A/N: Inspiration is hard. Just saying.
Beta Love: The Dragon and the Rose, Dutchgirl01, and the flyby Commander Shepherd
One Step Forward, Two Decades Back
Fall 1978–Spring 1979 —Catbirds Take Hogwarts
I love to think that animals and humans and plants and fishes and trees and stars and the moon are all connected. - Gloria Vanderbilt
"Miss Aenders," Hermione said calmly. "What did I ask everyone not to do?"
The little witch cradled her hand where Twister had nailed her with his beak. The phoenix was dutifully proxy incubating, happily turning the eggs in the commandeered yarn basket that had become the traveling nest.
Regulus had joked that the chicks were going to hatch the same colour as the yarns, but Hermione had promptly pecked him between the eyes, sending him packing. Her little brother complained that fruit-eating birds shouldn't have such cruel beaks just before Severus had chased him out of the nesting area, pecking him repeatedly on the rump and buffeting him with his wings.
"Look, but don't touch," Aenders whined pitifully.
"Following instructions is very important. If you cannot follow simple requests, how can I trust you not to poke out each other's eyes with your wands?" Hermione asked.
A few of the students hung their heads as Aenders returned to her desk.
A bright purple phoenix, one of the refugee rescues from the Time Room, flew in from the courtyard and nestled up against Twister. She preened Twister fastidiously and then nestled up against him, sharing the basket with him.
"Awwwww," the class chimed together.
Hermione arched a brow. "Tell you what. If, and only if, you can all successfully transfigure your teapots into tortoises and back, we will spend some time before the end of class watching the phoenixes. But all of you have to succeed, so if you see your classmates struggling, what does that mean?"
"Help them!" the class chimed together.
"Yes, and if you aren't sure, what do you do?"
"Ask for help!"
"Exactly," Hermione replied with a nod. "Go to it."
Hermione paced up and down the aisles watching the goings on in the classroom with a critical eye. She corrected posture, ennunciation, and wand movements. Sagacity did his part by flying from desk to desk and alerting her whenever things were going pear-shaped.
Sagacity hooted his commentary as he went from desk to desk, his claws clicking as he shuffled in a distinctively owlish manner. At one point, an accidental misaim caused Sagacity's tail feather to shimmer and turn into rather stunning peacock's tail. The elder owl hooted loudly at the offending student, giving him a glare worthy of Severus himself.
Hermione chuckled, transferring the rather disgruntled owl to her shoulder. She ran her hand over the peacock tail and set it back to rights, and the owl snuggled up to her hair, hooting with unmistakable relief. She soothed his head and the back of his neck where he liked it the most, smiling as he radiated pure gratitude.
"We should go for a nice fly, hrm?" she asked the elder owl.
Sagacity hooted happily in agreement.
The class was not perfect, Hermione noticed, but she did not expect them to be. They were not first years, but focus was something that often took the same turn: reward the work for something positive. Third year students were notorious for being on the cusp of the hormonal minefield of adolescence when their brains and bodies were chock full of hormones and conflicting desires that had nothing to do with studying. Merlin knew her own twin brother had been the ultimate example of hormones over brains on far too many occasions. There were quite a few people who had hoped that his being with Evelyn would temper out his prankish mischief and libido, but apparently he had corrupted her instead, much to their Lord Father's discomfiture and their Lady mother's utter mortification.
The couple's nuptial crime spree and incarceration in the pound had not been easily brushed under a rug. Every family dinner since had both Sirius and Evelyn under the table with their tails between their legs. The only redemption they found was in the assisting the shelter with funds to expand and hire more staff, start education and exposure events, and get a lot of sadly forgotten animals their forever homes. Evelyn had even worked on outreach programs to match up the older animals with elderly Muggles who either lived alone by choice or had lost their life partner. While it didn't help the Wizarding world directly, it did help out their Muggle neighbours, and that made Lady Black less apt to knock her eldest son's head against the dining room table for such "deplorable behaviour."
An hour passed, and Hermione was happy to see teamwork and questioning as the norm rather than the thinly-veiled antagonism she knew was prevalent in the time stream she remembered all too clearly. She had to smile a little, even knowing that the time stream in question would forever be missing Hermione Jean Granger. That Hermione had met her end at the end of Ronald Weasley's drunken curse, but it had also been the beginning of something far greater. Her "death" had been the beginning of the end to the machinations of one power-hungry Albus Dumbledore—at this version of Dumbledore who had stopped at nothing to aid his own selfish ends. Even the Dumbledore of her original timeline would have been scraping his bearded jaw off the ground had he ever seen the open cooperation between Slytherin and Gryffindor students that was happening before her right now.
"Time's up, everyone," Hermione announced.
"Awww," the class moaned, knowing they hadn't achieved their goal of transfiguring all of the teapots into tortoises. A few tortoises had floral prints and others were issuing steam from their nostrils. A few tea pots were crawling around on stubby tortoise legs looking decidedly less than successful. One teapot had sprouted wings of two different species of bird and was attempting to sing to itself in the large mirror in the back of the room, much to the chagrin of Miss Dalton.
Mr Derricks had accidently turned Miss Cullen's head into a teapot tortoise—or rather had fused the teapot tortoise to her head. Hermione wasn't sure what precisely had happened there, but she suspected a little accidental magic had flared up due to some simmering frustrations. It was nothing a finite incantatem couldn't fix, but she had Derricks take Cullen back to the hospital wing to make sure there weren't some other unfortunate transformative problems going on.
The rest of the class seemed rather saddened that they had not successfully reached their objective, so they would be unable to spend time cooing over the phoenix eggs, but Hermione's secret goal had been reached nonetheless. For the most part, everyone had been actively trying, and there had been a spirit of cooperation between the rival houses.
"Alright, class," Hermione said with a smile. "Clean up your spaces and you can gather around Twister here as he tends the eggs. Don't crowd him or he will peck you to remind you to keep your distance. His purple phoenix friend is named Lupin, but probably not for the reason you might think. Can anyone guess?"
"Is she Professor Lupin's phoenix?"
"Does she like wolves?"
"Yes, but that's not the reason. Try again."
A girl in the back waved her hand crazily, making Hermione remember a time when that had been her. "Yes, Miss Cooper?"
"Is it because she looks like the flower? The lupine?"
