A/N: Final, humble thanks to my beta, the incomparable Lariope, my Brit picker, dearest MagicAlly, my alpha readers and dear friends, sshg316 and deemichelle, and most of all to my beloved SubHub, whose sense of romance has filled our thirty-five years together with magic and provided the real life inspiration that fuels my fevered imagination.
This is it, the final chapter and the end of our journey together. I hope you will share your thoughts with me, as I have shared this work of my heart with you, an endeavor over which I labored for fifteen months, struggling to perfect the weaving of the past and the present into a seamless whole. I will now devote my writing efforts to some original fiction endeavors, just to see if I can be successful there, as you have made me so gloriously, happily successful here. Check on my Live Journal (subversa dot livejournal dot com) for news of my progress in my new adventures. Thank you for reading Transcendent Quality of Remembrance, and in the famous words of Tiny Tim, God bless us, every one.
Transcendent Quality of Remembrance
We will live forever
Love each other
Isn't that the way that life's supposed to be?
Supposed to Be
11 July, 1998
Hermione lay awake in their bed in the forest, her last night at Forest Haven. She buried her face in Severus' pillow, breathing deeply of his aftershave—sandalwood and musk. He had created it for himself—had it been upon the occasion of their marriage? She didn't remember ever smelling any scent on him before that, but perhaps she had simply never been close enough to him. She was convinced that the aroma had been a trigger for her memories of their honeymoon, because her book, The Transcendent Quality of Remembrance, had postulated that scent memory was one of the strongest of all.
Most of her friends were still up, the new couples either saying their last goodbyes or making plans to meet up when they had all returned home. Only Hermione was in the house, in her bed, deep in her own mind.
Holding Severus' pillow as if it were the man himself, Hermione wondered if Hagrid had found Severus at home—if her husband was, at this moment, reading the account she had written of their weekend of love. And if he read it, would he believe? Be moved by it? She had no way of being sure. All she could do was hope and pray … and wait.
Severus began to read Hermione's letter, a crease between his brows, eyes narrowed suspiciously.
You came to our wedding very finely dressed, freshly showered and shaved, smelling very pleasantly of your aftershave. I was terribly frightened, worried that Umbridge would somehow interrupt the ceremony and send me away from Hogwarts, but we succeeded and went to the Hogsmeade Cottage for our wedding night.
I was unsure of what to expect from you. I had asked you that morning if you thought you could ever be attracted to me, and you answered, 'Don't be ridiculous!' I understood that to mean that you could not imagine ever wanting me, and I was rather discouraged concerning the possibilities of sex with you.
Severus shook his head. She had believed he did not want her sexually? What heterosexual wizard with a drop of blood in his body could fail to want a full breasted, round hipped, willing young witch in his bed? He'd had no intention of discussing it with her, that morning before their wedding, but how could she have so misunderstood him? How could someone so clever be so thick?
The potion was a fabulous gift, then, guaranteeing I would not have the embarrassing memories of intimacy with you to make things awkward between us after the wedding night. It was incredibly thoughtful of you, Severus. Ever since I recovered my memories, I have bitterly regretted swallowing the Lethe Elixir and depriving us both of the happiness we found at Hogsmeade Cottage—but then I remember how you relaxed after I swallowed the potion, and I wonder. If I had refused the gift of the Lethe Elixir, would you have still been so relaxed with me? There was a visible release of tension in your very bearing after I took the potion, and I'm sure your ease of manner helped me to be more comfortable with you.
So it's a question worth pondering, isn't it? Would you have been as demonstrative—as sexy and smooth and sure with me—if you believed I would remember our wedding night? Would you have been as receptive to my kisses and caresses? I'm not convinced you would have been the same with me, and in that case, I can't help but be thankful that I took the potion.
But ingesting it took us away from each other. It's an endless loop from which I can find no escape and deduce no easy answer.
Severus allowed the parchment to fall to his lap, his tongue darting out to moisten unaccountably dry lips. Of course it was true—he had been outside of himself on their wedding night, outside of the wall he had constructed to keep others away from him—to maintain a safe perimeter even the Dark Lord could not breach. The time at Hogsmeade Cottage had been completely out of context, and it would not have been thus if Hermione had not swallowed the Lethe Elixir.
