The usual disclaimers apply.
Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences. In semantic analysis, there is always an attempt to focus on what the words conventionally mean, rather than on what a speaker might want the words to mean on a particular occasion. This technical approach to meaning emphasizes the objective and the general. It avoids the subjective and the local. Linguistic semantics deals with the conventional meaning conveyed by the use of words and sentences of a language.
And suddenly, Lucius Malfoy stood there. She hadn't noticed him not being inside but apparently, he hadn't been. He stood a few feet away, observing the procession out of the small church, absolutely no expression visible on his face. Hermione could see how he watched Draco kissing Aideen and smiling and her laughing and giggling and clutching her new husband's arm, looking absolutely lovely in her grandmother's dress. She, at the same time, tugged on Severus's arm and nodded her head towards Malfoy, standing there, looking a little lost but astonishingly...Muggle in what looked like an expensive pinstripe suit.
"Was he in church?" she asked in a whisper.
He shook his head. "I haven't seen him in there," he answered.
"Hm,"she mumbled and was dragged away for pictures but she kept her eyes on the father of the groom. He didn't look like he belonged and if his face hadn't been so obviously neutral, she thought he should have looked sad. Not outraged at all. Just...as if what he saw didn't mean anything to him.
She took her heart in her hands and as she looked at her...Severus, he rolled his eyes. "Just tell them," he whispered as if he could read her mind, while he kept his own neutral expression on his own face. One picture of him would be great, the thought interrupted her other thoughts, where he was smiling. She'd keep that forever. Definitely. She shook her self.
"Are you using...you know what?" she whispered back, a glance at Aideen's Muggle aunt next to her. Severus smirked and nudged her towards the happy couple, posing for pictures (Muggle pictures). She rolled her own eyes but made her way through the entire wedding party towards Draco and Aideen, then decided against talking to them and swam back through the crowd and slipped away, towards Malfoy. He should be on the photos, no matter if he looked like he didn't belong. One day, all of them would regret it if he wasn't – he would, they would. She strode, as quickly and as inconspicuously towards the lonesome man standing there and in a Muggle suit, and without the cane, he looked a hell of a lot less intimidating.
"Hello," she said politely.
He only nodded his head in reply but said nothing, didn't even spare her more than a glance, still looked at his son and his new daughter-in-law.
"You should be on the photos as well," she said quietly. "And congratulate them."
"You should, Lucius," she felt a large hand on her shoulder and felt her...Severus's warmth on her back. She didn't turn around to look at him but Lucius looked rather...surprised, especially as his absence had not gone quite as unnoticed as hers had and too many pairs of eyes were on them now, even that of the happy couple. She didn't want to turn away from Lucius but she just had to look at Draco. His expression was more surprised than shocked, more curious than scared but she could tell that this particular picture – the flash just having gone off again – would most definitely not go on their mantel. It might go on hers, however, she bit back a wholly unsuitable grin. She understood his feelings – but it looked too divine to see him with his mouth hanging open like this and his eyebrows almost touching his hairline.
She wasn't sure when he began walking or if he was dragged forwards by Aideen. She wasn't sure whether he knew what he was doing but it wasn't far to where Malfoy was standing and it seemed Severus was holding his breath also.
"Father," Draco said. "I don't believe you have met my wife yet. Officially. This is Aideen Malfoy," he continued defiantly.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Missus Malfoy," Malfoy said and his voice sounded...strange.
She bent over to Severus and pushed herself up on her tiptoes. "Is he under something?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so," his warm breath tickled her neck and he seemed to sniff, or smell or...she wasn't sure what but h bent even closer and he could feel his lips against the shell of her ear for barely a second. She couldn't remember what she wanted to say. Or anything. He had touched her in a rather...intimate...way in front of all these people. With a camera nearby – even if it wasn't pointed towards them.
"It's lovely that you could come," Aideen beamed proudly. "It was a rather nice service, don't you think?" she asked innocently and wrapped her arm around Draco, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder.
