I don't make any money with this, nothing belongs to me. Merely having some fun. The title is taken from Graham Greene's novel but that's almost only coincidence.
It had been a rather messy divorce. Not only because it had been hard to divide up assets after fifteen years of marriage – had he earned more with his Quidditch and the proceeding holdings in his brother's business or had she earned more with her work in law enforcement and the books she had written on the war and Wizarding Law – but because it had to be determined how much money everyone would need – she, for the children at Hogwarts, or he, for the child growing in the young girl's womb.
It had been a messy divorce and the papers, all the Wizarding Papers, had been all over it. He, fortunately or unfortunately, came out as the wrong-doer. The one who had cheated on his wife, the one who had fathered a baby while still being married. The papers hadn't known that they had already been separated by that time, and the papers hadn't known that she herself wouldn't have been completely averse to an affair with a man, possibly fifteen years her junior by then.
Such as it was, the papers, especially Witch Weekly, hadn't got it entirely wrong when they reported that she had been the one coming out the loser in the rather messy divorce. The messiest divorce of the century, they kept dubbing it.
Such as it was, she had never taken a lover fifteen years her junior. Not for lack of trying, not for lack of opportunity. In fact, there had been something inside herself which had held her back all the time she had spent in a Muggle bar, flirting shamelessly, cougar-like, with young, tanned, even-teethed men. Or which she had spent in a Muggle bar, trying to flirt shamelessly.
Flirting was something which had never come easily to her. She had never quite understood the concept of flirting and of course, during the fifteen years of her marriage, she had never been forced to flirt. At all. Sex was something which either happened – and the spontaneous approach had been rather rare – or something which had been planned on for a while. Sunday mornings, for instance, after breakfast. But then again that had only ever occurred while the children had still been at home. And the children had known not to disturb Mum and Dad after breakfast when they went back to bed for a cuddle.
After the children had left, sex was something that hadn't happened often at all. Things with him just had never been passionate after the first few months and these days, she knew why. She knew exactly why.
Thing was – she had been in love with him. Head over heels, arse over tit. She had been madly in love with him. For a while. And for a while, they had had sex more than possibly any other couple on the planet. For a while, they had turned sex into an art form. Then it had become a way of making sure there were children, then it had been premeditated, then it had become non-existent. Just the way it had happened. And she had been in love with him. But the in-love-ness had never turned into loving him. She had never loved him more than a friend. He had been her lover and her friend but somehow, he had never grown into the person she had wanted to grow old with. She had never been able to imagine herself sitting with him, surrounded by their grandchildren, cooing over them, reading them stories. She had been in love, yes. She had loved him, yes. She had never learned to love him as more than just a friend.
These days, after the messy divorce, she hated love. Love was an abstract that was neither desirable nor preferable. Love was what she felt for her children and nobody else. Love was stupid. Love was hurting. Love was the most painful thing ever.
To put her children on the train to school, to watch them leave, was the most painful thing she had to endure. It was more painful than being tortured by mad witches. It was more painful than anything else.
There were times when she wished she had never known love.
The moment, Ginny had put her hand on a surprise overseas portkey had been such a moment. Ginny loved her and she loved Ginny. But Ginny was bloody cheeky to just assume she needed to get away from all of this for a while. From the messy divorce and the fact that she missed her beloved children. Ginny had been the one to know where she was going and she hadn't known.
More than love, she despised surprises. Surprises were never any good. They were either disappointing, if you expected to get a surprise, or they were so surprising that you couldn't prepare yourself for them and she detested not being prepared. Surprises were right above love on the list of things she despised at that moment.
Ginny had, no doubt, meant well, but she didn't care the moment her feet touched ground again after endless minutes of being spun around, holding on tightly to the can of beer that served as her portkey. Merlin only knew where Ginny, no doubt with Harry's help, was sending her.
Getting away from it all, yes, nice and dandy, and she could honestly do with a bit of getting away but the Lake District would have done nicely. Or, if pressed, the Scottish Highlands and not eternal minutes feeling nauseous while crossing whatever ocean. Or whatever continents. She could most certainly do with that and, immediately, added long-distance portkey-travels on the list of things that she truly despised. Right below surprises and just a tad above love.
