AN: This is the last in the 'Better' series of one-shots…

It's rated M for a reason. No under 18s!

I stole Hermione's dress directly from a friend of mine. You know who you are!

The wedding had gone well enough…not perfectly: He was better, his OCD no longer ruled his life…he'd come to terms with many of the things he'd seen and done. BUT…Even if he was better, Potter's hair had been extremely distracting. Severus couldn't avoid seeing it since the boy who-didn't-own-a-hairbrush was standing as his best man. It was difficult to focus on anything but Potter's messy hair.

At least until the march began and Hermione entered on her father's arm…from the moment he saw her, coming toward him in white, nothing else could hold his attention. The rest of the evening had gone surprisingly well from their vows to the cake cutting. He was far too happy to bother with minor details that would normally bother him.

He didn't begrudge Potter his dance with the bride, nor did he mind twirling Minerva around the floor. He even allowed Weasley a single dance…it was faintly amusing that the boy was dreadfully careful where he put his hands and his eyes stayed on Severus more than the bride.

Bride. His bride.

He'd never been overcome with joy in his life…he'd always faintly sneered when people claimed they were…and here he was, at something as common as a wedding…barely holding in his overwhelming emotions.

He didn't care that one corner of the cake was shorter than the other. He didn't mind that someone had decided to use twenty-three floating enchanted candles instead of twenty-four to light the dance floor…though why anyone would stop at twenty-three when the nicely symmetrical twenty-four was one candle away was beyond him…

Hermione wore her joy on her face, and it showed in every movement, every word, and every glance.

And she had agreed to be his. She was ecstatic about marrying him.

She was obviously unhinged.

His beautiful, mad bride tossed her bouquet. A faintly amusing scuffle ensued but Miss Brown once again proved herself totally lacking in refinement and emerged with her elaborate hairstyle ruined but with most of the ragged bouquet. Severus smirked as he reflected on the probable ramifications of that for her future husband. He silently wished whoever married her good luck. They'd need it. Being married to the baby-talk spewing female would be almost as conducive to happy home life as adopting a pack of rabid wolverines.

He took Hermione in his arms for their last dance of the evening. Most of her wild curls were confined with bejeweled pins (and it looked like some sort of charm had also been used to achieve the effect.) A few long curls corkscrewed down her back, but one errant curl had made its way in front of her. It drew his gaze to the creamy skin incased in the floating white gown. Not even the sight of her lovely cleavage could keep his attention long. Her whiskey-brown eyes ensnared him. He knew that his eyes were burning with love and joy.

He forgot the dance, forgot the music, forgot the crowd, and bent down to kiss her. She tasted of cake and punch, and faintly of mint from her own rather obsessive oral hygiene practices. She was trapped in far too many layers of lace and boning for him to actually feel those lovely curves as he held her close, but her scent filled his head.

Laughter and applause brought him back to reality. The guests were watching with sickeningly sweet smiles. His new wife blushed up at him and put her head on his chest. He held her tenderly for a moment as he wordlessly dismantled the wards. Then, without so much as a nod to the crowd, he apparated them to the remote cottage he'd arranged for their honeymoon.


He carried his new bride over the threshold (which had once been a strictly magical tradition which finalized the new member of the family being keyed to complex protection spells on a property…but was purely symbolic in this case).

He'd dealt with the luggage earlier in the day, everything was in place.

The kissing continued for quite some time. He couldn't believe that he now had every right to kiss her. And not only did he not have to stop there, it was fully expected that he wouldn't. His heart began to race.

He pulled away from her sweet lips reluctantly. She opened her eyes, confused.

"I need…a shower."

"Now?" Her tone was disappointed.

She was distressed.

"It's been a long day and I need to wash before we…we go to bed."

She looked up at him for a moment, then pushed back his hair and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Do I need a shower too?"

He buried his head in her neck and kissed the spot that made her gasp. "Only if you want one. There's a large bath tub in the main bathroom. I'll use the shower." She still looked confused, but not upset as he picked up his bag of toiletries and made his escape.

He'd promised himself that he wouldn't do this. This was her day…and her night. The idea that she'd waited for this night, had never consummated love before…it filled him with somewhat conflicting emotions. The most logical part of his mind admired her beauty and strength. The least evolved part of him reveled in the fact that when he took her, she would be his entirely…

But there was a large slice of his psyche that was terrified.

He had loved only once before…and it had never been physical.

His single experience with the physical expression of love had been a twisted encounter with Bellatrix when he was a young, untried death eater; it was the reason he'd learned to toss off the impero. He shuddered and turned on the hot water, letting it sear his skin as he scrubbed.

