unthinkingly, Severus touched her face. He leapt back with a yelp when she gave him a good, hard slap.

'Fuck, that hurt. What was that for?'

'That,' Hermione said, 'was for leaving me for nineteen years.' She took a determined step towards him. Severus warily took a step back and found himself up against the wall. 'And this...' Hermione slid her hands over his chest and around his neck. '...is for coming back.' Pulling Severus' head down towards her, Hermione pressed her lips to his and kissed him until the necessity for oxygen broke them apart.

'Hermione,' Severus panted. 'Oh, gods, I've missed you.'

'Off,' she demanded, yanking at his robe.

'Don't be so—ouch. Careful, that cost me a fortune—'

'Don't care,' Hermione said, reaching for her wand and shredding the offending garment.

'Hermione, the window... Gods, you little witch... oh, fuck.' Severus felt his knees buckle as Hermione put her hands in his pants and squeezed his cock.

'I want you now,' she growled as they both slid to the floor.

'Don't be so bloody bossy. Ow, my back. For fuck's sake, woman, I'm nearly sixty.'

'What part of "I want you now" do you not understand?' Hermione summarily disposed of his underwear before making short work of her own clothes and straddling him.

'Don't... I won't... last—'

She sighed. 'Story of my life.'

'No, don't... Oh, Hermione... please...'


'Don't... stop...'

Severus was lying on the kitchen floor with a very soppy grin on his face.

'Well, old man,' said Hermione, prodding him in the ribs. 'I'm waiting...'

'Less of the old.' He grabbed her wrist and kissed it. 'I'll have you know I'm in my prime, but do you think we could take this to your bedroom? A comfy bed would be nice...'

Hermione grinned. 'Poor baby. Shall I Apparate us?'

He yawned. 'Good idea.'

Hermione was afraid to fall asleep in case the wizard lying by her side vanished from her life as abruptly as he'd managed to elbow his way back into it. A Tracking Charm would be too obvious, she thought. He'd spot it immediately. Perhaps I should dig Damelza's book out and see if there's a section on keeping tabs on your wizard. Hermione shook her head, amazed at how much life had changed in the space of a few hours. He looks so peaceful, she thought, drinking in the sight of her... beloved's features.


Hermione turned the concept around in her head. Yes, an apt and accurate description, she decided, smiling to herself.

It had been a long time since Hermione had allowed someone to sleep in her bed; she'd never really liked sharing—it has always felt like an intrusion, somehow. Oddly, that feeling now made a peculiar sort of sense: her mind may have forgotten Severus, but her heart had not—and neither had her body, for that matter. Snoring softly next to her, he looked like he belonged there—like he'd always been there. Hermione hoped with all her heart that his feelings really hadn't changed, either. He had certainly been as intense and passionate as she remembered, although his technique had dramatically improved in nineteen years. She was still aching and sore as a result—though in a nice, I've-been-well-and-truly-shagged-into-the-mattress sort of way. She decided she would have to quiz him about the where and the how later—amongst other things.

Severus had told her some incredible stories between bouts of fabulous sex of his travels and work in Eastern Europe. An Invisibility Potion... That was truly amazing. No wonder he was loaded. And Lily... an out of body experience? The mind boggled. Nineteen years—it had seemed like such a waste—she still hadn't completely forgiven him for leaving her for so long, although she had to agree that it probably hadn't been the right time for them to be together then. If she had gone with him, how long would it have taken before she'd got bored, missed her friends and family, or wanted to pursue her own ambitions? As it was, they had followed their own paths, done what they had wanted to do and now, here they were. Still... she wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily... Hermione's stomach grumbled.

'I can hear your thoughts from here.'

'That was my stomach, actually,' she replied. 'I was hungry before. Now, after all that humping, I'm absolutely ravenous.'

'Indeed?' He grinned smugly. 'You need to keep your strength up. The sauce did not spoil, I believe.'

'It's a bit late for spaghetti, don't you think?' Hermione yawned, settling back onto the pillow. 'And I'm not sure if I can walk as far as the kitchen... Mm... thirsty, though.'

'How about a cup of tea?'

She laughed. 'Any chance of a biscuit... or two?'

'Depends,' he said, leaning over to kiss her. 'I don't suppose you have any dark chocolate ones?'

'As a matter of fact, I do.' She kissed him back. 'I went off milk chocolate digestives years ago.'

War Heroes Wed in Secret Ceremony.

Attended by only their closest friends and family, debonair, wealthy entrepreneur, Severus Snape, 58 (Order if Merlin, First Class) married bookish spinster and Wizengamot member, Hermione Granger, 38, in a Civil Ceremony. The bride, wearing a simple, pale-blue robe, carried a posy of Forget-me-nots (pictures, page 3). It is believed the happy couple are spending their honeymoon in Ireland...

Gazing out to sea, Hermione leaned back against Severus as he wrapped his arms around her waist. 'I've always loved this place.' She sighed contentedly. 'Particularly at this time of day.'

'Indeed, it is very beautiful. Like my wife.'

Hermione laughed. 'That still sounds strange... I think we managed to shock just about everyone by getting married so quickly.'

'Hmm.' Severus placed his chin on top of her head. 'I think we waited long enough.'

'True...' She closed her eyes. 'And... I don't think our world is quite ready for an unmarried mother sitting on the Wizengamot.' She heard Severus catch his breath before he slowly moved his hands downwards to cover her abdomen.

'How long...?'

'I've only suspected a few days, but I didn't cast the spell until this morning.' Hermione shivered in the evening breeze. 'I wanted the wedding to be just about us... Do you mind? Only, I'm not getting any younger, and this might be our only chance...'

Severus was very quiet, but Hermione could feel his Adam's apple bobbing against her head as he swallowed repeatedly.

'It is getting cold,' he said eventually. 'What do you say I take you home, give you a massage and hand feed you chocolate?'

'I think we'd like that.' Relieved, Hermione placed her hands on top of his. 'But I want to watch the sunset first. This is one of those perfect moments, don't you think? I don't want it to end just yet.'

He could only sigh in agreement. Standing on that little beach, holding his world in his arms, Severus doubted there would ever be another one quite like it. He pulled Hermione closer, and together they stood in silence, watching the red sun as it dipped towards the horizon, sending its dying rays across the ocean.

'The first of many, my love,' he murmured into her hair. 'The first of many.'


A/N: To my astonishment, this fic came third in the Potterplace Prompt challenge. As well as my betas, I would like to thank Maggie for checking over the original synopsis for plotholes (anyone who's ever done a Time-turner fic will know what a nightmare it is) and Sylvanawood for her enthusiasm for the story, keeping me going when I was set to give it up as a bad job and for the lend of the Chrononavigator. I can now tick 'Time'-Turner' and 'Snape Rescue' fics off the list. Thanks, too, to everyone who read and reviewed; it's much appreciated.