Hermione decided she had ignored most of the wedding planning long enough, and agreed to meet with Ginny, Molly, and Fleur that Thursday afternoon. Ginny had suggested her sister-in-law help them, reminding her of how beautiful her wedding to Bill was despite the constrictions the war had placed upon them, and Hermione was grateful for any help she could get. She went to the Burrow, fearing that if Severus saw anything related to the wedding it would put him in a foul mood, and the Burrow was home almost as much as her own house. Molly, as expected, greeted her with a tight hug, and they sat around the kitchen table. Fleur had come prepared with a folder and a pad of paper.

"What were you thinking for the wedding?" Molly asked after a bit of catching up.

"I don't know," Hermione replied honestly. "I've never planned a wedding before."

"Well, we have a few things that are more pressing than others. First, we need to talk about your budget."

"Severus and I both have some money put away, but rather than put a number on it, I'll just say that neither of us are very fussy and don't need anything too extravagant. I have my priorities: A nice dinner and some good music to dance to. Other than that neither of us are the type for something flashy or over the top. If I put out a number I'm afraid we'll have someone say we're under budget and could invite more or get fancier decorations or something we don't really need. We would like it to be intimate, with just our closest friends and perhaps a few of Severus' former colleagues. We don't need giant floral arrangements, or a cake taller than either of us, I don't need a giant wedding gown... I don't want to be cheap, but I would like to be frugal, if that makes sense."

"Perfectly," Fleur nodded. "You know ze wedding will cost money, but you know what you'd rather spend your money on, and what you find frivolous."

"Exactly," Hermione smiled in relief.

"Do not worry, 'ermione. Eet will be beautiful."

"Thank you."

"Good," Molly nodded. "Next we should talk about a venue..."

"Oh, I, um, I have one lined up," she said softly.

"Really? Where?"

"Narcissa offered me use of the ballroom at her estate."

"Narcissa Malfoy?" she asked in surprise.

"Yes. I had lunch with her over the weekend. She showed me the ballroom, and offered its use to me for the wedding. It was a beautiful room, and I thought it would be nice to have a venue without having to worry about tromping all over the country trying to find a suitable place that doesn't make Severus balk at the price."

Molly looked at Ginny, who shrugged. "It's her decision, Mum. I think it's brilliant she found a place, that's one concern out of the way. I don't think it's a big deal, it's not like it's the Manor. And if she's getting along with the Malfoys now that's her prerogative."

Molly sighed then shrugged. "Good. That is one thing out of the way. Have you thought about attendants, dear?"

"Harry, and Ron if I can convince him," Hermione replied quickly.

"That's it?"

"Yes," she nodded. "I'm sorry, Ginny. I love you, but..."

"No need to explain," Ginny smiled. "I think when you spend as much time as the three of you did hiding together in a tent in the woods you're obligated to kill each other or stand up at each other's weddings."

"That's one way to put it," Hermione chuckled.

"Are you worried about Ron saying no?" Molly asked.

"He's not happy about the wedding," she said softly.

"I could talk to him."

"No," she shook her head. "It's up to me to ask him, and I don't want him to feel forced to participate. If he doesn't want to stand in the wedding I understand, and I'll just have Harry."

"Come now, you've been his friend since you were first years. He should be there for you."

"But he's hated Severus almost that long as well. This is a lot for him to deal with, and I don't want him to feel pressured to stand and support something he has no interest in supporting. Please, just let me talk to him. I won't be hurt if he doesn't stand up."

"But..." Molly started, but Fleur cut her off.

"'Ow about Severus?" she asked. "'Ow many do you think 'e will 'ave?"

"I doubt it'll be more than one, two at the most, and only because he needs a witness. And don't be surprised if they have the last name Malfoy. Not sure if it'll be Draco or Narcissa, but he has said they're his oldest friends. It would probably be Lucius if he weren't in prison, so I guess I can thank God for small favors."

"Is his best man going to do a speech?" Molly asked.

Hermione bit her lip. "I know it's traditional, but this is such an unorthodox situation. I don't think whoever he picks as best man is going to be able to talk much of me or of Severus and I as a couple. Perhaps we should forgo speeches."

"Or, alternatively, we could make Harry give a speech," Ginny said, with a mischievous smile.

"Oh, sweet Merlin, no good will come from that," Hermione chuckled.

"But someone should say something," Fleur pointed out.

