The graduation ceremony began at four p.m. the next day, with the ball to follow. The seventh years sat impatiently in chairs set up next to the lake. Hermione twisted in her seat to watch visitors crossing the grounds. Bill and Teddy came with the Weasleys. Fleur’s mother had stayed at the Cottage with her.
“Harry,” she whispered loudly. “Look!” She nodded toward the castle. Harry turned and smiled broadly as Hagrid and Madame Maxime made their way to the chairs. Ron and Ginny turned around and the four waved at Hagrid when he neared. The half-giant sniffed and waved. Maxine enlarged two chairs in the back for them and put her arm around him when he fished out a large handkerchief.
Soon, the Headmistress and other Professors were lined up along a platform in front of the chairs. Hermione was reminded of Dumbledore’s funeral and wondered if Harry was as well. McGonagall spoke of healing and love and hope and futures, but Hermione barely heard the words, distracted by thoughts of her own future. The Headmistress then began reading their names and they crossed the platform, shaking hands with each of their professors.
Hermione clasped hands with the Headmistress and then surprised her by pulling her into a hug. With only a twinge of embarrassment, she tearfully made her way down the line. When she reached Severus, he merely nodded and squeezed her hand, but held her eyes a few seconds longer than appropriate.
After everyone had made it through the line, pandemonium erupted. She was immediately lost in a sea of hugs, tears and laughter. Teddy came running at her, launching himself into her arms. She braced herself to lift him.
Do not even think about lifting that child. He’s too heavy for you to be hefting around now.
I’m fine. She rolled her eyes at him, but didn’t pick up the boy. Instead, she just hugged him tightly and stood. Teddy held her hand as they walked back up to the castle. Though the group was talking animatedly, Teddy’s little voice rang out.
“An-mi, your ring is very sparkly. I like it!” he said, holding her hand very close to his face. “Why can I only see it sometimes?”
The group turned to look between Hermione and her hand. Their brows furrowed trying to focus on what they only seemed to be able to get a glimpse of.
Looks like I’m telling them now.
Do you require my presence?
No, I’ll be okay. She removed the Notice-Me-Not from her ring.
“I was going to wait until later, but I suppose now is as good as ever.”
“What are you on about, Mione?” Ron said with confusion, still squinting at her hand.
“Did your Professor give it to you?” Teddy said with a smile. She stared down in shock at him. Just before she opened her mouth to answer, Bill bent down next to him.
“Teddy, we’ve talked about this,” he said calmly. “Professor Snape is Aunt Hermione’s teacher and he’s already married.” He stood and faced Hermione with his hand resting on the boy’s shoulder. “I’ve tried to tell him before, but he just laughs and runs away.”
Smart boy. Severus walked by with a group of Slytherins and their parents. He turned slightly in her direction and lifted a brow. Her lips twitched into a small smirk of their own accord.
“Holy hell, Mione!” Ginny gasped. “It’s true, isn’t it!? You were the one to marry Snape.”
“Surprise?” she said sheepishly.
“I thought he was gay!” Ron said loudly. Severus, who had stopped to speak with a group of parents near the door, turned to glare at him. “Blimey, Hermione, he’s terrifying,” he added quietly.
“I knew he was perving on you!” Ginny said triumphantly. “I thought you brushed off his marrying some slag too easily. I didn’t know you were the slag.”
“Now wait a second,” Hermione protested.
“Oh, you know what I meant. I can’t believe you didn’t tell us or invite us to your wedding!”
“Those were the Headmistress’s orders. I wasn’t to tell anyone until after graduation and, even now, I’d rather keep the marriage part quiet for a bit longer. There’s already enough gossip because of Neville. I don’t want to add to it and distract any more from today.”
“Harry, why are you so quiet? Don’t you have anything to say about this?” Ginny said suspiciously.
“Oh, er, yeah. Um, congrats, Hermione?” Harry had a terrible habit of blushing at the most incriminating times. This was no different.
“Harry James Potter, you knew! I can’t believe you knew and didn’t say anything!” Ginny had rounded on Harry and was poking him in the chest with one finger.
“Good luck with that one, mate,” Ron said sympathetically.
“Mr. Potter was doing as he was told.” No one had noticed Severus approach and several startled at the sound of his voice. “It was appreciated. Now, if you would all mind ceasing to badger my wife with questions for the time being, I am certain she can explain everything to you at a later time, in a more appropriate setting.” He walked away as quickly and quietly as he came.
