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To See and Keep Silent

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Severus Snape was in love with his wife.

Madly in love, as the saying goes. She was a brilliant light, illuminating his dark and dismal world with her generous heart, her effusive spirit, and her thorough knowledge of transfiguration and healing and literature.

Her face? Perfectly imperfect. Straight, white teeth she was unnaturally proud of, a smallish nose of an elegant shape. A mouth that some might call too large, and eyebrows that weren't exactly the same length. He could always spot a kind of merriment in her eyes when she wanted to laugh at something, and he liked that she had a tendency to smile more than she ought. It meant that she smiled at him, even when he didn't deserve it.

Her body was loveliness itself. Skin that flushed pink with the heat that he encouraged in her, strong legs that wrapped around his waist, fascinating scars for his lips to trace in the light of the moon. Long before he ever worshipped her spirit, he thanked the imbeciles at the ministry whose draconian laws had given him access to the soft skin on her inner thigh.

He has had her for four years now—1,461 days with Hermione Granger as his wife, once you added the leap year. Four years with her in his house, in his bed, and in his life.

Naturally, he never told her of his affection; but then again, he never told her anything at all.

That would ruin everything.

Wouldn't it?


The Snapes had gotten off to an uncomfortable and rocky start.

It was three years after the war had ended when the murmurs began. A population problem? Yes. A crisis? Possibly. Politicians debated the loss of magic amongst the younger generation, as well as the many lives lost in the battles that had ensued.

When the writing was on the wall—or, at least, when the writing was on the officially sealed letters from the Ministry of Magic—Severus begrudgingly accepted that he would be sharing his living quarters with the young witch. His whole life was dictated by others, so what was another demand placed upon him from on high?

It had been so long since he'd experienced free choice, he didn't even know what it was anymore.

She hadn't accepted the matter as easily, fighting the Ministry with her characteristic vitriol, organizing protests, and writing public declarations to governments all across Europe.

None of it had worked.

And so they talked for days, planning out their wedding and their marriage. Neither was happy about the matter, but they were reasonable adults. They could make it work, couldn't they?

Hermione and Severus began by selling his property and acquiring a small house with a large garden and separate bedrooms in Shropshire. After all, the Ministry would be keeping tabs on their living arrangements and their procreative attempts. They had to live under the same roof, in keeping with the law, just as they had to share a bed at least once a week.

As the wedding date grew closer, her list of questions for him grew longer as she tried to get to know the man she was marrying. What music did he like? What profession did he dream of when he was a child? What creature comforts did he want around their house? Did he mind that she wanted to go on Muggle birth control for the indefinite future?

He was not surprised to learn that Hermione Granger wanted to talk about everything. In those days, he let her. He even participated at times.

Most of the time, she was satisfied with his brief responses. Hell, he could have fought her, but why cause himself more grief when he was going to be shackled to her for the rest of his life? If he could go along with Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore, there was nothing Granger could do to break him.

Or so he thought.

The night before the ceremony, she had come to him with a request. A simple entreaty, really. Confessing all she knew of his past with Lily Evans, Hermione asked him to open himself to the possibility of a real relationship with her. Not right away, she'd said, but in time. Would he consider it?

He could have agreed then and there. He could have smiled and nodded, or just walked out without a word.

But he didn't.

No.

He snapped.

Instead of a measured response, he had exploded with cutting words. How dare she? Who did Granger think she was, asking to fill his Lily's footsteps? The Ministry might be able to force him into procreating with a girl almost young enough to be his daughter, but Hermione would never force him to forget the love of his life.

Severus vaguely recalled the shocked expression on the girl's face as he hissed out his insults and recriminations, but his anger had forced out most of the details. He stormed out on her.

But he still showed up the next day to make their union official. Arthur served as the witness to their travesty of a marriage.

She wore a white dress.

They signed the papers.

And they never spoke of Lily again.

Never spoke of anything, really.


It was quiet in the Snapes' house, but never silent. Sometimes he'd overhear her on the telephone with her mother, usually talking over their gardens or reporting on one of her patients at the hospital. She cursed under her breath when she stubbed her toe or read something she disagreed with. More than once, he heard her crying in her bedroom as he drifted off to sleep.

Oh, she made noise.

She just never talked to him.

In their first year together, they built up a strange routine in their shared house. Considering they never talked to one another, it was astounding that they'd been able to develop habits for living together, but things had somehow fallen into place.