"Yes," Malfoy lied.
"But why don't you stand over there with us? You have to be on the pictures!" she sounded too girlish for Hermione's taste. Too excited. But maybe that happened when you got married. And she actually disentangled herself from her snuggle with her new husband and grasped Malfoy's hand, pulling him towards her party. Took his hand! Malfoy's hand. Lucius Malfoy's hand.
"I'll have to cut that arm off," Draco muttered darkly. "Having been touched by something so...dirty."
He walked away, tried on a smile which didn't look quite as sincere as it has a few minutes ago but as Severus made no move to go back, she remained by his side as well.
"Do you think he will spoil it?" she asked, looking straight ahead and watching, with great interest, how Aideen put him next to her so that Potter was behind him, the Weasleys behind him, all the witches and wizards in fact, behind him.
"If he had wanted to spoil it, I don't think anything could have kept him from being in that church," he replied, staring as well.
"Why wasn't he?"
"Who knows? Maybe making an effort not to spoil it or maybe his...faith... kept him from going in. I don't know. Shall we go ahead to the reception-thing?"
"No more pictures?" she grinned up at him as he scowled. An adorable scowl and so predictable.
He took her hand, and pulled her, much like Aideen had pulled Malfoy, in the next Alley and around the corner, checked that nobody saw them and apparated with her.
He stood up and tried to hide his scowl.
He had seen Skeeter buzzing around in her Animagus form. He had seen the photographer disguised as a Muggle and seemingly unnoticed by all the other guests. He had even managed to get a decent Muggle camera. And it seemed quite likely now that Hermione had noticed her as well, and if he remembered correctly, she had been the one to reveal that bloody person as an unregistered animagus, and that explained, quite well, why she kept a respectable distance and why she hadn't even taken his hand. He didn't care – he took her hand as he stood and while he didn't quite smile at her, he shot her a brief, benevolent glance.
So – his picture would most certainly be in a newspaper in the Wizarding World in the morning. He found himself that he didn't mind at all. He had no dealings with the Wizarding World anymore. He hadn't even said one word to any of the wizards or witches present – apart from Draco or Hermione. McGonagall had tried to fight her way through to him. A few of the Weasleys had but the food had just been there in time and he could sit peacefully between Aideen and Hermione and eat. He would have to think of something after the toasts and speeches and whatnot. Maybe he could make Hermione dance all the time and threaten her with...well, she would have to sleep at home if she let someone cut in. Well. Maybe not. Maybe that was more of a punishment for him. He would think of something better. After he had to give this damn speech. He had something prepared but...with Skeeter buzzing around and probably registering everything in that minute brain of hers, he would have to keep up appearances.
He arched his eyebrow and raised his glass.
"Draco, Aideen, I wish you good luck. Here's to you," he said quickly, toasted towards them and took a sip of the awful champagne before he sat down.
"Severus?" Aideen asked, bewildered just as Hermione took his hand.
"Did you see her as well?" she whispered by his side.
"Yes," he told her, then turned to Aideen. "It was my speech. You didn't seriously expect me to compose a ballad for you? Or an ode?"
She giggled. "No, not seriously but you made it difficult for poor Dad. He's confused now."
He shrugged his shoulder and took another sip of the awful champagne. That badly disguised photographer, who wasn't quite so badly disguised, had taken at least three pictures of him. Or maybe more – one picture for every word. It didn't matter. And it didn't matter to him if all of them knew that he was corrupting Hermione Granger (not that he was corrupting her – but they would see it that way). They had thrown him out. They hadn't wanted him to be a part of their world anymore and he didn't feel obliged to stick to their rules or live by their conventions. He made his own rules these days and he didn't need the approval of people anymore.
Well, maybe hers. And a bit of Draco's. But the rest of the world could happily go to hell and could think about him what they wanted.
