AN: One more week…and then it all happens. In honor of my wedding coming up, here's another update. And it is, of course, mostly inspired by things going on in my own life. I hadn't planned it this way, but the timing of SS/HG's wedding just happened to coincide with my own nuptials. Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy and please review.

Chapter 37: This Magic Moment

Four months later….

The morning of the wedding of Hermione Granger and Severus Snape dawned like any other morning. As Severus sat at the antique writing desk in his quarters over a thick stack of papers, he marveled at how ordinary it all could seem…even though something extraordinary was happening. Severus sat back in his chair, his long fingered hands braced gently against the grainy wood of the desk's surface, and he contemplated his life. It was a natural thing to do, he supposed, considering that everything was about to change. For the better.

He thought about many things that morning. His old life, the one he'd gladly tried to shed, yet couldn't shake. Not for anything. That part of him, that mask, was a burden that he could not remove for so very long. So many years he'd held onto that dark, murky, depressing part of himself. Years ago, he'd thought that the end of the war would bring one of two things: death, or eternal damnation. Either way, he'd thought, his soul was doomed for the rest of his days. He'd resigned himself to it; to walk about in darkness forever more. He'd been so bitter, so angry, so very…empty. The war had ended, though, and then, oh, then, something wonderful had happened. Surely, he thought, as he fingered a piece of parchment with Hermione's writing on it, he was living a blessed life now. The darkness was dispelled, wrung out of him like the remnants of a wet rag. He was brought into the bright sunshine and allowed to finally breathe. And it was all thanks to Hermione.

He felt the beginnings of a smile forming on his face, relaxing the creases, the folds of stress and worry…she had rid him of that. He was free. And for the first time, he finally felt it. And now, beyond anything he'd ever dared to hope, he was getting married. He could hardly conceive of it. Him. Severus Snape, a soon-to-be married man. The thought caused a warm flutter to begin deep inside of him and unfurl throughout his chest. Like drinking a fine wine, it warmed the cockles of his heart. His Hermione. Looking at the clock, he finally decided it was time to get moving. He had much to do. He was getting married today, after all. And Severus Snape was never late.

Letting a bit of vanity take hold, he stopped for the briefest of moments to look at himself in the hall mirror. He didn't look half bad, he thought, and he paused for a moment remembering the fiasco of picking out his wedding garb.

The witch pursed her lips in sanctimonious disapproval as Severus turned down yet another ensemble. She was the finest couturier in Wizarding Britain, and she knew what looked good on a man. Especially a man of such…lucious proportions and coloring. She wouldn't have admitted it to a soul, but she took a fair amount of enjoyment upon measuring the snarky wizards' inseam. Merlin, he must be hung like a thestral, she'd thought in appreciation.

Severus stood, a deep crease between his charcoal brows as he glowered at the wobbling witch before him, her arms full of great, glittering yards of purple fabric. Harry Potter, the boy who lived to torment him, and his unlikely ally and friend in all this wedding business, was standing off to the side with an annoyingly satisfied smirk on his face.

"Absolutely not," Severus hissed at the proffered garment.

"Severus, have an open mind, why don't you," came the amused voice of Potter from the corner. "It's the latest fashion."

"I get my supplies straight from the Rue de Vetement in Wizarding Paris I'll have you know." The plump, bustling woman attempting to clothe him in robes that would make Albus Dumbledore's ensembles look tame was named Madame DuVelour, and she was currently getting on Severus' last nerve.

Severus clasped his fingers around the black wool fabric and swathed himself in his cloak imperiously. And if looks could kill…"I'll not be getting married in this abomination of fabric. I'll look like a bloody poofter in that….thing."

"But what will Hermione think if you show up in your typical black bat gear," Harry said, "looking skeptically at Severus. "Don't you think she'll want to see you in something, you know…a bit more…cheerful?"

Severus huffed. "I am comfortable as I am, thank you. And I do not wish to appear…cheerful," he snarled the word as if it were a curse.

"Fine. Wear black then."

Severus brooded a moment more, his dark eyes darting about the shoppe. He didn't want any of these bloody reds, greens, or even the silver that Potter had suggested. And Mme. DeVelour was lucky his arms were full of cravat options when she suggested Gryffindor Gold, for Merlin's sake, else she'd be sewing her couture with one less finger or two. He'd nearly given it up as a lost cause when he spotted it. It was perfect.

"I think, Mme., that this could work."

