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Beth and Severus did not have a perfect relationship, because perfect relationships do not exist.

What they did have was this: They had a small house on the edge of Hogsmeade, far enough away to seem like a real home and close enough that Severus didn’t have trouble commuting back and forth to Hogwarts. He didn’t like it much – she had the feeling he would rather be further away from the school, in the country somewhere – but Beth thought it was beautiful.

They had a son, Jonathan, who in turn had his own bedroom on the second floor of that house. And there was a third bedroom there too, for the baby due in May.

They had each other, and after everything they had been through to get to that point, it was more than enough. And it was not perfect, but then, they wouldn’t have wanted it to be perfect. Through the bickering and the occasional-but-existent fights, they never forgot that they had each other.

It was April, a cold, foggy, rainy April, and Beth was not thinking of Severus. Still, they had time yet.

She peered out the window over the sink now, checking the lane to see if Severus had turned into it yet. She and Jonathan had started playing a game this year, checking to see who would be the first to spot Daddy walking home. She almost always let Jonathan win, with copious hints about how someone should check the front door. He’d never said as much, but Beth knew Severus loved it.

As though sensing it was about time for the school day to end, Jonathan pattered into the kitchen at that moment, looking around as though expecting to see his father already in the kitchen. “Where’s Daddy?” he asked, clambering into one of the chairs set around the tiny wooden table.

“Not home yet,” Beth said, smiling a bit as she reached for one of the pots stacked on the washboard. She hadn’t used magic to wash dishes in a couple of months; she’d tried to mend one of Severus’s socks in her last trimester with Jonathan and had accidently set it on fire. “What’re you up, Jonny?”

“Nothing.” He blew out a little boy sigh, and Beth half-turned to see him slumped at the table, chin in hands. Her heart twanged a bit; he looked much older sitting like that, dark hair falling into his eyes. The poor boy had gotten her uncontrollable curls, and she silently prayed that the next child’s hair was more manageable.

Beth turned to look out the window again, and her stomach gave a happy flip at the sight of a dark figure walking through the fog, heading for the tiny jewel-bright patches the lit windows of the Snape house made on the garden. “Have you checked to see if Daddy’s coming?”

Though he’d only just come into the kitchen, Jonathan perked up and ran from the room, bare feet padding stickily on the hardwood floors. Beth heard two hands smack against the glass of the window by the door, and then a happy call of, “Daddy! Daddy’s home! I win, Mummy!”

“You beat me again!” Beth said, grinning down at the suds and dishes as she wiped her hands on a rag tucked into the cabinet. She rounded the corner into the entryway, and watched as the door swung open, Jonathan hanging from the handle to get his first glimpse of his father. Severus’s face lit up as his eyes lighted on his son; he swooped down and picked him up, holding him upside-down and tucking him securely against his chest.

“Beth, come see what I’ve found out front,” he said, ignoring Jonathan’s happy screeches and wiggling. “Should we keep it?”

“He looks all right, doesn’t he?” Beth frowned, pretending to examine her son skeptically. “His face looks a bit dirty. I don’t think he’s washed it for a while.”

“I have too!”

“What should we name it?” Severus said, crossing to the sitting room and sinking into an armchair, still cradling Jonathan against him. “It’s got to have a name, doesn’t it?”

“I’m Jonny! Daddy!”

Severus pretended to be shocked. “You are?” He leaned over his son, examining him. “You are! How did I not recognize you?” He let Jonathan wriggle away from him at last, and the boy flew to Beth, wrapping his arms around her knees and nearly knocking her to the ground. “Hey, hey! Be careful with your mother,” he admonished.

Beth smiled at Severus as Jonathan raced up the stairs to his bedroom, his attention now turned from the game and his father, quick as a wink. Her husband crossed to her and laid his hands lightly on her shoulders, kissing her forehead. “Everything all right?” he asked.

“Peachy,” she teased, standing on tiptoe and kissing the tip of his nose. “I’m tired, but I’m lugging around an extra six or seven pounds, so that’s not surprising. Dinner’s ready, if you’re hungry,” she added.

“Starved. Although your son seems to have disappeared in the meantime.”

“He happens to be your son, too, in case you’ve forgotten,” Beth laughed, smacking Severus lightly in the arm. “And for that, you may go and fetch him. And make sure his hands are properly washed.”

*

“Jonny?” Severus poked his head around the frame of the door, and smiled in spite of himself. Jonathan was engrossed in a small building block fortress – more mess than actual structure – as though he’d been at it for hours. He looked up at his father’s voice and then returned to attacking the fortress with a small model of a dragon. “Time for dinner, buddy. Mum says you need to wash your hands.”

At least he’s agreeable, Severus thought, watching his son pop up obediently from the floor and run to the adjacent washroom. He followed the boy and watched him climb onto the tiny stool in front of the sink and lather up with a prodigious amount of soap.