In the mornings, they never even saw one another. He was awake before she was, preparing his breakfast quickly, fixing his coffee and frying up his two eggs and bacon before she ever stirred. While he tidied up after himself, he would hear the shower flip on upstairs, his cue to head to the lab while she fixed herself a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea.

Truthfully, it was the small sounds that allowed them to tiptoe around one another. He didn't want to speak to her, didn't want to acknowledge her unwanted presence in his life.

The evenings were a careful dance of avoidance as well. Although they returned home from work at roughly the same time, Hermione liked to prepare her supper earlier than Severus did. When she moved from the living room to the kitchen, he slipped outside to the garden. When he moved from the library to the dining room, she ducked inside to pick up the book she'd been wanting. Only on the rarest of occasions were they ever in the same room, but even then, they minded their own business.

To simplify things, each did their own grocery shopping. They each took one half of the library. Everything was separated out, and each could pretend they had some semblance of control over their own lives.

The Snapes never had any guests over. If Severus allowed himself to be talked into tea with Minerva, he met her at Hogwarts, and if Lucius wanted to share some brandy, they had it at the manor. Sometimes, Hermione disappeared on weeknights, presumably to go out with her friends. Severus had figured out that her absence on Sunday evenings was due to weekly dinners at the Weasleys' abode.

Like clockwork, Hermione slipped into his room every Saturday night in order to obey the Ministry's decree. 9:00 P.M. on the dot, since she was a punctual little thing. She slid under the covers like a folded letter sliding into an envelope, and they accomplished their task quickly and efficiently. When they were through, she slid out from under the covers and left him.

Alone in his bed, sated and tired, Severus fell asleep each Saturday night to the sound of this woman washing all evidence of their relationship down the drain.

Not that he blamed her.

She didn't want him any more than he wanted her. Her vehemence fighting the damned Ministry was proof of that.

After all, they weren't in love. They weren't even friends.

It was a peculiar intimacy, then, intercourse with his wife.

Originally, he had thought his anger at her presumptuous request would render him incapable of bedding the girl. During those first few weeks especially, when he was unsure he'd be able to see past the student she had been, Severus had taken all the necessary potions in order to fulfill his end of the bargain.

It didn't take long for him to realize that he didn't need any kind of extra assistance. After the first night together, he'd touched enough of her body to realize that little Hermione Granger had most definitely grown up. She was twenty-two, after all. Or was it twenty-three? He didn't remember. All he knew was that she smelled of grapefruit and cedar, and she came to him clothed in the same short satin slip each Saturday. He never removed it, since he didn't feel like he had her permission. It wasn't as though she wanted him touching her any longer than he had to.

He never kissed her, since something about it was too familiar for their situation. She never kissed him either, although occasionally she pressed her nose to his cheek when she came apart in his arms.

He didn't know what to make of her.

She wasn't Lily.

She was, however, this minor miracle in his life, a woman who accepted his body into hers. She came into his bed, embraced his thin, scarred frame, and left without a word.

And for a time, that was enough for Severus.


When their first anniversary rolled around, Severus found a letter addressed to the Snapes on the dining room table. The seal had already been broken, so he knew that Hermione had already seen what was inside. Severus pulled out an invitation to a party held in their honor at the Burrow and winced.

Did he have to go?

If he didn't, would she explain his absence?

Who would he have to see there?

Did she even want him to go? Hermione hadn't asked him to accompany her to this anniversary party, so maybe she didn't even want him to be there.

The curious side of his nature convinced him to show up just to see what it was about, and that's how he found himself Apparating to Ottery St. Catchpole, dressed in black and carrying a bottle of wine to give to the hostess.

He ambled about the property, admiring the flowers in the garden and enjoying the fading light over the forest to the west. As he approached the house, glowing from every window, he was startled by the raucous laughter in the house.

His home and his workplace were so quiet that he'd almost forgotten what noisiness was. He'd certainly forgotten what his life was like at Hogwarts, surrounded by hundreds of children being dragged through life by their hormones.

The ringing tone of her voice stuck out to him above all the others, and he stood and listened—simply listened—to her laughter at something George had said.

A moment later Molly called them all to the table, interrupting the hijinks of her sons.

Severus heard the small party shuffle chairs as they moved to the table.

"Is Severus planning on coming, Hermione?" Molly asked. "We could wait for him before we start in on the meal."