He didn't want memories of that night to intrude. He wanted to be everything Hermione needed. As the white suds slid down his body he noted that one part of him wasn't conflicted in the least. He briefly considered taking the edge off, but he didn't want to make her wait any longer for him.

He dried his hair and skin quickly and pulled on a pair of soft cotton lounge pants. She might have decided to take a long bath, and that would give him time to set up the room properly…with a nice, even number of candles.

She was sitting on the bed, still in her white dress, staring at the luggage when he walked in. He went to her.

"I'm sorry love." She never failed to surprise him.

"What in Merlin's name do you have to be sorry for?"

"For being upset."

He wrapped his long arms around her and pulled her back so that she was lying on the bed. He brushed her cheek and kissed her pink mouth lightly.

"We're both nervous about tonight…I need it to be right for you…"

"All I need is you…that's what's right."

"You are too good for me."

She laughed, eyes sparkling. "Do you think so? I won't let you in on the truth then."

She pulled him into a kiss that bore no resemblance to chaste. Her mouth was hot, and the motion of his tongue in her mouth and her tongue in his quickly left them both panting. He dipped his head to the beguiling cleavage left bare in the dress, nuzzling the soft mounds first with his nose, then dipping his tongue between them and below the line of fabric. Her fingers stroked his hair, his bare arms, and his back.

"You have me at an unfair advantage love."

She smirked up at him. "What, you mean all the lovely pale skin I can touch?" She pushed him to his back and licked his chest, running her fingers over his stomach and tracing the thin line of hair that led lower in a way that made Severus wish that he had taken the edge off in the shower.

"Witch, if you keep that up…"

She gave him a wicked smile. "Have I told you that I love you today, husband?"

His breath caught in his chest. He had a moment where he was certain that this was a dream. It had to be. His life was not like this.

He pulled himself together. "Not in those words." He kissed her softly, trying to show her that she was his treasure. "Have I told you today that I love you, wife?"

Without warning, she was crying. What had he done? He reached up to brush away the tears, distraught. She smiled through the tears "Not in those words. I never thought I'd hear them from you."

"It never occurred to me that you'd want to hear them."

She growled. He smiled at her, his little lioness. He ran a finger across the top of her dress, skimming under the fabric.

"Let me help you out of this dress."

She sighed happily and turned around. Dozens of tiny pearl buttons began at the small of her back and continued down the train.

"We only had to undo the first twelve or so to get me in the dress." He kissed her bare shoulder and traced the smooth skin along her spine from her neck to the dress. Only then did he slowly unbutton each little pearl, revealing her satin undergarments. Lace, and a corset, and garters…she was a vision of everything he'd fantasized about as a young man. He let the dress pool at her feet, and offered his hand to help her step away from it, still in her white heels.

He didn't even look at the discarded dress as he flicked wandless magic at it to hang it up.

He pulled her to him, enjoying the feeling of her. Her skin was warm, and he wanted to run his mouth over it. He pulled her back to the bed and kissed her feverishly as he removed the pins from her hair. He counted them in his head as he tossed them toward the nightstand. He'd accio them for her in the morning. Tonight he couldn't wait to bury his hands in her fragrant hair. He loved the way it smelled. And then to feel it running along his body…he shuddered and groaned.

Her hair fell down (he felt her do a silent charm to remove the spell). Her scent filled the air and he began his slow exploration of her skin. In between the stockings and the corset there really wasn't that much more smooth skin available to touch, but the way it was displayed was mouthwatering. He removed the heels, then a garter. She shuddered as her ran his thumbs up her inner thighs. It took all his control to keep from burying his face in the moist heat he could feel pooling between her thighs, but he resisted. Every book he'd read (thirty-two) had insisted that slow was the key with a virgin bride. He rolled the first silk stocking down her smooth leg, kissing her ankle and stroking the bare skin the length of the leg several times as she hitched her breath in the most flattering way. As he knelt between her legs, he could see the white satin knickers were beginning to darken from her arousal.

He swallowed hard and continued his planned assault to her senses. He removed the second garter, and rolled down the other stocking the same way, then kissed his way all the way up to the apex of her thighs and allowed himself to breathe in the heady scent as he stroked her through the fabric. She made a desperate sound as he moved away, but he quickly returned to her lips, while his fingers continued to caress the newly bared flesh of her legs.

He rolled her half on top of him, never releasing her lips and began to untie the corset in the back. His normally clever fingers fumbled when she rubbed her satin-clad heat against his straining erection, but it was only for a second, and she seemed pleased to have elicited a response from him. Looking up at her, hair falling down, breasts half-bared under the corset, he wondered that she didn't realize that she could get a reaction from a statue. Even stone wouldn't resist her.

