Warning: Un-Beta-ed. Probably full of mistakes. Please do not throw sharp objects (or any objects) to the writer for the mistakes.
London Townhouse, Mid-Autumn, 1887
Severus tossed another wood to the fireplace. It was making crackling and popping sounds, chasing away the cold that the rain had brought as his mind wandered to his beautiful pregnant husband, forever immortalized by death.
It was a rainy day like this when the bridge broke and the rushing current of the river swept his husband away. A horrible accident he could prevent if only he didn't let his husband go home without him. In his delicate condition, his husband was prohibited by the healers to apparate or disapparate because it could possibly hurt their unborn child. Their business in London had taken some time and his husband had terribly missed their children so he had asked to go home first by a carriage.
Severus regretted so much the day he had given his consent. He had unknowingly sent his beloved to his death. He would have lost his will to continue living if not for the sake of his children. It was bad enough they had lost one parent and surely they didn't need to lose the other one.
Since then, it had been thirteen years but he was still unable to forget his husband. His wound was still raw, gaping and bleeding. He started to think that it would never heal.
Severus lifted his gaze from the fireplace and looked at his son.
"James…" He said, acknowledging the other's presence.
His son frowned. "Shouldn't you be in bed? I thought the healer ordered you a bed rest."
"I'll be fine, son. Sorting out letters won't tire me," he replied, taking the unread letters from the table.
"But father, the healer said…" His son insisted.
"I said I'd be fine," He snapped, not wanting to be coddled. Regretting his harshness at seeing his son's wince, he added more softly, "I am sorry, James. I have to ask you to leave me for now."
"Brother, how did it go? Can you persuade father to come back to bed?" His sister rushed forward as James walked out of the library.
Sighing, James shook his head. "You know how father is, sister. I doubt anyone can change his mind."
"Really, I swear father is so stubborn," His sister commented irritably.
He shrugged. "Papa is more stubborn."
They both grew somber at the thought of their other parent—their deceased parent. They both knew why their father had fallen ill. Since their papa died, their father had tended his business obsessively. As years passed, their family's wealth had expanded enormously but in return, their father had become more and more withdrawn. And two years ago, father couldn't bear to live with them in the same house anymore. The man had given him and his sister a separate townhouse even though they lived in the same city. Of course, he had tried to persuade his father to stop isolating himself but father wouldn't be father if he actually listened to him.
Vicious cycle had continued until the excessive works had finally overwhelmed father. Their father's valet had come knocking on his town house's door, looking uncharacteristically frantic, because his master had fallen unconscious when dismounting his horse after the usual morning ride on Rotten Row. If not for that, James doubted his father would be convinced to do his work sparingly. Though, the man still refused the order of total bed rest.
"I… I'll try to persuade him," His sister said warily, bracing herself to face their father's wrath.
"Wait, Lily. Let us leave father alone for now." James looked at the drops of water which were pelting at the window steadily with a frown. "I've seen that look on his face. Rainy days like this, it means he's missing for papa badly."
His sister gazed at the window too, then let out a sigh. "Father always missed papa…" She said sadly. "I just wish he wouldn't blame on himself so much. It's not his fault that papa is dead."
He nodded solemnly in agreement. It was simple fact but more than difficult to accept.
"I miss papa too, James," His sister murmured quietly.
They were both old enough to remember and miss their papa. Back then Lily was nine and he was eleven. They were waiting for their papa to come home. Instead of the joy of welcoming their papa's early arrival, it was bad news that came knocking on the manor's door. He remembered holding his crying sister when father and all the people in the estate had conducted a search along the river.
After a long terrible week, their papa had been declared missing and very possibly dead. And they hadn't seen him again since then.
Thirteen years later, they are now young adult respectively of twenty-one and twenty-four. While their father had managed their household strictly but also fairly, it hadn't been the same without their papa. Their happiness had disappeared along with their other parent. In fact, James had never seen their father laugh again.
James murmured back, "I know sister. I miss our papa too."
A Fortnight Later
His business partner had invited Severus to accompany him to a gambling hell and Severus had refused him at once. But Mr. Bagman wouldn't take a 'no' as an answer. The old man swore that they weren't going to gamble there, nor they would seek for the pleasure of flesh.
The main attraction there was apparently a mysterious beautiful singer which was quite unusual since it was a gaming hell and the gambler's attention should be in the rolling dices or the cards.
Severus frowned reprovingly at the older man. "Mr. Bagman, I believe I've told you that I don't do gamble and a quick tumble to the bed is not what I seek. There is nothing you can offer me here."
All of sudden, Mr. Bagman's smiling face turned serious, though the man didn't look offended. "Ah, that's where you went wrong, my friend. I didn't bring you here for that reason. This woman is different. She doesn't come here in search for protectors. She's a singer, not a courtesan. You'll see…"
"But—" Severus began, then sighed. The older man wouldn't let him go home without strong reason. Any of his objections would sound ridiculous as it was just a gambling hell, an elegantly operated one—full of men belonged to the higher rank in society. It wasn't some dangerous gambling in the back alley. He supposed he could stay just to prove that the older man was wrong. A singer was only a singer. He doubted there was something special about it aside from the attraction of the female's body.
Five minutes later, he stared as a woman came to the center stage which where the piano was positioned. Unlike any other courtesan, she wore a very polite ivory sateen dress, buttoned up to her neck. A mask adorned with peacock feather covered her face. Severus couldn't guess her age, but she had the greenest eyes he had ever seen since his Harry.
He cussed sharply under his breath. Now he began to regret his decision to stay. Damn his partner for taking him here!
Being reminded of what he had lost was like rubbing a salt on the open wound. He was about to leave, fleeing from the source of his pain, when she played the piano and sang. Her voice caused him to stop moving. He stood there, stunned, unable to walk away.
Her voice was pure gold with low sensual timber, sending shivers down his spine. She had her fingers dancing on the piano keys as the music flowing, filling the room, waving a spell on her audiences. When she sang a happy song, they felt happy, and when she sang a sad song, even the famous sinners would have tears on their face.
There was something magical about it. The ice which had hold his heart trapped for so many years started to melt. The thorn of hurt which wrapped closely around him withered. He couldn't remember the last time he had ever felt this way. Her voice was the balm of his wound, the warm ray of sunshine to his winter.
His trouble had vanished into nothingness. The music was everywhere—in the light, in the air, inside every person's heart. For a short moment, they were in love with her; the owner of that enchanting voice. And when it was over, all they could think was to be there again the next time she performed.
Severus watched as she was whisked away by a tough looking man who had a job guarding the club. The beautiful dream had ended and they were being thrown back into reality. The people had begun to disperse. Some had gone back to their game of chance. Some left the club as if they only came here to hear the singer.
"Do you know who she is, Mr. Bagman?"
A smile spread across the older man's face. "No, no one knows, Mr. Snape. That's why she's so popular."
Severus frowned. "Not even her name?"
Mr. Bagman nodded. "Not even her name. Only that she was called as 'The Raven'."
Severus's eyebrow rose. "The Raven?"
Mr. Bagman replied with a grin, "She may sing for us, but everyone knows, she's definitely not your ordinary canary in a cage."
The lack of information only made Severus more curious about her. The next time she performed, he decided to tail her. She had made it quite difficult to follow her. Whoever The Raven was, she had taken a very careful precaution and changed her hackney a few times. He had thought he lost her before he saw her slipping into a building in the Westminster—more precisely, a theatre building.
He should have guessed it before. She was most likely an actress. That was why she could sing so beautifully. It had made him disappointed him to find out that she was a person of questionable moral as it was shown by the public nature of her job which was associated by degeneracy.
This Raven, she was selling a dream to those men. They could imagine her as anyone; from the high class lady to the innocent country girl.
Perhaps, Severus was just like them. He wished to see her as someone else—someone such as his beloved husband. Learning the truth had shattered his dream.
He supposed his small adventure tonight ought to satisfy his curiosity. Tomorrow, he would send flowers to her as a thank you because though it had been very brief, she had showed him the dream he had never thought would see again.
The next day, Severus was very much surprised when his secretary informed him that The Raven he had sought wasn't an actress. Only one woman had matched his description—hair as black as a raven and a deep green eyes—and she was working as a playwright; a job he thought that only man could have.
Apparently, she was also no ordinary playwright, it was said that even the Queen had loved her drama.
"Her name is Mrs. Jade," said his secretary. "And from what I know, she is a widow, sir."
Ah, so that's why, he thought to himself, somewhat not really surprised by the revelation that she was working because she had no husband to support her life. It was probably very unfair of him to think like that. But how could he feel saved by her voice if she wasn't a good person?
"Sir, should I send the flower now?" asked his secretary.
"Yes, please do so, Ted."
"Father, what is it I've heard from others that you're enamored with some singer? Tell me it's not true."
Severus flushed at his son's accusation. He wasn't enamored with her. He only felt a bit thankful to her, sending flowers was hardly a capital crime.
"I mean it's been years since papa passed away. I'd understand you if you need to find another person in your life." James sighed. "Hell, I even expected you to do it at some point." His son began to pace before him. "But I expect you to find a respectable person, not a whore like her!"
"She's not a whore!" He snapped irritably.
But his son went on as if he didn't hear him, "Father, it's not my business if you want to bed her. But from what I've heard, you're quite serious about pursuing her. I can't accept this. You're defiling papa's memories by doing that!"
"Silence, James!" He roared. "You don't know how much I love your papa!"
How could he compare his Harry with Mrs. Jade? His son understood nothing! His beloved was his earth, his moon, his sun—his everything!
Betraying his Harry? Defiling his memories? Severus would rather die than did that!