His lips thinned, and he sent the scroll to the end table, standing and pacing into the small kitchen to put the kettle on. Hermione was right—had seen through to the very crux of the issue, damn her. If she had not swallowed the potion, it would have taken months … years … hell, they might never have made the transition to fully entranced lovers if he had been forever on his guard against her.
How could such a child intuitively know so much about him?
Because she's Hermione, you dolt! his inner voice informed him brutally, and at that, his lips quirked into a grudging smile.
His Hermione was a formidable witch—and an instinctive, natural lover.
And she wanted him.
He scowled at the thought. 'We'll just see about that,' he muttered, pouring the water from the whistling kettle into the waiting teapot.
12 July, 1998
Hermione made one last check through the attic room, looking inside drawers and beneath the bed, but she found no errant belongings of hers—or Severus'—hidden anywhere. Taking up her bag, she stood for a moment in the doorway, looking around the room. Here, he had asserted himself as her husband. Here, they had danced and coupled and merged into one being, wakening her memories of their love. Foolishly, she kissed her fingertips and pressed them to the doorframe, a silent thank you to the space that had seen so much that was now ineffably precious in her life.
Trailing downstairs, she found herself in the middle of a throng of Weasleys.
'You'll Floo once a week?' Molly was asking Ron, as Arthur shook Percy's hand and clapped him on the shoulder. The twins and the twins were exchanging good bye hugs, and Harry and Ron were chatting excitedly with Ginny and Luna, who looked less than thrilled at the notion of the two young war heroes on their own in London.
The house was immaculate, as Molly had demanded they leave it. Hermione wondered who the next inhabitants would be. With one last glance around the sitting room, she moved out into the late afternoon light and began the trek through the woods to the Apparition point.
Standing before the door to the dungeon rooms she had shared with Severus for the last six months, Hermione felt her optimism flagging, and her courage dropped to an all-time low. What if he wasn't here? What if he was? What if he hadn't read her letter? What if he had read it and still didn't believe she remembered and that she loved him?
She sagged for a moment against the wooden lintel before her back straightened, her chin rose, and she pushed the door open, entering the space, now as dark as a tomb.
'Lumos!' she said, and the candles in the sitting room flared to life—but Severus was not there.
Well, of course he wasn't! He wouldn't be sitting in the dark, would he? She gave her head a shake and went into her room—but it was also dark and empty. She glanced into the kitchen alcove, then moved into the bathroom, where she spent a moment staring at herself in the mirror.
'He's not here,' she informed her reflection, but even as she did, she knew there was yet one room to check. 'He'll kill me for going in there,' she said, but what else could she do? She wouldn't know if she didn't check.
Squaring her shoulders, she knocked on his bedroom door. 'Severus? Are you there?'
When he didn't answer, she opened the door, surprised to find candles already burning. Had he forgotten to extinguish them when he left? That was unlike him.
This was only the second time she had been in this room—the first was the day of the battle, and she'd not had time for a leisurely examination then. There was a highboy on elegantly carved legs, an armoire for his clothes, and a double bed with a Slytherin green cover. There were tables on either side of the bed; she thought the one with a stack of leather-bound books on it must be the side on which he slept. She was turning to go when the item on the other side table registered with her, and she whirled around again.
My Little Pony. A white one, with silvery glitter on its unicorn horn—even its hooves were gilded. It was similar to the one she'd found in her hospital room after the battle, only this one was more elaborately decorated. She'd never seen anything like it. Why would Severus have such a thing in his bedroom? What could it possibly mean?
She went forward to inspect the figure more closely, and at last her curiosity won out over her caution—she had to see if the decorative glitter was rough beneath her fingers.
The moment her hand closed about the unicorn, she realized her error. A sensation like a hook behind her navel gave her a mighty jerk, and then she was whirling through space, tightly clutching My Little Pony.
The trip was a short one, and Hermione landed awkwardly on the floor of a bright, cheerful room, at the centre of which was a large, squishy yellow sofa and two matching armchairs. On the sofa sat Severus Snape in shirtsleeves, trousers, and boots, her letter in his hands.