“When’s Mummy’s baby getting here?” he asked, out of the blue.

“Not until next month,” Severus said, smiling again for a different reason. “Are you excited about having a brother or sister?”

“Yeah!” Jonathan frowned. “But only if it’s a brother,” he added. He leaned forward to turn off the taps and hopped back onto the floor, reaching for his father’s robes and drying his hands on them.

“No, no. This is what towels are for.” Severus steered him toward the towel rack, and then turned to leave, only to be stopped by a hand tugging at his robes again.

“Daddy, you have to wash your hands too!”

“Oh, yes. How could I have forgotten?” Severus stepped over to the sink and rolled up his sleeves, reaching forward to stick his hands under the running water. Jonathan climbed up onto his stool and watched his father with great interest. Suddenly, Severus saw his eyes fall on the tattoo on his left forearm: Grinning skull, looped snake. His heart sank.

“Daddy, what is that?” Jonathan asked, reaching out and poking his father’s forearm with his index finger. Severus took his arm away hastily, and his son looked at him in surprise.

“A tattoo,” he said quietly, turning off the faucet and reaching out to dry his hands on the towel. He rolled down his sleeves, but the boy grabbed his left one and tried to pry it up again. “Jonathan, stop,” he said, taking his son’s hands in his own and moving them away forcefully.

“But what is it? Why do you have it? Was that a skull?” Jonathan’s eyes – very much like Beth’s, he looked so much like Beth – round in his face. “Why is your tadoo a skull?”

Severus sighed, and then moved onto the landing. Jonathan was still looking up at him curiously. “Your daddy has done some things,” he said solemnly, kneeling down and getting on level with Jonathan, trying to make him understand. How was he supposed to explain a Dark Mark? “He’s been friends some very, very powerful wizards, wizards with tattoos just like Daddy’s. They were bad wizards. Daddy’s helping good wizards capture the bad wizards now, and his tattoo reminds him of why he’s doing it.”

“Does Mummy have a tadoo?”

Severus pressed his lips together. “No. Your mummy has always been a very, very good witch, Jonny. And you should remember that.”

Jonathan nodded, but Severus didn’t know how much he understood. And right now, he supposed it didn’t matter. He and Beth would come to tell their children in time about everything in their past, he was sure, but that was the future, and this was now.

“Now come on.” Severus stood and reached out a hand for Jonathan’s – his right hand. “If we’re much later, Mummy might not give us any dinner at all.”

*

“Mummy!” Beth turned and watched her son scoot into the kitchen a second time, taking the same place at the kitchen table. “Guess what?!”

“What?” she asked, turning and standing on her tiptoes to put a glass away, entirely missing Severus’s don’t-ask-him-what face.

“Daddy has a tadoo!”

Beth turned around slowly and looked at Severus. His face had gone somewhat pale, and he quietly took his place at the table. “Yes,” she said, crossing to the counter and picking up Jonathan’s plate, setting it in front of him. “Yes, I know.”

Jonathan leaned forward, clearly more interested in this latest discovery than in the food. “It’s a skull,” he whispered conspiratorially.

“I know,” said Beth. Severus was still looking at his empty place, as though fascinated by the wood grain. She set his own dinner in front of him and took the chair opposite, next to her son. “And you know what, Jonny?” He looked at her, mouth full of bread. “It’s a special tattoo. Did he tell you that?”

“Mm-hmm. He said –“

“Don’t talk with your mouth full, please.”

Jonathan swallowed and tried again. “He said you were a good witch because you didn’t have a tadoo.”

Beth looked across the table at Severus, quietly cutting into his chicken, and felt her heart squeeze in sympathy. “I don’t have a tattoo,” she said, “but your daddy is still a good wizard, even with one. Do you know that?” Jonathan shook his head, and she repeated herself. “A very good wizard.”

“Oh.” Jonathan considered this. “Good.” His interest in the tattoo all but forgotten, he immediately launched into a story about how he and Mummy had planted things in the garden that afternoon, and he had seen a spider and three worms and had wanted to keep them for pets, but Mummy had said no.

Severus listened with great interest, but at a lull in the story, his eyes flicked to meet Beth’s. He smiled gratefully at her, and to her embarrassment, tears pricked her eyes. She looked down hastily so he wouldn’t see, but her own smile mirrored his.

A very good wizard.

And you are, Severus. You are.

A/N: My first thing posted in over a year and a half! You guys didn't think I'd forgotten about you, did you? Rest assured that I did not -- it's been a longer time than I would have liked since I'd had anything up, but I'm hoping to change that in the not-so-distant future. I've actually been holding on to this for a long time, intending to make a collection, but I've decided that this and any future Snape/Beth one-shots will just go up as their own stories. So now I can present this to you!

Thank you for reading, and if you've made it this far and would like to leave a review, I would really appreciate it!

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