After a few more moments of quiet discussion and plans for lunch the following day, Hermione and the shell-shocked Weasleys entered the Great Hall. She removed her graduation robe and left it in her chair. She’d chosen to keep her dress simple for the ball. Unsure of how many of revelations would be made that night, she picked a knee length black dress that was only supposed to reveal a hint of cleavage and left her arms bare. If her marriage was going to be outted to all, she preferred to be wearing something tasteful and mature, and not that of a school girl. When she had chosen the dress, only a modest amount of her chest was visible. Her body seemed to be changing quickly, however, and it now showed off quite a bit more cleavage than she had intended. She wondered if she should charm it higher, but after seeing her husband’s reaction to it, she chose to leave it.
The ball went quite well. She danced happily with all her friends and couldn’t help being a little sad that they’d never be all together like that again. Of course, she’d still see Harry and all the Weasleys; they were family. She’d see her former professors as they were her husband’s colleagues and would eventually be hers as well. Still, they would never be just as they were again. She was going to have a baby. Harry and Ginny would marry in a couple months. Even Ron would likely settle down soon with Claire. What had remained of their tattered childhoods was over. She shared the sentiment with Harry while they danced. Smiling, she watched over his shoulder while Hagrid tried to covertly grope Madame Maxime.
“Why didn’t you tell them about the baby?” Harry whispered so those dancing nearby couldn’t hear. She stiffened for a moment, then relaxed in his arms.
“I should’ve known you’d guess. What gave me away?”
“Oh, just had a feeling,” he said with a shrug, but his eyes strayed to her increased cleavage. She caught him staring and laughed aloud at the shade of red he turned. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, Harry. I don’t recommend letting Severus see you do that though...or Ginny.”
“Um. Yeah,” he said blushing again. “Good point.”
Later, they were all sitting around a table laughing and telling stories when Teddy climbed off her lap. The table quieted and watched as he made his way over to the refreshment table where Severus was talking with Arthur. People from other tables were also watching as the boy tugged gently on his elbow and waited for him to turn. The surprise on their faces was obvious when he looked down on the boy questioningly but with no irritation. They were too far away to hear what was being said; that didn’t stop them from leaning forward to try.
“Professor Snape, sir?”
“Yes, Mr. Lupin?” Severus said slowly. The boy’s face and hair flushed red at the use of his what he considered his “grown up” name.
“Since you're married to An-mi now, does that mean I'm coming to stay with you too when mama’s babies come, sir?”
“If you would like.”
“I would!” he said happily. After a moment, the boy became serious again. “Then would it be okay if I called you Uncle Severus?” Severus’s gaze flickered in Hermione’s direction before he answered.
“Thank you, sir—I mean Uncle Severus. I can’t wait to come visit!” He turned as though to leave and then shocked everyone by spinning back around to give him a quick hug around the waist. He was halfway back to the table before Severus could even react. Then, as if nothing had happened, he continued his conversation with Arthur.
It seemed like hours later when Hermione crossed the room to where Severus was sitting at a table with the other Heads of House. Her husband watched her approach, causing her to add a sway to her walk. She smirked when his gaze darkened.
“Ah, Hermione!” Professor Flitwick said loudly, when she neared. His cheeks were a little pink and a large tankard of butterbeer sat in front of him.
“Hello, Professor,” she said, smiling at the small intoxicated man.
“Now, now, Hermione, we aren’t your professors anymore. Please call me Filius.” He paused to take a large gulp. “Minerva tells us you’ll be back in two years so we’ll be colleagues then anyway. I’m sure Minerva and Severus won’t mind if you use their given names as well.” He looked down the table to Professor Sprout. “Pomona won’t mind either, but we’ll ask when she sobers up!” He laughed so hard at his own joke he nearly fell off his chair. Accustomed to his foolish behavior, Minerva and Severus just rolled their eyes.
“Yes, sir. Thank you.”
“What will you be doing with your year off, my girl?” he said, when he’d finally regained his composure.
“Oh, the usual, sir. Fetching my parents from Australia, buying a house, having a baby. Stuff like that.” Severus almost choked on his wine, but Filius began laughing hysterically again.
“Oh, Hermione. You’re always one for a laugh!” He drank deeply when he calmed again. “Having babies! We all should!” His giggles caused her to laugh as well. “Ha! Except we’re all too old!”
“Speak for yourself,” Severus said dryly.
“Severus, where on earth would you find a witch to—” Flitwick was cut short by elbow to the ribs from Minerva. “Now stop, Minnie. I was just going to ask where he could meet a nice witch to court like a proper gentleman?” he said, giving Hermione an embarrassed smile.
