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Ensnaring the Senses by juls

Format: Novel
Chapters: 26
Word Count: 45,686
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Fluff, Romance, AU
Characters: Hermione, Lupin, Snape, Tonks, Draco, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing, Remus/Tonks, Draco/OC

First Published: 11/06/2006
Last Chapter: 06/25/2007
Last Updated: 06/25/2007

Summary:

What would you do if the Gods gave you another chance at love? Pass it by in denial or grab it? SS/HG ~~ ! (Campanion Fic "When Draco Met Ginger" has begun.)(banner by the wonderful jackie)


Chapter 1: Dreams of the Heart
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A/N: This story is set two years after Harry, Ron and Hermione have graduated from Hogwarts. She is not a student, Severus Snape is not her teacher.
This is for the girls on SAYS. Enjoy!!


The wind whispered through the trees as the leaves fell gently to the forest floor. The sun winked at the moon as it drifted gently down behind the clouds for another night. The young woman shivered and zipped her jumper up a little farther as the breeze gently tickled her neck. She threw the last of the wood into the circle of rocks gathered to make a small campfire.

“Tonight's not safe for a fire,” A tall black haired wizard said behind her. “Death Eaters have finally been sighted in the small town near here.” He sighed as he wearily sat down on the camp chair near the cold fire.

“How is he?” The brunette witch asked as she rubbed her hands up her arms.

“Draco is still unconscious and the Healers still hold hope he'll wake up.” Severus Snape said as he drew his hand through his hair. “They're keeping him under the Dreamless Draught till the brain swelling goes down. They hope doing this will prevent him from turning out like the Longbottoms.” He kicked a rock with his shoe and watched as it pinged harmlessly off a tree.

“We'll get Bellatrix and Lucius, Severus. We haven't come this far to give up!” Hermione Granger said, her voice filled with anger.

“I'll fucking break his neck with my bare hands! Bastard...” Snape said with conviction, his eyes filled with hatred for his former friend. “then I'll magically slice his skin till he bleeds to death.”

It was just a month ago that Harry Potter finally vanquished the Dark Lord, Voldemort. A few of minions had escaped into the far reaches of the Muggle world, hoping to escape punishment for their deeds. Order teams had been sent out to track down and bring them back, dead or alive. Draco had been partnered with Snape up until a week ago when Lucius and Bellatrix had surprised them. Draco had taken the brunt of damage before the two infamous Death Eaters escaped.

“Professor!” Hermione gasped.

“I haven't been anyone's Professor for three years, Hermione.” Snape said bitterly, still hating himself for killing his best friend. “With the Dark Lord's death I am at least not hunted anymore. Just very undesirable as a teacher.” With Voldemort's fall, the Order's leader, Remus Lupin was finally able to release some of Dumbledore's Pensieve memories in court and that had exonerated Snape legally, if not morally in the eyes of the Wizardry world.

Hermione filled two mugs with water and dropped some dried coffee in and heated them with a flick of her wand. “Drink this, it will take the chill off.” She said as she added some sugar to hers. In the week she had been assigned with him she had gotten to know he took his black.

“Thank you,” Severus took the cup and sipped it, watching the swirl of steam rise. “You should be in University now. Two years hunting down Death Eaters and the Dark Lord has held you back severely. Potter and Weasley at least went into Auror training while they hunted.”

“When we get Lucius and Bellatrix, then I will.” She promised him. “Besides I probably won't get into Potions or Spells now that I waited so long.” Hermione sighed.

“You will, because you're a War hero.” Snape smiled as he gently reminded her. “You helped Harry Potter defeat the Dark Lord.”

“We all did! Why can't they forgive you and Draco?” Hermione wiped a tear away as she remembered her Slytherin's friend bravery as Draco had faced down his own uncle and saved her and Ginny Potter's lives. “Even Harry doesn't hate him anymore!”

“Ginny threatened him with a hex if he didn't thank Draco. Don't think Ginny can hex every wizard and witch though. Time will take care of it.” At least for him, Snape thought.

“What are you doing?” Severus asked as he watched Hermione unzip both sleeping bags and hook them together into one big one.

“It's freezing, even with heat charms!” She laughed at his expression. “For one night we share.”

“Weasley won't mind?” He asked as his eyebrow arched.

“Ron is engaged to Lavender this week.” Hermione chuckled. “We've haven't been together since he started Auror school and I went on the field as a healer. Guess the old adage 'out of sight out of mind' is true.”

“I'm sorry,” He mumbled, not meaning it. Snape knew Ron would make a good Auror one day, but would bore the poor witch before they were thirty.

“Don't be, sir. I'm just glad I found out early.” Her eyebrow arched like his for a second. “Ron and Harry are my best mates, but they're like kissing brothers.” She laughed at his expression softly. She put together some ham sandwiches from their supplies as Snape put up the wards around the camp. They sipped the rest of their coffee and munched their sandwiches quietly.

Hermione would never get used to him dressed as he was. She missed the billowing black robes he had worn at Hogwarts that flowed with his strides as he walked down the corridors. Now he just wore a simple black shirt covered in a black jumper. His long black hair instead of falling around his face in a veil was pulled back in a ponytail with a simple black rawhide string.

Severus was uneasy. Somewhere out there Lucius and Bellatrix waited to make another attack. He wanted to choke Remus for sending a girl with him, another innocent for him to fail. She was 20 years old and all he could see was the eleven year old girl under the sorting hat her first year. For Merlin's sake! He thought irritably for the umpteenth time this week.

“Another sandwich, Severus?” Hermione asked, suddenly nervous about the sleeping arrangements she had set up. She and Ron or Harry has often got in such a position while out in the field, but nothing had ever happened. She had had to knee Ron once in the groin to straighten him up and for once he had learned his lesson the first time.

“No,” Snape said as he slipped off to a secluded part of the camp. Hermione cleaned up the plates with another flick of her wand and put everything away. She eyed the sleeping bags once more as she slipped her trainers off and slide in.

Snape returned to the camp and untied his hair and kicked of his black boots. Remus is just going to love this if it got back to him. He watched as she shivered slightly and slipped in beside her. He breathed deeply and said simply, “Good night.” Before he rolled over, his backside facing her.

“Night, Severus.” She whispered, her breathing slowed as she fell asleep. Restlessly he rolled unto his back and stared at the moon until he too slept.


He could see her as she touched his cheek with a gentle hand. But every time he tried to glimpse her face it became unclear. He felt her lips on his as they kissed, his hand tangled into her hair holding her close. Pulling back, he asked the dream woman the same question he asked every night, “Who are you?” This time his dream woman answered “Hermione...” as her face came into focus and the hair entwined in his hand was burnette...


Severus opened his eyes slowly, his hand entwined in Hermione's hair and their lips locked together passionately. He pulled away and caressed her cheek as her eyes opened. Her hand reached up as she ran her fingers through his long black hair and tugged his face back to hers.

“Hermione,” Severus breathed out as their lips touched and he felt her fingers tug at his buttons. This isn't a dream, but it's my dream! He thought. He pulled away again, “Hermione! Is this what you want?” He asked, afraid of her answer. Either way, she's going to hate me!

“Yes, Severus.” Hermione smiled up at him. Precautions and consequences forgotten, he held her close as the undressed each other. Skin to skin, they rubbed together as they kissed. He felt her legs go around him as he entered her, a slight resistance as he pushed in.

“Oh, Merlin!” His words brushed her lips, “You should have told me!” He kissed the small tear on her cheek. Holding his hips still, he waited.

“I want this, Severus. Please..” Hermione said, adjusting and moving her pelvis slightly in encouragement.

“Hermione,” Severus said as they rocked together, slowly back and forth in an age old dance. He waited and watched her face as she gasped and he shuddered into completion. He held her close as they laid there, her heart beating the same as his as they slowly fell back asleep.

Chapter 2: Regrets
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a/n: Thanks to Tiff, Scrib and Jackie for reading over this. Huggles.
This is not a betaed work. This is just a wild plotbunny that wanted out. Excuse the little mistakes. Enjoy.


Snape woke just as the sun rose and it's rays filtered through the crisp autumn leaves. He winced from their brightness and drew the sleeping bag over their heads and tightened his arms reflexively around the naked woman beside him. Rubbing his face into the bushy brown hair he kissed the top of her head as he sighed. Hermione snuggled closer in her sleep and he felt her breath on his chest.

With the daylight came regrets. She'd been untouched and he hadn't expected that. She was beautiful, intelligent and was worth so much more then a has-been professor who had spent the totality of her lifespan as a killer and a spy. Associating with him would ruin her chances at a successful career.

Snape felt her move as she kissed his chest, his neck and finally he moaned as their lips met. His hands moved across her back as he crushed her into his torso; their tongues dueling. He was lost in Hermione's love.

“Good morning, Severus.” She said sleepily as they broke apart, aroused once more in their senses. Severus wanted to roll her over and fill her with his need once more, but held back as he groaned and breathed in their mingled scent deeply.

Suddenly there was a scratching and a hopping on their sleeping bag. Whatever was out there insistently pecked at the covers, poking through.

“Dammit,” Snape said as he clasped his wand and threw back the bag to greet the intruder.

“Hedwig!” Hermione cried happily as the small owl hooted a disgruntled greeting. “Severus, no!” She laughed as he pointed the wand menacingly towards Harry's familiar. She took the note from Hedwig's outstretched talon and watched the snowy owl fly off.

“Harry says Draco's awake and is asking for you.” She read as she unrolled it. Hermione looked up at Severus to see a look of concern on his pale, worn face. “If he's asking for you that means he's all right!” She threw the note onto the covers and drew his face down for a kiss.

Snape pulled back from her. He knew he couldn't undo last night, but hopefully he could repair the damage by day.

“Let's go,” He said ignoring her look of pain. He gathered up his clothes from hers, his hand clasping her bra for a second too long before handing it to her. He practically sprinted off into the trees to dress as Hermione held her clothes to her chest in bewilderment.

Daddy Remus was going to kill him.


~*~



They arrived at St Mungo's an hour later. Snape led them through the hallways and as they past the Longbottoms room he looked in and sighed with regret. They'd been a happy couple, just starting out in life with a new baby, Neville. Their Auror careers going successfully when Voldemort and his Death Eaters ripped it all away from them. He had stood by and watched as they slipped into a lifetime of insanity. More for his list of mistakes that he could never rectify.

Snape had never really hated Neville, but the sight of the poor boy brought back the painful memories. He'd actually cheered when Neville, against all odds had stood by Harry's side with Hermione, Ginny and Ron as the combined powers of their magic twisted together and shot Voldemort into a smoking pile of ashes on the battlefield. The sounds of Death Eaters disapparating in fear sounded like the heavens opening up in a lightening storm.

“Hello, son.” Snape said, an odd feeling passing through him as he saw Draco look up and smile at him. The boy was still pale, and a long cut marred his face. He had done what he had promised Narcissa before she died, he had drawn him out Voldemort's and his father's influences. They even had forged a bond through it all, and Draco had adopted him unofficially as his father.

Snape had been floored the day Draco had first called him 'Dad' with a defiant but unsure look on his face. In Draco's face he saw his former lover's, and but from a twist of fate this boy could have been his, should have been his.

Last week as Lucius had bound him magically and made him watch as Bellatrix and Lucius tortured Draco with spells and physical attacks had almost killed him. Unable to move or intervene, Severus had screamed silently in his mind in the horror until the Aurors' arrival had the duo flee. Their maniacal laughter still filled him with remorse. He'd almost failed the boy, and Narcissa.

“You look better,” Hermione said as she kissed Draco's forehead and tucked a lock of blond hair behind his ear.

“Eh, I feel like a hippogriff walked all over me, than sat down for a nap.” Draco grimaced as he laughed.

As Severus watched the two, he felt his misgivings of this morning bloom once again. “I'll be back.” He told them both as he caught sight of Remus at the door.

“How did it go?” Remus asked as he watched Snape walk warily towards him.

“No sign of Bella or Lucius yet, just some unconfirmed Death Eater sightings.” Snape scratched at his head tiredly. It had been a long week, and Hermione's youth had been their driving energy in the hunt.

Remus watched Snape as he stared through the glass window at the two young ones. No, he's staring at Hermione, and with a look of- Remus growled as he grabbed Snape by the collar and dragged him down the hall and entered an unoccupied room.

Severus had been waiting for this. He felt his back slam against the wall, hard enough to crack the plaster. He grimaced as he waited.

Remus sniffed, for once glad of his werewolf senses. He almost howled in outrage at what his nose told him. “What did you do?” He asked, already knowing the answer.

We did just what you are thinking we did.” Severus answered. He looked Remus in the eyes. “If I could go back and change it I would.” His head bowed.

“Do you love her?”

“What's love?” Severus felt Remus's nails dig into his shoulders as he faced his own fears.

“Love is an abiding passion that fills you with joy each time a certain person enters a room.” Remus answered.

“Than yes, I love her.” Severus answered.

“I've watched you both for a year now dance around each other, smiling when one walks in the room. Worry when the other is out in the field. Neither of you admitting to it.” Remus pushed Snape tighter against the wall. “You've told me your dream about the faceless woman. Is she the one?”

“Yes,” Severus spat out.

“What are you going to do? Keep the dance up till you lose Hermione?”

“I'm going back out to hunt down Lucius and Bella on my own.” Severus's eyes closed as he said that, images of the duo imprinted in his mind.

“And Hermione?” Remus asked as he watched the emotions flit across the dark wizard before him.

“Hermione is too young for me. I'll ruin her.” Snape answered, his voice filled with regret.

“That's not what you said about Tonks and me. You told me to give Tonks a chance, that she was a strong woman and could handle it. Hermione's a grown woman, Severus. What are you going to do, push her away?” Remus gasped at Severus's confirming look. “Going alone will get you killed!”

“Better one old wizard dying than another innocent.” Snape said bitterly, remembering the scar on Draco's face. The pain he would feel if either of them died ripped a hole in his heart.

“So, you're going to decide for Hermione? How noble of you.” Remus sneered.

“She's young, way too young for me. I'm old enough to have sired her, for Merlin's sake. She deserves a young wizard without the life I have led. I can't even walk Diagon Alley with out getting spit upon. Is that really what you want for Hermione?” Severus felt Remus's grip loosen as he turned away to leave the room.

“Remus?”

“What?” Remus turned back with feeling of remorse. His plan of getting them to face their feelings had backfired. He had sent Hermione with Severus in hopes they'd talk and admit their attraction, not act on it.

“I'd prefer if you'd keep your knowledge to yourself.” Severus asked in a quiet tone. “And for her sake, get her to finish school. She's the brightest witch, the most annoying know-it-all I had ever taught, and she's wasting it.”

“So, who's going to pick up the pieces this time?” Remus asked, not caring if Severus answered, as he slammed the room's door.


~*~


“Where's Severus?” Hermione asked with a smile as Remus entered the room.

“Dunno.” He mumbled. “Look, I'm pulling you off the Death Eaters cases. It's time you went to University.” Hermione made a sound of protest. “No girl, it's time.”

“But who is going with Severus until Draco is better? I could at least wait till then.” She asked hopefully.

“Severus has decided to go alone.” Remus held a hand up to their objections. “It's his choice.” He felt a tug at his heart when her face fell. Knowing what he did made him want to kill Severus. Stupid, hard-headed git.


~*~



Months passed as Hermione waited for Severus to contact her. She'd started to borrow Hedwig a few times to send her own letter, but held back. She now had a stack of unsent letters sitting on her desk, tied with a black rawhide string she had found tucked in her pants that fateful morning.

Severus had been correct about the University accepted her application with no questions. He'd have laughed at her joyous dance into Headquarters as she held it in her hand, screaming with delight. Since her field work had dealt with healing, she applied for a healer's curriculum.

Remus posted the weekly reports Severus sent in. Viciously and with no remorse it seemed, he hunted down his former colleagues throughout Europe. Finally, after a four month search, Severus had found the infamous duo in Bulgaria. This time they had been surprised, and died for it.


The ending for this chapter is now chapter 3. Thanks jackie!

Chapter 3: Her Secret
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a/n: did a big edit so moving chapters around, this a new chapter 3 old chapter 3 is now 4. Thanks jackie for suggesting this change!


Hermione jumped into her studies with her old enthusiasm, so she dismissed her tiredness from trying to catch up on her studies. Food seemed to either make her sick from the smell, or ravenously hungry. Draco was released from St Mungo's two months after Severus left on his solo journey and arrived at Headquarters to stay with Remus, Tonks and Hermione.

“How's my best girl today?” Draco joked as he walked into the library to see Hermione surrounded by books piled high and rolls of parchment at her feet.

“Give it a rest, Draco.” She mumbled as her quill scribbled on the page in front of her. He watched in amazement as she jumped up from her chair and flew to the wastebasket , barely making it time before throwing up. “Damn flu,” She muttered. “It's making me so behind in my work. And I started out behind.” She laughed self-consciously.

Rest maybe better for you. Making yourself sick over this will put you farther behind.” Draco placed a hand on her forehead. “You're not warm. What did they say at Mungos?”

“Erm, nothing.” She looked away a moment, not meeting his eyes.

“You're lying!” Draco said with concern.

“I said, Give. It. A. Rest.” And then she burst into tears and ran out of the room.

Hermione had to face it as she picked up her handbag and pulled the slim box out of it. Her Gryffindor bravery failed her for a moment as her hands shook as she opened it. As she read the directions she mumbled, “Merlin's beard, you have to pee on it to work?”

She walked into the bathroom and took the strip from the plastic wrapper, “Pee and then wait five minutes, blue positive, pink negative. Think pink!” Hermione set the Muggle device on the sink and waited, and paced. Pink, pink, PINK.

Blue.

Hermione walked out of her room and headed for the floo, “St Mungo's!” She said as she stepped in.

Draco looked up at Remus from his book and shrugged his shoulders. “I'm staying out of it. She won't talk, she cries all the time, she even puked in the wastebasket.”

She couldn't be? Remus thought, Snape's smarter then that.

“I'll talk to her later,” Remus told Draco.

“Better you than me. Wish Dad would come back, she's been like this since he left.” Draco's ice gray eyes closed for a moment. “He should stop blaming himself for what Lucius and Bellatrix did to me.” Draco shut his book.

Ginny and Harry burst into the room, their cheeks flushed and bright smiles on their faces. “We've just come from St Mungos,” Harry burst out as Ginny laughed and slapped his shoulder.

“Well, obviously every thing's okay,” Remus laughed.

“Oh yes it is!” Ginny said happily.

“I'm pregnant!” Harry said flustered.

“Harry!” Ginny giggled.

“Er, well Ginny is.” Harry's face was beet red, but nothing could wipe the smile off his face.

“Congratulations!” Remus and Draco said as Ron entered the Ron holding the strip in his hand.

“Blimey, what's got everyone's knickers in an uproar here?” Ron asked as he held the strip out to Harry. Ginny grabbed it.

“That's mine! I must have been so excited this morning after Harry got it for me, I forgot to hide it.” Her face turned a light blush beneath her freckles as she lied. She glanced at the 'blue' for a moment as she tucked it in her pocket. Oh, Merlin. Poor Hermione. She thought. Her eyes glanced up at her husband's inquiring face and shook her head slightly.

Hermione slipped back in a few hours later and went to her room. It was time to actually send a letter. The stack of unsent ones seemed to mock her as the tears slid down her cheeks. She felt Ginny slip an arm around her shoulders as she carried Hedwig into the room. She tied the letter to her talon and she flapped off into the night sky.

~*~



Remus stared at the young witch as he watched her finger caress the latest missive posted on the wall from Severus Snape. He watched the tear as it slid down her cheek. His heart broke for her as she turned to look at him.

“He's never coming back, is he?” Hermione asked as Remus wiped the tear from her cheek, and gathered her in his arms.

“I don't think so, love.” He felt Tonks slip in the room and wrap her arms around her husband and the young girl he thought of as daughter.

Draco, Harry and Ginny entered the room and stopped in shock at the heartbreaking scene. They all had slowly watched Hermione the past four months as she waited, growing more depressed and paler as her secret bloomed before them.

“I'm pregnant.” Hermione said as she rubbed the oh so small bump of her belly. “I sent a letter two months ago, and he never responded.” Remus had been waiting for her to tell them. Most had figured it out without being told, except for Ron.

“I could go to him.” Draco said.

“No!” Hermione exclaimed. “If Severus had wanted us, he'd be here. Hedwig came back without the letter, so I know he's received it. I'd only want him to come back if he loved me anyhow. Obviously he doesn't.”

“Hermione-” Remus started to say.

“No one can tell him. No one.” She looked around the room. “This is my baby, my life. I'm not going to force him into anything. Promise me!”

With regrets they promised not to tell him about his impending fatherhood.


~*~



Severus Snape, worn from four months of hunting Bellatrix and Lucius sat down in his room in a hostel in Bulgaria. He pulled the letter from his pocket, slightly crumpled from its two months occupancy there. He held it tight, wanting to open it as he had started to so many times since Hedwig had brought it to him. But, he had made his decision to let her go. He picked up a small wooden box and tucked it in there and sealed it shut.


Chapter 4: Home is Where the Heart Is
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a/n: Thanks Tiff for laughing through my bounce. =)

September 1st, 2011

Severus looked around his supply cabinet with satisfaction. It had taken him the better part of the last month eradicating his predecessor's woeful collection, and he now had it restocked to his pre-War glory. He made one last adjust before stepping out and locking it.

It had taken Headmistress Minerva McGonagall 12 years to wear the stubborn former professor's objections down in returning to his first love, Potions master of Hogwarts. He'd spent his time fruitfully at least creating new potions, and hunting down Death Eaters. He was still active in the Order, but meeting with Remus Lupin away from Headquarters only when necessary.

“Severus! Come on boy, shake out of this funk! No one cares about your past misdeeds, time does heal a lot of wounds.” She pointed out during this July. Severus had been shocked when he had seen her. He'd forgotten just how much time had past, twelve years since Voldemort's downfall... and his. Her hair had grayed to a white and the winkles had deepened. “I want to retire after this year, and Albus' portrait won't allow me till I can name you as my successor next year.” Minerva's eyes had twinkled when she offered him that.

“My being Headmaster would close Hogwarts down. No one is going to want a former Death Eater protecting their children for seven years.” Severus replied as poured them coffee and set out a plate of sandwiches. Her showing up in person instead of her customary owl warned him he was in for a long fight.

Severus bit into his ham sandwich and smiled in pleasure. “And will I get my Head of Slytherin restored?”

“Yes, Severus.” She nodded as she sipped her coffee.

“You're not going to take no this year, are you?”

“No, Severus. You've walled yourself away from your friends for far too long. Hogwarts misses you. I miss you.” She smiled as his face took on a pensive look.

“I'll do it.” He poured them some more coffee. “Oh, Merlin! This is the year all those War babies start.” Severus groaned in remembrance as he did the math in his head. “A sea of redheaded Weasleys, just great!” Minerva laughed.

“Glad you remembered after you agreed.”

Twelve years had aged him slightly. His hair now showed flecks of gray, and light winkles surrounded his eyes. Severus looked in the mirror as he tied his hair back and grimaced. He'd be fifty-two this January. He was still in his prime in the Wizardry world. He opened his wardrobe and surveyed his new work robes with pleasure. It had been so long since he played the dungeon bat and he was glad to be back.

Severus made his way to the Great Hall for the Sorting Ceremony. Like past years he had wanted to miss it, but Minerva wouldn't allow it. As he entered he heard the gasps from the students and laughed silently. He took his seat beside Minerva and waited for the first years to enter. Severus saw Neville Longbottom in Sprouts' spot and smiled. Pomona had died in the War, just one of the many casualties.

“Who's leading the first years out?” Severus asked as he took a sip of his pumpkin juice.

“Remus is as deputy Headmaster. He'll be yours next year also.” She smiled.

“He should be your successor.” Severus reminded her.

“He won't because of his furry problem. Even though your improved Wolfsbane potion gives him increased control of his transformation, he still takes a few days to recover. That's why Tonks is his co-professor.” She replied.

They watched the doors open as Remus entered followed by a rather large amount of first years. Severus did what he did every year at this time, he let his mind wander in thought. So, he almost missed it when a name was called.

“Granger, Narcissa!” Remus called out. Both names shocked Severus from his revelry as he stared at the small girl making her way to the Hat. Bushy black hair, round black eyes and Hermione's nose.

“Bloody hell.” He whispered as his mind traveled back close to twelve years. Without caring what anyone thought, he stood up.

“Your mother was a brave Gryffindor I see,
Your father Slytherin, braver than she,”

Severus barely acknowledged the Sorting Hat's words as he drew closer to the girl. He jerked as Remus placed a cautionary hand on his arm.

“You're so hard to place my dear,
So Slytherin it is I fear!”

The cheers from the Slytherin table barely made a dent in his mind as he looked at the small girl in front of him.

“Don't do it!” Remus growled in his ear. Severus pulled his arm from Remus's grasp. Narcissa, his daughter, screamed in fear as he glowered at the wizard she called Uncle Re.

“You knew, didn't you?” Severus felt his heart pound through his chest as he watched Remus gather the crying witch into his arms. Severus stormed out of the Great Hall, his robes billowing in the breeze his anger made. The portraits gasped as he strode by on his way to his apartment in the Dungeons.

Severus whispered the password and his door opened silently. H made his way to the fireplace and took down the worn locked box and held it in his hands. He slammed it against the hard stone and it broke open, the yellowed letter fluttering out to the floor.

~*~



Remus held the small girl to his chest as her tears soaked through his robes.

“Take Cissa to the infirmary to Hermione,” Minerva said. “I'll finish the Sorting.” Remus nodded as he murmured lovingly to his niece. Her tears finally ended in hiccups as they arrived at the Infirmary.

Hermione had become Madam Pomfrey's assistant eight years after her final training at St Mungo's ended. Poppy had retired four years ago and to Hermione's delight Minerva had given her the position. She loved Hogwarts and it being her home permanently had been just fine with her. Narcissa probably knew more about the castle's secrets then her Uncles Fred and George did. The only place she was not allowed was the Dungeons. She had went there just once a few years ago, and had been made to clean the chamber pots as a punishment. She was a smart young girl, cause she never did it again.

Hermione looked up in surprise as Remus entered with Narcissa in his arms.

“What happened?” She asked as she stood up from her desk and as he set Cissa down.

“Severus happened.” Remus answered.

“Oh, Merlin.” Hermione said as Cissa looked up at her.

“The Dungeons' Bat you told me about is real, isn't he?” Her black eyes looked up at her mother.

“Yes, love.” Hermione wanted to laugh, but was still angry at Severus for making their daughter cry.

“The Hat put her in Slytherin.” Remus remarked, and watched Hermione's face pale.

“Bloody-”

“Mummy!” The child exclaimed.

“Sorry, Cissa.”

“I'm going to go 'talk' to him now. I'll try and talk Minerva into changing her to another house in the morning. I don't think anyone will mind you keeping her here tonight.” Remus said as he kissed Hermione on the cheek and left


A/N: Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please review if would, I so love them.

Chapter 5: A Letter is Worth 1000 Words
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Severus stared down at the yellowed envelope as he reached a shaky hand down to pick up. When Hedwig had arrived with it twelve years ago he'd been in the midst of finding Lucius and Bellatrix so he had stuffed it in his pocket and had forgotten about for two months. After their capture and execution, he hadn't been ready to open it.

Severus looked at his name in Hermione's familiar script and sighed with a new regret. He'd been so wrong not to open this letter, and with the sight of the small black haired witch floating in his brain he finally broke the seal.