She was in the Hogsmeade Cottage.
Hermione scrambled indignantly to her feet. 'That was a shabby trick!' she said, making no effort to control her trembling voice.
He looked at her over the top of her letter, his black eyes mocking. 'You had to go into my bedroom to find the Portkey,' he pointed out. 'You've never been invited into my bedroom.'
'And this … this Portkey!' she cried, shaking it at him, its nylon hair flying untidily about. 'You did give it to me! I told you all about my collection on our honeymoon! How could you pretend you didn't give it to me?'
'Is that what you wish to discuss?' he inquired, lowering the letter further, giving her a complete view of his face. 'My Little Pony?'
He managed to make the words sound utterly contemptuous, and she straightened, torn between outrage and anger.
'Don't be such a git,' she advised him, tossing the unicorn into one of the armchairs.
His lips twisted into crooked smile. 'But that's one of my finer qualities,' he said, all trace of derision gone from his voice. 'It's been well-honed through the years—from before you were born, I'm sure.'
Hermione felt her anger fizzle away, leaving her with the realisation that she was where she had desperately wanted to be—with Severus—and she had no idea what he was thinking. He had brought her here—to their honeymoon cottage—and now what?
'I read this letter,' Severus said. 'It must have taken a long time to write.'
Hermione listened carefully, looking for some sort of trap in his words, but she found none.
'All night,' she admitted, thinking it would have been nice to know she was going to be shanghaied—she might have had time to do something with her hair. She tucked an escaped strand of it behind her ear.
'I thought it read almost like … a script,' he added, allowing the scroll to roll up and dropping it on the low coffee table.
'A script?' Hermione repeated curiously, and suddenly he was beside her, lithe as a panther, his black eyes glittering.
'Yes—or a formula,' he added, tugging the red scrunchie from her messy plait and dropping it to the floor. 'A recipe for a honeymoon.'
He fastened his rapacious gaze upon her lips, and Hermione felt her heart trip into a racing rhythm, whilst the distinctive scent of his aftershave enveloped her in a miasma of memory and desire.
'Severus,' she breathed, feeling her knees weakening, and she swayed towards him, relieved to be pulled against him with arms like iron bands.
'Perhaps you'll forgive me for skipping ahead,' he said, his face hovering over hers, his lips inches from her own.
'To what?' she asked, a banked fire in her blood beginning to smoulder from his mere proximity.
'"I believe it is customary to begin with a kiss,"' he said, very much as if quoting someone else's words, but when he captured her lips with his, it was all Severus: searing heat and breathless intensity.
She tasted of Droobles Best Blowing Gum, and in his arms she felt like heaven. He unwound her plait and buried his hands in her hair, holding her hostage to his kisses. When he imprisoned her thus, she trembled against him, all consent and surrender. He slid his hands down her back, cupping her bum and lifting, and in one smooth motion, as if it were ballet and they were trained, practiced professionals, she wrapped her arms about his neck and her legs about his waist. A Weightlessness Charm later, and he was carrying her up to the loft, to the bed where they had consummated their marriage.
Her brown eyes seemed fever bright as he placed her on the bed, and she scrambled to her knees, her fingers sure and quick upon his buttons. When she had his shirt off him, her fingers already at his belt, her teeth scraping over the discs of his nipples, he restrained the urge to thrust against her, up into her busy hands; instead, he reached beneath her tee-shirt and unfastened her bra. The first swipe of his thumbs over her hard, needful nipples seemed to incapacitate her, for she paused in her quest to make him naked, and he retaliated by stripping her tee-shirt over her head and disposing of her bra, allowing his eyes their fill of her kiss-swollen lips and her lush breasts.
Mere looking seemed to be an inferior choice to Hermione, for she was at his flies now, pushing his trousers and pants down his hips to get at her prize, which ached and pulsed at her touch. He watched in fascinated wonder as she lowered eager lips to the head of his cock. No, it was not the first time she had sucked him, but he was not yet accustomed to the idea of having a wife who wanted him in this way, with this adamant, singular focus on his pleasure.
