XXX. The Only Exception

It took Severus years to realize that he was in love with Luna Lovegood.

He didn't think that he could reasonably be blamed for that. After all, he was rather emotionally out of touch with himself, and his life at the time had been a mess. A catastrophic mess, with his feelings all entangled in the past.

Though from early on, he knew that he could no longer live without Luna; a fact Luna would not accept. However, that did not make life with Luna easy. Nor did her patience, which he knew through much trial was not infinite, make things run smoother. Although, he supposed it did help a lot. Or else Luna would have never even considered being with him.

But she had proven true to her promise to always be there for him. And she had proven a more loyal companion than he could ever have dreamed or dared hope for. She stuck around, through every ill-tempered tantrum, through every self-loathing rant... always there to hold his hand and calm his spirit.

Life with Luna was often a surreal dream that he could never get used to.

There were times he feared his sleep, or to wake, and find that it was all a dream and like that first morning after they made love, that she would be gone; gone like she had never been there in the first place. But on those mornings, all he had to do was tighten his arms to reassure himself of her presence curled under his arm with her back pressed to him. She was there, almost every morning. And when she was not, there was a note explaining her absence. Usually an errand she had to run.

Severus wasn't sure he would ever get over having Luna in his life, though at times he forgot how important she had become to him. Usually when he allowed himself to wallow in self-pity or in the never forgotten, unrequited love he had for Lily. But those moments became fewer as the years progressed and Luna became more important than anything else.

It wasn't until their fifth year anniversary that he realized he was in love with her, not that either of them had been keeping tabs on anniversaries. Perhaps that was the reason why it came as such a shock to him that it had been five years. Being with Luna distorted all sense of time, and while sometimes his shortcomings made the relationship seem like time was passing slowly, at all other times it was like a blink of an eye.

Actually, he probably would have realized it had been five years, were it not for the damn Potter wedding to the youngest Weasley. Luna had of course been invited and saw fit to drag him along. It was during the reception, when he was sitting uncomfortably between Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom that the realization came; Luna being Ginny's maid of honor was sitting at the bride and groom table along with a few others.

However, his realization came not by any sudden epiphany of his own; it was thanks to Dean Thomas, asking him how long and Luna were together, and saying he guessed it had to be about five years, since the end of the war.

The realization floored Severus. He never imagined his life beyond Lily. Never imagined he'd ever care for another woman, nor predict that even if he did, that it would work out. Much less be going strong after five years.

For the rest of the evening, Severus gave himself over to his thoughts which revolved around Luna and her presence in his life. He tried to ignore the fact, as always he did, that she was about twenty years his junior, and that he was old enough to be her father, really. However, he'd learned long ago that Luna had always been wise beyond her years. Her eyes sometimes made him feel that she was older than time itself.

Besides, Severus was well aware that he had questionable morals. It was what enabled him to be such a good spy. Though there were those that still looked at him like he was a wretched and dishonorable man, he knew better. Or rather Luna did, as she seemed to think he was a good man and far be it for him to argue her logic because there was no winning there. However, he was not so stupid to do the honorable thing and give up the only person in s hie life that made him happy because she was so much younger than him.

When Luna came to collect him later that evening, she had been all smiles. And he supposed she had some glasses of wine, because wine was the only thing other than him in bed, that could make her cheeks that flushed. "Race you home," she said with a smile.

Severus couldn't help smiling at her in turn as he stood to go with her. Soon as they were outside with wands in their hands, they took off. The summer breeze and the darkness of the night whizzing by them, but Severus hardly cared as he trailed like smoke through the sky, while Luna zoomed and swirled around him like a shooting star. Sometimes, she came so close to him, he felt her hair, and could smell its honey scent.

She made him feel so young and light-hearted, like all his past had melted away and he was reborn someone else; someone who could be happy; someone that was genuinely, resplendently happy.

It was in that moment he knew, or realized what he had know all along, that there was no living without Luna there beside him.

She had always been the exception.

She was the only student who never feared him. The only students he couldn't faze in any way. She had been the only person to bother to really look at him, the only person to believe in him, the only person to care. The only person to make her way through every barrier, the only one to make her way through to his heart, without him being even conscious of it.

And Severus knew, she would be the only woman he'd never be able to live without.

He had managed to live without Lily. But Luna was something else. It actually scared the hell out of him. And Severus couldn't remember the last time he was afraid of anything.

When they landed outside Spinners End, Luna turned to him with a triumphant smile. "I win," she said, her voice like bells as Severus strode up to her and startled her by suddenly kissing her, like it was the first time. When he pulled away Luna looked up at him, breathless and questioning. Not that she was not used to his passions. Severus, contrary to belief, was a very passionate man. Any fool could see that.

"Marry me, Luna," he stated bluntly. He really had no artifice with words when it came to feelings and emotions. However, the pleading and slight fear was evident in his voice.

Luna, through her haze, smiled blearily. "I think most people usually do that before they move in with each other," she pointed out. She had already been living with him for several months. A fact that was evident by several murals around the house. Though, Severus thanked merlin that they were a bit more sedate than what was usual for Luna.

"We're not most people," he pointed out calmly, though his stomach was clenching so painfully he feared it would break him in half.

Luna smiled at his unfailing logic. "Do I get to have the wedding my way?"

"You can have it anyway you want," he replied, feeling his heart rate increase as hope swelled up inside.

"Ok then, lets get married," she said with a smile. Severus kissed her soundly to hide the relief he felt.

A month later, on the full moon, they had a small beach wedding. The ceremony was carried out in the dead of night, when the moon was at its highest in the sky. The night was clear and full of stars, and the waves rolled almost soundlessly against the beach.

Luna was barefoot and wore a light, silver summer dress that barely fell to her knees. Her hair was plaited into a long braid, with fresh dandelions braided into her hair.

The only people there, other than the bride and groom, and the officiator, were Luna's father, Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter. However, Severus had eyes only for Luna. He didn't care about anything else.

The ceremony was relatively short, though to Severus it felt like a lifetime before he was able to hear the words he most wanted to hear from Luna. And then it was his words to repeat, of which he was all to eager to say to unite his life with Luna's for all the world to know she was his. And then they sealed with a kiss.


A/n: Hope the ending was satisfactory. I want to thank everyone who read this story and reviewed. Every review was precious and appreciated. I am glad so many people liked this story, being as Luna/Snape are such an oddball couple, but that's why I love them so much and I'm sure you all agree.

As always, Please Review!