"Then why? Why her?" His son said almost pleadingly. "If you really want to marry someone, I can search for a suitable bride for you, father."
Severus was hurt that his son thought so low of him. He wasn't an animal. This wasn't just about lust.
"Son, you've overstepped your bounds!"
"I won't hear of it. Get out."
Giving him one last disappointed look, James turned and left his office, slamming the door behind him.
Jade felt flattered or maybe she should feel scared. None of her admirers at the club had sent him a flower at her actual job's place. She had kept her real identity very closely. She didn't want any of those lecherous bastards to pursue her and complicate her life further.
This admirer with no name was either serious of her, or he was a stalker. But she wouldn't stop singing just because of one admirer who had found out her secret. It was her life pleasure and she was paid good money for it. She supposed she could try for a position in the stage to sing but it wasn't a suitable life for a woman with a child. Besides, she was a really good playwright and was proud of her job.
Her career had started at the orphanage where she had written all the drama script for the children for their play. Comedy, tragedy, just named it. She could make a script out of it. That was how she met the head of a troupe who asked her to come along with him to London. Now even it was only a small theatre, she was quite content at doing something that she actually liked.
The door of her office creaked open. "Mum!" Her son said, stepping in.
"Sweetheart," She said as she hugged her son. "How is your day?"
"Uncle Kingsley took me to the Covent Garden where we ate the biggest sausage I've ever seen."
"Is that so?" She said, chuckling, then turned to face the man who was standing at the door. "Thank you, Kingsley for accompanying my son today."
"Pish, Jade. You're our best playwright, what I wouldn't do for you," said the black man amiably, showing his white teeth in a wide smile.
"I am this theatre's one and only playwright," She said dryly. "Albus, what would you say to Uncle Kingsley?"
With a grin, Albus said, "Thank you, Uncle Kingsley."
To say that Jade was very surprised was an understatement. It wasn't every day she would be stopped from going into her hired hackney by a young man who came seemingly from a wealthy family, judging from the clothes he wore. The young man insisted her to take a walk with him.
Feeling anxious and not wanting to make a scene, she decided to follow him. She could always hit his head with her umbrella and make a run for it, if he was a bad person who would try to rape her.
After a few blocks away, the young man turned to her and said, "Look, I don't know who you're, woman, but I want you to stay away from my father."
"Your father?" She asked, surprised. That was the last thing that had crossed her mind when the young man had forced her to go along with him.
"I'll pay for it, how much do you want?" said the young man arrogantly. "I can give it to you, just stay away from my father."
Jade bristled at this rude boy. She was seriously offended by what he had said. She had never judged those women who sold themselves as a mean to provide food in their family's table. Some of them were even her friends. Yes, the women were selling, but the men didn't have to buy! Either way, it was still a fair exchange!
What made her angrier was that this boy was speaking of it as it was something filthy and beneath his notice.
"Excuse me, sir. You don't have to pay me for anything," She replied coldly.
"What do you want, woman? Jewel? Gold?"
"No, I don't want anything!" she said, severely insulted. "I'll gladly stay away from your father!"
"You'll stay away from my father?" the young man said doubtfully.
"Yes, I'll do so if you just give me the name of your father," she snapped at him.
Looking down at her, the young man said, "My father is Severus Snape."
Jade blinked. She had never heard that name before, but she would keep it in mind to stay far away from someone who owned that name.
"I assure you, I'll stay away from Mr. Snape from now on."
"Good, you don't want to know what I'll do if I find you hanging around my father."
With that parting threat, the young man turned around and left her alone, gaping at his fading back.
Only when Jade had reached her home, she finally realized that she had just been threatened. Feeling bewildered and a bit scared, she pulled his sleeping son closer to her.
Really, why would the young man think that she'd try to seduce a married man? She had never indicated that she was selling, in fact she mostly kept her head down to avoid men coming after her.
"Mm, mum…?" her son said sleepily.
"Shh, Albus… It's only mummy. Go back to sleep."
Her son was named after the saint patron of the orphanage, St. Albinus, but after her son grew up, he had taken to refer himself as Albus.
"Mm, all right..." her son mumbled, closing his eyes again.
With a smile, she also closed her eyes and tried to sleep.
"Lady, you're really something, aren't you? You've promised you'd stay away from my Father!"
This time a young woman came into her office and lashed out angrily at her.
Jade stiffened at the unfair accusation. "I haven't come closer to your father! I don't even know your father is!"
"Don't lie to me. My father is Severus Snape!"
She sighed. Again, the mysterious Mr. Snape. She didn't know any Severus Snape. Sure, there was a stalker who kept sending her flowers. But she had refused to accept it since she had met that young man who had threatened her. Furthermore, there hadn't been any contact from someone who named Mr. Snape.
She protested loudly, "I don't know who you're talking about, young lady. I haven't even met Mr. Snape!"
The young woman screeched loudly. It would seem that she was convinced that she was lying. Jade had a feeling that she was going to bodily harm her.
Before that young woman could do anything to her, a shoe was thrown at her.
"Leave my mother alone, you hag!" her son looked just as angry as the lady.
"You have a son? You have a son and you thought you can seduce my father?" she said angrily.
"Lady, haven't you heard what even a word at what I've said? I have never met your father in my life!"
Instead of replying to her words, she harrumphed then left, stomping out of the room.
Jade sighed. She began to feel tired of this bullying. Who the hell was this Mr. Snape anyway?
"Father, she had a son!"
Severus was surprised when he found his daughter barging into his bedroom, shouting the information which he hadn't known before. But it was irrelevant because his children were wrong. He had no interest in the woman besides her talent in music.
"She's not as pure as you thought!"
Severus felt the beginning of a headache. His children were being pestilence. He wasn't replacing their papa with that woman. He had raised them with his own hands since the day they were born and they still didn't know that he wouldn't do such things?
"She's a wench! She won't listen to my warning!" She said, scowling darkly.
"Lily, you met her?" He said, exasperated with his daughter. "Could it be you threatened her?"
Lily's mouth snapped shut at his accusation then she stubbornly looked away. So that was why his flowers were being returned.
Severus sighed. "Daughter of mine, have you lost your mind? A woman from good family didn't go around threatening people!"
She didn't answer him, only stubbornly held her chin up.
"Lily, don't ever met her again, you hear me. You won't bring more shame on our family," he said sternly to her. "Go tell you brother I have no intention to have a relationship with her."
"I swear on your papa's grave."
She looked satisfied by his answer. Severus sighed. Now he only had to apologize for his daughter's rude behavior.
Jade was in her office, preparing for the new drama when the theatre helper boy said to her, "A Mr. Snape wants to see you, Mrs. Jade."
Jade sat a bit straighter when she heard that. With a frown, she replied, "Tell him, I don't want to see him."
"All right, ma'am," said the boy.
She shook her head in disbelief. Hmm, so the troublemaker decided to visit now?
"Hey, sir… you can't just…!" Jade heard the helper's protest.
Jade jumped out of her seat when the door was opened roughly by a stranger.
"I need to talk to you, please," said the stranger wearily. "I won't bother you again after this."
Still clutching her heart, startled by the man's sudden appearance, she couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit sorry when she saw the desperate look on the man's face. Ah, so this was the elusive Mr. Snape. She had noticed this man's presence at the gambling club, but they hadn't met privately.
"It's all right, Stan. Leave us alone, I'll be fine."
"If you say so, ma'am," said the helper doubtfully, glaring at Mr. Snape. "Just shout if you need help."
Severus took off his hat and held it in his hand. Now that he finally had the chance to speak with the famous Raven, his tongue was tied. The woman was a beauty, albeit she dressed herself modestly and quite conservative. Her skin was peachy pale and she had a rosy glow to her cheeks. The tiny curls of black hair sprung out from her tight bun, forming a messy-cloud all over her head make her looked more like an inexperienced young miss than a worldly widow.
But those advantages of her weren't the reason Severus had lost his ability to talk. Rather than her whole look, he was more stunned by her eyes. In close proximity like this, he could see that her green eyes weren't just similar, but an exact copy of his deceased husband.
"Mr. Snape?" The woman lifted one eyebrow questioningly at him.
Severus realized he had relapsed into silence while he was lost in his thoughts. She must have been wondering what he was doing in here.
"Mrs. Jade," said Severus, inclining his head slightly to her. "I'm sorry for surprising you for coming here uninvited. I came to apologize for my daughter's rudeness."
Mrs. Jade gave him a rueful smile. "Did you come to apologize for your son too?"
"My son paid you a visit too?" Severus said, blanched, faintly mortified.
Seeing his reaction, her mouth twisted into a smile, amused twinkle in her eyes. "I can see you're very much loved, Mr. Snape."
Severus paused. It didn't sound like sarcasm, even though he expected her to be angry about it. "If you put it that way, then yes, I believe I am…" He replied. "Ah… but my children still behaved rudely toward you, ma'am. For that, I sincerely apologize."
Mrs. Jade looked straight at him. For a moment, it felt like she could see right into his heart, prying his innermost secrets. Severus swallowed hard and averted his eyes. It's been years since he had felt uncomfortable just from being stared by someone else. He didn't know why but he felt threatened by her very existence.
She paused, then said gracefully, "Apologies accepted. Now you may go, Mr. Snape."
Severus blinked, surprised. That was it?
"Are you sure there is nothing I can do for you?" He asked her, puzzled by her answer.
Did she not know that he was a very wealthy man? She could ask for money for her trouble or maybe asked to be connected to the people he knew to gain something for herself or securing a favor from him for future use.
"Yes, I am sure, Mr. Snape," She said, amused. "You only need to leave me alone."
