The next couple weeks went by without much excitement. The only drawback was that again Fleur was not able to travel. They had found out she was having twins and it was likely that she would be on bed rest until the end of her pregnancy. Hermione was disappointed but decided it would give her more time to revise for NEWTs in peace while the others went to Hogsmeade. She and Severus still didn’t get to spend much time together, but a few stolen moments were infinitely better than completely avoiding each other.
Usually on Saturdays while Harry, Ron and Ginny were at Quidditch practice, she went down to the dungeons. Their potion research was on hiatus since their permanent connection had left them unable to do any further testing. Sometimes they would discuss options for other projects or have tea by the fire. Mostly they would sit together on the sofa, each reading. Even if the war was over, and even if it was just the two of them, he was still Severus Snape and decidedly did not cuddle. They would instead sit side-by-side, thighs touching slightly. If her head happened to drop to his shoulder every now and then, he did not mention it.
Their interactions were mostly innocent--a brush of hair away from a face or a chaste kiss goodbye. They tried not to make things more difficult than they had to be. Nevertheless, she was still a woman and he was still a man. One particular Saturday found her straddling his lap, hands fisted in his hair. She moaned into his mouth, grinding her hips against his. His arms tightened around her body, stilling her movement. She pulled back slightly, resting her forehead on his.
“Sorry,” she said, using both hands to smooth his hair back off his face. She pressed her mouth to his for another moment then climbed off him to sit at the other end of the sofa.
“Minerva asked if we’d decided when to do the ceremony,” he said, shifting slightly to adjust himself as subtly as possible. “I told her it was your decision and that I’d hex her if she didn’t stop pestering me about it.”
“You really have no opinion on the matter?”
“I have no family or real friends to speak of so it makes very little difference to me,” he said, shrugging dismissively. “We can wait as long as you wish.” She moved back to sit across his lap, draping an arm around his neck.
“Severus, look at me,” she said gently. “You’ve spent your entire adult life bound to, not one, but two masters, who had very little concern for your well-being. I would gladly marry you tomorrow, but the last thing I want to do is take away the freedom you’ve finally found.”
“Marrying you wouldn’t be taking away my freedom, as you are neither a psychotic madman nor a manipulative codger.” He stared off into the fire. “You are young, Hermione. You have much to do in your life and don’t need to be weighed down by an old man just because your hormones are getting the best of you. I want you to stay with me, but I once made a very bad decision whilst young and looking for instant gratification. I will not let you make my mistakes.” They were both quiet for a few moments.
“So it’s decided then,” she said resolutely. “I’ll leave it to you to make arrangements with the Headmistress.” She smiled at his signature raised brow then leaned over to lay a kiss on it. “You want to do it when I’ve thought it through and won’t be marrying you for the shagging. I want to do it when you’ve had enough living the wild free life. Seems to me, that we’ve met both those criteria.” She tapped her index finger on her lower lip, looking pensive. “The equinox will be perfect, I think.”
“The equinox is Saturday, Hermione.”
“Yes, I had realized that.”
“For clarification, a nineteen year old war hero wants to marry her Death Eater Professor in a week’s time without any of her friends. Then keep it a secret from everyone she knows and neither have a honeymoon nor be able to live with him afterwards?” he said sarcastically.
“I believe that covers it, yes.” She kissed his cheek when he attempted to give her his infamous glare. “We can tell them, go on holiday and set up house after graduation. Besides, you’re the one who didn’t want to get married for the shagging.” She studied his face for a moment. “Severus, if this is too fast, you really only need say so. I promise I won’t be upset.”
“I simply didn’t expect you to want it so soon.”
“Why wouldn’t I? I’ve been waiting five years for you, that’s long enough for me. Besides, I thought the idea of no Harry or Weasleys would appeal to you.”
“I’ll speak to Minerva,” he conceded. He pulled her back down for a kiss that immediately heated, leaving them in their previous positions.
“Oops,” she said with a giggle and climbed off him to gather her things.
