Summary: A series of five drabbles (each exactly 100 words long) based on Dark!Marriage Law premise. Prompt was "buttons."

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and fictional places do not belong to me; I am merely borrowing them for playtime before (respectfully) putting them back. Thank you JKR, for allowing such things to happen.

Pairings/Main Characters: Hermione Granger and Severus Snape

Warnings: AU. This story is rated K+

Thank You: JeniD for introducing me to Granger/Snape 100 and inspiring this drabble series. Thank you also to Savva for making a beautifully apt banner (available on The Maple Bookshelf and Live Journal)

By: TycheSong

One… two… three… four… there were exactly thirty-six buttons on Severus' frock coat. They were small, round, black buttons and were, quite frankly, getting more and more difficult to do as the years went by. In not too many more, he would have a hard time doing them at all, and would have to perhaps resort to—his lip curled—a button hook. Perish the thought. It would perhaps be permissible if he were to change his attire, set aside the overly staid and repressive style he had worn for so many years. And yet… Hermione dearly loved undoing them.

Five… fifteen… twenty-five… thirty-five… they had been married for precisely thirty-seven years now. What had started as a law and a lark had become Hermione's life. She had been apprehensive in the beginning, uncertain of how she might possibly find any level of connection or affection with this Death Eater—this man—that she had been bound to until death did them part. It had been the buttons that had changed things. Severus had held still, frozen, while she had tentatively undone them the first time. His breath had hitched—oh-so-slightly!—and she had realised. He was apprehensive as well.

Twenty-one…seventy-five… Hermione had never understood why he had chosen her. The law had merely stated that all between the ages of twenty-one and seventy-five who were unwed needed to find a partner or one would be found for them. She had received exactly one offer, and she could not bring herself to accept Ronald. The ministry had planned to match her with Thorfinn Rowle, no doubt at the Dark Lord's directive, and she had despaired that she had made the wrong choice after all. Then he had suddenly volunteered. She had stared numbly at Severus Snape's buttons throughout the ceremony.

Seventy-six… fifty-five… thirty-seven… She was twenty-one years his junior, and she had been pale as death when Under-Secretary Umbridge had announced with a charming smile that she was to be wed to Rowle. It wasn't his business; the Dark Lord looked after his own and had surely found him a better choice. Yet, Severus' had seen the terror and despair in her eyes, and his own had drifted to the one undone button at her throat. He had desired. It had shocked him into speech without thought. Four hours later, Hermione had been his. That had been thirty-seven years ago.

Thirty-eight… nineteen… Hermione wondered sometimes, how things might have been different if Harry Potter had won when she was a teenager. Would her husband have even survived? The dark regime had been brought down five years after she would have graduated—had she been allowed to. It was her marriage that had saved him then; she did not regret it in the least. She had endured censure from what remained of her friends for her defense of him, and he had never actually expressed gratitude. Severus had merely smiled—that dear, crooked smile!—and she had slowly undone his buttons.

A/N: Thanks for reading my little drabble exercise-I would love to have reviews, pretty-please! Also, this story has no banner/cover art. If you are interested in making one, let me know. :-)