Hermione spoke softly. "I'm not sure, Molly. You know, we've both been so busy these days, I never did get a straight answer out of him. I should have pinned him down, but he might be busy at the lab tonight. His research is fascinating, all to do with tailoring the properties of healing potions to individual patients to increase efficacy. It's very important work, so… so he might not be able to get away."

How did she know that? Severus wondered. He'd published one paper on his preliminary findings, but he'd never told her about that. For that matter, why wasn't she exposing his failings as a husband to this crew of people? They were bound to be on her side.

"Bah!" cried Ron. "Who needs him? We'll celebrate Hermione's survival instead of their anniversary. It's not like it's a real marriage, anyway."

Severus stood at a distance, listening to the conversation. He held his breath while he waited for a response.

Arthur, always the voice of reason, chastised his son. "Ron, this law wasn't easy on any of you. None of you would be married now if it weren't for the Ministry prompting you to action."

"Yeah, but Hermione got the worst—"

"Don't," Hermione said, interrupting her friend. "Don't ever speak poorly of Severus in my presence, Ron." She cleared her throat. "He's a good man, and we… We're making the best of things."

Severus cringed at Hermione's gentle insistence as she defended their marriage.

He left the wine outside the front door before returning home.


During their second year, Severus began to pay more attention to his wife.

He started following her successes at St Mungo's, reading up on all the good she was doing for others. Hermione had spearheaded projects to help others heal after the war, dipping into Muggle techniques where necessary. She also tracked the projects of major research labs across Europe, which explained how she knew of his work.

Always impressive, that woman.

He tried to make more of an effort around the house for her.

Since he was already up, it was no hardship to put the kettle on in the mornings so she wouldn't have to wait for hot tea. When he was out at the shops, he picked up extras of the things she stocked her side of the pantry with, like packages of dried fruit or raw nuts.

Somehow he began seeing Hermione as an ally.

And viewing her as a challenge.

Ever since hearing her speaking on his behalf at the Burrow, Severus found himself wanting to hear his wife's voice again.

Could he speak to her some evening in their house? Not after their year of silence.

Would she even want to talk to him, after all he had done to dissuade her?

Thinking back on that disastrous day before their wedding, he put all those thoughts out of his mind. Severus knew that he had lost any chance at normalcy with his wife a long time ago.

Still.

Still.

Still, he wanted what he wanted.

Since he was only close to the woman once a week, he tried to coax something—anything—out of her then.

Severus began to take his time with her in his bed, moving slowly as his hands traced her knees, her thighs, and the flesh of her arse. Her skin was the softest thing he'd ever been privileged to touch, and he was determined to demonstrate his appreciation.

One night, he lifted her hips off the bed, then her shoulders, pulling the satin slip off and throwing it to the floor. Her movements had stilled under his hands, but she didn't pull away from him. No, she helped him remove the thing before she tugged him closer, enfolding him in her arms.

After that, she came to him nude.

The first time his lips found her breast, she gasped audibly. She threaded her fingers through his hair holding his mouth to her body, and he smiled against her skin, knowing he was finally on the right track.

Things progressed rather naturally after that. At times, he lay in the cradle of her hips. On other nights, he pulled her atop his prone form, guiding her through their coupling.

Her voice was breathy as she whimpered in his ear, and he felt the vibration of her moans deep in his chest.

When he kissed her neck, she groaned loudly.

So he kissed her neck often.

He found it harder and harder to let go of her when they were through.

When she dug her fingernails into his scarred back and cried his name-Oh, Severus!--in the night, he knew he was lost to her.

Hermione.

His lovely, generous wife.

Was she lovelier than Lily?

Did it matter?

Lily wasn't here.


In the evenings, he observed her as she puttered through their home.

In the winter months, she preferred to curl up in front of the fireplace, tucked under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate, stacks of journals at her feet. She bundled her hair atop her head, using it to hold spare quills and pens as she took notes on her ideas.

In the summer, she weeded the vegetable beds in worn, faded T-shirts that were all two sizes too big for her slender body. Her hot chocolate was replaced with homemade lemonade muddled with fresh mint leaves, and her seat in front of the fire was traded in for a lounge chair outside in the garden.

She was enchanting, this woman.

Hermione Snape was enchanting.

How had he missed that fact earlier?


By their third anniversary, the Snapes had grown considerably more comfortable in one another's presence.

For one thing, Hermione no longer left the living room when he entered it. She stayed put on her end of the sofa while he stoked the fire and sat down to read.