“Out, witch,” he said, walking her to the door. “I am far too old for your teasing.”
The next evening found Hermione in the common room playing chess with Ron. Harry and Ginny were cuddled on the sofa watching the other two argue.
“Honestly, Ronald, it’s March. How can you not know which NEWTs you’ll be sitting?”
“Dunno. Just haven’t decided yet,” he said, taking her bishop. She groaned in frustration with him and the game.
“I just don’t think it’s wise—” she began again, but was interrupted by the Headmistress stepping through the portrait.
“Miss Granger,” she said, crossing to them. “I’m afraid I must impose on you again, if you are willing.”
“Of course, Professor. What do you need?”
“I have spoken with Professor Snape—” Hermione’s eyes widened slightly. “And he has informed me that he will be away for the Easter holiday. Would it be possible for you to stay again?”
“Certainly, ma’am,” she answered, trying to cover her shock and excitement over this unexpected development. The headmistress was essentially offering her a honeymoon.
“I have also made arrangements for you to visit Shell Cottage, Friday next, to see young Teddy and the Weasleys.”
“Thank you, Professor,” she said, now visibly ecstatic.
“Very good. You will portkey there that morning. Professor Snape has agreed to collect you on his return back to the castle.” Neville coughed in the background.
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you again,” she said warmly.
“And thank you, Miss Granger.” She turned to Ron before leaving. “And yes, Mr. Weasley you must report to me which NEWTs you’ll be sitting before you leave Saturday morning.” Harry and Ginny laughed openly after the portrait swung closed again. Hermione was still staring at the door, lost in thought and jumped slightly at the sound of the giggles and Ron’s answering insult.
“Too bad you’re stuck here again, Hermione,” Neville said, taking a seat near the fire. “At least Snape won’t be here to bother you.”
“If I know Mione,” Harry laughed, “that glazed-over look on her face means that she’s picturing a whole week of uninterrupted library time.” A week of uninterrupted something else flashed in her mind, causing her to shudder. She rubbed her arms and pretended to be chilled to cover the involuntary tremble.
“Absolutely, and it wouldn’t hurt you lot to do some revision while you’re gone either…I could make planners if you want.” Everyone in earshot was suddenly very involved in what they were doing and refused to make eye contact with her. With a laugh, she stood and gathered her things. “Right. I’m for bed then. Goodnight.”
“What about the game?” Ron whined.
“Oh, Ronald, you know you were going to win anyway.” She rolled her eyes at his smug smile and kissed his cheek before leaving the room.
When she arrived in her own rooms, she flung herself on the bed and stared at the ceiling. After a few moments, she decided to take a bath to loosen the knots that had formed in her stomach. She undressed mechanically in the steam-filled bathroom and then stood in front of the mirror. She almost didn’t recognize the woman staring back at her. Her skin was a little pale, her eyes a little wild. It was hard to grasp that she would be married in less than a week’s time. Married, a wife, Madam Snape. The words didn’t even make sense; her mind didn’t recognize them.
Sliding into the hot water, she breathed in the lavender she’d added to calm her. Resting her head against the edge of the tub, she closed her eyes. Instead of the words she couldn’t imagine, she pictured things she could. Severus kissing her gently in front of her friends, talking by the fire late into the night, waking in his arms. Things she’d never experienced, but that she was certain to soon. Things she would do forever. Married, a wife, Madam Snape. She smiled.
I hear you’re going on holiday next week.
Going away for your health?
As it happens, I am.
Yes, a man of your age should take time to relax, she teased.
I cannot deny that it would do me well. I have been...frustrated of late. Her eyes flew open at the drop in his voice.
Indeed, she managed, barely keeping even her mental voice from cracking. She could feel his smirk in the answering silence.
The knots had again taken up residence in her stomach, though she had no idea why she was suddenly so nervous. She tried to convince herself not to get so stressed. It was just sex and it was perfectly natural. It wasn’t as though she was completely innocent, even if she was still technically a virgin. While she and Ron had never made it very far, there had been Viktor.
