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Snape's Journal

January 10th, 1994:

What with all the stress and work of the holidays, I really shouldn't have been surprised that Lily began to bleed heavily last night. Even though I had tried to shoulder the lion's share of the holiday dinner and everything that went along with it, my stubborn wife would insist upon doing some things herself, like shopping for Christmas and birthday presents, and making me a special birthday dinner last night. It was wonderful, Lily had learned to cook from her mother, who was a great cook, but I could have done without it had I known what would follow. But they say hindsight is always perfect.

Lily had cooked my favorite meal, teriyaki steak and stir fried vegetables with fried rice and egg rolls. Don't ask me where she found the recipes, but the food was excellent, and I'm not just saying that because she's my wife and might someday read this. It's honestly meant. Even Harry, who still hates vegetables, will eat Lily's stir fry without complaint. She uses all fresh ingredients and makes her own sauce and everything. The egg rolls she buys but everything else she makes with her own two hands. She's been making it for years and each year I swear it tastes better.

Harry made the cake, a ginger spice with cream cheese frosting. Though I hate to admit it, I do love cream cheese frosting, the homemade kind, whipped light and fluffy. It went perfectly with the spice cake. Harry somehow managed to get thirty-four candles on the cake without it collapsing, and Lily, my mother, Hermione, and Harry all sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

Then Harry said with a smirk, "Wow, Dad, you're over the hill."

"Harry!" Lily scolded, and swatted him.

He shot her an injured look and rubbed his bottom. "Merlin, Mum, it was just an observation. You're so touchy these days."

She scowled at him. "Hush your mouth and behave, Harry James, and don't ruin your father's birthday."

"I wasn't!" He objected.

Eileen put a hand on his shoulder and whispered something in his ear. He lost the sulky look and Summoned my gifts over to the table. "Here, Dad. Open your presents and then we can eat dessert."

"You didn't have to get me anything," I protested, my standard response to all the fuss made over me.

"Yes, we did. It's your birthday." They all said, which was their standard response.

I opened my gifts. From Harry I received a brand new leather journal. "Because I know you're gonna need one with the way you're writing." It was of sleek green snakeskin. I thanked him, knowing he had purchased it with his own money. From Hermione, I received a new set of quill pens with jeweled toned inks. It was a very fine gift and I told her she shouldn't have spent so much money.

She just laughed and said, "You deserve it, Mr. Snape, for teaching me all these years. I know I ask too many questions."

"Questions are how you learn," I said. "Thank you, Hermione."

"Trouble is, Hermione, you want to know everything," said Harry and we all chuckled, for it was the truth, I had never had a student who loved knowledge so much as Hermione Granger.

Eileen's gift was a romantic getaway for two to a Highland cottage. "I've booked it for four days during April," she told us. "I'll watch the kids for you and you just go and have a good time alone." She winked at Lily. "By then you'll be needing a break from the baby and Harry too."

"That was sweet of you, Mum," Lily said.

"We'll think of you when we're there," I added roguishly.

"Severus, for the love of God! I would hope you have better things to do than remember your old mum," she scolded, laughing.

From Lily I received new boots of black dragonhide. The boots were designed to be impervious to potion-related accidents, waterproof, fireproof, and had small pockets for carrying slender knives and tiny cordial-sized vials of potions. I had seen them one day in The Sorcerer's Stride, a shoe shop that specialized in unique and comfortable footwear for all kinds of professions.

"Lily!" I exclaimed. "I told you not to buy these! They're over fifty Galleons!"

"So? You're only thirty-four once, Sev. Besides, that's why I make hazardous duty pay. So I can splurge on birthday presents for my beloved husband. You deserve it, sweetheart." She kissed me lightly, then said, "Go ahead, try them on. Aaron Greymalkin said they're spelled to fit perfectly to your foot when you put them on."

I took off my old boots, which were cracked and showing their age despite the care I took in polishing them every few days, and slipped my feet into the new dragonhide ones. They fit like a dream, and I discovered that one boot held a slender blade for dicing up ingredients and the other held a small vial of a healing cordial. "Did they come with these?" I asked, holding up the cordial and the knife.