"Mrs. Jade…." He couldn't believe that she didn't want anything from him. Was she really one of those honest people left in this world?
She held up her hand, then said sternly, "And please… while I appreciate the flowers, don't send it again."
"Yes, I understand, ma'am." He gave her his words. "Once again, I'm sorry for the trouble… I'll leave you now."
As Severus put his hat back on, he was almost sorry that he would never see her again. If the circumstances were different, and despite her gender, he was sure they could be friends. She had gained his respect just because she wasn't the scheming sort of person. She had a sincere heart, he saw that clearly now. In this polite, back-stabbing society, it was enough reason to treasure someone like that.
Jade hoped that her cheeks didn't flush. She had to admit she was a bit disappointed when Mr. Snape left her office. She had imagined Mr. Snape as a somewhat old, bald, and fat man. While in reality Mr. Snape was still an old man, the man was very handsome for someone of his age with high cheekbones and an aquiline nose. He had crow's feet at the corner of his eyes and a silver streak ran through his black as night hair. She didn't know what type of man she liked before but she was sure she could easily picture herself fall in love with someone like Mr. Snape.
And there was something about the man, all of those hidden sadness and suffering she had seen in those eyes that was attractive to her.
But enough about that nonsense, that wasn't appropriate thoughts for a widow with one child and she wasn't a hopeless woman. She was an independent successful woman who didn't need a man to support her life.
Besides, she had to remind herself that Mr. Snape's children had been absolute terrors these past two weeks. 'Good riddance!' was what she should keep in mind.
Now that the troubled had been settled amicably, she should continue her work for the latest drama.
"Father stopped coming to the club and he's not sending anymore presents to her."
"Are you sure about it, James?" His sister looked at him quizzically.
He shrugged. "I'm sure, little sister. I have my sources and it's never been wrong."
His sister paused then gave a sharp sigh. "But is this really the right thing to do? I mean if it makes father happy…."
James crossed his arms, irritated with his sister. "Lily, are you going to tell me you're having a second thought?"
"Oh, James, but I think it's better for father to be happy, don't you think?" Lily said quietly. "He suffers long enough without papa. I hate the thought of him growing old alone."
"He's not going to be alone, Lily!" He snapped at her. "He still has us!"
"James, you know that's not what I meant!" She said sharply. "We might be his children and he would always have us, but we can't replace papa's place in his heart."
"So you're saying we have to approve this… this relationship?" He said harshly. "She's the kind of woman who wouldn't think twice about using our father."
She threw up both hands in a frustrated gesture. "Oh, I don't know, I really don't, James… We don't really know about her. Maybe she's not as bad as we think."
"Then what do you want me to do, sister?" he said, arching his eyebrow.
"I… I want to know about her first, if she's good for our father, then yes, I'll approve it."
He scowled. "You, an Earl's daughter, are thinking of milling about with a whore?"
Lily scolded him, "Hush! I don't know you're such a prude, brother!"
"I can't agree with this."
"James! You'd better be!" She cried, staring stubbornly at him. "You know I'll do it even without your approval!"
His eyes flashed. "I am the head of this family, Lily!"
"Only in name, my dear brother," She pressed. "You and I both know that our father is the real head of this family."
His anger deflated instantly at the blatant logic. Sighing, he said, "Oh, fine, you little twerp. Just take someone with you all the time. Father is going kill me if something happens to you."
"No, he won't. Because brother, I'm an adult, I can take care of myself," She said with a formal tilt of her head.
James said dryly, "I sincerely doubt that, sister. You have too much papa's aspect in you. I think you're going to be the death of me."
"What else do you want from me?" Jade asked her coldly when she saw the young woman walk into her office.
The young woman whoever she was, winced at her icy tone. "Um, I come to apologize to you, Mrs. Jade."
She raised her eyebrow at her. "You don't have to. Your father had come to apologize for you."
"Father came here?" she squeaked, her eyes widened comically.
Jade swallowed her laugh at seeing her reaction. It would seem that Mr. Snape was feared by his daughter. "You don't have to worry. He promised he would stay away from me."
"Oh… I see…" She fell silent, then said, "Please, let me take you out for a tea as an apology, Mrs. Jade."
"Is there going to be a cake?" A young voice behind her quipped suddenly.
"Albus!" She cried, then muttered, "I'm sorry for my son's rudeness..."
"No, it's all right. Yes, there is going to be a cake there," the young woman answered quickly.
Albus's grin deepened. "Then let us go, mum, please?"
Jade blushed, feeling mortified. She only had herself to blame that Albus resembled her so much in that aspect about liking sweets, even worse the boy didn't inherit her self-restraint.
"Please, Mrs. Jade, I beg of you too," she said with pleading eyes.
She could feel her will to refuse weakened severely at being the receiver of two sad faces. "Just this once, I think," she finally answered.
At the carriage, the young miss said to her son, "What kind of cake do you want little boy?"
Albus frowned at her. "I'm not a boy anymore, I'm a young man."
"Ah… then what a fine young man you are," said the miss, humoring her son. "How old are you?"
"I'm thirteen now," Her son said proudly.
"An age for a young man, I sure," she replied.
Albus nodded seriously. Then he asked with a bright smile, "Is there going to be a chocolate cake? I want that with lots and lots of cream."
Jade couldn't help but smiling, it wasn't often her son would look so happy. There wasn't anyone at his age in the theatre and most of them ignored his presence. She was sure her son enjoyed the attention he received right now, even though they had started off on the wrong foot.
Mrs. Jade was quite an extraordinary woman. She looked young but she was already a successful playwright and her boy was already at the age of thirteen. She was obviously an educated woman. She was nothing like she had thought of her. She had the temperament of a lady from distinguished, respected family. More surprisingly, she spoke and acted like one. Perhaps, that was why her father had taken a liking on her.
"If Jade was your last name, what is your first name?" Lily asked curiously.
To her surprise, Mrs. Jade looked embarrassed at the question. "It's… my only name," she replied quietly.
"Your only name?" She raised an eyebrow. "Do you mean it's your stage name?"
"Stage name?" Mrs. Jade chuckled. "No, it's not. You're confusing me with the actress. I don't need a stage name. Jade is my real name, although you're not the first person to doubt it."
She frowned. What kind of a person who had named their child just 'Jade'?
"Then what about your son? Surely he has a last name?"
"…no, he also doesn't have a last name," She finally answered after a brief silence.
"He doesn't?" Now she was surprised. "People said you're a widow... You didn't have a husband?" Lily asked further then stopped herself. "Ah, I'm sorry, Mrs. Jade. I shouldn't pry onto your business."
"You shouldn't, but I appreciate your honest questions." She saw Mrs. Jade mulling about the questions before deciding to give her an answer, "I might be a widow, though I can't really know for sure. I was found by a nun on the side of the river near the orphanage of St. Albinus. They thought… I was trying to kill myself and my unborn child."
"Oh…!" Lily gasped, feeling terrible at once. She hadn't thought that Mrs. Jade might have an unpleasant past. "I'm sorry to hear that… You don't have to tell me about this."
"It's all right. I am not the first one, it seemed," said Mrs. Jade wryly. "A widow with nothing on her, with no money to feed her child, it wasn't that strange if I tried to kill myself. It seemed to be the only option for a woman like me."
"Oh…" she repeated again, trying to find the right words. "But… they saved you."
"Yes, Albus and I would never be here today if not because of their kindness."
"Ah, but… how did you end up with the theatre? I mean it's not a very good living."
"My mum doesn't sell her body!" her son interrupted angrily, glaring at her. "She sells her script!"
"Albus… you don't have to defend me," said Mrs. Jade, blushing.
"It's true. You're not a whore, mum."
Mrs. Jade looked scandalized at her son's choice of words. "Albus! Where did you learn that word? Promise me, you'll never, ever repeat it again!"
Lily blinked as Mrs. Jade chided her son. It had been enlightening. Now she knew that Mrs. Jade was a proper person who had a very tragic past. It seemed that she really hadn't intended to ensnare her father. But she wasn't foolish enough to believe her every word. She knew she needed to meet her again to know her better. She had to be sure that Mrs. Jade was truly not a liar and a theft before she approved her father's approach on the woman.
Mrs. Jade was thanking her for the tea as they left the shop. However, as soon as they took a step outside, her son decided that it would be fun to race them to the end of the street.
"Albus! Don't run!" Mrs. Jade yelled worriedly at her son.
Just as she spoke, the boy ran into a burly man and fell backward. Both of them quickly approached the boy. Lily stood awkwardly as Mrs. Jade crouched down to inspect her son. However, as Mrs. Jade's neck bent forward, the scars in the shape of horseshoe just below the back of her hair came into the view.
"See, I told you not to run!" Mrs. Jade said worriedly, gently patting her boy. "Are you hurt somewhere?"
Lily was stunned, not really hearing what she said to her son. Her gaze was stuck on the woman's scar while her mind was reeling so fast that she felt dizzy. Only one person she knew to have that kind of scars and the last time she saw that person was thirteen years ago.
Mrs. Jade looked up to her, frowning. "Are you feeling all right? You very look pale."
Her mind added up the facts and came to a conclusion. Oh Lord! Could this be fate?
"I… I… have something to do! Good day to you Mrs. Jade!" She said hurriedly.
Mrs. Jade blinked, then replied, "Good day to you too."
"Brother? Brother! Where are you?"
"What in bloody… Lily? You looked like you've just seen a ghost!"
"I've just seen one!"
"You've seen a ghost?" said James, staring at his sister in disbelief.
"No!" she said angrily. "I've just seen papa!"
"Papa? Are you sure?" James asked her, frowning heavily.
"I'm sure!" she cried out in exasperation.
"Where have you seen him?"