"I'll be happy to tell Harry he has to make a speech," Ginny offered.

"Can we put this in the pile of things I don't need to make an immediate decision about?" Hermione pleaded. "Honestly, I think Severus and I need to have a talk about it."

"Good idea. Just one quick question, though: Should I tell him to wear black?" she asked with a smirk. "Being that it is Snape's wedding and all."

Hermione bit her lip to hide her smile. "I'm quite sure that Severus will be wearing his traditional black attire, so perhaps something like what he wore to the Yule Ball?"

"I will make sure he looks impeccable," she said with a subtle wink.

"What colors were you thinking?" Fleur asked.

Ginny raised her hand. "I vote for red and gold."

"I think he would turn around and walk out, and probably hex the lot of us for good measure," Hermione giggled.

"At least no one would be able to call the wedding boring if that happened."

"I honestly wouldn't mind 'boring' if it meant the groom not injuring someone."

"You just have to suck the fun out of every occasion, don't you?" Ginny asked, smiling.

"Someone has to be the counter to the madness you, Ron, and the twins bring upon this world," she chuckled.

"Just tell me you're not having green."

"I was thinking dark purple, actually."

"That's acceptable," she nodded.

"Oh, so glad you approve. Anything else you want to give me permission for in regards to my wedding?"

"Girls!" Molly sighed, though a hint of a smile played on her lips. "With the venue decided, we should start thinking about food, music, and a photographer if you want one. Those will all need to be reserved soon, I would think."

"I really liked who you used for the food and music," Hermione turned to Fleur. "If you have contact information I'll talk to them."

"Of course," Fleur nodded. "I'll send you ze information by owl as soon as I get home."

"Thank you."

"I think Luna might know a good photographer," Ginny offered. "That one who did your photos for the Quibbler did a nice job. I'm going to have lunch with her next week, if you'd like me to talk to her for you."

"Brilliant," Hermione nodded, relieved so much seemed to be going so smoothly.

"Have you thought about where you want to look for your dress?" Molly asked.

Hermione felt her stomach drop. "No idea," she replied honestly. "Narcissa said she could set something up with the owner of Twilfitt and Tattings."

"Zey 'ad some beautiful dresses there when I was looking for one," Fleur nodded.

"It wouldn't hurt to set something up, right? I don't have to buy if there's nothing I like," she said, having a feeling that she could try on every dress in the shop and that circumstance would make her hate everything she put on.

Molly nodded. "Of course. Who would you like to go with you?"

"You all, obviously. And I told Andromeda I'd like her to come. She never got a chance to pick out a proper dress with Tonks, and I think she missed the experience."

Molly smiled warmly and nodded. "I think we'd all be honored to help you."

"Thank you," Hermione replied softly. "Is that it for now?"

"I think you've done enough," Molly nodded.

"Now zat the formalities are out of the way, I want to know if you 'ave thought about your 'oneymoon," Fleur said.

"Honeymoon?" Hermione repeated in surprise.

"Of course," Molly smiled. "You'll want a good, proper holiday after all this is done. You two deserve it."

"And Merlin knows Snape needs it," Ginny added.


"Only speaking the truth, mum."

"Did you have a honeymoon?" Hermione asked Fleur, not wanting to say anything else because she secretly agreed with Ginny.

"No, not yet. Ze war, it made us feel uncomfortable leaving. We are going next month to Tuscany for our 'oneymoon."

"I honestly have no idea where we'd go," she shook her head.

"You should talk to him," Molly said. "Both of you deserve some time to yourselves."

"Yeah, I'll talk to him," she muttered. Part of her wanted to run to Harry and Ron to talk to them first just to watch their reactions.

"Come on," Ginny said, standing up. "I fancy a walk."

"Sure," Hermione, standing and following her out of the house.

"So... that was fun," Ginny said as soon as they were out of earshot of the open windows.

"I am never getting married again," Hermione grumbled, kicking a rock, which nearly hit a gnome in the head. It stuck it's tongue out at her before scurrying down a nearby hole. She fought the urge to apologize, and settled for mouthing 'sorry'.

"Even if the next one is for real?"

"I'm eloping. Just me, him, and some gaudy fake celebrity in some same-day chapel in Las Vegas or something well away from here."

"I can't picture you getting married by some celebrity imposter," she chuckled.

"And, what, me marrying Snape is something out of a fairy tale book?"