Imagine her surprise when she landed in a deserted alley, only a cat looking strangely at her in a part of the world she didn't know and which was much too hot for her liking. Much too humid for her liking too. Climate which made her hair curl even more wildly and climate which made her sport goosebumps despite the heat and humidity. Imagine her surprise (and remember that she despised surprises) when she realised that she had been sent to an entirely strange, and still unknown country by her best friend and her best friend's wife. Imagine her surprise when the cat only meowed in a quite bored manner, and then scampered off while she still tried to catch her footing and tried to keep her food inside her stomach.
A bit of litter decorated the alley and the sun was beating down on her from a bluer than blue sky. If Ginny had told her that they would send her to one of those warm countries, the shrunken bag in her pocket would have been filled with other things. But such as it was, she would have to find the hotel Ginny and her husband had organised for her and there, transfigure her things into something lighter. The heavy coat was shrugged off and vanished almost immediately but she couldn't very well take off the woollen jumper. She only wore a bra underneath and walking through a foreign, strange city or town or village (even though it looked and smelled like a city) in a bra only was completely out of the question. Instead, she took another look around and when all was silent, and she couldn't see anyone, she turned her woollen jumper into a plain t-shirt. Minerva would be proud of her.
Ginny had said to only follow the street where she landed and at the end of the street, there would be a big house and that was where her hotel, or her room, or her accommodation would be. Not that she knew where she was but after she had successfully fought the nausea from the long-distance portkey (which she despised), she walked bravely down the street.
A man sat in a little, old bar in the chair he occupied mostly every day just after sundown. He actually sat at the same table every day after sundown and should someone else dare to sit on that chair, at that table, a look of his was enough to send whoever had dared to occupy his place flying. For almost fifteen years, he had done so and for almost fifteen years, the gossips whispered that he was a practitioner of voodoo, or of any other dark art. That he could, with his eyes alone, make people do what he wanted them to do.
They weren't so far off from the truth. He had been an occasional practitioner of a dark art and if he had a wand, which was mostly hidden somewhere on his body, even though he barely wore long sleeves and couldn't hide it there, he could make people do what he wanted them to do. To cast an Imperius Curse wandlessly was a little tricky, even for him.
People considered the thing on his arm only a badly inked tattoo, too, and so, he gave even less on the opinion of others. Not that other people's opinion had mattered even the slightest bit since 1976 or so, not even here, where absolutely nobody had ever heard of him. Here, he was only the odd Brit who carried around a notebook and scribbled in it, who was at his table, on his chair every evening, right on the spot.
The barkeeper, mostly the same, always came to his table about two minutes after he had entered the bar and had sat down, the little black notebook in front of him on the table.
They only nodded at each other before he began to speak. "Un mojito, por favor," he said with a British accent and without even the slightest hint of a smile or a smirk or any expression on his face.
The barkeeper wasn't fazed by the lack of emotion on the man's face and grinned at him.
"¿Cómo le va, señor Severus?"
"Bien," the man grumbled and both men knew that it didn't matter what he had said. They both knew that he would never tell anyone what he really felt, how he really was and the barkeeper wasn't truly interested. It was their ritual and the man knew that he would never get his mojito as long as he didn't answer this question. After he had answered the polite question, he watched the other one walk away, watched as he made the best mojito in Havana, or somewhere in the world.
It was a quiet day today, the man noticed. Apart from him, there were only four other people in the bar. A couple of tourists and two natives. He remembered the two natives. A couple, married, possibly. Mostly fighting. Got married too young, had children too young. Were sometimes, after too much rum, too loving or too violent and he wondered, for only a second, which one it would be today.
The tourists were a surprise. Not a lot of tourists in that part of the city, and much less in that bar. It was too dingy for most of them, even in the mostly dingy surroundings of Havana. The man shrugged to himself and as soon as the barkeeper had put the mojito on the table, and was straightening to go stand behind his bar again, he reached for his little black notebook.
In that moment, however, as he took the first sip of the best mojito in Havana and in the world, the door to the bar opened and someone stepped in. Due to the bright light outside, it took the man a moment to see whether it was a man or a woman, whether a tourist or someone he had seen often before. It was only when the door closed again and when he had truly taken a sip of his drink that he thought she was someone he remembered. Not from Havana. Not from this continent and as she looked around the bar, he couldn't take his eyes off her.
"¿Quién es ella?"
The man paused and the woman who had just come into the bar met his eyes as well and even from a distance, he could hear her gasp and could see her gasp.