Dear Severus,
I know you have been busy, and I have started to write you so many times. I miss you. That one night burns in my very soul. It was so incredible. Guess it wasn't for you.


Severus grimaced at this, as he remembered that night when his dream took shape in the beautiful form of the courageous Gryffindor. His attraction to her had started as he watched her competence, her skill and her gentleness out on the field as they fought out the final battle's of the War. His dreams had started about then, but every time he ask his dream lover her name, she'd disappear. Until that night.

Doing the noble thing had hurt, more then just himself and her it seems. He drifted back to the letter.

Remus says you are well, just very tired. I worry about you out there alone, and Merlin knows if Remus even hinted where you were I'd be there. But, I guess that's not what you wanted.

How wrong she was. Every night as Severus fell asleep his dream came, but now her face was clear. The eyes so loving as she drew close to him and kissed him, begging him to hold her, love her. But as his arms would wrap around her in his dreams, Hermione would disappear and he'd awaken in a bittersweet arousal.

You were right about University. I have been accepted! I started late a month ago, and will be interning at St Mungo's. I'm so excited. I'm going to need to take a few months off soon, by Healer's request. He said that all the Potions ingredients and Spell residuals would be dangerous for me. I'm not even allowed to apparate anymore. I haven't told anyone at Headquarters yet, cause I needed to tell you first. I've kept hoping you'd return to me, for me-- But that isn't going to happen, is it?

Severus couldn't count the times he had to force himself to hold back. The only thing that kept him sane had been his hunt, driven from a desire to keep Hermione and Draco safe. The day Lucius and Bellatrix had died by his wand had been a horrific and glorious day for him. But still he held back. Remus had told him about her acceptance at University and he had rejoiced, and didn't want to interrupt that.

I'm afraid, Severus, and alone among our friends. I watch Ginny with Harry, Tonks with Remus and I feel so sad. Draco has been keeping me company since the Healers won't let him out on the field. But he isn't you, my love.

Severus, I'm pregnant.
Love,
Hermione


Severus crumpled the envelope in his hand as he stared at the last words. Merlin's beard, what did I do? No one had told him, not one hint in the past twelve years. Now he understood Draco's looks, and Remus' exasperation with him.

Somehow he could see his little lioness ordering them not to tell him.

~*~


Remus made a small stop by his and Tonks' apartments before heading down to the Dungeons. Holding the small album in his hand, he knocked on Severus' door. He had slowly put it together the past eleven odd years for when Severus would need it. He was by no means pleased with his actions, but he understood Snape's desire to be noble. He had wanted to show him so many times, had even left it open when Severus had come into Headquarters to give his reports. He wanted to shake the picture of Hermione holding a one year old Cissa as she blew her birthday candles out, the perfect image of her father, in his face till his eyes opened to what he'd missed.

But his promise to Hermione held him back.

After a minute passed, Remus knocked again and waited another minute before pushing the unwarded, unlocked door open.

“Hello, Remus.” Severus said from his chair in front of the fire. Remus looked and saw the splintered wooden box thrown carelessly to the floor, the crumpled envelope laying on the arm of the chair and a letter clasped tightly in the black haired wizard's still shaking hand.

“So you finally read the letter?” Remus walked angrily over to him, his hand clutched tight around the book. “You bloody dunderhead. How could you have been that cold hearted? Oh right, you're Slytherin!” Remus spat out. “For two months after she wrote that letter she waited, and no response from you. A week after you found and killed Bella and Lucius she gave up on your return and told us.”

Severus sat there, accepting Remus' anger, wishing the wizard would just punch him. Maybe he'd feel better, a broken bone or two would certainly take his mind off the pain in his heart.

He'd been such a fool.

“Here,” Remus shoved the photo album in Severus' face. “I've been putting this together for you.” He pushed it against Snape's nose when he didn't take it. “Take it!”

Severus held the book in his hands as the letter fluttered to his lap.

“Open it!” Remus ordered.

Severus opened the album and gasped at the first picture. There stood Hermione swollen stomach and all with Draco. She laughed as Draco rubbed her big belly and the baby inside kicked. He turned the page to view a sweating Hermione pushing as Draco whispered encouraging words in her ear. He almost could hear her screams as Draco held her shoulders. Severus wanted to kick himself for not being there.

“Draco was with her the whole time in his father's place. He kept her sane during the raging hormones, held her when she cried, and even conjured her up pickle flavored ice cream one night when she craved it.” Remus taunted him.

Severus felt his tears well up as the next picture showed Draco kissing the top of a fuzzy headed baby as Hermione smiled exhaustedly while holding the baby.

“She's so beautiful,” Severus murmured as he looked at Hermione's face. “And the baby is so adorable.” He cried then, shocking Remus.

Severus slowly flipped through the pictures, unmindful of the tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Why Narcissa?” He asked finally.

“Hermione did it for you, and Draco. She knew the pain you both felt when Lucius murdered her, and the damage that Lucius and Bella inflicted on Draco prevents him from having children. You really should talk to your family sometimes, Severus. I swear.”

Remus sat down in a chair finally. “Cissa adores her big brother, you raised up a fine young wizard once he was out of Lucius' clutches. But he still doesn't fill the need your not being there creates. She has uncles, aunts, cousins and Minerva, Molly and Arthur make fabulous grandparents.”

“What does she know of me?”

“That's for Hermione to tell you.”

“Dammit, Remus! Does she hate me?” Severus asked as he finally closed the album, a picture of a laughing Harry holding Cissa on a broom as they flew low around Quidditch field the last vision in his head. So many firsts he had missed because he wouldn't listen.

“No, what Draco and Hermione have told her has made her wonder. Harry and Ron though tell stories about the scary Dungeons Bat. And tonight's performance has strengthened that image in her mind.” Remus laughed at Severus' frown.

“I was a bloody git.” Severus sighed, not knowing what to do.

“Yes, you were.” Remus said as he walked out, the door clicking softly shut.

Chapter 6: Wizard with a Mission
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“Mummy?” Cissa asked as she sipped her pumpkin juice and took a bite of her cookie. She watched as Hermione paced the infirmary, arranging bed sheets and adjusting the curtains needlessly. Mum usually only acted like this when Harry or Ron were on a dangerous Auror assignment. It was time for her to create one of her distractions, worried Mum was over-protective Mum. She wanted to be Slytherin like her Dad and brother had been, she'd even begged the Hat to do it. Uncle Remus going to Gran Minnie was going to ruin all her plans. Plus, her mum had been hoping Gryffindor, like most of the family had been in. But Draco had said Slytherin was better, and what her big brother liked, she did.

“Yes, Cissa?” Hermione sighed as she sat down in a chair by her daughter. Dungeons bat, indeed! More like drama draught queen. She smiled at Cissa as she thought that. She was a perfect melding of her and Severus, and not just in looks. Cissa would have to be told and soon, she was too smart not to figure it out on her own.

“Why don't Uncle Harry and Uncle Ron like the Dungeons Bat?”Cissa asked innocently and watched as her mum choked on her pumpkin juice, almost spewing it down her shirt. I'm gonna hex those two! Hermione thought and she cleaned herself up.

“His name is Professor Snape, and he's not really a bat. It's just the effect his robes have as he walks the halls.” Hermione said softly. “He's the Head of Slytherin and the most skilled Potions Master I have ever met. He also was our Professor for six of our seven years here at Hogwarts. Professor Snape wasn't the most friendly of persons, but he challenged us to do our best as students.”

“He's mean?” Cissa's eyes widened at the thought. She had heard the Hat say she was to be Slytherin but wasn't sure if she wanted to be if Professor Snape was mean. The only reason she had been frightened was because she thought he was going to hit her beloved Uncle Remus. Now her house mates were going to think she was a crybaby.

“Well, em...” Hermione didn't know what to say. As a teacher Severus had often been mean and cruel, favoring his house's students over the others. But his teaching methods had worked, most of the student that had passed through his NEWT level classes had gone on to be successful productive members of the Wizardry world.

“Kitten!” Draco said from the doorway, saving Hermione from answering.

“Draco!” Cissa jumped from her chair and into her older brother's arms.

“I hear from Remus you've been having an interesting evening.” Draco said to Hermione over the child's head.

Cissa walked off to where Hermione had her private apartment with a mumbled “Be right back!”

“Seems Harry and Ron told Cissa more about the Dungeons Bat then they admitted to.” Hermione told him.

“Well, Sev wasn't out to be loved back then, he was out to teach us correctly by any means. If that meant making a pansy or two cry, so be it.” Draco smirked at her.

“I'll admit we actually left Potions class without killing ourselves, though Neville came close to it too many times to count.” Hermione nodded, remembering how exacting Severus had been in cutting, crushing and adding ingredients.

“Least he's playing with plants now. Herbology professor suits him.” Both laughed at memories past.

“How's Ginger?” Hermione asked as she went back to her nervous pacing. Draco hadn't seen her like this since she'd found out she was pregnant and afraid to tell everyone. They'd all been a little blind, thinking her depression was just in missing him, not really needing him. He'd been kicking himself for twelve years after promising to keep his mouth shut about Cissa. Every time he and his Dad had met up on Order business had made him want to shake the nobleness out of Severus, but he couldn't. Now, the time had come, and the old wizard had better come through. Though he had enjoyed playing a daddy type big brother to Cissa, it hadn't been the same for the young witch.

“Ginger's fabulous, and about to get that ring she's been hinting at for three years.” Draco winked at Hermione.

“About time, you dunderhead.” Hermione grinned. “She's a keeper.” Draco had been dating Ginger Wallace for the past six years now. She was a famous Quidditch star and eagerly sought after by many young wizards, but only had eyes for the blond haired Slytherin. Draco had been struggling for years on asking her because of the lack of children problem caused by his War injuries. Even though Ginger continually argued they could adopt, Draco had held off because of the Pureblood stigma impotence created.

“Yeah, the Cannon's Quidditch keeper and mine.” He growled at her possessively as the vision of his red-headed lover popped in his head. “Which is what brings me here. Any advice in how to say,” He breathed deeply in, “Marry me?”

The door slammed to the infirmary, shaking the windows in their panes.

~*~



Severus finally closed the photo album after staring at the pictures for what seemed like an hour. Even with it closed, the picture of Draco rubbing a very pregnant Hermione's belly was imprinted in his mind. He admitted to himself he was jealous. His own fault for missing all his child's first, but still jealous none the less.

He was a git.

Severus stood up and kicked the broken pieces of the wooden box into the fire, and watched as it was consumed by the fire. He folded the letter back up and placed it in a drawer in his desk. A smirk of determination plastered on his face.

He was over his self-pity party.

Severus pulled open his wardrobe as he shucked off his school robes, letting them drop to the floor and he pushed hangers around till he found a simple black jumper and black jeans. He hoped a more relaxed looking Severus Snape would be appealing to the two witches.

He had a lot of mistakes to right.

Severus combed back his black hair and tied it back, making a face at the silver that lined it. For the first time in years he wasn't being noble or self-sacrificing. He was plotting out his offensive on how to reclaim what he threw away stupidly twelve years ago.

He was a wizard on a mission.

Severus disillusioned himself and strode down the hallway towards the infirmary. He passed a group of seventh year Gryffindors breaking curfew and ignored them. They should count themselves lucky, it's been a long thirteen years since Severus Snape had handed out a detention or taken points. But,

He wasn't out for House points tonight.

With footsteps light as a cat's, Severus entered the open door of the infirmary to hear...

“Marry me?”

Severus turned and slammed the door shut.

Chapter 7: My Way
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A/N: The words Severus sings are from the song "My Way", sung by Frank Sinatra originally. I like when Elvis did it =P.



Severus Snape entered his apartments, his mood as black as the jumper he wore. Too late! His conscience jeered at him as he poured himself a tumbler of firewhiskey. It burned his throat as it slide down.

All the self doubts that had flooded his mind twelve years came back to him as he his senses became impaired. He'd never been a wizard taken to drink to often. In his past activities as a spy it could have meant his death, as an inebriated Death Eater often meant loose lips and an open mind. Voldemort would have had a field day in his brain if that had happened. So, for the Dark Lord's celebrations he'd take his drink, tap his wand secretly on his glass then pretend he was higher then a kite. Deception had been his forte, and he was so damned good at it. He'd stumble around, laugh and then pass out halfway through, blessedly missing most of the 'fun' that had so entertained his evil master.

The prisoners' tortures had been the worst for him. In the beginning, Severus had participated in a few of the rapes, the beatings and the general reveling the Dark Lord required of his minions. Those that had survived the 'party' were then murdered for Voldemort's pleasure.

Severus had become the 'assasin'. Dumbledore had tried for years to make him believe that they had been done in mercy's sake, but he still hated himself for them. And, now in his drunken state the ghosts came to visit him. They floated around his head like a Muggle's pink elephant.

As Severus sang, “Regrets, I've had a few. But then again to few to mention. I did what I had to do, and did it without exemption.” He hiccuped and remembered his father, drunk in front of the fire at home, singing those same words off-key by some Muggle singer. “Salute, pops!” He raised his glass high before draining it.

The glass tumbled from his hand a rolled across the floor as he passed out in a chair by the crackling fire.


~*~



Hermione laughed at Draco, then jumped as the door slammed shut. She hadn't felt a breeze so thought maybe Peeves had done it.

“You'll be fine, Draco. She loves you and actually wants to marry you. You're not going to have a hard time getting a yes.” Hermione told him as he dropped to one knee in a practice attempt.

“That look good?” He asked anxiously.

“Perfect! Just mean it and she'll be happy.” Hermione smiled as he stood up and leaned close to her.

“When are you going to tell Cissa about Dad?” Draco whispered as he kept an eye out for the sharp eared little girl. The Weasley twins' Extendible Ears had nothing on that tiny witch.

“Soon because I don't want her to be told by someone other than us.” Hermione said as Cissa came in the room, dressed up in one of her mum's dress robes. The black robe fit Hermione's curves to perfection, but on the little witch it was big and billowy. A miniature Severus Snape. She thought as her eyes teared up. She looked at Draco and saw the same expression.

“Look Mum and Draco!” Cissa said as she strode between the sickbeds, the robes flowing behind her in her mock Professor Snape stride. “I've been practicing!” She exclaimed as she got to them.

“Very,” Draco coughed to cover up his laughter, “Impressive, Cis. You'll have to show the Professor that one day soon.”

“No!” Hermione said horrified. “Not a good idea to mock your teachers, dear.”

“You could always raise your hand and answer questions before anyone else. That impresses Professor Snape most of all.” Draco ducked Hermione's hand as she swatted at his shoulder. “Okay, okay... Bad idea!”

“Okay, poppet. Time for bed. Kiss your brother goodnight and go get ready.” Hermione said.

“But mummy, Draco just got here!” Cissa batted her long lashes at her mum.

“You have classes tomorrow. Now go.” Hermione ordered. Cissa kissed Draco's cheek, huffed at her mum and turned majestically in her borrowed robes.

“She does that quite well.” Draco smiled at Hermione's expression.

“Too well. It won't be hidden too much longer.” She sighed as she headed to her private apartments. “Night Draco.”

“Night, mum.” Draco smirked as she rolled her eyes before shutting the privacy doors.

Time to beard the bat in his cave! Draco thought as he travelled down the hallways to his former Head's rooms.


~*~


Draco knocked softly on the door and pushed it open after he got no answer. “Dad?” He said as he entered and closed the door behind. How unlike him not to lock and ward the door.

The whiskey smell permeated the room, and Draco finally saw him in the chair, snoring. “Merlin, I've never seen him this bad.” He thought out loud as he walked to Severus private bathroom. Draco opened up the small Potions cabinet and spied the small vial of Pepper-up. He grabbed it and returned to the sitting room.

Draco shook Severus by the arm and jumped back as the former spy flung a nice rounder as he bounced up from the chair.

“Nice moves, Dad. Drink this,” He said as he offered the older wizard the vial.

“So, when is the wedding?” Severus slurred out, as his hand batted for the potion and missing.

“I haven't asked her yet!” Draco laughed and then paused for a second. “Legilimens!” He said as he entered the drunken wizard's mind. Severus didn't even try and stop him.

Draco watched as memory-Severus dressed and entered the the infirmary to hear Draco ask Hermione to marry him. Ouch! Draco thought as the door slammed and memory-Severus flew down the corridors in a rage. Memory-Severus spied the same group of Seventh years he had previously passed and un-spelled himself.

“Fifty points each off of Gryffindor,” Memory-Severus said snidely, “Detention with Filch for a week also.”

Draco watched as memory-Severus drained his glass and started singing. He broke off the connection then.

“You should have made your presence known.” Draco said as Severus finally took the vial and drank it down, grimacing at the taste. “I am planning to ask Ginger to marry me and make me an honest wizard. I was trying to get tips from Hermione on how to do it without looking stupid.”

Severus groaned as he set the vial on a table.

“Hermione is also going to have a hippogriff about those points. Not even the first scheduled day and Gryffindor is already behind. And, Dad.... You sound like a screech owl when you sing Sinatra drunk.” Draco added for good measure. After spending time with Hermione at her parents' house, he knew a lot about the 'golden oldies' as they called them.

Once again, Severus thought. I've been a bloody git.



Next update will be Cissa's first Potions class.

Chapter 8: Double Potions
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A/N: Thanks to the girls at SAYS...
Dialogue quote is from “SS” chapter 8 page 136-7 American pb. edition. Attributes by me.



Hermione adjusted Cissa's green and silver tie as she looked down to survey her daughter. “You'll do,” She said as she nodded. Slytherin just like her dad! She thought as she sighed. No longer my little baby either.

“Thanks, mum. We heading for breakfast now?” The young witch pulled her hair back with a band and smiled. First class was Double Potions with Gryffindor and she couldn't wait to see Jamie Potter. He'd promised to sit with her.

“Yes, and today you'll have to go to your house to sleep.” Hermione said as she thought of how much things at Hogwarts had changed. Cissa never would have been sorted there years ago, with her parentage of half-blood/muggle. Remus had flooed her the night before as she was about to go to bed that Minerva wouldn't go against the Sorting Hat and move her.

“Remember dear, I am Miss Granger, Uncle Remus is Professor Lupin, Aunt Dora is Professor Tonks and,” Hermione stressed, “Gran Minnie is Professor McGonagall.”

“I know, mum-- Miss Granger, you have been saying that all summer.” Narcissa winked at her mum as they entered the Great Hall for breakfast. She made her way to her class table and sat down in an unoccupied section. Frankly, she was nervous after her crybaby act and the fact a lot of the students probably knew her mother and uncle were on the staff.

Hermione walked up to the staff table and took a place by Tonks and Remus. All three of them watched to see how Narcissa would be treated. They had agreed over the summer not to interfere but try to act like she was any other student.

“Morning,” Hermione said as Neville too his seat. “Ready for all the new first years?” They all laughed as he sighed.

“No, I know way too many of them. I mean, couldn't you all have tried not to bloom the Wizardry population at the same time?” Neville asked glumly. Hermione smacked his arm.

“You'll be fine, Neville. I'm sure they'll behave once they know you're the teacher, not uncle Neville.” She smirked.

Severus and Minerva entered next, and he looked at his house's table and noticed Cissa sitting by herself. Minerva walked up to the dais and took her chair, leaving the last remaining spot at the table next to Hermione for the somber dressed wizard. She smirked behind her napkin as she unfolded it.

“You've raised a beautiful daughter, Hermione.” Snape said as he broke the silence his arrival made. He rather enjoyed the choking sound they all made. Neville amused him the most as pumpkin juice spewed from his nose.

“Why thank you, Severus.” Hermione said as she patted the Herbology professor on the back. “Nice to see you among the living once more.”

“Yes, it's good to be back home, at Hogwarts. I've even missed teaching the dunderheads that muck up my classes. I was rather surprised to see you on staff. I thought you were going to make a go at Potions?” Severus picked up a forkful of scrambled eggs and chewed them with happiness. Yes, it was nice to be eating at the castle once more He thought as he sighed with pleasure.

“The War made me realize how much I enjoyed healing. I did studies in Potions, only need an internship for my master's. I've thought about doing it, but my time here and time with Narcissa prevent me for a while. Maybe in a few years.”

“I could intern you. The school will need a competent Potions master for next year.” Snape announced as he picked up a sweet roll.

“You'll be leaving after this year?” Hermione asked, watching his face as he ate.

“No, no....” He laughed. “Minerva, you didn't tell them?” He looked at the Headmistress.

“No, Severus. Only Remus and I knew. But, the idea is a sound one.” Minerva nodded, remembering Hermione's skills in Potions. “I would approve it.” She said. “Severus is taking my place as Headmaster when I retire next year.”

“Blimey!” Neville groaned under his breath.

“You have assistants in the infirmary, correct? There shouldn't be any problems. We could always crash course it over the summer also.” Severus said as he watched Hermione think.

“Yes Severus, I do. But I think it highly unwise considering our past connection.” Hermione stood up. “Have a nice day.”

Severus watched as she walked away, sighing. “I tried.” He said to his table mates as he he threw his napkin down, his dining pleasure ruined.

“Try harder!” Remus growled out in a low tone.

“Follow her!” Encouraged Tonks from beside her husband.

“I have to get to class, first year Potions with Gryffindor and Slytherin.” Severus said as he strode away. He thoughts on Hermione and his first real encounter with their daughter.


~*~



Severus Snape burst into his room, his black robes billowing as he walked to the front of the classroom to turn smartly and face his new crop of students. He had been surprised when he had learned that only one Weasley would start this year, Harry and Ginny's son, Jamie. Sure enough, there he was sitting next to Cissa, his red hair flaming as red as his Gryffindor robes and his eyes hiding behind horn-rimmed glasses. Least he hadn't birthed with a lightening scar on his forehead.

“Good morning.” Severus said briskly as he tried to form the words he always greeted his first years with. Ah, yes, he nodded to himself. “You are here to learn the subtle and exacting art of Potions making.” He watched as the students hung on his every word, they'd soon learn he was the taskmaster. “I don't expect you to really understand the beauty of the the softly simmer cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory even stopper death.” His mind revelled in his words, his passion for the art flowing through.

“Yes, Miss Granger?” Severus said as her upraised hand interrupted his speech, a vision of young Hermione superimposed over the dark haired witch; jarring him from his thoughts.

“Professor Snape sir, how does one ensnare the senses?” Narcissa asked, only remembering half of what Draco had said.

Severus Snape, though a man of few words unless they were biting or sarcastic, was for once at a loss on how to answer this one small witch.


~*~



“Hey, Tonks.” Hermione smiled up from her paperwork. With the beginning of the a new school brought her new students to build files for and new information for the rest. She actually welcomed a break her purple haired friend offered her.

“Wotcher, Hermione.” Tonks smiled at her as her bubblegum popped, sticking to her nose. She grinned as she tucked it back in her mouth. “Busy?”

“Very, glad I'm almost done filing these questionaires.” Hermione pointed to the stack on her desk as she sat down in her chair and sipped her coffee from the Chudley Cannons mug Draco had given her last year.

“When are you going to actually talk to Severus?” Tonks asked, getting down to business. Hermione grimaced as she realized this wasn't a normal girl talk session.

“I want to, but so much time has passed. It's like I don't know him anymore. In fact, I didn't know him well to begin with.” Hermione sighed as she set her mug down.

“Well, you knew him enough to create a child.” Tonks reminded her, gum popping to emphasize her words.

“Yes, and I have raised her with the help of you all. Not one word for twelve years, not even a 'Dear Hermione' letter to hold on to. Just a bunch of my unsent letters bound with his hair tie and old discarded Death Eater reports from years ago. Not a lot of company on a cold winter's night.” Hermione said bitterly. Tonks waited patiently as the younger witch breathed in deep and continued.

“My teacher's crush developed into love during the war. I admired him for all his work he did without thanks, he never even received an Order of Merlin for it. All the dangers he went through. That night I saw for the first time a body riddled with old scars and new, and they pained me. I kissed everyone as he slept, thinking he finally returned my affections.” Hermione sipped from her mug again, her hands shaky. “Then boom, he was gone.”

“Oh, Hermione..” Tonks murmured. “Don't throw away this chance. You both are so stubborn and noble. Meet the git halfway.” Tonks advised. “And take his internship offer.”

“The University would probably laugh my work away.” Hermione shook her head.

“No they wouldn't. Severus is still very respected in the Potions community. The reason he hid himself away there when he was done on his Death Eaters hunt.” Tonks touched her hand to Hermione's chin, forcing their eyes to connect. “He feels unworthy because of all that he did. His life sucked Hermione. The fact that he survived Voldemort's service with his mind intact amazes me.”

“I don't know how to fight those memories.” Hermione blinked, breaking the connection.

“Just allow him to talk. Severus left because he loved you. It was wrong, but your innocence scared him. He felt old, and too scarred from his deeds to let himself be with you.” Tonks told her. “Scars are more then physical, Hermione.”

“Thanks. Tonks. I'll think on it.”

“Okay, I have class. We are doing Boggarts!” Tonks laughed as she left.

Hermione let Tonks' words sink in as she finished her paperwork. Perhaps a stroll in the moonlight with Severus Snape would help clear the air.

Chapter 9: Meeting Halfway
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A/N: Thanks to Nic, Tiff, Scrib and Jackie for all the help today with this chapter. This one's for you gals. Go SAYS~~


“I can't believe it!” Severus Snape gestured with his fork as he talked to Remus at dinner. “She one-upped me the very first day!” He emphasized his point by digging into his mashed potatoes and swirling them into the gravy before eating them. The sight of his eleven year old daughter with her hand raised firmly imprinted in his mind.

Remus glanced at his pink haired wife and both broke into laughter behind their well placed napkins.

“That is not helping my mood any.” Severus remarked, his plate emptying quickly in his anger.

“Cissa is Hermione's daughter after all.” Minerva reminded him as she looked over to the Slytherin table at the witch in question.

“How could you!” Hermione exclaimed as she took the only seat left at the staff's dining table, once again by Severus. “I mean, Severus, really! One point off of a Slytherin after all those Gryffindor points last night? And one night's detention and they got a week!” Hermione filled her empty plate, indignant over what she saw as Severus's blatant house favoritism once again rearing its ugly head.

“So Madam, you are angry that I didn't take more points and give a longer to detention to your daughter?” Severus arched his eyebrow and sneered as her hand froze over a roll glistening with butter.

They couldn't hold it back any longer, as one Minerva, Remus and Tonks broke into a fit of laughter; drawing the eyes of the four houses' tables to the staff.

Minerva quickly charmed the table so what was being said there could not be heard or seen by the students but the staff could see and hear the going ons in the Great Hall. This had gone on long enough between the two of them, action must be taken.

“You both are acting like the dunderheads you profess your students to be.” Minerva looked severely at them both. “Instead of prowling around each other like cats on a hunt, try talking to each other.” Her hand reached up to push her glasses down, “While some of us are amused by this evening,” Her finger then pointed to the Slytherin House table, “There is a few who haven't been.” And all the eyes followed Minerva's prompt to see an upset Cissa with Jamie holding her hand.

Minerva held her hand up as Severus and Hermione tried to speak. “Silence! I am not done yet.” She breathed deeply. “That young girl has no clue that the fight really is about House Points and not about her. Or is it? I am giving you both until Saturday night to reveal the truth to her.” Minerva picked up her spoon and dipped it into her chocolate covered ice cream, saving the cherry on top for last.

“Severus,” Hermione said hesitantly, “Would you fancy a walk in the moonlight?” She watched as the Potions master smiled, an unfathomable glint to his eyes.

“Why Madam, my pleasure.” Severus set his napkin by his plate, stood up and held his hand out.