She spluttered, and stuttered…"this? But…Mr. Snape…this isn't fit for a wedding. It's positively…"

"It shall be perfect, thank you. Now, I'll need a cloak and a frock coat made. Have you the necessary measurements or am I to be accosted further during this visit?"

That shut up Mme. DuVelour, and the sewing commenced.

He took a moment to straighten the cravat at his neck and looked himself over one last time. He took in his lank hair, pale skin, and hooked nose. He knew he was no prize, but Hermione made him feel like a prince.

"That's as good as it gets, old man," the mirror wheezed, and Severus gave the gilded glass the sternest look he could muster.

"That will be quite enough out of you. Today is my wedding day. And even this ugly mug is going to smile. Maybe. Just for Hermione." And with an unusual spring in his step, and what looked to be a small, very subtle grin upon his lips, Severus Snape headed to the Great Hall.

"I can't believe you're getting married today!" Ginny squealed and waddled as fast as she could through the doorway of Hermione's room at Grimmauld Place. She had elected to stay there for the night, not wishing to be alone at Hogwarts the night before her wedding. Her chambers had been largely unused for quite some time, and staying with Severus was not an option. At least in Minerva's opinion. She well remembered that conversation.

"No! Most certainly not, my dear girl! You shall have to stay somewhere else!"

"Minerva…"

"Hermione," the older woman clasped her by the shoulders firmly, "It is wizarding tradition! The groom cannot see the bride before the wedding!"

Hermione made to interject again.

"Yes, yes, I know that you two have been shagging for months already, but you must do this part the right way!

"MINERVA!"

The older woman looked down at Hermione through her small spectacles, her gaze as motherly as Hermione ever saw it. "My dear, what harm can it do? Surely you can spend one night apart? I insist. Besides," she chuckled heartily as she poured them both a spot of scotch, "It will make your wedding night that much more…exciting."

With cheeks furiously blushing, Hermione agreed. And she was quite glad, in the end, because the level of anticipation she felt this morning was as pleasant as it was nerve wracking. Tonight, she would be someone's wife.

"I know Ginny, I can hardly believe it myself. It feels like it took so much to get here. I've waited forever to love someone like this…and be loved in return, and Severus too, well, he's waited a lifetime." she smiled, watching her red-headed friend struggle to sit down comfortably on the chair next to the vanity. At seven months pregnant, she was already at the stage where she was constantly uncomfortable, and Hermione took pity on her. Withdrawing her wand, Hermione charmed a cushion to place itself in just the right spot, and Ginny sighed in comfort as she settled her unwieldily body further against the pillow.

And then, for just a moment, the wide smile that had been on Hermione's face since she'd woken faltered…if only just a little. But Ginny noticed and frowned.

"Hermione, are you all right," she looked at her friend with concern?

Hermione swallowed and nodded, forcing the smile back onto her face, but this time there was a little strain. She had thought often about the conversation she'd had with Severus several months ago. Though she was assured completely of his love for her no matter what, it still pained her to think that she couldn't have a child. Unconsciously her hands went to rest upon her empty womb, and she wondered for at least the thousandth time if that part of her, deep inside, would remain empty forever. Seeing Ginny's belly growing round and firm, richly housing her third child made it hard to forget the painful thoughts in her heart, the physical evidence on her friend squeezing like a vice on her emotions.

"Oh Hermione," Ginny whispered, tears forming in her eyes for her friend. Hermione had told her of the situation not long after Severus had found out, and Ginny herself had felt an awful mixture of sadness for her friend, and gratitude for her own blessings. She reached a hand out and pressed it against Hermione's trembling one. "I cannot promise that it will happen the way you want it to, Hermione, but you will have all of your dreams come true. I can promise you that. And Severus would say the same. He has said the same, so you told me. Take heart, Hermione, and do not think about things you cannot control. Today is your wedding day! You should be joyous. This is a wonderful occasion.

Hermione wiped her tears away with a shaking hand. "You're right. I'm being silly," she sighed and turned to face the mirror, lifting her mop of curls off her forehead. "Well, dig right in, I suppose," she said. Ginny rolled her eyes.

"Said the spider to the fly," Ginny grumbled as she took up the comb and pins. At this, Hermione laughed. She laughed, and she was glad, that for a moment, this moment, she could have a good laugh with a good friend. And she was happy.

….