Viktor with his dark eyes and pale skin. His build was bulkier but his nose was a little hooked and made it too easy to pretend. She could’ve done it—could have closed her eyes and pictured someone else—and almost did. In the end, she’d stopped him just before and apologized profusely. She didn’t want to hurt him. She said it was too soon, that she was too young. She did not say that his hands were too rough and square instead of graceful and smooth, or that he’d smelled of broomsticks and grass and boy, and not darkness and spice and man. He had not pressed and they had parted as friends when he returned to Durmstrang.
She refused to let images of the things Severus could do to her pervade her thoughts. There were some things she still had to keep locked away from everyone. Her friends just wouldn’t understand that not only did she lust after her Potions professor, but she also couldn’t wait to spend the rest of her life with him. Pushing herself up and out of the tub, she instead deliberately filled her mind with her revision schedules. Married or not, she would still be sitting NEWTs in a few short months.
Hermione? His voice was soft in case she was already asleep.
I’m still up.
What are you doing?
Just getting out of the bath.
Oh...She smiled at the way his inner voice dropped an octave when he was clearly having improper thoughts.
Do you…want something, Severus? Her smile became smug in the silence that followed her innuendo. After pulling on a nightgown, she climbed into bed.
I have a question, he said finally, voice controlled again. Something you said has stayed with me.
You said you’ve waited five years.
Five years ago, you were a third year, I was a Death Eater, and you and your friends hexed me.
Yes, I seem to recall all that. Where was the question?
At what point in all that did your fourteen year old self allegedly fall in love with me?
First of all, by that time, I was really fifteen from all the time-turner use. Nevertheless, it was that night you found us in the Shrieking Shack.
Remus had just changed into a werewolf and was about to attack. Severus came rushing out of the passage intent on throttling Harry. Upon seeing the werewolf though, he immediately pushed the trio behind him, shielding them with his body. A swipe from the beast had sent them all sprawling, throwing Severus across her lap. In fear, she’d clung to him. His body was warm and hard and she suddenly felt safe. When she’d tried to run after Harry, he had stopped her. His vice-like grip had pulled her back against his chest and held her there when Harry had fled. She realized two things that night: that he was a good man, who even when enraged by their actions, had risked himself to save them, and that she was completely attracted to him.
Are you telling me that all of this started because Lupin threw me on you?
Gryffindors, he said in mock disgust.
The following days crawled by, but she still felt as though Saturday was rushing toward her. She reverted back to her post-Christmas habits of filling every free moment so she didn’t have to think about it overmuch. Though she couldn’t wait to start a life with Severus, the thought of still being a student and yet getting married in a few short days was daunting. By Wednesday, her stress levels were astronomical. She decided much of it was because she had no one to talk to about her plans, fears and excitement. That afternoon, she made plans for tea with the Headmistress.
“Thank you for coming, Professor,” she said politely. “I appreciate you joining me here instead of your office. I wanted to speak to you without so many...spectators.”
“It’s no trouble. I know Dumbledore’s presence is often censoring. What is it you needed to speak with me about?”
“It’s just that there so much happening right now and I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
“Of course, Hermione. You must be very nervous.”
“I am. Everything is about to change and I’m a little overwhelmed,” she explained. She had no doubts about marrying Severus. She’d never been more certain of anything. The thought of being a wife was staggering though. The older woman understood her concerns and quickly assuaged them. It was simply a bit of cold feet. They finished their tea and finalized plans for the small ceremony that would take place in just three days. Finally having voiced her feelings, Hermione felt immensely better and happily spent the evening with her friends in the common room.
By Friday, her nerves were frayed again. Anxiety and excitement warred in her stomach, leaving her nauseated. She picked at her breakfast and skipped lunch all together. By Potions, she was a mess but still managed to portray a mostly calm, if slightly distracted, exterior. She finished her potion, cleaned her area and then began on the writing homework Severus had assigned.