"Good guess, Miss Cooper. Close enough. The truth is that she likes to sleep in the lupines in the garden that Assistant Professor Moody has around her cottage. Every morning when she was out weeding the garden, she would always find a certain phoenix in her flower bed, so she named her Lupin."
The children burst into giggles.
"Professor Snape," a petite witch at the front asked. "Erm, if those are your eggs, why are other phoenixes sitting on the nest?"
Hermione smiled. "The advantage of being a phoenix is that you never have a shortage of volunteer help. A phoenix is very social, and the bonds between them are very strong. Family is not determined by blood. The family units will take turns tending the eggs once they are strong enough to be put in a nest."
A group of hands raised.
"Yes, Mr Knight?"
"Where are the eggs before they go into the nest?"
Hermione's lips curved upward. "The male phoenix has a special pouch where he stores the immature eggs. He swallows the eggs and keeps them with him until the shells harden and they grow to a certain size. Usually that is about the size of a medium chicken egg."
Another hand was raised.
"Yes Miss Green?"
"How big will they get?"
"Ever seen a swan egg?" Hermione asked. "That would be a good approximation."
The children chattered excitedly. "I've seen those in London!"
Hermione nodded. "Now, it's important to know that most phoenixes are very protective of their eggs. The reason they are more at ease at Hogwarts is because there are other established phoenixes here. Does anyone know what a group of phoenixes are called?"
More hands waved excitedly.
"You were first, Mr Collins," Hermione chuckled.
"An orchard!" he announced proudly.
"Very good," Hermione approved. "Five points to Slytherin. Now, for extra points, who knows what type of animal a wild phoenix will nest by if at all possible?"
Murmurs went through the class. After a long debate a few hands rose.
"Yes, Miss Owens?"
"An Augurey ?" she answered timidly.
"That is a good guess, but that is incorrect," Hermione said kindly. "They do share a similar habitat preference. If you want to save your honour, however, can you tell me what an Augurey eats?"
"Insects and fairies!" Owens said immediately.
"Very good, Miss Owens. Five points to Gryffindor," Hermione said with a smile.
"Now, to the open floor, I ask: What magical animal does the phoenix prefer to nest by?"
Silence, muttering, and a frantic desire for the extra points warred with the challenge. Hermione used the time to check on her eggs, gently turning them from under Twister and Lupin the phoenix. Merlin knew that conversation would be strange when it regarded Lupin the werewolf vs. Lupin the phoenix. Twister warbled happily, dutifully keeping the eggs warm, sharing half the nesting basket with Lupin.
The eggs had grown significantly in a short amount of time, especially in comparison to Fawkes' original nest, but part of Hermione knew it was because the circumstances of his original clutch of eggs had not been remotely ideal. Their shells were a dark golden colour, speckled with lighter splotches. Each egg pulsed with multiple beats: the heart, the magic, and the time streams. As it matured, the beats were slowly synchronising and becoming one with the growing chick inside the shell. Thanks to Severus and the other male phoenixes, each egg would be well-saturated in the time streams. Thanks to Hermione and the other female phoenixes, each chick would be born with with a basic blueprint of their legacy. The entire process was as complex as it was beautiful, and Hermione found herself grateful for it. It had saved her life in the end—both hers and Severus'. It had given her a family unlike anything she had ever believed possible as Hermione Granger. Perhaps, even more importantly, it had given a life back to other Hermione's across time.
Hermione tilted her head. No, it had been more than just her that had been given back life. There were quite a few timelines that would be much better off now that a certain time-meddler wasn't there to push things in the direction he wanted. Were all the Albus Dumbledores self-serving and determined to achieve the greater good to maintain a world for Ariana Dumbledore? No. Some of them were decidedly worse. Fortunately, they were worse in ways that didn't involve time-travel, and that was the only thing ranking them below the Dumbledore locked away in the Department of Mysteries. Their destruction was—contained. Some of them had, ironically, been taken out by the time-travelling Albus—drained of their knowledge and disposed of. Alas, Hermione knew that power abhorred a vacuum.
Still, there was little that could be done that wasn't already being done. The time refugees were being cared for. The dead were unfortunate victims, but the timelines were sealed shut. Gellert had been the only one who had been altered so dramatically that he had required phoenix healing to restore what had been unnaturally stolen from him. Sadly, while they could restore to him what had been stolen from him due to the time travel, they couldn't give him back the time he had lost being incarcerated. Gellert seemed satisfied that he looked old enough to be respectable and young enough to not look like some dodgy older wizard who took potshots at starlings with his wand to scare them off his lawn.
Her mind projected a vivid image of Sirius in his old age, sitting on his porch in a rocking chair, yelling at young kids to get the bleedin' hell off his front lawn. She had to choke back a snort and cover her eyes to keep from showing her entire class that she was rolling them.
A waving hand shook her out of her brain's oddball musings, and she made a note to wing buffet her twin purely out of principle the very next time she saw him. "Yes, Miss Sutton?"
"A chimaera?" she answered meekly.
Hermione smiled. "Five extra points to Gryffindor," she said with a nod of approval. "Okay, now each of you have the opportunity to win a few extra points for your houses. First, you have to bring in your finished homework, or no extra points will be given. Second, however, you can earn an extra point for each person in the class who brings me in a signed parchment that you helped Mr Filch out with some task that needed to be done. Now, if you're lucky," she continued, wiggling the carrot, "you may be able to spend some time with Bubbles and Mrs Norris."
The children looked extra excited at that.
"Now, what was the assignment?" Hermione asked, arching a brow. "Yes, Mr Barton?"
"One foot of parchment on practical applications for the hedgehog to pincushion spell," Barton replied confidently.
Hermione nodded. "Good memory, Mr Barton. You've just earned Slytherin five points. Good job, everyone. Clean up anything you left behind, and you may leave when the bell rings."
Not surprisingly, none of them were in a particular hurry to leave when the bell rang. Hermione shuffled them out the door, telling them the phoenixes weren't going anywhere. She hushed a few protests and encouraged them to get going to their next class.
Hermione watched the last of the students leave, picked up her portable nest, transferred Lupin to her shoulder, and carried them all with her as she closed up the classroom.
Tragic Incident Beaches Whales off Western Coast of Scotland
A large pod of Minke whales beached themselves on the west coast of Scotland near Kilchoman, Islay. Hundreds of volunteers arrived wanting to help the whales, both Muggle and Wizarding folk alike. Due to the Statute of Secrecy, the groups had to split up.
