Disclaimers:  Please refer to chapter one for full disclaimer write-up.

When Living is No Longer Enough

Chapter Thirty-Six Epilogue

"Hermione, we are going to be late!" Severus exclaimed in exasperation, pacing the floor and wondering why after sixteen years they still had the same conversation at the start of every school year. "You're a charms professor, not to mention an expert at transfiguration.  Why can't you just do some silly wand waving and be done with it?"

"Don't even go there," she said, stepping out of the bathroom and tugging at the zipper on her dress robes.  "It's the start of the school year, the least I can do is make certain that I show up properly attired!"

"And why dear wife, despite the fact that your wardrobe is brimming with robes for every occasion, do you never seem to feel that you have anything to wear?" he asked, eyebrow raised, waiting for her usual response.

"Oh Severus," she replied patiently as if explaining something to a very small child. "It's not that I feel that I have nothing to wear. It's that I feel I have nothing appropriate to wear for this particular occasion."

Snape muttered something uncomplimentary toward women in general and slipped into his own robe.  After all, he wanted to be at his most menacing when the impressionable first years came filing in.

"Are you certain that your irritable temper this evening stems from my supposed inability to choose something to wear and not the fact that Harry's daughter will be amongst the first years tonight?" she asked, a smile playing about her lips.

"Do not remind me that as of today Potter's brat will plague us day in and day out with her incessant presence" he answered with a frown. "Another Gryffindor for Minerva to coddle and fawn all over no doubt."

"Relax Severus. Harry's daughter will be less trouble than our own son and somehow you have managed to tolerate his existence for the last twelve years. And don't forget that Augustus was sorted into Gryffindor last year which means that Minerva is fawning over your own son as well."

"I still can't believe he wasn't sorted into Slytherin," he muttered, hiding a small smile of pride at the mention of his son.  True, the boy had been an unexpected surprise for both of them but a very loved one nonetheless. 

"Cheer up," she told him. "Maybe you'll get lucky and Harry's daughter will be sorted into Slytherin."

"There has never been a Potter in my House and I seriously doubt there ever will be," he sneered.  "Although, it would be nice to see the look on Potter's face if such a thing was to happen."

"You are impossible," she lovingly told him and picked up an elegant perfume bottle off the vanity. The perfume had been a gift from Severus shortly after their final encounter with the Dark Lord sixteen years ago.  She had liked the lotus blossom scent so much that he had created a similar scent for her, minus the 'reptilian cocktail' of course, and she had never worn another fragrance since.

A small sigh escaped her lips as she thought back to that time so long ago.  The Ministry had managed to round up just about all of the Death Eaters though there had been suspicions on some people's parts that a few still lurked.  Trials had been held throughout the summer and Azkaban had become home to many new wizards and witches. She and Severus had escaped most of the constant hounding on the part of the press by vacationing in Bermuda for the summer and when they returned they were bonded in matrimony amidst a few of their closest friends.  Of course it wasn't long before the press had picked up the story and plastered their images all over the newspapers but that was just what happened when you became famous for taking out the Dark Lord and winning the Order of Merlin First Class.  And she and Severus both had been awarded the honor along with several other wizards and witches who had played key roles throughout the war.      

"Are you going to put that on or are we going to stay here all night?" her husband asked sarcastically, indicating the perfume bottle.

Bringing her thoughts back to the present she muttered a sheepish apology, sprayed the perfume on her pulse points and followed him out of their quarters to the Great Hall.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Great Hall was decorated in its usual splendor and the first years hesitantly made their way to the front of the room, awed by the majesty of it all. Looking down on the children, Hermione smiled and remembered how nervous she had been at her own sorting so many years ago.  'No doubt Harry's daughter is feeling the same,' she thought.

Standing in front of the first years holding the battered sorting hat was Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts. At least for the duration of this year anyway.  Next year she would accept the position of Headmistress as Dumbledore claimed he was 'getting too old for this sort of thing.'

Severus would step into the position of Deputy Headmaster, a title Hermione knew he was secretly pleased with. 'Not that anyone would ever know if they were to listen to all of his grumbling,' she thought lovingly.

It had also been decided that Hermione would take over Minerva's position as Head of Gryffindor; a fact she and her husband both found amusing considering they would be heading up rival Houses.  

The usual speeches were made, the sorting hat pulled off another one-of-a-kind song, and the children were called forward one by one to be sorted into their houses.

