Disclaimer: I do not own, JK Rowling does

A/N: This fic is a marriage law story that I have already posted, but am determined to revised and edit. Hope you enjoy.

Life for Rent

"Ooh, this is making my blood boil!" Hermione Granger stated furiously slamming the Ministry missive down on the table, yelling at no one, for she was home alone.

"A marriage law? This is absolutely ridiculous. Has there really been that many squibs being born? I feel like I went to sleep and woke up in Imperial China!"

Hermione was beyond livid. The Ministry had been hinting for the past two years that they were going to put a marriage law into effect. She never actually believed it would happen though, and now she felt as if someone had pulled the rug from underneath her. She moderately understood why Pure-bloods were being discouraged from marrying because they did pop out a lot of inbred squibs with birth defects, but she didn't understand why Muggle-borns weren't allowed to marry other Muggle-borns, or Muggles. A squib wouldn't exactly be a big deal in a family familiar with the Muggle world, would it? And the demands, what ludicrous demands! Three months from the date of the letter to find a mate or the Ministry would do it for you, ugh! And Ministry sanctioned punishments and bonuses? Any child born to a Ministry approved couple would go to Hogwarts for free but the rest would have to pay? That was eerily too close to China's reaction to overpopulation and Hermione was disgusted. This was not an overpopulation problem, it was an under population problem and the Ministry was going about this all wrong. The fees one would have to pay for not following the law were exorbitant, and Hermione knew that she would never be able to pay them. Sure, the wizarding population had gone down significantly since the war, but, this?

None of it would have mattered to Hermione at all really if it wasn't for one teeny tiny, insignificant little detail. Her boyfriend was a Muggle. His name was David Bernard and he was amazing. Hermione had met him after the war while spending some time with her parents as a Muggle in Australia. She had taken a few classes at a University in Sydney and had met him in an elective literature course. He was from England, completing a year abroad, and was getting his teaching credentials for high school level English. He was fun, intelligent, charming, and a wonderful diversion from the pain of all the losses after the war. She needed to get away from magic, she needed to get over losing Ron to Pansy Parkinson only a month after their first kiss, and David suited all of her needs.

Toward the year end when David was preparing to return to England, Hermione decided to tell him that she was a witch. She was beginning to miss her friends in the magical world terribly, her parents were planning on returning to reopen their dental practice, and Hermione wanted to find a job in the magical world. David had taken the whole escapade with good grace and enjoyed watching Hermione do magic. He had no problems keeping the secret in Australia but it would be harder in England because he wanted Hermione to meet his family and they were going to have to be careful. Now, with the Marriage Law on top of her, she was either going to have to leave the magical world altogether, or leave David. Or, she would come up with another plan. But as to what she had no idea.

Severus Snape read the same Ministry missive as Hermione had with an equal amount of disgust. All wizards under the age of sixty were required to follow the law. Severus cursed the wizarding blood that coursed through his veins for the first time, well, ever. It was the wizarding blood that allowed people with magical abilities to live well into their hundreds which meant that he was still a relatively young man by their standards. At forty-one he had no excuse for backing out.

Severus had changed considerably since the war. He was thoroughly convinced that he was not going to survive the it, believing that his treachery to Lord Voldemort would not go undiscovered. Somehow it had, and it was that damned snake that had almost won in the end. She had bit him right in the jugular, but he was expecting it and was prepared with the anti-venom and blood replenishing potions that he would need to get through. It was imperative that he not die unless he was absolutely sure that Potter had received his messages and was able to defeat the Dark Lord. He had managed to pass on the messages but he owed it to Dumbledore and to Lily Potter to make sure that he succeeded. After that, he would have welcomed death but, alas, death wanted nothing to do with him anymore. He had survived miraculously and was quite well.

The thoughts of Lily, Dumbledore, and Voldemort reopened old wounds that hurt in ways Nagini's snake bites never would. They were the people who owned him. Lily held his heart in her delicate hands from the day he met her in the park near their childhood homes over thirty years ago. He belonged to her, but she belonged to someone else, and was now gone from this world. And then there was Dumbledore, his mentor, his savior, and his friend. But he too had a use for him, help Harry defeat Voldemort. Dumbledore had allowed Severus to hold onto Lily's memory only to ensure that he protected her son from Voldemort. But now Dumbledore was gone, by his own hand, a sin for which Severus would never properly atone. And Voldemort, Severus was Voldemort's hired hand. He was a spy for two of the most influential wizards in history, his heart belonged to a woman long dead, and now he was possibly going to have to either leave the wizarding world, or sacrifice his freedom to attach himself to some ungrateful wench who he would probably never love and she him? He was beginning to feel that everyone had a lease on his life, but nothing was his own.

Severus shoved the letter from the Ministry aside and turned to his order list. After leaving Hogwarts Severus began a private lab out of his home in Spinner's End. Thanks to Harry's testimony and the embarrassing exhibition of his memories at the Ministry hearings Severus was fully exonerated. The Board of Governors was willing to give him his job back at the school but he declined opting for some solitude. Despite his greasy git exterior he had enjoyed teaching. He loved seeing the lights turn on in the otherwise dim student's eyes as they finally grasped a topic they had been studying fruitlessly for ages. It was much more satisfying to see that light of realization in an average student than it was to teach fact regurgitating automatons like Hermione Granger. He had never really gotten her to think outside of her texts and that, in his opinion, was one of his greatest failures as a teacher. She wasn't the only know it all that had passed through his classroom but he had always managed to stump them. Her greatest moments occurred outside his potions lab, during her year on the run, and he wished he could have seen her struggle in his own sick and sadistic way.

Pushing those unexpected and unwelcome thoughts of Granger aside he refocused on his order list once again. He made potions for a select group of private clients. His business was very good but he only took certain jobs so that he could maintain the work load alone. He made Veritaserum for the Ministry and several potions that were resold at apothecaries, but his most difficult potion was Wolfsbane. He sold it for a pittance in honor of the late Remus Lupin. Lupin was not exactly a friend of Severus's, mostly because of his association with James Potter but he had been a good man, and Severus made and sold Wolfsbane to werewolves who, like Lupin, wanted to function more normally in society. It was one small way for him to do penance for his past sins. In the end, it was just another way someone else had taken over a bit of his life. He marveled that there were any pieces of his life to rent out to anyone else.

He wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to get out of his continued existence and his new career, but he knew he wanted it to be in the wizarding world and he did not want to flee his country for a stupid marriage law. He didn't have enough left in him to make that kind of sacrifice. Prioritizing the list of orders in front of him, Severus silently hoped that somehow this would all just go away, and he could go back to moving on with his life.

A/N: This is my first ever SS/HG fic. It is has been up here for awhile, but since it was one of my first stories it lacks a lot in the editing department so my goal is go through and give it a good looking over. I had a beta for some parts, but still… So if you are coming across this story for the first time, hope you enjoy! And drop a review, those never get old no matter how long the story has been up!