"Greymalkin said he included something extra," Lily said. She put her arm about me and Mum took our picture.

Then we ate cake and drank tea and coffee. Mum complimented Harry on his baking and afterwards she left, saying she had to go to bed early, she had to open at seven tomorrow. Hermione's father came and walked her back home, she had a chess tournament and needed to get a good night's rest. Harry cleaned up the kitchen, saying it was the rest of his gift to me.

Lily was looking rather wan, so I suggested she go and lie down. "Would you like some of my special Sleep Tonic?" I asked. Lately she had been suffering some lower back pain and couldn't get comfortable at night and fall asleep. I couldn't give her a real Sleeping Draught so near her time, so I made up an herbal tonic that relaxed and soothed.

"Please." She said, putting a hand to her back as she rose from the chair. "Ooh, but I cannot wait for this baby to be born! I feel like a two ton hippopotamus." She walked slowly to the stairs and stood on the third step, which I had enchanted to carry her up the rest of the way, so she didn't strain herself.

I came in with the tonic and a bottle of lavender oil, which I dabbed on her temples and massaged into the back of her neck. "That feels so good. Thanks."

"You're welcome. How are you feeling otherwise?"

"Just tired. And my feet ache, but when don't they these days? My feet, my back, my head. I feel bloated as a baby whale."She made a face. "Sorry I'm bitching and moaning like a baby. I'd forgotten how much of a pain in the arse it was being pregnant for the last two months."

"It's all right, Lil. You never complain, so you're entitled to bitch and moan now."

I sat down at the edge of the bed and took one of her slender feet in my lap and started to massage it.

"Oh God, Sev! That feels wonderful." She groaned in pleasure. "Don't stop. Yes . . .there . . .ahh . . .I knew there was a reason why I married you . . ."

I continued massaging first one foot and then the other till she was limp with pleasure and drowsing. Then I pulled the covers about her and kissed her on the forehead. "Sleep well, my wild hawk."

I gently placed a hand upon her bulging abdomen, sometimes I could feel my unborn child move. I felt something stir beneath my hand, and I whispered, "Go to sleep, baby, your mum needs her rest." I patted her belly and then I left them to their rest and went to challenge Harry to a game of chess.

After I had trounced my son for the second time in a row, I settled down in front of the fire to read a book. Harry read also, making predictions for the next Quidditch World Cup. He had a magazine of stats that he marked and circled. I swear, he was James' son as far as Quidditch went. Though to be fair, he also liked potions.

I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew, Harry was shaking my shoulder and yelling, "Dad, wake up! Mum needs you! Something really bad's happened."

I woke up instantly. "Harry? What's the matter?"

"I heard Mum calling you so I went to see what she wanted and . . .she was in the bathroom, crying, and the bed . . .I saw blood on the sheets when I went past . . ." Harry was pale as a ghost. "Is she dying, Dad?"

"No. Stay here. She'll be all right." I said quickly, then I rose and Apparated into the bedroom. I felt bad for my poor son, having to see that, but there was nothing to be done about it now. I glanced at the sheets and swore, they were soaked in blood. "Lily?"

"Sev! Severus!" her voice was shrill, on the verge of hysteria. "Help me! I woke up and I was . . .bleeding . . .oh God, Sev . . .I don't want to lose the baby . . ."

I entered the bathroom. Lily was crouched near the tub, holding a towel to her and crying softly. "Please . . .not again . . ."

"Lily, are you having contractions?" I asked, running my wand over her in a quick basic diagnostic.

"Just small ones. Sev, I'm scared. The baby . . ."

"Hush. You over did it, Lily-love. Don't panic." I tried to keep my tone even and reassuring, but inwardly I was screaming in terror. I knew that heavy bleeding like this was a bad sign. "I'm going to call my mother, all right?"

"Okay." She sniffled, clutching her stomach. Her face was ghost white and her green eyes seemed to glow like a cat's.

I sprinted from the bedroom and Apparated back downstairs to the den. Harry was still sitting on the couch, looking petrified. "Dad, will Mum be okay? Do you have to take her to a hospital?"

"I don't know yet, Harry. I need to firecall your grandmother." I tossed down a handful of Floo powder and stuck my head through. "Mum! It's Severus!" I shouted. "It's an emergency! Lily's hemorrhaging!"