"No, I can't see that either. Eloping isn't too far out of line for you, though I'd expect it to be some vineyard or some quiet place overlooking some beautiful natural wonder. Or a library! I'm sure there's somewhere on this planet you can get married in a library!"

"Am I that predictable?"

"Considering everything that's happened over the last, oh, two years or so, I'd say no; except when it comes to books. If I ever lose you, I'm going to set a trap and bait it with a vintage copy of Hogwarts: A History and I'll have you back within an hour."

"Well, don't take this as affirmation of your assumptions of me, but wedding in a library does sound lovely."

"I'm glad to see some things return to normal."

"Oh, shut it," she sighed.

"Is something playing on your mind?"

"Besides the fact that I feel like I'm making a mockery of marriage?"

"Because you're not getting married for love? It's not that different from arranged marriages, and those happen all the time in the pureblood families."

"Not in the last fifty years. It was made illegal by the..."

"There's a difference between illegal and doesn't happen," Ginny interrupted her. "For example, it is illegal to break into Gringotts, steal something, and liberate one of their security dragons on your way out, however I seem to remember something like that happening just a few months back, and the perpetrators were forgiven."

"You wouldn't say forgiven if you saw what Harry, Ron, and I have to go through to get in that place nowadays," Hermione grumbled.

"The point is just because something is illegal does not mean it's not in practice. It's just not in practice with consent of the Ministry. Should one of the parties complain, the Ministry would intervene, but it doesn't happen often because complaining usually means getting kicked out of the family."

"Are there a lot of arranged marriages?"

The pretty redhead shrugged. "It's fallen out of fashion, though there's one here and there. It's mostly for money or power. Theodore Nott's mum was shopping around at one point for his older sister. I overheard her complaining one time when we were sitting near her in Diagon Alley. She didn't like any of the prospects. Seemed upset that the Malfoys weren't interested in sending Draco down that road."

"Ugh, why would anyone want to marry that ferret?" she shuddered.

"He's quite popular with the Slytherin women. Or, at least he was quite popular. It'll be fun to see the politics of that house when classes resume. I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of wound-licking for a couple years. Gits. Their only bragging point is that one of their own stole the Gryffindor Princess away from her house."

"I'm pretty sure Severus doesn't give a damn about houses anymore."

"Yes, well, when you've taken the beating that house has, you take what you can get. They'd probably actually consider it more of a victory if they knew you're only doing this to keep him out of prison. No one would believe it was your idea."

"That's not an uncommon sentiment at the moment."

"I'm sure you'll be glad when they move on to another scandal and start ignoring you."

"I don't think that's going to happen until after the wedding."

"Yeah, but give it a few months after, when you two have them convinced your relationship isn't going to come crumbling down at any moment. They'll move on once you're boring."

"I sincerely can't wait," she sighed.

"Maybe once things have quieted down you and Severus can drift apart, so to speak," she said cautiously.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if you are really careful, you don't have to wait until your fake marriage is over to find someone to spend time with."

"You mean get a boyfriend?" she asked in a low voice.

"Maybe not a full relationship, but if it's just a fling what's the harm?" she smiled. "You could use Polyjuice potion and there's very little chance of you getting caught."

"Except the Ministry is insisting that we get a fidelity charm," Hermione informed her.


"We got the notice the other day."

Ginny scoffed. "That's not that big a deal. I guess it'd be embarrassing for you to have him know who you're shagging, but what's he got to complain about? I'll perform the spell for you and the Ministry will never be any the wiser. Mind you, I won't much care to see who Snape is shagging, but I could ignore the notices..."

"The Ministry is insisting on performing the charm themselves. I think for just the reason you're proposing, actually."

"That's rubbish," she groaned. "Maybe we could find a sympathetic Ministry employee. Percy owes everyone every favor they ask; or perhaps Dad..."

"I doubt they're going to go for it. If we go asking for someone so connected to us they'll probably figure out exactly why. If we're not ridiculously careful we could both be in Azkaban."

"Where's that Hermione who was willing to bend the rules a bit?"

"When I bent the rules at school all I risked was expulsion. If Severus goes back to Azkaban it'll kill him. He's not strong enough for us to be foolish. Not to mention I don't fancy a stay myself."

"Hmm..." Ginny mused. "Well, if the only option for you to shag in the next fifteen years is Snape, have you ever thought about shagging Snape?"

Hermione burst out laughing. "I can honestly say the thought has never crossed my mind."

