A/N: Well, this is it! Again, I want to say thank you to everyone who has followed this story...
2 YEARS LATER
The irritating buzz of an alarm clock dragged Severus from his sleep. With his eyes still closed, he reached out and thumped the damned thing, quickly silencing it. However, it had done its work and Severus would soon be forced to leave his warm cocoon. For now, though, he turned over, moulding his body around his young wife. She sighed softly in her sleep, and Severus draped an arm across her. Closing his eyes again, his mind drifted, and soon he was thinking of all that had happened since Hermione had given up her post at the Ministry.
For almost a year and a half, he and Hermione had worked ceaselessly on solving the problems concerning her anti-Obliviation potion. It had been frustrating at times, and had caused more than one argument, but in the end they finally succeeded. Severus remembered how he had wrapped a supportive arm around her waist as they walked up the driveway to her parents' house in Sydney. The blank expression in their eyes had brought Hermione close to tears. Even though she had known they would not recognise her, it hadn't made actually experiencing it any easier. Using the ruse that he and Hermione were interested in buying a property in that area, they had asked the Grangers if they could look round their home. They had also relied on the British fixation of offering tea to guests as a way to slip them the potion. True to form, within fifteen minutes of stepping foot in the house, Mrs Granger had made them a pot of tea. That had been the easy part.
It was a few weeks before the Grangers finally decided to let their daughter back into their lives. Things had been tentative to begin with, but the Grangers' love for their only child soon pushed through all of the mess and heartache. Not long after that, Severus, who had been welcomed warmly by Hermione's parents, asked her to marry him. When word of their engagement leaked out into the wizarding world, it had been headline news in the Daily Prophet for a week. And for almost a month after that, articles continued to appear concerning the 'heroes of the war'.
Half an hour later, Severus finally forced himself to get up. Rubbing his eyes, he carefully pulled away from Hermione and slipped quietly from their bed. He found his slippers at the foot of the bed, then he removed his dressing gown from a hook on the back of the door. It was still early, but as Headmaster he was not afforded the luxury of sleeping in late. The Board of Governors were due to arrive at the castle promptly after breakfast, and he had half a dozen letters to respond to before breakfast in the Great Hall.
He had only entered the living room when a gentle tapping on the turret window drew his attention. With a slight flick of his hand, the window opened and an owl flew in, landing elegantly on the table beside him. It dropped the post in its beak onto the table, then flew away once it had received a biscuit from Severus. Reaching for the morning edition of the Prophet, he tucked it under his arm before looking through the rest of the post. One letter was for him, the other three were for Hermione. Taking the newspaper with him to the sofa, he sat down, opened it, and began to read. Thankfully, he and Hermione had been considered 'old news' for some time now, though Potter still managed to make it into the papers at least once a week. Sometimes Severus felt a twinge of pity for him. The young wizard couldn't even attend a Quidditch match with his new wife, Ginny, without having cameras thrust in his face.
"Good morning, Severus," Hermione greeted him sleepily, as she shuffled into the living room.
"Morning," he replied from behind the paper.
"Anything interesting happening in the world?"
Severus lowered the paper, then arched an eyebrow. "Apart from Potter's appearance at a Quidditch match?"
Hermione glared half-heartedly at her husband before going to the table to open her post. A moment later, and exactly on time, a house-elf appeared in the room with a pop, leaving two cups of freshly made coffee on the table. She bowed then disappeared back to the kitchens. Without taking his eyes of the paper, Hermione saw Severus wave his hand, summoning a coffee cup to him. Sometimes she envied his skill at wandless magic.
