Severus had certainly not expected this past day.
He’d definitely not expected Hermione Jean Granger. That part was destabilizing enough on his little quaint life of happiness.
He hadn’t expected for Minerva to show up in his apartment at noon and hold back his hair while he vomited into a toilet, all while lecturing him on why the old cat thought he and Hermione would make a good pair, and how very cute they’d be together, and that their children would have the cutest black curls.
Severus had glared at her, sullenly, ignoring the very good point about the black curly haired children as she passed him wiggenweld and hangover cure potions. He didn’t reply--he could’ve signed to her, she’d been the one who taught him how--but the only sign he was feeling like that morning was a very particular finger.
When he finally made a move for his ear cuff, she gave him a grandmotherly pat on the shoulder and left, apparently not wanting to endure the evisceration he had planned. Before she’d floo’d out, though, she turned and said the last thing that he’d expected: “Hermione was the one who made me retrieve you for a proper burial, you know.”
He had not known, and Minerva damn well had never told him.
Severus sulked in his room for a few hours before he decided he needed to go out and blow off some steam. He made himself a to-go canister of tea, and then packed up his paints in a bag.
It was easily three in the morning when he set out. Severus had always been a night owl, and the luxury of setting his own time table made it worse.
He was taking the scenic way to his destination, through streets that wavered between magical and muggle London. There was a little junkyard, full of the trash that muggleborn wizards dropped when they decided to immerse themselves in the magical world, and it made for a wonderful studio.
A block away, he heard the explosion.
Severus froze, then ran towards the noise, drawing his wand surreptitiously.
… Once again, he did not expect Hermione Granger.
She was standing on the hood of a car, panting, with a baseball bat. The lights and ever single window of the car were utterly smashed, presumably by the same baseball bat. Her hair was pulled up in a ponytail, its wiry tight curls exploding from the hair tie.
Severus decided he should really start expecting Hermione Granger more often.
Taking a sip of his tea, he stowed his wand and stepped into the small junkyard, keeping his steps loud enough for her to notice him ahead of time. He was not keen to figure out exactly what she did to make that explosive noise.
She glanced over her shoulder at him, and for a moment Severus found himself frozen mid-step as his heart hiccuped. She was beautiful in profile, beautiful and rage-filled.
“Oh, hey,” she said, breathlessly.
[Bad day?] Severus asked, coming to stand by her, and arching a brow meaningfully at the car.
She let out a laugh. “I figured out a while ago that sometimes you just have to hit things to fix things. Such as hitting Draco Malfoy, to fix Draco Malfoy. Or, in this case, hitting cars to fix my mood.”
[Tea? It’s iced.]
“You’re the best, thanks,” Hermione replied, taking the travel cup of tea from his extended hand. It was when their fingers brushed that he realized what a mistake he’d made. Severus had become so accustomed to offering her tea that he did not realize that this was his only cup and her lips were exactly where his were.
Haha, this was fine.
“I take it you didn’t see today’s paper--well, yesterday’s, it’s three in the morning--if you’re in a decent mood?”
[I don’t…] He trailed off, toeing at the ground as he realized he had nothing to do with his hands. So he put both of them on the strap of his messenger bag and tried not to white-knuckle it. [I don’t keep up with news much nowadays. It’s not something I enjoy hearing about.]
“You certainly won’t enjoy this.” Hermione turned and held up the hand not carrying his travel mug, and a newspaper flew from across the junkyard. She passed it to him. He gave her a suspicious look, but took it.
Severus had seen a lot of horrible things in his day. He did not think that, to quote the cliche, his blood was capable of running cold. In fact, he found that he was quite cold-blooded already and therefore not particularly bothered by awful things.
This, though, made his heart stop.
MINISTRY MARRIAGE LAW - NEW TRACKING AMENDMENT ANNOUNCED.
“How-” His voice came out as a rasp dragged from the depths. It felt like sandpaper against his nerves. Severus froze and clutched his throat, his vision spasming with darkness as claws raked themselves through the scar tissue of his neck. Fuck! He hadn’t accidentally tried to speak in years.
A moment later, something cool and tingling spread across his throat, and the darkness fizzling at the edges of his vision receded. He stared, wide-eyed, at Hermione. She had one hand on his shoulder, and was looking into his eyes worriedly, her wand in her hand.