"Well... why not?"

"I think shagging Harry has made your brain start to rot," she said, shaking her head.

"Shagging is fun. It's why I think you should try it."

"I will. When Severus isn't my only option."

They walked in silence for a moment before Ginny started again. "If you got him talking to you and closed your eyes..."

"No," Hermione said firmly. "In case you forgot he'd have to be a willing partner, and he has made it quite clear that he has absolutely no interest in me in that way."

"Probably because he doesn't think of you as an option."

"And I won't be presenting myself as one. End of discussion."

"You do realize at some point you're going to have to do something, or your first boyfriend after you're out of this marriage is going to wonder how the hell you managed to be married for years and have absolutely no bedroom experience."


"Think about it. What if you lose a good man because he thinks you're a terrible shag when you're not terrible, you're just inexperienced? How are you going to explain that?"

"I said end of discussion."

"Fine," she sighed. "I think the boys are out playing Quidditch. Should we force them to take us out to dinner?"

"Actually, I have a dinner date with my fiancé," Hermione said, looking at her watch.

"How charming," she pretended to gag.

"It's not bad," she chuckled. "We're going to a nearby pub, so it's not like it's anything fancy. He just thinks that we need to be seen in public, and not just by the wizarding world. If we look like recluses to my neighbors they might start poking around where we don't need them poking."

"I'd see where you have to be extra careful in a Muggle neighborhood," Ginny nodded. "I'm sure a few have noticed that you have a baby there once a week and no one knows how he gets there."

"Only Mrs. Jacobson has noticed, and I've just told her Andromeda works at a coffee shop across town, and has to be there early, so she drops him off early. None of my neighbors are early risers. Severus takes walks in the mornings and has mentioned how he doesn't see much of anyone."

"Maybe that's because they see Snape walking down the street. I'd hide, too."

"Stop," Hermione chuckled. "They like him. They think he's an intelligent gentleman, who won me over and helped me through a particularly difficult time."

"They ignore the fact you're barely of-age to them? Well, best not let them know he's a prat who has a temper."

"He's not that bad."

Ginny thought for a moment. "No, he's not," she nodded in agreement. "Don't tell him I told you about this, but he apologized for what happened last year."

"Really?" Hermione asked in surprise.

"Yeah. I told him he didn't have to, but he insisted. I think he's feeling genuine remorse for his part in the war."

"He's the reason a lot of us are alive."

"I know. But I honestly don't think he could take being thanked right now."

"It needs to be done."

"It will be. Eventually. You started, with all this you're doing to keep him out of prison. I think that's all he can take at the moment."

"He really doesn't seem used to having people doing him favors, does he?" she mused.

"For a fake husband, you could do worse."

"Absolutely. I should probably get going," she said. "Say hullo to Harry and Ron for me."

"I will. See you," she wrapped Hermione in a tight hug.

Hermione Apparated back to her house. The place was silent, so she assumed Severus was in his lab, and hurried to her room to start getting ready. She put on a nice pair of slacks and a blouse, then spent nearly twenty minutes carefully working Sleekeazy's into her hair until it was more curly than bushy, then pulled it back so the mess of curls wouldn't bounce in her face. A couple touches of makeup later and she wandered downstairs to find Severus waiting for her. He was wearing an all-black Muggle suit, and he was cleaning something black from around his fingernails.

"Accident in the lab?" she asked, looking at them.

"No," he replied. "I spent all day in your garage."

"The garage? Doing what?" she asked in surprise.

"I took the liberty of doing a tune-up on your car. It hasn't been run in almost a year, so it needed a little work to get it going."

She stared at him, dumbstruck, for a long moment. "You know how to fix a car?"

"Seeing as the car is running now..." he trailed off, as though that were answer enough.

"But magic isn't that good at fixing Muggle vehicles. You need to know what's wrong with it before you can fix it."

"It's a good thing I knew what was wrong with it," he snapped. "And I did not use magic, well, I didn't use much magic. I did clean some things using magic, but most of the work was by hand."

"When did you learn how to fix a car?"

"My father was a mechanic. When I was young he brought me to work to teach me. Cars nowadays are a bit different, but the basic concept is the same, and it didn't need a lot of work, just a bit here and there, some fresh fluids and a new battery and cables. Luckily it was a new car, and your garage is dry, so it took better to sitting around without starting for a while than an older car might."

"You remember all that from when you were young?"