For another, Severus was pleased to note that his wife had moved her morning schedule around. He was still first in the kitchen, but she now sauntered downstairs midway through his egg and bacon routine. Out of the same kettle of hot water, he poured a press of coffee for himself and a small pot of tea for Hermione. They listened to the morning news on the wireless, eating and listening in solidarity before heading off to work.

They still shopped and cooked and ate separately, for the most part. The library was still evenly divided into two separate collections. In the living room, Hermione started making small changes, hanging a photograph of herself with her parents on the wall, placing another photograph of her old familiar, now long gone, on the mantle.

He didn't mind it.

So he hung a small painting of Hogwarts on another blank space of wall.

He observed these small changes in the pattern they'd established with gratitude and hope for the future.

Severus heard her request running through his brain at least once a week, as clearly as the day she came to him: Would you open yourself up to the possibility of a real relationship with me, Severus? Not now, of course, but… but someday?

He wished he had answered differently then.

He wished she would ask him again.

His answer might be different now.

They attended events together now, whether they were birthday dinners or holiday parties or whatever came up. They seemed to be all right in public as long as there were others around to act as buffers between them.

Severus found that the occasional dinner at the Burrow was palatable, given enough alcohol and the presence of either Arthur or William for intelligent conversation.

If neither of those men were present, Severus sat back and observed. Half of the interest for Severus lay in watching Hermione blossom when she was happiest.

She was beautiful when she smiled.

She joked around with Ginevra, she laughed at Percy's serious nature. She patiently listened to George's inane experiments with love potions for his shop, and she graciously put up with Molly's questions about her domestic abilities, accepting the older woman's tutelage in household charms. Her friendship with Potter was humbling to behold, but Severus found that he didn't mind it. He saw how his wife relaxed around her friends, resting in their affection.

Sometimes, Severus thought that she was watching him, too.


The evening of Hermione's twenty-fifth birthday found the Snapes gathered around the Burrow's table after an elaborate meal of pies and puddings.

Severus was pleased to note that Potter and some of the others had buggered off for a round of Quidditch, leaving him with his wife and the tolerable Weasleys as they helped themselves to nightcaps and second helpings of Molly's marvelous carrot cake.

Bill's arms wound around the woman relaxed on his lap, and he commended Hermione on one of her newest projects at the hospital, a series of treatments to eliminate complications for werewolves during the full moon. He beamed at the birthday girl across the table. "I can't believe your crazy ideas are actually coming to fruition, but I've never felt better. It's brilliant, Granger."

She just smiled, drawing Severus' attention to her lips. They looked soft and welcoming. "Hold that thought," she said, "until the results are confirmed in multiple subjects."

Molly clasped Arthur's hand. "We can never thank you enough for all you've done for Bill, dear."

Hermione choked back a soft cry. "I just wish… I wish Remus were here to witness this."

Severus froze at the sound of her anguish.

If he were a demonstrative man, he would have reached for his wife. He would have pulled her into his lap, held her cheek to his chest, and soothed her sorrowful heart.

If they had a real marriage, he would have known what to do.

Molly nodded at him across the table, trying to prompt him to some kind of action to comfort Hermione, as though he were the type of husband that she deserved.

He stared at his hands, but directed his words to his wife. "Lupin would be the first to celebrate your achievement." He could feel Hermione's gaze on him, startled that he was speaking to her. Severus continued, his voice low. "He always knew you were capable of this. He saw it when you were just a girl."

He looked up and found her eyes, open wide. "You would astonish him as a woman."

She would, of course.

She was astonishing.

She blushed a violent shade of pink, smiled at him shyly, and sank back into her chair while the others continued chattering on about other things.

When they left the Burrow later that evening, Severus still felt her distraction. They each went to their own bathroom, and Severus listened to the simultaneous brushing of teeth as he and his wife prepared for bed.

He dressed in his grey nightshirt and slid under the blanket, adjusting the pillow beneath his head in the way that he preferred.

That night, Hermione came to his room without any prompting of the law. Clothed in her satin slip, she crawled in beside him and pressed herself up against his body. She flung an arm across his chest.

It was a Thursday, Severus noted.

A Thursday.

He reached over with his free hand, stroking her cheek as her breathing stilled, and he thought about kissing her.

Would she welcome it?

She had come to him, after all.

He had never kissed her, not even on the day of their wedding, and now he wondered what that must be like. If kissing her body was heaven, possessing her mouth would surely kill him.

