(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: "Father Christmas will sit for portraits with your pets!" the garish poster gleefully relates.
Summary: Hermione Granger knew getting Severus to sit with Santa was going to be tricky. But she was willing to try.
"Father Christmas Will Sit for Portraits With Your Pets!" the garish poster gleefully announced.
Hermione paused to look at the bright colors adorning the poster, highlighting still images of a jolly St. Nick with various pets and their owners. At the bottom of the paper, the location of said Father Christmas was in bold with a finger arrow pointing in the general direction. Adjusting her packages, Hermione made her way towards the Magical Workshop in Leicester Square.
She was amazed at the line of people waiting with their pets. A teenager dressed as an elf stood a little ways away from the line handing out brochures.
"Have Santa sit with your pets!" he called, rather half-heartedly. Clearly he was not really into the Christmas spirit.
Hermione stepped forward and took one of the brochures with a smile. She stepped out of the main walkway to avoid the other shoppers and adjusted her packages again. She flipped the brochure over and read the information.
Santa would pose with you, your pet, or both for a fee between 15£-50£. The pet had to be on a leash or small enough to hold in his hand. Nothing poisonous was allowed and any messes were to be cleaned up by the owner. There was also a brief stipulation that an additional fee would be charged if the pet were an arachnid or snake.
Hermione glanced at the Santa. He was friendly looking and clearly a professional. His beard was real and he was not wearing a pillow under his bright red coat. She found herself smiling as a little girl stepped forward with a bowl. A large orange gold fish swam around. Santa helped the girl up onto his lap, held the bowl carefully and they smiled at the camera. The next visitor was a young boy with the family cat. The cat, a well-fed black and white, clearly did not want to be there but was tolerating the indignity for his young owner. A leash was draped over the boys' arm, nearly tripping him. His mother called out to him to be careful and a short moment later, he was on Santa's lap, much to the cat's displeasure. Thankfully, the cat stayed put for the picture but as soon as the camera flash went off, he tried to make a dash for under the throne.
Several people laughed and thankfully, the boy's mother was able to rescue the cat from his hiding place and they left.
Hermione watched just a couple more people. A man with his giant sheep dog stood proudly next to Santa and a teenager with bright green hair and several piercings in his ears and nose smirked as his pet iguana sat on Santa's head.
More laughter followed as the iguana tried to take Santa's hat with him, much to the teenager's chagrin. Santa took a break after that and Hermione saw him press a tissue to the side of his head once he was behind the throne. Clearly, Santa had not escaped the iguana's claws unscathed.
Hermione glanced back down at the brochure and an idea bloomed. Grinning, she tucked the brochure into her purse and turned away to head home.
"You're home earlier than I expected."
Hermione shuffled her packages before turning to face Severus. He stood in the doorway to their kitchen, a dishtowel thrown over his left shoulder. She took a moment to admire his lean physic in the Muggle jeans and tight black T-Shirt and his long hair pulled back in a queue.
"I found what I needed. There was no point fighting the crowds just to browse. Besides, I found something for us to do to celebrate out 5th Christmas together! Here."
She managed to keep her bags and packages in one hand and held out the pamphlet to Severus. He glanced at it warily before taking it. Grinning, Hermione turned and made her way up to their bedroom on the second floor to hide her gifts. She had discovered that Severus had a bit of a childish streak when it came to finding out his Christmas and Birthday presents early. He seemed to take great joy in locating her hiding places. Hermione had found it funny the first couple of times, then annoyed and finally disappointed that he always seemed to know what she'd gotten him because he'd found the hidden presents. She'd finally found the perfect hiding place on their third Christmas, much to Severus' annoyance.
She shrunk the packages and pulled out an empty tampons box tucked in her feminine products supply drawer. Severus absolutely refused to get anything out of that drawer. It amazed Hermione that a man who had been tortured to within an inch of his life while spying for the Order, a man who worked with some of the most disgusting potions ingredients known to man, could become squeamish and outright appalled at even the slightest mention of feminine products and menstruation!