Thanks to levitation spells, half of the pod was able to be saved without incident or casualties, but the Muggle side of the beach was sadly laden in dead whales due to the massive size differences. Some of the smaller whales were saved, but the larger ones, which incidentally were beached in the furthest, simply could not be saved. By the time the Wizarding folk transfigured their clothes and surreptitiously attempted to lighten the load, twelve more whales were saved, but unfortunately twelve others had been lost.
Thanks to some swift negotiations with the Muggle authorities and the Auror-Animagus teams, nothing went to waste. Whales were distributed to the the small villages that commonly struggle with storing enough food for winter all the way to the northwest coast of the United States to some of the First Nations villages that have long protected the Wizarding secrets. Thanks to the size of the whales, one whale easily provided enough to feed an entire village all through the winter's hard times, and the exhausted Auror-Animagus teams worked well into the night and through multiple time zones to deliver the gift of food to each village.
Sadly, some of the help for the whales unfortunately came too late, and some of the exhausted whales did not make it even after being moved back to deep water, re-beaching themselves even while efforts were still going strong to move the accidental whale victims to places in need. Thankfully, nothing went to waste, and while the tragedy of such a mass beaching was both emotional and heart-wrenching, there was a mood of thankfulness that there are many villages that will not be suffering from hunger this winter.
After almost an entire day's effort between both Muggle and Wizarding volunteers, the surviving whales are seemed to linger off the coast before disappearing into the deeper sea. This was teamwork in action. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful group of people willing to make things work even within the rules of the Statute of Secrecy.
Saturday, October 14th, 1978 —Waning Gibbous 97%
The Dark Forest was bustling with activity as two herds of centaur joined together in a rare joint effort to process what may have been the Dark Forest Herd's first baleen whale. The two herds were busily cutting, scraping, smoking, curing, and everything in between. The foals were helping by stringing out the meat to smoke and cure, the mares were cutting the larger pieces into more manageable ones, and the stallions were cutting the larger pieces as well as collecting and sorting the bones into piles of size and function.
Regulus was helping heave the pieces up and away, using his bear mass and strength to assist. Orion was making everything look far too easy as he assisted the visiting herd with hauling and cutting their share of the meat into manageable pieces using his great strength and stiletto claws. Severus was helping haul and move, and Remus was dutifully keeping a lookout over the foals as they worked, allowing their dams to tend to other things without worrying. Alastor
A great orchard of phoenixes had descended to offer their assistance as well, and while they preferred the diet of fruits over meat, they had no issues with helping out their friends and allies. Hermione, Hope, Evelyn, Honey, and the mares were teaming up together to scrape and tan the hide once they transferred the meat duty to the foals.
Sirius was kept quite busy carting the meat, larger pieces of skin, and bones via a sled hooked up to a makeshift dog harness. There were a few times when he misjudged the size of himself versus the size of the sled and got himself stuck between two trees, much to his embarrassment. To add more shame to his experience, the foals helped him free himself from the tangle, but in his haste to prove he was able to do it himself, he misjudged the yank. He, the sled, the hides, and a pile of meat went shooting out from the trees like a slingshot, tumbled head over heels into a bramble, and then rolled down the hillside. Sirius landed first, the sled him him next, and the goods piled on top of him as the grand finale.
About twenty foals stared down in disbelief at the heaping pile of wrong, unsure about what they should do first—assist or stare. They settled on stare. Even the newest foals, which had arrived at the end of summer, stared, nickered, and made silly noises as they watched a certain dog Animagus vainly attempting to extricate himself from his latest snafu of the day.
Evelyn, apparently not to be outdone by her accident-prone mate, managed to get tangled up in a net of drying whale intestine only to land face-first into a pile of collected ambergris, much to the horror of the watching mares. The elder mare made strange sounds that might have been laughter or pain, telling one of the older foals to "take her down to the lake we don't drink from and make sure all of it is washed off." Evelyn returned, very wet and very embarrassed, meekly sitting down to resume chore duty with the rest of the mares.
"Clumsiness is a sign of multiples," one of the visiting mares said, chuckling. "Perhaps you shall have triplets or more."
"She is a canine, Safflower," another mare pointed out. "Perhaps she has a litter due."
"I couldn't imagine that," Safflower replied with a slight shudder. "One foal is quite enough to birth. Remember Rainfoot? She had twin foals the year when the rains were common. Poor dear was practically nothing but skin and bone come springtime. Those babies completely sucked the life out of her."
Evelyn was growing steadily paler as the conversation continued.
"She was so relieved when she finally had them," another mare recalled. "Her belly was practically on the ground just before she foaled. The poor dear."
The other mares nickered in agreement.
"Ah, we have been so blessed this year. This winter we shall eat very well. We have new leather for our harnesses, oil, and peace of mind. Our stallions will not be as hard pressed to hunt even in the freezing snows. This is truly a gift from Chiron himself."
Nickers filled the grove with agreement.
"I do not wish to question this gift at all, but how did all this come to be?" one of the visiting mares asked.
"Our human herd-mates have long since proven themselves in looking out for us," a dark blue roan replied. "They were helping move a pod of beached whales on the coast. They saved many, but there were some that could not be saved. They did transport the remains to various human villages in need, but what most humans do not know is that some of them went to help feed the herds."
"One went to the dragon reserve in Romania," Hermione added. "It won't feed quite so many dragons as it will centaur, but it saves them from having to sacrifice their herds this winter to feed their dragons."
"I am glad we do not have such creatures here in our forest," a dappled grey mare said. "There is danger enough without having our foals snapped up by dragons."
A few of the mares stared at Evelyn's protruding abdomen rather curiously.
"When are you due?" a younger mare asked.
"Spring," Evelyn replied with a smile. "Should be sometime in early April."
"Spring babies are quite lucky," Honey commented, "Except when they come out during a thunderstorm on a Tuesday. Mum used to say it did something horrible to your sense of balance if a spring baby came on a Monday, but Tuesday was definitely worse. I don't recall why though—Oh! Right. Babies born then supposedly have a tendency to eat dirt and chase garden gnomes around like a dog. Mum said I was born on a Saturday, which was much preferred."
The mares nickered their approval.
Evelyn, in the meantime, looked as though she were adding yet one more thing to the ever-growing list of things she needed to be wary of when having children.