"Not him, her!"
"Hold on… You said you've seen papa," James said, confused.
"James! Papa as a female, you remember?"
"Of course, I remember," James said, exasperated with his sister's antics.
"She's Mrs. Jade."
"What the hell do you mean by that, sister?" he raised his tone sharply.
She blurted out continuous words so fast that she might have said it in one breath. "I spoke to her, and she said that she had been saved from the river! And that horseshoe scars on her neck, James! I'd recognize that scar anywhere! Papa got it from saving the climbing boy!"
James stopped hearing once he heard about the scar. Yes, he remembered that incident perfectly. Papa had saved the chimney sweep apprentice from the fate of being trampled to death by the horses in the market. The boy had been quite all right aside from being shaken by his near death experience, but his papa had been injured badly. The horse's hoof had hit him hard at the back of his neck, tearing into his flesh. He had been bleeding so much that James had been afraid he would die.
If it hadn't for the quick thinking of their nanny to call for the healer and not a muggle doctor, their papa would have died that day. Even with magic, it still left a scar in the shape of horseshoe on papa's neck.
Afterwards, his papa had told him jokingly that he was marked for luck, referring to the horseshoe scar on his neck, although James couldn't smile to that. He didn't find it funny, not even remotely so. He had almost lost his parent because of that careless coachman and those blasted horses.
"Calm down, Lily. Take a breath. Why do you mean that Mrs. Jade is our papa? She looks nothing like papa."
"James! It's been thirteen years, of course she won't look the same!"
"I still don't think…"
"Oh, good Lord! Thirteen years, James! Her boy is thirteen! He could very well be our brother!"
"Lily! Would you speak with more sense? I don't understand what you're talking about!"
She took a deep breath then slowly repeated to him of what she had heard from Mrs. Jade.
After a long silence, James finally said, "I'll go check on the St. Albinus, there couldn't be that much orphanage with that name."
"James, are you listening to what I've said? I'm sure she's our papa!"
"I'm not going to believe it without proof, Lily," he said tightly.
It wasn't like James didn't want it to be true. But for five years after the accident, countless people had come to their manor. They too had claimed that they had seen their papa, however in the end they were only a crook who was preying on their sadness. What they really sought was the ridiculously large amount of reward money their father had promised to anyone who had found papa. After so many false hopes, he and Lily were so tired and sick of being disappointed for so many times. James knew that was the only reason why their distraught father finally gave up all hope that papa would ever come home.
If Mrs. Jade was only playing a trick on them, the woman would sorely pay for it. No one foolishly meddled with his family.
His sister insisted, "Fine. You go, check it. I'm sure I'm right about it. I'll say 'I told you so' when you come back."
James just shrugged at his sister's mocking tone.
But before he left, he narrowed his eyes at his sister and said warningly, "Don't you dare telling father about this."
"Keep this between us," he said sternly. "Don't tell him yet, Lily! He's going to be crushed if she wasn't papa! You knew he already took a liking on her even before this."
She sighed. "All right, I promise, brother. I won't tell father before you come back."
St. Albinus's orphanage was located in the borders of Scotland. The rivers which had taken his papa ran through it, separating the church and the orphanage in a perfect half. When James saw it was really the same river, hope began to bloom in his heart. Perhaps, it was true what Lily had said. If anything, he trusted that people who had taken religious vows like priest and nuns would never tell lie to him.
However, as he arrived on the orphanage, the new priest in charge didn't know anything about what happened thirteen years ago. And since Mrs. Jade wasn't an orphan, the church didn't keep a record about her.
After a whole day of asking people at the village and no one seemed to know, James was about to give up and went home when he spotted an old nun, walking down the valley. Deciding to ask at least for one more persons before he left, James met the nun halfway.
Her back slightly stooped and wrinkles adorned her hands and face but she offered him a kind smile when she asked him what he was doing in here. James explained that he was searching for someone named Mrs. Jade. He stared doubtfully at her for a moment. She looked like a friendly woman but what if she had already gone senile with age?
But it seemed he didn't have to be worry as there was a flash of understanding in her eyes which indicated that her brain was still as sharp as a young person. With a chuckle, she told him that she remembered that sweet woman. And yes, she was the one who had saved her from the river. The nun claimed that the woman had given her a ring as a thank you. When he asked her about the ring, she was even generous enough to show it to him.
"I know, nuns aren't supposed to keep this kind of worldly things, but she insisted. And when I receive it from her, I swear I won't ever sell it. It was just a keepsake from a friend," the nun said with a fond smile, placing the ring in his palm as she told him a story about the woman she had helped years ago. "Even though she becomes very successful in London, she is still coming here from time to time. Every time she came, she would bring foods and clothes for the children."
James stood there, stunned, didn't even dare to breath, afraid to ruin this moment. He could barely believe his sight. But it was there in his palm the lost ring of the House of Gryffindor—the ultimate proof that his papa had survived the terrible accident.
Suddenly, the wild hope in his heart had ripened into the sweetest fruit of victory. His eyes were filled with so much tears of joy that some of it might come falling down to his cheeks.
His voice was hoarse when he asked, still feeling amazed, "She still does?"
"Yes, she has a very good heart."
That really sounded like something his kindhearted papa would do. The same man who was willing to be woken up at outrageous hour of the night every time his tenant had needed his help.
Swallowing down the urge to lift the nun and swing her around, very thankful that she had saved his papa, he asked, "How… how come she is called Jade?"
"Ah, that. She said she didn't remember her name, or any of her past. We suspected she didn't want to remember it, so we gave her that name after the color of her eyes. It might sound quite unusual. But mind you, she didn't look like a commoner." The nun lowered her voice. "I shouldn't speak of this but I've always romanticized her as a Lady-in-hiding, broken love and unwanted pregnancy." She chuckled. "Forget what I said, young man. It's only an old nun's daydream. We shouldn't talk about her that way. She is a good woman."
James had no response to that since he couldn't say the truth to her.
Clearing his throat, he said quietly, "Sister, this ring has my house crest on it…"
"Your house crest?" repeated the nun, blinking. "My goodness, you know about her then?"
"Yes, I know her," he rasped, smiling sadly. "I am her son."
He explained to her solemnly, "It's an accident… We really thought she's dead."
The nun patted his hand. "Oh, you poor boy… you've must been so sad to lose your mother, a wonderful woman like her."
James just nodded. He felt if he spoke, his voice would break. If only they had kept searching, maybe they could find their papa sooner. Though, he doubted they would think about searching the faraway border of Scotland. The river's current was so strong. It was doubtful that anyone could survive more than a mile without their head getting bashed against the sharp rocks.
He didn't really want to ask the nun how his papa's condition when she had found him thirteen years ago. He might not be able to sleep well if he heard it.
James sighed. He could keep regretting that or he could do something more about it now. What was more important was that his papa was still alive.
"Sister, do you mind if I have this back?" he asked softly the nun about the ring as he couldn't leave such an important proof here. "I promise… I'll exchange it with something else."
"No, no… take it. As I've said, your mother is kind, we might have helped her but she had helped us many times now. Besides, it belongs to your family."
"Thank you," he said earnestly, gripping the ring tightly, afraid of losing it.
"Let me know something, though. I promise I won't tell anyone." The nun motioned his face to come closer and he obligingly bowed his head. "Your mother... Is she a real Lady?" the nun asked with a low voice.
James pulled back and chuckled weakly. Not exactly what he would call her as, but his papa was born in an aristocratic family so he answered, "Yes, she is."
"Ha! I knew it!" said the nun, looking satisfied. "Now run along, boy. You need a mother to find for."
"You can say, 'I told you so', Lily, I don't care."
His sister sniffed, her face wet with tears from the story he had just told her. She gave the signet ring back to him. "Yes, I told you so! Now we need to talk to father."
Together, they explained it all to their father, but their father refused to hear reason. But James thought that father felt the same as he had felt before when he heard it from Lily. He was only protecting his heart so he wouldn't be hurt again.
So instead of pushing his father to accept it, James put the ring on the table.
"This is the proof, you believe it or not. I'll leave the choice to you, father."
His sister protested, "James!"
"Come on, Lily," he said, dragging his stubborn sister out of the room.
"Oh, I can't believe you! James, we have to go back and convince father!"
"Lily, our father needs time to accept this. I couldn't too at first."
"You really sure?"
"Father loves papa too much. He'll do the right thing."
"And what is the right thing? Bringing our papa home?"
"We'll give him time, Lily. If he won't do it, then yes, I'll bring our papa home."
Severus paced around his study, scowling deeply. What non sense they were saying? First, they had objected heavily against his admiration of Mrs. Jade's talent! Then now, they were saying Mrs. Jade was his Harry? And he might have a thirteen year old son he had never met?
But the proof was staring back at him from the table. It was the signet ring which bore the Gryffindor coat of arms. It's not something that could be easily imitated since it was a goblin-made ring. The same ring his husband always wore, even on that blasted rainy day when the currents swept him away.
He stared somberly at the ring as if it was the ring's fault. Then suddenly he stiffened as he remembered what Mrs. Jade did for a living. She was a playwright at a bloody damned theatre and a singer at the bloody damned gambling club. Had she had a patron? Had she lain with one of her suitors?
His chest burned with anger and jealousy just at the thought of it. If she was just Mrs. Jade, he could care less, but if she was really his husband, he would be damned if he let anyone else touch her.
Severus decided to shadow Mrs. Jade's every step these past few days before he could take a decision what to do about it. It seemed that most of the time she stayed in her office at the theatre and once in a while she would go to the club to sing. After interrogating some members of the theatre which were close to her, he found out to his relief that she never had a patron since she had joined the theatre seven years ago.