~*~



Cissa and Jamie watched as her mother walked out of the Great Hall on the arm of the Potions professor. She had been startled by the argument then the laughter at the Heads' table, wondering why her mother and her teacher were fighting. The table suddenly disappearing magically had upset her.

“See?” Said Jamie. “It'll be okay.” He had noticed the teachers glancing Cissa's way and had rushed over to check on her.

“All I did was ask a simple question!” Cissa replied as the Slytherins glared at her friend. There still seemed to be a bit of House rivalry about Hogwarts.

“You ready to meet Davy in the library?” Jamie asked as he felt the cold stares of the green and silver tied table occupants. He wasn't giving up their literally lifelong friendship simply because of matter of House. They had been born a week apart, with him being the oldest and had often suffered the double birthday parties their mothers planned with glee.

“Sure. I have to finish that 2 foot report on the uses of mandrakes Professor Snape assigned me to have ready before detention Monday anyhow.” Cissa smiled glumly. “Plus the report he assigned us for Friday.” They both walked out of the Great Hall to the library, uncaring of the stares their friendship made.

Davy was Neville and Luna's son, and he was Ravenclaw. The three had grown up together as their parents maintained their friendships beyond school and the War. The three had even interned this summer for a month as the Chudley Cannons mascots.

Draco had bought the team shortly after Narcissa was born because he'd been bored. His War injuries preventing his return to the Aurors and he wasn't allowed his second love of Quidditch either. So he lived vicariously through his team. His best find had been the keeper from the Wimborne Wasps, Ginger Wallace. He had wooed away her to complete his winning team, and Ginger had ended up wooing him.



~*~



Hermione and Severus walked silently through the school and out the big doors as they headed for the trail that led to the Lake. She kept her hand lightly threaded through his arm as he laid his hand on hers, holding it.

“Beautiful night,” Severus commented, making the first move as they looked into the cloudless star filled sky; the half moon shining down upon on them.

“Yes it is,” Hermione answered, turning to look at him as they met the waters' edge. She watched nervously as he undid each button, one by one on his robes. Severus took off the billowy black robe and snapped it with a flourish before laying it like a carpet on the ground.

“My lady,” He gestured with his hand towards it as he bowed gracefully. “May I help you take a seat?” Severus took her hand at her nod and helped as she settled down upon the cloak. Sitting down himself, he sighed as he leaned back on his elbows to watch the stars as they twinkled.

“My internship offer is sincere, Hermione. While your medi-witch skills are excellent, your potion skills are worth a lot to the Wizardry world.” Severus started, unsure and nervous himself.

“I know Sev, and thank you. But I don't think the Potions committee will accept your views and approval of my work considering our very obvious past. One night was all it took, but I would never take it back.” Hermione said softly, watching the pained look on Severus's profile.

Severus rolled over from his stargazing to look at her, happy to see her looking at him. “I'll work on them,” He winked as he scooted closer. He sighed with pleasure as her hand reached out to touch his face.

“I'll accept your offer as given then.” She smiled down as he rolled back over and laid his head in her lap, encouraged by her soft touch.

“You should be hating me, screaming at me, hitting me!” Severus whispered up at her. “I left you to give birth to our child and raise her for twelve years on your own. I have missed so much, and I can never get it back.” His eyes closed in sadness and reopened them when he felt a wet drop hit his nose.

“Severus, I've never hated you! I was just angry it took you so long to come back. I can only understand half of what you've been through. Someday I hope you'll show me.” Hermione's thoughts drifted back to the words Tonks had told her, and the memories of his scars filled her mind with sorrow.

“Eh, my dear. You really don't want to know. Suffice to say, I was a horrible wizard whether I served Voldemort or Dumbledore.” Upon Voldemort's death, his followers had screamed with pain as the Dark Mark had faded into nothingness on their arms. Severus had been finally freed from his past.

“You my love, are my knight in tarnished armor.” Hermione giggled at his expression and let out a small scream as he rolled over, pushed her into a prone position and held her possessively. His eyes held hers as his face lowered.

“Tarnished? I think a little buffing is due.” Severus groaned as her lips met his halfway, their touch light as they brushed together. His hand explored up her torso to lightly caress her cheek. “Hermione...” He sighed out as their kiss deepened and their tongues met. It was as if the twelve years apart had never been.

Hermione's hands caressed through his hair as they traveled down to touch his back, pulling him closer. She felt him rock above her, his need evident against her small frame. Slowly they broke apart, their breathing labored as they drew in the night air. His face collapsed into the crook of her neck, his breath warm against her skin.

“Still tarnished?” Severus growled out sexily as his hands explored her restlessly. His voice made her shiver with longing as she placed her finger on his lips.

“More buffing needed, love. But later.” Hermione let her finger trail from his lips and down till she she laid her hand on his chest, the beat of his heart matched hers.

Chapter 10: Spilt Milk
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a/n: Thanks jackie for looking this over and enjoying it. "The Grinch that Stole Christmas" is by Dr Suess.



Hermione had decided that she would take Cissa to the Burrow Saturday for an outing and Severus would meet them there for the 'revealing'. She had no other idea how to term it. She had no clue how Cissa would accept it, she was almost assured she'd be happy. And Minerva was correct, they had put it off days too long.

Severus had taken Hermione's idea with a groan. “Couldn't we just take her to a park or something? The Burrow is well, overrun with Weasleys.” Hermione only laughed at him.

“Severus, Cissa is at home with Molly and Arthur. I'd rather not do it here because there are just too many students. I'd feel more comfortable there.” Hermione said.

“Fine, I'll leave here an hour after you do.” Severus bent his face close to hers and kissed her forehead as his fingers played with her earlobe. Hermione giggled and pulled away regretfully.

“Night, Sev.” She smiled up at him and watched as he walked away, his robes billowing behind him.


~*~



Hermione took her seat next to Severus as the Great Hall filled with students Saturday morning. “Stop it!” She exclaimed softly as she felt a hand squeeze her knee. Severus just smirked as she shifted in her seat.

“Remember you both have until tonight.” Minerva told them as she watched the two with a twinkle in her eye. The make up seems to be going good. she thought as she smiled.

“We've planned a trip to the Burrow.” Hermione told the Headmistress as they all quietly ate.

“Good idea.” Minerva nodded her head as she glanced Cissa's way. The young witch had gained a few friends it seemed, for a few Slytherin girls now occupied the seats next to her.


~*~



“So Cissa, your brother is the Draco Malfoy?” asked a Fifth year girl, Anna.

“Er, yeah.. Why?” Narcissa Granger mumbled between bites of toast and egg. She was excited to be going to the Burrow, and couldn't wait for breakfast to be over. If Aunt Ginny was there, she'd be able to play with the new baby, Lily.

“He's so dreamy!” Lisabeth, another Fifth said as her eyes rolled back, a magazine opened in front of her with a smiley faced Draco dressed up for some Quidditch opening posing for a shot.

“He's just well... Draco.” Cissa looked at the girls with disgust.

Witch Weekly lists him as one of the most eligible wizards of the century,” Anna said as she scooted closer to Cissa.

Cissa looked up at the staff table, hoping beyond hope her mum was finished and ready, for her young appetite had surely waned. Hm, she thought. She doesn't even look halfway done. “Draco is my brother! He has a girlfriend anyhow, Ginger Wallace.” She sipped her pumpkin juice and hoped that would deter anymore comments.

“That cow? What does he see in her? More muscles than brains? A loose broom?” One of the girls said mockingly. Cissa had enough and she stood up.

“Ginger is not a cow!” Cissa said loud enough for the head table to hear, “So shut up, for Merlin's sake!” Oops! She thought as her mother caught her eye. Mum's going cancel the trip now. She sighed as she watched Hermione come over to her.

“Narcissa, tell your friends goodbye. We're meeting Draco at the Burrow. But, 5 points from Slytherin for the bad words.” Hermione said, proud her daughter had stood up for her brother's girlfriend. She was happy Cissa was smart enough to realize the older Slytherins were only being nice to her because of her brother. She looked from her daughter to the head table to see Severus watching them, so she gave a wink and a smile.

“Sorry, Mu-Miss Granger.” Cissa hung her head a little. This was the second time she had lost house points. The girls glared at her as she walked away with her mum. Jamie gave them a wave as they passed him.

Narcissa watched as her mum unwarded the gates for them to slip through and reward then as the reached the apparition point near Hogwarts. Her mum was quieter then usual and seemed nervous.

“Cissa,” Hermione said finally, “Girls will always like Draco, I'm sorry they bugged you.” And she held her mother's arm as Hermione apparated them outside the Burrow.

“I know, mum. Draco told me.” Cissa giggled and ran to the door as she saw Ginny standing with baby Lily in her arms. “Aunt Ginny!” She cried out happily, wondering just how many of the family were there. Coming to the Burrow on the weekends was like a party. She'd tried to get Jamie to join them, but he had mumbled something about needing a break. Who needs a break from all this love? Cissa had thought.

Harry stood in a corner of the big sitting room by Ron, talking in low tones about Cissa, Snape and her she guessed as they looked up guiltily at her.


~*~



Severus stood up from the table and made his way through the tables to where the Cissa had been sitting with the Fifth years.

“Hello, Professor.” They said pleasantly to him, unsuspectingly so.

“For future reference, Witch Weekly is now a banned item in Slytherin.” He waved his wand and the copy burned to ashes. “There will be points taken if I spy a copy in Slytherin again.” Severus stalked off.
“What a snark.” The girls mumbled, sweeping the ashes off the table. No matter. Lisabeth thought as she laughed silently. I have ten copies of that one at home. Draco is the centerfold.


~*~



Severus arrived at his rooms to get ready. Since the weather was still warm, he decided that dress robes were out and pulled out his black shirt and Muggles jeans he used for his Order duties. They were less restricting in duels and fights, and quite frankly more comfortable to relax in. Since he had a little time before he had to leave, he picked up the photo album again to gaze through his daughter's life. He didn't mind the pictures that Draco appeared in that much, but the sight of Cissa's first broom ride with Potter made him morose. He was an excellent flyer, better than Potter in his own opinion, and that was a dad's privilege.

Well. I am here for the rest. Severus thought as he closed the album and made for the Burrow.


~*~



“When is he arriving?” Harry asked as she walked up to them, Cissa enthralled with the baby for the moment.

“Soon, and then we tell her. I justed wanted her away from Hogwarts in a familiar place to do it.” Hermione told him and Ron, casting a wary glance at Cissa tickling baby Lil's toes before running off up the stairs.

“Hermione, Cissa knows Hogwarts better the Fred and George-- and they had the map!” Ron reminded her.

“I can't believe you're going to just let him walk back into your life like those twelve years never happened!” Exclaimed Harry. “I mean come on, Hermione! What are you going to do when he goes running off again?”

“Sh, Harry. Remus told me Severus... Oh, Merlin!” Hermione cracked up into laughter as she saw Cissa walk down the stairs. Harry and Ron turned to see what she saw, bursting into laughter also.

“You like, Uncle Harry? Uncle Ron?” Cissa said as stalked the living room in Grandma Molly's best black robes.

“She definitely takes after Severus,” Harry whispered into Hermione's ear. Hermione just nodded, too overcome with laughter.

Severus entered the Burrow silently behind Arthur and stopped dead in his tracks. I should be angry, He thought as he watched his young daughter traipse through the room in an imitation of him. If it was anyone else, I probably would be. Severus felt as if his heart grew two sizes bigger in his chest as he smiled. He remembered the old Muggle Christmas story his mother would read him about a Grinch, and that it took a smile from a young girl to grow his heart. For Severus Snape it had taken two beautiful witches, and twenty years to grow.

Severus quietly pulled his wand out and silently said a spell, and Cissa's robe billowed out regally as she stood there surprised. Uh oh, she thought.

“Very good likeness of me, Narcissa. If I may call you that?” Severus looked down at her and smiled, as Harry and Ron looked on dumbstruck at their former Professor. Cissa twirled as the cloak magically billowed and giggled.

“Of course, Professor Snape.” Cissa round black eyes shined up happily at him. “Do you use magic to make yours float like that?” She asked.

“No, just years of practice, milady.” Severus made a small courtly bow, further shocking Harry and Ron. Cissa giggled and decided that the Professor really wasn't as scary as her uncles had made him out to be. Baby Lily started to cry, and Cissa ran over to her.

“What's wrong?” Cissa asked Molly as she watched her rock the baby.

“It's feeding time, I need to fetch her bottle from the kitchen.” Molly answered as she made to get up.

“No Grandma, let me!” And the young witch skipped off to the kitchen, robes floating behind her.

“Hey all.” Draco said as he walked in, a little late because he had stopped to pick Ginger up cause she wanted to meet the famous spy and Draco's dad, Severus Snape.

“This is Ginger, my fiancée.” Draco announced as Hermione, Molly and Ginny squealed with joy as Ginger showed them her ring.

Ron groaned, Mum's never going to stop harping on about Lavender now, he thought.

“So, this is your dad?” Ginger asked, walking over to the dark haired wizard.

“Severus Snape, and congratulations seem to be order.” He said as he looked at the ring shining on her finger. It was an old Malfoy family heirloom and Narcissa Malfoy had worn it also.

“Dad?” They all heard from the doorway, as the sound of glass breaking broke into the festivities. They all turned to see a very shocked Narcissa and a broken bottle of milk puddling on the floor. “You're my father?” She whispered.

“Cissa--” Hermione said as the young witch flew past them and out the door.

“You still haven't told her?” Draco shouted. “You've both had three days to do it, and you still haven't done it?” He repeated angrily.

“We were just--” Hermione tried to say, his next words stopping her.

“I'll go and talk to her, since you adults are so afraid of one little witch!” Draco stormed out.


~*~



Cissa ran out the door of the Burrow and headed to her favorite spot, crashing through the bushes and trees to get to it. The garden gnomes watched in surprise and jumped back as the normally happy girl pushed past them. Garden gnomes normally hate humans, but Cissa had befriended them, and much to the Weasleys' delight, had gotten them to stick to one part of the vast grounds surrounding the Burrow, leaving the humans alone.

“Digoro!”Cissa called out her tears making it hard to see as she stumbled to her knees, leaving a muddy spot on her jeans. “Digoro!” She cried out again, huddling into a small mass by his bush.

Digoro was the head garden gnome, a small sprightly guy with a pointed green hat and long pipe stuck in his mouth. It was he that decreed to the other gnomes to leave the humans alone.

“Ack, young missy! What bees the problem?” The gnome asked as he sucked on his pipe worriedly.

“My dad--” Cissa hiccuped, “My dad is back! And... and... and... he doesn't want me!” She wailed. The gnome patted her on the back.

“Ack, why would yous be a-saying that? Dads always love their kinders.” The gnome said kindly, hoping someone, some human would come and help. He sighed with relief as he saw young missy's brother burst through the bushes himself.

“Narcissa Eileen Granger!” Draco said as the young witch jumped into his arms, knocking them both to the ground. He wiped the tears from her face with his hand. “You have us all scared.”

“Dad doesn't want me!” She wailed again into Draco's shoulder as he ran his hand over her hair and back to comfort her. “He's been back for ages! And... and...” She rubbed her face into his shoulder and he grimaced at the stains she was making on his shirt.

“Cissa, Dad wants you. I promise you that. That's why he came and mum are at the Burrow today. To tell you just how much he wants you. And mum.” Draco said as he touched her chin to look into her face.

“But--” Her lower lip trembled as she looked up at him.

“No buts about, young lady. You think you can act like Draco's big girl now and come back to the Burrow and properly meet our Dad?” Draco asked as Digoro looked on, chewing the end of his pipe still.

“Okay,” Cissa nodded her head, still looking unsure about the whole matter. “He did make Gran's robe float like his for me.” She added.

“See! Would he have done that if he didn't want the best little witch in the world?” Draco said, his pale, gray eyes twinkling at her.

“No, probably not.” She agreed a smile drifting on her face as her tears slowed. “You think...” She started to say, but stopped as they made their way slowly through the bushes back to the Burrow.

“Think what, kitten?” Draco asked as he held on firmly to her small hand.

“You think mum and dad would have me a baby brother? Mum said no before after Lils was born, but maybe now???” Cissa looked up at Draco with an oh so Slytherin look on her face.

“Give them time, kitten.” Draco said as the neared the door. “Dad just got back.” And he laughed as her smile fell for a second.

“Jamie said it took months for Lils to come, they'll have loads of time!!” Cissa burst through the door as Hermione and Severus looked up worriedly. Severus knelt down to Cissa's height as the young witch drew closer to them, holding his hand out to her.

“Draco says you love me,” Cissa said as she took his hand.

“I do,” Severus said softly as he stared into the coal black eyes so like his. He felt Hermione's hand on his shoulder as she tenderly squeezed it in reassurance.

“You are going to stay with me and mum?” Cissa asked like a small inquisitor, her now dirtied robes still flowing around her.

“Yes, my lady. I will never, ever leave again.” Severus promised them both, his witches of the heart. The room gasped as if one as the small witch launched herself at Severus and hugged him tight, leaving him gasping for breath. “Anything else?” Severus choked out as his butt landed to the floor.

“Well,” Cissa loosened her hold to look at Severus in the eye, “Now that you mention it...”

Draco couldn't help it, he burst into laughter as his sister gave a sly look at her parents. He asked for it!

“What is it, Cissa?” Severus asked, he would promise this small witch the world if it would help her forgive him for the past twelve years.

“You and mum could give me a baby brother.” Cissa said as the room groaned.

“I assure you we'll work on that soon.” Severus felt Hermione's hand swat him as he laughed. “Very soon.” He reaffirmed.

Chapter 11: Dancing in the Moonlight
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A/N: Thanks to PhoenixStorm for giving a looksie over a cetain part of this chapter. You rock. And special Thanks to Tiffers and Scriblerian for letting me bounce this morning.



Narcissa looked up at Severus as dinner finished at the Burrow and plates of apple pie magically appeared on the table in front of them.

“Dad?” Cissa asked as she watched him dig into it with a big smile on his face.

“Yes, Cissa?” Severus replied as he set his fork down.

“When we go back to Hogwarts later, am I allowed to tell Jamie you're my dad?” Cissa nose screwed up in a look of concentration as she tried to make her fork levitate a small bit of pie to her mouth, but it dropped with a clank and the pie landed on the tablecloth. “Oops. Sorry, Gran!” she said as her small hands covered her mouth.

“My being your father is a secret no longer. Just remember though, school situations you must still call me Professor Snape. When we are alone though, you will call me dad.” Severus said as he leaned closer to his daughter.

Cissa pointed her wand at the mess she had made, “Scourgify!” She said confidently, and her smile fell as only half of it went away.

Severus smiled as he pulled out his wand and cleaned it for her. “You're still underage, young lady. So keep these little experiments confined to school times.” Then he bent low to her ear and whispered, “But you're doing well!” Cissa giggled and kissed his cheek before picking up her fork to finish off her pie.

“Wonderful dinner, Molly. Thanks for allowing us to come.” Severus said as they stood at the door to leave.

“Glad you enjoyed it.” Molly said.

“I'll be setting some galleons in your name at Madame Malkan's to replace the dress robe Cissa ruined today.” Severus raised a hand to her objections. “Molly, it's worth a thousand dress robes to have my daughter. Allow me the pleasure.”

Molly smiled and casted a glance at Arthur and Hermione before agreeing. “Thank you, Severus.”

“Bye Gran and Gramps!” Cissa said as she hugged them both. The other family members had left earlier, so they were the last to leave.

The door closed behind them and Molly sighed. “It feels so empty when they all leave, Arthur.”

Arthur laid an arm around her shoulder, pulled in tight and kissed her cheek. “I think we can find something to do, Madam.” He arched his eyebrow and nodded his head to the stairs.

“Oh, Arthur!” Molly said as she blushed and took his hand as he led her up to their room, the clock ticking and all the hands' faces safely out peril.


~*~



They arrived back at Hogwarts' apparition point and made their way slowly to the castle. It was late, and most of the castle's inhabitants were asleep as they entered.

“I'm escorting Cissa to her dorm before I meet you in the infirmary to talk.” Severus told Hermione as he touched her cheek lightly.

“Sev, it's late.” Hermione tried to remind him, thinking talk was not on his mind.

“I'll be good. I promise.” He added as her eyes rolled, and he winked at her.

“Okay, Sev. Don't make it too late.” She turned and walked to her apartments off the infirmary as Severus walked beside Cissa to the Dungeons dorm the Slytherins occupied.

“Dad, the common room has an awesome view of the Lake.” Cissa whispered as their feet made light sounds on the stone floor.

“I know, it was my favorite place at your age.” Severus replied.

They entered the common room with a whispered password and Severus kissed Cissa's cheek and he hugged her tight. “Off you go, young witch.”

“Night, Dad.” Severus watched as she walked up the girls' dorm stairs before heading out. Severus steps quickened as he headed to Hermione.

~*~


Hermione stood with her back to the door, her mind wandering as she looked out the big windows of her apartment. She watched as the Lake waters gently crashed into the shore before drifting out again, mesmerized by the moonlight's glow upon the water. The sound of her door opening barely registered as she felt Severus's arms as they wrapped around her from behind and his head nestled into the crook of her neck as he gently bit it. She laid her hands on his clasped ones as she leaned back into the hardness of body, giving him better access to her neck.

Hermione moaned as Severus bit her again and then laved it with his tongue to soothe the slight pain he had caused. She moved restlessly against him as her senses heightened to his touch as he turned her around and ran his fingers through her hair; pulling her face close to his as their lips met, locking together.

Their tongues danced as their breathing became labored. Cool air met warm skin as buttons became undone, and lips traveled, kissing, laving and suckling the now exposed skin. Severus pressed Hermione up against a wall and drew her up his hardened body, locking her legs around him.

“Divesto!” Severus whispered impatiently twice, as their clothing fell to the floor. “Gods, I love magic!” He said as he carried her to the bedroom and laid her gently on the bed before joining her. His hands gently caressed her as his lips left a trail down her body. He felt Hermione's nails dig into his back and he groaned. “Ah, the lioness does have nails!” As his lips met hers once more, dueling for a mutual victory in love. The pain her scratches caused only heightening the desire he felt for her.

Severus entered her as her legs wound around his torso once more, holding him close as they rocked in an age old union of love. “Severus!” Hermione gasped as her senses overloaded and they shuddered as one. Severus groaned as he collapsed upon her, holding himself off her slightly by resting on his elbows. Their naked skin glistened in the pale moonlight from the window,

“Never, ever forget this witch!” He whispered out, “You are mine and...” He hesitated for a moment, “And I love you.” There, after twelve years of holding it back he finally admitted it. His heart felt lighter and his breathing slowed as he waited, his heart stopping for a brief second.

“I love you too, Severus.” Hermione answered as Severus rolled them over sleepily so that her head rested on his chest and his arms wrapped around him. Her breathing slowed as she fell asleep, and Severus kissed the top of her head and held even closer.

“Told you I'd be good.” He whispered as he fell into a deep dreamless sleep.


~*~



Sunlight poured into the room, and Severus stirred as the naked witch in his arms made a soft purr as she stretched. His arms tightened reflexively around Hermione as she moved to leave the bed.

“Potty,” Hermione mumbled as he let go to watch her naked backside run for the bathroom. He wanted to follow her, but he held back. He felt like one of the randy old men he had read about in one of his mother's old romance books that had littered their house when he was young.

Severus stood up and stretched, the sun's warmth caressing his skin as he gathered up the clothes they had discarded the night before. He needed to go to his rooms soon and make ready for breakfast in the Great Hall. Their daughter would not be happy if they didn't make an appearance.

“Feel better?” Severus asked as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her passionately.

“Yeah, but...” Hermione bit her lip. “But we forgot something again last night.” Her eyes looked worriedly up to his. They were both way too old to act so irresponsibly.

Severus sighed, and caressed her cheek with his hand tenderly as he drew her even closer in an embrace. “We can do one of two things,” He said softly as he rubbed her back. “Not worry and let nature take its course or I can brew up a morning after potion.” He said as he grimaced at the thought.

Hermione watched as Severus's pale hand traveled to her olive skinned stomach and laid possessively there. “We wait.” She whispered hesitantly, expressing his desire. She felt Severus's sigh of relief breath on the skin of her neck, and the beats of his heart quicken as he held her close.

Chapter 12: Bewitched, Bewildered and Not so Confused.
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Hermione stood nervously at the entrance to the Great Hall as she waited for Severus there as he had requested. She felt as if the words 'we just did it' were imprinted on her forehead for the world to see. Their late arrival coupled with arriving together was sure to bring the staff's tongues a-wagging.

Hermione couldn't help as she placed her hand on her stomach, still feeling Severus's there even though he hadn't arrived yet. Her lips smiled as she remember that he had declared very passionately that he loved her. A delicious shiver of longing went through her as she felt his hand touch her shoulder.

“Ready to face the lions, my dear?” Severus whispered softly in a husky tone.

“A table full of Gryffindors mores the like,” She laughed shakily at the thought as if she could Remus's eyes burn through her as the walked to the table.

“Stop,” Severus requested as they neared the Slytherin table, and saw Cissa once again on her own.

“Mum, Professor Snape... good morning,” She stuttered out, but a big smile plastered on her face.

“Hello there daughter, how goes the morning?” Severus asked to the gasps of those surrounding them. Severus smiled as Cissa jumped up and wrapped her arms around him for a brief moment. He stared at them as if waiting for comments.

“Dad, it's been okay.” Her coal black eyes looked between both parents, happy to see them together.

“I think for today as it is Sunday, I'll join you here.” Severus squeezed Hermione's hand as she nodded and they took seats near Cissa. Jamie slipped into a seat by Hermione, further breaking the school's firm hold on protocol.

“Morning, Aunt Hermione, Professor.” Jamie nodded to both. He hated how the Slytherins had been treating Cissa, first ignoring her then fawning over then back to ignoring her. It had been her choice to beg the Hat for this placement, but he still loved her.

The four ate in a companionable silence as the breakfast quickly disappeared from their plates.


~*~



Minerva smiled at Remus as she nodded in approval. “Operation Snape seems to have gone well.” She laughed.

“Smashingly so there, Minnie.” He nodded as he watched as Snape wrapped an arm around Hermione for a brief second. Too well, he thought. He hurts her again and he'll have me to answer to! His brain shouted. Severus turned to look at Remus that precise second and nodded as if he had heard Remus's thoughts.

“Tonks lying in today?” Minerva asked, breaking into his thoughts.

“She said something about the flu.” Remus replied.

Flu my arse! Minerva thought as she smiled secretly.

Severus and Hermione stood up from the Slytherin table, gave Cissa and Jamie their goodbyes and headed to the staff table. It was no use avoiding the inevitable.

“Morning,” They said in unison, and laughed.

“Cissa has been informed as per your request, Minerva. She took it well.” Severus said as the old witch seemed to stare through him.

“Very good. Anything else you need to tell us?” Minerva's eyes twinkled, as if she knew a secret or three.

“No, you nosy old witch.” Severus smirked to soften his words. But there will soon be, he thought as he met Remus' eye. “Well, I have a few things to fetch in Hogsmeade.” He nodded as he turned to walk out.

“Things go all right at the Burrow, deary?” Minerva asked as Hermione settled down and told them the tale.


~*~



Severus walked quickly as made his way down the path to Hogsmeade. The jewelry store was on High Street if he remembered correctly, nestled between Honeydukes sweet shop and Zonkos joke shop. Luckily his Gringott's account was overflowing, for this little trip would probably break him.