In the span of the day, about twenty different phoenixes had arrived and exchanged places with the phoenix in Hermione's portable yarn nesting basket, and Evelyn was looking at the nest a bit longingly as if to ponder why she couldn't be so lucky. Minerva McGonagall-Barberry had clearly managed to figure it out too. So why couldn't she?
A nagging voice in the back of her mind reminded her that she had stolen a hogshead of wine as her mate had run off with an entire prime rib, they had stuffed themselves silly, spilt wine and food over the feet of Pan's statue, and then proceeded to fornicate in the water fountain in a drunken canine stupor. Evelyn swallowed hard. She was hardly the perfect example of ideal Auror behaviour, and Sirius would definitely not be winning that contest any time soon either. It had only been Sirius anonymously sending money to cover the cost of both things they had stolen twice over that had saved his bacon from Alastor Moody and the formidable wrath of the House of Black. As it was, Evelyn's master, Bianca, had chewed her up one side and down the other in about three other languages on top of the usual Dutch, leaving her with no question that if she ever did anything that shameful again, she would personally spay her… the Muggle way. And without painkillers of any kind, Muggle or otherwise.
Evelyn knew she would do it too, and on that day all the anesthetic would have somehow gone mysteriously missing. Mind you, she would wait until Evelyn had her children, to make sure they were healthy and getting enough milk, and then she would drag her under without any mercy whatsoever. Merlin help her if Sirius even tried to be intimate with his mate after the babies showed up. Evelyn paled a little more and mentally buried herself in the leaf litter. She dearly loved her mate; there was no question about that. However, that being said, they were truly each other's enabler into the realm of canine mischief and mayhem. If Karma existed and was keeping tally, she dreaded if—or rather when—she would have to pay up. Then again, if her oddball cravings were any indicator, she had a feeling she was already paying up, one step at a time.
There was a bunch of excited squealing from the younger foals as they played "put your head in the chimaera's mouth." Orion was pretending to devour each foal and then released them, causing them to squeal with delight and throw themselves in again. The mares nickered to each other in amusement. After each foal took turns being the "victim," Orion shooed them off to finish their chores. The foals pouted and protested, but they did as directed. Orion, once again, proved he was the ultimate father, regardless of species.
Fatherly duties aside, Orion had solved the perplexing mystery of what had been making the giant squid so cranky. Someone or something had managed to kill off most of the fish and plant life in the Black Lake. Moody had a few magi-botanists coming out to take samples from the lake in an attempt to determine why. In the meantime, the mer-folk were, understandably, pissed off and hungry as well, and they had gotten desperate enough to attempt to attack the giant squid for food. The squid, also understandably, didn't much appreciate that.
So, since they had an entire whale on hand, some of the extra meat went into providing for the mer-folk to keep them from attacking the squid, which kept the cranky squid from attacking—well, everything.
Severus had the suspicion that someone had dumped their failed potion experiments into the lake rather than vanish them, but why they would do something that obviously took more effort than a well cast vanishing spell was beyond him. Anyone who hadn't passed their O.W.L.s weren't allowed to brew without supervision, which left one with the sneaking suspicion that one of the older students had been tinkering around with some sort of experiment off the books. Just what that experiment was, however, would only be known when the analysis came back.
The Magi-botanists and the Magi-zoologists were both teaming up to bring the Black Lake back into balance, including restocking and reseeding the lake back to its natural state, but the word was that it was still going to take some time. Thankfully, the mer-folk seemed to be immune to whatever was happening to the squid and killing off the fish. In fact, they seemed to be even more helpful and willing to cooperate than usual. Regardless, the experts would eventually come back with results, and everyone was glad that they could worry about lake ecology instead of more traumatic things like whether their children were going to die at the hands of Dark Lord and his minions of evil, or a wannabe time lord, Lord of the Fiendish Clucking Chicken, or whatever other sort of rising lord of perpetual nightmares the universe kept coming up with now and again.
A tiny gold-coloured foal was fussing with Hope's hair, and Hope looked as though she was going to cry. She hugged the foal close, earning herself a happy nicker.
"Marigold, she's going to want to foal-nap you," the cream-coloured mare nickered with amusement.
Marigold seemed to thoroughly approve of that idea, clinging to Hope like a tanglevine.
"Awww," Hope fussed. "I love you much!" she told the tiny golden filly.
"You'll have your own soon," the cream-mare chuckled. "Humans take less time than centaurs. Only nine months."
"Only?" Hope sighed. "It feels like forever, Foxglove."
"Try carrying your babe for a year," Foxglove suggested.
"Ah, no thanks," Hope replied, waving her hands.
Acer bounded back into the clearing with a whale bone shared between all three heads. He flopped down with the female gathering and gnawed noisily as he cleaned the remaining meat off the bone.
"Someone seems pretty happy," a rust-coloured mare mused.
"It doesn't take much to please you, does it, Acer?" Hope praised the three-headed canine.
Acer's tail beat against the ground enthusiastically as he chewed away.
"You have such a way with the young ones, Hope," a red roan mare commented. "I think they are taking bets on if they can find a way to sneak home with you."
Hope blushed. "It feels so good to finally see the other side of the world. Lyall, when we first met, said it really wasn't all that special and it was better that I didn't dwell on it. I feel so incredibly fortunate to finally be here and experience the wonder of the magical world for myself."
"Ah, I think we have finished!" Gilford cheered, clapping Minerva on the back. Row after row of long branches hung between the trees. Each branch had been painstakingly lashed together to form a drying frame made of natural materials. Line after line of seasoned and drying whale meat hung in the open air, the natural breeze kicking up from the lake serving to accelerate the process.
"Ah, well done everyone!" Meliton praised. "Our herds shall eat well this winter thanks to everyone's hard work."
A grand cheer went up, and the feasting began to celebrate the time of plenty and the future, which was looking very bright indeed.
Saturday, April 14th, 1979 —Waning Gibbous 96%
Peep. Peep. Peeppeeppeep! Mew.
Peep, peep, peep!
Hermione and Minerva adjusted themselves over the yarn basket as noisy little offspring attempted to peck and claw their way out of the eggshells. Tawny spotted eggs cracked as little egg teeth smashed their way through the shells. Little paws thrust out of the holes and worked the shells clear so small, mewling kittens tumbled out, their tiny, naked wings damp and flopping about.