The room had been decked out to the nines, and Dumbledore had seen to it that both the Slytherin and the Gryffindor banner floated merrily above the deus which had a charmed arch of lilies of the valley, narcissus, and baby's breath decorating the 'alter'. Dumbledore, was of course, serving as master of ceremonies, and he'd dressed for the occasion, wearing splendid grey robes that were sparkling with what appeared to be minuscule stars embroidered in silver threading. Even his long beard was decked out, a silken rope of silver and white was tied at the very bottom, a glittery charm or two hanging off the end.

Severus stood, his shoulders back, his eyes fixated on the great, oak doors which were currently shut. But he knew that any moment, his bride, his Hermione was going to appear at those doors. And he could hardly wait. His heart felt constricted, and as the music suddenly began, and the onlookers-comprised of many students, staff, and members of the order stood, Severus felt his vision grow fuzzy.

"Severus," Harry hissed from his left side, "you're going to need to take a breath. Hermione will turn her wand on me if you loose consciousness."

Under normal circumstances, Severus would have been annoyed, but not this time. This time, he ignored Harry completely, (though he did force himself to breath deeply through his nose,) and focused solely on the vision that was now seemingly gliding her way down the long aisle of the Great Hall.

Hermione met Severus' gaze, and suddenly nothing else existed. It was only him, and she was moving forward, seemingly of her own accord. She nearly forgot about the audience, almost didn't register that Professor McGonnagall was leading her down the aisle, almost didn't hear the music, provided by Professor Flitwick's charmed pixie choir. All she saw was the man she loved.

She knew that Severus didn't consider himself to be a handsome man, by any means. And, she supposed, it was true he wasn't conventional handsome. But to her he was the most beautiful man on the planet. She could fall into his deep, dark eyes for days, spend hours tracing her nose against the aristocratic bridge of his own, and sliding her fingers through his silky soft hair was a pleasure she could happily indulge in for the rest of her days. She always admired his physique, and had always enjoyed seeing him in his trade mark black teaching robes. Something about the tailoring, the cut of them, the way they billowed and allowed him to cut a fine line through any crowd appealed to her in the most basic of ways. But today…she was struck speechless. The cut and style of his attire was almost identical to his normal robes. But the subtle changes had made all the difference. Instead of wool, Severus was wearing silk dyed the deepest of midnight black, the cuffs of his dress shirt beneath, only visible in slivers here and there were of a velvety black that was even darker than the coat and cloak, if possible. He looked…stunning, dashing. He made her breath catch in her chest. And as she made her way toward him, it was clear to everyone in the crowd that Hermione had eyes only for Severus.

Severus stood at the alter, his eyes dark and shining like pools of liquid night, and it was clear to everyone in the room, that he had eyes only for Hermione. She looked like an angel. The robes she wore had been tailored impeccably, and were of a white so bright it seemed to glow like the moon. The neckline was deep, but tastefully so, allowing him to see just the barest hint of the swells of her breasts. The wedding robe was edged in fine fairy lace, and seemed to float about her ankles as she walked, and her hair, though as short as it would always be, was shining with a lustre that brought out every single honeyed facet of her curls. She was mesmerizing, and my god, she was his. His one thought, as she came closer and closer, was that he was one lucky bastard.

"Friends, colleagues, family, we are happily gathered here to bind two souls together as one," Dumbledore's voice rang out in the hall. Hermione leaned her toward Severus and whispered softly, "You look so wonderful," her breath fanning against his ear in a sinfully intimate way.

"Never have I seen anyone more beautiful than you, my Hermione," he whispered back, his voice as velvety as it ever was, but with a gruffness that belied his emotion.

Throughout the ceremony, they had eyes only for each other. It mattered not to either of them when their kiss went on longer than was perhaps customary. Neither heard the whoops and hollers. But when they separated, they felt complete and whole.

Severus' eyes crinkled at the corners, and his lips twitched into a smile, for her, his Hermione.

"My wife," he murmured, pressing one more kiss to her temple.

"My husband," she sighed into his neck.

Dumbledore broke the moment for them, though they remained pressed close against one another.

"Ladies and Gentleman! I present to you, for the first time as a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Snape!" And with a wave of his wand, millions of sparkling discs of confetti erupted from the ceiling, showering the couple, and those in attendance, in gold, silver, red, and green.

TBC

I thank you all so very much for reading. It would mean a lot to me to hear your thoughts! Please take the time to review. Thanks again! Next time you hear from me…I'll be a married woman! YIPPPEE!

SS