Every morning, Severus also noticed that she would always go to the market which located near the slum area of London. Not only for shopping for her daily needs, she would also pick the most hapless person of the day to help them.
James had told him that she had a good heart but Severus hadn't believed his son's words at that time. The first time he saw her did her social deed, he started to realize that what his son had told him was barely grazing the top of her mountain of kindness.
She had bought a basket full of half-wilted flowers from the flower girl in ragged dress and her bony sister. She had even given each of them an extra of recently baked pie and toffee apple that he was sure they hadn't had for a while. While she did that, she wouldn't let them feel indebted to her by saying that it was as a thanks for the loveliest flowers she had ever seen since a while. Seeing their wide smile, he was sure to their eyes she might look like a merciful goddess.
Then the next day, she would help an old woman who had trouble with carrying her groceries, even if that old woman was behaving quite ungrateful for her help by constantly grumbling at her. She accepted every critic the old woman threw at her gracefully like it was her due.
And he learned that every juvenile pickpocket in the market knew her intimately, he could even say that they respected her.
Whenever she saw them, Mrs. Jade never failed to ask, "Hello young man, any luck today?"
Their answer was varied. If they answered her with waving the stolen wallet and a grin, she would bid them good day. If they said that they didn't have any luck, she would share the apples and breads she had just bought with them.
He knew now the reason why she didn't dress glamorously like other woman despite of her high pay as a singer at the club. She used her money for another reason, simply for the sake of helping others.
In that aspect, even without his memories, Severus knew that his Harry still existed in this world through her kind, pure heart.
But today, Severus couldn't just stand idly and watched her silently as always. She had stopped a drunkard husband from beating his wife to death.
She had waved her umbrella threateningly at that drunkard, firmly planted herself between the man and his poor wife.
"Get out of my way, woman. She's my property. I can treat her as I please," slurred the man angrily.
She bristled at hearing the man's words and snarled just as angrily, "I won't let you do that, you brute!"
People were watching the whole scene, fascinated. Some even sent pitying glance to the wounded woman, but no one cared enough to interfere. When the drunkard snatched the umbrella away from her hands, Severus knew he had to act now before the drunkard hit her.
"You don't want to do that, my dear fellow," he stated coldly, staring down at the shorter man, holding the man's fist from reaching his husband.
With a swift move, Severus hit the man's back leg with his cane, making the man fell on his knees on the ground. Then before the man could realize what had happened to him, Severus withdrew the hidden blade in his cane and pressed the sharp metal to the man's neck, not yet drawing blood but close enough to make the man believe that was he was serious with his threat.
It was very easy to him to do that. A drunkard was no match to what he had learnt to defend himself when he started his business in America. Even in modern time, that country was still filled with savage people who would rob him in his business trip and left him dead if he wasn't vigilant enough.
That drunkard whimpered. He could smell the other man's fear—the typical bully, brave only on his weaker victims and stayed away from stronger person.
"Leave now," he said in a soft voice, giving the man a cruel smile which made the drunkard shudder. "Before I make sure you'll spent the rest of your poor life in Newgate or… worse."
Without much further provocation, the drunkard fled from the scene with his tail between his legs. The people who had been watching the scene were clapping loudly, applauded him for his victory against the bully.
"Mr. Snape…?" He heard Mrs. Jade gasped out his name as he sheathed his blade. She looked very surprised to see him here.
"Mrs. Jade," he said, bowing his head courteously to her. "Shall we take the poor woman to the doctor?"
'Oh, dear,' Jade thought as she felt like her knees were going to fail to support her up. Her hands were shaking badly. She was very furious and scared and surprised. She hadn't really thought the consequence of helping that woman. She just knew she couldn't let her husband beat her to death, even though that man was bigger and stronger than her.
If not for Mr. Snape, Jade knew she was going to face a very unpleasant outcome. She had been afraid for Mr. Snape's sake when the man joined the fight. Instead the man surprised her by being so brave and strong. After the drunkard fled, she could see in the man's calm face that this kind of situation wasn't the first encounter of violence Mr. Snape had encountered. Nor it would be the first one he had come out as conqueror.
She might have swooned just then if she was the swooning sort of woman. Though, she told herself to be strong when Mr. Snape reminded her for more pressing thing like what they should do to help the poor woman. She became more amazed of what Mr. Snape could do when the man lifted the woman off the ground easily as if she weighed next to nothing.
Jade straightened her spine. "Ah, yes, please follow me. I know where the doctor is," she said quickly, suppressing her blush. But she couldn't help but feeling a bit envious toward the woman who was being held in the man's arms and instantly felt guilty to feel so when the poor woman was in such a bad condition.
After they had gotten the woman safely to the doctor, she went to thank the man for his help. She struggled to keep her heart from beating fast every time she sneaked a look at the man. Mr. Snape wasn't only handsome. The man was capable and gentle. If she were to write a drama about him, he would be the main protagonist who swept a princess off her feet—the perfect knight in shining armor.
'Dear Lord…' Jade thought as she stared appreciatively at the man's firm, well-muscled body, mentally fanning her burning face. She wasn't a loose woman but she couldn't help but wondered how it would feel to have those powerful arms and chest around her.
"Thank you for your help, sir," she said earnestly. "I couldn't dare to imagine what would happen without your help."
She didn't know why but somehow the man looked he was very displeased with her.
"Indeed. It's a dangerous thing to do, Mrs. Jade," Mr. Snape lectured her with a stern gaze, making her feel like she was a young girl instead of a mature woman. "I hope you won't put yourself in that kind of situation anymore."
She suddenly felt ashamed to be chided by the man and looked away. Her son had said the same thing. That was why she didn't bring him along with her. She knew that if Albus knew, her son would severely disapprove her action today.
"Mrs. Jade, will you promise me that you're not going to put yourself in a dangerous situation like that anymore?" Mr. Snape repeated, asking a promise from her.
Jade bit her lip then shook her head. "I am sorry, sir. But I can't promise you that without lying to you."
Severus sighed. She was as stubborn as his Harry. Being brave and reckless was the only combination that he didn't miss about his husband. His beloved always made him worried to death with his actions, jumping from one dangerous situation to another.
It would seem that his days of anxiety had returned.
Mrs. Jade was silent for a long time before she said wistfully, "Ah… I've promised not to see you anymore, Mr. Snape. And I've broken that promise."
"You don't have to worry," he said softly. "My children won't bother you anymore."
Actually, they might have encouraged him to meet her more now. But she didn't need to hear that from him, it might cause her to be suspicious of him.
"What do you mean by that, sir?" she asked, blinking with surprise.
He explained, "They no longer have any objection about us meeting each other."
"Oh? They don't?" she asked, shocked but also sounding a bit hopeful.
When Severus raised his eyebrow at her expectant tone, she stammered with a blush, "I mean… I…" He might be wrong about it, but from the sound of it, she seemed almost happy to hear that. Perhaps, he still had a chance of winning back his husband's heart. "I'm glad to hear that… I think," she continued her words shyly.
Seizing the chance, he asked quickly before she could change her mind, "I know this may come as a surprise to you, Mrs. Jade… May I have the permission to court you?"
"Court me…?" she said breathlessly, completely unprepared for such questions from him. She shook her head with disbelief. "Mr. Snape, I'll be truthful to you. I am a widow and I have a son. You couldn't possibly want me…"
Severus wanted to kiss her and chased away all of her doubts but they were strangers now and no longer knew each other so well to do that kind of thing. Instead, he held her hand gently and raised it to his lips.
"I've become very fond of you, Mrs. Jade," he said truthfully, looking into her eyes. "I think you're a very beautiful woman and I can see today that you also have a beautiful heart. You're exactly the kind of woman I want to have as my wife."
"Oh…" she said at loss for words, blushing to her ears at hearing his praises.
Severus frowned. Perhaps, he was going too far with his words. Perhaps, he was wrong about it, she didn't welcome his advance.
"I hope you'll pardon me for being so bold with my feelings," he added softly. "I might have misinterpreted..."
But she interrupted his sentence by shaking her head furiously. "No, you're not wrong, my dear sir. To be honest, all I really want is to reciprocate your feelings. Still, I'm afraid you think too highly of me. I'm just a mere working widow, but I do love my job. If you expect me to stop working once I become your wife, I don't think I can do that."
Then with a gasp, as if realizing what she had just fervently uttered, she fell silent, seemed embarrassed by her own blunt honesty.
Severus felt his lips twist into a smile. So he was right about it. She liked him, enough to consider him as a potential husband candidate. "You don't have to worry. I'm not a conventional person, Mrs. Jade. I do not expect my wife to stop working just because we're married," he assured her.
"Please, give me time to think about it…" she said softly after a short silence. "The decision doesn't belong only to me. I have to talk to my son first."
Severus agreed with her request at once. He might want his husband back, but his stranger of a son was just as important. Nothing he would want more than to have a chance mending his bond with both of them.
Jade was giddy with happiness. The man she liked had asked her permission to court her. Of course, maybe nothing would come out of it. But the possibilities that she had never known before had was being opened in front of her—a husband who would accept her for who she was.
It didn't hurt that the more she knew about him, the more she became so fond of him; the tall, dark, and charming man.
"You want to marry him?" her son asked warily.
"No, it might not come to that," she replied quickly. "I haven't known him that well to marry him. He's only asking to court me, sweetheart. If you mind about his advance then I won't accept it."
"Hmm…" Albus crossed his arms, then said thoughtfully, "I can't say anything before I meet him, mum…"
"He had asked us for a ride this evening," she said carefully.
"He has his own carriage?" Albus asked, suddenly looked more cheerful than a minute ago.