Pleased with her work, she headed back downstairs. Severus was waiting, rather impatiently for her, at the bottom.
"What the hell is this?" he demanded, waving the brochure in her face.
"I thought it might be fun. Something to commemorate our five Christmases together," she replied, taking the brochure back.
"This is how you want to remember five years together? By sitting on some stranger's lap for a photo? I refuse to participate in such a childish endeavor," he sneered.
"Oh, really, Severus, it's not like I'm asking you to sit with a bunch of children! Did you even really look at this brochure or did you just glance at the cover? This Santa is special."
She opened the brochure and showed him the photos of Santa with various pets. Severus sneered again and turned to walk back into the kitchen.
"Now you want me to sit with him surrounded by mongrels," he said as he checked the oven.
Hermione could smell the cinnamon and butter of Snicker Doodles and breathed in a lungful with a sigh. Realizing she was being distracted, albeit unintentionally, she shook her head and resumed her argument.
"It's a Muggle Santa, Severus, none of your acquaintances will even know. And besides, I thought it was rather obvious how we would pose with Santa," she said suggestively.
Severus paused in his work of putting another batch of cookies on a tray. He glanced at Hermione speculatively.
"I must be delirious from the sugar, because I'm not quite connecting your tone with that brochure."
Hermione saddled up next to him and leaned her head on his shoulder, or at least his bicep, he was much too tall for her head to reach his shoulder, and held out the brochure again. She pointed at the picture of Santa posing with a woman and her Golden Retriever.
"Just like that," she said. "Think back to how we met again."
Severus was quiet a moment before she felt him stiffen and groan. Her grin grew wider.
"You can't be serious," he moaned.
She laughed and rose on her tiptoes to press a quick, fervent kiss to his mouth, memories of their first meeting after the war flitting through her mind. "I knew you'd figure it out."
Hermione stood in line at the Registry office filling out her paperwork. The line was rather long but seemed to be moving fairly steadily. Her pencil made a soft 'shush' sound as she wrote in her answers.
"Oh Gods, it is you!" a deep voice moaned from behind her.
"I'm sorry?" She frowned and turned to look over her shoulder hoping she wasn't about to embarrass herself by responding to a question not even being asked her. Her eyes widened as she recognized the tall figure glaring down at her.
She couldn't help herself. She grinned.
"Why Professor Snape! How lovely to see you!"
"Clearly you need your eyes check, woman! What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded.
Hermione paused, unsure if this was a rhetorical question. She glanced around to make sure she hadn't somehow ended up in a different line, Patents was just a couple rows over. Seeing the correct sign just above her line further down, she knew she was still in the correct one.
"I would think that was fairly obvious, Professor. I'm registering my Animagus form. Are you in the correct line?"
Professor Snape scowled and glanced down at his own clipboard. "I am," he bit out.
"I'm not sure why you're so annoyed by this. You started the conversation. Hell, you were standing behind me this whole time! We've been in line for nearly fifteen minutes!" Hermione pointed out.
He sneered again so Hermione took that as a sign that he was done with the conversation. How surreal to meet her former Potions and DADA professor here in the line for Animagus Registry. She gave a tiny smile at the irony. In the brief moment she'd been looking at him, she'd realized he looked quite well. No longer being under the thumb of two megalomaniacs must be refreshing, she thought.
She'd just answered another question on her sheet when she heard a soft snort by her ear.
She turned her head to the side and gave him a raised brow of inquiry. Professor Snape was leaning over her shoulder and reading her questionnaire.
"You do know these are supposed to be confidential, right?" she said, her tone just shy of sarcastic.
He turned his head and looked at her. This close she could see his eyes were actually a very dark brown with tiny golden dots. They made his eyes sparkle! His lashes were long and thick. She'd always envied him his eyelashes! Why did a man with such a homely face and disgusting personality receive such beautiful eyelashes? Karma really sucked sometimes.