"My father wouldn't have let me forget," he said darkly.

She bit her lip and looked away from him. "Brilliant. Thank you. Do I owe you anything for the repairs?"

"Don't..." he started, holding the door open for her.

"Mention it," she finished for him. "Got it. I'm assuming you can drive it, then?"

"Can you not?"

"I was at Hogwarts when I turned seventeen then I was in hiding or on the run."

He opened the car door for her, and she slid into her seat. She noticed Severus must have cleaned the inside of the car. Her parents, for as organized as they were in their home and dental practice, let their car become a graveyard of old receipts, coffee cups, and discarded clothes. He also, at some point, must have paid the car tax, as there was a new tax disc on display. As he sat in the car she opened her mouth to ask if he wanted her to reimburse him, but was sure enough of the answer, so she stayed silent.

"Sleekeazy's?" he asked after pulling out onto the road.

"Yes," she said, touching her hair. "It took me twenty minutes to get it like this. It's bloody impossible, but if I go out within ten miles, with my hair in its natural state, someone recognizes me, and it's never someone I wish to speak to."

"Old friends from the neighborhood?"

"No," she shook her head. "Former classmates. I had about as many friends in primary as I did my first couple months at Hogwarts."

"So the pinnacle of popularity, then," he smirked.

"With the teachers, perhaps. Though I think I remember one particular teacher at one of my schools who didn't care for me."

"Perhaps that teacher thought you had more intelligence than to just regurgitate facts from the book, and wanted you to realize that the ability to recite facts does not equal intelligence."

"It might have been nice if he had said it instead of calling me an insufferable know-it-all."

"He was not known for sugar-coating his message."

"No. He wasn't."

They were silent for a moment before she said. "I have a feeling you know what it was like to be the outcast in school, though I think I had it better at Hogwarts."

"Depends on your definition of better. I had the Marauders to deal with, but it wasn't my friends leading me into life-threatening situations, and I didn't have to give up my seventh year to try to take down a psychopath."

"At least I had Harry and Ron throughout."

He focused hard on the road, and she took it as a sign the conversation was over. The rest of the ride was silent, and he parked outside the pub. She let him walk around the car and open her door, and took his hand when he offered it to help her out of the car.

"Thank you," she smiled, moving her hand to the crook of his arm. "I know, I know, don't mention it. But it's very gentlemanly of you."

"If there was one thing my house taught me it was how to treat a woman."

"And they say chivalry is for Gryffindors."

"It can be a very Slytherin trait."

"Being polite to a woman is ambitious?"

"No, being polite to a woman is a means to an end."

"Charming," she rolled her eyes.

"Some men ask you to a dance last-minute assuming you have no escort, others spend hours in the library working up the courage to ask for the privilege of your presence. Which do you think would be from each house, and what approach would work for you?"

"How did you know about that?" she asked in surprise.

"Your relationship with Krum was the talk of the school for a while. You were dating a bloody celebrity, of course the rumor mill will be working full-tilt. And, as for Ronald, well, Miss Brown thought he was quite right to think you had no date."

"Lovely. Well, you can hardly hold Ron as the pillar of the whole house. Fred and George know how to be quite charming, and they have impeccable manners when they want."

"And they also know how to make a scene," he pointed out as they entered the pub.

"Some women like their kind of scene," she smiled.

They were shown a table, and Severus held the chair out for her as she sat.

"You wouldn't prefer a scene," he pointed out after sitting and ordering them drinks.

"Not every woman likes to be the center of attention, but many do," she shrugged.

"How did that play into your planning today?"

"Honestly, I'm disliking every minute of this, but they're making it as easy on me as possible. Any luck and we'll have a beautiful wedding when all is said and done," she finished, trying to keep the bitter tone out of her voice.

He busied himself looking at the menu.

"It's nothing to do with you, Severus," she said quickly. "I'm realizing now that I don't particularly care for weddings, and this one seems particularly bad because I know I'm going to be the center of attention, which is not a position I much care for to start."

"Unless you're campaigning for the under-privileged and the downtrodden," he pointed out.

"What ambitious young woman hasn't started a well-intentioned, if not a little bit misguided, association for the betterment of the world?"

"While I don't doubt that quite a few have, I would hope most choose their acronyms with a little more care," he said with a hint of a smile.

"Shut it," she snapped, though she couldn't help but smile.

"Whatever became of spew?"