After taking a sip of coffee, she opened one letter and began to read. It was from Ginny. She and Harry had married six months ago, after he had finally accepted an Auror post that was based in London. Ginny had told him that they couldn't have a proper relationship if he kept buggering off for months on end to track down Death Eaters. Hermione wasn't sure what had finally swayed Harry's mind, but she was glad he had wised up in the end, and realised what he had with Ginny. As she continued to read, she was pleased to learn that George was expanding his business – he planned to open a joke shop in Hogsmeade. Fred would have been proud of him, she thought wistfully, then looked over at Severus – if George valued his life, he would steer well clear of her husband. Ginny ended her letter with news that Ron had met someone recently, and so far things were looking pretty good. It wasn't long after their disastrous confrontation two years ago that Ron's family began to notice a change in him as well. Eventually, it was discovered that he was suffering from – in Muggle terms – post-traumatic stress. He had never allowed himself to grieve for Fred properly.
"Who are the letters from?" Severus asked.
"There's one from Ginny, one from my mum, and…oh…"
Severus lowered his newspaper. "What is it?"
"It's…I think it's from Draco."
In an instant Severus rose from the sofa and walked the ten steps to the table where Hermione sat. He pulled out another chair and sat down beside her, waiting anxiously as she opened the envelope. Seeing his wife's hands tremble slightly as she unfolded the letter, Severus draped a comforting arm across her shoulders. A moment later, though, she handed it to him, then leaned in closer, resting her head on his shoulder. Clearing his throat, Severus started to read.
Severus and Hermione,
I hope this letter finds you both in good health. I'm sorry I haven't written to you before this, but circumstances didn't allow me to. Mother and Father are fine, though my mother rarely leaves my father's side. It won't be long I'm sure before our disappearance is splashed across the front page of the Daily Prophet. My parents, and I agreed with them, thought it would be best not to sell Malfoy Manor. House-elves are keeping the estate in order, and it will buy us a little longer before someone realises that we are no longer living in the country.
We've settled on the outskirts of a small village close to the Alps. Of course, my father isn't altogether thrilled to be living so close to Muggles, but we don't want to risk being recognised in the French wizzarding world. I'm not sure if we will return to England any time soon, as the thought of another onslaught by reporters would be too much for us all – most of the British wizzarding world is still reeling after my parents' early release from Azkaban.
Though, if you both were ever to decide to holiday in France, I would love to see you. It's not all bad here, and I have made one or two friends, including a nice girl, whose father is the landlord of a small pub in the village. That, however, is something I will have to break to my father gently; could you imagine his face if I were to tell him I rather fancy a Muggle.
I promise not to leave it so long before writing to you again.
Severus continued to stare at the letter for a few moments after he finished reading. He felt Hermione relax beside him, and knew she was as glad as he was to finally hear from Draco. Finally, he folded the letter, handing it to her again, watching her briefly as she tucked it into a pocket of dressing gown.
"At least we know he's safe," Severus said, rising from his chair.
Hermione smiled at him. "And he's making friends."
"Somehow I don't think Lucius will be quite so pleased."
"He'll just have to get used to it, then, won't he," she said, taking another mouthful of coffee.
Severus said nothing, but simply shook his head as he returned to finish reading the paper. He wasn't about to start an argument with his wife over whether or not Lucius Malfoy would accept his son's involvement with a Muggle.
"Well, I'm going to get ready," she said after a few minutes.
"Breakfast isn't for another hour," he said.
"I know, but I just want to go over a few things before then."
Detecting a trace of anxiety in her voice, Severus set down his newspaper and stood. "Come here," he said.
Hermione walked towards him and stepped into his embrace.
"You have nothing to worry about, Hermione," he said in a low, silky voice.
"But what if I don't live up to everyone's expectations?"
"You would not have been given this position if I or Horace, or the Board of Governors did not think you were capable of it."
Hermione hugged him tightly. "You better wish me luck, then."
"You don't need it, Professor," he said, tipping her chin gently to kiss her.
Half an hour later, Severus donned his customary black robes, then turned as Hermione walked from their bedroom. A faint smile touched his lips as he watched her adjust her new teaching robes. He had no doubt that she would make an excellent Potions professor; a fine replacement for Horace Slughorn…and himself.
"Are you ready?"
Hermione sighed, then nodded. "Yes, I think so."
"Remember," he said firmly, "If the students give you any trouble send them straight to me."
Satisfied, Severus opened the door to their quarters. "After you, then, Professor Snape."