"You do know that the registry is open to the public, right?" he drawled back.
Hermione rolled her eyes and turned back to her paper. She flipped it over to work on the backside.
"What did you mean when you said it 'figures'? What figures?" she asked after several minutes of silence.
She turned around and looked up at him. He was watching her with a slight smirk, the same smirk he'd worn all throughout her school career when he was about to reveal something only he and his Slytherins were going to take delight in. Something that usually involved humiliating Harry or any Gryffindors.
"Your Animagus, of course. Always so loyal and eager to please. Not mention the way you always followed Potter and Weasley around. The hair just makes it even more obvious."
Hermione self-consciously ran a hand through her hair. She'd never been able to control it. She'd tried growing it out to the middle of her back in the hopes that the extra weight would pull it straighter, but that just meant she ended up with an even bigger bush around her head. She'd tried cutting it really short but she looked like a rather strange Bob Ross with the Afro it created. Sleekeazy worked for a little while but always left her hair greasy and even more tangled after a few hours. Finally, she'd just cut it shoulder length, parted at the side and used hair combs to pull it back from her face. The result wasn't terrible, but it was the best she could do. Thankfully it was soft, so at least she had that going for her and it had darkened to a nice dark chocolate brown color so the frizz wasn't too noticeable.
"There's nothing wrong with loyalty, Professor," she sniffed and turned away. "And cocker spaniels are very sweet, intelligent dogs. Beautiful, too!" She just refrained from sticking out her tongue childishly at him after that rejoinder. He just smirked.
They lapsed into silence again and the line moved forwards a couple of people. Hermione's curiosity finally got to her again.
"So what is yours, then?"
Professor Snape pulled his own clipboard against his chest. As if I'd be able to see it from where I'm standing!
"None of your business, Miss Granger," he snipped.
Hermione grinned. "You do know the records are made available to the pubic, right?"
He glared at her when he realized she'd asked him his own question. "It's still none of your business at this time. If you are desperate to know, you can view the registry when it's updated."
Hermione laughed. "What's wrong, sir? Is it something woefully embarrassing? Do you turn into a cute fluffy bunny? Or something more along the lines of your physical appearance? Are you a long legged stork? Oh, wait, don't tell me, you turn into a deer!"
Hermione laughed herself into hiccups at the thought of Snape turning into a deer. No wonder he didn't want to admit what his Animagus form was. Several people in the lines around them turned to stare at the strange duo. Some whispered when they recognized the war heroes. Thankfully, Snape's reputation kept the gawkers in place.
"When you are quite finished," he snarled, his cheeks pink. From embarrassment or anger, she wasn't sure.
"I'm…hic…I'm done," she gasped out. She took a deep breath and grinned up at him.
"Gryffindors. They think they're so funny," he bit out between clenched teeth.
"Well, then tell me what you turn into, sir, and I won't make any jokes on your behalf."
He sneered and looked away. Hermione continued to stare at him silently, her mouth twitching with a suppressed grin.
The line moved again. Hermione glanced over her shoulder and saw that she was only four spots away from the front of the line.
"So, what have you been up to these past couple of years?" she asked casually.
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, clearly trying to gauge her motives. When she only kept her expression curious, his shoulders relaxed.
"Private research mostly, but I have opened a rather prosperous apothecary in Hogsmeade."
"Oh, The Ashwinder? Neville says he recommends it to any students in need of new ingredients. Congratulations, sir. I'll have to stop by one day when I need to refill my stock."
"Indeed. I had heard Mr. Longbottom has been working with Pomona as an apprentice. I gather she's grooming him to take over as the Herbology Professor when she retires."
"Yes, that's what he tells me. He always was brilliant with plants. Shame it didn't carry over into potions. He always knew the physical aspect of the potions and ingredients, he just always struggled with the brewing portion."