“Did that help?” she murmured.
Severus nodded, torn between panic and awe. What the hell was that? She must’ve been working on healing spells while serving as the Master of St. Mungo’s, because he’d never had anything like that happen before.
“I’ll show you how to do it later,” she murmured, then turned and handed him the travel mug of tea. “Here. Drink something.”
He wanted to sink to the ground, but found that he was actually already sunk to the ground, apparently having doubled over at the acute pain in his neck.
[How are they tracking people?] he finally managed to ask, as he’d been attempting to.
“They’re tracking physiological aspects to ensure people are meeting the weekly copulation quota,” Hermione said, her voice dripping with enough hatred that Severus was pretty sure she could’ve turned the entire Ministry to stone with a glare.
[That’s fucking stupid.]
She nodded. “It’s just going to perpetuate the problem. The Wizarding Wars were caused by a poorly adjusted orphan because of his poorly adjusted family. Forcing people to fuck is just going to give us more poorly adjusted families and poorly adjusted orphans. Instead of a stimulus package or, I don’t know, some sort of tax break for children to give families the space in their budgets and lives, they’re just expecting that smacking enough genitalia together will solve the problem.”
Severus wheezed an attempted laugh at her words, waving a hand. [Granger, stop, you’re going to kill me.]
“Oh. Sorry,” she mumbled, looking legitimately chastised.
He couldn’t withhold a smile, shifting himself on the ground so he could breathe easier. [What are you thinking?]
“I’m thinking of faking my death and moving to Greece,” she sighed. “Or--” She froze, and looked at the ground.
Severus followed her gaze. His paints had spilled out of his bag, and now cannisters of spray paint were rolling around the ground in the darkened junkyard.
“You spray paint?”
Severus hesitated, then nodded.
Another hesitant nod. Severus didn’t know where she was going with this, but it seemed like she did.
“Oh,” she said, breathlessly. “I have a brilliant, brilliant idea.”
An hour and a half later, fifteen minutes before the Ministry opened, Severus stood back and stared at their masterpiece. Hermione had never painted with spray paint before, but she was a quick learner, and he had her lay down base layers while he did the detail work. The idea was all hers, too, so really it was a joint effort.
The entire front wall of the Ministry’s building, which had been freshly reconstructed after the Second Wizarding War, was now covered in a mural.
The skull leered out at him in eerie, deathly green. Severus had based the image off of what he’d seen over the Potters’ house so long ago, and having been intimately acquainted with the symbol of darkness, he had certainly no problem recreating the emblem.
Instead of the snake, though, they’d replaced it with the golden ribbon that was issued in a traditional wizarding marriage ceremony. The forked ends of the ribbon were positioned where the forked ends of the serpent’s tongue had been.
Written around the whole symbol in a large arc were the words ‘BLOOD PURISM BY ANY OTHER NAME,’ and then at the bottom, because Severus couldn’t resist smashing the viewer over the head with the meaning and because Hermione really wanted the word ‘fuck’ on the Ministry building, ‘FUCK THE MARRIAGE LAW.’
Hermione had just finished her seventeenth protective spell.
[Granger, I don’t think they’ll ever be able to get it off.]
She cackled and grinned in the predawn light. Her eyes were practically on fire. “Good. I want these bricks to become collector items when the revolution comes to destroy the Bastille of neo-purism.”
Severus rolled his eyes fondly. [We should leave before the city wakes up.]
“My flat’s not far from here. It doesn’t have nearly as much tea, but we could stop there for breakfast if you’d like?”
He nodded, and allowed himself to be lead.
Hermione wandered off to take a shower while Severus dealt with the affectionate ministrations of her half-kneazle. He had known the massive ginger beast back at Hogwarts, and had not realized that the cat belonged to Hermione and continued to live--and, apparently, saw right through Severus’ glamour, if the purring and cuddling was anything to judge by.
As soon as Severus heard the shower turn on, he leaned in to Crookshanks. [Listen, you great orange ball of dandruff, if your mistress figures out who I am from your obscene purring--]
The cat evidently could read, too, as Crooks cheekily leaned in to rub against Severus’ face, just inches above the scarring. Asshole.