She was bent over her desk, lost in thought and scribbling away. In the last few weeks, she’d developed a habit of twirling her engagement ring on her finger, rubbing the band with her thumb, when she was distracted. She tried to avoid it in public as much as possible since a Notice-Me-Not charm was no good if she was continually calling attention to the ring. She caught herself doing it again and immediately looked up to see if anyone else had noticed.
“Miss Granger, please try to control yourself and stop fidgeting,” Severus said sharply. Her eyes snapped to his at his tone, then quickly dropped back to her parchment.
“Sorry, sir,” she said deferentially.
Severus, what’s wrong?
If you do not wish to go through with this, tell me now. She looked up again, shocked by his coldness. He was at his desk, staring at parchment as if reading it, though his eyes did not move.
What? Why would you say such a thing?
You’ve hardly spoken to me in the last week and you are obviously overly nervous and distracted.
Of course I’m overly nervous and distracted! Tomorrow I’m getting secretly married to my Professor, but today I have to sit in his class and pretend to do homework.
Is that all? His tone was not as sharp but still suspicious.
Other than knowing I’m about to shag said Professor for the next week under the auspices of both my current Headmistress and my former Headmaster, who happens to be dead, but is still manipulating everyone in sight via his portrait? No, I’d say that about covers it, Severus, she said with an outward huff.
Very well. He got up to check cauldrons again. She was mildly irritated at his insecurity but also found it a little endearing so she was relieved when he was appeased.
After dinner, she joined the others in the common room again. They sat near the fire chatting over various subjects and going over plans for the hols. She and Harry watched in amusement when Ron and Ginny got into a row over who would be monopolizing more of Harry’s time.
“Apparently, I have no say in this,” he said to her, shaking his head. The siblings didn’t even notice that he’d spoken.
“The price to pay for dating your best friend’s sister.”
“I guess.” A few seconds later the argument was interrupted by Neville rushing into the room.
“You’ll never guess what I heard!” he said excitedly. “I was in the library studying and accidently knocked a stack of parchment off the table. Stop laughing, Ron. Anyway, I got down on the floor to pick it up and heard people walking by. They didn’t see me I guess so they didn’t stop talking. I can’t believe it!” He shook his head in disgust.
“What, Neville, what? Who was it and what’d they say?” Ginny said, practically bouncing in anticipation for new gossip.
“Snape is getting married! He and McGonagall were talking about the ceremony.”
All the blood rushed from Hermione’s face. She was suddenly dizzy and fought to keep from being sick.
“Well, I guess that’s why he’ll be gone next week,” Harry said with a dismissive shrug.
“Sure, but who’d marry that old greasy git?” Neville said before going up to his dorm, disappointed in their lack of reaction.
Hermione realized Ginny was watching her and attempted to relearn to breathe. She wiped the sweat from her brow and tried to look less like she’d had the wind knocked out of her. “You boys should go pack. I know you haven’t started,” she admonished. “You’re as bad as the first years.” She quickly stood up. “Speaking of which, I need to go check on them. Go on, you two.” The boys went up to their rooms but Ginny caught her arm on the way out.
“You okay, Mione?”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Just checking. You know, maybe Neville misunderstood. Maybe they were talking about something else.”
“Maybe.” She gave the girl a small smile and turned to go.
It sounds as though your evening is going as well as mine. What’s wrong?
I just heard a delightful rumor.
What? He sounded as though he already knew.
You’re getting married.
Maybe it isn’t so bad. No one seemed to think much of it. I think Ginny tried to console me though.
It seems she’s under the impression I have a crush on you and was heartbroken when I heard. It was probably the nausea and sweating.
I’m glad this amuses you.
I’m just not going to let it ruin my evening. I have things to do.
Fine then. I’ll see you at breakfast.
Oh, no, you won’t. You won’t see me at all until it’s time. I’m locking myself in my room until then. Tradition, you know.
Muggle tradition. Must I carry you over a threshold as well?
Don’t tempt me.
A/N: This chapter contained movie canon, not book, but it really is my favorite part of PoA!!