The door set off a jingle as he opened it and walked to the counter. Severus looked at the rings displayed in the cabinet while he waited for Madame Cherie to appear to help him. None of these peaked his interest, none of them good enough for Hermione. He did see a smaller ring, with a narcissus and snake twined together and thought it perfect for Cissa. Hopefully tonight his girls would agree to marry him.

“Ello, Profezor Snape.” Said the small French witch as she stepped from behind a curtain. “Ow may I 'elp you?”

“Well, that ring for one.” Severus pointed to the small ring he had sighted earlier.

“And?” Madame Cherie prodded.

“I need an engagement ring that means forever.” Severus said. “And I'd like to order matching wedding rings to go with them.”

“I have zee perfect one in zee back room, let me bring itz out.” Madame Cherie disappeared behind her curtain once more.

Severus waited in eager anticipation. He had waited twelve years to do this and could kick himself. He smiled as she popped from behind the curtain, a small box in hand.

“Bien, Profezer. Zis is tres perfect.” Cherie smiled brightly. Opening she revealed a delicate platinum ring with an emerald surrounded by a row of alternating garnets, sapphires and topazes. Merlin's beard, they were their birthstones. How fitting. Severus thought happily.

“Very perfect, Madame. I also have an inscription.” He said as he leaned over the counter to whisper it. The jeweler smiled and nodded. A few moments later Severus left the shop with both small boxes tucked safely in his pocket.

Severus made his way back into the castle and almost whistled as he went to his rooms. “Hello, Remus.” He said as he unwarded and unlocked his door and went in, the brown haired wizard following.

“Hermione told us how well it went yesterday. I'm glad you are finally taking control of the situation you abandoned years ago.” Remus began the speech he'd been planning all morning. Severus responded by pulling the bigger of the two small boxes from his pocket and handing it to Remus.

“You approve?” He sneered as the Gryffindor opened the box and whistled. “I am playing for keeps, old friend.” Remus took the ring from the box and smiled at the inscription.

“Very appropriate, Severus.” Remus said as he placed the ring back in the box. “For if you hurt them, walk away from them or do anything to make Hermione cry again, you'll wish you had never been born.”

Severus nodded his head in acknowledgement of Remus's words. “Warning taken, and meaning understood.” He then pulled the other box out and showed the contents to Remus. “For Cissa, can't leave her out.” He smiled. “Tonight I beard the lioness in her den and claim her and my cub.” He looked uncertainly at Remus. “What if she says no?” He asked, feeling a pain in his heart. “What if acknowledging Cissa was enough for her?”

“Well, Severus, you're just going to have to pluck up that Slytherin cunning and do it.” Remus winked as he walked towards the door. “Now, I have a sick wife to see to.”

“See you, Remus. Hopefully Tonks is better soon. I'll brew your potion tonight. Full moon is Tuesday.” Severus reminded Remus as the door closed.

Severus sighed as he pocketed the boxes once after. What if she thinks this is all because of what we did last night? He pondered worriedly. Well of course last night had a lot to do with it, you dunderhead! Severus smacked himself as he thought that. Waiting is going to drive me crazy! He headed for the Slytherin common room to get Cissa. No time like the present! He decided with determination. If I could face Voldemort all those years, I can do this!

“Damn!” Severus exclaimed out loud as his footfalls increased, hoping Cissa was there. He mumbled out the password and the portrait flew open for him to enter. The black headed witch in question stood gazing out the window, staring as the fish floated by in the Lake.

“Narcissa?” Severus said softly.

“Oh, hello Professor! Look, that's a drindocree!” She pointed to the odd looking purple-gold fish staring back at her.

“That's nice, Cissa. We are needed in the infirmary. Now.” Severus said impatiently.

“Mum okay?” Narcissa asked worriedly, jumping from her chair.

“Yes, dear. Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you.” Severus said as he breathed deeply. He was feeling idiotic now, in his hurry he had scared the child. “I just want to see your mum, that's all.”

“I'm ready.” she said as she looked up at him.

Severus matched his steps to her smaller ones, all the while feeling like picking her up and running through the hallways. The scene it would have caused was the only thing that stopped him. He cleared his mind to calm himself, a master at Occlumency, he needed the calming influence it afforded.

“Mum!” Narcissa called as they entered the infirmary.

“Well, hello you two. It's lunch time already?” Hermione gazed at them, thinking Severus was playing the gentleman and walking her and Cissa to the Great Hall.

“Yes, well maybe a few minutes early. I got something for Cissa.” Severus said softly as he fingered both rings in his pocket. For Hermione's he would be cunning and give in the Great Hall. Maybe that would forestall her no.

Severus bent to one knee before Cissa and offered his hand to her. She took it and he pulled the child-size ring from his pocket. “Will you do me the honor of becoming my daughter in name as well blood?” He heard Hermione's gasp as Cissa squealed with happiness over the ring.

“Yes, Daddy! Look mum! It's so pretty.” Hermione wiped the tear from her cheek as Cissa held her hand up proudly to her mum.

“It's beautiful, dear.” It's perfect! Hermione mouthed over Cissa's head at Severus.


~*~



The student body was still talking about this morning's revelation as the trio walked into the dining room. Severus stopped for a second and held onto Cissa's hand for a second. “Hermione you go up to the table and I'll met you there in a second. I need to talk to Cissa.” Hermione gave him a puzzled look before nodding. Severus pulled Cissa back into the hallway.

“I got this for your mum.” He said as he pulled the ring from his pocket. Cissa took the delicate band in her hand and turned it, the gems gleaming in the pale candlelight.

“It's beautiful, Dad.” She smiled up at him and her eyes caught sight of the inscription and giggled. “Oh, so that's how!”

Severus smiled, confident now that Cissa approved. “Can I stay with you while you do it?” Cissa asked.

“Yes,” Severus took her small hand in his and advance towards the staff table. He gripped the ring tight in his other hand as it bit into the flesh of his fingers.

“Breath, Dad.” The small witch whispered beside him.

Severus Snape almost turned and ran as they reached the table and Cissa crooked her finger for her mother to come close to them. Merlin's beard! He thought as she stepped close, and dropped to one knee in a perfect simulation of the one he had done for Cissa. The sounds in dining room came to an abrupt halt as all eyes turned to them.

Severus silently pleaded with his eyes as he offered his hand to Hermione, and sighed as she took it. “Will you, Hermione Jane Granger, do me the esteemed honor of becoming my wife?” With his other hand he reached out with the ring.

Hermione placed one finger on her cheek as if in deep in thought, before smiling and saying “Yes.”

“Read the inscription, Mum.” Cissa prompted.

“Oh, Severus.” Hermione said. “You have my senses ensnared.” She read out loud and let Severus slip it on her finger.

“That you have, my love.” Severus stood up slowly and gathered his witches in his arms.


Thanks for reading so far. Please review. I love them so!!

Chapter 13: A 'Little' Furry Problem
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Hermione awoke to a hard poking on her shoulder and an insistent voice in her ear calling, “Miss Granger, wake up! Professor Lupins they need yous!” Her eyes pried slowly open to the face of Dobby, the house elf.

“Dobby, what's wrong?” She mumbled out half asleep.

“Professor Lupins says Missus Professor Lupins is sick and needs you. Dobby's been sent to fetch yous.” Dobby poked her again for good measure as Hermione leaned back on the pillow and groaned. The almost full moon shown through the drawn curtains.

“Tell them I will be there momentarily, I have to dress.” Hermione said as she got up.

“Yes, Miss Granger.” Dobby said as he disappeared.

Hermione dressed with haste and picked up a medicinal kit before leaving the infirmary to the Lupins' apartments in the Dungeons. Tonks had gotten sick yesterday, but Remus had said the flu, but now she wondered about it.

The door flew open before she could knock as Remus ushered her in, a worried look on his face. “She's convulsing and won't allow me to contact St Mungo's.”

Hermione entered the bedroom and set the kit down, and went to where Tonks lay, shuddering and sweating on the bed. “Remus, get me a bowl of lukewarm water and a cloth, please.” Hermione took her wand and waved it and mumbled a spell and groaned as a blue aura surrounded Tonks body.

“Dobby!” Hermione called out, and seconds later a pop was heard and the small elf appeared beside her.

“Dobby here, Miss Granger! What's yous be needing from him?” The house elf said as he looked worriedly upon the frail form in the bed.

“I need you to fetch Professor Snape and tell him I said not to let anyone know. Thank you Dobby.” Without another word, Dobby disapparated to Professor Snape's rooms.

Hermione opened her kit and pulled out a vial of Calming Draught and helped Tonks sit up slightly and drink it down. The former Auror coughed and grimaced at the taste. “You haven't told him yet, have you?” she asked in a whisper.

“I wasn't sure till yesterday. Oh, Hermione! He's going to be so upset!” Tonks said as the potion flowed through her.

“I'm sure he will be.” Hermione said. Remus returned and set the bowl and cloth on the table beside the bed.

“Thank you, Remus. Is Severus here yet?” Hermione asked as she dipped the cloth and rung it out before gently wiping it on Tonks face and neck. Remus shook his head no.

“May I do that? Please Hermione.” Remus asked. Hermione moved aside so he could help. “I feel so helpless,” He murmured as he softly ran the cloth over Tonks face, arms and neck.

A rather disheveled Severus Snape knocked on the door a few moments later. This had better be good! He thought grumpily as Hermione let him in.

“Hello, Severus.” She took his hand and led him to the bedroom.

“I called Severus here because he is the more knowledgeable in this problem.” Hermione stated.

“What?” Remus looked at Hermione than to his wife with confusion. “What is wrong?”

“Yes, Hermione. What is so wrong I had to be called here for an obviously medical problem?” Severus asked, irritated with being awoken by a poke and push by Dobby.

Tonks started convulsing on the bed again, and Severus forgot his anger as he drew closer. Remus stepped back and watched as Severus drew his wand, waved it as he mumbled the same spell Hermione used a bit earlier. He drew down the sheet and pressed lightly with his hand on her stomach.

“How much Calming Draught has she had?” Severus asked as he continued his examination.

“Just one vial, unless Remus has given her some.” Hermione answered, Remus shook his head no again.

“Tonks really needs to be in St Mungo's.” Severus observed as he drew the sheet back down.

“No,” Tonks said weakly. “No St Mungo's. They'll inform the Ministry.”

“What's wrong with my wife?” Remus drew a fist through his hair.

“Your wife seems to be pregnant, Remus. Congratulations.” Severus sneered. “I told you fifteen years ago what would happen if you weren't careful.”

“This coming from you.” Remus jeered back.

“Both of you, enough. Arguing is not going to help Tonks or change what has happened.” Hermione said.

“So, what's wrong then? Why is she so sick?” Remus sat back down beside his wife.

“It's simple, your Werewolf genes and her Metamorphmagus genes are creating havoc inside of her because they are incompatible. With the full moon being tonight it's overflowing into her bloodstream and making her sick. I can try to treat her with a watered down version of the old Wolfsbane potion to see if that helps with the convulsions, but I doubt it will work. No more then one vial of Calming Draught an hour until I return.” Severus turned and stalked out of the room to his laboratory.

~*~


Severus returned two hours later bearing two vials. “This is your Wolfsbane potion and this is Tonks', for want of a better name, Werebaby potion.” He said as he handed Remus one vial and went over to the bed to hold Tonks' head as he helped her drink the liquid inside. “You cannot morph anymore till this baby is born, no apparating, no physical stress and depending on how your gestation goes you'll be on bed rest soon. When do you think this happened?”

“Beginning of August, we were on vacation with my parents in Romania and the contraceptive patch broke and I didn't realize it until the morning. I didn't want to upset Remus or my parents, and I didn't think one night would matter...” Tonks stopped as she looked at who she was talking to. “So, okay it does!”

“You could have gotten the morning after ingredients from any Apothecary. I did teach you to brew it with the rest of the Seventh years.” Severus sighed. “Tonks, you do understand I may not be able to help you and if you continue with this, either you, the baby or both of you may die?”

“I understand, Severus. I'm sorry I got you and Hermione mixed up in this. You're risking Azkaban for me.” Tonks was calmer now, the Werebaby potion seeming to help.

“I'm not sure how many times you are going to need the potion. I'm going to treat you the same time Remus gets his, and if symptoms occur, then also. Both of you, get some rest. With the full moon tonight you'll need it. I'll be teaching your Defense classes I guess. Hermione can do my Potions.”

“Thank you Severus, Hermione.” Remus said as he tiredly saw them out.


~*~



Severus walked with Hermione back to the infirmary. She practically had to run to match his strides as he proceeded quickly through the halls. After they entered he threw up a silencing charm with a flick of his wand.

“How could you drag me into this? The Ministry catches wind of this and we'll all be in Azkaban. If the baby lives and they find out, he'll be treated little more than a lab experiment. Werewolves are not allowed to breed!” Severus shouted. “And with Tonks being a Metamorphmagus it's a double sentence, because if it is born a werewolf it may mean it could change at will! Bloody hell!” Severus pulled Hermione into an angry kiss of desperation before drawing back.

“Double potions with Gryffindor and Slytherin first period. Follow my syllabus.” Severus warned as he stormed out, leaving Hermione dumbstruck with the information he just gave her; her lips tingling from the kiss.

Chapter 14: Class Room Antics
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A/N: The werewolf/metamorphmagus problem is in no way canon. Just my own little plot twist that I hope you are enjoying.


Hermione groaned as her alarm clock let off its cheery beeps to wake her up. It had been a long night and she was tired. Also scared for Remus and Tonks. She blearily reached for her wand and shot a spark out it, knocking the clock to the floor.

Slowly she arose from her bed, stretched and headed to the bathroom for her normal routine of shower, hair taming and dressing. As she brushed her teeth she remembered that she was going to substitute teach for Severus today.

“Dobby!” Hermione called out as his pop announced his arrival.

“Yes Miss Granger, you be needing Dobby?” The house elf looked at her.

“Yes, would you please bring me some toast. I don't have time to eat in the Great Hall, I have to figure out Professor Snape's lesson plans before the students arrive.” She jumped as two quick pops happened and Dobby appeared with a plate of toast, eggs and bacon and a cup of steaming coffee.

“Thank you Dobby, but really, only toast was needed!” Hermione said as she took his offerings.

“Yous be needing your strength Miss Granger, if yous be teaching Professor Snape's classes.” Dobby nodded and popped out once more. Hermione ate quickly, cleaning the plate as if to prove Dobby right. As the last morsel disappeared and she set the fork back on the plate, it poofed back to the kitchen; she swore she heard the elf's giggle as it happened.

“It was good, Dobby. Thank you!” Hermione whispered and she heard the elf's laughter again. As she passed her bed she looked down at the alarm clock with a sigh and with a flick of her wand and a mumbled 'reparo' it flew back into place; once again as if brand-new.

Hermione opened her wardrobe and looked over her robes trying to look for a proper 'teaching' one. As her hand reached for the black one she shook her head 'no' and grabbed a dark blue one instead. Her hair tamed magically and dressed in what she hoped was a professional look, she headed for the Dungeons and a quick look in on Tonks before heading to the Potions classroom.

She knocked lightly on the door, and a tired Remus opened it with a wane smile. “Morning, Hermione. She seems better, and Severus is here also.” He said as he ushered her in.

“Good, I was hoping I wasn't waking you but I wanted to check on her.” Hermione followed Remus as he went to the bedroom. Tonks smiled up at her as they entered.

“Wotcher, Hermione.”

“Morning, Tonks. You look so much better than last night.” Hermione bent to hug her before looking at Severus. He looked tired, as if he had had no sleep.

“The potion seems to be working. I'll be back later to give another dose.” Severus nodded to the three of them as he walked out.

“He's still upset?” Remus asked.

“I think it's the thought of Azkaban. What is so horrible about you both having a baby?” Hermione asked.

“When I petitioned the Magical Beings Department for permission to marry, they were going to refuse because Tonks is a Metamorphmagus. If she had been a normal wizard or a Muggle there would have been no problem. They still hold this antiquated view of werewolves and their dangers to society. The Wolfsbane potion has done a lot to forward our cause, and with Severus's newer formula it allowed me to actually get a job. Jobs are still few and far between for the average werewolf, but Minerva likes me.” Remus smiled for a moment. “The Ministry fears that if Tonks and I have a child, he'll be too strong for them to control if the werewolf and Metamorphmagus genes meld together. There is no chance that any child I'd sire would be a werewolf.

“So now I am faced with the love of my life ruining hers. If the Ministry finds out, it's Azkaban and the child as a laboratory experiment once it is born.” Remus sighed as he drew his hand through his hair, mussing it more than it already had been.

“Remus, the Ministry knows werewolves aren't born, they are created by bites!” Hermione exclaimed.

“Not when you have Dolores Umbridge running the department now.” Remus informed her. “She was demoted to a less valuable position after Voldemort's fall, and who cares how Magical Beings are treated anyhow?” He remarked bitterly.

“We all here do! Everything will work out, Remus.” Hermione hugged him lightly. “Get some sleep, you and Tonks need it.”

“Thanks for listening, Hermione.” He said as he closed the door with a soft click behind her.


~*~



Hermione entered Severus's classroom and pulled out the thick book he kept his lesson plans in. It was worn from years of use but well taken care of. She flipped through it to find the 'Day Four, first Years, Class Period One' page.

I can handle this! She decided. Boil cure potion., she sighed with relief. Hermione began writing the ingredients on the board as she waited for the students to arrive.

“Good morning, class!” She said as they took there seats. “I'm Miss Granger and I'll be substituting for Professor Snape today while he substitutes in Defense Against the Dark Arts for the Lupins. Turn your textbooks to page 12 and lets begin.”

Hermione watched as they opened their books, shuffled to the page and then drew out their cauldrons. She saw Jamie and Cissa with their heads close whispering. “Any questions?” Narcissa's hand popped up.

“Yes, Miss Granger?” Hermione said.

“Mu-Miss Granger, what's wrong with the Lupins?” Narcissa asked worriedly, she knew that tonight was the full-moon, but that would affect tomorrow not today.

“I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you later. We are making the Boil Cure potion today. One parter from each table fetch the ingredients needed from the cabinet.” Hermione turned, missing Cissa's sullen look of reproach.

“While they are getting the ingredients, you others set a low fire under your cauldrons.” Hermione remembered this lesson fondly, it was the one she had met Neville in and he had gotten boils from cause he added the porcupine quills incorrectly.

Hermione walked around the room and watched as they silently crushed, chopped and added the ingredients, “Now,” She began to say. “Take your cauldrons off--” A hiss from Jamie and Cissa's cauldron was heard as acid green mists swirled from it. “Merlin, step back!”

The classroom hurriedly backed up to the door as the cauldron melted and the potion inside slithered into a pool on the floor, the green mist swirling and the potion bubbling.

“Anyone get splashed by that?” Hermione asked as she took her wand and cleaned up the spell magically. A murmurings of 'nos' and shakes of heads as she carefully looked them all over before sighing. “What I was about to say, was to take your cauldrons from the fire before adding the quills. This at least shows you what happens if you don't follow the directions from the text book to the letter. Take your seats again and those who still have their potions, add your quills after taking them off the fire.”

“I'm sorry, Jamie.” Cissa whispered to the Gryffindor as they regained their seats.. “I won't be in such a hurry next time.”

“It's okay, Cis. We've all year to make this up.” Jamie patted Cissa's hand as he looked dejected. He would have to owl his dad and mum for a new cauldron.

“Cap your potions in your vials, mark both your names on them for Professor Snape to grade later.” Hermione said a few minutes before class was over.

Cissa pulled on Jamie's hand to hold him back as the rest of the students filed out. When the room was clear except for them and Hermione she walked up to her mum.

“Is there anyway we could possibly redo that later?” She asked as Hermione shook her head 'no'.

“Professor Snape doesn't redo anything, dear. I've had to learn that myself the hard way. Potion making is an exacting science, so hurrying through makes mistakes that are hard to make up later. Lesson learned?” Hermione asked, as her daughter's face fell.

“Yes, Miss Granger.” Cissa nodded.

“Come on, we are going to be late for Defense.” Jamie urged.

“See you later, mum.” Cissa took Jamie's hand and they hurried off.


~*~


Cissa and Jamie flew through the halls and landed in their seats just as the bell went off. Cissa sighed as her father arched his brow at them questioningly. “In future Miss Granger and Mr Potter, coming to class breathless is not allowed.” He warned them.

“Today's lesson is the bat-bogey hex.” Severus said as he wrote the name on the board. “It's an excell-- There a problem, Miss Granger?” He looked at Cissa as she let out a soft giggle.

“No, sir.” Cissa tried to hid the grin behind her hand as Jamie slapped her on the knee beneath their desk.

“Mr Potter is there a problem with your seating? Perhaps if I moved you two apart we could actually have class.” Snape sneered down at the two of them, trying to distance himself as parent.

“No, sir. Everything is fine. We were just remembering my mum, she uses that spell a lot.” Jamie explained.

“Yes, I will agree Mrs Potter has a well-deserved reputation with this spell. Now if you both have calmed down, let's begin.” Severus turned with a whirl of robes as he continued. “This hex is good for a short term distraction and a means of escape. Your opponent will be kept occupied with bats flying around their faces.”

Severus watched as they set themselves with partners and he began to instruct them in the spell. When he was satisfied on their performance he sat down to grade them. He had a feeling that Jamie had first hand knowledge of the spell as he ducked it from Narcissa's cast and her spell went awry and hit the Boggart cabinet by the wall.

“As Mr Potter has been demonstrating the ways to avoid spells casted upon you, we shall get a little practice in on that also.” He nodded. As the pairs practiced, he smiled. These student have been well prepared by their parents who fought in the Final Battle. Severus thought.

Severus ducked and rolled as a miscasted spell headed his way and looked at the caster. “Miss Granger, 5 points from Slytherin. All other students 5 points each. Class dismissed.”


~*~



Severus was glad it was luncheon time. He was hungry from missing breakfast this morning because he had checked in on Tonks before heading to the classroom. He sniffed in appreciation at the aromas that surrounded him as he sat down to fill his plate.

“How did Potions go, Hermione?” He asked as he ate, his fork making small pings on the china.

“Well, one pair of students managed to melt their cauldron, failing the Boil Cure potion.” Hermione commented as Neville coughed and drew his foot tighter under his chair in remembrance. She giggled as Severus glared at Neville.

“So I have more dunderheads to babysit. Their names please.” Severus asked as he picked up a slice a pie and added a portion of ice cream on it.

“Narcissa Granger and James Potter, Sev.” Hermione said as he waited for his reaction. Severus scowled as he pushed back his plate.

“Must have been Potter's fault.” He mumbled as he tried to excuse Cissa.

“No, actually she added the quills, not Jamie. It was an accident, and the class learned what happens when you don't follow directions, Sev. No harm done.” Hermione said.

“We'll see, it happens again I'll split them up.” Severus stood up. “Walk with me, Hermione?” He offered his hand to her with a small smile. She took it and stood up beside him.

“Where to?” She asked.

“Thought we'd check in on the Lupins.” Severus said as she nodded. They walked the hallways and stairs down to the Dungeons. Severus knocked sharply on the door as they arrived.

“The Professor Lupins be eating, sir and madam.” Dobby grinned up at them as he ushered them in.

“Thank you, Dobby.” Hermione said as they entered and went to the bedroom. Tonks still laid upon the bed with a tray across her lap and Remus sat with a small table pulled up next to it.

“You look much better!” Hermione said as she smiled at Tonks.

“Wotcher, Severus and Hermione!” Tonks greeted them, a big grin on her face. “And yes, I feel a lot better.” Remus stood up and took the tray from her as Severus walked up to the bed and examined her with his wand.

“We seemed to have nipped the adverse reaction with the potion in time. I'll prepare more for next time just in case though.” Severus said. Remus tugged at his arm and drew him to the sitting room while the witches talked.

“I'll need you to, well you know, tonight.” Remus said, a melancholy look on his face.

“The Ministry still observe this little unnecessary ritual?” Severus asked as Remus nodded. “I created a stronger Wolfsbane potion so that it wouldn't.”

“Umbridge holds the werewolves with contempt, and refuses to change it. I think she'd really would just like to chain us all up and throw away the key if she fully had her way.”

“Why haven't you gone to Arthur about this? He's the Minister now; he'd make changes.” Severus asked.

“I haven't wanted to bother him with all the other reforms he has been putting through to prevent another Dark Lord from rising to power. What's a few werewolves compared to that?”

“Well, with the baby it's time. I'm going to call an Order meeting this weekend. We have way too many friends for this bigotry to continue.” Severus stated as Hermione walked out of the bedroom.

“I'll be back later to sit with Tonks after classes. I'm very glad the potion worked.” Hermione kissed Remus on the cheek.

“As am I, Hermione.” Remus hugged her and looked at Severus.

“I'll be back also for our small stroll. Remember what I said.” Snape nodded as he took Hermione's hand in his. As they walked towards the Potions room, Severus pulled her into a small alcove behind Salazar Slytherin's statue.

He ran a gentle hand through her hair and pulled her close, breathing in the scent that ensnared him. “I am sorry for being angry earlier.” He lifted her chin with his fingers and kissed her lightly.

“Thank you, Severus. I'm sorry I had to draw you into this.” Hermione tangled her fingers into his hair as she kissed him back.

“I'm calling an Order meeting this weekend. Time to make changes.” Severus said, pulling them from behind the statue to continue on to the classroom. “My time away has blinded me to the lack of changes made after the War.”

“See you later?” Hermione asked as he walked away.

“Yes, madam. Make sure you think of a wedding date.” Severus added as he disappeared into the shadows.

Chapter 15: Chains That Bind
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A/N: Thanks to Tiff and Scrib for saying good chapter. Sorry it's so dark.


Severus met Remus near the Great Hall and they made their way to the top of the castle silently. Remus despised this ritual, but had become accustomed to it in the passing years. Their footfalls made light sounds upon the stone of the castle's walkway as they entered the corridor where Remus's 'werewolf' room had been prepared.

The autumn sun warmed them as they approached the Ministry official that waited for them at the door, his red hair and freckles standing out against the gray walls. “Let's get this over with.” Percy Weasley said impatiently. “My wife awaits me and a pregnant witch can be dangerous if left alone too long.” Percy tried to joke but the faces before him showed it didn't work.

“As you said Mr Weasley, let's get this over with.” Severus said as he walked beside Remus into the almost empty room. He eyed the small table by the door before noticing the shackles attached to the far end walls. The chains were long, but not long enough to reach the door. The windows were uncovered, and the waning sun peeked in, shining brightly off the white painted walls.

Severus and Percy watched in silence as Remus stripped down to his knickers, folded his clothes and placed them on the table before stepping to the far wall. “I'm ready,” He nodded at Severus who stepped close.

“Really Weasley, are chains and shackles needed? I can ward--” Severus was cut off by Percy's raised hand and his words.

“The administrator requires the full works. I'm sorry, Remus.” Percy looked away as Severus picked up one chain and clicked the shackle around one of Remus's wrists, and with a look of distaste repeated it with the other.

“You shame your family name being involved with this!” Severus growled out at Percy as he snapped closed the last shackle around Remus's waist. It hung loosely above the knickers, but when the full moon hit it would tighten as he transformed.

“Rules are rules, Snape. I can't change that.” Percy checked to see if the shackles were tight enough and locked, then stepped back. With a nod, he turned and walked out of the room.

“Why aren't there curtains?” Severus asked. “Something to block the moon? He wouldn't transform then.”

Percy shrugged his shoulders as he warded the door. “Administrator Umbridge fashioned this room herself. These wards will drop in the morning. Penelope awaits me.” Percy walked off and disappeared into another hallway.

