Addendum Three

"but I have called you friends" John 15:15

(Directly after Addendum Two)

The next weekend saw the men back on the Malfoy pitch testing the broom once more.

"One more set of tests and I think we can make the recommendation to Dumbledore to use these beauties," Harry said, examining the diamond polish on the broom's handle.

"I don't think there is any doubt that it's an excellent choice for the new school brooms," Snape said drily, "if a trifle dangerous for first years." Draco glanced up at the window where he knew his wife and the other women were with the babies. His mind was still on his new son, Morgan who was only a few weeks old. "I wonder what those women talk about while we're not there?" he mused under his breath.

A flicker of amusement appeared in the depths of Snape's black eyes. "I could tell you but I don't think you'd believe me," he replied shortly.

Draco looked at him consideringly. "Go on then, tell us," he drawled, his pale eyes glittering in the sunlight.

Snape repeated an edited version of the conversation that he had overheard the previous weekend. The parts relating to himself and Hermione were too precious and personal to share so he kept that to himself. The rest he related in his detatched, dry style.

Harry and Ron stood there listening with their mouths open. "Is that what they talk about?" Ron said disbelievingly. "You're kidding! Harry's bloody biceps!" He made a fizzing noise of pure annoyance.

Harry grinned like a boy and blushed a bit.

"Don't look so smug, Harry. Hermione didn't even notice your precious biceps," Draco said sourly.

"And Luna didn't give a fig about them either," Snape said pointedly to Draco.

"Who asked them to?" Harry said with a relaxed shrug. After being a national Quidditch star, he was quite used to girls squeeing over his body. He had enough self-confidence not to mind if some girls didn't go for it, there were plenty who did. Apart from that, he thought it sweet that Ginny still giggled over him like a girl. He felt his skin go pink again.

"I take it Hermione was discussing you too," Draco said perceptively, examining his old teacher closely.

"Yes, she did," he said brusquely but didn't elaborate.

Draco's eyes narrowed. "So I take it you're not going to share that part of the conversation," Draco said slyly.

"No, I'm not," Snape said but Draco spotted the odd expression that flitted over his face for a second.

Draco suddenly laughed one of his rare laughs. "Look at the smug expression on his face, boys!" he said and laughed heartily.

It was such an odd sight to see Draco laugh like that that Harry and Ron stared minutely at Snape too, trying to see that flash of expression that Draco had seen. Snape had long covered it with his usual cold hauteur however.

Draco kept grinning in a way that irritated Snape enormously for the rest of the afternoon.

* * *

When the men came in late in the afternoon, the sitting room was in an uproar. The older children had come in from the pitch earlier for their afternoon tea and were in the midst of their afternoon crazies. They were running around screaming and pretending to hex each other with their toy wands. The babies were on their mother's laps or with a House Elf nanny. Little Morgan was awake and Draco went straight over to see him. He was still so little that Draco could not spend enough time gazing at him. Miranda was there too on a rug next to her mother's chair looking astonishingly pretty with her fine, white hair done up in two tiny pigtails. She was watching the other children with great attention.

Eddy, Albert, Molly, Lily and Charlotte were running around screaming at the top of their lungs in some inexplicable game that seemed to require a great deal of noise. Snape, who could not bear loud noise at the best of times, stood in the middle of the room, drew himself up to his full height and hissed, "silence!" at them.

All the children stopped dead in their tracks and stared at him with their mouths open.

"That school teacher thing gets them every time," Hermione commented in the sudden silence, completely unperturbed.

"Geez, that brought back memories," Ron muttered sullenly. Padma grinned at him.

"Gave me a cold chill," Harry agreed amiably.

Charlotte ran over to her father and hugged him around his knees, as untroubled as her mother by Snape's displays of imperious impatience. As always, Charlotte's resemblance to her mother caught him off guard. He put one long-fingered hand gently on the little girl's head and she grinned happily up at him.

"Guess who is Daddy's girl," Ginny said teasingly.

"Here's my girl," Harry said, tossing Lily in the air for the pleasure of hearing her crow.

"What a tribe!" Luna sighed, looking around at all the small people.

"They are going to over-run Hogwarts in a few years time," Hermione agreed.

"They will be the next generation to fight Voldemort" Harry said seriously.

Hermione smiled up at him and Ron. "They'll be like us at Hogwarts, sticking together and working as a team to protect each other."

"Hopefully they'll have more common sense," Snape snapped with his characteristic sneer.

The trio looked at him and then at each other and shook their heads. "Some things never change," Hermione said finally with a laugh. Ron and Harry settled for scowling at Snape who was completely untouched.

"I'm hoping the Houses will co-operate more in future," Padma said gravely.

"Slytherins don't move in packs," Snape said disdainfully.

"Oh? How would you describe the Death Eaters then?" Padma replied coolly. "Or Draco's little gang with Crabbe and Goyle? Don't be ridiculous Snape, moving in packs is exactly the Slytherin style," she added dismissively.

Hermione had to admit to herself that Severus had asked for that.

"We form strategic alliances, we don't move in packs," Snape said frigidly. "We leave that to the Gryffindors."

"Okay, now you're getting personal," Hermione jumped in. "It was just as well Ron, Harry and I stuck together. We never could have got the better of Voldemort without each other. Besides, we didn't 'move in a pack' - we were friends. There's a difference. Strategic alliances are all very well and good but I wouldn't risk my life for a strategic alliance. I would for my friends," Hermione said with her typical Gryffindor passion, her eyes resting lovingly on her old best friends. They grinned at her and she smiled back.