Unable to make the first move, Severus fell asleep with his wife in his arms.

When he awoke in the middle of the night, she was already gone.


Now, on the morning of their fourth wedding anniversary, Severus asked himself a series of questions.

He was in love with his wife—deeply, truly, madly in love—with this miracle of a woman.

Could she ever care for him?

Could she forgive him?

What could he possibly say to her after all this time?

He didn't have any answers. Severus pulled out the eggs and bacon from the fridge, laying them out on the counter beside the fruit basket that had been sent over the day before.

Examining the pears and berries, he decided to prepare breakfast for his wife. It was their anniversary, after all. Severus sliced the pears and prepared a simple batter. He was no master in the kitchen, but even he could make pancakes.

When Hermione came downstairs, he'd already fixed her tea and set the table for two. The radio was off, to prevent them from falling back into their old habit. And his astonishing wife, as she looked around their home, was astonished.

Hermione's jaw hung open as she took in the sight of her husband's work. She looked up at him as though she had never seen him before, a question lingering in her eyes. "Severus?" she asked.

He enjoyed the sound of his name in her mouth, and he spluttered out a brief explanation. "Molly sent over the pears last night."

She beamed, clearly pleased, and sat down at the table. "Did she send over the pancakes as well?"

"I plead guilty to those." Severus took his seat across from her. "They might not be edible."

"Thank you." Hermione held out her hand, her palm open to him. "I'll take my chances."

Not quite sure what she wanted, Severus tentatively grasped her small hand, feeling the warmth of her beneath his fingers. It was the first time he'd ever touched her in the light of day.

He liked it.

He squeezed her hand once, then picked up his napkin and utensils to tuck into breakfast. He felt his heart racing unnaturally as he initiated conversation with his wife for the first time. "What are your plans for today?"

Her eyes opened wide.

Severus began to berate himself. Clearly, he'd misjudged this situation. She didn't even want to talk to him.

He started breathing again when she finally smiled at him and spoke. "The carrots need weeding, so I thought I'd tackle them this morning. I've got a few reports to work on sometime today, but they're not due until early next week. We've been invited to the Burrow for an anniversary dinner, if you're free?"

He nodded. "Yes, I… I saw the invitation you left out earlier. I was planning on attending."

Hermione cut her pancakes into pieces, sliding some onto her fork along with a slice of pear. She took a quick bite before speaking again. "Honestly, Severus, I don't know what's brought about this change, but I wish that—"

She coughed.

"Wish that—"

She coughed again, and reached for her cup.

Before she had a chance to swallow, Severus watched his wife crumple in her seat and fall in a boneless heap on the floor.

He leapt from his chair to crouch down beside her. Gently lifting her hair, he leaned in and heard her steady breathing. His fingers found a pulse in her neck, but nothing else was right.

Severus swept his wife up in his arms and took her directly to the hospital.


This was not how he had planned to spend his anniversary, with Hermione cloistered in a room with Healers, undergoing evaluations to determine whether or not she would be all right.

No, his plan had been much simpler: he was going to talk to his wife.

That was it. Such a small matter, and yet one he'd wanted for months now. It had all come on so gradually that he found it difficult to know when his heart had softened towards her. He wanted her to talk to him rather than merely listen to her talk to others.

He wanted her.

If she let him, he was also going to kiss her lips.

He wanted her.

And he wanted her to want him in return.

Instead, he found himself pacing the corridors of St Mungo's, sending off owls to the Weasleys to explain the situation and their likely absence from dinner that evening.

When the healers came to Severus an hour later, they led him into the garishly decorated room where his wife lay, silent in a standard-issue hospital bed.

She looked so small there, tucked under the covers.

He sat in the chair beside her bed while the healers explained her prognosis. They weren't sure, they said, what had caused his wife to collapse, but they suspected a potion. What had she eaten that morning? They were running tests. Would he stay with her throughout the day?

Severus gave them everything they asked for.

When they left the room, he climbed onto the bed beside her, laying his arm across her torso as she had once done to him on a Thursday night months earlier. He wandlessly closed and locked the door before allowing himself to cry into her monstrous hair.

What had happened to Hermione?

Why had it happened now, when things were finally starting to turn around for them?

Severus stroked her cheek with a single finger, but she didn't move.

She was the loveliest woman he had ever known, and she deserved so much more than this.

In the light of day, he kissed her neck, willing her to respond to him.

She didn't make a sound.

His chest tightened at the thought of losing her, of losing what they could become together.