"Severus?" I heard my mother's voice sound sleepily from her bedroom.

She appeared in the living room in her night robe and slippers. "What's wrong, son? Did I hear you say something about Lily?"

I repeated what I'd said and she immediately called up her midwife's bag and Flooed over.

"Now don't panic, Sev. I've seen this happen before, especially in women like Lily, who have trouble carrying to term. She overstressed herself today and yesterday, she was trying to do too much and well . . .this is what happens."

"I tried to help her, Gran!" Harry cried, stricken.

"Oh, Harry. You mustn't blame yourself. It's no one's fault." She patted my son's cheek as she went past him. "Sev, get the poor child some Restorative Elixir while I go and see what Lily's done to herself, the stubborn little fool."

I went to do as she said, sensing that my son needed me as much as Lily did. I summoned some of the Restorative Elixir, it was a potion that restored harmony and balance to one's inner spirit, and was often given after a wizard had suffered an extreme shock or grief. I mixed it into a glass of chocolate milk, for Harry still didn't like drinking potions, and I felt the milk might be easier for him to get down.

"Here. Drink this."

He obeyed, drinking until the glass was empty. Some color bloomed in his cheeks and he took a deep breath. "Dad? Mum's going to be okay, isn't she? And the baby too?"

"Yes. She's in good hands. Your gran will make sure they're both all right," I said, putting my arm about him and holding him.

For once he didn't tell me he was "too old" for hugs, and just leaned into me. His green eyes, the exact shade of his beloved mother's stared up at me fearfully. "Let's sit down on the couch," I suggested, steering him to the sofa.

I pushed him gently down and then sat next to him. I was frightened as well, knowing that my wife and baby could well be fighting for their lives. But I had to be strong for Harry. My eyes fell on Gabriel's memorial. I lit the candle with a wave of my hand. "It's too bad you aren't here now, old boy," I said, half to myself.

"Yeah. Gaby always made me feel better when I was scared or sick or upset." Harry said shakily. He had pulled his knees into his chest and had his arms wrapped about them.

I rubbed small circles on his back and tried to distract us both from thinking about what was going on upstairs. My mother was a top notch midwife, I trusted her. If anyone could help Lily, she could.

"Do you remember the time Gabe adopted a kitten?" I asked.

Harry nodded. "The kitten was one of Crookshanks and Lilah's, right?" Those were Hermione's two cats. Crookshanks was a half-kneazle, a big orange fellow, and Lilah, his mate, was a lavender-point Himalayan rescued from the local pound.

"Yes. You named her Lilac, because she was a sort of smoky lavender color." I recalled. It had been early spring, Harry was seven, and he had come rushing home to tell me about Hermione's cat having kittens. . .

Snape's Journal

April, 1988:

"Dad! Mum! Hermione's cat had kittens, six of 'em, and I got to see some of 'em get born!"

Harry burst into the house like a tempest, making the dishes rattle in the cupboard. His hair was sticking up every which way and his glasses were slightly crooked. Lily looked up from her second cup of coffee and I lowered the Daily Prophet and stared at my son. "You did what?"

"When I went over to Hermione's this morning, Lilah was having kittens," Harry said, panting from having run all the way back from the Granger house. "She had six and I watched two get born. It was sorta gross and sorta cool at the same time."

"Aww, that's wonderful, Harry!" Lily said, brushing her hand over his hair. "There's nothing greater than the miracle of life."

He wriggled away from her hand. "Mum, quit it! I like my hair the way it is."

"You need a trim," I observed. "It's almost in your eyes. You're starting to look like a shaggy dog."

Harry giggled. "Like Gabriel?"

"Yes."

"Where is Gabriel?" asked Lily.

"He's over Hermione's, smelling the kittens."

"Lilah let Gabriel see her kittens?" I asked. "Most new mothers never let a dog near their kittens, especially a first litter."

"Gabriel came in and sat there an' watched. Then, when all the kittens were nursing, he came and sniffed them. Lilah hissed at first, but then Gaby licked her and the kittens and she stopped. He was lying next to the basket when I left."