The look they exchanged had Hermione grinning again and Snape smirking. It was a shared moment that Hermione rather enjoyed.
"And you, Miss Granger? What have you been up to? The Daily Prophet has been rather vague on your activities."
"I'm working on becoming a Healer. I've made Mediwitch level but I still have two more years of my apprenticeship before I can test for Healer level. I've been living with my parents so I've tried to stay out of the lime light, so to speak."
"Healer? I never pictured you as the type to go into medicine. I always figured you'd be rushing to the Ministry in attempts for equality amongst the magical creatures," he said, his tone strangely devoid of mockery.
"After the war, I went back for my final year at Hogwarts and I realized that I just didn't have the drive anymore for that. Oh, I still believe that the magical creatures deserve some sort of compensation and equality, but when I was on the run with Harry and Ron and got Ron splinched, my medical knowledge was so rudimentary that I nearly got him killed. I saw how tirelessly Madame Pomfrey worked during and after the battle and every time I was in the Hospital wing, I saw how much she had to do. Visiting St. Mungo's to see Mr. Weasley, and Neville's parents and even you, well, I realized just how much Healers are needed.
"I could spend my entire life working to make magical creatures equal and probably spend most of that time just trying to get the paperwork pushed through, or I could work where I know I can make a difference. Most of the magical creatures don't want someone interfering in their lives. House elves in situations like Dobby are far and few between. The Centaurs and other creatures are gaining ground on their own thanks to the their help in the war. So, I will vote for any beneficial decrees for magical creatures but for now, they are doing just fine. Plus, Luna has been working in that regard anyway, and if anyone can bring much needed publicity towards magical creatures in need of help, it's her."
"Ah, yes, Miss Lovegood, now Potter I believe or soon to be?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, their wedding is this coming December. Luna says that's the best time to get married since the Lingering Lovies are most prevalent and they apparently bring excellent luck to marriages. No, don't ask me what those are," she said with a laugh as Snape opened his mouth.
"I often thought she was perhaps the scariest out of your entire group. She saw and knew things despite how harmless she appeared," Snape admitted with a small smile and a shake of his head.
"I know. And yet she also always seemed to keep Harry sane, as strange as that sounds."
They moved another step forward. Hermione grasped for another topic of conversation.
"Will you be attending this year's Ministry Christmas Gala? I went last year and it was not as terrible as I feared. The food was excellent and the charity event was actually tasteful. This year I believe they are trying to collect money to add a new mandatory class for 7th years that will prepare them for life after Hogwarts. Apparently there has been an increase in students leaving without any economic or social understanding."
"Yes, I remember mentioning that to Albus shortly after the fall of the Dark Lord the first time. I, thankfully, had Lucius to help me with the numerous faux paux I was making and I was able to help my Slytherins to a degree, but they were very much about society so they needed to know how to live outside of school. Granted, most of them came from money so they just continued to live off Mummy and Daddy's wealth until they inherited, but there were a few Half-bloods who struggled and needed the extra guidance. I can only imagine what the other Heads of Houses were teaching their 7th years about life after Hogwarts," Snape said with a slight shake of his head.
"Not much, I can tell you that. Percy Weasley and I were talking the other day about it. He said Professor McGonagall gathered all of the 7th years in the Common Room one day, told them that they would soon be out in the Wizarding World on their own and that they would have to start saving money from their jobs and being as frugal as possible so that they could afford food and housing. Such a font of helpful knowledge that was!" Hermione scoffed.
"Indeed. Well, hopefully if the Gala raises enough money for a new teacher, Minerva will hire someone competent."
"Exactly! I'd hate to have another Muggle Studies situation. Professor Burbage was so sweet but so much of her information was so out of date! I took the NEWT but I didn't take the class during my 7th year return. They hadn't found a new teacher."
"Were the questions even relatable to your knowledge?" Snape inquired, his dark brows raised.