Meanwhile, the phoenix chicks made it all look mighty professional as they cracked their shells and then spontaneously combusted, bursting free in a blaze of glory and fluffy down. The phoenix chicks warbled and opened their little beaks for food, starving from their effort to free themselves from their eggshell prisons. Phoenixes gathered around and stuffed fruit into each maw as Minerva lay on her side and allowed her little catbird kittens to take their first meal. They squirmed and batted each other in the face with their paws as they attempted to claim a teat for their own purposes, making tiny mewling and chirping sounds until they found what they were looking for and latched on hungrily.
Gilford puffed up his feathers and sang proudly over his brood of mutant kitten-chicks, and Severus and the phoenix crew dutifully stuffed all the newly-hatched chicks full of mashed fruit until their bellies were properly swollen with food.
Severus nuzzled his mate, warbling, and Hermione chirred happily, glad that their egg-vigil was finally over. Chicks of multiple colours lay within the next, but there were a few that screamed the ebony black of Severus and the honey sienna of Hermione. Severus eyed the fluffy platinum blond chick with suspicion, perhaps wondering if Hermione had found a side-lover somewhere. The little chick yawned beakily, staring up at Severus with total adoration.
Suspicious, but willing to accept that the chances that Lucius had somehow mated with his wife while he wasn't looking was next to impossible, he preened the blond-fluff chick and stuffed a ripe fig in his mouth.
Minerva was half-asleep, having given all of her little mutants a thorough grooming. The little fluffballs were snoring away, kneading her fur with their tiny paws. Sirius and Regulus looked on almost jealously, having already experienced what it was like to have a pregnant mate of the normal kind. Assuming such a thing even existed.
"It would have been so much easier if Evelyn could've just laid a nest of eggs," Sirius pouted.
"I dread to think of what she would lay, brother," Regulus said. "With our family, she could lay a giant thunderbird egg and it would shock everyone with bolts of lightning."
Sirius's eyes went wide. "With my luck it would be a rain bird, and we'd live in a perpetually wet house until they grew up."
"Could always move to the desert," Regulus suggested. "Or travel the world and end drought wherever you might find it."
Sirius shook his head. "Do you always have to make weird things into benefits?"
"I'm a Slytherin, brother," Regulus chided. "Everything has to be made into something useful. Just think of the joy you could bring Ethiopia."
Sirius sighed. "I don't want to live in Ethiopia."
"With enough rain, you might change your mind."
Sirius facepalmed. "Why aren't you paranoid as to what your first-born is going to be?"
"Look at Minerva, she wasn't scared or surprised that her pairing with Gilford gave her unique magical offspring," Regulus said with a shrug. "I used to be scared, but then I realised it was the family magic that gave us our beloved sister. Why should I be scared of that?"
Sirius frowned. "We can't all be as accepting as our Lord Father."
"Perhaps we should be," Regulus chuckled. "Look how well it turned out. Well, except for you. You're a right ruddy cock-up."
Sirius chased his brother out of the room, roaring at the top of his lungs.
Orion shook his head at his sons' antics and moved his hands into the large yarn basket-nest, and pulled out each chick, carefully looking them over. Each one looked up at him adoringly, singing their first happy songs of love, and he smiled at them, kissing them gently on the beak before putting them back under their proud mum. Walburga, too, looked each chick over, checking wings and tails to see if all was in order before nestling them back. Orion didn't stop with the phoenix chicks, and picked up the little squirming and mewing kitten-chicks, and they stared at him with wonder, their paws thumping against Orion's face with silent awe.
"You have a glorious little nest," Orion cooed, running his hands over both his daughter and Minerva. Both Hermione and Minerva thunked their heads against his warm hands. "You must be so proud."
Minerva meowed, and Hermione chirped with pleasure.
"You made a father proud, my daughter," Orion said with a smile. "So is your mother, though she is trying very hard to not show it."
Severus warbled a happy song, echoed by all the other gathered phoenixes as the entire estate was filled with joy.
Meanwhile, every kitten-chick had managed to crawl into Walburga's lap and fall instantly asleep.
Minerva looked on the scene with clear amusement before wearily closing her eyes.
Sunday, June 10th, 1979 —Full Moon 100%
Yip! Yip! Yaaarrrrooooo!
"Merlin! Let me in there!" Sirius said, trying to crawl into the den, but Tuft and Moody were in no mood to entertain. They pulled their lips back and growled deeply.
"Damnit! My wife is in there!"
"You might as well give up, brother," Regulus chuckled. It's not going to happen. "They won't even let me in. Do you really want to argue with them?"
"They let father in!"
Regulus gave Sirius a look.
"What? They did!"
Regulus shook his head. "Since when does our Lord Father ever get denied anywhere? Other than perhaps the ladies' washroom?"
Sirius' jaw dropped slightly, and then he sighed. "Point."
There was rustling as two phoenixes landed nearby, spreading their wings as a clutch of baby phoenix chicks and kitten-chicks tumbled out from beneath them as the black phoenix loosed a silver tabby cat. All of them stared at the two wolf-guards, and then they slipped between the wolf's legs, the little chicks and kitten-chicks following in hurried line of obnoxious rainbow cuteness.
Gilford landed between Sirius' ears and sang Mozart's Requiem for the Dead.
"Oh, so Severus gets to go in too," Sirius pouted, never happy.
"Quit your bellyaching, brother," Regulus muttered. "Soon enough, you'll be up to your eyeballs in—whatever it is you're having, and you'll be crying for the free time you have now."
Sirius sighed. "It's not so bizarre for a father to want to see his children being born. Father was there for us."
"Our Lady Mother didn't dig herself a den," Regulus pointed out.
Sirius crossed his arms across his body. "Hmph."
Gilford abruptly nailed Sirius on top of the head.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"Being such an insufferable whiner," Regulus muttered.
"Great, reprimanded by a tiny English robin."
Regulus towered over him as a giant bear and proceeded to hug-maul his brother unmercifully.
Not long after, Sirius' muffled groans were suppressed even more by about three hundred kilos of disgruntled grizzly bear.
"Congratulations you old wolf," James said, patting Remus on the back. "Looks like you have some fine-looking wolf pups."
Two brown wolf pups tussled with two dirty blond wolf pups. They squirmed and yipped and occasionally howled—or tried to at least. Remus smiled proudly, with tears in his eyes. "Hey, two of those aren't mine."