"Yes, I believe he invited us to join him in his phaeton," she said with a smile.
Albus had always loved horses and carriages since he was just a toddler. But their situation didn't allow him to have those things. So she wasn't very surprised when her son beamed at her.
"He owns a phaeton?" he said with bright eyes, very impressed. "It's the newest carriage, mum! Still very rare! I can't wait to see it!"
She let out a chuckle. "Calm down, young man. You have your homework to do first. If you do it well, maybe I'll let you join us this evening."
"Aaah, mum!" her son protested heavily. "But, it's a phaeton!"
But she gave him a stern look which showed no compromise.
"Oh, fine… I'll do my homework, mum," Albus conceded, walking back reluctantly to his room with a pout on his lips, making her laugh at her son's antics.
At their first meeting, Mr. Snape and her son were eyeing each other like they were two boxers in the ring, each of them assessing their opponent. Then as if they were both satisfied by what they had seen, they started a normal conversation about the phaeton.
Her son kept asking where the man had bought it, how it was made, and everything about it. Mr. Snape's ready answer pleased Albus greatly. She knew that her son always reserved special respect to men who knew their things.
She was happy that Albus enjoyed talking to the older man and even happier to see that Mr. Snape was sincerely interested in her son, not only because she had put her son a must if the man wanted to marry her.
There was patience in the man's every gesture and words to her son. Mr. Snape was treating Albus as if the boy was his own child, and that touched her heart unlike any other men in her life could have done before.
When the ride ended, she now knew for sure that she had really fallen in love with Mr. Snape.
The next day, Jade was visited by Mr. Snape's children who were apparently not really the man's children because Mr. Snape had never been married before and the fact that they were the children of the man's sister with the Earl of Gryffindor.
She didn't have the heart to turn them away when they had apologized profusely to her for their past actions. Besides, Albus didn't look entirely uncomfortable by their presences and was suddenly very accepting when he knew that these people had relations with Mr. Snape. Her son had taken a liking to Mr. Snape. He had thought that the man was very smart and was pleased that at least she chose a smart man to be the father figure for him.
As they had sat down and had a tea together, she learned that after the Earl's demise, they had been raised by Mr. Snape.
"I'm very sorry to hear that," she said softly. "It must have been hard without your father's presence."
"Yes, it's been…" the young Lord said with a choked voice, his eyes glistened brightly with unshed tears.
James, the poor boy, was looking at her so intensely that she was afraid that he gave into the impulse to pull her—a stranger who he had only met twice in his life—into a hug. Thankfully, the young Lord regained his sanity just in time due to his sister's sharp jab on his side.
She didn't know what to think about that. They were behaving strangely. Not rude, just very strangely. It was like they hated him a week ago then they suddenly decided that they didn't this week. Now they treated her like she meant a lot to them. She couldn't help but wondered what Mr. Snape had told to the siblings which made them behave this way.
"I'm sorry, I… I have to go," said the young Lord, quickly excusing himself.
She stared at his departure, feeling uneasy and guilty about it. Maybe she shouldn't talk about their father. Obviously it was still a sore point for them.
Her sister, Lily, smiled apologetically at her. "I hope you'll excuse my brother, Mrs. Jade. He can be very emotional sometimes," she said. "He remembers about our papa a lot more than I."
Jade nodded in sympathy. "Losing someone is always hard, especially when it's a parent," she replied softly.
"Yes, it is," Lily said as she looked at her with this hauntingly sad gaze. "Just like my brother, I miss our papa. I still hope he will miraculously come back to us someday."
As she didn't know what to say to alleviate the poor girl's sadness, she took her hand and patted it gently, hoping it would somehow help to comfort her. The smile she received from her for that action almost broke her heart. She didn't know why she felt this way but the siblings made her want to do everything in her power so they wouldn't feel sad anymore and she had only felt this way toward her son.
What was it with Mr. Snape and his family? Why they affected her so strongly like this?
Then one evening, exactly one month since Mr. Snape had declared his intention to court her, the man went down on his knees and proposed her.
"Mrs. Jade, will you give me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"Oh my…" she said, blushing. "I'm flattered, Mr. Snape. But, isn't it too fast…? I mean it's only been a month."
"Mum, just accept him," her son suddenly said. "I know you've been sighing over him at night."
"Albus!" she cried, embarrassed.
"You're in love with him. And he's in love with you. Why not accept him?" his son stated crudely, making both of them blush.
Jade put her hands to her face which was burning hot. She wasn't a young, sheltered woman but this kind of conversation still made her blush. Romance before this was only in a drama she wrote.
She saw Mr. Snape cleared his throat. Then the man asked her again, "Be my wife, please. I promise I'll do to the limit of my ability to ensure you and your son's happiness."
"Call me Severus, please…"
"Oh, Severus…" She smiled radiantly at him. "If you have this ordinary woman as your wife, will you not regret it?"
"I will not," said Mr. Snape firmly. "You will always be the source of my joy."
"Oh, for Pete's sake, just kiss her already!" said her impatient son, making the man chuckle.
"Albus!" she chided just because she felt she had to, though inside her heart was so filled with happiness that she could care less about her son's cheekiness.
Seeing her glare, her son ran out of the room, laughing.
"Mum said 'yes'!" She heard Albus called out to someone who had been standing out of the room.
Whoever that person was, they were making triumphant noises which make her and Severus shared an amused look and broke into laughter.
"Will you let me kiss you, Mrs. Jade?" said the man softly after their laugh subsided.
"If I'm going to be your wife, I think you should call me Jade, Severus," she said, smiling at her beloved.
Severus threw her an amused smile. Then the man gave her the sweetest kiss she had ever received.
A Week Later at the Gryffindor Manor
"James, is father ever going to tell papa about the whole story?"
"Well, he couldn't very well be saying that Mrs. Jade wasn't always a woman, could he? And the fact that she's our biological mother?"
"But… I want to have him back, or her back, or whatever. She wasn't even going to try to remember us if no one told her."
"LIAR!" It was being shouted angrily from the top of the stairs.
James exchanged wary glances with his sister. They had forgotten Albus's existence as they prepared the manor for the wedding. It would seem that the boy had overheard their conversation.
"You're lying! She's my mother, not yours!"
"Let me go, you liars!"
"Albus, wait, we can explain!"
Then half an hour later, both Albus and James had a matching black eye. Even though, they had tried to settle it peacefully, in the end it had come to blow before the boy was calm enough to hear reasons.
"So you're saying that magic is real?"
"Yes," James said dryly, hissing softly as he pressed the cold steak on his eye to help with the swelling.
"Awesome. And you're my siblings by blood?"
"Yes," he repeated again, staring impatiently at his younger brother as if he was mentally retarded.
"Hmm, that's all right, I guess. You both aren't that bad."
"Not that bad? Oh, please, I'm more than that. I'm beautiful," Lily snapped at their younger brother.
"Deluded much?" teased their younger brother.
Lily jabbed her finger at Albus's chest, fuming. "And you, my dear brother, do you think I appreciate the bottomless pit stomach of yours?"
Albus had found and eaten all her secret stash of chocolate yesterday. James knew his sister had tried her best not to explode back then in order to make the young man feel accepted in the manor. And truthfully, the youngest brother ate like a young bull and still stayed that thin. It was very probably that Lily also envied his metabolism a bit.
Still his siblings' idiosyncrasy made James want to roll his eyes. "Hush, both of you!"
Albus just shrugged then asked, "And Snape is my real father?"
"Never call our father like that," James said sternly to his brother. "Yes, you're also connected to him by blood."
"Why is father great and we're just not that bad?" demanded Lily, scowling at their youngest brother.
James sighed. Why the babysitting duties always come to him?
"Sister, I don't think this is the right time to argue about that," he warned his sister.
"James, uh… Big brother, can you show me some magic?"
James stared down at him and thought that he'd better to separate both siblings before they started to openly clawing each other eyes out. "Come along, Albus. I'll show you some."
"Honestly, you boys!" cried Lily, exasperated, very displeased by his pacifying method.
Showing Albus magic was easy, what wasn't easy was to make the boy stop playing with it. The boy was like a sponge quickly absorbing the knowledge of spells. Obviously his brother also got their father's brain. And the magical abilities undoubtedly came from both parents.
"Albus, don't!" James said warningly.
The boy was gleefully levitating every the objects on the red living room.
"What happened here?" said a shocked voice from the door.
James started to regret his decision to lend his wand to his brother at the appearance of Mrs. Jade. He quickly took his wand away from his frozen brother before the said brother accidentally fired a spell at anyone.
"Mum, I…" said Albus, chagrinned.
But Mrs. Jade wasn't looking at her guilty son. Instead her gaze was focused on those flying objects. Her eyes went very wide as she stared at it. "How, how… oh…"
Seeing her unfocused eyes, James ran and caught her in time as she fainted.
"It's your fault."
"What? Why is it mine? If you just tell mum about it…"
Jade groaned. She felt very dizzy. As she awake, she was bombarded with questions.
"Mum, you all right?"
"Mrs. Jade, are you feeling alright?"
"All of you get out." She saw his fiancée said sternly. "Out. Now."
"Jade, are you alright?" he said softly, holding her hand.
Jade lifted her hand to press against her throbbing head. "Oh, Severus… I had a strange dream. Albus, he's making those things fly."
"Jade…" said Severus, somewhat looking guiltily at her.
She gaped at him. "Oh, God… It's not a dream, is it? What creature are you?" Her voice rose shrilly. "A changeling? A fairy? What have you done to my son?"
"Our son, Jade. I haven't done anything to him."
"He's not your son, yet. I'm having a second thought of marrying you now, sir!"