A tapping at the window alerted Severus to an owl outside. He stood to open it and let the bird in, removing the scrap of paper tied to its leg. Severus made out the hieroglyphic penmanship of George Weasley. The note was brief.

Mum just informed us that Hermione's in the hospital, which

means that you haven't given your wife what she needs. True love's

kiss, and all that rot. Kiss her now, Snape, and thank me later!

Severus suppressed the thoughts of how many ways he could disembowel the man for endangering his wife. He crossed over to her bed again and carefully lay down beside her. And although she'd never given him any express permission, Severus Snape raised himself off the hospital bed, brushed her hair away from shuttered eyes, and pressed a kiss to Hermione Snape's lips.

This.

This was a parody of what he wanted, a thin shadow of the real thing. Hermione was warm beneath him, but stiff and unresponsive.

A silent sob filled his throat.

George must have miscalculated with his potion.

Severus kissed his wife again.

And again.

And this time, she gasped for air.

Severus pulled away, giving her space to breathe. Her eyes were unfocussed, and she was blinking in confusion.

"Hermione?" he asked.

When she caught his eye, she smiled and whispered words he'd been longing to hear. "Kiss me again, Severus."

He complied.

Who was he to fight her?

They spent the rest of the afternoon talking and kissing, wrapped up in each other until she was discharged from the hospital.


That was how, on the evening of his fourth wedding anniversary, Severus Snape stood on the stoop of his house, holding his wife in his arms.

"Severus!" she cried in laughter, clutching his shoulders. "You don't have to do this."

He disagreed, of course. "Nonsense. A man has to carry his wife over the threshold of their home."

She traced the length of his nose with her fingertip. "That's only for when they've first married, dearest. We don't need to do this now!"

Severus flung open the door, making a production of the two steps that led into their home. He set her down in the foyer, kissing her on the lips, drinking in the warmth of her.

She tasted of sunshine and light, of hope and forgiveness, and he found it impossible to wrench himself away.

When she broke off, laughing in delight, he swooped in for another peck on her lips. "So marry me," he said.

"We're already married, Severus."

"For real, this time," he insisted. "Because you want to, and not because of some law."

She eyed him warily. "Are you… are you certain?"

"Yes, of course," he stated. He wrapped her in his arms, reveling in their easy embrace. "I was blind to everything about you when we were forced into this, but I can see it all now. I have wanted you longer than I can say."

"I want a fresh start with you, too," she said. She pressed a kiss to his lips. "Of course, I'll marry you, but things need to be different around here."

He barked out a laugh. "I confess that I'm looking forward to change."

"Good," she replied, kissing his cheek. "I am your equal."

"You are my superior in every way," he corrected her.

"No," she argued, running her hands up and down his arms. "I want you to take me off any pedestal you're tempted to place me on, Severus. Take me off before you're tempted to ignore all my faults and marry a dream of a woman rather than the reality of one."

Severus sighed. "I don't think you're perfect, if that helps. I can make concessions, too, if they get me what I want."

"What do you want?" she asked.

"You," he said. He picked her up again and carried her into their living room. When he sat on her side of the sofa, he kept her on his lap. "I want to talk to you every day."

"I want us to be open with one another," she replied.

"Open about everything," he agreed.

"I want to share your bed," she replied.

"Of course," he agreed. He paused a beat before adding, "I want to turn one of our bedrooms into a nursery. If you want to, that is. Wasn't that the point of that law in the first place?"

Hermione toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck, and Severus resisted the urge to purr aloud. "Maybe we should save that for our next anniversary."

"Whatever you like. We can discuss it later," he said, attempting to lift her shirt. "Just promise me that we'll never name any of them George."

She grasped the hem of her shirt, pulling it over her head and throwing it in the corner. Then her small hands found his neck and began helping him with his buttons. "We can discuss everything later, husband."

"Of course, wife."

She sighed happily.

"Good," he said. "Where's the fun in marrying an argumentative harpy when I can't engage her in regular debate?"

She burst into laughter. "You're lucky I like you, Severus Snape."

"I like-" he paused. He caught her wrists, holding them loosely, giving her the chance to pull away if she wanted to. "I love you, Hermione, but what is more than that, I trust you."

She kissed him again. "I trust you, too. I'm not sure that I quite trust us yet, but I know I can in time. It's all so fresh. This still scares me, but I… I love you, Severus."

He understood.

And he told her so.

They told each other everything now.