He only hoped that Hermione saw it the same way. He couldn't force her to admit to...them... under the public eye like this when she knew that it would be in the paper. He couldn't make her. If she decided not to want to...be seen with him, not to be associated with him, he couldn't stop her. He felt the scowl creep on his face and he couldn't listen to anymore speeches. The champagne tasted awful and he only had champagne and water and wine within his grasp. He longed for something stronger, something that would burn in his throat and warm his stomach.
If she didn't want to...he wouldn't know what to do. He would never force her to do anything but she still had a foot in the Wizarding World while he only had a wand.
Quite suddenly, he heard a chair scratching over the floor and just as suddenly, a hand put on his pulled him out of his maudlin thoughts.
"Are you alright?" she asked, her face showing sweet concern. His thoughts – all for naught. She had put her hand there and her face was incredibly close to his.
He nodded, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He couldn't possibly say anything with her intoxicating scent in his nose and her warmth so close to him. And with her hand on his and her finger caressing his finger. She didn't want to hide this. He cleared his throat. Maybe she hadn't seen Skeeter. Maybe she hadn't noticed her and her photographer. Maybe she didn't mind seeing the family and the Weasleys, who knew, possibly, already. Though the glances that Molly Weasley shot them...they didn't know. Could it be that Ronald Weasley had shut up? That Harry Potter was too busy with his lover that he hadn't mentioned it? He did look rather...busy. And he couldn't see any hands of those two. Not good.
He cleared his throat again. "Have you seen..."
"Skeeter? Yeah. But I suppose that was to be expected. I mean Draco really invited anyone who's anyone and they all turned up," she groaned.
"And they're all staring at us," he grumbled. His plan had worked so far. They had all turned up, including Lucius. And Lucius seemed to be in a rather deep discussion with Longbottom of all people. He had never pitied Longbottom but he did look rather pitiful at the moment.
"I don't care that they do," she whispered in his ear and he could hear the lens of the camera click. He could hear it. This was clearer than any snogging or hugging. He let her be so close and he knew that a tiny smile had appeared on his face when she had said it. She didn't care what they did. She had entwined her fingers with his and he could tell that she was close to at least kissing his cheek, he could tell. All around him was forgotten. He barely registered the music starting and Draco and Aideen getting up. He knew he would have to have a word with Lucius and he would have to try hard to escape McGonagall and the Weasleys and Lovegood and Longbottom but in that moment when she was so close to him, he didn't care about any of this. They could be, for all he cared, and he had never been so careless in his life, in his living room or his kitchen.
"But it'll be in the papers," he whispered suddenly, her mouth coming closer to his.
"Do you want to..." she pulled back slightly and the spell was over. Suddenly.
"Do I want to what?" he asked, feeling that slight pang of disappointment that she was so far away now again.
"Keep this secret?" she whispered, flapping her hands between them and he sighed. Of course she would think that.
"Of course not. Don't be ridiculous," he grumbled and noticed now that there was music playing and that Draco and Aideen weren't the only ones on the dance floor. He also noticed McGonagall getting up together with Pomfrey and aiming towards them. He only had one choice.
He was so close and she wanted to just slip into his lap and sit there and kiss him and...just talk to him without so many people there. And she wasn't sure what he wanted, that it was alright for him that she had scooted closer. She just didn't know until...
"Keep this secret?" she asked, afraid of his answer. If he wanted to, she would. Not that people didn't know already. Harry knew and she wasn't sure how much Ron had told his family. Not a lot, by the looks that Molly Weasley had thrown her and Severus when they had walked out of that church. Well, they had walked out of that church together. That should have tipped people off – but she more or less trusted most of them present not to talk to the press. And then there was Skeeter buzzing around. Apparently registered. Not that it made it easier to see a bug, or notice a bug and neither Draco nor anyone else seemed to have noticed her. All but Severus. But it had been Severus's life for such a long time to see what others didn't – he should see her. And that photographer with the new and fancy Muggle camera that didn't seem to have a seat somewhere and that nobody questioned. Not while there were more than a hundred people present in any case.
