Chapter 17

The day before the wedding, Hermione felt absolutely crazed. Ginny and Harry had arrived and were staying with Hermione and Lil in their rooms. They would be substituting for Hermione and Severus while they were on their honeymoon. Ginny wanted to get a feel for what it would be like to be a working parent, so she had Harry agreed to take over Hermione and Severus' lives for a week. Harry would teach Hermione's classes while Ginny taught Severus' Potions lessons. They would also be taking care of Lil and Zora. Hermione had written down the basic schedule they followed during the week, so Harry and Ginny wouldn't be flying blind. They also had received lessons in the girls' routines.

Hermione had double-checked everything. She inspected her dress and the girls' dresses, the decorations in the Room of Requirement, the guest list and RSVPs, the plans for their new family quarters, and the menu for the reception. Ginny, Harry and Severus had all be trying to get her to calm down. She was still teaching lessons during all of this. The students were aware of what would be happening the next day, though they could still scarcely believe someone would willingly bind herself to the grouchy Potions Master. Harry was spending the day observing so that he could learn some names and get a feel for the routine of the students. They were thrilled that THE Harry Potter would be teaching for a week.

Ginny was getting a similarly though less blatant warm welcome in the dungeons. The students were excited to have a whole week without having to worry about run-ins with the professor. He wouldn't even be in the castle, so the worst faculty member to have roaming the halls wouldn't be there. They didn't dare show much reaction in class, but there were many friendly smiles thrown Ginny's way. She was having a good time watching Severus try to keep up his mean and horrible persona while he was receiving so many well wishes from other faculty. She could tell that he was very happy. He taught classes and managed students all while having a somewhat dreamy expression. Ginny wanted to ask what he was daydreaming about, but they're friendship wasn't that close yet.

Harry was having quite the opposite experience in dealing with Hermione. She buzzed around at record levels all day. She was much clumsier than normal, knocking over a whole stack of third year essays she had graded. She repeated herself, forgot things, and just seemed wild. The effect was somewhat scarier to the students who were used to a very calm, composed professor. Harry too would have been frightened if he hadn't seen behavior like this from her many times before. To many, she may have seemed skiddish and terrified. Harry knew from their many years of friendship that she was nervous and excited. It wasn't too far from how she acted before major exams. The war was the only thing he had not seen her behave like this for. Right before a battle, Hermione was very solemn and preferred not to talk.

After the fifth years left the room, Harry felt the need to intercede.

"Hermione, breathe." he said calmly.

"But I've just got to…" she rushed.

"No Hermione, stop. Breathe." he asserted, grabbing her upper arms. Hermione obeyed this time, closing her eyes and breathing deeply with Harry for a few moments. When she was finally calm, Harry released her.

"Everything will be perfect, 'Mione. It always works out. Just breathe." he whispered. "Why don't you meditate for awhile. It's just the seventh years left; I can handle it."

"Okay. What are you going to teach them?" she asked.

"You leave that up to me." he said. He took her Muggle iPod out of her bag, putting it in Hermione's hand.

"Alright, I'll be over in the corner if you need me." she said absentmindedly. Hermione walked over to a corner and transfigured a chair into a floor mat. She sat cross-legged on the mat, put her headphones on and slowly backed out of reality. Harry watched her visibly relax before turning back to the empty classroom. He needed a simple lesson for seventh years. He took one more look at Hermione before settling on a lesson. If it didn't take the entire period, he would just let them out a little early; it wouldn't be the end of the world. He magically whisked away the tables and chairs and laid a thick foam cover on the floor. He had just finished when students started arriving.

The first few seventh years that arrived seemed very nervous. The chairs and tables were gone and the floor was odd feeling. Normally that meant a demonstration day. Harry Potter was perched on top of Professor Granger's desk, something no one else would dare to do. The professor, while not immediately visible, could later be spotted sitting rigidly in the corner.

"Good afternoon everyone, kindly set your bags along the edges of the room, take off your shoes and choose a place to sit." Harry said as they filed in. The students ended up sitting in roughly what the classroom arrangement was before. When everyone had arrived, Harry quickly took roll, kicked off his own shoes, and flopped to the floor in front of the desk.

"Hello everyone. My name is Harry Potter, and I'll be filling in for Professor Granger next week while she's honeymooning. Since I am not a professor, you may call me Harry. I am an Auror. Can anyone describe for the class what an auror is?" he asked. There were several hands. Harry pointed at someone.

"An Auror is kind of like a spy or police officer in the Muggle world. Prior to and during the war, they were hunters of wizards who practiced Dark Arts." the girl said.

"That's a fairly accurate working definition. I can't go into great deal about what I do without disclosing confidential information about ongoing projects, but my job, in general, is to address witches and wizards who may pose a danger to themselves or others. We also serve as security in the Ministry and other major venues. An important part of training for my position is being able to handle stress." Harry lectured, "How many of you feel stressed?" Almost every hand in the room went up.

"You're in your seventh year, so you should be feeling rather stressed. Stress from trying to get the best possible grades, trying to figure out what you want to go into after school, trying to win the House and Quidditch cups, trying to meet that certain someone. All these things can really stress us out. What do you do to release and relieve that stress?"

"Fly."

"Play cards."

"Eat chocolate."

"Sleep."

"Hang out with my friends." the students replied.

"Those are all good things to do when you're stressed, but what would you do if flying weren't safe, you were alone or nearly alone, you didn't have chocolate, and you couldn't completely shut down?" Harry asked. The students looked at him, bewildered. "Everybody take five deep breaths." The students complied and looked at him again.

"Feel any better?" he asked. They smiled. "If you are in a slightly safer environment, you can engage in activities such as what your professor is doing right now." he explained, waving a hand over toward Hermione.

"Is she okay?" one of the students asked.

"She'll be fine. Right now she's in a fairly deep state of meditation. What I would like to do today is show you all some simple things you can do to relax. These should come in handy right before a test, while you're studying for your NEWTS, or even when you can't sleep at night. Let's all spread out," he said.

Harry led the class through a variety of relaxation activities. At the proper time, he released them from class. The students left very quietly and calmly after 45 minutes of deep breathing and relaxation. Fortunately, it was their last class of the day. Harry returned the room to rights before slowly raising Hermione from her stupor.

After dinner, Harry and Ginny took the girls back to Hermione's rooms so that the happy couple could have some alone time before they parted ways until the wedding. They went out to walk around the lake.

"Harry and Ginny told me you were panicked today." Severus said, squeezing her hand lightly.

"I know. I've just been thinking about all the things that could go wrong tomorrow. I mean, it's supposed to be the best day of our lives, and I just want everything to be perfect." she rushed out. Severus smiled but didn't say anything. "How is it that you aren't freaking out too? You've been a bachelor forever, and tomorrow all of that is going to change!"

"Hermione, my world has been flipped upside-down several times this year. Tomorrow, when we are officially bound, nothing is going to change. I cannot love you any more than I do today. I already consider us a family. I'm pleased that finally being married will give us a better living situation that this constant moving back and forth. Tomorrow will be the best day of my life. But, my dear, every day has been better than the day before. Every day that I get to spend with you, Lilura, and Zoraida will be the best day of my life. Tomorrow is just another day. Tomorrow we stand up and tell others how much we love each other. But I already know how much you love me, and I hope you know how much I love you. In the grand scheme of things, tomorrow is just another day." Severus said, hugging her close. Hermione wondered how she could ever have managed to live for so long without this wizard in her life.

The End