"S.P.E.W, if you don't mind. And it's on hold indefinitely, though that does not mean I will be stopping my campaign. I just have a lot on my plate at the moment, and I think I need to lay low for a while before I start making more waves."

"I wasn't aware you were capable."

"What put you in such a delightful mood today, Severus?"

"If you must know I was testing a theory in my lab yesterday. It did not go well, and because I spent so much time on the car today I didn't have a chance to remedy my mistake."

She perked up, a thousand questions springing to her lips.

"Later," he said in a warning tone, a pointed look at the nearby table of Muggles. "Did you see the letter the school sent you today?"

"No," she furrowed her brow. "I went to the shop before the post was delivered, and I didn't check when I got home."

"They sent you a study guide to prepare you for your tests in December. I took the liberty of looking it over."

"It's horrible, isn't it?" she asked nervously. "Oh, I knew I should have waited to start helping the boys in the shop..."

"It's not as bad as your mind is making it out to be," he interrupted tersely. "It is intense, but nothing more than what you have done to yourself previously. There's also a form giving you the option to delay your tests up until the week before the exams if you do not feel comfortable taking them early."

"Intense? How intense?"

"You will be fine, Hermione. And if you would like study assistance, I can find time to work with you on the subjects I have previously taught."

"You will?" she asked in surprise and relief.

"If you promise to not go overboard with the gratitude I'm sure you're holding back."

She glared at him then felt a tiny smile cross her face. "You are my fiancé. You're expected to help me," she said softly.

"I was not a renowned teacher, but it would be quite embarrassing for my betrothed to fail either of my former subjects."

"Well, for what it's worth, I appreciate your offer."

"It is really no trouble, though I warn you I will not continue if you mess around."

"I would think now that you're free of the school's regulations you'd feel free to hit me in the head with the book to knock some sense into me if I dared get careless with some of the more volatile ingredients."

"Domestic abuse is still frowned upon," he said with a hint of a smile.

"I will try not to push your limits. Just remember I will be planning a wedding while studying, and that usually does not bode well for my stress levels."

"I would have thought you'd have given any number of your acquaintances tasks to alleviate the burden of planning that event. Wasn't that the point of your meeting this afternoon?"

"It was to discuss the wedding, yes, and they offered to help, as has Narcissa. However you must remember that, as the bride, I have to have the final say on everything, and weeping in a corner is not an appropriate response. And the last thing I need is to let Ginny or Fleur pick out my wedding dress." She took a drink before deciding to jump into the next topic. "There is something I wanted to talk to you about, however."

"What about?" he asked, sounding skeptical, as if he knew he wasn't going to like her question.

"Well, the question was brought up about a honeymoon..."

His drink paused halfway to his mouth.

She felt nerves tie her stomach in knots, and quickly started trying to backtrack. "I understand if you don't want to go. We could blame it on the tests, or you just starting your business. There're really a million reasons not to go anywhere, actually, and I don't think anyone is going to care."

"Did you want to go on a h... a trip?"

She thought about it a long moment. "It would be nice to get away from everything for a while, but I understand if it's not something you are interested in."

He took a long drink. "I think it would be a good idea for us to go. However, I ask that you let me plan the trip."

"Really? You want to plan it? Brilliant! I mean, thank you."

"Do you have any preference as to place or type of setting?"

"I haven't really given it much thought, but no, I don't really have anything in mind."

"Do you mind a bit of seclusion?"

"Not at all. I could get some studying done."

"Not typically what one thinks of when they think of seclusion on such a trip," he muttered, shooting a glance at the nearest table.

"Nothing about us is typical," she smiled, hoping it looked flirtatious. "Though I never said exactly what I was going to be studying."

"Behave," he chided.

"You never let me have any fun," she chuckled, but realized she had been having more fun with him than she had ever thought possible. Their conversation turned to some local news, and by the time dinner was over she had noticed he had smiled at least three times. He told her about his accident in the lab, which involved experimenting with a sleeping potion that sent toxic fumes into the air. The conversation lasted until they got back to the house, and he helped her out of the car again and walked her into the house. She went to the table to look over the post and he headed for his room.

"Severus?" she asked as he started up the stairs.

"Yes?" he stopped and looked back at her.

"I wanted to say thank you. This evening was fun. And don't you dare say 'don't mention it'."

His lips twitched upwards. "Good night, Hermione," he nodded before continuing to climb the stairs.

"Good night," she called after him.