"Could have fooled me!" James laughed. "Look at them. You sure Tala didn't have them all?"
"No, no," Remus said. "The blond ones are Alastor's little darlings."
"Oh, Merlin, for the love of—"
A loud thud from the next room caused Remus and James to look toward the next room.
A pack of tiny messy-almost-spiky furred puppies came bounding into the room, trailing sulfurous pawprints. Their glowing red eyes seemed to brighten as they spied the wolf pups, and they met in the middle of the room with a flurry of happy barks and yips and yowls.
"Those are definitely not mine," Remus said, waving his hands. "And they're not Moody's either."
James laughed. "That lot must belong to Sirius'." He chortled and laughed even harder. "I heard he spent the first month banished to the settee thanks to not recognising his very own spawn."
"Evelyn didn't let him live that down—" Remus said, averting his eyes to look at the pups. "The puppies walk all over him but they're furry little angels with everyone else."
A little black sulfurous puppy was enthusiastically gnawing on James' boot heel.
James scooped the little guy up and his face instantly melted. "Awww. You stink like the sulfur pits of Hades, oh yes you do!"
"Hrrl! rrrRRrrr!" the pup exclaimed, tail wagging like mad and licking James' face.
"Can you speak?"
The promptly pup sat down.
"You are so adorable!" James blurted, kissing the little pup on the head.
Sirius staggered in from the other room his front and back side covered in muddy puppy prints. "Have you seen my hellspawn?" He fell face-first on the carpet.
All the little pups ran up and hiked their legs, piddling on Sirius, scratching the rug with their hind legs, and trotting back over to socialise with the wolf pups, save for the one in James' hands, which was far too interested in licking his jaw.
"That explains why Sirius always smells like—piss." James said rather dryly.
Alastor walked up, grinning down at the obviously-exhausted Sirius. "Might want to take that one out and hose him down. He positively reeks."
"Hey, Alastor? How is Hope?"
"Ach, she couldn't be happier," Alastor answered. "She's so happy that she has wolf pups for kids—I—I couldn't have asked for a more loving and understanding wife. She's a bit sad that she won't be able to go out in public with them until they start looking passably human, but Orion says that might take about a month or two."
"Yeah, we're magical in the Wizarding world, but even wizards have quite a few problems with giving birth to wolf pups," James said. "Can't really imagine why."
Remus snorted. "Orion also took his daughter with him to the Wizengamot with her sleeping in his pocket. He told me the story."
"Orion can get away just about anything, but if you go in public with an adorable little lintball, no one's going, 'Oh, hey, that's a beautiful daughter you have there'." James grinned.
"You seem to forget," Remus pointed out, "Orion could get away with bringing a bloody hippogriff to the Wizengamot and calling it Walburga, and no one would dare to question him—at least out loud."
James scratched his head. "True." The little pup in his hands playfully nipped his fingers. "Hey, ow! No biting, young man!"
The pup whined and lowered his head.
"How do you tell which one this is—" James stared at the little pup and got a thorough slurping for his efforts. "Argh!"
"That one is Aries," Remus said. "He smells like war."
James gave him a look. "What exactly does war smell like."
"Sirius named his son Aries after the God of War?"
"No," Alastor said. "Evelyn named them all after banishing Sirius to the settee for a month. That one is Aries Ludolf. That one trying to chew on the table leg is Skylar Gerben. The two sleeping in the basket with the wolf pups are Anika Carolien and Femke Gisela."
Remus and James stared at Moody.
"What?" Alastor snapped. "I pay attention during namings! That and Sirius screams their names all the time, but it falls on deaf ears."
"Okay. Now THAT makes more sense," Remus said with a wink.
"Personally, I think that they smell his fear and they figure if he can't pronounce their names correctly, they don't have to answer him," Moody said with a shrug. "You don't see Heather Annabel or Hugh Alastor displaying such miscreant behaviour."
"They are only a few weeks old, Alastor," Remus snickered. "You can't possibly expect them to be well behaved this early. Merlin knows our Tasha and Randall barely recognise their names."
Alastor grunted. "You think that, but it's not true. You just think they don't know their names. Want proof?"
Remus arched a brow and gestured for him to go ahead.
Moody waved his wand and sent his wolf Patronus zinging out the door.
"Randall! Tasha! I've got a brush here with your name on it!" came Hermione's voice.
Two brown wolf pups immediately popped their heads up from the basket and whimpered and yipped as they crawled out, fell over each other, and scrambled out the door in a hurry, taking part of the rug with them. Hugh and Heather, not wanting to be left out, frantically followed their fellow pups, tearing out the door as fast as their little legs could carry them. They made sure to trample Sirius as they went, even when the clearer path was much shorter.
"Fuck me," Sirius groaned.
"Watch that mouth of yours, Black," Moody growled. "There are children present."
The four hellhound pups suddenly seemed to realise they had just been abandoned, and they tore off after their furry compatriots, tracking muddy, sulfurous pawprints all over their father as they dashed from the room.
James and Remus burst out laughing and Moody was grinning from ear-to-ear. "You're pathetic, Black. Gilford has them all behaving themselves, and he's a sodding tiny songbird."
"Just you wait, James," Sirius hissed. "When Lily finally pops, you're going to be eating your laughter, mark my words."
"Meanwhile, I shall feed on your tears of misery, mate," James said with a mock courtly bow.
"And this picture is going on the bulletin board in the teacher's lounge."
"I'm going to tear you apart, Potter!"
"You have to catch me first, Black, and right now you look like a bunny rabbit could take you on and make you cry 'Uncle'."
"I hate you all."
Tuesday, July 31st, 1979 —First Quarter 43%
"Damn, James," Sirius said, whistling. "What the hell happened to your face?"
"This happened," James said, proudly holding his latest bundle of joy. "Harry James Potter. He kicked me in the face the first time I picked him up. He gave Lily a black eye too."
"Damn," Sirius boggled.
"Awww," Hermione cooed, holding out her hands, her chicks warbling sweetly from her shoulders.
"I wouldn't—" James cautioned. "My boy's got a mean left hook."
Hermione scooped up baby Harry and cradled him against her. "Hey there, little man. Welcome to the world."
Harry's eyes were a murky blue-grey instead of the bright emerald green she had known so well but he gazed up at her, burbling excitedly, clasping her finger tightly in his hand and snuggling closer into Hermione's arms.
