7 years after the Final Battle…

"Severus…."

"Yes Hermione?" He missed the nervous tone and didn't even look up from his book, assuming it would be the usual. Six years of reading time interrupted by her commentary had educated him to her habits.

"I haven't been your student in six years….. and I've been your colleague for four….."

Intrigued and confused by this line of conversation, he put the book aside. He nodded for her to continue, folding his hands carefully under his chin.

"I believe it's to the point where it would no longer be inappropriate if I asked you out on a date…." She looked at him hopefully.

He looked at her steadily and then gently reached out to grab her small hand in his larger one.

"No…." he slowly said, "I don't believe it would be."

8 years after the Final Battle….

"I think I fell in love with you when you made me promise that no matter what happened to you I would stay alive."

"Ironic. I believe I first started falling in love with you when your return condition was that I try to live for your sake."

"For my sake now?" Her beautiful eyes danced as her eyebrows lifted at the wording. "You make it sound so dramatic, I doubt concern for me made that much of a difference to you at that point."

He stared, amazed, "More than you know."

10 years after the Final Battle…..

"I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.:

Severus did one better and pulled her in for a passionate kiss before picking her up and carrying her down the aisle, both laughing the whole way.

After all these years, some people there were still getting used to the fact he could smile in pure happiness. For many, it was the first time that they heard him laugh despite years of acquaintanceship.

….

29 years after the Final Battle…..

Katarina was being teased by Aurelius that she wouldn't be allowed into any house…. Again.

"Aurelius! Stop that! Katarina, don't worry, you'll be sorted into a house. I have high hopes you'll be a Gryffindor myself" She winked at her husband who scowled.

At seeing that, Katarina's eyes grew wide. "But I don't want Daddy to hate me!" she said in childish panic.

Severus rolled his eyes but proceeded to comfort his daughter all the same for the fourth time that morning, "Pumpkin, I could never hate you. I don't care what house you're in as long as you don't date a Potter or a Weasley."

It was a long-standing joke, but Katarina still nodded her head seriously causing Hermione to frown. "Your father is joking. Now get on the train before it takes off." She pulled her youngest child in for one last hug "I love you dearest!"

Once the children were gone, Hermione turned to her husband, frown returning. "You really shouldn't say that Severus."

He huffed. "Did you make me live to torture me woman? I already see Potter and Weasley enough, you can't expect me to share grandchildren with them too!"

She raised an eyebrow, a habit she had gotten from him over the years. "Are you saying it's not worth it?"

Seeing she was at least a little serious, his expression softened immediately and he drew her closer, kissing her forehead. "Of course it is. I am grateful every day that you saved me. When the day comes, Katarina can date both a Weasley and a Potter if that makes her happy."

"I thought you saved Me." Hermione teased, eyes dancing.

He gave her her favorite small smile, one most people wouldn't even recognize as a smile but filled his eyes.

"Saving you saved me Hermione."