Her warm lips closed on him, her tongue gently greeting his manhood as if she had been separated from him an age, rather than a matter of days. His eyelids fell, putting him in darkness and leaving him with the sensation of her touch and the sound of his guttural breaths. With one of her hands she cradled his scrotum, fondling his bollocks, and his fingers wound into her hair as he slowly thrust into her mouth, knowing he could not withstand much of this, not if he wanted to fuck her—and Circe knew he wanted that.
He pulled away from her, turning to sit upon the bed and remove his boots. She pressed against him, kissing and stroking, distracting him.
'Undress yourself, little tempest,' he told her, reaching for his other boot. 'The sooner you're naked, the sooner I can fuck you.'
Her trainers quickly hit the floor, and when he was ready for her, she was lying back upon her pillows, reaching for him—his tempest, that other half of him without whom he felt like a decimated, broken thing.
He stretched out beside her, intent upon delivering the ravishment she had earned, that she longed for, begged for by the mere fact of her nakedness in his presence. He wanted to take his time with her, make it last and last, but neither of them had the patience for such artistry. She wanted it hot and quick and dirty, and he was just the man to give it to her. So he settled for a taste of each nipple as he probed her quim, finding her slick heat with a groan of pure lust.
'Hurry, Severus,' she gasped, parting her legs for him, and with scarcely a fumble to find his way, he was deep within her, his harbour and his home.
She did not speak again, not in intelligible words, for she thrashed beneath him like a wildcat. Her calves wound about his thighs bringing him deeper, harder, whilst she clawed at his back and sunk her teeth into his arm, a suckling love bite, as if she would punish him for having had the temerity to leave her. Rather than being put off, he was inflamed by her savagery. He rose above her, pausing in his reckless plunging to stare down at her, wild and perspiring, scrabbling at him, as if to force him to enter her again.
'I love you, little tempest,' he snarled, and then he thrust again, resuming his pounding rhythm.
She came quickly then, loudly, and the first cry from her lips tripped his trigger, beginning the blinding, finalising release of his seed.
He sagged above her, held in place by her impossibly strong arms and legs. He was spent, exhausted, with sweat dripping from his body onto hers, but she would not let him pull away.
'You can't possibly love me,' she gasped, still recovering her breath from their exertions. 'You left me.'
He fell sideways, breaking her grip on him, and as he fell, he gathered her close, his eyes stinging with tears she could never know of. 'I shall never do so again,' he managed to say, pushing the words through a throat thick with emotion.
It was a July afternoon in a cottage loft; they were both covered in sweat, so it would be impossible to say if tears were shed by either of them. They clung together, whispering incomplete sentences of contrition and rather more complete declarations of love everlasting.
Unsurprisingly, they soon slept, and afternoon darkened to evening.
Hermione woke in need of the loo, and she rolled off the bed, feeling the delicious ache of having been thoroughly shagged. She attended to necessities and realised she was starving. She padded into the bedroom, where her beloved slumbered on, and grabbed clothing from the floor. Registering from the scent that it was Severus' shirt, she smirked and pulled it on, rolling the French cuffs as she descended the stairs.
Was there food? Would they have to return to Hogwarts to scrounge a meal?
But in the kitchen she found under a Warming Charm a roast chicken, sprouts in cheese sauce, and jacket potatoes—an encore of their wedding night supper. Even the champagne was there, frosty in its ice bucket. She smiled at the pink and white frosted fairy cakes and at the matching rosebuds in their vase, and as she leant forward to sniff them, she spied an envelope propped against the cut crystal—a heavy vellum envelope, emblazoned with the imprint of the Salem Witches' Institute.
How odd! Had Severus kept her rejection letter? But no, she still had hers, and this one had yet to be opened. She picked it up, half expecting it to be a Portkey, but she wasn't transported from the kitchen, which was just as well; after all, she was totally naked beneath Severus' shirt.
Curious, she broke the seal and withdrew a thick sheaf of papers, her eyes quickly reading the top page.
Salem Witch's Institute
The Mnemosyne Project
Office of the Committee on Admissions
July 11, 1998
Dear Miss Granger:
I am delighted to inform you that the Committee on Admissions has voted to offer you a place in the class entering in September 1998. Please accept my personal congratulations for your outstanding achievements.