"That's amazing!" Lily said. "But then, Gabe is the calmest collie I've ever seen, so I'm not surprised. Still, you'd better fetch him home, Harry. I'm sure Stacy and Drew don't want a large hairy beast in their home along with eight cats."

"I tried, Mum. I whistled and called, but he wouldn't budge. Hermione says she thinks Gabriel wants to help Lilah take care of the kittens. Like a nanny."

"Collies are very protective of helpless animals," I remarked.

"Severus, you'd better go and get him," my wife ordered.

I rose. When my dog turned stubborn like this, only I had a hope in hell of getting him to obey.

I Summoned his lead and walked over to the Granger residence.

There, in a basket next to the fireplace, was the proud mama cat and her brood. Lying half-around the basket was my collie, his red-gold bulk curled protectively about the cats. He pricked his ears and half-barked when I entered the den, led by Hermione.

"See, Mr. Snape? He's been like that since Harry came over. Lilah wouldn't even let Crooks in here to see his kittens, but she let Gaby. How come?"

I shook my head, bewildered. Normally, mother cats were ferocious in defense of their newborns and drove everyone away, including the father. "I don't know, Hermione. It's very odd." Gabriel hadn't been best friends with Lilah, who normally ran when she saw him coming. Yet she allowed him to lay next to her kittens.

Gabriel's tail thumped when he saw me.

I knelt and showed him the lead. "Gabe. Want to go for a walk?"

Those words usually made him leap up and run to the door.

But not today. Today he whined and wagged his tail hard, but made no move to leave.

I reached out and rumpled his fur. "Gaby. It's time to go home. Come!" I tapped my knee for emphasis.

Gabriel looked at me and I knew he wanted to obey, but then he turned his head and whined, looking at Lilah.

The Himalayan queen purred and touched noses with him, as if telling him to go, she would be okay.

I walked over and examined the new family. The kittens were all sleeping in a heap, there were some gold and cream ones, and two light gray ones and one that was a smoky lavender shade with white paws. "You have a fine family there, Lilah," I said and Lilah purred loudly. I reached down to stroke her and she spat at me and went to claw my hand. "All right, old girl. I'll leave you be."

Just as I thought. She didn't want a stranger anywhere near her babies. Yet she permitted my beast of a collie to lick and nuzzle them. "Gabe, come."

I snapped the lead on his collar and he whined and reluctantly drew away. He kept his head turned to the side and I practically had to drag him out of the house and across the lawn. "Gabriel, for the love of Merlin! Anyone would think you sired those kittens, the way you're acting."

He "talked" to me in that odd up and down whine, letting me know he wasn't happy about leaving, but he would do it for me.

He ate and slept at the foot of my bed as usual once we returned home, but the next morning after breakfast, he trotted over to Hermione's house all by himself. He scratched at the door and when Hermione opened it, walked right in and made himself at home beside the basket again.

Harry found him there after searching the yard and rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Gabe! You act like that silly St. Bernard in Peter Pan! But at least that was girl! You're a boy!"

He tried to drag Gabriel home, but the collie would have none of it and dug in his paws until his collar slipped off and then refused to move, even when Harry tempted him with his favorite dog treats.

I came over and apologized to Stacy. "I can't believe he's making a nuisance of himself over kittens!"

Stacy didn't mind, she thought it was adorable. "Don't worry, Severus. I don't mind. And neither does Lilah. She clawed poor Crookshanks' nose to shreds when he tried to peek into the basket earlier, but not Gabriel. I guess she can tell he's a trustworthy guardian."

"Well, as long as you don't mind . . .he can stay. But if he starts becoming a nuisance, call me and I'll come over and bring him home." I told her.

I walked over to my dog and shook a finger at him. "You behave yourself. No drooling on Stacy's floor and no begging at the table, understand? You don't live here, so no one's obligated to feed you, you great pest. You get hungry, you come home."

My collie wagged his tail and barked in an affirmative. I knew he understood, in that uncanny way collies have.

Then I left Gabriel to his kitten minding and went back to helping Lily weed the garden, which had both magical and non-magical herbs in it.