Severus stood for a moment looking through the window cut into the door at Remus. He sighed as he watched Remus huddle on the floor as he waited for the moonlight to strike.

“Go Severus, please.” Remus said.

“No, allow me this.” Severus stood and watched as the full moon made its appearance in the window, its rays bathing Remus as he writhed from the pain as they touched him. Severus heard him moan as his bones cracked, stretching his pale skin and the dense fur popped out covering him. His nose and mouth elongated to form a wolf muzzle as he howled in pain and humiliation.

“Satisfied? Now go!” Remus snarled out, his teeth bared and snapping with his words. He looked away from the door, and stared at the moon.

Severus carefully unwarded the door, thankful that Percy hadn't added his signature to them. He opened the door and entered, a small knife in one hand, a vial in the other. “Remus.” He said as he stood by his fellow Order member. Remus turned and sniffed as he looked at the knife and vial.

“What do you need?” Remus asked, sentient and not a danger due to his potions regiment.

“Blood to test, I have the vial still from years ago. Hopefully this one shows proof that your genes have changed and you are no longer a danger to the Wizardry world.” Severus held the knife to Remus's outstretched arm and made a small slice and collected the blood that ran out in the vial. When it was full he capped it and tucked it into his pocket. He waved his wand and the cut healed.

“Thank you, Remus. I'll have the results ready for the Order meeting this weekend.” Severus waved his wand again and conjured up thick black drapes to cover the windows.

“No, thank you Severus.” Remus said as he shrank and transformed to his normal self. His chains clanked as he sat back on the floor.

“Anything else?” Severus asked.

“How about a pillow and a blanket? Without the fur I'll freeze.” Remus laughed, the hollow sound bouncing off the walls.

Severus conjured up the requested items and watched as Remus settled in for the night. Umbridge is going to pay dearly for this, if I have my way! He thought angrily as he stepped out and rewarded the doors. “I'll be back in the morning to release you. Good night, Remus.” He heard the other wizard mumble something back as he walked off.


~*~



Hermione sipped her tea as she and Tonks sat together in the sitting room. “I'm very pleased with your progress, dear.”

“I'm so sorry we put both you and Severus in danger. I should have talked to Remus before I knew. Poor man hasn't been this scared since the Final Battle when I got hexed.” Tonks laughed a little.

“Severus asked me to set a date. You think Christmas break too soon?” Hermione asked.

“It would be lovely. Also about time. You both need a good shaking, Hermione.” Tonks looked over her cup with a smile. “Cissa will look beautiful as flower bearer, even if she's sort of old for it.”

“Once Severus gets here, I'll tell him then.” Hermione set her cup down. “Remus is in his 'room' now?”

“Yes, he's such a stickler for rules. He won't let me talk to Arthur or Kingsley about it either.” Tonks sighed. Arthur had named Kingsley his deputy minister the same year Tonks had joined Remus as co-professor at Hogwarts. She missed her Auror days, but working with Remus teaching the next generation how to defend themselves made it worthwhile to her.

“Severus is calling an Order meeting this weekend. So hopefully Umbridge gets her ickle butt ousted. It's time for a change.” Hermione watched as her friend smiled.

“I agree, the baby is forcing Remus to think about it, at least.” Tonks walked to the door as a knock came upon it.

“Hello, ladies.” Severus greeted them as Tonks let him in. “I provided Remus with some curtains. I am so going to enjoy kicking that old witch in the arse. Shackled in the moonlight? That's so barbaric.” Severus exclaimed as he walked over to Hermione and stood looking down at her.

“You have picked a suitable date?” He asked without further preamble.

“Christmas break sounds good. Will give my mum and dad time to prepare.” Hermione said as she took his hand and stood up.

“Not soon enough, but it will do I guess.” Severus grumbled as he kissed her on the cheek lightly. “I need to write those notes before I sleep. You ready to sit with me?” He looked at Hermione, a suggestion in his eyes that left nothing to her imagination.

“Sure, Sev. I can even help.” She nodded as she slipped her arm through his and they hugged Tonks.

“You'll be fit enough to teach tomorrow, Tonks. Nothing strenuous.” Severus told the former Auror as they slipped out the door.

“Night, you two.” Tonks said as the door closed softly behind them.

Chapter 16: Attraction
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Severus signed the last letter as he looked to the small settee in his private rooms to see Hermione curled into a small ball, sleeping. He smiled as he sealed the envelope and added it to the pile. In the morning he would head for the owlery to deliver them before breakfast. He stretched out the kinks in his back as he stood up and headed for the sleeping witch. Severus bent down and kissed her forehead as he gently touched her cheek.

“Hermione love, wake up.” He whispered in her ear, his breath tickling her neck. She mumbled something as she shifted, snuggling deeper into the pillow beneath her head. She looked so young, as young as she did at nineteen when he felt his first attraction to her. He gently brushed a stray burnette lock off her face and kissed her again. In sleep she looked like that nineteen year old girl-- no woman-- that had attracted him on the battlefield with her maturity and skill. Her calmness as she handled each case brought to her, even Harry's near death had been handled with a skill he had never seen in one so young before.

Hermione bent over one of the Weasley twins as she gently applied a burn ointment to his arm and wrapped it, saying soothing words as she did it. Severus was helping Poppy with another case as Arthur Weasley had burst in the tent door bearing Harry with a crying Ginny by his side.

Hermione quickly ran over and helped Arthur lay Harry on a camp bed as she assessed his wounds and gathered the items needed to help him.

“Go help her, Severus. I'll be fine here.” Poppy had urged him. Severus nodded as he went over to Hermione's side. Harry had been hit with the cutting spell, and was bleeding through the bandages that had been hastily applied before bringing him.

They had worked well together, and even though her eyes were shining from unshed tears and her hands were steady as they healed him. Her expertise had amazed him and she instinctively matched him, move for move till Harry Potter was out of danger.

Arthur had let go of Ginny with a nod from Hermione as they all breathed a sigh of relief. Ginny had flown to his side and had never let go of his hand until he opened his eyes a day later.

Severus had watched as Hermione slipt out of the tent and around a big tree before collapsing into to the leaf strewn ground, tears rolling down her face and shaking. He had made a small noise to announce his presence before kneeling next to the small witch and gathering her in his arms. Her body shook with the force of her tears as he rocked her gently.

“You did well, Hermione.” He had whispered over and over as her tears slowed. He had almost kissed her then, but held back. He had been shocked how right the young witch had felt in his arms, how it was because of all he had done in his life.

“Thank you, Severus.” She had whispered back as she wiped the tears from her face with her sleeve. They had returned to the medi-camp, no one the knowing what had transpired. The faceless dreams of a woman had started then, his subconscious trying to tell him what he feared to allow.

The witch had captured his heart that day, though he had refused to admit it to himself or anyone. He had caught Remus staring at them both every time they were near each other, a questioning look on his face.

“You can't hid it, Severus. You'd be surprised if you actually talked to her about it.” Remus had cornered him just a few days before the Final Battle that had severed his connection to Voldemort forever.

“In a few years, Remus. Right now she's too young for an old wizard like me.” Severus told him bitterly. Remus had only shook his head sadly, watching them both as they danced around each other trying to hide a mutual attraction.

Severus had expected to die the day Voldemort had, in some noble sacrificing way. But some self preservation gene kicked in at the sight of Hermione that day. He watched as Harry, surrounded by Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Draco, advance towards Voldemort. The intentions were clear to all, either Voldemort died or lived that day with the death of those five young wizards his prize. He felt his heart rip in two as Draco stood by Hermione as Harry called Voldemort out in a challenge. They had prepared them well, the Order had. But he still felt the fear of loss again.

Severus stood facing off against Lucius and Bellatrix, as Remus stood with Tonks and Shacklebolt in the distance, fighting other Death Eaters. The lights from spells lit up the battlefield as some fell and others dodged, avoiding them. With a cry he had fallen to the ground, a pain ripping throw his arm as it signified the Dark Lord's demise. He had wanted to scream as the living Death Eaters fled the field in
pops of disaparition, but his eyes looked for the pale platinum and the dark burnette of the two he cared for most in the world. He had let out a small groan of relief when he saw them alive before collapsing onto the ground, the pain from his wounds making him pass out.

“I love you, witch.” He said softly as he carried her sleeping form to his bedroom and lying her down on the bed. He slipt off her shoes as he tucked her in, pulling the dark green coverlet over her. He undressed to his knickers and slid a Muggle t-shirt over himself before sliding in beside her. Severus gathered her close to him as he fell into a deep sleep, her warmth a soothing balm to the aches of the past.


~*~



Hermione's opened her eyes slowly, the weight of Severus's arm light across her stomach. She lazily drew a finger down his arm as she clasped his hand with hers. I could get used to this. She thought groggily as she snuggled closer, tucking her foot between his larger ones. The burnette haired witch placed butterfly kisses up the black haired wizard's neck and cheeks before lightly nibbling on his nose.

Hermione squealed as Severus grabbed her tight as he rolled over, the hardness of his body pressing her into the fluffy mattress. “Good morning,” He growled out as his lips met hers, kissing them both senseless. He ran his hands down the length of her arms as he sighed. “It's late, and I have just enough time to get those letters sent before breakfast and classes.” He buried his face in her before rolling over regretfully.

Hermione's eyes followed him as he sprang from the bed and headed for the bathroom. Drawing the clothes from her body and kicking them to the corner; she entered the bathroom behind him, the sounds of running water hiding her entrance.

She pulled back the curtain and slide in behind him, and laughed as he suddenly turned, grabbing her, pressing her to the shower wall. “Took you long enough,” Severus said as their lips came together, the water rushing over them.


~*~



Severus tucked Hermione's arm through his, shutting and warding his door. They walled through the hallways and up the stairs to the Great Hall. Severus patted his pocket, “I'll meet you at the table as soon as I owl these.” He brushed his lips across her cheek before walking away.


Severus entered the owlery and started attaching the letters, telling the owls where to deliver and sending them on their way. The last one he held tight, almost crumpling it before tying it to the small brown spotted owl. “Arthur Weasley, Ministry of Magic.” He said as he flung the bird into the morning sky.

He entered the castle a few moments later, and with long strides headed for the top to release Remus from his room. He waved his wand to drop his wards on the door and swung it open.

“Morning, Remus.” Snape said as he unlocked the shackles. “You look a lot better than you did the last time I saw you after a transformation.” He nodded as he waved away the conjured items with his wand before tucking it into his sleeve.

“Why thank you, Severus.” Remus took the hand the black robe wizard offered and groaned as his bones creaked as he got up. “Each month on your improved potion the latent effects lessen.” He said as he dressed.

“You'd probably have no effects if you weren't forced to change by that old hag.” Severus said as his eyes looked over the room with distaste. “I'd love to have Umbridge here for one night.” He scathingly remarked.

“Now Severus. No need for such thoughts.” Remus said as they walked through the corridors towards the Great Hall.


~*~


Hermione and Tonks looked up as their wizards sat down beside them. Their Order activities had brought them a friendship their school years had denied, and Tonks had even been told by Remus it was Snape's advice one dark winter's night that had brought them together. Remus's words came to her mind as she laid her hand on her stomach.

Snape looked me hard in the eyes before speaking. “Do what Albus advised about Tonks also. Life is fleeting. If I could have another chance with Cissa--” He looked down, “If I had taken her away from the manor before Lucius escaped from Azkaban, who knows? Narcissa Black-Malfoy died because of the Dark Lord's anger at Draco's failure to kill Albus himself. Lucius may have done the deed, but I also take the blame. You can't always protect those you love from harm. What you can do though is love with them. I have the memories of my stolen moments with Cissa to cherish. Give yourself and Tonks the same.”

Who would have thought Snape could play cupid? She smiled at the thought. Narcissa had been her aunt, and knew Severus had mourned her for years till Hermione had entered his heart. She was still amazed in the change the young witch had brought to wizard. He was still snarky, but it was tempered by love Hermione gave him.


“The owls are off, ladies. I hold hope of positive responses from most.” Snape said as he sipped his juice. He filled his plate high with eggs, bacon and toast. The morning's activities had given him a hunger.

“Yes a sea full of red-headed Weasleys again this weekend.” Hermione winked as she heard Severus groan.

“Bloody hell.” He whispered as his appetite waned and the table's occupants laughed.

Chapter 17: Not so Pretty in Pink
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The owls arrived back with answers throughout the week. The Saturday re-Ordering meeting was a go. Severus tested both blood samples and painstakingly wrote out his observations and conclusions and vialed up his Pensieve memory of Full Moon and Remus's transformation. He was ready to state his case and risk Azkaban if things fell through.

He tapped his wand on his notes and made several copies to pass out. He hoped the Pensieve memory would be the most moving evidence he had. It was time to oust the pink clothed demon that Fudge had created.

Severus shrunk everything before he tucked them in his pockets. He felt Hermione's arms wrap around him from the back and the gentle kiss she placed on his shoulder. “Time to face the Lions.” She murmured as he turned to hold her tight.

“Let's meet the rest in Minerva's office, love.” He said as a small knock came upon the door. “Enter!” He said.

“Mum and Dad, it's Saturday, we were wondering if you wanted to have a picnic?” Cissa stood there, her friends Jamie and Davy beside her. Severus sighed.

“Sorry, Cissa. Mum and I have an important meeting. We can do it tomorrow.” He bent before the young witch and hugged her.

“Where you going?” Cissa asked.

“That is not of your concern.” Severus replied as he turned to look at Hermione; missing the look Cissa gave him.

“Narcissa Eileen Granger, that look has earned you a timeout in your common room.” Severus's eyebrow arched at Hermione's words.

“But Mum!”

“No buts young lady. Tell Jamie and Davy good bye.” Hermione said firmly. Cissa's foot stamped the floor as she huffed off to the Slytherin rooms.

“She can come out in an hour, boys.” Hermione said as the boys walked off.

“What did she do? And she's kind of old for a timeout, Hermione. ” Severus asked as the started for the gates.

“She pouted then stuck her tongue out at you, and if I hadn't used a timeout it would have been 50 points from Slytherin for disrespecting a teacher.” Hermione answered as they neared the Headmistress's chambers.

“But I wasn't her teacher at that moment, I was her father.” Severus said as Hermione stopped walking, turning to look at him.

“That's why the timeout.” Hermione began walking again.

They entered the office to find Minerva, Remus, Tonks and Neville waiting. They were flooing instead of apparating because of Tonks' condition.

“I'm going to stay here at the school,” Minerva said. “I am giving Severus the authority to vote in any decisions in my name.” She tapped her wand on the Potions professor's shoulder and a pale light emitted from it to signify the proxy. Severus nodded.

“Ready?” He asked as they all grabbed the floo powder.

“Sitting room, 12 Grimmauld Place.” They stated one by one, the powder being thrown in and the green glow from the spell shining in the fireplace.



~*~




12 Grimmauld Place was the Potters' home as well as the Order's headquarters as it had been back in the time of Voldemort's rebirth. The Order wasn't as active as it had been in the past, but the members still met and investigated any suspicious Dark magic. Remus had become the Order of the Phoenix's leader when Albus Dumbledore died. The public for the most part had thought that the Order had disbanded with the demise of Voldemort and most of the Death Eaters, but the core members kept it active; always prepared for another Dark Lord. They had learned from history, and knew that evil had a way of coming back.

Right now they had an evil to face, not of a Dark Lord but of injustice.

They arrived early enough for Severus and the others to arrange the room for the meeting. Severus magically moved the furniture around so that a long table faced the chairs. He pulled his evidence from his pockets and grew them and he, Harry and Neville dragged the old Black family Pensieve from storage.

Severus had given no stated reason for this meeting, wanting the full effects of his evidence to work on their minds. He held the memory vial tightly for a moment before pouring it in the Pensieve. He was almost ready to state the Lupins' case as the rest of the available Order members arrived.

The Weasleys arrived in bunches. Severus held back his shudder as George and Fred entered with their wives, Katie and Angela. Bill arrived with Fleur, Molly with Arthur and Ron with his on again, off again fiancée, Lavender. Charlie was absent in Romania, one of the dragons in his care having just given birth. Molly held his proxy glow within her.

Neville's wife Luna arrived with quill and parchment in hand as Order secretary. She worked as a reporter for the Quibbler, and was quite famous for her exposes. Draco arrived and sat down by the Potters. Shacklebolt and Moody were the last to arrive, sliding into the back row. Hermione touched Severus's back lightly in encouragement before sitting by the Lupins.

Severus held the werewolf decree in his hand. He waved his wand and each member held a copy in their hands. He was ready.

“I would like to thank you all for coming at short notice.” He nodded at Arthur. “I want you all to read the words on the decree I have just passed out.”

Werewolf Regulations
By order of the Department of Magical Beings,
1.Werewolves must register before the next full moon after being bitten.
2.Anyone being bitten by a werewolf, even if the werewolf was in his human form shall be treated as a werewolf, no exceptions.
3.All Werewolves must petition the Administrator before getting a job, marrying or having children. Any Werewolf or their partner will be detained if these rules are not followed.
4.Werewolves must be contained in an approved room on the full moon regardless of Wolfsbane potion usage.
5.Any marriage between a Werewolf and a Metamorphmagus will be monitored, and if a pregnancy occurs it will terminated or the child will be studied for abnormalities and the parents and any others knowingly aiding in a pregnancy will be detained.
Signed by~~
Administrator Dolores Umbridge, Head of the Magical Beings Department
Minister Arthur Weasley, Minister of Magic, UK


“I never signed this!” Arthur said as he sprang from his chair, looking first at his oldest son then to his old friend Remus, “There would be no way I would enact just idiotic rules.”

“Arthur, it's your signature. The forgery spell proves it's not faked.” Severus said.

“But, but..” Arthur sputtered for a moment. His mind reeling from the shock. “How could I?”

“Arthur, you are out of the Ministry a lot doing various searches, it was probably slipped in with other parchments.” Severus said as Arthur sat down.

“Who would have done that? Umbridge?”

“Who is her assistant?”

“Percy.” Arthur sighed. “He brought me a load of documents to sign a few years ago. I never even looked at them, just signed them because we were close to getting Nott and Goyle captured.”

“Why would she enact all these obviously bigoted rules? The Wolfsbane potion law was put through just before she took office, abolishing a lot of what she re-acted?” One of the Weasley twins asked.

“She was demoted when your father took office, and she took it out on those in the Order.” Severus looked at Bill. “Even though you show no werewolf tendencies how are you treated, Bill?”

“Once a month a ministry official arrives at my house to make sure I am shackled into a room. My job opportunities evaporated to simple no skill positions. Fleur and I decided not to have children because we didn't want them to have the werewolf stigma.” Severus watched as Fleur's arms wrapped around her husband.

Murmurs of disbelief went through the room “Bill's not a werewolf!” Molly's word rang out. “Why weren't we told of all this?”

Bill shrugged his shoulders. “Bill iz a proud wizard.” Fleur said. “'E wouldn't complain.” Her finger ran softly down the only evidence of Bill's bite, the scar down his cheek. “I supported 'is decision not to worry youz.”

“But werewolves are bitten! Not born!” Neville said, outraged.

“That's the point of this meeting. All of these orders are wrong.” Severus said. “I can understand mistakingly signing these orders, Arthur. But don't you have checks on your Department Heads? Shacklebolt you are the Deputy Minister, don't you even look to see what that old hag is up to?”

Severus magically passed out the blood findings from both vials of Remus's blood. “In Remus's case, he is a werewolf, but a treated one. His blood tests from when he first started treatment with the old Wolfsbane and the tests from the new Wolfsbane potion I created show a marked difference in his blood. He has very little left from Grayback's bite in him. And when he is forced to change, he is sentient and not dangerous!”

“Why do you say 'forced to change?'” Harry asked, holding his small daughter in his lap.

“The atrocities of the 'approved containment room' are held in this Pensieve. Enter now.” Severus asked as Remus bowed his head.

All but Tonks and Remus stood by the Pensieve, and as one the rest stuck their finger into the swirling memory and observed Remus's last full moon. They watched in silence as Remus and Severus met up with Percy then entered the small white room. They gasped as they saw Remus undress and get shackled to the wall, the uncovered window looming over his humiliated form. The transformation and Severus walking up to Remus with no fear held them in awe.

“I didn't know is not a good enough excuse.” Arthur uttered quietly. “This is all my fault.”

“Changes are needed before it's too late. You have to oust Umbridge and get these decrees revoked soon, or a lot of us face detainment.” Severus said. “Remus, Tonks, Hermione and I are up to the wand in number five of Umbridge's little powerplay.”

The silence was deafening as all eyes turned to Tonks. Remus stood up, his hand clasped tightly in hers as he said, “What should be a joyous announcement is not, Tonks and I are expecting.” Tonks' other hand went protectively over her stomach, rubbing it in a small circle.

Severus went to sit by Hermione as he let everything settle into their minds.

Arthur had never felt such pain in his life. He had failed his own son, blaming Fleur for the fact that they had never given them grandchildren. The Weasleys had always held a small distaste for the French witch, even though she had always stood by Bill. Bill had recognized this and held back a lot from his family.

“Youz can't change ze past,” Fleur was the first to speak. “But ze future iz still unwritten.”

“This is what we will do.” Arthur looked up, a determined look on his face. “Umbridge will be gone, facing charges for her lack of humane treatment. The room alone is cause enough. I will probably be forced to step down for my lack of awareness.” He sighed. “There is a lot to change, but it will be done.” He stated as he gathered up Severus's work. “I will need the Pensieve memory for evidence,” He picked up the vial and tucked Severus's memory back into it. “Percy will have to face charges also for his duplicity. My own son....” His words trailed off.

“Percy has always been a prat, Dad. Always following rules, whether good or bad ones.” Ron said.

“Nothing will be said about the Lupins' baby until Umbridge is gone.” Arthur said as Shacklebolt and Moody stood by him. “I must contact the Wizengamot and get the charges in place before it gets to her ears.”

The three of them disapparated to the Ministry.


~*~



Dolores looked around her sitting room as she sipped her cup of tea daintily, a finger crooked just so as the cup was brought to her lips. She hadn't been happy when she had been demoted to what she thought of as an insignificant position until she realized just who she could affect.

She had always blamed the Order of the Phoenix and Albus Dumbledore for the fiasco that Voldemort's rebirth had caused of her life. She'd been shuffled through the Ministry because she had supported Fudge against them. Scrimgeour had been little help with head butting in the Order's business either. His removal had placed her low in the Ministry and a former Order member had replaced him, Arthur Weasley.

But the fact that Weasley's own son had been bitten had not escaped her. She had added rule number two just for him. Than that Order leader that replaced Dumbledore upon his death had petitioned to marry, a Metamorphmagus no less. She enjoyed adding rule number five for him. She knew a slip up would eventually occur, werewolves were animals after all. She had smirked as she plotted, using the Minister's own son to trick him into signing the decrees into law.

Dolores ran a hand down her bright pink jumper as she went to answer the door as a sharp rap came upon it. She checked her hair to make sure each lock was in place in the foyer mirror before she opened the door to greet her guests.

“Why hello Minister Weasley,” She said flustered. “Deputy Minister Shacklebolt and Head Auror Moody. Come in, just having a spot of tea. Join me?”

“Not at this time, Umbridge. By the authority of the Wizengamot you are hereby under arrest for crimes of humanity against the Wizardry World. You are to be placed into Azkaban until your trial.” Moody announced as he magically bound her and Shacklebolt took her wand.

“What?” She blustered out repeatedly. “Take your hands off me! That's my wand!”

“I would advise you to seek out council, madam.” Arthur said as they disapparated to Azkaban.

Severus, Hermione, Remus, Harry and Bill stood at the entrance of Azkaban as the witch was brought in.

Mischief Managed, Harry thought as the screaming witch passed him with her grim faced escorts.

Chapter 18: Plans and Pranks
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a/n: Thanks again to Tiffers and Scriblerian for talking me through this chapter.



They all arrived back at Grimmauld Place after Umbridge's fall from grace, satisfied for now that she was paying for the past. Harry still had the smirk on his face from watching her being dragged, kicking and screaming through Azkaban's gates.

“So my dear, my armor still tarnished?” Severus asked Hermione while they sipped on some festive wines Harry and Ginny provided to toast with.

“Some right here,” Hermione brushed at an imaginary blot on his arm gently. “That was a very impressive presentation. The memory will move even the hardest heart. The laws will be repealed, I'm sure of it.”

“Umbridge still needs to stand trial, and Harry is bringing his memories of Fifth year from his detentions.” Ginny said.

“I'm just glad the Wizengamot listened.” Arthur said, “I still face a review board myself on the matter. I spent too much time out on the field looking for evil, but missed it as it grew under my very nose. Percy faces a few charges himself.” Arthur shook his head sadly. “What a mess.” He mumbled, walking off to Molly.

“So,” Ginny pulled Hermione off to one corner of the room. “What have you decided on for the Wedding so far?”

“Well, I want it at Christmas. It's not that far off, but it will give us time to prepare. We still need to see Mum and Dad, and I haven't even told them Severus has returned.” Hermione said, looking at the her wizard.

“They'll be happy, Hermione. Your dad may have a few words about it, but he'll come around.” Ginny placed a reassuring hand on Hermione's arm.

“I'm not sure if I'll have a Muggle ceremony or not. Mum will cry if I don't do the whole church thing, but I really can't see Severus standing for it.” Hermione said.

“He loves you. After what you both have been through, he'd jump through hoops for you.” Ginny giggled at the thought.

“Um, no. I can not see that!” Hermione chuckled, a jumping Severus flashing through her mind. “I can't see him in the traditional white wizard robes either.”

“Traditions are meant to be broken.” Ginny looked thoughtful. “The Ministry will recognize the Muggle ceremony if you register it.” Ginny suggested.

“I want the whole thing, bonds, elements-- final blood bonding. Once I have him, I'm never letting go.” Hermione whispered. “I've waited too long.”

“I'll stop by at Hogwarts next week, we can start planning.” Hermione nodded as Severus and Harry came to stand by them.

“Okay ladies, what are you both plotting?” Harry asked, handing baby Lily to his wife. “You've been looking our way and laughing way too much.”

“Just wedding talk, love. So much too think of in just a little less then three months.” Ginny replied.

“Three months is too long for my liking,” Severus said, a gleam coming to his eye as he looked at his fiancee.

“There is so much we need to discuss also, Sev. Living arrangements for one.” Hermione said. Harry and Ginny went over to talk to the Lupins, leaving them to their discussion.

“Why you'll join me in my quarters. It's more then big enough, and Hogwarts walls stretch if needs arise. I'm Head of Slytherin for the rest of the year, I need to be close to the dorms.”

“Well, if we do as planned, my taking a Potions internship, and take over Potions-- okay, I'll be closer to the class room. But as Headmaster won't you take Minerva's rooms?”

“I prefer the Dungeon, so I won't be changing rooms. Plus, will you want to work after we are married? I mean in a full time capacity. If you are pregnant, or you get pregnant--” Severus started to say.

“I'm not now, no.” She confirmed for him. “I don't really think this is a time to talk about this.” She looked at the room full of friends. “We both want another.” Her eyes gazed into his. “Soon.” He bent his head and kissed her, oblivious to the stares it created.

The twins looked at each other in mock disgust. Their sister's best mate and their former Potions teacher snogging in front of them had to be stopped, for obviously they had forgotten their audience.

“So Hermione have you told Charlie,” said one of the twins.

“That Snape is back?” The other finished.

Severus Snape pulled out of the kiss to look at Fred and George then back Hermione.

“You dated another Weasley? Wasn't that prat Ron enough?” He glowered down at her.

“We didn't date, exactly. Just a few friendly outings over the years.”