With a resigned sigh, the man answered, "Albus… has always been my son."
"What… what do you mean by that?" she whispered in a quiet voice, suddenly feeling afraid.
"Jade, I'm sorry for not telling you this before…" She heard Severus let out a sigh. "But you're already my spouse. We're married years ago. Albus is my biological son."
"Then you lied to me…? What do you mean you're the father of my child?" she exclaimed, her jaw hanging open in shock. Then she cried out in panic, "And you said I'm married to you? Why can't I remember you?"
"I don't know, Jade. I wish I knew, but I don't…" replied the man regretfully.
Tears prickling her eyes, she went on quietly, "If you're really my husband… Why did you leave me?"
All these years, Severus had left her alone to fend for herself and her baby.
"It's not like that, Jade… I swear I never left you. I love you. How could I leave you?"
Severus's pleading sounded genuine. But she was upset, very much so. She didn't know what to think about it. The fact was that the man wasn't there when she had given birth to their son and then years of hardships she had faced after that. She needed to hear more than the excuses the man until now had offered to her.
Feeling confused and hurt, she said, "Then tell me everything, I want to know everything…"
Severus was telling her an incredible tale. She was in fact a he? A Lord and a Wizard? He was the missing Earl of Gryffindor? And he was the man's husband? James and Lily and Albus are their children?
"Oh, I don't know what to say," she finally said, not really believing the man's words.
"You've seen our son levitating things. He had our blood in him. He's magical since the time he was conceived," Severus insisted desperately to her. "And this ring... Do you still remember it? You had it with you when you've been found that day. It bore the mark of Gryffindor Earldom. No one but the Earl would wear it."
Jade stared at the ring. It was really the ring she had given to the nun as a thank you after she had been saved. "I… I…" she said, hyperventilating.
"I know it's too much to take right now… But please, at least try to understand it, for our children's sake," the man said softly.
Many Hours Later
"Mum, I don't think they're lying."
"I looked a lot like James when he's a child. See…?" he said showing a portrait of a small child with black eyes and confident smile. "I think he's really my brother. And Lily—as annoying as she is—is my sister."
Her heart suddenly ached for the children she didn't know about. Oh, God, she realized that if Severus had told him was the truth then she was a bad mother. She had left them for thirteen years. If they were really her children, then in her past, she must have loved them very much just like she loved Albus.
James, her supposed eldest son, had said to her convincingly that they were a happy family before she got into that accident. So why couldn't she remember him? Or any of them?
She didn't know what to do. But she wasn't going to deny her son's birth right. Albus was the younger brother of the current Earl. As much as it pained her, he would have a life she couldn't give to him as Mrs. Jade.
And James and Lily, she couldn't abandon them, not anymore now that she knew the truth. She wanted to know them better—these children she had once bore in her womb. Even if she couldn't remember them, maybe she could love them again.
Jade had asked them to meet her in the living room to let them know about her decision.
"I'm going to stay with you all. I believe you're my children," she said softly.
James had this shocked look at his face before he said with a trembling voice, "Papa…"
"Oh, Papa…!" cried Lily, following his brother, bursting into tears.
Jade let out a gasp. That cry brought forth the memories she had forgotten. Now she remembered it—little children laughing and calling him Papa. The joy he felt when those tiny fingers touched his face; their warm weights in his arms as he sang a lullaby to them; the toothless grins he received from them.
Past and present melded into one. She stood there, stunned as she compared those small children with the ones who were standing in front of her. Tears instantly welled up in her eyes. They were her sweet, precious children. How could she forget them?
"Oh, Jamie, my little boy. Lily, my pretty flower," she called out the endearments she hadn't used for so many years, yet still so familiar to her like all of it had happened only yesterday. "Come here…"
"Papa!" They cried out together, tears running down their faces as they realized she had remembered them. Jade hold them tightly in her arms, afraid if she let go they would vanish into the air. She couldn't hold back her own tears. "You're all so big now… Let me see you… How could I ever forget you?" she sobbed, shaking her head in disbelief, feeling so upset with herself.
How much had they changed? His little Lily who easily felt lonely and liked to sneak into his bed at night, his clever but mischievous Jamie who always hid behind his back to avoid crowd's wrath after doing his latest pranks. They were no longer children now. They had become an adult. She had lost all those years of them growing up. And it brought more tears to her eyes.
"Oh, God… I should be there for you both…" she said, pressing kisses to their forehead, tears pouring down her face.
"It's not your fault, Papa," said Lilly, sniffling.
"I second to that," said James with a hoarse voice as he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. "Please don't blame yourself. I'm just glad you're still alive, Papa."
Then she noticed her other son who had been left out as she embraced his other siblings.
"Sweetheart, come here…" she said to her youngest son.
It broke her heart to see the boy hesitate, obviously feeling like a stranger in front of his own siblings, and she only had herself to blame for not remembering the past sooner. She was forever thankful to her eldest for reaching out to him.
"Come, little brother," said James, pulling him closer with his arms, giving him no room for doubt that his presence was welcomed. "We're not going to take mother away from you."
His brother's words put a grin on Albus's face as the youngest joined their embraces.
Afterwards, although, she could remember almost everything, she still couldn't remember about her husband. As she changed back into a male, Harry was pleased to know that his old clothes still fit him perfectly. Even though it smelt like a bit like mold and the fashion had been outdated by thirteen years.
Severus was so shocked of him attending the dinner looking like his old-self that the man lost his composure and practically ran out of the room, making the children whispering noisily among themselves.
Harry sighed. He should do something about his husband later. The man couldn't keep running away every time he saw him, could he?
"Children, it's time to eat. You don't want to offend our cook, do you? Please have your conversation after dinner."
"Yes, papa," they said obediently.
Even Albus had taken calling him papa like his other siblings after he dressed as a male should.
"Don't worry, papa. Father is going to be all right," James said to him, sensing his anxiety.
"I hope so, James. I really hope so," he replied to his son, although he couldn't be sure he was still talking about his husband, instead of the whole complicated situation they were in right now.
His Harry sitting on his usual seat at the table was a direct blow to him. The pain and the loneliness all these years he had spent without his husband staggered him. There was nothing he would want more than taking his husband with him and locking him in their bedroom and told the world to mind itself.
But his Harry didn't remember him, not yet. He could see it from his husband's distrustful, confused glance. And that had hurt him.
His son, James, found him hiding in his study like a coward after the dinner had ended.
"Do you want to have your dinner here, father? I can ask the maid to bring it here if you want."
"No, I'm not hungry, son," Severus replied to him. "Your papa…" He stopped, hesitated, before continuing, "He hasn't remembered me at all, has he?"
His son cringed, then said apologetically, "I'm sorry, father. He remembers about Lily and I, but… I don't think he remembers you."
Severus swallowed hard. He hated being pitied especially by his own son. "Do you think I should leave until he remembers?"
James was surprised with the question. His father had always been so sure on what to do and when to do something. This was the first since the time he was born the man had asked for his opinion.
"Ah…" James hesitated. "Perhaps, you should stay, father. It might help him to remember you."
"We're of the same mind, son." His father let out a heavy sigh. "Still, I'm afraid it would be too hard on him. I don't want to push him for the things he isn't ready for."
James wanted to raise his eyebrow. That was really sweet of father to do that. Then again, he just might have forgotten that his usually hard and stern father always had a soft spot for his papa.
"I think you should ask him that by yourself, father," he suggested.
James frowned when his father gave him the 'Are you joking with me, son?' look.
Why hesitating? For God's sake, they had three children together. Surely, it wouldn't be too hard to spend some time with each other. And James knew that papa had been very much in love with father. Given time, he was sure papa would surely love father again, just like Mrs. Jade who had come to love his father.
He really couldn't understand his parents. They could be very confusing.
James took his siblings to have a picnic together in order to give them reason to know each other more. Though actually, they were running away from the awkward situation at home. His father was still hiding in his study while his papa didn't even try to approach his father.
His attempt to include them in a conversation at the dining table always died down as their parents were too busy avoiding each other's eyes, instead of trying to talk it out.
His chance to reconcile his parents came when his youngest brother blurted out, "I want to go to Hogwarts."
"Albus, you can't just go to there. You have to be enlisted as a student first," said Lily knowingly.
"I'll take care of that," said James.
Albus perked up and beamed at him. "Really? James, brother, you're the best."
James snorted loudly. He had a feeling that his little brother would do well in the Slytherin house like their father. "Albus, I want you to do something for me in return," he said to his brother.
Albus puffed up his chest and said, "Do what, brother? Just say it, I'll do it."
"You sure they won't get mad at us, James?"
"Getting cold feet, little brother?"
"Of course not!"
"Then do as I've said."
Harry yelped as the door was closed behind them. He could hear the sound of the key being turned.
Looking at his husband with panic, he said, "They're locking us in!"
"Wait, I have my wand," said his husband, patting his vest's inner pocket. "No… I don't have it. Someone must have taken… I know whose idea is this. James Sirius Potter! Let us out!"
Their father enraged shout echoed through the hall of the manor.
"I think we're caught, brother," Albus said with a cringe.
"It's for their own good," said James, looking satisfied, as he slipped the key safely into his pocket. He couldn't have Albus to change his mind now as it would ultimately ruin his plan. He needed to divert his younger brother's attention so he said, "The cook said they were baking an apple pie today, want some, brother?"
The food distraction was apparently enough for the youngest to turn his mind from their father's wrath as he saw Albus nodded his head in agreement at the pie's offer.
"Boys… I don't want to know what they'll do to you both when they get out," said Lily, shaking her head at both of them.
"I've never thought you're such a scaredy-cat, Lily," he said dryly to his sister.