Hermione smiled when she saw the petite figure of Amelia Potter standing toward the back of the group.  The child had flowing black tresses that were rather unruly like her father's but that was where the similarities to Harry stopped.  No, she had to admit that the girl was almost a carbon copy of her mother, the former Emily Saunton.

After graduation Emily had entered an Auror training program at the Ministry.  Once her training was complete, she was assigned to Harry for her on the job field experience and then later assigned as his permanent partner.  Over the course of time, the two had developed a mutual attraction and four years later they were married. Hermione knew that Harry would never forget his time with Ginny but she was happy to see that he was finally able to move on and find happiness with someone else.

Christina Saunton had remained a fixture in Hermione's life not only through her connection as Harry's mother-in-law but because the two women had developed a mutual sense of respect for one another. It was a fact that Snape seemed to find amusing telling his wife that if she wasn't careful, she was going to end up a Slytherin herself.

The only thing that had confused both women over the years was something that had happened after the final battle. Emily had entered the infirmary, two days after Hermione had been admitted for her injuries, carrying the velvet box that the housed the perfume bottle from Voldemort.

"Emily what's wrong?" Hermione had asked, looking at the potions master in concern.

"I don't understand it Professor Granger," she said opening the box to reveal a small pile of ashes. "I opened the box this morning and the only things in it are ashes and the note. The perfume bottle is gone."

Snape stood up and took the box from the girl's trembling hands, an expression of concern shadowing his facial features. After running his wand over the ashes several times, he looked to Hermione and shrugged. "The only thing I can think of is that it must have been destroyed at the time of Voldemort's death in much the same way that the Dark Mark was destroyed."

"What does it mean Professor Snape?" Emily had asked, wide-eyed.

Seeing Hermione's worried expression he shook his head in silent warning to say nothing as he reassured the young Slytherin. "It means that the Dark Lord is gone and you no longer have to worry about him or his gift."

"I don't really want that," the girl told him indicating the box.

"Quite understandable," he answered reassuringly. "I will dispose of it for you. However, in the meantime I believe you have a final exam to attend in a few minutes do you not?"

"Yes professor," she answered. Taking one last look at the velvet box, she bid her teachers goodbye and hurried off to class.

"Severus, what do you think it means?" Hermione asked once the girl had exited the infirmary.

"I'm not certain but I would say that Voldemort had some sort of intentions toward the girl," he answered quietly.

"But you and Christina both checked the perfume bottle for signs of dark magic and found none."

"Yes but Dumbledore said that he thought the Dark Mark was erased upon Voldemort's death because it was tied to his magical and emotional energies," the potions master answered thoughtfully.  "Perhaps this bottle was also."

"I guess we'll never know," the Gryffindor answered quietly, wondering if Voldemort actually did have some sort of hidden plans for the young girl that had just left the infirmary.  Either way, Hermione was thankful that he could no longer hurt Emily or anyone else for that matter.

"AMELIA POTTER," the voice of Minerva McGonagall called, bringing Hermione's thoughts back to the present. A hush immediately fell over the Great Hall as the young girl stepped forward to be sorted. 

'This is it,' Amelia thought, sending 'Aunt Hermione' a nervous smile as the sorting hat was placed atop her head.  'The moment of truth.'

"Well, what have we here?" the hat murmured.  "Another Potter?  Hmmm.   Ambitious, intelligent, courageous…  Yes, it's all here in your mind but where to put you?  Gryffindor perhaps, like your father?  Hmmm… No, better be…."

"Slytherin" the hat finally shouted and the entire hall went silent staring in shock at the gaping young girl.  Stealing a quick glance at his wife, Severus was secretly amused to see her face register a look of complete surprise. He was even more amused when he looked further down the table to see the same expression plastered on the face of the ever-unflappable transfigurations professor.  Suddenly a smirk broke through his usually stern expression and Snape found himself thoroughly enjoying the sorting ceremony for the first time since he had come to Hogwarts. 

'But dad's practically the poster boy for Gryffindor and mum's not really all that much of a Slytherin,' Amelia frantically thought to herself as she tried to picture her father's face upon hearing the news.  However, a loud clapping at the Slytherin table just before the entire hall erupted in polite applause interrupted her reverie.

The remainder of the feast passed without any further surprises although Hermione kept sneaking looks at her husband throughout the meal to try and ascertain his thoughts on having Harry Potter's daughter in his own House.   

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Later that evening after the feast was complete and the Heads of Houses had given their annual start of school speeches to their students, Snape decided to brooch the subject that he knew his wife was tiptoeing around.