“That defines date and relationship to me.” Severus let his jealousy get a hold of him.

“That defines friendship! It wasn't as if you have any reason to care, Severus Tobias Snape!” Hermione spat out.

“You're the mother of my daughter! That gives me the right-” Severus started to say, but her next words cut him off.

“That gives you the right to nothing!” Hermione said heatedly. “You left me for twelve bloody years, Severus. You never even said goodbye!”

“I told you I was wrong about that!” His hand reached back unconsciously to rub the back of his neck.

“Wrong? Wrong? That was cowardly!” Hermione finally let loose her twelve years of misery. “You don't even have a clue what I went through for those years. The looks, the questions, the bloody wizards who looked at me like I was easy cause of my indiscretion of not marrying or informing the whole lot of them who the father was. The Wizardry world is so Victorian in their views.”

“Hermio-”

“Don't Hermione me! If I hadn't had friends like these,” Her hands gestured around the room, “I'd probably have left for the Muggle world. What's so funny about it, is you would have just gotten a pat on the back and a 'Good job there, Snape.'” Hermione's eyes shined from the tears she held back. “So while you thought I waited all virginal and untouched for you-- what the bloody hell did you do? I'm sure we have a few conquest stories to hear!”

Severus winced, confirming her words.

“How hypocritical of you. I choose to ignore what happened those twelve years. What a fool I am.” She whispered, her hand twisting the ring on her finger. His breathing stopped as she slide it down her finger, dropping it into the palm of her hand.

“Don't-” Severus whispered, as she held it loosely, jiggling it around. The room watched in amazement as the ring fell to the floor with a soft ping as she disappeared.

“It was, only a joke,” One of the twins said.

“To stop the ickle kissing,” Finished the other, both sighing. Ginny handed Bill the baby as she whipped her wand out and pointed it at brothers.

“That was the stupidest thing you have ever done!” Her wand flicked out lights as Ginny mumbled out a spell faster then they could dodge, and bats flew about both their faces.

“And you!” She turned to Severus, her wand hand shaking in anger. “You pompous jerk. To think I actually approved of you.”

“Ginny,” Harry said, touching her shoulder softly. “Don't do it.” Too late, the bats flew gloriously around Severus's pale face as grimaced.

“There! You truly are the King of the Dungeon bats now.” Ginny shook off Harry's hand, took back baby Lily and fled to her room.

“You might want to give Hermione a little time before you talk to her,” Harry said, picking up the ring from the floor. “Just not twelve years.” Severus winced, ignoring the pain from the hex at the reminder. With a wave of his wand, Harry removed the hexes.

“If you love her, don't judge her.” Harry said, taking Severus's hand and dropping the ring into it. “The treatment she received made her hide out in Hogwarts, safe from all the snide comments. She never finished her Potions internship because the jerk who offered it wanted some 'special' treatment for glowing grades.”

Severus groaned at his words. “Who?” He asked, the gems in the ring biting deep into the flesh of his palm.

“It doesn't matter, we took care of him. He's now looking for strange plants in outer Mongolia that don't even grow there. Weird what a rich wizard or two can do to a career.” Draco said finally. “Go pick up the pieces yourself this time, Dad.” He disapparated back to Malfoy manor.


~*~



Hermione arrived back at Hogwarts gates, tears rolling down her cheeks. “How could he dare judge me?” She mumbled to herself. “What to do?” She looked through the gates to the safe haven she had had for the past few years, not ready to enter. She wasn't ready to face Minerva or let her daughter see her in the state she was in. She thought for a moment and disapparated again, landing at the doors of Malfoy manor.

Hermione sat down on the white stairs and let her tears flow. She jumped as a arms went around her shoulders to comfort her. “Sh, girl.” Draco said, holding her close while the tears soaked his shirt. “He's a prat, but he does love you.”

“Not really what I want to hear right now,” She whispered out.

“I know. Ginny hexed them beautifully before stalking away. You'd have laughed.” He told her as they stood up and went into the manor.

“I'm angry enough to hex them myself. What possessed them to imply Charlie?”

“The sight of you both kissing, remember that only a few of us were around you and Severus during the end of the War. Even though you both didn't act lover-like, we all felt it. Too bad both of you didn't have eyes to see what you both wanted.”

“I want him still.” She admitted as Draco held her.

“I know.”

“Why didn't it work between us, ever?” She asked as she looked into Draco pale gray eyes, so different then the black eyes of the wizard she loved.

“Because I'm not Severus, and you're not Ginger. The Gods gift us with a soul mate, and we are lucky indeed if we find them. It's the keeping that is sometimes hard.” He laughed softly.

“I just don't know what to do now. I mean I almost threw his ring at him. Hardly the actions of a woman in love.” She sighed.

“Come to the breakfast room, I'll have Twinky get us some coffee and sandwiches. It's been a long day for me. We can talk there.” Draco hooked an arm through hers, ignoring her protests. “Twinky,” He called out as the elf appeared.

“What's master be needing from Twinky tonight sir?”

“Sandwiches, coffee and what ever Miss Hermione desires.” Draco answered.

“Just some pumpkin juice, unless Draco still has some of that diet cola I like.” The elf sniffed at the mention of the Muggle drink but was back with all they requested.

“Thank you, Twinky.” They both said and the elf disappeared again.

“Where's Ginger?” Hermione ask, sipping the cold soda.

“Cannon's had a match in Wales against the Harpies, but I stayed here for the Order meeting. She should be home soon I imagine. Sure you wouldn't like a ham or chicken sandwich?” He pointed to the plate full.

“Draco, I'd throw it up all up at the moment. I let twelve years of wanting blind me to how much of a git Severus could be. We didn't really talk about anything, we just jumped into bed and he probably felt he was doing the 'right' thing.”

“He loves you, Hermione. Do you honestly think both of you were emotionally ready back then? He had just gotten over my mum's death, killing Dumbledore killed him inside and Voldemort was slowly eating whatever soul he had left after all that. He was ready to die until he found you. You gave him hope in the future, and your youth and love scared him. He was seventeen when Voldemort sucked him into his madness, and about twenty-one by the time he got sick enough of it to turn to Dumbledore.” Draco sipped his coffee, letting his words sink in.

“I've been a prat myself, eh?” Hermione finally said.

“No, you finally let out what you should have days ago. I also told him about Professor Whetherbee, just left out his name. That's up to you to reveal.” Draco smirked.

“No thank you. I can actually see Severus hunting like days of old. He can get very ruthless.” Hermione giggled, a vision of the former professor hanging like an animal off a tree; a proud Severus standing for a trophy picture of his prize.

“He was an assasin, and very good at it. If he could track down Aunt Bella and father, he could track down anyone.” Draco reminded her.

“Means he should be--” The doorbell rang suddenly, interrupting Hermione.

“Yes, probably him now. I can have Twinky not answer if you want more time.” Draco asked her.

“No, let him in. I've cooled down, and I don't want him running off to Bulgaria again.” Hermione said, her nerves on edge.

“I'll let you in on a secret Hermione, Ginger and I fight a lot.” He winked at her as the heard Twinky let Severus in. “The best part is the making up.” He squeeze her shoulder lightly.

Severus entered the nook and stood there, his black eyes piercing them both.

to be continued....

Chapter 19: Letting Go
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a/n: lyrics are from Cheap Trick "Flames". Thanks to Tiffers for finding the song. This is dedicated to you. Enjoy your trip and Happy Birthday!!


~~**~~
Another night slowly closes in,
And I feel so lonely.
Touching heat freezing on my skin,
I pretend you still hold me.
Im going crazy, Im losing sleep.
Im in too far, Im in way too deep over you.
I cant believe youre gone.
You were the first, youll be the last.

Wherever you go, Ill be with you.
Whatever you want, Ill give it to you.
Whenever you need someone to lay your heart and head upon.
Remember: after the fire, after all the rain,
I will be the flame.

~~*~~



Severus Snape stood in the doorway, looking at them with unfathomable eyes. Hermione backed slowly up, further into Draco and his arms slide around her encouragingly.

“Hello Dad,” Draco said, “Want to join us in some sandwiches and pumpkin juice?”

Severus thought for a moment before silently nodding his agreement. He slowly twisted the small platinum ring on his pinky finger as he sat down. He was jealous of how close they were, the ease Draco showed in comforting the witch he, Severus Snape, loved with all his heart.

The three of them sat in an uncomfortable silence around the table, Draco smiling at them both as he munched his sandwich. Hermione just sipped on her cola, wanting to sink deeper into her chair till it swallowed her up. Severus stared unseeingly at his plate, his hands clasping the ring until the setting bit into his palm.

Severus coughed to clear his throat, breaking the uneasy silence. “Madam I think you dropped something earlier in your haste to leave Grimmauld Place.” He set the ring on the table between them, the gems gleaming in the candle's light.

Hermione looked at the ring. “Be right back,” She said. “I need to-- powder my nose. That's it!” She said. almost running for the door. Severus stood as if to follow her, but Draco waved him down.

“The doors and windows are warded this late at night, and apparition out is blocked inside the manor. She isn't going anywhere.” Draco grinned widely as Severus sat back down, a look of despair on his pale face. “I advise you to eat that sandwich, it's going to be a long night.”

“No kidding,” Severus said, shifting in his chair uncomfortably to wait, his sandwich still sitting untouched on his plate.


~*~



Hermione stood in the guest bathroom gazing unseeingly into the mirror, “Powder my nose? What a dumb excuse!” She said to herself. “He acts as if nothing happened, so bloody normal for Severus Snape!” She flung the lid down on the toilet and took a seat on it. “It's going to be a long night.” She sighed, crossing her legs and resting her head on one hand. She restlessly stood up, paced for a few moments and then sat back down.

“This is getting no where!” She yelled at her reflection in the mirror, then walking out of the small room.


~*~



“How long does it take for one small witch to powder her nose?” Severus asked Draco in irritation, before standing to walk out of the room.

“Sit down.” Draco ordered his adopted father. “Twinky!” he called for his house elf.

“Yes Master, sir. What's youz be needing Twinky for?” The small elf appeared before them.

“Where is Miss Hermione and what has she been doing?” Draco asked the elf.

“Missy be in the sitting room talking to Mistress's portrait. She's tried all the doors in the manor, but couldn't get out. Missy has a real bad temper, Master. Snarky Master is to blame.” Twinky looked at Severus, calling him by the name Draco's mother had used to call him.

“I told you elf not to call me that.” Severus glared down at Twinky with dark eyes.

“Mistress ordered Twinky to always call youz Snarky Master. He not be disobeying Mistress ever!” The elf said, disappearing with a wink.

“Your staff has abysmal manners, Draco.” Snape said stiffly as he walked towards the sitting room. “And when did you animate your mother's painting?” He asked.

“Hermione asked me to years ago, when she was in University and living here.” Draco answered, a twinkle in his eye.

“Hermione lived here?” Severus asked, stopping his tracks.

“Yes, she and Cissa still have a suite here. You may as well know, Cissa is my heir. She's a very rich little witch.” Draco told him, enjoying the look of discomfort Severus wore at that moment.

“Hm,” Severus uttered lowly.

“I offered to marry Hermione after you left. Almost did too, but for some reason she couldn't get your snarky ass out of her head.” Draco grabbed Severus by the arm, turning the black haired wizard to look at him, suddenly serious. “I am telling you right now, you ever hurt her again; ever walk away from her again; I'll use every Dark magic lesson you ever taught me on you. I may fail, but it will hurt you till I fall.” Draco's pale gray eyes held the threat as he spoke.

“Your words are noted, my boy.” Severus said, feeling the shock deeply that Draco's words had given him.

“I grew up while you were gone, Dad. Hopefully you did also.” Draco said, opening the sitting room door.

~~*~~
Watching shadows move across the wall,
I feel so frightened.
I wanna run to you, I wanna call,
But Ive been hit by lightening.
Just cant stand up for fallin apart.
Cant see through this veil across my heart, over you.
Youll always be the one.
You were the first, youll be the last.

Wherever you go, Ill be with you.
Whatever you want, Ill give it to you.
Whenever you need someone to lay your heart and head upon.
Remember: after the fire, after all the rain,
I will be the flame.
~~*~~



“Oh, um, hello.” Hermione said, turning from the portrait to them as they entered.

“You left us waiting too long, dear.” Draco said walking over to her. “I hate competing with my own Mum for your attention.” He placed a hand on her waist, running his other along the portrait's frame. Hermione looked at Draco with a puzzled look.

“What are you doing?” She whispered to him, his bizarre actions making her wonder what he had added to his pumpkin juice.

“Giving ole Sev something to think about.” He winked at her, a sly look on his face.

“He isn't even looking at us.” She nodded her head towards the doorway.

Sure enough, Severus Snape stood in the doorway, his eyes transfixed on the portrait's occupant. It had been fourteen years since he had last stepped into Malfoy Manor. This room was were Lucius had fulfilled his orders from Voldemort. The night he had killed Narcissa for Draco's failures in Sixth year. The same night he himself had fulfilled his Vows to Narcissa and Dumbledore and murdered his closest friend.

Hermione felt her first twinges of jealously as she watched him walk slowly past them to gaze into the painting. The blonde haired witch looked down from her frame and smiled, identical eyes to Draco's gazing out.

“Hello, Snarky.” Narcissa Black Malfoy said.

“Cissa,” Severus said. “You've been filling Hermione's head with things about me?”

“Why of course! She's a wonderful addition to the family. Your daughter also brings an unaccustomed but welcome laughter to these walls. She's as beautiful as her mother.” The painting replied.

“I miss you,” Severus said, the others in the room forgotten. “You died way before your time. I made Lucius pay for that.” His eyes travelled to the spot where he had found her cold and lifeless, as the thoughts of his last encounter with his old friend filled his mind. Lucius's snake headed cane was all that was left to identify him when Severus had been done.

“Let go of your fears, Severus. Look through your own eyes now.” Cissa Malfoy smiled, “Let go of the past before the future passes you by. Voldemort is gone now I have been told. So are Lucius and Bella, so let yourself live.” With those words, Narcissa's painting emptied. Severus bowed his head, silent in his memories.

Hermione gently pulled away from Draco and slipped her hand through Severus's; reaching a hand to wipe a tear that slide down his cheek. “She was a good mother, Severus. She left you her most valued treasure.” Her hand tilted his face to look at her. “Draco was the son you both should have had.”

“Some days, no most days I feel too old for you, Hermione. I'm at the end of my days while you are just at the beginning of yours. I've lived a miserable life of my own making. I've made a lot of wrong choices, Voldemort's service being the worst. I did things before I joined the Order that I can never undo. You really want my black heart?” Severus looked at Hermione, his eyes an opening to his soul. She placed a hand on his heart, its beat erratic beneath it.

“You're black heart is what draws me to you. All that you have faced would have brought a normal wizard to his knees, broken and bent. Instead you stood unwavering as the wind blew, trying to sway you from the path. You saved Harry so many times I can't even count them on my two hands, you influenced Draco off the path his father set for him; and most importantly you helped create the most adorable Slytherin, our daughter.”

Hermione's forehead laid upon his chest and his arms wrapped around her. “We fell in love, Severus. Amidst an evil ridden world. It saved us both.” Her face lifted to look at his, eyes shining with tears. “I love everything about you. The scars that criss-cross your body show me the strength you have in your conviction to do what was right. Your hands so gentle in touch but so skilled in potion making. It's like making love watching you prepare a potion.” He felt her shudder with longing.

“Again you forgive me?” Severus asked in wonderment, Where did the Gods find such a woman? He thought. How in Merlin's name do I deserve her?

“You'll always be the one, my first and my last. Without you Severus Tobias Snape, I am not complete.” Hermione said softly. “But never ever question again what I've done the past twelve years while you hid out, licking your wounds.” She warned him. “Ginny's not the only one good with a hex.” Severus shuddered in the memory of his last meeting with Ginny Potter.

“I just want that Potions master's name. I fear I owe the old boy a visit, some kind words of encouragement.” Severus's voice became hard, the thought of anyone that slimy making improper suggestions towards his witch.

“Harry and Draco took good care of him. But it's your job in the future. Who's going to protect me from you?” She laughed throatily. “I hear you can be quite the taskmaster.” Severus's eyebrow arched, and he smirked.

“When I'm done with you madam, you'll be worthy of being my partner; in potions and in bed.” He pulled her lips to his and kissed her, his hands running up and down her body. He pulled her tight to hid hardened body as her hands reached up to the tie in his hair, tugging it loose. His hair fell in a curtain around their faces as Hermione's fingers ran through it.

Draco coughed to remind them of his presence. “While I am happy you both are together again, watching my father kiss his fiancée senseless in front of me is kind of ickle.” The three of them laughed as Severus held her close.

“Speaking of ickle,” Hermione said, “I owe Fred and George a nice prank when next we meet.”

“Ginny did that for you, bat-bogey times three.” Draco laughed. “She didn't leave Severus out.”

~~*~~
Im going crazy, Im losing sleep.
Im in too far, Im in way too deep over you.
Youll always be the one.
You were the first, youll be the last.

Wherever you go, Ill be with you.
Whatever you want, Ill give it to you.
Whenever you need someone to lay your heart and head upon.
Remember: after the fire, after all the rain,
I will be the flame.

Whatever you want, Ill give it to you.
Wherever you go, Ill be with you.
And whatever you want, Ill give it to you.
~~*~~




Chapter 20: Slytherin Moves
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a/n: chapter graphic by jackie (padfootandprongs91) Thanks hun. ~~juls













Draco rubbed the back of his neck tiredly as he headed for the breakfast nook. Severus and Hermione had made up after their first lover's quarrel, and he was rather pleased that the older wizard had took his words to heart. He had also noticed Hermione's small twinge of jealousy, and had been amazed at how well she had tucked it back.

“Master be needing anything else?” Twinky asked, appearing by his side, busily cleaning up the untouched plates and glasses. “Snarky and Missy left something behind,” The small elf said, pointing to the ring on the table.

Draco picked it up, turning it in his hand to read the inscription. Yup, Dad's been snared. He laughed at the thought. “More like tagged and bagged.” He said out loud, the sight of a tressed-up Severus Snape laying on the ground with a smiling Hermione Granger standing over him with a smoking wand posing for a picture came to mind.

“Master?”

“Sorry, Twinky. I'll be visiting Hogwarts in the morning, I think.” His mind went to thoughts of Ginger as he headed back to the sitting room. He didn't understand how such a wonderful witch could accept the fact that marriage to him meant no children. He had greedily watched how she was with his little sister, and knew she'd make a great mum.

“Mum?” He said as he sat down in the chair before the painting. The small fire underneath crackled softly, breaking the silence of the night.

“Yes, son.” Narcissa appeared back into her portrait, settling into the same chair in the painting that Draco now sat on.

“Why didn't you and Father have more children?” Draco asked the nagging question from his childhood. The beginnings of his young life had been happy, and his father had not been the same wizard he had been. His desire to grow up to be like him had turned into a nightmare as he grew up. Voldemort had ruined their lives, and he was pleased he had had a part in the dark wizard's downfall.

“We tried for a few years, but the Gods didn't bless with anymore. Then Lucius became more immersed in the Death Eaters and Voldemort's plans, so I feared to have more.” Narcissa's eyes grew sad, and Draco could almost see a tear in them.

“Would you have if you and Severus had had a chance after the War?”

“That was one of the plans. But I see the love he has for your young friend, and I'm happy for him. It was hard watching him grow older and more bitter while I was with Lucius, and then when I joined the Order Dumbledore gave us a few precious moments. I used to laugh when he commented on that 'damn Harry Potter and his know-it-all friend.' Little did he know she'd grow up to his be his match.” Narcissa's laughter filled the room, and Draco smiled.

“I miss you loads, mum.” Draco said, his laughter trailing off.

“I'm always here son, always.” Narcissa's smile widened as the sitting room's door opened and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law entered the room. Draco had heard Ginger enter, he was deeply lost in thoughts of the past.

Ginger tip-toed behind Draco, a finger lying across her lips in 'sh' for Narcissa to see. Draco's head was bowed and missed his mum's wink and wave as she left her portrait.

“Mum?” Draco looked up, sighing at the empty painting. He felt arms slowly wrap around him as lips gently caressed his neck.

“How's my Dray tonight?” Ginger whispered in his ear as an arm swung back to pull her giggling into his lap.

“Your Dray has been missing you!” He said as he enveloped her in his arms and kissed her senseless.



~*~




Hermione's arms wrapped around Severus's neck as her pushed open his bedroom door and then dropped her on his green and silver duvet. He landed next to her and smirked as he drew his fingers lightly down her arm, tickling her.

“We need to find time next week to go to the Ministry to apply for a last name change on Cissa's birth certificate. I want my name added also.” His eyes grew dark, thinking about his past mistakes. “My nobleness caused more damage then I realized.”

“It's all in the past, Sev. I've let it all go years ago.” Hermione sighed as he fingers reached the buttons at the top of her shirt.

“Really?” His eyebrow arched high with his question. “Then why are you still hiding out in Hogwarts? Your status as a War hero and best friend to the sainted Harry Potter should have been enough to protect you from the prats that fill this small-minded world.”

“Not now please. It's over, and I'm now taking advantage of your offer-- err-- offers.” Hermione sighed resignedly as he sat up, not letting it go by the looks of it. “They didn't appreciate the fact that I wouldn't say who the father was. The rumors went round and round from Harry, Ron, Draco -- even Remus. Then it was decided I had no clue and that's what left me open to all the unwanted advances.”

“You should have just told them.” Severus said bitterly, standing up.

“I wasn't sure you would ever claim her if you ever found out.” she admitted, seeing his wince.

“If I had known--”

“So many ifs... why I asked you to just let it go.” She got up off the bed, and stood behind him. “I need to get back to the infirmary as I am the school's medi-witch. I need time to think, and you do also.” She traced a hand down his back, following the scars unseen but always there. She kissed his shoulder and walked out.

Severus felt alone, a feeling he was accustomed to but now hated. He wondered how much floo powder it would take to get to Outer Mongolia.



~*~




Severus took his seat by Tonks and Remus and met their questioning stares. He sneered back and dug into a bowl of porridge. “I just want a name.” He hissed out.

“Still not forgiven?” Tonks asked.

“Forgiven and unforgiven, witches are so hard to understand.” He dropped his spoon back into the bowl. “Remus you have gained saint status in my eyes.”

“Oh Severus, leave me out of this!” Remus laughed in sympathy. He felt Tonks's shoe kick him. “I mean it'll all work out, I'm sure.”

Hermione entered the hall with those words and met Severus's eyes and smiled. He watched as she stopped at their daughter's table for a moment before continuing her way to her seat. She sat down and unfolded her napkin with deliberation before placing it on her lap.

“Porridge not to your liking today?” Hermione asked, filling a plate with some eggs bacon and fruit.

“Forgot the sugar and milk. No good without it.” He mumbled, watching her fork lift to her mouth. Damn witch even makes love to her food. He thought as her eyes rolled back in bliss.

“Oh, I'm sorry. Bite of mine?” She asked mischievously, holding a strawberry in her hand. Without thought, he leaned closer and took it; letting his tongue slide up her finger slowly before biting into the fruit.

“That was delicious. Thank you.” He tried to ignore the laughter surrounding them. Prats! He thought.

“Cissa still wants her promised picnic, so I was thinking we could all go to that clearing in the center of Forbidden Forest.” Hermione's words brought a groan from Severus's lips. “We could gather some potions ingredients while we are there.” She hinted, and watched as his mouth smirked.

“Tempting,” Severus murmured, then nodded.

“Good,” she smiled back at him, pushing her plate away. “I'll get--” They all looked up as a commotion began when the Great Hall doors opened and let in a certain former student and his fiancee.

“Oh, Merlin.” Severus said, watching the Slytherin table as the girls suddenly surrounded his daughter and began acting like the best mates they were not. “Little show offs.” Severus started to stand up but felt Hermione's hand on his arm.

“Let Cissa and Draco handle this.” she said with a smirk.

“Fine, but if they-” He said, sitting back down.

“Cissa knows who her friends are.” She interrupted him with a parental look. “We need to play staff here, not parents. Reacting every time something happens with our child will only make her an outsider.”


Draco and Ginger walked in the now loud hall and made their way between the tables, stopping once they reached Cissa's table.

“May I?” He asked a girl, and without waiting he pushed between her and Cissa and sat down. The girl got moved even farther down when he pulled Ginger down next to him.



“Smooth Slytherin moves.” Remus commented.

“Hasn't changed much.” Hermione laughed, watching her daughter's face look up happily at the wizard she called brother.


“I've missed this table,” Draco said. “I used to sit over there, and your Mum, Harry and Ron there.” He pointed to seats not to far from where they were now. “See Dad's in the same spot, glaring as usual. So Cis, who are your friends here?” He looked at the fawning girls with disdain. “Have you ladies met my fiancee yet?”

Mumbles of hello came from the girls crowding around.

“My friends are over there,” Cissa pointed to Jamie, Davy and a few others.

“Well I think I need to go see them then, coming?” Draco stood up, a Malfoy sneer plastered on his face as he looked at the girls who had termed his Ginger a 'cow with a loose broom' and walked off with Cissa and Ginger in tow. “That was fun.” He whispered in Cissa's ear and the reached the boys. The Slytherin girls stood in shock as the famous House prince turned away from them in laughter.

“Mum said that we are going on a picnic in the Forbidden Forest if Dad agrees.” Cissa said as the settled into the Gryffindor table near Jamie. “Say you'll come.” She looked at them with a smile.

“Ginger and I have a free afternoon, and it will be nice to spend time with all three of my favorite ladies.” He nodded his agreement. “I need to return something to Dad, be right back.” He stood back up, kissing Ginger on the cheek. He headed for the staff table without looking at the Slytherin table again as he passed by.

Draco fingered the ring in his pocket as he stepped onto the dais, pulling it out as he reached Severus and Hermione. “Think you both forgot something in your haste to leave last night.” He held his hand out, the ring looking at them reproachfully.

“Thank you, Draco. Don't know what I was thinking of.” Severus took the ring and looked at Hermione's hand.

“Thanks Dray, I can be so careless.” She held her hand out and watched Severus slip it back on. “I guess not taking it off is safer.”

“That is an understatement, Hermione.” Snape said, his hand clasping hers.

“Cissa has invited us to the picnic, if that is all right with you two.” Draco said.

“Of course! But do you think that snubbing those girls is going to help Cissa?” Hermione asked.

“They are Slytherins, Hermione. They have now learned that Cissa is not to be walked on, and they'll make friends for real.” Draco said, his eyes turning back to his former table, the girls staring at him still. “How you feeling, Tonks? You look radiant this morning.”

“I'm feeling loads better, cousin. Severus's potions have worked wonders. Maybe he could--” Tonks started to say.

“The Healers at St Mungo's said nothing would change my problem. I'm glad you're better, and soon I'll have another to spoil.” Draco smiled, a sadness in his eyes. Severus decided that he would find out exactly what those healers said later.

Chapter 21: Unicorns
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They entered the Forbidden Forest around noon, the sun peeking through the overhanging branches. A light wind blew through making leaves fall gently to cover the dirt path. The adults watched as Cissa, Jamie and Davy ran ahead on the path as the neared the clearing.

“She seems to have adjusted well to having you as a father, Dad.” Draco said when the entered the chosen picnic spot. Ginger and Hermione began setting up, pulling blankets and other things out of their pockets, unshrinking them.

“Least she no longer fears the Dungeons Bat.” Severus smirked, pulling Hermione down next to him. “I still owe Weasley and Potter some words over that.”