Finally, Severus managed to calm the cat down. He hadn’t expected that sneaking the beast snippets of ham from the Great Hall would make such an impact. With the half-kneazle giving off a low, rumbling purr like the engine of some terrifying contraption, Severus summoned over the newspaper and began to read the updates on the law.
When she came out, freshly showered, Severus had gone through all of the important parts of the law. [I’m sorry,] he told her. [I would’ve started on breakfast, but your cat is heavy.]
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got it this time,” she said with a grin. “You’re always making me tea, after all.”
[That is literally my job, Hermione.]
She laughed. Apparently painting buildings put her in a right jolly mood. “You give me free tea, silly. And discounted books. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
Severus felt himself flush, and he glanced down, which was supremely unhelpful for dodging social anxiety, because Crooks was looking up at him like a literal cat who had got the metaphorical cream.
With a glare, he stood, shuffling the disgruntled half-kneazle to a different spot on the couch and walking over to lean against the kitchen counter, brushing orange fur from his pants. [I was reading the updated marriage law. Do you know what kind of tracking charms they’re using?]
“From what I heard, it’s going to be part of the marriage contract itself. The marriage contract will track and note every time successful penetration is achieved. Then there’ll be officials who check, weekly, on whether or not coitus has occurred.”
Severus tapped his chin thoughtfully, trying to suppress the strange flutters of mischief rising within his stomach. [So there will be someone physically checking the number of times per week a couple copulates?]
Hermione looked up at him from the stove, and grinned in a way that was all too reminiscent of her cat. “Precisely.”
[So while the officials will know if a couple does not have sex, they will also know if a couple happens to, say…]
She dropped the spatula she was using on the counter and came to stand the width of a breath in front of him. Severus could smell her shampoo and soap and the very fact that she had just been naked in the shower hit him like a train. “Have several rounds of sex per week, yes,” Hermione finished, looking very evil. Severus was pretty sure he was flushing like a tomato.
If his life was once more going to hell in a handbasket, he’d be damned if he didn’t have fun with it this time. Fuck it. He’d marry the woman of his dreams, and at least get laid this time before she rejected and abhorred him.
“One condition,” she purred, reaching out and taking hold of his sweater, pulling him closer. He went willingly, arching a brow at her as he tucked one hand into the small of her back and pulled them together. “I want our wedding photos to be taken in front of your graffiti.”
[Our graffiti,] he retorted as a grin spread across his face, reaching up with his other hand to gently tap her nose. She stuck her tongue out. [And I wouldn’t have it any other way.]
“Hermione, are you sure you didn’t do that? It really looks like something you’d be involved in.”
“Oh, Harry, you know I don’t have the artistic talent for it,” Hermione replied with a little smile. Harry, Draco, Simon Not Severus, and she were waiting in front of the Ministry for Minerva. The Potter-Malfoys were her witnesses, and Minerva would be Simon Not Severus’.
The graffiti was a tourist attraction, between the attempts by various cleaning crews. A protest against the Marriage Law was brewing already.
Harry squinted at the graffiti. “...Yeah,” he said, sounding terribly uncertain.
“Of course, whoever did make it must be so amazing and artistic and incredibly sexy and--” Hermione was cut off as Simon Not Severus planted an elbow in her side, and she turned to him with a massive shit-eating grin.
He was flushed and she could tell from the twitching of his lips that he was trying very hard not to smile. [You’re going to kill me.]
“It’s Azkaban or cardiac arrest on round thirty-something,” she told him, and he had to cover his face as silent laughter shook his frame. Hermione squeezed his hand and reached over to pat his back gently. “There, there. Breathe.”
[Be careful, if I die before the ceremony you’re technically not a widow, this’ll all be for naught.]
Hermione broke out laughing, earning her a look from both Harry and Draco. “God knows I don’t want to have to wang a Weasley.”
An expression of disgust went over Simon Not Severus’ face then, which was so very Severus that Hermione broke out laughing again. [Why would you put that image in my mind?]
“I--didn’t know you knew the Weasleys… Simon,” Draco said, with the carefulness that indicated a Malfoy mind at work.
Hermione could feel Simon Not Severus tense beside her. She couldn’t have that. “He knows them through me,” she put in. “You have no idea how much I’ve bitched to him over a cup of tea.”
Simon turned to look at her, a curious expression on his face.
“I’m very convincing about getting people to hate things, you know,” Hermione added.
