These characters, and the setting they reside in, are the property of J. Rowling and her affiliates and associates.

The Marriage Law is the brainchild of WIKTT.

Bellissima Eros came out of my own wild imagination.


Hermione sat in despair. There were only a couple of days left before she had to choose a husband or face the punishment of having the Ministry choose one for her. Placing her fate in the hands of the Ministry of Magic was a dire prospect. She wouldn't let any of the members of it she had met so far choose a pair of socks for her let alone a life mate! And Lucius Malfoy was high in the Ministry these days.

She was alone in the back sitting room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, Harry Potter's house, and the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Various members of the Order still felt free to drop in frequently and congregate. Many also stayed overnight occasionally. Harry didn't seem to mind that too much, at least with most of his guests. The fight against the forces of darkness was far from over. The Dark Lord might be dead but there were plenty of his minions still around who would have loved to slip into his place. The Order still had a lot of work to do.

Hermione had a small stack of parchments in her lap, a pile of marriage petitions. She had decided that today was the day to make her decision, but it was an impossible one. She didn't want to marry any of the men who had petitioned her and the one man she had hoped to marry didn't want her, or at least not right away.

"Hard at work, Miss Granger?"

Hermione looked up startled. She hadn't heard anyone come in. The deep dusky voice was that of Professor Snape, her former Potions teacher and a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

"May I join you?" He asked.

"Oh, sure, I guess," she answered. Hermione had hit a stalemate in her quest for a decision and could use a diversion. It was truly a hopeless quest. She might as well just toss the petitions into the air and see which one landed face up, or something.

"How are you coming?" He asked quietly, taking a chair across from her.

"Not very well," she sighed. "I still haven't the slightest idea which one to choose. It's hopeless, I think." Her voice was morose.

"Perhaps I can be of assistance," he said

"How?" She exclaimed in exasperation. "It's me that has got to get married in three days, or else, not you! How can you possibly help me?"

Snape didn't break his expression of ironic calm but he raised an eyebrow. "How, Miss Granger? By providing an impartial viewpoint, of course. A detached analysis. Since emotion has not granted you a clear decision, perhaps logic and reason will give you a better result."

Hermione choked back a sudden impulse for hysterical laughter. Was there ever a more unlikely scenario? Professor Snape helping her to choose a husband?

"May I?" He asked, holding his hand out for the stack of parchments. Hermione found herself giving them to him. Snape rifled through them with a quizzical expression, raising an eyebrow at one, shaking his head slightly or frowning at others. Upon reading the last of them, he looked over at her in puzzlement.

"I see one Weasley in here but none of his brothers. Ron didn't send you one?"

"No," Hermione said softly, glancing down at her hands. "He doesn't want to marry young." She did her best to keep her voice from breaking but her emotions betrayed themselves, anyway. "He thinks the law will be repealed in a few years and then I can leave whoever I've had to marry and then marry him. He thinks I should choose his brother Percy and divorce him later." She paused. "I don't think I could ever act that way. I don't believe in getting married to someone, all the while intending to ditch them afterwards. It would be cruel and it would be dishonest. I'm not like that."

"You are saying then, that you will stay with the wizard you marry, even after the law is repealed?" Snape ventured.

"I'll probably have to. That's the way I was raised. I'd feel obligated to at least try."

Snape gave her a long look that Hermione couldn't translate. Perhaps he was thinking her foolish or hopelessly Muggle. Maybe she was.

"Well then," Snape began in a brisk wry businesslike tone. "Let's review these, shall we? We will take them one at a time and evaluate them for their potential assets and liabilities." He looked over his nose at her. "The good, the bad, and the deplorable."

Hermione nodded and stifled a giggle. Perhaps this would be entertaining if nothing else

Snape raised a parchment. "Candidate number one," he pronounced majestically, "Remus Lupin."

"Wait, Professor," Hermione cut in, "you can't be objective about him. You hate him!"

Snape favored her with a depreciating glance. "No, Miss Granger. I do not hate him. I dislike him. There is a difference. And it is possible to achieve objectivity in just about anything providing one has the proper fortitude of mind. In this case, however, you may rest assured of my complete impartiality. I dislike them all equally."

Hermione suppressed a smile at this bit of Snapish humor.