From then on till the kittens were walking, Gabriel followed the same routine. He ate and slept at my home and spent most of the day at the Grangers, lying next to the cat basket. Lilah would leave for short periods of time, to eat and take care of herself, and Gabriel would sit "on guard" like a statue, according to what Hermione and her parents told me. If the kittens mewed, he would lick them till they quieted and wait for Lilah to return.

Once the kittens were able to hear, see, and walk, Gabriel's task became whole lot more interesting.

All of the kittens were eager to explore their new world, and my collie became a kitten herder. I suppose it was instinct. Collies will tend to herd anything they feel needs protection, whether it be sheep, cows, goats, ducks, children or kittens.

It was inevitable that Gabriel adopt a kitten. As soon as they were old enough, Stacy and Hermione posted an ad in the classified section of the Prophet and sold all the kittens save one. She was the small smoky lavender one, and Gabriel seemed to think she was his personal responsibility. By then the kittens were weaned and litter box trained, and Lilah was ready to regain her independence. So she didn't care when one day Gabriel picked up her last kitten and brought her back to my house.

I walked into the kitchen to see a chilling sight, Lily and Harry cooing and petting a tiny blue-eyed kitten and my traitor dog sitting and grinning like a proud father.

"No. Absolutely not." I began. "We are not having any more pets. Gabriel is enough." I said in my best authoritative tone.

Lily ignored me. Harry rolled his eyes. Gabriel sneezed. And the kitten tried to climb up my leg. So much for my authority.

I bent down to remove the cat from my trousers. "I am not a tree, you little furball." I told the kitten, who looked at me curiously and then meowed.

"Dad, can we keep her?" Harry asked, giving me a pleading stare.

"Harry, we don't need a cat."

"Gaby does." He said with typical aggravating seven-year-old logic.

"Now, Severus . . ." Lily said, using her "I can be reasonable so why can't you" tone. "I don't see why we can't have a cat. Harry's old enough to look after her and Gabriel seems to have adopted her. Where's the harm in it?"

"I don't really care for cats. They shed and shred things and stay up all night and they do whatever they damn well please. . ."

"Why, Sev, that sounds like a certain Slytherin I know," Lily teased.

"Lily Evans, I do not shed!"

"No? Then why is it that I find dark hairs on my pillow almost every morning?" my wife queried triumphantly.

I flushed. Damn the woman!

Harry looked from Lily to me. "You use each other's pillows? What for?"

"Never mind." I said quickly. I plucked the kitten from my shoulder. The little feline purred in my arms. I held it at arm's length. "I want you to know I'm letting you stay under duress. The first time you put a hole in my robe or use my closet as a litter box or my bed as a playground will be your last, cat." The kitten mewed. I glared at my conniving dog. "This is all your fault!"

Gabriel looked at me with his big brown eyes and barked. Then he jumped up on me and slurped his long sticky tongue across my cheek.

"Gabe, down! For the love of Merlin, you know better!" I coughed.

Harry laughed. "She can stay?"

"Yes. Here, take the little rat catcher." I handed him the kitten. Then I wondered how I let myself be overruled by a child, my wife, and a dog.

It was Harry who named the kitten Lilac, because she had a lilac colored coat. She also had blue eyes and white feet. Even I had to admit she was a pretty thing, and like all her kind, graceful and daring. She could scamper faster than lightning, especially if she had done the unforgivable, like spill a bottle of ink all over the papers I was about to grade and then walk through it, leaving kitten pawprints all over the carpet. She also liked to play with my quill pens, batting them and trying to chew them . . .while I was using them.

"You are nothing but a nuisance, kitten. Now get, before I decide I need some catgut in my potions," I would threaten, clapping my hands to scare her away.

Not only that, but she delighted in startling me. One of her favorite games was to hide beneath a chair or a bed or behind furniture, and when I came by she would attack my feet and ankles. Even in my bedroom. Lily thought it was hilarious. "Go ahead, laugh about it." I remarked sourly, after one embarrassing episode when the damn cat wrapped her bloody paws about my ankle and bit me, making me jump. "It's not you getting attacked by a fuzzy pincushion."

"Aww, Sev, she's playing with you. She likes you." Lily was sitting up in bed, her green eyes glittering with amusement.

