He was standing in the kitchen, staring out of the window with the parchment dangling from one hand. It was beginning to grow dark, but he remained as he had for hours, staring out into the garden. The floo flared in the living room and Hermione emerged. He sunk into a corner in the shadows.
“Severus? Are you home? I have a pile of reading I want to start on, I might work through dinner . . . “
He smiled, ‘might work through dinner’, he knew that meant she would work until she got dizzy, emerging to eat an enormous sandwich and whatever was in the cupboard and required little to no preparation, all while floating an open book in front of her. He had been trying to be sure to always bring her a plate when she got like that, trying to learn the right timing and to remember to bring her things she could eat with her hands as she read.
His smile faded. He left the letter from the Ministry on the counter where she wouldn’t miss it, fading back into the shadows of the house before he silently went out to his lab. He sat in the dark, letting it get late. He assumed she would be packing and he didn’t want to watch.
The house was dark and quiet when he finally gave up waiting. He wondered if she would return in the morning to tell him in person or if she left a note instead. He found a sandwich on a plate on the counter, some fruit next to it under a charm so it wouldn’t brown. She had also left a piece of cake out for him. He nearly sobbed when he saw it.
The letter was gone. He didn’t see a note.
He made his way upstairs but couldn’t bring himself to go into the main bedroom. He went to the small room instead, the one he slept in alone when he bought the house. Hermione had painted it and had set it up as a reading room with two comfortable chairs. He sat in the one she said was his, she told him it was deep seated to be comfortable on his long legs. Looking across at the empty chair she claimed as hers he finally broke.
He slid onto the floor at the same time tears began to stream down his face. Her huge ginger cat interrupted his misery. Crookshanks used his head to butt Severus in the arm before placing his front paws up on Severus’s shoulder and kneading.
“She’ll be back for you, old boy,” Severus said as he scratched the cat behind his ears. He pulled the cat into his lap and held him, feeling the rumbling purr through his thin chest, letting the cat push up at his chin. Did she leave the cat tonight to comfort me? Perhaps she will continue to be friends; perhaps she would visit . . . he thought for a moment before abandoning the idea. He let out a wracking sob. Crookshanks yowled and Severus let him go.
“Crooks, what are you on about?” Hermione came in from the bedroom, following the orange cat that decided that she absolutely needed to get out of bed and refused to be sent away. Severus immediately sat up, quickly waving his hand over his face to vanish any mess from crying.
“I thought you had gone.” He said as he stood. He moved a few feet away, his posture suddenly very formal. The great ginger cat rubbed against his legs. He noticed that Hermione was wearing a set of the tiny shorts and camisole she wore to bed. “I’m sorry that I woke you.”
Hermione shook her head at him, half asleep. “Severus, it’s late, come along to bed.” She took him by the hand and led him into the bedroom, sat him on the bed and stood in front of him and started unbuttoning his coat as she spoke through a yawn, “I left you a sandwich, did you see it? I wasn’t sure if you were having a dinner meeting so I took the chance and made you some-”
“Hermione, Hermione, stop.” He took her hands away from his buttons, holding them in his, marveling again at the difference in size between his body and hers. He wished he could kiss her little hands, just one more time.
“I . . . there was a letter today, from the Ministry.” Tears leaked from his eyes, just saying it hurt.
He saw the process as she woke fully, mouth opening and then, “OH! The letter! I, I threw it away, I thought it was trash, I didn’t realize - Severus, you’re- You want -” Her hands came up, covering her mouth in shock as she took a step back from him.
“Me?! No! But you-“ he said.
“Me?!” she looked hurt.
He was silent for a moment, then he looked down as he said, “it’s your right, if you wanted- . . . but, Hermione, please,” he pleaded, “please, never leave. I thought I could, but I- Hermione, I love you,” he pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her, his face burrowing into her hair.
Her hand came to his cheek, she pressed her forehead to his as she said, “Severus Snape, I love you, you bloody stupid stubborn man. I started falling in love with you the first night,” she confessed, whispering it sweetly into his ear. “I love being your wife.“
“Oh! Oh thank Merlin!” he called out as he clung to her. “Precious girl.”
She laughed, the sound garbled in a few tears, “I think the politically correct term would be ‘precious woman’, but I’ll admit that it doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
He laughed as well, “Precious wife, then.”
“Yes,” she said as she kissed him.
In the morning Severus sat at the table slowly finishing his breakfast as Hermione began tidying up. He looked up every few minutes to watch her move about the kitchen, smiling because she had thrown on his discarded shirt from yesterday.
“Now, this is our secret, right old boy?” Severus whispered as he gave the great orange half-Kneazle a bit of sausage.
“Severus Snape if I catch you feeding that cat from the table I swear I cannot be held responsible,” she said over her shoulder. Severus straightened before she could turn around. He came up behind her and shyly put his arm around her, slowly in case she wanted to move away. Hermione stilled, a wide smile on her face, it was the first time he was initiating something, and even if he just wanted to hold her she wanted to encourage him, to give him the time he needed to be comfortable.
When his arms crossed in front of her she relaxed against him with a sigh. When one of his hands dropped to the hem of the shirt and began to explore underneath she made an excited, “Oh!” sound. When he sat her on the counter and stepped between her legs, kissing her, rubbing against her, easing into her and leasurely thrusting against the perfect spot, she laughed out, “Oh! I am grateful for your long legs,” making him laugh his deep laugh.
The same morning the wizarding world waited for word of Hermione Granger’s petition. By lunchtime, with no news, the number of reporters waiting at the Ministry had decreased by half. The day after that the number was halved again.
The following day one almost-lucky photographer snapped a shot of Hermione Snape in a bakery with her husband. She hexed him when she caught him taking the picture, but let him keep it as long as he swore to caption her with the correct last name. The photograph showed her feeding Severus a piece of croissant as he pretended to look annoyed before he smiled down at her and quickly pecked her cheek as she giggled.