“Dad! Draco! Catch!” Cissa yelled as a bludger flew towards them, Severus reached up an arm to grab it; nearly missing it. He tossed it back and forth in his hands reflectively as Draco and Remus nodded.

“Oh so that's how we play!” He said, the wizards jumped up and the game began. “Joining us, ladies?” He looked at Tonks, Hermione, and Ginger with an arched eyebrow and a joking sneer.

“Sure,” All three replied, looking back at him with smirking grins. He obviously hadn't been at the Burrow yet for a game, so he didn't know how well they played.

“We need brooms and a snitch to complete this.” Ginger smiled as she caught the ball and aimed it at Draco. He ducked, and it flew into a tree with a thunk before landing on the ground.

“I'm in!” Draco laughed, scooping up the ball. Three teams formed, wizards, witches and the children. Remus muttered a protego spell around Tonks, who gave him a look of reproach before nodding. He grinned at her as he held the bludger.

“You ladies are going down!” Remus laughed as he threw it towards Hermione. The bludger smacked her hard in the chest, and she landed with a whoosh to the ground. She sat there for a second, catching her breath before standing up and launching it Severus. He caught it before it smacked his nose and laughed.

The game went on for awhile, none of the teams winning in the end. They all settled around the picnic blanket, hungry after the game.

“I have never had so much fun.” Severus announced as Cissa settled into his lap and kissed his cheek. He felt a small start of surprise before wrapping his arms around her and hugging her tight. Maybe this dad thing isn't going to be so hard, he thought.

“Dad, when are you and mum getting married so I can have that baby brother you promised me?” She whispered in his ear.

“When your mother decides, young lady.” He whispered back, looking seriously down at his daughter before winking at Hermione.

“Secrets?” Hermione laughed, watching the two of them bond.

“Not really Mum.” Cissa answered. “Just wondering about my baby brother.” Hermione groaned before dramatically throwing a hand to her forehead.

“You both need to learn patience. That feat takes nine months to produce and it could always be another girl.” She laughed again at their expressions. “I'm going to nap, the game and the food has wore me out.” She said, conjuring up a pillow. “You both can go gather while I sleep.” She winked at Severus.

“You happy, Hermione?” Tonks asked as she sat by Hermione on the blanket and they watched as the others poked through the bushes by the clearing; Severus showing them what potions ingredients to pick.

“Very happy. He's so used to being on his own, not letting others in. He feels so guilty about how much he's missed, and we can never get that back. I don't honestly think he was ready for us after the War. He'd had so much to work out and get over.” Hermione said, watching her lover as he showed their daughter how to carefully extract a tuber from the ground without ruining it.

“Remus said he used to have nightmares.” Tonks said.

“Nightmares of?” Hermione questioned.

“Killing you by accident or your getting killed by a stray Death Eater hunting him down. Voldemort's influences were too deeply ingrained in him for years, and that's one of the reasons Remus never pushed him to come back.” Tonks answered.

“I never knew that.” Hermione frowned.

“Did you ever ask him what he did as a spy?”

“Not really, I always thought he'd never talk about it. Knowing he killed Professor Dumbledore and others seemed horrific enough in my mind.” Hermione's fingers ran restlessly through the grass as she remembered.

“Remus spied on the Fenrir Greyback towards the end, before the Final Battle. He would come home and practically scrub the skin off his body to remove the memories. He only spied for a few months, try imagining twenty years of it.”

“I think Severus needs to tell me one day.” Hermione rolled over, gazing up at the clouds. “He was so cold and mean when we were students, but he protected us all. Part of the reason I kept my trust in him, even when Harry argued so hard against it. I admit, when he killed Professor Dumbledore, I only had Remus's word to keep trust in him.”

“And he was punished by Voldemort each time Hermione. You were too young then to realize or see him when he returned. He almost died the night Albus did, for interfering. Took Remus and me days to pull him through. It didn't help that he wanted to die either.” Tonks looked at her younger friend and saw the tears forming in Hermione's eyes.

“Narcissa Malfoy died that night also?” Hermione asked.

“Yes, my aunt was also murdered that night. She was a wonderful witch, I never got a chance to know her but through Draco and Severus's memories.” Tonks said sadly.

“Some days I feel I feel like I am competing with her for his love. Last night I watched his face as he talked to her portrait, how can I measure up to that?” Hermione could still see the vision of the beautiful witch. She had spent hours talking with her in the sitting room, but last night's visit had shown just how much Severus had lost.

“He loves you, Hermione. Narcissa will always be in his past, but you are his future. Between you and Draco, you both gave him a reason to live. He changed so much that last year before Voldemort's downfall. He was resigned to his fate and welcomed it. He still did everything to protect Harry, but he had a self-preservation that he didn't have before. Remus laughed when he told me he knew about Severus's feelings for you before he even knew himself, but he was pleased. It took them years to work out a friendship, uneasy as it was back then.” Tonks looked over at Snape and her husband. “It's the strangest thing to see them laugh and work together. Sirius and James Potter weren't the best of friends for Remus. Severus may have had a different life if those two hadn't been around.”

“Eh, it's best not to play the what if game. Never know how good or bad the outcome would have been. Somehow I believe that Severus being a spy was fated by the Gods. The same with Remus's bite, I could never see him without his werewolf side. It's what makes Remus well, Remus.” Hermione smiled.

“I agree.” Tonks smiled up as her husband dropped down beside her, hot from the game. Remus gulped back a glass of pumpkin juice with a smile.

“You girls have fun gossiping about us?” He kissed his wife's cheek and laid back, his head in her lap. “I'm getting to old for bludger tag.” He groaned, his back cracking as he settled down.

“Always dear, and neither you or Severus look a day over thirty.” Tonks ran her fingers through his mussed up hair, the love for her wizard shining in her eyes.

“Thirty my arse.” He laughed, letting his eyes close. “At least with the new Wolfsbane potion, I don't have that after wolfy feeling for days.”

“Then my time was well spent,” Severus said, sitting down Indian-style in the blankets beside them. “I've left Draco and Ginger to helping the kids harvest, I'll have a full supply cabinet by the time those young ones are done.”

“Greedy Potions master.” Hermione's hand touched his to soften her comment, snuggling close to him on the blanket.

“No, I'd be greedy wishing Christmas wasn't so far away.” He leered at her, and the others laughed. “I'd personally rather elope, but she won't allow it.”

“It's a once in a lifetime event, Severus. My Mum and Dad would kill me. In fact, with all that's been going I haven't even told them you are back.” Hermione groaned, laying her forehead on his shoulder. “I supposed we should visit them next weekend.”

“We, madam? If your father was a wizard he'd hex me for the past twelve years. I certainly would if anyone treated Cissa like I treated you.” He looked at Cissa, still so young in his eyes but realized soon that boys-- Slytherin boys-- would soon be noticing her. That thought didn't please him.

Suddenly the sound of stampeding hooves could be heard through the forest and a small herd of pure white unicorns entered the clearing. The lead unicorn stopped and dug his hoof into the ground, neighing as he looked at them.

Severus stood up, and the others did slowly after him; wands clutched in their hands. “Get over here!” He shouted as Draco and Ginger stood between the unicorns and the children. He watched in agony as they backed up to stand on the blanket. All but Cissa. “Dammit,” Severus hissed out. “Where is that girl?” How could one small witch disappear so quick?

“She had to well, pee sir.” Jamie mumbled. “She went that way.” He pointed to a spot behind the animals.

Severus shouted out a shielding spell as the lead unicorn had finally had enough and ran horn first at them. With a pained neigh it hit the protective shield and bounced back. That's when a surprised Cissa walked back into the clearing and screamed. The unicorn turned to her, pawing his hoof deep into the ground before walking over to her.

“No more picnics ever, if we get out of this alive.” Severus mumbled as he watched the unicorn advance towards Cissa, his wand hand shaking.

They watched in amazement as the unicorns surrounded Cissa and the lead bowed his head to the scared young witch and butted his nose gently into her shoulder. Cissa reached up and softly caressed it.

Firenze the centaur entered the clearing then. “Put your wands away, they mean no harm.” He told the scared company. “They only came to see the ones who defeated Voldemort. The wands scared them, thinking you were going to attack them. That one there,” He pointed to the lead unicorn, “Lost his parents to Voldemort back when he was attached to Quirrell, so he wanted to thank you all for avenging his parents.”

Their wands lowered and pocketed, they watched as the unicorn and Cissa seemed to talk to each other. Hermione gasped as Cissa grabbed hold of the unicorn's mane and he bowed low enough to climb upon his back.

“Amazing,” Severus said in shock. “You think we could have our daughter back now?”

“In good time,” Firenze said, walking over to the young witch and the unicorn. Some words passed between them before they saw Cissa switch from the back of the unicorn to Firenze's with a pouty look on her face. The unicorns left the clearing with a bow their way and Firenze and Cissa came close to them.

Severus reached up and picked the young witch of the centaur's back and set her down gently.

“That was fun! I was afraid at first, but the unicorn was so nice.” Cissa smiled up happily.

“We'll discuss this later,” Hermione said as they folded blankets and shrunk everything as quickly as possible.

“But Mum, these are for Dad.” Cissa held up her fist, clutched in them six long unicorn hairs. Severus knelt before his child and gathered her up in his arms.

“You are worth more to me then any unicorn hair on this planet.” He brushed her curly black hair from her face.

“But Dad, he said you'd want them!” Cissa exclaimed.

“Very true.” He conceded, drawing a small sample bag from his pocket. “But never scare us like that again!”

“I'm sorry, Dad. But it was fun! Can I go walk with Jamie and Davy?” She barely waited for Hermione's nod before running off.

“She's a very special young witch,” Firenze said. “Not many can walk up to a unicorn and live. Best take care of her.” The centaur warned before trotting off into the deeper forest. He turned back and gave Severus a long look before finally disappearing.

“That was strange,” Hermione said looking questioningly into Severus's eyes.

“She's our daughter, how else could she be but special?” He asked her, taking her hand in his; still troubled by Firenze's warning.

Chapter 22: AKA Mum and Dad
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a/n: Thanks Scribbie for looking this over. You're a doll.
Sorry this took so long to write, Severus and Mr Granger were giving me FITS. Hopefully you like it. Please review. ~~juls



Hermione smoothed back her hair after using a spell to tame it. She buttoned up her dark blue dress shirt, zipped up her black dress pants and slid her stocking clad feet into a pair of classy black pumps. Severus would be there any moment to pick her up for their lunch date with her parents.

She was nervous, and she tried to hide it by applying another coat of pale lip gloss. When she had sent the owl to her parents asking if she could bring a friend out to meet them, she had choked and didn't say who. Or why.

Draco had spent a lot of time there with her when Cissa was a baby, they had gotten to like him. Even had hoped she'd marry him. Her Dad had thrown out broad hints about how nice of a guy he was, how much he changed from how he had been in school. Her Mum had left out wedding dress books, and had driven her crazy looking at them.

Then Draco had met Ginger. They had hid their disappointment to Draco but the looks she had received could have melted chocolate on a cold winter's day.

She had also told her parents very little about Cissa's father. Her Dad had blown up when the name was mentioned, had wanted to hunt Severus down; wizard or no wizard. He'd been angry about the vast age difference till her mother not so gently reminded him that he himself was older then she.

So now here she was, days from her thirty-second birthday afraid to bring her boyfriend home to meet her Dad. The evils of being Daddy's Little Girl.

“You ready?” Severus said behind her, dressed in his black turtle neck, black pants and boots. Hermione had asked him to dress Muggle-ish, and she had ignored his protests to the contrary.

“Yes, Sev. You look like your facing a firing squad. It's only my parents.” Hermione sighed, brushing an imaginary piece of lint off his shoulder. He took her hand and they made their way out of the castle for the apparition point outside the gates.

“Somehow my dear, I think that is a very apt description.” He tugged his sleeves down lower, wishing she had not requested he dress in something other the robes. He was an adult wizard for Merlin's sake, and he was letting his knees knock together like some little boy waiting outside the Headmaster's office.

“You'll be fine. Once they see you again, all will get worked out and they'll see how much in love we are.” She said.

“They do know we are coming?”

“I sent the owl a few days ago, they sent back a note saying it was okay to meet for lunch.” They had reached the apparition point and he stopped, turning to look at her.

“They do know that it's me.” Severus's eyes looked into hers, and she tucked a stray strand of black hair behind his ear.

“I said I was bringing a friend.” Hermione admitted, dropping her forehead to his chest.

“Hermione Jane Granger!” He hissed out just seconds before they disapparated to a small park near her home.

Hermione's parents lived in a small neighborhood in North London. They were both retired from their dentistry clinic, but still spent a lot of time doing volunteer work in a local free clinic.

“Here,” Severus said, handing her his wand.

“Why? You perform magic as well with a wand as without.” She commented, tucking his wand with hers into her back pocket.

“I'm hoping your father will see me as an unarmed man and not attack me. I'm trying not to think of Cissa in a few years, because I have a feeling your father is going to react to how my thoughts are going for Cissa's first boyfriend. There is this nice place in the Forbidden Forest I hear-”

“Severus Snape!” Hermione's words cut his off as they neared her childhood home. “You will not hex her boyfriends!”

“I will do as I please, Hermione.” His feet stopped at the edge of the well cared for lawn, a cobblestone path leading up to the house. “And I wasn't thinking simple hex either.”

“You're already going to scare them away, why hex the ones actually brave enough to approach her?”

“No one will do to my daughter-”

“What you did to me?” She finished for him, seeing his wince.

“You got it.” He answered, stepping onto the cobblestones. Usually a condemned man got a last meal before facing the executioner, but as his stomached rumbled he feared his death would come before.

Severus strode up to the door, imagining his robes billowing behind him in the breeze. He raised his hand to knock but before his hand met the wood it was thrown open and a fist flew into his long hooked nose. He fell to the ground both from the shock and the pain.

“How dare you show your face at my door after disappearing from my daughter's life for twelve years? Haven't you hurt her enough?” Harold Granger said angrily, standing over Snape as he held his nose, blood dripping through his fingers.

“Daddy!” Hermione whispered in shock, bending down to check how badly Severus was hurt. Her hand reached for her wand to cast a healing spell.

“Hermione, not here.” Severus garbled out, his head nodding towards her curious neighbors.

“Harold! I told you to talk first.” Helen Granger said when the small group entered. She sighed and shook her head. “Sorry Professor Snape, Harold gets a little hot headed over his 'baby' girl. He keeps forgetting she's old enough to deal with things herself now.” They walked into the kitchen, and Helen motioned for him to take a seat.

Severus winced again, a cold cloth pressed to his throbbing nose. “Bend your head back, Professor.” Helen said, Harold glaring in the back round; his foot tapping the floor and his arms crossed over his chest.

“It's broken.” Severus said grimacing as he leaned his head back. He made eye contact with Hermione's father and nodded.

“Let me heal it, please.” Hermione said, wand in hand. Her mother stepped back and she said a few incantations, stopping the blood and mending the bones. “It will still be a bit painful and slightly swollen, but it looks better.” She said, giving her father an angry look.

“Hermione,” Severus said, the pain only a light throb. “I have received worse punishments, allow your father the right to defend your honor.”

“Phftt, I'm more then old enough to make my own decisions now.” She looked at the other three, her arms across her chest, and her foot tapping. Severus noticed how much she looked like her father at the moment, and arched his eyebrow before grinning.

“Your father made his point by drawing blood, and it was a small price to pay, love. The terms for walking away from you again is death.”

“You're a wizard, Severus.” Hermione retorted, her finger tapping on her crossed arms.

“And he is your father.” Severus said back logically, and he touched his nose gingerly. “It feels better already.” Severus stood and walked towards Harold.

“Since you are not a wizard sir, a wizard's oath cannot be performed with you. Will my word suffice?” Severus asked Harold, looking him in the eye.

“Yes, Professor Snape.”

“When I left twelve years ago I was not emotionally capable to be the man your daughter needed in her life. Through mistakes I claim as my own, that left your daughter to raise our daughter alone; with the help of friends.

“I spent twenty years as a spy, doing atrocious things that I took years to get myself to acknowledge and accept that I cannot change. I was a danger to her in the state I was when I left, with nightmares that filled my days even.” Severus felt Hermione's hand slip into his own, and clutched it tight as he continued.

“If I could undo my past, or at least the last twelve years I would. I love your daughter, and her spirit is what got me through. I thought that when I was ready to return she had by then moved on, forgetting me. As she rightfully should have.

“With you permission, Mr and Mrs Granger, I would like to belatedly ask you for your daughter's hand in marriage. I will never leave Hermione's side unless she asks me to again.” Severus waited silently for Harold's response, his hand clammy in Hermione's.

“If I say no, will you walk out that door and never come in contact with my daughter and grandchild again?” Harold asked, his brown eyes holding Severus's black ones in a duel.

“Daddy!” Hermione exclaimed and she buried her head in Severus's shoulder; his hand tightening slightly around hers.

“If that is your desire Mr Granger.” Severus nodded, his gaze not wavering. He wanted to hex the man standing before him. Instead, he waited as Mr Granger thought. He could see Hermione's mother standing to the side, silent as she awaited the verdict.

This Muggle could give the Wizengamot lessons in torture, Severus thought. A well placed Cruciatus could possibly speed this up. He felt Hermione shift beside him and allowed his arm to wrap around her.

Harold and Helen watched the silent interchange between the two; the gentle comforting arm he had wrapped around her; the way her head still nestled into his shoulder. They saw Hermione's eyes raise to look at Severus and the gentle hand that raised to caress the side of her cheek before she again nestled back into his shoulder.

Harold looked at his wife and Helen nodded, years of living and working together had given them a knowledge of each other's thoughts. Harold extended his hand to Severus.

“Welcome to the family, Severus.” Harold clasped Severus's hand tightly.


Chapter 23: Nightmare Remembered
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a/n: Thanks to Tiffers, ElissandrAnne and Hermyone from SAYS for looking this over and telling me it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. And thanks to reviewer Liv for the prod to post. It has been a difficult time for me in real life, so I appreciate the patience you all have shown. (Reminder: The dream scene takes place after the final battle and in MY timeline Draco is 20 during the dream.) Now on with the show~~





Severus looked into the mirror hanging over the small dresser in Hermione's childhood bedroom. He'd been surprised to find out that she hadn't chosen to live here when she had been pregnant or after when Cissa was born. She'd chosen Draco's mansion, and for some reason it was making him oddly jealous.

He looked over to the blue frilly canopy bed and sighed. Least she is sleeping, Severus thought as he sat in a comfy well used recliner by a bookcase bursting with books. He reached for one, not caring the title; just hoped it was boring enough to make him sleepy.

Lunch and dinner had went well with the elder Grangers once Harold had accepted their relationship, but Severus had been startled by the sight of all the pictures of Draco that littered the walls of house. Draco feeding Cissa, Draco dancing with Hermione at some party, Draco and Hermione snuggled together on the couch with him rubbing her back.

Severus knew that nothing had really happened between Draco and Hermione, but still the pictures bothered him. They were of what he should have been doing. Regrets, I've had a few. Ran through his head. He slammed his mental walls down firmly on the thoughts.

He opened the book and quickly closed it. Somehow a book entitled “So You're a Muggleborn and Expecting” wasn't something he needed to read at the moment. Her parents were in a room just a few doors down, and though silencing spells worked wonders in situations likes these; he just couldn't picture fooling around in a laced covered bed.

Severus got up with a sigh, he was tired; but his mind kept running in restless circles. He slid underneath the covers beside Hermione and almost jumped as her arms wrapped around his chest.

“About time,” She murmured while snuggling her face into his chest. He could feel the warmth of her breath as she drifted back to sleep. He kissed the top of her head and closed his eyes, letting his mind drift back into the past once again.

Draco and Severus stood at the outskirts of a small town in Bulgaria. It was a week after the Final Battle and there had been rumors of Death Eaters in the area and now here they were. Other Order teams had been dispatched to other places, but they had chosen this assignment because it was Lucius and Bellatrix they were after.

Both were dressed in black, and Draco had a dark hat on; covering his blond hair. Silently they followed the trail up into the woods, the path strewn with leaves and broken twigs that they stepped carefully to avoid.

With wands clutched and at the ready, they entered a clearing. Severus had done detection spells, and couldn't find any traps. A silent spell hit Severus, dropping him to the ground; stunned and bound, he lay there helpless. His mind screamed in frustration as he saw Draco fall with him, and the face of Lucius Malfoy standing over him chilled him to the bone.

They had walked into a trap, and for the first time he had underestimated his prey. Bellatrix strolled from behind a tree, twirling her wand.

“Hello
brother, fancy meeting you here. And with my traitorous son no less.” Lucius said and kicked Severus in the ribs, the sounds of breaking bone filled the silence. Lucius walked over to Draco and stared down at him with contempt.

“You disappointed me Severus. Worse then my own son. You had me fooled for years on your true allegiance. Was it you or my cheating wife that turned my own son against me-- Against Our Lord?” Lucius bent down and ran a finger across Draco's cheek in the mockery of a loving caress.

“I never trusted him, Luci- you should have believed me!” Bellatrix said and stepped over to stand by the elder Malfoy's side. Her eyes glowed with the madness caused by watching Voldemort die and the death of the
Toujours Pur dream she craved.

“Well like flies they have arrived in our web, dearest sister. Now to step B,” Severus watched in horror as both pointed their wands at Draco. Spell after spell hit the young wizard, making him writhe in pain against the bonds that held him.

“Enjoying the show, Snape?” Bellatrix asked and turned to look him in the eye. “Watching your dead lover's son in pain and die has to hurt, and hurt you more then your own death.” Her manic laughter filled the air. Severus struggled and could only watch.

“Oh Luci, I think Snape is upset.
Sectumsempra.” Bellatrix flicked her wand with a swish and Severus felt the pain of a hundred knives cut across his skin.

“Bloody hell Trixy!
Finite Incantum.” Lucius shouted, “He bleeds to death too soon and he'll miss the full show.”

Lucius had spelled his eyes open, and Severus watched in agony as the young man he considered his son was hit by every painful spell the two Death Eaters could cast. He saw the young wizard finally pass out with pain, his blood pooled around him.

Severus felt the bonds loosen slightly, and reached his hand into his pocket and activated the charm within it. It's silent call reached out to other Order members, and he prayed it would not be too late for Draco.

The two Death Eaters returned to him. His mind accepted his long due fate and he stared into their eyes with hatred.

“Don't fret brother, I'm allowing Draco to live- for now. His cut wounds run deep, and the other spells have probably taken his mind away. He'll be no better than the Longbottoms.” Lucius laughed, “I thought that knowledge would hurt you more then him actually dying. He's the last in the line, he'll create no little blood traitors with anyone now.
Crucio!” Lucius shouted, and sneered while watching his old friend writhe with the pain.

The thunderous sounds of apparition were heard in the field. Severus almost sighed with relief, but instead groaned as both Bellatrix and Lucius disapparated from the scene. He lost consciousness with the worried look of Harry Potter his last vision.



Hermione awoke to the mumbles and stirrings of her lover beside her. He seemed to be locked in a nightmare. The only intelligible words she understood were 'Draco', 'Lucius' and a long drawn out 'No'. Hermione quickly grabbed her wand and casted a silencing charm before attempting to awaken him.

“Severus.” Hermione whispered and shook his shoulder lightly. Her touch and voice woke him with a start. Severus was still trapped in the nightmare and reflexively grabbed her, rolled them over till she was pinned beneath him; his wand pointed at her neck.

“Where are they?” Severus demanded, his eyes still unfocused from sleep.

“Where are who Severus?” Hermione asked, alarmed at how he still had her pinned and his wand digging into the flesh of her throat.

“Lucius and that witch-- Bellatrix!” He whispered harshly.

“Dear they have been dead for twelve years now. Remember?” She reminded him and felt his grip loosen with her words. He groaned and rolled off her, laying back on the pillow beside her.

“Yes. I'm sorry love. The nightmare of that night- the night Draco was tortured- comes back to me, trying to make me go crazy or remember something.” Severus said, rubbing his face his hand before drawing it through his already mussed hair.

“Have you looked at it in a Pensieve? Maybe if we did it together it would not hold the power it does over you,” Hermione asked and kissed him on the chin. His arms went around her and held her close. She scooted up and kissed him again on the lips and he returned it before pulling back.

“Maybe later Hermione, after Umbridge's trial.” Severus replied, and she kissed him again; rubbing against him.

“Make love to me.” She asked.

“Not here, love. Your parents-” Severus protested and then got lost in her kisses.

“Silencing charm is up Sev, and they sleep like the dead.” She said before he rolled her over and they got lost in the moment.



~*~




“Good morning you two!” Harold Granger said, looking up from his Sunday morning paper. He held up his cup of coffee and pointed with it to perking pot of fresh on the counter.

“Morning Dad.” Hermione said with a kiss to his the top of his balding head and made a cheeky hand grab at his plate for the blueberry muffin sitting there. He playfully slapped at her hand, dropping his paper to his lap.

“Hermione,” Severus said her name and looked at her reproachfully.

“What? Dad always has my muffin on his plate.” Hermione replied taking a huge chunk out of the muffin in one bit. Harold laughed at Severus' confused look.

“Have some coffee and a muffin. Helen made them before heading off to the shower. Church is in an hour if you'd both like to join us.” Harold said and set his cup down, placing his napkin on his plate. He saw the look Severus gave Hermione at the word 'church' and laughed again.

“Be back down in a few.” Harold kissed Hermione's cheek.

“I am not going to a Muggle church Hermione, the times my father forced me as a child left a bitter taste in my mouth.” Severus told her, making a gesture with his spoon before stirring his coffee.

“Our minister happens to have a witch for a sister, Severus. You'll find it refreshing.” Hermione's giggles filled the air.

“I didn't bring appropriate clothing-”

“You're a wizard Severus, use your wand.” Hermione reminded him needlessly.

“Do you really want to go?” Severus asked with a sigh of resignation.

“Yes, and he'll be the one performing the Muggle ceremony like Mum craves. I'm going to get ready, come on.” Hermione laughed again and listened to Severus mumble as they ascended the stairs back to her bedroom.

“I am not going to enjoy this and I am not having a Muggle ceremony....” His words trailed off as he slammed the bathroom door. Hermione heard the running water and picked up his clothes to first scourgify and then transform them into a suit. She laid them across the bed and waited for him to come out.

“At least you left them black Hermione,” Severus said and watched her close the bathroom door before picking up his wand and transfiguring the suit to suit his tastes. He lengthened it and widened the hem to slightly billow as he walked. He gave his snarkiest grin before dressing.

Hermione stepped from the bathroom already dressed and ready to go. She took one look at Severus's alterations and laughed.

“Severus not every article of clothing you wear needs to flow.”

“You don't need to laugh at me either. And you said to use my wand.” Severus smirked before tucking his arm through hers.

The Grangers climbed into the front seat of their car and waited as Severus arched his eyebrow at Hermione, sighed and then climbed in.

“You owe me for this one,” He whispered and tucked his long legs uncomfortably into the small space.

Chapter 24: Just Desserts
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A/N: Thanks Anne for taking the time to read through this. Sorry it has taken me so long to write this chapter. I am still not happy with it, but hopefully you all are.



They made their way down the roads towards the church, Severus shifting uncomfortable in the cramped space behind Harold Granger's seat. He felt Hermione's hand touch his knee as if to reassure him all would be all right, but he still felt uneasy. All he really wanted to was apparate from the car and get back to Hogwarts and the sanctuary of his chambers. Instead, he looked out the window and watched the houses as they passed by them, until they turned onto a country road and trees appeared. He could only pray to Merlin that somehow the car would get swallowed up in a Black Hole before they reached their destination.