"Likes me, my arse!" I grumbled, removing Lilac from my sore ankle. "Gabriel, keep the little ragrug occupied before I tell her to go play in the street." I set the kitten on the ground, and Gabriel came and picked her up in his mouth and took her out of the room.

Lilac adored Gabriel. She could often be found lying on him. Yes, on him, not beside him. Gabriel would be taking a snooze, his big head resting on his white forefeet, and Lilac would be curled up in the hollow of his shoulderblades, sleeping. The first time Lily saw that, she thought it was so cute she had to take a picture.

Lilac played with Gabriel too, attacking his tail, winding herself inbetween his feet, tripping him up as he came in for dinner. Sometimes she climbed up his ruff and sat on his back like she was a queen and he was her horse. The damn cat thought she was the boss around here. Strangely, my collie allowed the little fuzzball to degrade him without a whimper. He even let her drink from his water bowl. He probably would have let her eat his food too, but I made sure to feed them separately, in different rooms.

When Lilac first arrived, the dining room was off-limits to her, since Lily's good china and table linens were in there, and I told my dog, "No cats allowed!" while pointing to the entrance, which was just off the kitchen.

When Gabriel was around, which was almost always, Lilac never set two paws across the threshold. Every time the kitten made a move to go in there, a big red-gold body went inbetween her and the doorway. He would gently nudge and push her with his nose, or sometimes a paw, back into the kitchen. He did this countless times a day, possessed of a patience a saint would have envied. I sure as hell did. He must have herded that stubborn cat away from the dining room at least thirty times in one morning before the cat learned not to go in there.

Harry and Hermione thought it was great, they laughed and called Gabriel a "cat herder".

"Still think she's worth it?" I asked my dog after he'd shoved the kitten backwards for the fiftieth time one morning, and then came to lie by my feet.

He put his head on my foot and sighed. Then Lilac pounced on his tail.

Somehow the kitten endeared herself to the rest of the household. Harry slept with her, at least until Lilac decided midnight was a good time to run up and down the hallway and pounce at shadows. Whoever said cats are silent never met Lilac. She sounded like a herd of unicorns galloping down the hall. I was woken up at least twice a night by her antics and each time thought about ten different ways to skin a cat. Lily and Harry slept like rocks.

Harry was actually pretty good at taking care of her for a seven-year-old. He would remember to feed and change her water and do the litter once every three days. He made a toy for her out of some old string and a quill and would drag it about for her to chase. Gabriel liked it too, and sometimes you would see the tiny kitten jumping after my son and his pull toy and then along would come this red-gold beast, whose paws left skid marks on the floor because he couldn't turn quite as fast.

"Harry, quit running in the house!" I would scold. "This isn't a zoo!"

"We're playing, Dad."

"Play something else then."

"But we like this game."

"Harry . . ." I would warn.

The kitten train would stop for awhile. Until Harry forgot my orders and started it up again some fifteen minutes later.

Lilac liked laps. She often would lie for hours upon Lily, purring and kneading her with her paws. Lily never minded. She read and stroked the kitten, or wrote correspondences while Lilac slept. "She's such a soothing presence. She makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."

I looked at her as if she had lost her mind. "Soothing presence, ha! Just wait till she knocks over your water glass because she wants a cat treat." I snorted.

"She does that because you ignore her, Sev. How else is she supposed to get your attention?"

"By sitting there and waiting till I feel like paying some to her."

"But that would take forever," my perceptive wife remarked.

"Exactly."

The cat even had the audacity some nights to come and sit in my lap, shedding all over my robes. What nerve! And she would purr while she did it too! As if by doing so I would change my mind and pet the pain in the arse. Humph! All right, every once in awhile I would stroke her, since she was soft as silk. Until she decided to dig her claws into my knee. Guess who got the chore of trimming her nails?

Things might have continued like that indefinitely, but then Lilac managed to discover the outdoors. And no matter how Gabriel tried, he couldn't keep the cat inside. She would manage to get out even though all the windows and doors were shut. Then poor Gabe went crazy trying to herd her back inside.

