Hermione stepped gingerly up the stairs, lifting her skirts to avoid tripping, and walked down the landing to her eldest daughters bedroom. The door was ajar, and she paused for a moment as she heard the voices within.
'Just remember what I said, Ceris. You will always have a home here, whatever happens.' Severus sounded almost like he was pleading, and Hermione bit her lip as she continued to listen.
'Dad,' Ceris sighed deeply, 'we've already talked about this. I know what I am doing. You always encouraged me to know my own mind, remember?'
Severus grunted, and Hermione could hear his robes swish as he walked across the room, followed by the sound of softly clicking heels as Ceris followed him.
The noise was muffled, but Hermione could hear Ceris talking to Severus in reassuring tones, and she took the opportunity to push the door open and step inside. She looked over to the window, where Severus and Ceris were holding each other in a tight hug.
'Your dress, Ceris. It will crease,' she whispered softly, as she walked towards them and laid her hand on Severus's shoulder. Severus relaxed his grip a little and reluctantly let his daughter step from his arms. 'Is everything okay?' Hermione gazed up at Severus. His jaw was clenched and eyes were dark and glassy, and Hermione knew he was close to crying in front of Ceris, something he would not want to do at all.
'Severus, could you check on the others? We'll be down shortly, once I have steamed out those creases.' Hermione frowned in mock concentration at the back of Ceris's now crumpled silk dress, and pulled out her wand. She didn't notice Severus's gaze soften and a grateful smile grace his lips. He relaxed a little and walked from the room without a backward glance.
'Oh, Mum,' Ceris turned to Hermione in exasperation, her fists tightly clenched, 'why can't he just be happy for me? Albus isn't Harry Potter, and he isn't James either,' her eyes met her Mother's beseechingly.
'Ceris, sweetheart,' Hermione held her arms open and her daughter stepped into them, relaxing her head against Hermione's shoulder. Gently, Hermione stroked her daughter's hair as she held her close. 'It's nothing to do with Albus, or Harry or James. It's because you are his eldest daughter and he feels he is losing you, that's all. He should have been a Gryffindor, the way he protects all of you,' she laughed softly.
'I'm going to miss him so much, Mum,' she sighed.
'He will miss you too. You had better make sure you stick to your promise. He won't relax until he gets your owl every day. Now,' Hermione patted Ceris lightly, ' lets get this dress sorted and get going. Otherwise, Albus will think your father has locked you up and thrown away the key!'
Ceris laughed and kissed Hermione softly on her cheek. 'Thanks, Mum,' she said brightly.
The chapel was beautifully decorated with millions of tiny cream roses that matched the small headdress that adorned Ceris's hair. Candles floated serenely above the wedding party, and gentle music was being played from the balcony by a group of very talented House-elves.
As Severus walked his daughter slowly to the altar, his eyes scanned the guests as they turned to watch. Wary faces looked at him first, and then softened as their eyes fell on Ceris. She had never looked more beautiful, and his chest filled with pride mixed with emotion. He forced himself to look at Harry Potter, who nodded and smiled as their eyes met. Severus nodded briefly and let his gaze drift from the older Potter to the younger one who had stolen his daughter's heart.
Albus was standing tall and proud, and his eyes were filled with tears as he stared at Ceris on her father's arm. He couldn't pull his eyes away from her face, and Severus was reminded of his own wedding day, and how he had felt when Hermione had approached him. Her hair had been smoothed into soft waves, and her dress had been cleverly designed to show off each curve to it's best. But he hadn't noticed all of that until later. All he had seen was her eyes shining with love, and her smile that dazzled him and left him speechless.
He knew exactly how Albus was feeling, and with a soft sigh, he relaxed. Ceris would be in good hands.
They stopped at the altar, and Severus looked up at the light shining through the blue and purple stained glass. He hadn't realised he was distracted until he felt Ceris pull at the sleeve of his dress robes, and he sheepishly grinned down at her scowling face.
'Who gives this woman to be married?' the Celebrant repeated patiently.
'Her father,' Severus said softly. He smiled gently at Ceris and leant forward, kissing her softly on her cheek. 'Be happy,' he whispered, as he squeezed her hand.
He turned and found himself face to face with his wife, who had quiet tears streaming down her face. Taking his place beside her, he linked his fingers into hers, and watched proudly as his daughter became a Potter.
He was holding her too tightly, and she could feel his erection pushing into the front of her dress. His hands were in the small of her back, and as they swayed to the music, he nuzzled her hair and kissed at her ear gently.
'I love you,' he mumbled.
'Are you drunk?' she hissed.
'A little,' he said 'but I still love you.'
'You're embarrassing the children,' she muttered.
'They don't have to watch,' he murmured silkily. Shifting his position, he grabbed Hermione's hand and dipped her seductively, as the song ended to a round of applause. Hermione laughed as he pulled her upright, his smile a little lop-sided.
'You really are drunk!' she exclaimed.
'Stop complaining, wench. You told me to relax and enjoy myself. That's exactly what I am doing,' he said.
He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close for the next dance, and Hermione grinned up at him. He was still as gorgeous as ever, and his hair was still dark and silky. He had grown it a little longer and lost a little weight for the wedding, and he looked fitter than some men who were half his age. With growing desire, Hermione allowed herself to grind against him discreetly. Severus moaned and wrapped his other arm around her to hold her close.
'Is it too early to leave?' he whispered in her ear.
'Well, the happy couple have already departed, so I guess we could go in a few minutes,' she said huskily, licking her lips a little.
'Tell the children we will see them at home. I'll get the cloaks,' he muttered urgently.
With a heated glance, Hermione nodded and walked over to the rowdiest table in the room, surrounded by a group of lively and not very sober teenagers. She caught Carly's eye and motioned her over, told her that they were leaving and not to hurry back. Carly grinned at her mother knowingly and winked. Hermione blushed and then giggled, before turning to where Severus was staring at her intently. She forgot the crowds instantly, and her feet guided her to where he stood. At some unspoken signal, their lips met in a searing kiss, and the crowd around them erupted in a chorus of catcalls and yahooing. Neither of them noticed, and Severus grabbed Hermione's arm firmly, twisted on the spot, and Disapparated them directly into their bedroom.
They kissed passionately, and in moments their clothes were pooled around their feet as they stumbled towards the bed. Severus paused and pulled away from her slightly, brushing her curls away from her face and gazing into her amber eyes.
'Thank you,' he murmured, smiling at her slightly.
'For what?' Hermione grinned and started to reach for him.
'For everything,' he whispered, and then bent to capture her lips in his.