"Let us continue," he said inexorably. "Remus Lupin, his good points. He does have them..." Snape pondered for a moment. "Lupin is a loyal member of the Order of the Phoenix. He is fairly intelligent, tolerably good looking...I suppose, and he has a mild and gentle disposition during the days of the month when he is not baying at the moon. And he is well liked. Your friend Harry Potter would probably approve of the match. And your new in-laws would be so overjoyed at their son's marrying anyone at all that they would most likely worship you." Snape looked up at her. "Another added benefit: you would be able to practice your formidable potion making skills since you would have to make his Wolfsbane potion every month."

After settling himself more comfortably in his chair, Snape continued, "And now for his bad points. Obvious detrimental point number one: he is a werewolf. Detriment number two: because he is a werewolf, he has difficulty with gainful employment. You would have to be the breadwinner. He would have to raise the children, which would be eminently suitable because most likely your children would be werewolves as well. Lycanthropes nearly always breed true." He paused. "Oh, by the way, there is another side effect of being a werewolf which you may not be aware. Many lycanthropes are impotent except for one or two days leading up to their monthly transformation. I have no idea if Remus Lupin is one of those affected this way as I have never inquired about his sex life. If you marry him and are like most women who enjoy the carnal act, it may be frustrating for you."

Hermione blushed awkwardly. Hearing her Potions teacher talking casually about sex was unnerving.

"Aside from the obvious problem of his lycanthropy, Remus Lupin is twenty-two years older than you. And while he is intelligent, gentle, and kind, his personality is completely lackluster compared to yours. You are brilliance and fire and he is pallor and simplicity. I do believe he will bore you eventually." Snape put Lupin's parchment face down on his lap and raised another one.

"Next candidate," he said dryly. "Percy Weasley." He made a coughing sound and rolled his eyes. "Let's see now," he drawled, "good points. Mr. Percy Weasley is an impressive physical specimen. He is young, tall, healthy, and good-looking. He is even rather intelligent. And he is not a werewolf. He is hardworking and ambitious, and so dedicated to his career that he will let nothing stand in the way of his achieving success. He should have been a Slytherin. His parents are Arthur and Molly, which would give you pleasant in-laws. That's all."

"Bad points," Snape continued significantly, his tone a little louder for emphasis, "Percy Weasley is a pompous, self satisfied, posing little prig. While he may be sickeningly obsequious to his superiors, he will be maddeningly supercilious at home. No matter what, Miss Granger, he will always be right. He will never listen to you. And even if he is proven wrong, he will always find a way to blame you anyway. He has no imagination, no way of even considering your point of view. A rigidly closed parochial mind. Delightful." He put that parchment down on top of Lupin's and picked up the next one.

"Neville Longbottom," Snape pronounced sardonically. "Good points." He glanced at her over his nose. "Provided he is not brewing a potion, he does indeed have good points. Mr. Longbottom is kind, gentle, honest and true. He is loyal and brave. He is not always the person you would like to have fighting beside you in a war, but if you turned around, he would be there. Willing cannon fodder."

"Now, the bad points." He somehow managed to look both scathing and mournful as he gazed at Hermione. "He is acres behind you intellectually. You would have little to talk about beyond the pleasantries and the necessities. But...all things considered...boredom truly is not the worst thing that could happen to one...I suppose." He picked up the next parchment and raised an eyebrow.

"Well, well, well. Victor Krum. Hmph. There are gangs of young witches who would duel you into the next world for the chance to marry him. Victor's good points: He is rich and famous. You would be the envy of all those little groupies who worship him. He is very intelligent and very accomplished. He is not handsome but he is young and strong and healthy."

Snape sighed and lowered the parchment to his lap and looked somberly at Hermione. "Bad points. Did you know that his entire family were supporters of the Dark Lord? They were, and they still are. All of them. They kept Victor neutral because he was in the public eye but even if he claims to be against the forces of darkness, he was raised in a dark house. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Miss Granger. Marry him and you'll be living in Bulgaria and cut off from the protection of The Order. You'll finish the rest of your short young life in a far away nest of dark wizards. And they'll just love you." He lowered Victor's parchment and picked up the next. Hermione watched him suppress a smirk.

"Tom, the innkeeper of the Leaky Cauldron. Incredible!" Snape actually seemed to stifle a laugh. "Oh, let's see now. Good points for old Tom. He's breathing. He's gainfully employed, and he owns his own business. Bad points. He is moronic, uglier even than I am, and has all the finesse of a mountain troll. He can crack nuts between his fingers and will probably break your fingers if you are not careful. He's forty years older than you and is missing his teeth. End of story."