About four months after we had adopted her, Lilac escaped from the house and disappeared. Not even Gabriel could find her. We spent a whole week searching and putting up flyers. Harry cried himself to sleep every night. I slept like a baby. Gabriel paced and moped about the house, depressed and miserable. But there was still a thread of hope.

"She'll come back," I said. "Cats are resourceful and can find their way home."

Until the phone call.

Someone had found Lilac on the side of the road in Manchester. She had been struck by a car and lived half-an-hour after bringing her to the nearest veterinary clinic. I drove to pick up the body. I had left Lily to stay with Harry. The vet had wrapped a blanket about the kitten's corpse. It looked pathetic, the small still body, which had once been full of life and energy. I drove home slowly, trying to figure out how to break the news to my son. He would be heartbroken. And so would Gabriel.

Damn you, cat! You had to go and die now. I thought irritably. Then I felt guilty for my harshness.

As expected, Harry was devastated. He kept asking why we couldn't use magic to bring Lilac back to life. "Why can't you make a potion, Dad, to bring her back?"

His plaintive query made my heart ache. "Harry, even magic can't bring back the dead," I began, taking him on my knee.

"But . . .but you can make potions to stop death," he reminded me, sniffling. "Why can't you bring back Lilac?"

"Harry, honey, Lilac's in heaven now with all the good kitties," Lily said, coming to sit next to us. She glared at me over her son's head, daring me to refute that statement.

I wisely kept my mouth shut.

"I don't want her in heaven!" he sobbed. "She belongs here with us!" He turned to Lily. "Mum, can't you do something?"

Lily shook her head sadly, her eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry, but no charm I know can bring back the dead. I know it's hard for you, Harry, but you have to accept the fact that Lilac is gone."

"No!" he bawled. "Magic is useless and I'm glad I don't have any!" A book fell off the shelf onto the floor. He wriggled free of my arms and ran into his bedroom.

"I guess I'd better dig a grave," I said heavily.

"I'll go and talk to him some more," Lily said, glancing at the small box with the shrouded body. "Poor little thing!"

She went in to comfort Harry, leaving me to my unpleasant task. Gabriel had been out in the yard and when I came out carrying the shoebox coffin, he went crazy, barking and whining and trying to stick his head into the box. "Gabriel! Sit!" I commanded, and waited till he had done so before I allowed him to smell Lilac.

"I'm sorry, but she's gone, old boy."

I needn't have said anything. He knew. He started to howl, his wretched misery making itself heard for miles. The awful sound nearly made me cry. If there is anything more gut wrenching than a grieving dog, I don't know of it. I Summoned a shovel and started to dig.

Some thirty minutes later I had a grave dug beneath the apple tree where Lilac used to climb. I sent my Patronus inside to tell Lily to bring Harry out so he could say goodbye to his cat. I figured he needed the closure.

He came, holding Lily's hand, and I let him hold and pet her one last time. "She was a good cat," I said, and oddly enough I actually meant what I said. I hadn't cared for her, but she had made Gabriel and Harry happy, and that was the best thing she could have done.

"Goodbye, Lilac. I hope you're happy in heaven." Harry cried.

Lily hugged him. "You know, Harry, that she'll be waiting for you there? All the animals you love wait for you to cross the rainbow bridge into heaven, and someday you'll all be together again."

"We will?"

"Yes. Right, Sev."

"Right," I agreed. I wasn't sure I believed in Lily's theory, but if it helped my son stop grieving, I would have agreed to steal the moon from the sky. I gently placed the shoebox into the hole and then used magic to replace the dirt over her.

Lily cast a spell that made flowers spring up over the grave and a small marker as well, with the kitten's name on it and the words Forever Friend.

Gaby whined and scratched at the grave.

"No, boy. Leave it alone!" I ordered.

My collie just looked at me, and in his eyes was a deep endless sorrow. Then he lay down next to the little grave, his head on his paws.

He remained like that for several days and nights, mourning the loss of his playmate. He even ate outside, Harry brought his food out to him.

Then my son stayed with him, petting him and crying over the lost kitten.

The pair of them were so woebegone that I seriously considered getting another cat. "Maybe that's what they need," I said to Lily one night after Harry had gone to sleep.

"I don't know, Sev. Lilac was special to them." Lily said.