He finished unlacing the corset, and she willingly put her hands up so he could slide it up her body. He watched as her belly button came into view, and never took his eyes off of her as inch by inch, he revealed her stomach and then her wonderful breasts.

The corset was flung somewhere away from the bed. As good as it had looked on her, it was so much better when it was off. He pounced on her soft mounds, filling a hand with one and moving his mouth to the other. Heaven. She held his head lightly encouraging him with little mewling sounds and by arching toward his mouth and hand.

He switched at least once, but for a time he was lost in a haze of delirious pleasure, moving from breast to mouth to neck, leaving light marks on her sensitive neck, rubbing his hard cock along her body as he moved up and down.

Hermione was sobbing with want when he finally removed the last obstacle to his path. She was neatly trimmed, and beautifully wet and pink as he allowed himself a taste. This was the part he'd worried most about. He wanted…needed her to come for him.

He'd read all about it of course, and he was a clever, talented man. He could do this.

He licked her outer petals as she tried to keep still. He could feel the muscles in her thighs straining, and her little fists were balled in the sheets. He took this to mean that he was doing the correct thing, and let his tongue dip into her wet passage as he moved up to her pearl. Then, with light pressure he teased it, sucking the delicate flesh into his mouth more than once. He ran a cautious finger around her opening several times before sliding it into her. He groaned when he considered what that tight, wet, heat would feel like to his aching cock. He found her barrier. Damn. He had hoped that her adventures had removed it. He wasn't looking forward to causing her discomfort, much less the pain some women reported.

He redoubled his efforts while the single finger caressed her inner walls. He felt her walls clinch around him, the muscles pulling his finger deeper.

He gave her sex a last lick and returned to her breasts while her body recovered. She turned to him with shiny eyes.

"Severus…that was amazing. Thank you."

He grinned as he nibbled her breast. "My pleasure."

He wiped his mouth on a sheet, worried that she wouldn't like the taste of her own juices. She kissed him without hesitation so he surmised that she was not offended.

His fingers returned to her wet folds. He looked at her face as he thrust first a single finger, then two into her. She squirmed a little in his arms, but she claimed it wasn't too uncomfortable. He kissed her and worked her tight body for several minutes. The head of his cock was weeping when he finally removed his cotton pants. He was vaguely disgusted with the sticky mess on the inside of the pants, but Hermione was waiting.

He guided the head of his swollen member to her wet folds and rubbed it slowly up and down, teasing them both as he worked it into her. She closed her eyes. He pushed as far as he could until he met the barrier. He shut his eyes and thrust, hard. She arched, this time in pain.

He held her hands which were fluttering around their joined bodies, and went back to kissing her as he tried to stay as still as he could. He wiped tears from her eyes for the second time that night.

She relaxed into his kisses and he began to move cautiously.


She nodded, not looking at all sure.

It wasn't fair that she was hurting when it felt so good to him. He went back to her liberally marked neck. It didn't take long for her to begin moaning against the suction. He could feel her body accepting him…it was intoxicating.

He moved carefully at first, kissing her, mimicking what he was doing with his cock with his tongue. His fingers slid along her skin to tease her nipples, back down to grip her thigh.

Her walls began to flutter weakly, and he felt his body tense. He buried his sweaty head in her neck as he came inside her.

She petted his head and kissed his sweaty brow. Severus sighed and rolled off of her. She was too delicate to take his weight. He pulled her to him.

"There are no words…"

She stopped his lips with a kiss. "Sometimes you don't need words, love."

He held her tight. As they cooled she began to get gooseflesh on her arm, so he pulled a sheet up.

"Do you want a bath or should I use a cleansing charm?"

"Mmmm…I don't want to get up…I'm so sore."

"I have a potion that will help that."

He did a quick cleansing charm on them both, and then dipped two fingers into the little tub of ointment on the table. He suppressed a smirk, but he did love being sufficiently prepared. He gently inserted his fingers into her, rubbing the soothing cream in as he went. His cock tried to twitch to attention when his fingers entered her again, but he firmly told himself that she would not be ready again until morning, if then.

"I'll run you a warm bath in the morning." He kissed her and pulled her body close. She smiled up at him, wrapped in his arms, and drifted off as the potion healed her. It wouldn't be so difficult again. He sighed contentedly. His wife. In his bed.

The memory of that terrible night so long ago had not intruded at all. He could look back on it with a sort of peace…Bellatrix was dead. She hadn't ruined this night for him or for Hermione. He had overcome so many of the old, foul things from his former life.

As he watched her sleeping in his arms, he realized that life had turned out better than he could have hoped. He wrapped his long frame around his witch and slept.

AN: I think my OCD Severus is going to be all right. I'll get back to working on PTSD now!