Harry laughed. “That’s true. I know Draco was put through months of Hermione Social Justice bootcamp.”
Draco rolled his eyes, grinning again, but that curious sparkle remained in his eyes.
“I was partially responsible for that too,” came a new voice.
Hermione whirled and beamed. “Minerva!” She launched a hug at her mentor, Minerva laughing and hugging her back. (Hermione didn’t let go of Simon Not Severus’ hand. He wasn’t getting away this time.)
“Oh, I could never forget,” Draco retorted with a smile. “For two lionesses, you do an awful lot of badgering.”
Minerva laughed and let go of Hermione before moving to hug Simon Not Severus. “So proud of you, my boy,” she murmured, before withdrawing and pinching one of his cheeks. Simon Not Severus’ eye twitched, and he looked like he was trying so very hard to not snap on her like the Severus of old.
Hermione squeezed his hand. He shifted to look at her, offering her a very tired look of commiseration. She just laughed at him, earning an eye roll. “Let’s go get married before you come to your senses.”
[I could say the same to you,] he retorted as their small party began their walk into the Ministry building. [Considering you’re a war heroine marrying some random shmuck twice your age.]
“S--” Hermione had to stop herself from blowing his cover right then and there, and she could feel Minerva’s gaze boring into her from across Simon Not Severus. “I am correct in ninety-eight point three percent of situations,” she returned, primly, “And as your wife, I am correct always. So you’d best stow your arguments about my judgement.”
He rolled his eyes. [It would be irresponsible of me not to give you an opportunity to back out.]
“And it would be irresponsible of me not to do the same, but you see, I am quite intelligent and understand you’d run like the wind the moment you came to your senses, so I’m not giving you the opportunity.”
Harry pressed the button to call the lift, and turned with a frown to Minerva. “They always like this?”
Minerva nodded, beaming at them with the most grandmotherly energy Hermione had ever experienced. “Aren’t they perfect for each other?”
Simon Not Severus gave a truly tremendous eyeroll at that, one that was so similar to Severus’ that Draco seemed to be about to suffer a panic attack.
“You guys up for going out to a celebratory dinner after?” Harry asked as they all stepped into the lift. “I know it’s not the ideal wedding ceremony, but I’d hate to see my sister off without a little bit of party.”
Hermione turned to Severus, and he offered a half-hearted shrug, looking like that was the last thing he’d ever want. “Sure,” she said with a grin. “My new husband and I could use the energy before our seven-day sexathon to scare the Ministry--”
The effect of these words was immediate and pronounced. Severus Snape turned and hid his face against the elevator’s wall. Minerva chuckled in the good-natured way that old ladies with a lot of sexual experience did whenever the subject was brought up. Harry looked like he wished he’d decided to take the train in Limbo.
Draco Malfoy looked like he was currently taking the train in Limbo.
“Oh, you two. Always so conniving,” Minerva said with inordinate fondness.
[My cardiac arrest is imminent.] The words floated up around Severus’ hidden face, oriented so that the people in the elevator could still read them. [Should’ve learned the first time not to get tangled up with Gryffindor women.]
Hermione raised his hand to her lips and kissed his knuckles. “I’m not letting go of your hand for a reason. I know you’re trying to run off.”
[I hate you.]
“You two are…” Harry’s eyes still had the thousand-yard stare to them. “Something.”
Minerva beamed. “Perfect, that’s what they are.”
The elevator dinged and opened to the marriage department of the Ministry. Hermione turned, and looked Severus in the eyes.
“Last chance,” she murmured.
He looked at her, then out the door, then shook his head and gently tugged her forward. [If my world is going to hell in a handbasket again, I’m going to have fun with it.]
Hermione grinned, tucking herself against his side as they proceeded out into the marriage lobby, followed by their witnesses. There were a fair amount of people milling about the lobby. She could feel Severus tense immediately at the crowd.
“Minerva, can you go get us in the queue?” Hermione asked her. “I’m gonna go find a quiet little room to have a talk with my groom. Find us when it’s time.”
Minerva nodded, ushering the two shell-shocked boy into chairs and hurrying up to the personnel.
Tugging Severus along, Hermione found them a disused little office and warded the door against random passerby. She sat down on the desk, and he leaned backwards against it. She hugged his arm tight to her.