No such luck, Snape thought and the car finally stopped in front of a gabled building surrounded by a white fence. Hermione stood by the car and waited for him to unfold himself and climb out. He could see the laughter in her eyes when he almost fell from catching his foot in the seatbelt. He gave her a snarky smirk and mouthed the words 'you so owe me' and took her arm.

Severus looked at the small church and sighed. The last time he had set foot in a Muggle church had been for his mother's funeral so many years ago. He had watched his father's ploy for sympathy by crying to all that his 'dearest Eileen' was dead. The congregation had been so fooled by this, and the minister had even taken a collection up for the poor family to get through this time of tragedy. His pride had taken a beating when his father had pocketed the money with very little gratitude. Severus had been fifteen years old at the time, and had hated the pitying looks he had received.

Tobias Snape had spent every bit of it on restocking his liquor cabinet. Severus had dealt with more shame when, a few days later, his father in a drunken haze had proclaimed rather loudly to all around him that he had murdered his wife. The Muggle police had picked him then and with a small trial had packed him off to prison, where he died a few years later. Severus had the grim satisfaction of knowing his father had paid for his crime, but he himself still felt he hadn't paid for his. No amount of good that his spy work had done could ever cover over what he had to do while doing it.

Now here Severus was again. He wondered if the church would burn down from his entrance or if he would be struck down by that Muggle God for his sins? For he had much to burn in hell for.

Yes, Hermione definitely owed him big time for this. As much as he loved her, he wasn't happy being tricked into coming here.

They entered the church and walked down the aisle to the pew where he assumed the Grangers normally sat. Hermione slipped her arm through his reassuringly and he waited for the fire and brimstone sermon to start. If there was really a Heaven or Hell he had no clue, but for this one thing he was sure of- Hermione was his angel and she made his days Heaven.

The minister stepped out and made his way to the dais. For the first time Severus looked around and noticed the people sitting around them, and he was shocked to see many witches and wizards he knew sitting among the Muggles. He noticed Draco and his fiancée sitting by an elderly man, and that the Potters were there as well. Curious and curiouser, he thought.

Severus barely heard the sermon, and made the motions when Hermione and her family did. His mind kept going over where he had met the elderly man before, and what his connection to Draco and Ginger was. He only looked up towards the end when he heard the pastor say his name.

“Before we leave here today, I'd like to announce the engagement of our own Hermione Granger to one Severus Snape. Stand up please you two.” Hermione stood up and tugged at Severus's hand till he was standing upright beside her. Pastor Davies walked down the aisle where they stood and offered Severus his hand. He took it and felt the pastor warmly shake it, and the his next words shocked him.

“I would also like to thank you Professor Snape, for all the good work you did during the war against Voldemort. My own sister and many of the people sitting here would not be alive to celebrate your upcoming wedding without your sacrifices.” One by one the congregation stood and clapped. Severus looked around and held Hermione close. He could almost feel the acceptance in the looks of those around them.

“I told you this church was different,” Hermione whispered in his ear. “It's made up Muggleborns, their families and those that have married into Magical families. That witch right there is Pastor Davies's sister- you saved her life by stunning Crabbe before he could kill her.”

One after the other, Hermione pointed out others out and told him what he had done for them. Severus was amazed, not even he himself had realized how many he touched. The Ministry had refused to recognize either his or Draco's works aside of pardoning them from a life in Azkaban. He was still bitter over that, but more for Draco than himself. His self-imposed exile in Bulgaria had helped to ease some of the pain and made him realize he had done some good, but never had he understood until now just how many he had touched.

This was worth more than one hundred Orders of Merlin, he thought. These were the living proof that he had made the right decision all those years ago when he had become Dumbledore's spy. Severus smiled one of rare true smiles, and felt Hermione cuddle closer to him.

Ginger and Draco approached them, the older man following just behind them. Severus finally recognized him and a younger version popped into his head from a Death Eater attack long ago. One of the very few Muggles he had been able to help. He remembered that there had been a young girl with him, and wondered what had happened to her.

“Hello Dad,” Ginger said, hugging Hermione before touching Severus's shoulder. “This is my father, Lennox Wallace. Daddy, this is Severus Snape. You remember him?”

The man gave him a wide smile, “I'm not senile Gins, just old. Of course I do.” Lennox held his hand out to Severus and pumped it up and down vigorously in a firm handshake. His hair still held the redness it had back all those years ago, now peppered with grey.

“I'm Adrianne Wallace's husband. I wanted to thank you for trying to save her all those years back and for helping Gins and I escape that day.” Lennox's brown eyes looked sadly at his daughter for a moment.

Severus smiled in remembrance of Adrianne, a fiery French Order member that had died in an attack during another World Cup a few years after Voldemort's return. If Ginger was anything like her mother, Draco had a wild ride coming.

“Addy was a brave witch, Mr Wallace. She did as much as either Draco or I did that day to enable your escape. In fact more,” Severus's eyes clouded over with sadness. She'd given her life for so many to live.

“I miss my gel but know she smiles down upon us.” Lennox said, “Welcome to the clan Wallace, for both of you and your daughter are family now. Cissa is a real charmer, bright young gel.” The man smiled.

“Thank you Mr Wallace, my daughter likes to capture hearts like her mother I see.” Severus said to him. They stood talking for a few more minutes before heading to the doors of the church.

“So when is the wedding?” Asked Pastor Davies when Hermione and Severus reached him at the doors.

“Hermione wants it close to Christmas,” Severus said. “Myself would prefer it sooner.” Pastor Davies smiled at him and turned to Hermione.

“I don't have too many openings near Christmas with all the holiday festivities, but I think I have an date in November open if that's close enough for you both. That is if you are planning a Muggle ceremony.” Pastor Davies said.

“We are,” Hermione said and looked at Severus, and he shrugged his shoulders. “I am conceding to moving it closer to make him happy though.”

“Finally,” Severus murmured. “But I am dressing in my black robes for it.” He whispered in her ear. She giggled and shook her head.

“Traditions, love.” Hermione replied. “You'll look good in what ever you wear to me though.”

Chapter 25: Counting The Cost
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a/n: Thanks to Anne for her patience in all my check this out pleases. I am also sorry this took so long to post, for Real Life reared it's ugly little head. I am hoping the miserable writer's block is over.
Dear Anne- this chapter is my dedication to you.



Severus stood in the doorway, watching Hermione update the records in the infirmary. He absolutely adored how her teeth bit her lower lip as she concentrated on her work. A small fight had ensued between their two Houses, bringing six students in with various injuries, nothing life threatening. They had been patched up and returned to their dorms with a week's detention each.

“Hermione, I need your old internship papers to reopen it.” Severus asked while she was distracted, and smiled when she pointed to a file cabinet in the corner.

“Over in there Sev, filed under Granger- Hermione School Papers,” She replied without looking up. He was glad that her delight for over detailing kept her from realizing his true reasoning.

His long pale fingers pulled open the drawer and he flipped through the files of endless Granger this and that until he found the one he needed. Her endless record and list keeping left little room in the overflowing cabinet.

“I'll be going in the morning, so I am hoping you are up to the pleasures of my first period Double Potions.” He remarked while reading.

“Sure.” Hermione replied and signed off the last accident report.

“You had an internship with Slughorn and you refused?” Severus asked, knowing this was not the name he was after.

“Cissa was still small, I decided to stay home another year with her. Besides I wanted to stay far from the Slug Club, I had had enough of him in Sixth Year.” Hermione laughed, returning the students papers to the correct filing cabinets.

“Professor Whetherbee? He was in my University class.” Severus murmured, his eyes on his fiancée. “It says you accepted but quit after one day. Is he the one?”

Hermione looked up into his black eyes, knowing it was finally out. The pain and guilt covering her face made him want to kill his old school mate. His memories of Whetherbee made it seem very out of character, he'd always been helpful and friendly to the half-bloods and Muggleborns that had surrounded him.

“I'll be back, you have my classes till I return.” Severus said, not allowing her to answer. With billowed robes he moved swiftly down the halls, a frantic Hermione following him.

“Severus! Stop, please!” She called from behind him.

Severus stopped and turned to look at her.

“Why didn't you just tell him? The fear of my name would have shut all the nonsense. I don't give a flying hippogriff about my reputation, it's already tattered and torn anyhow. Yours was what mattered. Unless it was shame that kept you from revealing you bedded the Death Eater spy.”

“I have never been ashamed of our child, Severus. Or how or when she was created, I just didn't say anything because-”

“I didn't have a reputation to protect, love.”

“I didn't say anything because I wanted you to return if you did for me- not because I happened to have given birth to your child.” Hermione bowed her head, and felt his hand on her cheek; caressing it as he pulled her eyes back up to his.

“Your suffering has been all my fault, and I am going to rectify it.” Severus bent his head down quickly and gave her a gentle kiss.

“Let it go Sev-”

“How many internships did you put in for after this one?”

“None, I took Poppy's offer instead. I-” Hermione started to say, but Severus interrupted her again.

“You hid out in Hogwarts. No more hiding, my love.” They had reached the gates by then. Severus unwarded them, walked out and hit the apparition point.

“Don't do anything stupid,” Hermione said, realizing finally she wasn't going to stop him no matter what she said. Severus nodded, kissed her again, and with a clap of thunder was gone.

Hermione reentered the gates and rewarded them. She walked slowly up the path to the school, and went in search of Minerva.



Severus walked out of Gringott's, his money pouch full for his trip. He made his way to the international Floo network. He had the name finally, and couldn't understand how it could be Whetherbee. No matter, he thought, No one hurts my Hermione like that.

He walked up to the Customs counter and bought the floo powder for a round trip travel to Outer Mongolia.

Floo Powder: Ninety-four galleons.

Severus smiled grimly and stepped towards the Floo, pitched the powder in and began his network of travels, Five more Floos to go, he thought as he stepped into the green flames.

Severus dusted himself off after the last Floo, arriving in Wizarding Mongolia. The built up lag from his trip wanted to make him find a hotel for the night, but he had a mission. He walked along the streets, nodding to some wizards he had met on his various trips here to retrieve potions ingredients.

Today he made no stops, and looked with regret at the rare potion ingredients on display. He barely heard the few vendors that called out to him in recognition, and arrived at a set of rickshaw carts for hire. If he knew the exact location of the camp Whetherbee had been exiled to, he would have apparated, but he didn't.

“I need to hire a cart to the Malfoy Inc camp,” Severus said to the owner and waited. The small wizened man nodded greedily and rubbed his hands together in glee.

“Will this be round trip?” He asked, and Severus could see the scales tipping in the smaller man's head.

“One way,” Severus said, he could always apparate back to the town because he knew the location.

Rickshaw: 204 galleons.


Severus grimaced as the rickshaw hit another pothole in the dirt trail, and clutched the seat as it bounced along. If Hermione wasn't worth it, he'd have apparated back to Hogwarts without another thought.

The rickshaw hit another bump, and almost tipped. “Can't you miss just one of those ruddy holes?” He said scathingly. The Asian Squib just looked back at him with a grin before continuing on. Bloody prat is doing it on purpose, Severus thought. Glad I hadn't planned on tipping the bugger. Severus smirked at that thought, and rearranged his robes.

The bouncing ride continued for over an hour, and Severus was ready to kill Draco for placing the camp so far out into the back country. Then he sneered, Whetherbee deserved the discomforts for hurting Hermione all those years ago. But why did he do it? Severus asked himself.

Finally the camp came into view, and he sneered. Time to get my answers, and revenge, he thought. He turned from the Squib with a laugh when he stuck his hand out for the customary tip. “Not today,” He said and walked away. The Squib's grumblings could be heard as he traveled back down the road towards the town.

Severus smoothed out his robes, and refreshed the cooling charm. The air was hot, and the bugs fluttered around in the camp. At first he swatted them away, but started hexing them when one bit him. “Bloody bugs!” He said. “Like first years after a failed exam!”

A wizard of about his age stepped from a tent, and smiled at Severus. He wiped the sweat from his face, rubbed his hands on the vest he wore before sticking his hand out to shake Severus's. “Snape!” Whetherbee exclaimed, “What brings you out to my neck of the woods?” He asked curiously.

“Whetherbee,” Severus said and looked around the camp. He could see Malfoy Inc had spared all expense in setting this up, and he laughed again. The chuckle didn't quite meet his eyes as he looked back at Whetherbee.

“So old friend,” Severus said with a sarcastic air, “How did you end up in this place?” He brushed past Whetherbee and ignored his outstretched hand.

“Malfoy-” Whetherbee began to say, but Severus turned back to look at him. Without another thought, Severus raised a fist and slammed it into Whetherbee's nose, the satisfying crunch of breaking bone making Severus smile.

Bloody and broken nose: Priceless.

“Why did you make a pass at an intern? What possessed you to do that to Hermione Granger?” Severus shouted and stood over the fallen wizard. Severus's glare made the other wizard tremble and stutter something unintelligible. The blood dripping down his face into his quivering lips.

Severus reached down and grabbed a hand full of the other wizard's robes. He dragged him up and looked him in the face, his other hand raised in a fist to smack him again. Instead, he shook Whetherbee and dropped him to the ground.

“I'm waiting for an answer,” Severus said, and tapped his foot on the ground.

Whetherbee tried to breath, but choked on the blood. He coughed and tipped his head back. Severus bit back another curse and waved his wand to stop the blood. “Now, Tell Me Why.” He said slowly. He crossed his hands over his chest, and Whetherbee stared in fear at the wand still clutched in Severus's hand.

“I was forced to.” Whetherbee said, and drew back when Severus's wand hand jerked. Severus leaned back down to drag Whetherbee up to look him in the eyes. The other wizard trembled in fear.

“Who forced you?” Severus asked, his anger making him breath heavy and spittle hit Whetherbee in the face.

“I can't tell you- she'll... she'll.. she'll kill me!” Whetherbee stuttered and cowered from Severus. “She made me do it. She said Granger was-”

“Granger is my fiancee, the mother of my child!” Snape shouted into Whetherbee's face, his fist coming dangerously close to breaking the nose again.

“You were-are-oh-my...” Whetherbee stuttered out again. “I didn't know Snape, honestly!”

“No one knew! You ruddy bugger!” Severus let Whetherbee dropped to the ground. “I respected you. Now tell me who forced you to do this!” Snape held his wand over Whetherbee's still shaking body, a hex formed on his lips. “Tell me why also.”

“It was Umbridge!” Whetherbee admitted and cowered back into the dirt he lay upon. “She found out I had attended a few Death Eater meetings when we were younger. She threatened to expose it and ruin me.” Whetherbee had always been grateful to Severus who had found him at one of those meetings, much in the same way Snape had started out himself into the Death Eater world. Severus had sent the wizard to Albus when he had realized Whetherbee was out of his element and needed a way out. Albus had sent him to an America to a Potions lab there.

“And this is any better?” Severus looked around the camp and laughed. “You could have come to me, the Order would have vouched for you. Get up!” He shouted again.

“I didn't think they'd help me.” Whetherbee said and stood up. He brushed at the dirt on his robes and sighed.

“Umbridge is going on trial soon, will you testify?” Severus asked, his eyes still glaring at the wizard he used to call friend.

“I'll-I'll be ruined!” Whetherbee cried out, and his hands clutched at his short graying hair.

“And you aren't now?” Severus watched as Whetherbee looked around the camp and sighed again.

“I'll do it.” Whetherbee said.








Chapter 26: Trials and Tribulations
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Severus and Whetherbee arrived back in Wizarding England a few hours later and Snape side-apparated him to Hogwarts.

“You will apologize to Miss Granger,” Severus told the other wizard and pulled him painfully down the path towards Hogwarts by the arm. Whetherbee followed meekly and didn't even try to resist.

“She'll probably hex me on sight!” Whetherbee said in a slight protest, “You think you could explain to her first?” Whetherbee looked at the doors of Hogwarts in fear.

“It's all on you, old man.” Severus smirked slightly as they entered Hogwarts and they headed for the Headmistress's office. “Potter!” He called out to Jamie who was in the hall, “Please fetch your Aunt Hermione, tell her to meet us in Professor McGonagall's office.”

Severus said the password to the gargoyle guarding the stairs, and ushered Whetherbee up. “Gentlemen first!” He said rather scathingly, still irritated over the whole deal. The only thing he relished was the fact it was another black mark on Umbridge's rather spotty chart.

“Minerva!” Snape said as they entered the office. McGonagall looked up with a smile on her face after calling out a cheery 'enter' to Snape's brisk knock.

“What do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Minnie asked, and looked at Snape's companion with a faint hint of recognition. “Whetherbee isn't it?”

“Hello Professor.” Whetherbee's voice sounded shaky. He remembered the glowing recommendation letter that had come from her with Hermione Granger's apprenticeship letter.

“We'll explain once Hermione arrives.” Severus said shortly, and took one of the seats in front of Minerva's desk after pushing Whetherbee into another. Minerva's eyebrow arched at this.

“We'll need Albus's Pensieve.” Severus added as an afterthought. “Whetherbee here has some valuable information for Umbridge's upcoming trial. I'd prefer to have it documented in case,” Snape gave the other wizard a rather chilling glance of warning, “My old friend decides to skip out before he can testify.”

A quiet knock came upon the door, and Severus jumped up to open it. Hermione entered and took one look at Whetherbee and turned a shade paler before pulling her wand from her pocket and pointing it at him.

“You!” Hermione said softly, but lowered her wand at Minerva's look.

“Take a seat Hermione.” Minerva gestured towards a chair by Snape's. “Severus here has brought someone that has information regarding Umbridge's trial?” Minerva's eyebrow arched again, and she looked over her half-moon glasses at the three of them. “Severus, go fetch the Pensieve.”

Hermione looked at Severus in shock that he had brought Whetherbee back with him, and wondered how he could possibly have any information concerning Umbridge. She looked back at the older wizard, her eyes narrowed and almost laughed when he cowered from her. Eleven years and Severus has changed a few things, eh? Hermione thought, a faint smile lightening the severity of her face.

Severus returned with the Pensieve following him under the moving spell and he placed it before the desk. “Finite incantem.” He said with a flick of his wand before taking his seat beside Hermione.

Hermione gave him a questioning look, but kept silent at his finger placed on his lips. Severus shifted to get comfortable, and arched his hands together in a bridge. He tapped both pointer fingers together and hid the sneer on his face behind him. He knew he was definitely going to enjoy this. He just hoped Hermione would.

“Now that we are all here, and so is the Pensieve, would someone please explain to me what is going on?” Minerva said and looked at the three of them in front of her.

“By all means, do tell.” Hermione quipped in, unable to hold back any longer. Her eyes drifted past Severus to glare at the former Potion professor.

“Whetherbee please take your wand and place your memories in the Pensieve. So much more honest that way,” Severus ordered him, and pointed a finger towards the Pensieve.

“But-” Whetherbee tried to protest, but Severus just continued to point his finger.

Now!” Snape commanded, his irritation showing. “Be the man you once were and do it.”

Whetherbee twisted his fingers together in indecision before pulling his own wand from his pocket and began to extract the memories concerning Umbridge's bribe, blackmail or what ever it was called. The thin strand shown a milky white trail as it hung from the tip of his wand and clung to his temple before he placed it into the clear fluid of the Pensieve. Whetherbee looked up and straight into the eyes of his former Headmaster. He blanched a light shade, but Dumbledore just smiled encouragingly from his painting.

“Miss Granger, I want to say I am sorry. I didn't do it because I wanted to.” Whetherbee winced at the slap at his shoulder from Snape's hand. “I was forced to do it.” He turned to look in Severus's eyes and then looked back at Hermione. “Minister Umbridge dislikes you greatly, as you know. She threatened me.” His last words came out more like a whimpering plea.

“Umbridge forced you?” Hermione said in disbelief. “Why?” She looked around at the occupants of the room and her eyes finally rested in a gaze on Severus.

“You are part of the group that forced her demotion in the Ministry love.” Severus said, and Whetherbee collapsed in a chair. “She took out her ire through her new position on Remus and Bill-- indirectly on Tonks by her edicts. Hurting you hurt Potter and the rest of the other members.”

Severus walked closer to Hermione and wrapped his arms around her. He kissed the top of her head and felt her face burrow into his chest.

“It's over now, and she'll get her punishment.” Severus's eyes glowed in anger over her head, and Whetherbee shook at the sight.

“I'm ruined!” Whetherbee whispered and wrung his hands together again in despair.

“You've been ruined for years! Why do you think Malfoy Inc banished you to that bug infested camp you were calling home for years now?” Severus let go of Hermione and advanced to stick his face into Whetherbee's. His long nose touched the tip of the other wizard's and Whetherbee shrank farther back into the chair.

“But now everyone will know!” Whetherbee exclaimed in a whisper.

“I don't care,” Severus hissed back, his fists shaking by his side. He jerked back when he felt a hand on his arm.

“I think he's suffered enough Sev.” Hermione said, and her hand squeezed on his arm. “I accept his apology. Just get me out of his pathetic sight now.” She turned and walked to the door, and looked back at Severus. “Leave him to the Ministry love.” Her hand turned the knob, and smiled when Severus walked up beside her.

Severus gave one last scathing look at the shaking wizard he had once called friend and sneered. “Be glad the witch is so forgiving, but remember I'm not. Be at that trial tomorrow.” The door slammed behind the two, and the portraits in the room shouted out their displeasures.




The day dawned bright and clear. The rays from the sun winked into the windows, and chased the shadows of the night away.

One by one, some in groups of two, the Order arrived at the Ministry for the trial of one, Delores Umbridge. No longer dressed in pink, but garbed in the dirty gray clothing of Azkaban, she arrived between two Aurors. Her manacles hung painfully as she walked. The chains dangled from her wrists and dragged between her legs along the cement of the ground. Her normally brown poofed hair hung in strands around her grubby face.

The witnesses took their places on a bench outside the courtroom door. Harry, Remus, Bill, Whetherbee, and Severus sat side by side.

“Glorious day, isn't it?” Severus said, and crossed his arms across his chest and smirked. His eyes bored into the back of Umbridge as she passed by between her two guards.

“I'm innocent! I'm innocent!” They heard her mumble madly as she was pushed into the courtroom. The door clanged loudly shut behind her, and the crowd of Order members laughed.

“If you all are entering the chambers, please do so now. The witnesses for the prosecution please follow me now.” A Ministry official said and they stood up as one and followed him. The other Order members filed into the courtroom and took their seats.

It did promise to be a glorious day.

Hermione sat beside Ginny, and placed an arm around her best friend. Her eyes looked coldly at Umbridge, and out of the corner of her eye she saw the court members arrive. They were garbed in sobering black robes, white curly wigs topped with long pointed black hats. None of them smiled as they took their seats, and the head of the Wizengambot banged his gavel loudly on the podium.

“Bring forth the prisoner!” He called out, and a shaking Umbridge was brought before him. “Delores Umbridge, the British Ministry of Magic charges you with crimes foul against your fellow Wizarding kind. What say you?”

“I'm innocent sir!” Umbridge said in a shaky voice and was led to her seat in the magic stripping cage.

“Call your first witness!” The judge said, and received a shrug from the court appointed lawyer.

“There are no defense witnesses, sir.” The lawyer laughed nervously as he said that. He tugged at his collar and ran a finger under it. He could feel the sweat pouring down his forehead, and he cringed at the head judge's look. It's not my fault the old bat doesn't have friends to play character witnesses! He thought defensively.

“No one would come forth?” The judge asked, and his finger tapped against his chin. The lawyer shook his head. “No matter! Bring forth the witnesses against the defendant please.”

“The prosecution wishes to bring forth their evidence. The vials contained in this lock box are labeled with the witnesses names, date of offense and in the cases of the Magical Creature abuses to beings, several vials from many different werewolves in question sir.” The Ministry lawyer brought forth a Pensieve and the box of memories.

“First one?” The judge asked, and leaned back into his chair and tapped his fingers together in contemplation. “None of these have been tampered with?” He asked finally.

“These vials are free from tampering sir- as evidenced by their appearance.” The lawyer poured the first one in. “This is from Harry Potter, dated in his Fifth year. There are two others taken to show you the severeness of the defendants crimes towards the students there during her tenure.”

The lead judge nodded, and as one they all dipped their fingers into the memory and entered it. They gasped in outrage when the saw how the pen magically cut the words into Harry's hand over and over.

“Bring forth Mr Potter!” The head judge ordered, and Harry came in through a door in the back of the room. “Mr Potter are these memories free of taint?”

“Those memories are true sir.” Harry said loudly for all to hear. “Umbridge had me serve several detentions, each one worsening as they occurred.”

“You may sit down Mr Potter. Record these,” The lead judge told the court reporter, and as Harry past by the judges one looked sorrowfully at him.

“I'm sorry Harry, I never knew how bad it was for you.” Cho Chang whispered as he passed by. Harry shrugged his shoulders and sat beside his wife Ginny.

“This next vial is from Severus Snape sir. It is an account of a Full Moon occurrence with Remus Lupin.” The lawyer drew out Harry's memory and placed Snape's in the Pensieve.

The judges again entered the Pensieve with their fingers. They watched the horror of Remus being locked in chains under the window, and his forced transformation beneath the bright full moon. They all gasped when they Snape walk up to the werewolf and converse with him.

“Bring forth Severus Snape please.” The lead judge called out again when they exited the Pensieve. Snape walked with head held high through the same door Harry had and took a seat in the witness chair.

“Professor Snape, this is a true accounting of the night in question?” The lead judge asked.

“Yes sir. Remus Lupin is also under a regimen of an improved Wolfsbane potion, rendering him harmless and in his senses. He only takes on werewolf form now. He no longer gets the normal werewolf urges of hunt and insensible attacking.” Severus looked to Hermione and smiled.

“These laws you bring forth as inhumane, why were they written?” The lead judge asked.

“They were written to punish Lupin and Bill Weasley. The vial there holds Weasley's memories. Mr Weasley isn't a true werewolf, and he was only scratched by Fenrir Greyback during the last War. Greyback was in human form when that happened. Weasley is forced to go through all precautions as if he were a true werewolf.” Severus testified, and watched with grim satisfaction as Umbridge whithered into her seat in fear.

Jig's up, you old bat, Severus thought and sneered at her.

The judges went through the rest of the memories and witnesses, their decision having been made the moment they had seen Lupin's memory of Umbridge laughing in his face when he had to tried to challenge her decrees.

The next vial brought forth a memory from a mother of a werewolf, who had been bitten at the age of twenty and forced to be chained beneath the moonlight his first full moon. The judges watched the mother's memory in horror as the young werewolf couldn't stand the forced the changing and died during his transformation. Umbridge stood in the shadows, and with a quick-quill took notes of his torture and only clucked her tongue and snapped the notebook shut when he died.

They hadn't even reached Bill's or Whetherbee's vials yet when the lead judge held his hand up and his eyes narrowed at the formally pink clad witch.

“We've seen enough!” The lead judge banged his gavel hard again, and the sound made those in the room wince. “Delores Umbridge, for your crimes against underage wizards in Hogwarts, we find you guilty. Delores Umbridge, for your crimes against Magical Beings and the abuse of your Ministry powers, we find you guilty. We sentence you to the Kiss.”

The judge banged loudly at the podium again. The noise in the crowded courtroom ended. “Take her away!” The judge looked at the audience and smiled. “My brother is a werewolf. I wished he'd been as brave as Professor Lupin. Court adjourned,”

The judges filed out and the memory evidences were returned to their owners.

It was finally over.

Delores Umbridge received her first and last kiss a few hours later. Dementor-style like she deserved.

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