AN: Thank you all so much for the positive response to this! It is deeply appreciated.
Hermione stretched and groaned. After a few moments she pried open her eyes. The sound of distant footsteps grew louder.
"Good morning, Severus."
He gave her a small smile. "Good morning love. I trust you slept well."
Hermione sat up. "I slept quite well."
Severus stood in the doorway. "I am glad to hear it."
Hermione yawned. "Where were you earlier?"
"I went to check on Rose," he answered.
Hermione's eyes were wide. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to see her? I would have gone with you."
"I thought you would appreciate the extra sleep," Severus replied.
"I would have appreciated seeing Rose much more," Hermione answered.
"There was nothing much to see. Rose is well."
"Still, I would have like to have seen so for myself instead of simply taking your word for it."
"I apologize then. If you would like you may come with me to see her later on in the day, though she may be asleep."
"Was she particularly tired when you saw her?"
"No, but I encouraged her to rest."
"Hopefully her students will all her to do so."
"I do not see how they could distract her too greatly. Even the peskiest Gryffindor would have difficulty disturbing someone in Australia."
Hermione nodded. "So she decided to see her grandparents after all."
Severus sat down on the bed beside her. "Indeed she did."
Hermione leaned against him. "I love you."
"I love you too," Severus replied.
She sighed. "Thank you."
Severus brushed his lips against hers. "There is never any need to thank me for professing my love."
"True," Hermione replied.
Severus gazed into her eyes. Although her usual twinkle remained, there was a question lingering behind them.
He swallowed. "I hope you never feel as if I have taken you for granted."
"I don't," Hermione replied.
"Yet…" Severus drawled.
"Last night you were somewhat distracted."
"How was I distracted?"
"When we left the pool you were ecstatic. When I crawled into bed though, it was as if you were reliving a much less pleasant time. It worried me."
"There is no need to fret. What I experienced was simply a passing mood."
"A passing mood?"
Hermione frowned. "Would you care to elaborate on this mood?"
Severus shrugged. "There is not much to tell. It was a mood which vanished as quickly as it appeared."
"Are you certain that's all it was?" Hermione argued.
Hermione locked eyes with him. "I know you Severus, and over the last few days you have not been yourself. I would like to know what is troubling you."
He remained silent.
"You're shutting me out again," Hermione continued in a gentle voice. "Ever since Rose was injured you've been shutting me out. I would like to know what is troubling you so we can work through it together."
Severus took a shaky breath.
"Severus?" she whispered.
He took a stray strand of hair and put it behind her ear.
Hermione shook. "What are you thinking about?"
"I am trying to put into words what is going through my mind."
Hermione said nothing.
Severus stroked her hair. "Last night I was meditating on my life during the Second Wizarding War. I reflected upon the sacrifices I had made, the people who had been injured along the way, as well as the sorrows I had endured. When you stepped out into the bedroom, I was in awe how someone like you could ever come into my life and bring me such peace."
"If I seemed to be lacking in affection last night," Severus' throat constricted. "I deeply apologize. Sometimes you overwhelm me. Even if I am reluctant to display my true emotions, I do love you. Hermione Snape, I love you beyond all reason."
Her eyes misted. "Oh Severus, you are the most romantic man I have ever met."
"No I am not," Severus replied. "I am merely being honest with you."
Her lips crashed into his. She began unfastening his buttons, but stopped when she was midway down his shirt.
Severus leaned into her ear and whispered, "Keep going."
With a grin, she obliged.
Lucius dropped his suitcase. He clenched his jaw and drew his wand.
Narcissa gasped. Her rosebushes were little more than twigs strewn about the yard. The mums were shreds of petals and stems. Still, the flower beds were not half as ravaged as the mansion itself.
There wasn't a window not shattered. The walls were littered steaks of magical residue, the drapes nothing more than rags.
Narcissa and Lucius glanced at each other.
"Do you think someone is inside?" Narcissa asked.
Lucius stepped forward. "Stay behind me."
She pulled out her wand.
They crept past the tattered front door.
Lucius shouted, "Hello?"
The house elf took a breath. It hugged Lucius leg and wailed, "Blossom is so happy to see you!"
"What happened?" Lucius asked.
"They attacked us!" she cried. "We tried to defend the house, but they were too powerful."
"Who are they?" Narcissa asked.
"The aurors," the elf replied. "The aurors come and destroy the house."
Narcissa looked at Lucius and mouthed, "The aurors?"
Lucius furrowed his brow.
The Ministry would be getting a visit from him in the very near future.