"Foolish brothers." She rolled her eyes. "Don't come crying to me later."
"Albus?" Harry banged on the door, practically begging at his son, "Let us out, son…"
"Give up, Potter. I'm sure they're long gone now," said his husband dryly.
He sighed then asked, "Why would they do this?"
His husband hesitated for a moment before answering, "We… usually lock our self in this room whenever we're having an argument."
"Oh…" He exclaimed softly at the mention of the past he didn't know about.
As it would seem that they're not going to be in here for a while, he took a seat at the maroon couch.
After a long awkward silence, he said, "You're not going to say anything?"
"About what?" Severus asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
He frowned, exasperated with the man. "The healer said I might remember you someday or I might not for the rest of my life. Are you telling me you're all right with that? You aren't going to be angry with me?"
His husband sighed. "Why would I be angry with you at something you can't control?" Then with a sad smile, Severus added resignedly, "Potter, I want you to know that whatever might happen… It wouldn't change the fact you're the only love in my life."
"Oh… " Harry said, blushing, not expecting the man to tell him so clearly about his feelings.
He might not remember about his feelings for the man before he became Mrs. Jade. But as Mrs. Jade, he had come to love this handsome man who was so masterful at everything he did, yet not boastful like other men.
Still, Severus seemed to love this 'Harry' he didn't know about, so much that the man refused to take another partner for thirteen years.
It was somewhat depressing. A love that great couldn't be compared to what he shared with the man for mere months. He felt like he was going to be jealous with himself. He despaired that whom Severus truly loved was that 'Harry', not himself as Mrs. Jade. That was why he had been avoiding the man's presence as much as he could these past few days.
"Potter, can I ask you about something?"
"Ah, yes?" he said, startled out of his thoughts.
"How much you remember about your past?"
He fought the urge to scowl. Severus asking him this question meant that the man still hoped that 'Harry' the husband he had married years ago would come back. He stomped down the feeling of jealousy and told himself to be reasonable. It was really unfair of him to expect Severus to just forget his husband.
And honestly, this was getting ridiculous. They were married couples and had not only one but three children together. If only he could remember the man, then all of this wouldn't be so complicated.
"Erm, I remember being raised here," he said, trying to answer it. "I can remember my parents, our children, and the servants … But I can't remember anything about you. It's like that part remained obscured."
He could feel that Severus was disappointed by his answer.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, feeling disappointed with himself too.
Severus shook his head. "It's not your fault."
"It's really not your fault," his husband insisted, smiling bitterly. "Our children don't know this. Our past relationship wasn't without any difficulty. I've done terrible things to you. Perhaps you unconsciously repressed those memories."
He suddenly felt afraid. What did Severus mean by that? Did it mean that his husband have an affair in the past? Could it be he was unhappy back then? No, if he was that unhappy, their children would have sensed it. And as far as he could remember, they had always been happy children in his memories.
"It's better for you to not remember any of it," said the man firmly.
"Is it really that terrible?" he asked, frowning.
"I let my jealousy got the better of me," said Severus, his eyes full of regrets.
"You're jealous? Does it mean you didn't cheat on me?" he said, confused.
"No! What makes you think I would ever do that?" Severus replied at once, horrified.
Good. He breathed a sigh of relief. The worst that came into his mind that Severus had betrayed him. He didn't think he could forgive his husband if he ever did that. "Then it couldn't be that terrible…"
Severus glowered at him. "Not terrible? Potter, I've hurt you in the way that only the worst scoundrel would do!"
"What could be more terrible then?" he demanded.
"I've manipulated you! I've…" His husband's face had gone green and it seemed that the man had trouble saying the sentence. "I've… forced myself on you," the man finally admitted with defeated look.
He blinked. That was one hell of confession and quite unbelievable. Severus had taken him against his will? Wait, if that 'Harry' loved Severus, how could doing sex was categorized as something not mutual?
Dear Lord…! Severus's explanation only made him more confused! How he hated not being able to remember his past!
"Did I still stay with you even after you've… hurt me?" he asked curiously, softening his word's choice for his poor husband's sake.
Severus said grimly in self-loathing, "Yes, you gave me another chance which I didn't deserve."
"I must have seen something in you," he said, nodding to himself. "You can't be that bad."
"You aren't always a good judge of character," said his husband wryly.
"Now, that doesn't sound like me," he said firmly, crossing his arms.
"Potter, I'm the worst person you could choose as your husband."
He laughed at the irony. "Yet, it seemed I have chosen you as my husband, twice."
"Severus..." he interrupted softly. "I might not this 'Harry' you seek, but if I'm giving you another chance to be with me, will you take it?"
"Do I deserve another one?" his husband replied, looking amazed at his reply.
His lips curled up into a smile. "I don't think there will come the day when I decide you don't deserve another chance, because past or present, I believe we both love you, Severus."
Severus felt very much blessed right now. His husband still loved him. How many men in this world would experience being loved two times more than he should ever receive?
Though, his beloved was wrong. He didn't see him as two different people—not since James had told him that Mrs. Jade was his husband. The more he knew her, the more he was sure that whatever the persona was—Harry Potter or Mrs. Jade; with or without his memories—his husband was still himself. The same one he had fallen in love with so many years ago. He was the kind of person who chose to see the good in others even when they couldn't see it themselves; the one person who was always there for the oppressed and neglected.
"Then I'll gratefully take that chance," he replied softly. "Because whoever you think yourself as, it has always been your pure and kind soul I've fallen in love with. I am the most fortunate man to have you love me back."
His husband let out a startled sob of relief and happiness at hearing his reply.
"And I am the luckiest man to have you as my husband," his husband said with a beautiful smile on his lips.
All Severus could do was to whisper tenderly another 'I love you' before capturing his beloved's lips in a tantalizing kiss.
Even though he knew that Severus was satisfied with the relationship they had right now and had never asked him to remember his past, he was sure that his husband would be happier if he could remember it. And truthfully, he developed a curiosity about his past after he had found the painting of both of them in the library. They had looked so happy with each other in that portrait that he wondered of what had actually happened in the past.
How they had met in the first place? What kind of romance they had together? Why they had decided to get married?
But as months passed and he made lots of new memories with his husband and children, he no longer let those insecurities about his past haunt him anymore.
Besides, between his family and his duty, he really didn't have time for needless worry. He had taken his position back as the Earl of Gryffindor due to James's insistence that he wasn't ready for it. Though, he would think it was more likely caused by the wiles of the matchmaking mamas who wanted to have the young and handsome and wealthy Earl as their son-in-law.
He was so amused by the fact that James was very much afraid of them that he would let his son hide behind his back for this matter. Though, his husband had pointed out that it was shameful thing to do considering James's age right now. They kept bickering about his wisdom when it came to their son's well-being these past few months. Although, he couldn't say that he really minded those petty quarrels he had with his husband, as it always ended with him kissing Severus or Severus kissing him. Actually, he could say that Severus enjoyed their quarrel as much as he did.
With a smile, he paused on his thoughts and continued to peruse the letters his tenants had sent to him through his secretary.
However as he took out the fresh paper to reply for the letter, his hand accidentally sent his fountain pen rolling down to end of table. With annoyance, he saw it fell to the floor with a loud clatter before he could stop it.
With a long sigh, he bent down to pick it up. When he held the said pen in his hand, he suddenly remembered that he had received that particular item from his husband as a commemoration of the birth of their first child. Though, in his memories, the pen didn't look worn-out as this one.
After that, it was like the river's clear water in summer, flowing through—what kind of person he was, what kind of life he had. All those questions were finally being answered.
Those last thirteen years had been a long journey, but only now he had truly returned home.
He hadn't realized he was crying until his husband who had just strolled casually into the study, stopped walking, then asked him with a disturbed look on his face, "What—why are you crying? Did someone hurt you?"
His husband looked like he was ready to behead someone for it. He felt so amused by it that he burst into a laugh. When Severus asked him why he found his question to be so funny, he told him everything. That he finally remembered it all.
At his words, Severus broke down. 'Ah, I had made my husband cry,' he thought to himself, feeling regretful but at the same time insanely pleased that he was the only one who had ever seen the tall and proud man's tears.
As he took his husband into his arms, he looked straight into Severus's eyes and said with a smile, "Loving you has always been the best thing that ever happened in my life."
At hearing that, his husband's tears stopped and then Severus gave him his rare, breathtakingly beautiful smile which never failed to make his heart beat faster.
This was their happy ending and it would continue on and on till the day they both finally left this world.
"I love you, Harry Potter," said his husband softly.
"I love you too, Severus Snape," he replied with all his heart.
"Psst, James, do you think father will lift off our curse now?" Albus said, pressing his ear close to the study's keyhole hold to eavesdrop at their parents' conversation.
"Maybe Albus, maybe not…" James replied wryly to his brother.
"It's your fault if I can't eat sweets again, you know!"
"Quiet, brother. I'm being punished too in case you haven't noticed."
Lily shrugged and said mockingly, "Oh, hear, hear… What have I told you before, dear brother?"
"Oh, shut up, Lily!" growled both brothers at the same time.
A/N: Happy Valentine to you all! And thank you for reading this one, hopefully you'll like it despite of the grammar mistakes (coz yeah, I barely had time to write it, much less got a good Beta for this one). Beta service for this one is very welcome (you can just point out any weirdness in it and I'll be thankful).
A/N2(ramblings): James is wise (in his own ways), he had to grow up fast since he lost one of his parents and declared as the Earl at such a young age. It's really fun writing James's part in this story. He's like the perfect mix of Snape and Harry. And the siblings are behaving really childishly, but I guess that's siblings, huh? Always getting into silly arguments and fights. #grins