Hermione giggled and faced an ironic gaze and the beginning of another smirk.

"Last one. Oh, yes. Mr. Lockhart. Apparently he has managed to recover enough of his memory to be out of St. Mungo's. Hmm. Good points: Gilderoy Lockhart has a delightful boyish smile and is handsome. Bad points: He is completely incompetent in everything he does and totally immersed in himself. Perhaps he wishes to marry you in order to obtain a secretary. Well, that's all of them," he finished dryly.

"So what do you think, Professor?" Hermione asked, smiling. "Which one would you pick for me?"

"None of these," he said, handing the pile of parchments back to her and reaching into his robes. He pulled out a neatly rolled parchment of his own and gave it to her.

Hermione's fingers shook as she untied it. This wasn't what she thought it was, was it?

"You?" She asked incredulously after reading it.

"Yes, Hermione. In my opinion, I am the best match for you. Although I do admit to being somewhat prejudiced in my own favor, I still see myself as the only logical choice."

Hermione just stared at him. Professor Snape was offering to marry her? She was dumbfounded! Snape leaned forward in his chair, elbows on his knees.

"Let us consider me in the same light as your other suitors." He regarded her in playful irony. "We will start with my bad points. There are a lot of them, and if we get them out of the way first, my good points will be fresher in your mind."

"Detrimental point number one: I am ugly." Hermione immediately made a show of protest but he raised a restraining hand. "You are kind, Hermione, but I am ugly. Drawback number two: I have a nasty disposition. I act as bad as I look. Bad point number three: I treated you terribly when you were a student. Now is the chance for you to punish me for it. Liability number four: I have a terrible past. I was raised in a dark house, taught dark magic from the time I could first hold a wand, and I joined the death eaters at the age of eighteen. I have since done my best to atone for my errors by fighting on the side of light and working for The Order, cannot change the past. One can never really undo one's mistakes. There are things I have done, or seen done, or failed to stop that will haunt me for the rest of my life."

"Bad point number five: I am universally hated by everyone who has ever taken my classes, which is everyone who attended Hogwarts in the last eighteen years. If you marry me, no one will understand, everyone will disapprove, and most likely ridicule or shun you. Oh, I am also twenty two years older than you and a Slytherin."

He leaned a little closer. "Now, for my good points, Hermione. I do have them. Let me list them for you, although not necessarily in order of importance. Favorable point number one: I have no relatives. You will have no in-laws to bother you. My poor mother died when I was very small,"

"How did she die?" Hermione interrupted.

"Abuse," said Snape shortly. "And my father has thankfully gone to meet his justly deserved reward." Snape spoke the end of this ironic sentence through clenched teeth and Hermione couldn't help shuddering.

"Benefit number two: I am wealthy enough to give you a comfortable life. My house has two libraries, (two, Hermione!) And a very large, well equipped laboratory. Asset number three is my intelligence. I am at least as intelligent as you are, if not more so, although it is possible that you actually may be more intelligent than I am! Any superiority I have is due to my wealth of experience. I also share many of the same interests that you do. Think of the stimulating conversations, Hermione, the scholarly discussions. Think of the joint experiments we could collaborate on. I doubt that I would bore you. If all else fails, you could always argue with me. You might even win."

"Advantage number four:" He looked at her, dark gaze meeting hers unnervingly. " I am a skilled practitioner in the art of Bellissima Eros."

"What's that?"

"The art of outrageously incredible sex."

"Oh, stop! You're making fun of me! There's no such thing!"

"Oh, there is, Hermione, though it has become an obscure art. It hasn't been taught in Britain or most of Europe for a few centuries or so, but it was taught twenty years ago at the Roman Academe of Magic where I finished my Potions Mastery. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and every one of those Roman wizards has dueling to get into those particular classes. Of course I did too."

"Classes in sex? In school?" Hermione was aghast. This was unimaginable.

"Not classes in sex, Hermione. That would be far too mundane! Bellissima Eros is the study of pleasure. It is the study of the human body and it's trigger points and trigger point sequences, the magical patterns that produce desire and passion. The body can be played like an instrument to one skilled enough to do so. It has been many years since I've practiced it since it has been known to produce addiction and, up until now, I had no desire for a long-term relationship. But, like flying a broom, once you learn you never forget..."

He looked at her mesmerizingly. "I can give you ecstasy beyond your wildest dreams, Hermione. Hours of it. I can pleasure you into exhaustion...if you marry me."