"Alguien a quien apenas recuerdo," he replied and meant it. He barely remembered her. She was the second to last person he had seen before he had ended one life and had begun another and he barely remembered her. Barely knew her.
She had only wanted a quick drink to digest the news that she had landed in Cuba. That Ginny and her husband had sent her to the Caribbean. That she had packed a completely wrong wardrobe and had spent over an hour transfiguring her clothes into more appropriate things. She had only changed into a knee-length skirt and a t-shirt and had only wanted a quick drink. In the bar closest to her hotel. And the concierge of her hotel had told her where she could get the best drinks in the entire city and she had gone there. By herself. Thinking about the world she had left behind for this week and maybe the next and the way Ginny and her husband had made her take the bloody portkey which she despised and that she was happy that her children were at Hogwarts. Wondering, only briefly, how to tell them that there was now almost a new sibling for them. Lucky that Minerva had banned the Daily Prophet from school and she would have to tell them sooner rather than later. Ex-husband had wanted to do it but she didn't trust him to do it and she was the responsible one after all. Still, it was no matter now. She was on holiday. She wanted to forget all about it. Would have to find a way, of course, to contact her children at school but other than that, she didn't want to talk to anyone.
Her mind was blank when she opened the door to the bar that the concierge hat recommended to her. It was blank but only for a moment. A moment of bliss and silence in her head before her eyes fell on someone.
Someone she remembered. Someone who looked so much like himself and then not like himself at all. He sat there and sipped on a drink when she had, together with Harry and Ron, buried him. She had buried what was left of him. She had buried him and he sat there, looking at her, sipping a drink.
His eyes were unmistakable. Those were his eyes and when he spoke to the barkeeper, briefly, she recognised his voice. The way he looked at her – he knew her. And she knew him. Even though she had buried him.
He looked at her. Pierced her with his eyes and she felt drawn to him. Her legs carried her over to his table and as he watched her, she sat down. She didn't smile, she didn't smirk, she tried not to gasp.
"We buried you," she said breathlessly.
"I assure you, you most certainly didn't," he replied and she knew it was him. The same inflection of his language, the same intonation, the same way to speak, the same silky voice.
He was there. In a bar in Cuba. Drinking something. Looking at her. When she had buried him.
"What did we bury?" she asked as the barkeeper came over to the table again and he only gestured before she could even say a word.
"I don't know what you buried," he replied effortlessly. "I assume it was the Simulacrum I left behind."
She shook her head and stared at him. His hair was a little longer than it had been and cleaner and he was less pallid than she remembered and less – lifeless. He breathed and talked and seemed quite open, actually. He held the glass in his hands and swirled the contents around a little before he drank again.
"Simulacrum? Of a living person?" she asked curiously.
"You have not changed at all, have you?" he asked.
She stared at him for along, silent moment, waited until the barkeeper put the same drink in front of her and took a long sip before she put it down again. Potent drink. No miracle then that he was open with her. He probably thought she was a hallucination. Or maybe he had expected her to find him there. Had Ginny and Harry known, she wondered? Seemed unlikely.
"Neither it seems," she replied slowly, "have you."
He let out a bark of laughter of the likes she had never heard before and a second later, he slammed his hand flat on the table and glared at her. "Come to drag me back then?"
She shook her head immediately. "I didn't even know you were still alive. I buried you. We buried you. There is a tombstone for you. People wrote biographies about you. You're dead."
"Then I'm dead," he said, sipping his drink and raising his hand towards the barkeeper.
"What are you doing here?"
"According to you, I'm dead, Miss Granger," he looked bored. "Maybe I'm haunting Havana."
"But you're not dead. You're alive. You let people think you're dead."
"Stating the obvious."
"I don't know what else to state," she shrugged, looking helplessly at her drink and the melting ice. "Does Harry know you're here?"
"Do you think I would be here if he knew?" he asked mockingly with an arched eyebrow.
She had to laugh at the expression on his face. A blend of being horrified, of mocked exhaustion and curiosity. "Possibly not."
"So he has something to do with the fact that you bother me?"
"Ginny sent me here," she said pensively, wondering how much she could, should tell him. In this surreal state, with Snape sitting with a mojito opposite her. Well, might as well. Maybe, with a little information from her, she would get information from him.
