I should warn you, this Author's Note is pretty long, but there a few things I'd really like to say.
First of all, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed writing this story. Some might say writing 58 chapters must get laborious, but never, at any stage, was writing this story a chore. And I can't say that for every single story I've written. My friends certainly look a little shocked whenever they see the length of this thing! Secondly, is you lot. If you've subscribed to, favourited and/or reviewed this story, even if it was only once, then thank you so, so much. All of the reviews I've received for this story are partly what has made it so much fun; you've all been so encouraging, helpful with your comments and just generally awesome. Every single review makes my day, so thank you all for sticking with this story for so long and taking the time to review. I can't thank you enough, so I'll shut up now before I start to sound too cheesy. =D
Also, a quick thank you to TheFatalIllusion for reading this through for me and for being an awesome friend!
Just one last thing to say – I hope you all enjoy the Epilogue, thank you again for all your support and if you're interested, there's my new HG/SS story 'Dismantle : Repair' which I mentioned last chapter. Thanks for reading this incredibly long author's note, and I hope you like it!
Disclaimer – I think we've established that I don't own Harry Potter, after saying it 57 times already, lol. X =D
Severus very rarely smiled in public; in fact, many believed he was incapable of the action. But stood there in the Great Hall, watching as Harry and Ginny's wedding reception got into full swing, Severus couldn't help himself. She looked beautiful. And he couldn't believe that she was his. His.
The crimson bridesmaid dress complimented her features perfectly and skimmed effortlessly over her curves, like water over a carefully crafted fountain. Her mahogany curls were pinned up in an artfully messy bun at the back of her head, with tendrils falling down to frame her smiling face as she talked to the bride, a glass of champagne in one hand. The familiar caramel eyes were filled with happy warmth as her gaze strayed to meet his and her smile widened. Secretly, Severus thought that she looked even more beautiful than the bride. But then, he was a little, if not very, biased.
"Top up, Severus?" Minerva asked, gesturing to his now empty glass.
Glancing down at it, Severus thought for a moment before looking back up at the headmistress. "No," he said, looking over at Hermione again. "There's something I need to do."
Minerva raised an eyebrow, her gaze briefly following his to Hermione. "And what's that then, Severus?" she asked, eyes sparkling with excitement.
"I'd put you out of your misery, Minerva," he drawled, placing down his glass. "But the prospect of leaving you in this state of anxious, impatient excitement is simply too irresistible." With that, he promptly turned and walked smoothly across the hall to where Hermione was stood, sipping her champagne and waiting for Ginny to come back from talking to Hagrid.
A smile lit up her face as he approached her and without hesitation, gently pressed his lips to hers. She tasted heavenly, just as she always did. Severus was sure he would never find a more exquisite taste or scent than that of simply her. Not even if he searched the finest restaurants of the world and tasted every single dish that the best of chefs could create. "You look beautiful," he told her quietly as he pulled back slightly.
A light pink colour spread across her cheeks, highlighting her cheekbones in the warm light of the hall. "You don't look so bad yourself," she said, one hand trailing down the front of his smart dress robes. Unable to resist taking advantage of his close proximity, she claimed his mouth again as one hand wound its way around his neck.
As they broke apart for the second time, Severus began to identify the foreign feeling of nervousness building up in the pit of his stomach as the item in the pocket of his robes seemed to burn red hot. Steeling himself so that she wouldn't notice, he leant forward to murmur in her ear. "Do you want to get some air?"
Thankfully, she nodded and allowed him to lead her out from the artfully decorated hall and through the imposing doors of the Entrance Hall. Outside, the night was clear. Crisp, still air surrounded them as the two lovers slowly made their way down towards the lake, content with the warmth and comfort of each other's company. The great expanse of water was impossibly still as they stood by its edge, looking at the reflection of the dark world above. The moon rippled as a light breeze danced across the black surface and Hermione felt Severus' hand slip from her own.
Swallowing, Severus told himself to stop being such a dunderhead and just get on with it. He slipped his hand out from her gentle grip and, with absolute silence, reached into his pocket. He felt like the nerves in his stomach had decided to wage war with each other as his fingers closed around the small, velvet box.
"Hermione?" His voice was quiet, caring...hopeful, and only ever so slightly hesitant.
She turned to face him, dragging her eyes away from the moonlit scene before them to meet another scene. A very different scene. One that made her want to laugh, smile, cry and squeal all at the same time. But she decided to do neither. Instead, before he even had chance to open his mouth, one word tumbled from her lips.
I know it was short – but it is only an Epilogue. I hope I've done the scene justice, and it'd be fantastic if you could leave one last review to go out on. Thank you all so much again for reading, reviewing, favouriting...etc.