"You're going to live in a bright new world, little guy," Hermione crooned, and her fluffy chicks sang in approval, causing Harry to look curiously for the source of the sound. His newborn eyes were slightly unfocused, but he looked towards the sound of the warbles with clear interest.
"James!" Lily's voice screeched from the next room.
James scrambled, grabbing for Harry and promptly getting punched in the face. He stumbled, causing baby Harry to fly through the air, and in his panic, huge moose antlers sprouted from his head and James got stuck in the doorframe. Sirius dove to catch Harry as the baby squealed, and he was rewarded by a quick foot to the face.
James crashed through the door frame to get to his wife, sending wood, splinters, plaster, and brick in random directions as well as breaking off part of his own antlers, leaving them embedded in the wall.
"Fuck," Sirius blurted, his nose bleeding all over Harry's swaddling.
"That's going to give James quite a headache to remember," Hermione said.
"A little help here?" Sirius moaned.
Hermione picked up baby Harry and cradled him as Remus pulled Sirius to his feet. Severus pushed a cloth to Sirius' face to staunch the bleeding.
"Whf dis smff like mfgs?"
"Feed enough phoenix chicks and you are bound to start smelling like fruit, Black," Severus said, shaking his head. "Were you expecting fresh florals or baby powder, perhaps?"
The three shook their heads at Sirius.
"James Potter! Where is my baby boy?" Lily's voice screeched.
Harry's eyes went wide and frightened, and he looked like he was going to cry.
Hermione cast her hand over the baby.
Hermione casually added a strangely white chick with a black head crest to her collection on her shoulders. Her chicks warbled at the new addition, their head crests rising in curiosity and avid interest. The wobbly chick looked around, his head crest rising as he met his new "siblings."
"Chirrrr," one black chick greeted.
"Wark!" one brown chick cheeped.
Harry opened his mouth. "Honk!"
Hermione's chicks stared, their expressions decidedly unsure.
"Chirrriiieee!" the other phoenix chick sang.
Harry tried again. "Qwack!"
Severus slapped himself in the face with his hand.
James stumbled in, still sporting a one-sided antler. "Harry, where's our Harry? Lily just had a baby girl too, and she wants them together!"
Hermione and Severus gave James a cold stare.
Sirius still had a cloth over his nose and mouth. "Hfy imf rmgh dhere."
James looked desperate.
"JAMES CHARLUS POTTER!" Lily's voice screeched. "Where is Harry?!"
James tumbled and stumbled over himself to get back to his wife.
The little white chick with the black headcrest sighed with relief. "Chirrr."
"Third time is a charm," Severus said.
Hermione smiled evilly.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE OUR SON IS?!"
Severus patted Remus on the shoulder. "And you thought having a mate who had pups was a bit complicated and stressful."
All the fluffy chicks and one newly-assimilated chick warbled happily from Hermione's shoulder, each of them raising and lowering their head crests in synchronisation.
Remus blinked. "Where did that come from?"
"Too much time around Master Barberry—the Gilford one."
"Weeherwweer cheerio wee!"
Remus rubbed his eyes with his fingers. "Names again, please. I keep forgetting."
"That one is Rigel," Severus said. "The signing robin imitator is Orion."
"Yes," Severus agreed. "The brown ones are Lyra and Minerva. The white interloper is Harry."
Remus rolled his eyes. "I got that one."
"Well you don't remember the others, so I figured I'd help your old and wrinkled mind," Severus muttered.
Remus mumbled a reply that wasn't overly flattering or polite.
"What's that, Remus?" Severus asked. "You want to take baby Harry back to his mother?"
The white and black Harry-chick grew wide-eyed and let out a fearful squawk before diving into Hermione's hair to hide.
"Not even a day old, and he already fears his mum," Severus said with a sniff. "It can't be good that he prefers to be transfigured into a phoenix chick rather than see his own mum."
"James is going to be sleeping in the doghouse," Sirius said, the bleeding finally having stopped.
"Might need to expand that couch you sleep on, Black."
"Hey, I haven't had to sleep on the couch in a while!"
"Since this morning."
"That was a while!"
Hermione and Severus rolled their eyes simultaneously as Sirius and Remus bickered back and forth.
"Chirrrr!" sang Lyra.
"Waaaaaaaaieee!" replied Rigel.
"Piiiiiiiiire!" said Orion.
"Mewchii!" said Minerva
"Honk!" said Harry, looking quite proud of himself.
The four phoenix chicks shook their heads and started again.
The Daily Prophet
The Baby Boom Edition
Rumour has it, at the end of the last war, Death was so happy with the outcome that he gave the Wizarding world a boon, but what that boon was, no one knew. Some claimed it was being able to have a normal life. Others speculated that meant having loved ones left to love and live with— but Healers all over Britain are agreeing that the Wizarding world has been blessed with babies!
Pregnancies and births have kept couples and healers busy, busy, busy. It seems that every family that wished for children and tried for them got them, and then some. Twins appear to be the standard right now, with some couples having even more. Even more oddly, all of these babies are astonishingly healthy with no signs of the trauma that tends to be typical in multiple pregnancies.
As a special service to the Wizarding community, the Daily Prophet is posting a list of the latest births that have occurred in the last few months. More are on the way, but the only thing I can tell you is, Hogwarts may have to arrange some consierable expansion to prepare for the influx of new students eleven years from now. Rumour has it that construction is already being planned— they have ten years to make it happen!
Barberry Family: Gareth Maddox, Margaret Grace, Klaus MacKenzie, and Moira Gwyneth
Beardog Family: Asher Stephan and Verbena Summer
Black (Sirius and Evelyn) Family: Aries Ludolf, Skylar Gerben, Anika Carolien, and Femke Gisela
Black (Regulus and Honey) Family: Columba Walburga and Castor Orion
Burrcrunkle Family: Violet Sharon and Barty William
Cornell Family: Ginger Mae and Abner Joseph
Chambers Family: Lila Maureen and Alan Lawrence
Croft Family: Lara Angelina and Jason Cornelius
Endicott Family: William John and Winifred Jane
Godwin Family: Trevor Lloyd and Aaron Boniface
Lupin Family: Tasha Hope and Randall Philip
Longbottom Family: Neville Frank
Malfoy Family: Draco Severus and Carina Hermione
Moody Family: Heather Annabell and Hugh Alastor
Snape (Severus and Hermione): Rigel Oberon, Orion Perseus , Lyra Titania, and Minerva Vega
Snape (Severin and Jean): Joanna Eileen, Sebastian Taliesin
Stroud Family: Ethan Luke and Isabella Hunter
Summers Family: Scott Xavier and Jean Rachel
Weasley Family: Ginevra Molly, Molly Anna, Louisa Jane, and Ronald Bilius
Wright Family: Mac Cameron and Jack Emerson
Wyght Family: Abigail Catherine and Martin Theodosius
Young Family: Christopher Jedediah Demetrius Maximilian Broderick
To all of you with new families and those of you with births around the corner, we gives our most heartfelt congratulations.