[What did you want to talk about?] The words appeared slowly, almost hesitantly.
“Oh, nothing really. I just figured you’d like to get out of the crowd, and give you a place to breathe and think.”
She could feel the scar tissue shift as he swallowed.
[Then there’s... something I should tell you.]
“If you’d like.” Hermione shrugged, looking up at him. “Or it can wait, if you’re not comfortable. We’re still getting to know each other, I don’t expect immediate and perfect intimacy.” She paused, resting her chin on his shoulder so she could look at him. “You don’t have to tell me anything you’re not comfortable with.”
He looked down, fiddling with his other hand. She could see the rising panic in his eyes, feel the tension in his shoulders. [You deserve to know.]
Hermione drew a deep breath. She knew where this was going. “Not how I work,” she told him, as gently as she could. “I trust you, and I know you’re going to try to make this work and not hurt me. That’s all that matters right now. You deserve to have your privacy and to only tell secrets when you’re ready. Hell knows I’ve got a few I’m not sure I’m up for sharing yet.”
[It’s--not like that, it’s something…] He took a deep, shaking breath. [God, I should’ve told you from the beginning. This never should’ve happened, Hermione.]
“Hey,” she whispered, reaching over to grab one of his belt loops to maneuver her. He made a sharp gasp as she rotated him and pulled him up against the desk between her legs. “It’s okay. I trust you, and you’ve never hurt me.”
Green light was appearing even as she spoke. [You deserve better. I should’ve never gotten wrapped up in this, I don’t--I can’t have someone like you.] The words were flickering around him as fast as she could read them, which looked like a panic attack if she’d ever seen one. [You’re meant for someone better than me, and I’ve been deceiving you into thinking I’m worthy.]
Reaching up, she buried one of her hands in his hair. “It’s okay,” she told him, making sure to catch his gaze. “It’s okay.”
[It’s not, Hermione, I’ve been terrible to you.] She caught that and nothing else as a flood of green writing appeared.
“Listen to me, Severus, I promise it’s fine,” she whispered, unable to keep up with the torrent of green writing that was flickering around him like a discus. “It’s okay, I promise. Please. You haven’t been terrible to me. You’ve been very fun and very cute and very nice and you have absolutely no reason to apologize.”
The green writing froze suddenly, and faded, leaving sunspots on her vision. Severus was staring at her now.
“Okay?” she asked, still very worried at his sudden silence.
“S--” He winced, gasped, and recoiled. She held one hand over his neck and murmured the healing spell she’d used earlier on him. When he looked at her again, his eyes were wide and full of tears. [--Severus?]
“Oh,” Hermione said. “Fuck.”
Something dark and familiar boiled up in his gaze. [Minerva.] The light appeared almost forcefully in the air, as if clawed out by talons of light.
“No--” she started to say, but then the door opened.
Minerva was standing there. “They’re almost ready for--”
Severus whirled and stormed past her.
“Oh no you don’t, you little shit,” Hermione hissed, bolting out into the corridor after him.
He was stalking down the hallway, towards the two very about-to-shit-themselves looking Potter-Malfoys. If there ever was a doubt in Hermione’s mind that this was Severus Snape, she would’ve known in this instant. The posture, the mood, it was too familiar.
“Get back here,” Hermione muttered, following him just as quickly and snatching his hand. He twisted on her, glaring down at her with the force of five years spent with no small children to terrorize.
He might not have had his voice to shout her down, but the green light burned white-hot and brilliant. [Unhand me this instant you insolent harpy--]
“Shut up and listen,” she snapped, drawing herself up and glaring right back. “Don’t you dare go blaming Minerva for this. That woman has done nothing but support you. It was me. I figured it out practically from the moment I started talking to you. It was the this--” Hermione emphasized this very eloquent turn of phrase with an imitation of how he’d unstoppered his vials, and opened his tea tins “--that very first fucking meeting that let me know exactly what was going on, so don’t you dare for a second go blaming anyone other than me.”
He was staring now, rather than glaring. So Hermione continued.
“If you don’t want to get married, that’s fine. But if you don’t want to get married, make it for a good fucking reason, like the fact that I deceived you about my own identity to convince you to tolerate me, or the fact that you don’t like my cooking. Don’t for a second make this about a secret that I knew within five minutes of meeting you.”