"She's married to Harry and has been for the last, erm, I think thirteen years. And she thought I needed a few days off since I just got divorced," there, she'd said it.
"Congratulations," he said, and his eyes were somehow glittering oddly.
"Thank you," she grinned back at him, the mojito relaxing her muscles and her brain and everything. Very potent drink. "He was just an arse most of the time and it took me so long to realise it."
The drink was truly strong and he was on at least his second and her glass was too empty for comfort as well and he, without even consulting her, waved a hand at the barkeeper again.
"Are you planning on making me drunk?" she asked, still grinning.
He looked at her curiously. "I wonder how long that will take. And since you're here already, miraculously, I wonder what else you will tell me in a drunken state about the state of Britain."
"You don't know anything about Britain?" she asked, emptying the rest of her glass as the next one appeared.
"You buried me, did you not? You did not find me in the Lake District."
"Why the Lake District?"
"Lancashire then. Yorkshire. Bristol. London, whatever," he pretended to yawn.
"You don't know anything? You spent the last sixteen years or so..."
"Eighteen," he interrupted.
"You spent the last eighteen years around here?"
He only looked at her and she knew that he had. "Why here?"
"Would you have expected me to find here?"
"Here?" she asked and felt herself giggling again. Potent drink. "No. There's only sun and beach and, well, drinks."
"Exactly my point. And the fact that Fudge, back then, severed all ties with the Cuban Wizarding World for reasons best known to himself. Those ties have never been renewed," he explained with a lot more warmth than before or maybe it only felt like this because of the drinks. But he had leaned across the table a little, on his elbows, looking at her intently.
"You've met me again not twenty minutes ago and you ask me why I vanished from the face of your earth," he snorted. "Have you not said that there are biographies about me?"
"But...Britain...I mean you could have..." the stuttered.
"Done what? Waited for the Wizengamot in all it's wisdom to decide whether I was guilty of murder or manslaughter or assisted suicide? Whether the atrocities I've committed were all in the line of duty or if I hadn't, perhaps, felt a little pleasure upon seeing Muggles die? No, Hermione, why should I have stayed?"
He rolled his eyes and emptied the rest of his glass in one go. The next one was ready for him already and she found hers half empty already.
"I always suspected it would be you who found me. I had only assumed it would happen sooner than this," he said softly.
"You expected me to find you?" she asked, gulping down the drink. It was good and grew better the more she drank.
"Who wouldn't have?"
"But...I thought you were dead," she shook her head and found her speech a little slurring. "We buried you."
"You were in a haste to bury the Simulacrum then, eh?" he smirked, his teeth flashing. The same crooked teeth.
"We...we had to bury all of them and Harry wanted to bury you early the next day. And we helped him. It was so real. I thought..." the glass was suddenly full again and she took another sip. It was good. Really good.
"Then my calculations were wrong, obviously," he had bent over the table again and whispered at her.
"Did you want me to find you?" she asked, the room spinning around her. She was hungry. Had to eat. Should eat. Or drink some more.
"I think that should be obvious."
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes. And I should get you back to your hotel."
Early the next morning, Severus waited in front of the hotel Hermione had staggered to, with his help, the night before. He had been a bit too drunk to find out how exactly she had found him. Maybe it was all a freaky coincidence. He had thought about her from time to time. Occasionally. During the years. She had been a bright spot in his teaching career. Annoying, but bright. And having grown in the last eighteen years into a rather beautiful woman with dark circles around her eyes and the odd bluish tinge people sported after long-distance portkeying. Hermione Granger was divorced and she had buried him. Or had helped bury him.
He had to see her again. She had nothing less than enchanted him the night before with her cute giggling and her drinking, her swaying on the street and her leaning against her when her legs had become to heavy the last few yards to her hotel room. He hadn't taken advantage of her but he had thought about her.
It would have been an exaggeration to say that he had felt something for his former student but she had interested him, even as a young girl. Her thirst for knowledge and her endless wish to prove herself, to be better than anyone and everyone. To incorporate herself fully into the world she hadn't known until she was eleven. That had fascinated and interested him and he had never, thanks to his line of work, been able to investigate further. How would it have looked if he – he – had tried to strike up a conversation with a child, or a young woman in Gryffindor. A muggle-born no less. He hadn't been able to and now he had this opportunity. Had presented itself in a bar, quite unexpected.