I very much hope that you will decide to join us at the Salem Witches' Institute. Whatever your decision may be, you have my best wishes for every future success.
Professor Moneta Muninn
Hermione read through the letter again, trying to make sense of the words. She had already received a rejection letter from Salem—she had it in her bag, which was back at Hogwarts, but it did exist—so how could she also receive a letter of acceptance?
She looked up then and saw Severus lounging in the doorway, wearing naught but his trousers, which were halfway done up.
'Did you read it?' he inquired quietly.
'Of course I did, but it makes no sense!' she said, flapping the sheaf of papers at him. A small piece of parchment that had been tucked in with the others drifted to the floor, and Severus bent to retrieve it.
'Perhaps if you read this one, it will make more sense,' he suggested.
Hermione took it, recognising Professor Muninn's handwriting.
It is a true pleasure that I am able to send this letter of acceptance to you. Your Arithmancy professor contacted us with the information that your reference from her had been destroyed in the Battle of Hogwarts, an event which we at the Salem Witches' Institute followed with great interest. Upon receipt of your teacher's recommendation—as well as your impeccable year-end marks and NEWT proficiency scores—we as a committee made a special exception to our rules. Certainly, such events as those of which you were a part this year are of great importance to the entire wizarding world, not only those who reside in the United Kingdom. If we cannot make allowances for an authentic war heroine, Hermione, for whom can we make them?
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. I am very eager to have you working with me on the Mnemosyne Project.
Hermione looked to Severus. 'Did Vector do it on purpose? Miss the deadline?' she asked.
'Certainly not!' he replied. 'The letter was lost in the fire that destroyed her classroom, and she forgot about it. She was sincerely sorry, and she did what she could to repair the damage as soon as she realised her error.'
Hermione bit her lip. Should she tell him? In the spirit of full disclosure? 'I have been jealous of her. I thought you were sleeping with her.'
He stepped forward, his warm hands closing over her shoulders. 'Never, Hermione. She is a friend to me, as Potter is to you. There's never been anything else between us.'
She studied his eyes, and she knew it was true.
He cleared his throat, and his gaze wandered from her face. 'I have been jealous of Lupin,' he said quickly.
Hermione touched his face with her fingertips. 'I've never been interested in him that way. I can't even imagine wanting anyone besides you.'
He turned his face into her palm and kissed it.
'It was really very nice of Professor Muninn to go to so much trouble for me, but I won't be accepting, of course.'
Severus tightened his grip on her shoulders and gave her a tiny shake. 'Nonsense. Of course you'll accept. You've always meant to go.'
She gave a stubborn shake of her head. 'No. Perhaps another year, when we've had a chance to plan for it. I won't go, not without having discussed it with you. That's not the way a marriage works.' She tilted her head and rubbed a cheek against the hand on her shoulder. 'I won't leave you, Severus.'
His expression brightened. 'Ah, yes—about that…'
He released her and walked into the sitting room, taking up his discarded black frock coat and removing an envelope from an inner pocket. Abandoning her Salem papers, she followed him, and he put the envelope in her hand.
'What's this?' she asked.
'Well, you might read it and deduce for yourself,' he suggested.
With a roll of her eyes, Hermione extracted the papers and began to read, a frown creasing her forehead. She flipped through the additional paperwork, then gave a shake of her head.
'I can make neither head nor tail of this,' she complained.
He led her to the sofa, sat beside her, and began to explain.
'This one,' he said, indicating the top page, 'is a grant from the Ministry of Magic, signed by Kingsley Shacklebolt, our new minister.'
'But a grant to do what?' she asked.
He put as arm about her shoulders, drawing her closer. 'Your reaction to the Lethe Elixir was a textbook case, precisely what would have been expected … right up until you began to remember. I had told you the only reported instances of the potion effects reversing were old witches' tales. Those tales said that true love would cause the potion to reverse itself—but that sounds more like something from Beedle the Bard than Advanced Potion Making, wouldn't you say?'