“You,” his words were so soft they were just mouthed shapes with breathless air passed through them. “You knew.”
“Yes. The entire time.” She paused, licked her lips, and added, “Also be careful about talking, I don’t want you hurting yourself.”
His expression changed further from disbelief to exasperation, and then all at once, he was wrapped around her. She hugged him back, snuggling herself against his chest as he burrowed his nose into her hair.
[I don’t…] The words faded out. [I cannot believe that is your priority in this moment.]
Hermione shrugged, a little guiltily. “I’m a healer. It’s hard to turn off.”
He shook with laughter and what she was pretty sure was disbelief. [You’re impossible.]
“Granger and Inkwell!” called someone from beyond the hallway.
Severus stood up and loosened his grip on her, looking over his shoulder towards the lobby. She watched him.
“Do whatever you’re comfortable with,” she murmured.
[If my life is going to hell in a handbasket again, I’m going to enjoy it.] He turned to Minerva. [Minnie, do you happen to know where--]
He didn’t get a chance to finish. Minerva held up her hand, pointed her wand at it, and summoned the medal for OM First Class, tossing it lightly to him. Severus snatched it from the air, and ducked into it.
“You saw the man,” Hermione said to Harry and Draco, summoning her own OM First Class medal. “Suit up.”
“Fucking told you he was alive,” Harry said as he summoned their medals.
“I can’t believe Hermione Granger is about to have a seven-day sexathon with my godfather,” Draco said as he ducked into his.
When all five of them marched back into the lobby with their medals, it was Hermione who took the lead. She smiled at the ministry official.
“Hermione Granger and Simon Inkwell?” the man asked, when he managed to retrieve his jaw from the floor.
“Actually, my groom’s name is pronounced Sev-er-us Snape,” Hermione deadpanned back at him with a pleasant smile, as Severus finite’d his glamours and stood there in all of his not-so-dead glory. “Don’t worry, it’s a common mistake.”
A week later, Severus was in his bathrobe reading the morning paper when his wife came out of the shower.
[Pet, did you see the paper this morning? Apparently the Ministry is considering repealing the Marriage Law over concerns about ‘propriety’ and ‘privacy invasion.’ I think they found our scroll.]
“It’s about damn time,” Hermione said with a yawn, as Severus took in the view of his wife in just a towel. “How many members of the Wizengamot fainted from the impropriety?”
“Oh, that’s not bad at all.” She nodded, looking quite smug. “If they’re only thinking about it, though, we’d better keep it up for another week. Just to ensure the repeal goes through.”
[I suppose, if it will save the wizarding world once again.]
“Sacrifices must be made for the greater good,” Hermione replied to him with the lecturing tone that she’d often used back when tutoring her peers. “Which reminds me. Have you heard of a muggle device called a humidifier, Severus? I was thinking about how much your throat feels better after some hot wiggenweld tea, and was wondering if we could modify a humidifier and fill it with wiggenweld tea or potion. We’d set it up in the bedroom, and hopefully overnight it’d soothe your throat a little.”
Severus arched a brow. [Definitely worth a try. Wiggenweld tea steam has always felt very good when I inhale it.] He tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair thoughtfully. [Filius and I were talking, and he has this brilliant idea about modifying my ear cuff with a sound-producing charm, and using IPA syllables to recreate my voice. We’d need memories of my voice that aren’t from my head, though, and I was wondering if you’d be able to help. Draco’s already on board.]
“Oh!” Hermione pinked, and Severus arched a brow. She glared at him, then down at the ground, as she shamelessly pulled on underwear in front of him. “I have plenty, yes. But they’re probably all terribly embarrassing for me.”
Severus’ brow climbed higher.
She sighed, and pouted a little. “They probably focus a lot on your voice and your hands,” she replied. “And also the memory of that time with Lockhart, and the other time with Lupin, and the other time with your DADA speech.”
He rolled his eyes fondly, reaching out and tugging her onto his lap as he dropped the paper on the side of his chair. Hermione managed to halfheartedly pout at him as she curled up. [You’re impossible.]
“I am,” she agreed. “And you fucking love it.”
Severus shrugged. [I must indeed, if you say so, my always-correct wife.]
And then he decided to figure out how many of the Wizengamot they could get to swoon with their second seven-day sexathon.