She was funny when she had a few to drink and he had made sure that he carried two vials with Sober-Up-Potion with him that morning. She would need it, had drunk even quicker than he had and with more vigour.
It was a marvellous coincidence. Of all the bars in the entire world, she had to walk into the one he went to every night. In the city he lived in. On that continent.
He spoke to the concierge in Spanish and handed him a few dollars he always kept in his pocket for this reason and with a smile, he was waved upstairs, told where she slept and with a smile of his own, a secret smile, he hurried up the stairs and as soon as he had found her door, he knocked on it.
He had woken her and with her tousled hair and in the skimpy t-shirt she was wearing to sleep, she looked even cuter than the night before in her inebriated state.
"You were not a hallucination, were you?" she asked, opening her door a little wider.
"Or your hallucination continues," he smirked and as she brushed her fingers through her hair, he dangled one of the vials of potion in front of her face.
"You still brew?"
He rolled his eyes. "Of course I do."
She nodded and sniffed the potion before she gulped it down in one go and sighed and smacked her lips. She looked almost like a new woman, someone he hadn't seen before and at the same time, there was a familiarity about her that he couldn't possibly deny.
And neither could he deny how drawn he felt towards her. Inexplicably.
Maybe it was just the dry-spell he had experienced lately, or the fact that she was the only person he had talked to in eighteen years who knew who he was. Maybe it was just the way she looked now with her legs bare and her t-shirt too large and her hair wonderfully curly and wild. Or the way she looked at him.
"I...," she began, "I think...what are you doing here?"
"I assumed you, if you hadn't changed completely, would like to see some of the city and the island. And I've lived her for eighteen years," he said slightly mockingly.
"Yeah, I'd love that, you would give me a tour and...you will answer me a few things, right?" she asked timidly.
"If you answer me a few things," he shrugged.
"Will you wait until I get ready?" she asked hopefully.
He nodded. "Downstairs. But do hurry up."
He felt inexplicably drawn towards him. He looked rather well, actually. The hair a bit cleaner and not quite as dark as she remembered. The skin still quite pale but not unhealthily sallow and he cut a rather nice figure in the polo-shirt and slacks. Especially after she had drunk the potion. He could have dosed her with anything but somehow, she did trust him. Now she trusted him. Wasn't that idiotic. But she couldn't explain it. He was someone who had known her since she was eleven years old and truly, how many people she was still in contact could say that?
And he was there. Miraculously. Wonderfully. He waited for her as she showered and dried her hair and didn't even complain (much) when it took her much longer than expected. He guided her outside on the streets of Havana and he held her elbow and he told her.
He told her, in the glistening sunshine of the Caribbean of the portkey he had taken when he was barely alive and how he had nursed himself back to health in a dingy old cabin somewhere he couldn't remember. How he had, impulsively, made the decision to go and to leave Britain and to start a new life somewhere nobody knew him and how the Cubans had needed a new Master Brewer at their Magical Hospital and how he had applied for the job without any kind of references and how they had taken him on. How he had left St Fernando's to get his own apothecary and how he worked there now, brewing for the witches and wizards and some Muggles of Havana. How he had grown accustomed to life on this island and how he had, once, listened to a speech of Fidel Castro and had almost fallen asleep.
How he had figured out that he would never ever be found by anyone because they would rather look in Greenland or Antarctica for him but how that was all moot because they all thought they had buried his body, which hadn't been his body.
How he didn't miss the memories he had given away, even though they were some of his best (he didn't say that quite so plainly, she figured it out all by herself). How he had settled in nicely in his flat and the way of life. How he missed English tea and scones and fish and chips and the never-ending rain sometimes.
And she, in turn, told him about her divorce and that she had married into a family which was now so famous that they couldn't even leave the house without being badgered by journalists. How Percy Weasley had become Minister of Magic just a few years before and how his marriage had died underneath that pressure. How the British public perceived him and that there now seemed to be a permanent jinx on the Potions-Master-job at Hogwarts and that no teacher lasted longer than three years and three days. How she had wanted to teach but had ended up doing something entirely different. How she had, in weak moments, wanted to stop the jinx and how she had, sometimes, wished for the monthly potion for witches she had always been given at Hogwarts and which had never been the same after he had died.
She told him that her children were both at Hogwarts and probably happy to have parents which didn't fight all the time anymore. She told him that she had felt deeply hurt to hear that Ron had fathered another child.