I should have listened to her.

The next day, after lessons, I asked Harry if he wouldn't want to get another kitten.

"No! I never want another cat!" he shouted, jumping up from the table. "I only want Lilac! Why can't you understand?" Then he burst into tears and ran outside to join Gabriel by the grave.

Lily shot me an exasperated look. "You just had to ask, didn't you, Severus?"

"I thought it would be good for him," I began.

"Severus, this isn't like replacing a toy that broke. Lilac was a living breathing creature and he loved her very much. How would you feel if someone offered to replace Gabriel after he just died?"

"That's different."

"Not to Harry."

I sighed. Another brilliant idea shot to hell. Looks like I was in the doghouse.

I stared out the window at the boy and the dog, feeling like a complete bastard.

Lily came and touched me on the shoulder. "Why don't you go and apologize to Harry? That will show him that you do understand."

This time I listened to my wife.

We never did get another cat. Because there are some things in life that just can't be replaced.

Snape's Journal

January 10th, 1994:

"I remember now!" Harry had cried. "Gabriel's kitten. She was so cute and funny. I don't know how I could have forgotten her. I remember Hermione coming over after we buried her and crying over her grave. It was really sad. And Gabe was worse than I was." He recalled. "I haven't visited her grave in a long time now. Not since my magic woke up."

I patted him on the shoulder. "Life goes on, Harry. And grief doesn't last forever. Her grave is still there, if you need to visit it."

He nodded. He knew about obligation, Lily took him every year to visit the graves of his father and godfather, who had given their lives for him that long ago Halloween night. She had started doing that when he was five and old enough to understand what had gone on. "I know, Dad." He shifted in his seat, and then he asked, "Will Mum be all right, do you think?"

"I hope so."

Just then Eileen came down the stairs.

I sprang to my feet. "Mum, how's Lily? Is she all right? Is the baby all right?"

"Severus, calm down." She held up a hand. "Lily's resting. You can go up and see her in a minute. But first I need to talk to you and Harry. I've given Lily a Blood Replenisher and a Calming Draught and I've told her she must remain on bed rest until her due date. No exceptions. You need to make sure she follows my instructions and doesn't get up unless it's absolutely necessary, like using the bathroom or joining you for dinner. Under no circumstances is she to be stressed or agitated. I stopped her contractions with a spell, but if they start up again, call me immediately. She doesn't have to necessarily stay in bed, but she ought to stay somewhere she can put her feet up and relax."

"How about the baby?" I asked, my stomach in knots.

"The baby is, as far as I can tell, doing fine. You've got a fighter there, Severus."

I heaved a huge sigh of relief. "Thank you, Mum. I'm sorry I woke you up in the middle of the night."

"Nonsense, Severus! You can always wake me up if it's an emergency!" She came and hugged me. Then she hugged Harry too. "Go on, go and see you wife before you fret yourself into pieces."

I Apparated upstairs and found Lily propped up in bed amid clean sheets, drowsing. "Sev." She reached out and took my hand.

"How are you, love?"

"Better. I'm sorry I scared you."

"What are you apologizing for?"

"Because I was an idiot and I thought I knew better than Eileen. She warned me I was tiring myself out two days ago." She smiled at me ruefully. "I guess the apothecary really does know best."

"That's my mother. Thank goodness you're all right." I went and lay down on the other side of the bed and held her to me.

Harry came up and said goodnight and Lily asked him if he were okay.

"Now I am. But you really scared me before, Mum."

"Oh, Harry. I'm so sorry."

"It's okay. I'll live." He bent down and kissed her cheek. "Good night, Mum and Dad."

We told him good night and then I snuggled down next to my wife. "I love you, Lily," I murmured.

"I love you too, Sev." She fell asleep soon after, and I lay awake for a long time, listening to her breathe, her head on my shoulder, and my hand upon her stomach, where I felt the baby kick and stretch, also trying to get comfortable. But finally we all fell asleep and didn't wake till the next morning.

Now I sit at my desk, scribbling away, while Lily reads and Harry studies his Charms book. For now, everything is fine.

I know this chapter was sad, but I felt it also showed how a family deals with grief and loss. I hope you enjoyed it.
 

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