Hermione scoffed nervously to hide her embarrassment. "Men always exaggerate their abilities! They always think they're top studs!"

'Let me give you a demonstration," he murmured.

Before Hermione could register what was happening, Snape had moved closer to her, gliding into the space next to her on the sofa. He took her face into his hands and gently drew her to him, his fingers massaging her cheeks and temples and tickling through her hair to her scalp. His lips moved on hers softly with little nibbling kisses as his warm hands played over her. He kissed her upper lip, her lower lip, the little creases on the edges...His mouth began to coax hers open and tremors sped through her as his fingertips traced what felt like patterns of excitement on her face and her throat and her neck.

His touch tingled through her skin, vibrated into her bones, and made a throbbing shivering flush begin; a hunger all over her body. It was a surge of desire that made her lean into him, mouth open, to let him kiss her with a depth of tongue tickling intimacy that seemed to take the very breath out of her. She had never felt like this, never been kissed like this. His insistent hands rubbed warm waves of sweetness into her.

Her skin felt hot and hungry. There was a roaring in her ears. A dizzying shaking excitement rose within her and there was a sudden urgent pounding in her privates. She gasped suddenly and pulled away, grabbing his hands away from her, her heart racing and her breath almost sobbing. She had a shocked, horrified, yet exhilarated feeling as though she had been violated, pleasantly violated. It was an embarrassingly confused sensation.

Snape looked relentlessly into her eyes with dark agate orbs one could drown in. "You don't really want me to stop now, do you?" He murmured in what now sounded like the most erotic voice Hermione had ever heard.

Hermione didn't reply. She couldn't. Snape was almost frightening in his seductiveness. The truth was, she didn't want him to stop, even though she knew she had to make him. And she knew he was very, very aware of that. She had never felt more vulnerable or fragile in her entire life.

As she looked back at him in her confusion of weakness, she saw the hard relentless eyes soften. A flash of something gentle appeared in them and a look of almost contrition swept over his face. "Forgive me, Hermione," he almost whispered. "You are untouched, aren't you?"

She nodded, blinking back maddening tears of embarrassment.

"Had I known that, I wouldn't have come on to you as strongly as I did. I am sorry."

Hermione averted her gaze. Her body was still trembling and her breath was still ragged. She still felt foggy with confusion and embarrassment. Something in his voice touched her in a way that his caressing hands and lips hadn't.

"Hermione." She looked back at him. "There is one more advantage to marrying me. I care for you very much. I just wanted you to know that."

He moved away from her slowly and stood as if to leave. The face that looked down at her was the same face she had seen for the last eight years, but for a moment it was naked of all the walls and barriers that he surrounded himself with. For a moment he was vulnerable and it was that that suddenly decided her, that moment of vulnerability before she saw the sardonic armor fit itself back into place. That moment and the flicker of gentleness she had seen in his eyes.

"Yes, professor," she said. "I'll marry you."

Snape paused. He looked almost stunned for a moment. He obviously hadn't really expected her to accept him and, for one second, Hermione saw a flash of incredible joy get past that armor of his. It only lasted a second but that tiny second was enough. Snape schooled his expression rapidly back to his characteristic one of calm, almost indifferent, irony. He raised an eyebrow and allowed himself a little smirk.

"Excellent, Miss Granger. I knew logic would triumph. I had great faith in your powers of deductive reasoning."

Hermione hid her sudden wave of tenderness and eyed him back with some irony of her own. "Oh, well, Professor. It was, after all, your compelling arguments that eventually brought me to see the light of reason!"

Snape regarded her with quizzical smugness as he presented her with the correct parchment and a quill. "Your humility in acknowledging my genius is proof of your superior mind!"

Hermione signed the petition and it "popped" cheerfully off on it's way to the Ministry.

"As is yours," she replied.

They both exchanged smirks.

Snape took his seat next to her once more and with fluid, effortless movements drew her back to him.

"Tell me, Hermione, which one of my little pearls of flawless wisdom was it that led you to your decision? Could it have been this one?" He kissed her sensuously, delving into her mouth in a way that made her breathlessly contemplate future far more intimate delights.

"It could have been," Hermione whispered after a reluctant moment of parting. "I really think it could have been. But all things considered, you truly are the only logical choice for me." She smiled teasingly up at him. "And life with you will never be boring!"

Snape smiled back, a real smile. Playful mischief sparkled in his eyes. "Never," he whispered as he pulled her into another kiss.