But those things, those delicate matters, she had only spoken of under the influence of a few mojitos in the evening.
During the day, he had talked and he had shown her things and she had listened and it had been terrible how attracted she felt to this man. He was older and wiser and less acerbic than the one she had known at Hogwarts. He was kinder and more mocking at the same time. But she had obviously learned in the past eighteen years that he had a sense of humour which was to be either appreciated or hated and now, she didn't taken anything at face value.
Sometime in the early afternoon of that day, she had forgiven Ginny for the portkey.
Sometime after her second mojito, she had wanted to kiss him badly. The way her name rolled on, then off his tongue, the way he bent over the table to listen more closely or to tell her something in her whisper and the way he ordered foods and drinks for her. Always assuming but unassuming at the same time.
The way he looked at her made her knees melt and her insides weaken. Or possibly the other way around. She couldn't be sure anymore.
She had three and a half mojitos when she asked him to go to her hotel with him. He had almost five mojitos when he took her hand and pulled her to his flat and gave her another dose of Sober-Up-Potion.
And then, when nothing inside of her changed, when her insides were still weak and her knees melted, she stepped into his embrace.
"I don't know if this is wise," he said gently, his face buried in her hair.
"My entire life has been wise," she replied, pressing her nose against his shirt. "And it hasn't been a good idea to live wisely."
At that moment, he looked down at her and she looked up at him and their lips met. They just met somewhere halfway and she couldn't say who had been the first to have made contact. She didn't know and she didn't care.
She began to care again when she couldn't pull his shirt over his head and when she heard his chuckle, deep inside his chest and she stopped caring when he pulled it off again and her to him. In his embrace, she couldn't tell what she felt exactly but she knew it was the complete opposite of portkey-travelling.
She took a deep breath, inhaled his scent before she began attacking the buttons on his slacks.
The moment she had sank into his arms, no, the moment he had taken her hand, he knew he was lost. He hadn't ever believed in this kind of love. He believed that love was meant to grow, steadily and exponentially, but now, he was witness and participant and could attest that it could happen. His interest in her had grown magnificently and he had wanted her from the moment she had told him about her divorce. Or even sooner than that, maybe as soon as she had stepped into the bar the evening before.
He felt her skin against his and was utterly besotted. There was no other word. He longed for it, and dreaded its absence even while he still had it against his. He dreaded the time when she would wake up in the morning, or would leave in the middle of the night because she realised that it was her old professor she had just slept with and so, because he knew no other way, he pulled her tightly to him and didn't close his eyes once as he watched her sleep.
She would leave him alone again, as every good thing in the world had left him alone again but he would be stupid to let her go without a fight. Her insights and her quiet interest in what he had to say was a novelty to him and the way she had attacked his buttons and the pouting mewling noise she had made when she couldn't get his shirt off, left him entirely taken by her.
He loved her. Even after seeing her for the first time in eighteen years, he knew he loved her. At first, grown-up sight.
She sighed in her sleep, her bare chest rising and falling steadily, her breasts entirely uncovered by the sheets in his bedroom and one of her legs entangled with his while the other one lay on top of the covers. Had debated getting air-conditioning – but if the heat made her sleep like this, he never wanted it. Not with her there. He would fight to keep her there.
"Severus?" she asked, half-asleep.
"Yes?" he asked back, tightening his hold on her and pulling her as close as possible to his body.
"I don't know if I'm dreaming or not," she said in a sing-sang voice, scratchy from sleep. "But if I do, please make sure I never stop dreaming this, okay?"
He nuzzled her hair with his nose and smiled. "If this is a dream, Hermione, I don't ever want to wake up either."
She turned in her sleep and lay fully in his embrace before she opened her beautiful eyes and looked into his. "I don't ever want to leave," she said with sadness tingeing her voice.
"I need a second brewer in my apothecary such as it is and I hear one gets perfectly used to long-distance portkeying," he replied and tried to make his voice sound steady.
Slowly, she bent her face towards his and let her lips descend on his and kissed him gently and sweetly and passionately and possessively. "You would hire me?" she asked against said freshly kissed lips.
"Without a second's hesitation," he replied.
"Then I'll accept," she whispered and kissed him again.
(and yes, this is it. The rest of this story is up to your imagination.)