“Filius, if you can possibly recall in your state, my absence over the spring holidays was to celebrate my nuptials.”
“What!? I thought you made that up to get out of the castle!”
“You're married? To a witch? A female witch?”
“Sir, he married me,” Hermione said, earning a sharp look from her husband.
“Ha! Oh, Hermione. You kill me,” he laughed. “Can you imagine it?! You married to the bat of the--” He was cut short by another elbow from the headmistress, which was just hard enough to knock the unsteady man off his chair.
“I’ve come to see if you’d care to dance, Severus,” Hermione said, ignoring the look of outrage on his face after Flitwick’s comments. He did not answer, but rose to follow her to the dance floor. Hermione could hear Flitwick laughing hysterically while Minerva tried to get him out from underneath the table where he’d fallen.
This time when they danced, he did not pull away for propriety. She looked into his eyes and smiled. She could hear the murmurs of surprise when the dark, snarky man smiled warmly at the young witch in his arms.
“Tell Potter if he wishes to remain unhexed by his fiancée, he will keep his eyes to himself,” he said, almost absently.
“I’d wondered if you saw that,” she laughed. “He was a little distracted. Perhaps this was not the best choice of attire, given recent changes to my person.” She laughed again when her husband’s eyes also wandered to her very ample cleavage.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said, tightening his grip on her. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m getting tired. It’s been a long day.”
They finished their dance and then went to get some punch before the evening ended. She was terribly thirsty and used the excuse to pull herself together. It was almost time for the graduates to load into the boats. She tried not to get emotional, though given her hormonal state, it was difficult. Eight years ago, they had taken the boats as first years, but Hermione remembered it clearly. How wondrous the castle looked in the dark, looming above them. How nervous she had been to enter a world completely unlike anything she had imagined in the Muggle world. How overwhelming it all was. She couldn't imagine ending her matriculation at Hogwarts any other way than climbing back into the boats one last time with her best friends in the world. She knew she would be seeing them all again very soon, some of them in the next few days even. Still, such an ending had her fragile emotions on edge.
She watched as Bill, Molly and Arthur rose to join the crowd heading outside to watch the graduates cross the lake. He pointed to her and said something to Teddy. The boy ran over to where she and Severus were standing and squeezed her tightly around the middle. She bent over and kissed him on the head.
“I will see you very soon.” She was still bent to his level and he kissed her on the cheek with a loud smack.
“Yes. I will come to your house while mama is on maternity.”
“Yes, Teddy,” she laughed. “Where did you learn that word?”
“That’s what it’s called after a lady has a baby," he answered proudly. "Ma-tern-ity.”
“That’s correct. You’ll come stay with us for a couple weeks after the babies come so your mama can rest. Then you’ll go home to help with the babies and be a big brother.”
“And can I come back to visit while you’re on maternity, An-mi?” She looked at Severus in shock. They had not mentioned her pregnancy yet. Did the child know something or did he just mean someday? She thought it best to avoid the question.
“You better get going. Your papa is waiting for you.” He hugged her tightly, his head resting on the small bump under her dress. She was beginning to think he knew exactly what he was talking about. “Say goodbye to Uncle Severus.” Teddy straightened and looked at Severus as if he had forgotten he was there in his silence.
“Goodbye, Uncle Severus!” he said as he started to run back to Bill. He stopped a few feet away, then ran back over. His hair turned bright green, which Hermione had realized was usually associated with his more puckish behavior.
He threw his arms around her, then laid a kiss on her belly. “You’ve got two just like mama!” He ran back to Bill and the two disappeared into the crowd of people leaving the hall.
Hermione stared after him, only looking at her husband when he spoke.
“Well, that was unexpected.” They stared at each other for a few moments before Ron, Harry and Ginny joined them.
“Mione, you ready to head out?” Ron said, snagging another cookie from the refreshment table.
“Professor, would you like to join us at the Three Broomsticks after the boats?” Harry asked. “We're having a drink while we wait for the Floos and Apparation points to clear out.”
“If Hermione approves, that will be acceptable.”
“That sounds nice. Severus and I needed a place to meet up after anyway since he'll have to finish up his duties here.” When Hermione looked around, the Great Hall was almost empty, save graduates and professors. “I guess we should head that way.”
Looking around again to see if anyone was paying attention, she stepped closer to her husband and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. Ron looked like he might be ill, Ginny smiled and Harry blushed. Severus straightened uncomfortably, but Hermione thought he was secretly pleased at the show of affection.
To be continued...