Hermione twisted around so that she faced him. 'That potion had a black seal on it, Severus—I've never seen a black seal anywhere, and when I asked you, you evaded answering.'
He sighed. 'A black seal denotes Dark potions,' he said. 'One of the ingredients is rare and outrageously expensive, so batches of Lethe Elixir are scarce.'
'You gave me a Dark potion?' she demanded, her voice perilously near a screech. 'I can't believe you would do such a thing! And if it's so scarce, how did you get it?'
He twisted about so they were face to face. 'That potion had the exact effects you wanted, Hermione. You didn't want to remember, but you didn't want selective Obliviation, and I don't blame you. I wouldn't either. So … I brewed it.' She gasped, but he continued speaking. 'I found the hens' teeth—it can't be just any hens' teeth, you know. It has to be a Transylvanian Naked Neck's teeth. You were angry with me for missing the meeting with you the night before our wedding, but I was mucking about in Transylvania, avoiding customs officials—and then the potion had to be brewed …'
She continued glaring at him, furious that he would use Dark magic at all, much less on her.
Severus slipped a hand beneath her hair, his warm palm cupping the nape of her neck. 'There's nothing harmful in the potion—neither in the ingredients nor in the brewing process. There is nothing in it which would … taint you. It's considered Dark because of how it was commonly used …'
She was distracted by his hand upon the back of her neck, and she leant into it a bit. 'How was it misused?' she asked.
'Let me put it this way: It was known to the Death Eaters as a date rape drug.'
Hermione shook his hand off her neck and glared at him. 'I can't believe—' she began, but he cut across her.
'It was effective, you are unharmed, and I'll swear by anything you like—perhaps even your little pony, my tempest—that I'll never brew it again,' he said forcefully. 'I don't want to talk about this—I want to tell you about the grant!'
Hermione struggled with her revulsion. Oh yes, she could see how the Lethe Elixir would be a perfect date rape drug, for the victim would never remember what had happened after she—or he—ingested the potion. And what was the likelihood that one of the victims would then fall in love with their attackers? But Severus had done it as a way to pacify her—to give her the one thing she had asked for—and she believed him when he said he wouldn't brew it again.
Making a conscious decision to let go of her anger, she focused on his face.
'All right,' she said. 'Tell me about the grant.'
He grinned at her capitulation and kissed her once on the lips, hard. Then he took up the papers again.
'The ministry has funded me for the next three years to research other old witches' tales to find out if any of them have a basis in truth. I'm part of the Minister's efforts to bring the British Ministry into the twentieth century—just before we get to the twenty-first. I am the "Assistant to the Minister for Research and Development".' He smirked and withdrew the final page of the stack. 'It's a bit of a pay rise, too—but I suppose I'll need it without the school providing us with room and board.'
Hermione was perusing his papers again, finding they made more sense to her now. 'Will we be based in London?' she asked.
He put the papers aside and took her hands.
'There's no office for this work—I'll set up my own research facilities, but I'll be traveling quite a bit, so it won't much matter where I'm based, provided I make my quarterly reports to the Minister.'
Hermione swallowed, wondering where a wife fit into that particular scenario. 'Can I … can I travel with you?' she asked in a small voice.
He laughed aloud, a sound still so rare that it drew a smile from her. 'You can travel with me on your school breaks,' he assured her. 'But you'll be quite busy for the next few years. And when I'm not travelling, I'll be with you, in Salem. The Admissions committee didn't assign you to a dormitory—we'll have to go to Massachusetts soon to find a flat.'
Hermione Granger Snape was not an acknowledged Know-It-All for no reason; she had a wondrous brain with marvellous reasoning powers. She processed the new facts, filtering each into its proper category, assimilated all the information, and squealed with delight.
'I can go to school!' she informed him, as if it were news, and she threw her arms about his neck. 'I can go to school, and you'll go to America with me, and we'll have our own flat, and you'll have to travel for your work, but that'll be all right because I'll be busy with my studies—and when I've left uni …'
He stopped the flow of words with a very thorough kiss that obliterated her stacks of neatly organised facts, leaving only her unbelievable good fortune: to be here, in the arms of her smooth, sexy husband.