"Typical Gryffindor sentiment," Snape said with another sneer, turning away. Friendship was still a foreign concept to him although he was now surrounded by people that he knew he could rely on in a life or death situation.

Hermione grinned at his back and winked at her friends. "I think there is every chance that this generation will co-operate across House lines. I imagine our own children will be split between Slytherin and Gryffindor. I can see Eddy and Albert being in Ravenclaw like their mother and Molly being a Gryffindor. The Houses will have to co-operate. Maybe our children will be the ones to bring that about," Hermione said hopefully.

"You're a typically idealistic Gryffindor," Draco said smoothly, "but I think it would be best for our children if that were the case. I will encourage it although I'm sure both Miranda and Morgan will be in Slytherin. I want them both to have the benefit of strong ties to the other children here."

"Trust a Slytherin to think strategically," Harry said with a laugh but no rancour at all.

"Imagine the Slytherin strategy and cool-headedness linked to the Gryffindor passion and risk-taking. Voldemort wouldn't stand a chance," Ginny said dreamily.

"More like the Gryffindor hot-headedness and rashness," Snape retorted sharply.

"Snarky, snarky," Luna said reprovingly to Snape with an amused look.

"That's why we love him," Hermione said calmly.

"Hey, speak for yourself!" Ron grumbled.

Snape came over and stood behind his wife, his beautiful white hands resting possessively on her shoulders. "I don't think there is any danger of the children not forming alliances during their time at Hogwarts, they've already begun. Molly and Lily are inseparable and I think Miranda will form a trio once she's a bit older. Eddy and Albert have the bond of twins. The others will show their preferences once they get older too. I agree with Draco, it will be an advantage if these friendships cross House lines. It can only help Hogwarts and the children individually if that happens," he said, his deep-set eyes hooded.

Once everyone had left and the children were in the nursery, Hermione said to Snape, "who do you think our lot will make friends with?"

"They'll have each other, first and foremost," he replied moodily, his long legs stretched out in front of the fire.

"Wouldn't it be funny if Harry's boy James made friends with little Severus?" Hermione laughed. It would be ironic, she thought with glee. Snape shot her a dirty look.

Hermione looked suddenly sober however and with his usual sharp perception, Snape guessed she was thinking of her own lack of sibling support during her life. "You're thinking of your own lack of siblings, aren't you?" he said quietly in a tone of voice that only Hermione ever heard. He knew she had a much older sister but she had had little to do with Hermione throughout their lives.

Hermione smiled without it reaching her eyes. "You were the same," she replied softly.

"That's why I wanted more siblings for little Severus and Charlotte," he said grimly.

"I know," she sighed, looking away from him into the fire.

Snape knew that Hermione hadn't been keen to have more children after Severus and Charlotte were born. She had only gotten pregnant again to please him but had made it clear that there would be no more after that. Although her pregnancies had been quite easy, she hadn't enjoyed being pregnant the way some women did. He hadn't minded, especially once he found out the second pregnancy was twins again. He already had far more than he ever had thought life would give him. He had felt that way with only Hermione in his life. The children had been an almost miraculous bonus.

"Having children is awful," she murmured, almost to herself.

Snape looked at her sharply, his black eyes narrowed as he examined her face. "What do you mean?" he rasped.

Hermione looked at him surprised at his tone and realized he looked shocked at what she had said. "I don't mean that the children aren't wonderful, they are," she said, frowning as she tried to figure out how to explain what she meant. "It's just that.. when you have children it's like there's a piece of your heart walking around outside your body and you can't control what happens to them. I mean, you can't be there 100% of the time to protect them - not forever. There will be difficult things that happen to them that you can't prevent. That happens to everyone. It's awful," she muttered.

He took her small hand in his large, fine-boned one and tugged on it gently. She got up to sit in his lap. She wound her arms around his neck and pressed her face against his thin shoulder, breathing in his comforting scent. He pressed his lean face against her hair. "What would have happened if you and Harry and Ron hadn't been there that time when I was the black unicorn and protecting Lily? What would have happened if Lily hadn't picked up the black unicorn hair wand that you had dropped and been able to use it on Voldemort? What would have happened if I had had to attack Voldemort as the black unicorn to protect Lily? What would have happened to Charlotte and little Severus? I was carrying them then. Chances are, they would have either died or been born as foals - their human nature gone forever before they were born. I would have had to choose between my own children and Lily. How do you make a choice like that? How will I make a choice like that if I have to one day?" She lifted her face and looked up at him, her usually dark eyes that strange silver colour they went when she was upset. Snape's throat closed over.

"When I was 17 and had no-one I cared about apart from Ron and Harry who had been my whole world for years, I didn't care if I lost my human nature as the black unicorn if it would save the two people I loved and free the wizarding world from Voldemort. Now I have too much to lose. Now there is you and Charlotte and little Severus and now Elizabeth and Elliot. Not to mention all the new friends who have come into my life during the past 12 years or so. I'm afraid and I never used to be afraid. At least, not afraid like I am now," she admitted, burying her face against him once more and holding him tight. Her fingers clutched compulsively at his robes.

"You can't stop living and loving just because of Voldemort. That's what he would want. In taking those chances, we are already defeating him by not allowing fear to dominate our lives," he said somberly.

"I didn't know loving would be so hard," she said in a small voice.

"Anything worth doing is hard," he said, gently stroking her soft hair. "That's what gives it its worth."

He felt her sigh but she didn't say anything more.