Hermione nodded. "Yes, surprisingly. The test was more up to date than the teacher."
They moved forward again. There were only two people ahead of Hermione now.
"You never answered my original question, though. Are you going to the Gala?"
He looked at her for a long silent moment, his face impassive. Hermione forced herself not to fidget under the scrutiny.
"Will my response affect your participation?" he finally asked.
Hermione grinned. "No, but I'd save you a dance if you went. I'd also love to have someone to talk to on an intelligent level."
His mouth quirked up at the side. "I may attend just to see you dealing with the knuckle draggers in conversation."
Hermione laughed at that. "That's mean!"
He just shrugged.
The line moved again.
"Well, just one more before I face the inquisition. Are you sure you don't wish to divulge your animal before I go?"
Snape glanced down at his clipboard before giving a smirk. "All I will say is Karl Fredrich in 1890."
Hermione's brain tried to latch onto any information related to the name and date he'd given her. German name, if she was correct. Frowning, she tried to think. Clearly the name must be who discovered the animal, or perhaps he was the first Wizard that had turned into that particular animal.
"I'll give you until the Gala to figure it out, Miss Granger. And just so you know, the Registry won't have published our Animagus before then."
Hermione huffed in frustration but smiled anyway. "Then I'll see you then, Professor," she called as she moved off to be registered.
He'd given her a smirk and a salute with his clipboard.
"Where did you wander off to?" Severus asked, his brow quirked. The cookies were all cooling on the counter and he was putting the dishes in the sink.
"Memory Lane. To when we re-met," Hermione answered.
"Ah, I'll admit, I never realized you were quite that tenacious to learn my Animagus form.
"You were my professor for 6 years, you knew how I felt about knowledge!" Hermione pointed out.
"Yes, but I didn't think it would only take you two days!" he laughed.
"One day to research and one day to track you down, if I recall," Hermione said with a sniff.
"Yes, though not even a full day to track me down! What was it, an hour after I opened the shop you showed up? And then, somehow that lead to much more than just confronting me about my Animagus. Explain to me again how my saying I'd give you until the Gala to figure out my Animagus turned into my agreeing to accompany you to the blood thing?"
Hermione grinned and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. "I may have taken your comment and read it as an invitation," she replied huskily.
"Mmm, and after that? I recall several dates that, somehow, I found myself taking you on," he smirked, his eyes dark with desire. "Not to mention being your plus one to Potter's wedding."
"I had decided I liked your company that night. I thought we'd struck it off quite well. I wasn't going to let an opportunity for delightful and intelligent conversation pass me by. And the fact that you're wicked funny and your voice is like sin on chocolate, I just couldn't let any other witch have you."
"No other witch wanted me," he whispered against her mouth.
"Good. Then you are still mine and as your owner, I insist on taking you to see Santa." She gave him a quick nip on his lip before soothing the pain with her tongue and a kiss.
Severus sighed, resigned, against her mouth but allowed her to control the kiss for a moment before taking over. "Can I open a present first, as compensation for the embarrassment this activity will cause?"
Hermione laughed. "Not one of your actual Christmas presents, no, but I'll let you unwrap me. Will that suffice?"
He looked at her for a long, heated moment. "That'll do nicely, thanks."
He scooped her up and carted her upstairs to their bedroom, Hermione's shrieks of laughter filling the stairway. She loved it when she won!
"Stop scratching at it, people with think you have fleas," Hermione admonished as he scratched at the leash and collar.
Severus glared at her, or she assumed it was a glare; it was so hard to tell with animals. She ran her hand over his head in an attempt to soothe him down, scratching gently behind one of his erect ears. He huffed and leaned against her hip.
The line to see Santa was just as long as it had been two days ago, but thankfully Hermione hadn't come across anyone she and Severus knew. Being a Muggle location, she wasn't terribly surprised, but being seen by members of the magical community in Muggle locations had been known to happen more often now than not.
