The four friends left Severus, went to find their robes and joined the other graduates. Hermione distracted herself from her emotions by getting Ginny involved in a conversation about wedding plans. They made a date to go shopping in London after lunch the next day. She focused on Ginny and didn't look around too much until they were loaded into the boats. It was then that she allowed herself to look out over the water. It took her breath away.
The castle behind her was reflected perfectly onto the lake that stretched out in front of them. To her left, she could see the road that led back to the station. All those who had left the ball ahead of them were standing with their wands lit, spread out the whole length of the road. Hundreds of lights reflected onto the darkness of the water. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. As the tears began to fall, Harry slipped his hand into hers. They shared no words, just glided in silence across the water.
By the time they disembarked the boats, the carriages were arriving at the station. Though she had been able to see the thestrals for a couple years, it made her heart ache to see how many of the younger students were able to see them too. She stroked the side of one's face and murmured soothing words to it. It responded by nuzzling her neck, causing her to giggle softly. They really were majestic creatures, even if they were a little intimidating. She would endeavour to go visit them more.
She walked the rest of the way to the Three Broomsticks with Ron, Harry and Ginny, feeling lighter and happier than she ever had. Life was finally coming together for her. She and Severus would start looking for cottages as soon as they returned from Australia. They would live at Hogwarts most of the time, but both agreed they would like a place to spend the summers and the odd weekend they could escape the castle. With Minerva's blessing, they were making plans to expand Severus's quarters into a full suite to accommodate her and the baby. Babies, she corrected herself. Yes, life was about to be very different and very busy.
The Three Broomsticks was busy, but they found tables in the back with room for a few more, if they wandered in.
"Butterbeers all around?" Ron asked, as the barmaid approached the table.
"Tea for me," Hermione answered. "The next few days are going to be crazy for me. I can't affording having a head tomorrow." It would have been true even if she were able to drink.
"Speaking of which," Ginny said, "what time did we say we're having lunch again?"
"11:30," Harry answered. "Which gives me plenty of time for a lie in. Make mine a firewhiskey."
"Me, too!" Ginny agreed.
"Alright, so three firewhiskeys...and a tea," Ron told the barmaid with an eyeroll. "What's so crazy about your life this week, Mione?" he said, after they were alone again.
"Ronald Weasley," Ginny admonished, "don't you pay attention to anything? She's going to find her parents in Australia."
"I guess Sna--Severus, is going with you?" Harry asked.
"Yes, he's going to help me try to unwork the spells I used. I'm terribly nervous. They are going to be so put out with me."
"I can imagine," Ginny said. "At least you'll have support. How are you getting there? Portkey?"
"Um, no. As it happens, we're flying."
"Flying?!" Ron almost shouted. "You hate brooms. How are you going to fly all the way there?"
"Actually, we're flying in an aeroplane." All three of her friends made sounds of disbelief. "Well, for the first leg anyway. The International Floo Network still hasn't been reconnect here after the war so we're flying to Paris then Flooing the rest of the way. Anyway, I thought it would be fun. Like a honeymoon." In reality, Muggle travel would be the safest for her now that she was pregnant. While it was still safe to Floo, there would be no more Apparating or Portkeys for her until the baby--babies--came. Since there was a time restriction on even Muggle aeroplanes, they had decided to go immediately to find her parents. She was also a little worried about showing up married and hugely pregnant, or with children. She had robbed her parents of many of their parental perks, she couldn't bear to have them miss that too.
"I already forgot you were married," Ron said sheepishly as their drinks arrived.
"Well, I am. Tomorrow, we're all having lunch, then I'm shopping with Ginny. Severus will meet me at the Leaky Cauldron. We'll stay there tomorrow night before leaving for Heathrow the next morning. See? Crazy."
"Right," he said, shaking his head and taking a gulp of his drink. Clearly ill at ease with the conversation, Ron began talking to Harry about their summer plans.
"Gin, did you have any particular shops in mind for tomorrow?" she asked.
"I was hoping you could take me to some Muggle shops. Harry wants some Muggle stuff in the wedding. I'd like to see what they do for weddings."
"That sounds lovely! I need to buy Severus some clothes for our trip. I'm pretty sure he'd be detained by security if he goes to the airport dressed like that." She nodded at the door where Severus was entering with the other professors.
"Yes, definitely," Ginny laughed. "What does he look like in Muggle clothes? Have you seen him in them before?"
"I'll tell you later," Hermione said quickly as Harry waved the professors over.
"We have enough room for everyone," Harry said, getting up to grab a couple more chairs. Hermione and Ginny moved closer together so Minerva could sit on Hermione's other side. Severus sat across the table from her. Professors Sprout, Flitwick and Sinistra, Madam Pomfrey and Hagrid all filled in around the table.
"You all are looking...refreshed," Hermione observed.
"Severus gave us a round of Sober Up potions," Minerva answered. "We'll see how long it lasts." She rolled her eyes at Filius ordering a firewhiskey.
"You lot are on your own getting back to the castle," Severus said. "I fixed you once."
Another hour went by, filled with laughter and conversations. Hermione, Ginny and Minerva discussed plans for Ginny's apprenticeship, her new quarters, and the wedding. Eventually the topic turned to the new class that Hermione would be teaching in two years. She had petitioned, and was granted permission, to begin a Muggle Technology class. She would be spending the next year ostensibly working up a curriculum and procuring the necessary equipment so the Board of Governors could give their final approval. She would also need to prepare a classroom and workspace where the students could use the various things they discussed. She would be incorporating some of the now defunct Muggle Studies class, but taking a much more hands-on approach. She would one day like to take the students on a field trip to a Muggle city, but she wasn't going to push her luck for the first year and would stick to simulations.