She, on the other hand, didn't want to keep it secret. She didn't care if they were on the front page of the Daily Prophet. She didn't care if people looked down on her. She didn't spend a lot of time in the Wizarding World such as it was and she didn't intend to. Let them talk. They were only jealous after all because they had obviously all come to see him – the way they were staring at him – and she knew him. She knew him better than most of those people who sat there. Maybe better than anyone by now. She knew what he liked, what he disliked. He knew what kind of discussions you could have with him and when to have them. She knew. And she was the one he wanted to see.
"Of course not. Don't be ridiculous," he stated suddenly and a moment later, he stood up and held his hand to hers. "Dance with me," he said, surprising her terribly and in a daze, she got up, feeling all the eyes on her.
"It's not fair on Draco and Aideen," she muttered to herself but of course he would hear her.
"It was the only way I could Lucius Malfoy to come," he said, wrapping her in his arms. Well, almost in his arms. One of his arms was around him, the other came up to hold her hand. It was still respectable and there was a least a bit of distance between their bodies.
"Hm," she shrugged her shoulder, revelling in his closeness, even if she could hear the camera clicking. "You really don't mind that our picture will be in the paper in the morning?"
He sneered – which he hadn't done in a long time – and his arms came fully around her, one of his hands in her hair tilting her head up before he gave her a brief kiss full on the mouth and then pressed her head against his chest so she could feel his chin or cheek on her hair. She hadn't felt this loved in her life. Not ever. Not once. She couldn't say it yet, it was too early but she did love him. And she'd show him. In any way that she could.
"You really don't mind that our picture will be in the paper in the morning?" she asked, rubbing her cheek against his chest.
"No," he said a moment later, after having acted the way he would have never thought he would act in public.
"You really don't mind," she stated, muffled against his chest and he knew he had to make it clear. She, obviously, didn't care. She pressed herself against him and they were more hugging than dancing in any case.
"No, and why should I mind," he replied back, the softness of her hair tickling his cheek, the curves of her body fitting perfectly to his and her grasp on his back wonderfully reassuring.
"I don't know. I don't care about their opinions. Skeeter can't harm me anymore but you..." she shrugged.
"What that world thinks is none of my concern anymore, Hermione," he began slowly, pressing his lips on top of her head for a moment before he continued. "They are not the people I want to have around me. It's not my world anymore."
She raised her head slightly to look at him and he took the chance, not hearing the camera click, to give her a deep, loving kiss. He wasn't brave enough to say it yet but he felt it – and he would try to show it with more than kisses – but those were a start. For now. In public. And he had to explain one more thing. He kissed her briefly once more before he tucked her head beneath his chin again.
"Spinner's End is my world. I didn't think it would ever be but it is. My godson is part of that world. Aideen, University, linguistics. And you," he said, finding his voice hoarse suddenly and tipped her chin up, resting his forehead against hers, brushing her nose with his, holding her very tight to his body. Nothing could have fit between them, not even a piece of paper, no bit of parchment. Not even the tiniest bit of air. "You're my world."
No epilogue. That's it. The end of the story. Hate me for it if you like. It ended the way I wanted it to end and I'm happy with it. Some of you were right. I'm writing stories for myself, not for anyone else. Reviews are love and reviews are much needed from time to time to keep the motivation going but in the end, I write the stories I write for myself. Like it or leave it. I hope you do like it though. I also didn't end it here because I desperately wanted to write a hundred chapters. It just happened to be a hundred chapters.
Thank you for all of your feedback and thanks to all those who encouraged me in PMs and who let me vent. I couldn't have managed to write this opus magnus without you.
The next story will be a Severus/OC. I need a break from Hermione (and I know that some of you will now shriek and tell me that they won't read an OC because of – insert any reason. It will be different and lovely and more focused on love than this one (and quicker than this one) without it being a Mary Sue. I hope I'll see some of you there as well.