"Don't look now, but I think that poodle is giving you the come hither look," she smirked.
Severus looked over his shoulder but turned back with a sniff. Or was it a sneeze? Either way, he clearly wasn't impressed. Hermione smiled and rubbed his ears again. He sighed happily and his eyes closed.
"You're still okay with me sitting on Santa's lap?"
Severus gave her a look that clearly said yes, for the last time I'm fine with it you daft woman so stop asking! Hermione just continued to smile.
"Okay, just making sure."
They shuffled forward again as the line moved. A splash of light brown on Severus' otherwise black shoulder caught her eye and she smiled, remembering why it had appeared.
They'd been dating for two and a half years when Severus asked her to move in with him. He was adorably shy about it and Hermione quickly, and happily, accepted.
One night, they were sitting in front of Severus' television watching some documentary on the castles in France when he reached out and began playing with her curls. Hermione immediately knew something was up. He had developed the habit of playing with her hair when he wanted to ask her something or was bothered by something. She waited, patiently for him to speak.
"Have you, ah, have you ever thought about getting a tattoo?"
Hermione looked at him out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at the telly but clearly wasn't actually watching it. She hit pause, and turned her body towards his on the sofa.
"A tattoo?" she asked, for clarification.
"Mmm, yes. A tattoo. Perhaps, maybe, one that was a matching set?"
"I can't honestly say that I have, why?"
He shrugged, his cheeks tinged pink as he played with one of her curls slightly faster. She worried he would accidently pull the strand off her head. "I heard Lucius and Narcissa discussing it the other day when I was visiting them. That day you were called in for an emergency Transfiguration accident at St. Mungo's. Anyway, they apparently got matching tattoos to show their love for each other. Something a little more permanent than a wedding ring."
"Are you sure about a tattoo, Severus? Remember what happened the last time you got one." Her tone was concerned rather than mocking. She knew he'd regretted getting Marked almost as soon as it'd happened. She wasn't about to let him talk himself into getting another sign of something he'd regret later.
"I know. This would not be a magical tattoo, Hermione," he assured her softly, turning to look at her now.
Hermione was quiet, in thought, before she spoke up. "You do know that tattoos aren't exactly easy to change or remove, right?" She refused to let her hopes get up that he was trying to tell her something significant.
Severus cleared his throat. "I know. I don't see my feelings for you changing, Hermione. And, well, I'd like something permanent to show my love for you."
His cheeks were bright red, his eyes glittered with apprehension, but the tremulous smile was all Hermione needed to see to know he'd finally confessed. He'd never said anything about his feelings for her before. Oh, he'd said he cared about her and loved things about her, but never that he actually loved her. They'd mentioned marriage in passing, but never anything definite. And while this certainly wasn't a marriage proposal, Hermione saw the intention that it was.
She smiled softly and moved to straddle his lap. "I will happily get matching tattoos with you, Severus."
"This will be one I will never regret getting," he assured her against her mouth.
"I hope not," she laughed and then moaned as he pulled her down for a deep kiss.
A week later, they walked out of the tattoo shop with the first letter of their names on each other's left bicep — H in red for Severus and S in green for Hermione — and the words 'My Love, My Own, My Only' written in small, flowing script entwined around the letters. She'd never been happier to have something permanent on her and she gave Severus a through kiss right there in the street. He'd been properly flushed and aroused. With a smirk, he Apparated them back to their house and proceeded to show her just how happy he was about their decision.
Now as Hermione gazed at the slightly malformed H in brown fur on Severus' shoulder, she smiled and stroked it. The tattoo had manifested in Severus' fur the first time he transformed into his Animagus after getting it done. Hermione had quickly transformed, too, and had been delighted to see the S in tan on her shoulder. Of course, that meant they'd had to go back to the Ministry to have the change added to their registration, but this time there had been nothing but playful, loving banter while they stood in line and made wild guesses as to what animal the other people waiting probably turned into.