"Hmmm, a Potter in Slytherin.  I see that Hell has finally frozen over," Severus said, knowing that Hermione hadn't fully recovered from the shock of seeing Harry Potter's petite daughter claiming her seat amongst the members of Slytherin house.

"Severus, you will be nice to her won't you?" she asked her husband a bit hesitantly.

"Nice?" he questioned softly, although the low timbers of his voice echoed throughout their chambers. 

"Well, yes you know… nice" she answered nervously.  "I mean, I know that Harry's not your favorite person and all but Amelia hasn't really done anything wrong and she does deserve to be treated based on her own merits rather that those of her father and grandfather."

Pulling Hermione close, he momentarily pondered her words, rambling though they were.  "My darling wife," he finally said, placing a trail of light kisses along the nape of her neck, "Amelia Potter is now a member of Slytherin House and she will receive all of the respect accorded to that position despite her irritating parentage and Gryffindor upbringing."

Hermione felt a sense of relief wash over her at hearing the potions master's words of assurance. She was just beginning to relax into his ministrations when he paused momentarily to continue speaking. 

"Of course," Severus proceeded with a wicked glint in his eyes, "if she's even half as good at Quidditch as Potter keeps boasting, then it will be with great pleasure that I attend the matches during the next few years; especially the Slytherin-Gryffindor matches.  Come to think of it I may actually end up owing Potter a bit of thanks."

"Thanks?" Hermione questioned warily, pulling back to look directly into his face.  For some reason she didn't entirely trust the silky quality that had entered his voice. Past experience had led her to realize that such a tone usually indicated that he was up to something decidedly Slytherin.

"Yes," her husband answered agreeably, resuming his ministrations while continuing to bait his wife.  "After all, if she's as good a Seeker as I'm told and Slytherin wins the Quidditch matches, it will be a direct result of the training she has received from Potter throughout the years. I would say that deserves a word of thanks to the Boy-Who-Lived, wouldn't you?"

Suddenly the feeling of relief fled as she looked warily at her husband who was wearing one of the most wicked looking expressions she had seen from him since before they were married. Pulling the covers back on the bed, she lay down snuggling next to the Slytherin and sighed. Snape and Harry had developed a friendship over the years although House rivalries still existed and underlined many of their conversations. And while she knew her husband was teasing, she suspected Harry would be walking around in a state of shock during the next several days. She didn't even want to think about Ron's reaction to the news!

She leaned back enfolded in his arms and allowed herself to relax into the night of love making she knew was to follow.  Throughout the years this was one of the things that had never waned in their relationship and they pursued such activities often, especially now that their son was safely ensconced in Gryffindor Tower. However, a nagging feeling kept tingling at the back of her mind and somehow she knew it wasn't connected with the liberties her amorous husband was taking with her willing body.

Allowing her mind to momentarily slip back to the sorting ceremony before giving of herself completely to the man lying next to her, she pondered the night's events. No matter how she looked at it, the addition of Amelia Potter to Slytherin House was going to cause an uproar, not so much from Snape or Harry but from everyone who had followed the career of the Boy-Who-Lived-Yet-Again from infancy through adulthood. Severus was correct when he had said there had never been a Potter in Slytherin and the wizarding community had been shocked enough as it was when Harry had fallen in love with and married a Slytherin.

Yes, considering the past history and the ever-vigilant writings of the press, Hermione was left with only one conclusion: The next seven years were going to be turbulent at best…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

~Finite Incantatem~

(The End)

Author's Note: And so we've reached the end of the story.  I know the end was kind of fluffy but I figured you all deserved it for sitting through thirty-six chapters of angst and, hopefully, some really attention grabbing cliffhangers VBG. I also hope that I've managed to answer most of your questions or concerns within the story. I would like to thank Josie421 for posting the Angstier than Thou challenge on WIKTTI've really enjoyed writing this story although I never imagined when I started it that it would grow to be so large or take five months to complete.  I would also like to sincerely thank each and every one of you who took the time to review this story, especially those of you who reviewed on a regular basis.  Your support and comments made me want to continue to write and hopefully, I've at least come close to meeting your expectations (smile). 

I would ask one final time that you take a moment to leave a parting review and let me know what you thought of the chapter and/or the story in general. For those of you who write HP fanfic, I look forward to reading your stories as they appear on the site and hopefully, I'll be back in the future with more stories of my own.

Thanks Again,

~Jules