"You know, my father is going to bother you incessantly," Ginny said.
"I've already talked to him about it. He's obviously very excited. I told him he's welcome to sit in on the class whenever he's a moment to visit Hogwarts."
The Three Broomsticks had gotten exponentially busier since they had arrived. Once most of the visitors had left, the locals began filing in for their usual Saturday night pint. The barmaid was now ensconced behind the bar and was too busy to bring drinks to the tables. Members of their group began taking turns waiting at the bar for each round. Hermione watched with amusement as a witch a handful of years older than her approached Severus and struck up a conversation.
"Merlin, could she have her tits any more in Snape's face," Ginny said loudly. Remembering she was sitting with her former Headmistress and current employer, she blushed and apologized.
"No apologies necessary, Ginny," Minerva said. "I was just wondering the same actually. I think she was one of his Slytherins a few years back."
"Want me to hex her, Mione?"
"No thanks," she laughed. "After the year he's had, it's good for his ego." She smirked at her husband when he returned with the drinks--and pink-tinged cheeks.
By midnight, Hermione was growing tired and was flushed from the heat of the pub. Somehow it had gotten even busier. A few of the graduates from other houses had wondered in and joined their growing party. Serverus was back at the bar waiting for drinks. Most of the professors were nearing the level of drunkenness they had already achieved once that evening. She mentioned to Minerva that they would likely be leaving soon.
"Will I see you at the professors' farewell breakfast in the morning?"
"I'll stop in for tea and maybe some toast. I have lunch plans with the Weasleys."
"Damn it, Mione," Ginny said, slamming her hand on the table. "That hussy is all over Sna-Severus again." She certainly was. She had sidled up quite close to him, using the over-crowded bar as her cover. Severus was obviously uncomfortable. The witch was likely reading his short responses as an invitation, being unused to even this small level of politeness from her former professor. When someone bumped into her, she exaggerated her stumble, pressing her body into him. Hermione noticed his wince when the soulmate magic exerted itself. He quickly righted her and stepped back as far as he could in the small space. She was just tired and hormonal enough that her own reaction was an odd mixture of jealousy, irritation, impishness and a little arousal at what she was about to do.
"I think his ego has taken all the stroking that I can handle this evening. Minerva, do you think it would be completely inappropriate--"
"To hex her? Yes, but I won't tell," she answered conspiratorially.
"Not exactly what I had in mind," Hermione laughed. "I was thinking more along the lines of claiming what's mine."
"By all means."
"Ginny, can you go fetch those drinks when I'm done?"
"Okay, see you all tomorrow," she said, standing. She was still wearing her black dress from the ball. Ginny and Minerva watched in amusement as she adjusted her cleavage for maximum impact, straightened her dress, and smoothed her hair. Others at the table noticed her mildly groping herself and watched as she crossed the pub with determination.
"Oh, excuse me." She slid in between the witch and her husband, pressing her very noticeable chest against him. "Sorry," she said sweetly, throwing a glance over her shoulder at the woman. Relief washed over his face when she stepped between them. It was quickly replaced by suspicion when he saw the look in her eye. His eyes were drawn further downward to her ample bosom.
"Um, excuse me," the witch responded, clearly put out with the interruption. "The Professor and I were just in the middle of--"
Before she could finish, Hermione pulled Severus to her, slid her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. The pub went quiet so Hermione's next words were heard by most everyone.
"I think it's time you got me to bed." She took him by the hand and led him towards the fireplace.
"Good evening, Miss Smith," he said to the gobsmacked witch as they walked away. The entire pub watched them cross the room. She spared a glance at their table. Minerva and Ginny were holding onto each other, laughing hysterically. Everyone else was staring open-mouthed with varying looks of shock, disgust, and humor. She threw the Floo power in and pulled Severus into the green flames with her. She made eye contact with the witch at the bar.
"Hermione Snape's quarters," she said, loud and clear. As the flames flared up around them, she heard the room erupt in pandemonium.
"A little ostentatious, don't you think?" Severus said, climbing out of the fireplace in their quarters.
"Remind me to have Ginny Pensieve her memory of that." She stepped out of the fireplace, and laid her robe and wand on a nearby chair. She watched Severus take off his robes, boots and frock coat. Completely oblivious to her, he went to the liquor cabinet in bare feet, trousers and a half-unbuttoned white shirt. He must be further into his cups than she'd thought to be this disheveled, even in his own chambers.
"I expect you are quite tired after such a taxing day. You need to rest up before our trip." He poured himself another drink since he'd not gotten his last one at the pub.
"Yes I do. Although I'm shopping with Ginny tomorrow after lunch so we'll see how much rest I actually get. You need clothes." Severus turned to glare at her over his shoulder.
"I have clothes."
"Muggle clothes, Severus. Stop being obtuse."
"I will never understand the female fascination with clothing." He stoppered the decanter and turned around to find his wife standing in the middle of their sitting room completely nude.
"Sometimes clothes are overrated," she said, shrugging.
"Undoubtedly." He drained the drink he had just poured and set the glass down while he watched her saunter slowly towards him. She pressed her body against him just as she had at the pub. This time, he allowed his hands to roam freely over her body when she kissed him. She began unbuttoning his pants without breaking this kiss.
"Shall I take you to bed now?" he asked in that low voice that set her on fire.
She slid to her knees in front of him. "Here's good...for now."