Finally, it was their turn to see Santa.
"Does it bite?" the elf at the head of the line asked, her tone apprehensive, despite the smile.
"No, he does not, at least as long as no one threatens me," Hermione said when she felt Severus stiffen next to her.
"He'll need to stay on the leash. Will Santa be holding him in his lap or will he be posing next to him?"
Hermione glanced down at Severus and smiled. "Next to him. I'll sit on Santa's lap, if that's okay?"
The elf nodded and motioned for Hermione to follow her. Severus padded regally next to her and Hermione forced down a giggle.
"Ho, ho, ho, what have we here? Aren't you a handsome fellow!" Santa said, his smile warm and welcoming.
"This is Severus," Hermione said proudly.
"My, that's quite a name."
"It is isn't it? The name comes from a Roman Emperor. My Severus seems to think he's the ruler of the house."
Santa laughed and Severus gave a low growl at Hermione, his eyes promising retribution. Hermione just smiled sweetly.
"Now, how are we posing today?" Santa asked, adjusting in his seat.
"Severus will be next to you and I'll be sitting on your lap, if that's all right?"
"I won't say no to a pretty young lady," Santa replied. His smile was still friendly and his tone playful but not suggestive.
Hermione smiled back and carefully sat on his knee. Severus sat between Santa's legs so that he could lay his head on Hermione's leg. She smiled lovingly at him just as the photographer snapped the photo. Hermione blinked and looked up just as the elf behind the camera smiled. He brought the digital camera over for Hermione to see the picture.
"Oh, that's lovely," she sighed. She and Severus were gazing at each other while Santa looked on indulgently. "I'll take that one."
As Hermione paid for the photo, the elf glanced down at Severus. "That's a beautiful dog, miss. What kind is it?"
"A Doberman Pinscher," she replied. "Don't worry, I had to look it up, too."
Severus just huffed and Hermione kissed his head lovingly.
"Those kinds of dogs are usually dangerous, right?"
Hermione glanced up at the young man. "Well, they are often used as guard dogs, but Severus here is protective and not dangerous to anyone not a threat to me. He's very well behaved," she assured him.
"Oh." He handed her back her change and the bag with the photo. He kept his eyes warily on Severus. "Hey, what's that on his collar? Was that there before?"
Hermione glanced down and blinked. A small black box was attached to the front of Severus' collar nearly blending in with his fur, just under the ID tag that read: If lost, please return to owner, Hermione Granger' and their home number. Distracted, she thanked the young man for the picture and moved away from the exit. She led Severus over to an empty bench and sat down. Severus crept closer, almost nervously, but held his head aloft for her to carefully unhook the box.
Her breath caught as she opened it. Inside, a small card had been folded. Opening it, Hermione choked on a laugh as she read the note in Severus' crisp script. Tears filled her eyes and her throat tightened.
I 'woof' you Hermione Granger. Will you marry me?
Hermione looked down at Severus who watched her with dark eyes full of apprehension, and a touch of embarrassment. He clearly couldn't believe he'd written such a stupid line.
"Oh, you silly man. I love you, too. Of course I'll marry you!" Hermione whispered and slipped the engagement ring on. It was beautiful. A slim white gold band with three deep blue sapphires — a medium sized oval in the center and two smaller ones on either side with tiny white diamond accents on the sides and at the four points holding the sapphires in place. An inscription of My Love, My Own, My Only had been engraved along the inside of the band. Tears falling down her cheeks, Hermione wrapped her arms tightly around Severus' neck.
He barked, licked her face, pulled way and jumped around happily. The gathered crowd laughed and cheered, though some were clearly confused as to whether or not she was responding to the dog or someone else unseen. They really hoped it was someone else unseen.
"Come on, Love. Let's go home," Hermione whispered, kissing the top of his soft head.
Severus barked again and licked her cheek. His tail wagged the entire way home.