When he released her lips, he growled in her ear, 'Do you think we can put off planning the rest of our lives until after we've eaten?'
They filled their plates and drank cold water, for they were both quite thirsty after their afternoon exertions. Hermione chattered happily, but Severus was perfectly content to watch her every move as he refuelled his body. Her hair was in disorder from his earlier rough handling—but still too tidy—she would definitely require his further attentions to get her hair to the appropriate stage of glorious disaster he envisaged. Her beautiful brown eyes sparkled with delight as she spoke of their plans—and the sight of his witch in his shirt—knowing she was naked beneath the white broadcloth, and well anointed with his body fluids—made him want her all the more.
'… can't imagine how we'll get it all done in the time we have!' she was saying. 'We'll have to pack up our things and decide what we're going to store here at home and what we're going to take with us to America. And I'll have to contact the Housing Office at Salem to get a list of flats to let so we can begin making inquiries. Oh, and the witches and wizards in America dress more like the Muggles than we do here—you'll need a whole new wardrobe!'
He began speaking quickly, before she could draw another breath. 'Have you quite finished eating?' he inquired silkily, wishing the light behind her were brighter, so he could get a better view of her feminine curves beneath the masculine lines of his shirt.
Hermione looked blankly at her plate, which had little but chicken bones and a pool of cheese sauce remaining on it. 'Finished eating? Yes, of course I have.'
'Excellent.' He stood, took her by the wrist, and led her purposefully out of the kitchen. 'Your presence is required above stairs.'
Their second time, together in the bed in the loft, was entirely different from their earlier tryst. By golden candlelight, with tenderness bordering on reverence, he made love to her, slowly enough that her pleasureful writhing produced the magnificent disorder to her hair he had hoped for, and thoroughly enough that it could be said in all honesty that Hermione Granger Snape was lacking for nothing.
In the dark of the summer night, curled together upon the sofa before the hearth, they drank their second honeymoon champagne and spoke of the things close to their hearts.
She was in a glorious glow, delighted and delightful, appealing and completely beautiful. He was marvellously intoxicated, though whether by the wine or the woman, he did not know—nor did he care.
She traced the line of his jaw with a lightly ghosting fingertip and said, 'I still don't understand, Severus, why you never told me what happened on our honeymoon. What would it have hurt?'
He gazed deeply into her eyes, reflecting how easy it would be to slip into her mind—but he would never do that, any more than he would deliberately break a promise.
'I promised you that you would not remember what happened on our wedding night, little tempest. A wizard of honour does not go back on a promise.'
She cocked her head to one side. 'But not even when we were together at Forest Haven and everything was going so well between us? Why didn't you tell me then?'
He placed a finger across her lips. 'Because I gave you my word,' he said again, with finality.
She pursed her lips and kissed his finger before speaking again, this time in a more reflective tone. 'Oh, Severus—how hard it must have been for you to remember everything, believing I would never know what had happened between us.'
She would never know for certain, he thought, because he would never speak of it—but in those words, she hit squarely upon the heart of the matter. He had lived the months between then and now in an agony of hopeless yearning.
He took up the champagne bottle and refilled their glasses, then touched his glass to hers, holding her eyes across their raised hands.
'That's all in the past, little tempest. Let us look to the future: to Salem, to old witches' tales, and to the Transcendent Quality of Remembrance.'
Her eyelashes fluttered down for an instant, and he saw the minute tremble of her lips before she echoed, 'Remembrance.'
A/N: Today's song was the overarching theme song for this story on my playlist for writing TQoR. It came at the end of every disc I made, and I see it as Severus' final, half-defiant anthem for his life with Hermione. "Maybe I'm crazy, but I think for once in my life that the stars in the sky have all aligned" and "We will live together, love each other, die together ... Isn't that the way that life's supposed to be?" - I can see him finally embracing that particular destiny for him and Hermione, improbable though he might have thought such an ending would be, considering the life he lived. I would crank up the volume and blare down the freeway, singing with Default - and with Severus, of course - Supposed to Be by Default. You may hear it on YouTube.
Thank you for indulging my playlist-sharing compulsion. I hope you have found in it some measure of the inspiration I found.