October 31st, 1981 — Waxing Crescent 12%
"You have dad's nose!" Lyra said, pressing her small hands to Tobias Snape's rather distinctive nose. She patted it respectfully, stroking it like she would her father's impressive beak.
Tobias blinked and stared rather wide-eyed at the small child with a head of hair that seemed to be dappled with spots. Her eyes were a very familiar fathomless black.
"Hello," Tobias said rather awkwardly.
Rigel and Orion peered over the edge of the bed, their grey eyes wide and curious. Minnie poked her head over the top of the fluffy quilt, refusing to leave her phoenix form behind. Her head crest rose up slowly in clear curiosity, but she gave a rather nervous warble. Moira, one of Minerva's young kitten-chicks, mewled encouragement beside her, gently hugging her with her paw. The two had become inseparable from the moment of their hatching, and no other time but stress brought out just how strongly dependent they were on each other for moral support.
"What's your name, mister?" Lyra asked, completely unabashed.
Tobias shifted. "Erm, it's Tobias, little miss."
"Toe-bye-us," Lyra sounded it out. "I like it. You may keep it."
Tobias cracked a smile. "Thank you."
"You have the same hair as my daddy," Lyra said.
The other chicks chirred in agreement.
One by one the chicks hopped on the quilt and moved shyly towards Tobias, tentatively reaching out their feet to feel his leg and then perch on it. They watched him closely, ready to scatter at a moment's notice.
Lyra, on the other hand, lead the clutch when it came to bravery (damn Gryffindor) and transformed into her phoenix chick self and promptly cuddled under Tobias' chin with a soft peeping.
Tobias froze, his hand every so slowly reaching up to touch the soft, downy warmth. His face contorted as a tear rolled down his cheek.
"Chiirrrr!" Lyra began to sing.
"Cheeerrrrr!" answered Mini.
"Chehrrriiii!" harmonised Rigel and Orion.
"Miiiii!" sang Moira.
The tears rolled more freely, and Tobias hugged the little chick to himself with a tight, desperate need.
The little chicks sang, continuing their songs until all the tears were done and all the chicks lined up on Tobias's pillow as he slept— peaceful for perhaps the first time in months.
Severin closed his eyes and nodded to Severus as they observed Tobias through the one-way glass. "I had never thought to see it, and now that I have— I have to wonder if that bastard stole from us— all of us— a father who was fully capable of love and understanding. I find myself— wishing I'd at least known it was possible. I believed my mother to be a madwoman for loving such an abusive, vile drunkard. I believed no evil in the world to be as great as him, the ultimate Muggle swine. And all of it was a lie. All of it was created by Albus bloody Dumbledore as a means to his own selfish ends."
"There is still time, Severin," Severus said, placing one hand on his mirror-self's shoulder— marking a bond between brothers from two different times. "You may not be able to return and change your original timeline, but this Tobias has an opportunity none of the others have. He gets know me, you, my mutant brood. He gets to know her—"
Severus looked up to nod at his wife, who was holding Eileen's hand and patting it reassuringly. "Our mothers saw him at his best, and only now do we have a chance to bring that good man back, starting with remembering he was a good man to begin with."
Severin sighed and nodded. "I suppose if anyone can bring out the heart in someone, it would be obnoxiously fluffy and cute lintballs with inspiring songs."
"Don't forget the kitten-chicks."
"I feel like I am somehow less of a wizard in that my children do not have feathers, fly, or in some way defy the laws of nature from the very moment birth."
"Give it time, Severin." Severus chuckled. "With our blood and our luck, and way it mixes with our mates— it is only a matter of time before your children learn to fly too."
Severin sighed. "Could I at least teach them how to fly on a broom first?"
"I suppose that would be acceptable."
Severus stared into the next room where a pile of fluffy chicks and one kitten-chick were piled together in Tobias' lap, listening to him tell a story of a man who once had a baby son whom he loved very much and a wonderful woman who was his entire world.
Severin gave Severus a nod. "Neither of us were able to provide the sort of healing he needed. Perhaps it is time to let the younger professionals take it from here."
All the little chicks hopped up and down, flapping their wings in excitement, begging for another story, a pet, or even a kind smile.
Eileen walked over from the next room and smiled. "Hermione said she has spoken with a number of people at the Ministry, and they are willing, with the final vote of the Wizengamot, to allow Tobias and I to live in the Wizarding world. I won't have to give up my wand— my magic. And Tobias will continue to get the help that he needs. He remembers me—"
Eileen twitched nervously. "I owe this to someone named Hope. She apparently proved that Muggles can embrace the magical world and not wish to destroy it. But Tobias— he will be watched carefully. For now. But, perhaps, in time—"
"He is already healing, mother," Severus said. "He is already remembering you and myself as a baby." Severus shook his head in discomfort, but his face grew serious. "Even if that is all remembers, mother. Even if that is all that remains— you can built something new from the ashes. That is something I am all too familiar with."
Eileen stared at Severin, her hand reaching to touch his face. Severin stared at her, turning away, but she pulled his head back to look him in the eyes. "You are my son… from a different time?"
Severin nodded minutely. "Yes."
Eileen looked from Severus to Severin. "There is so much pain in your eyes. Some of it— I recognise. Some I know comes from a world where the greater good was synonymous with the greatest evil, and it almost won. And yet, here you are— strong. Alive. I have to believe all of this happened for a reason. I have to believe all of the pain will lead us to something better."
There was a desperate pain within Eileen's dark eyes. "I cannot believe it is all random, mindless or manipulated violence that brought us here."
"Random violence and manipulation did bring us to this point, Eileen," Hermione said as she drifted back in from the next room."But it is not that which drives us forward. It is not what heals Tobias. It is not what heals that wound inside you. In me. In Severus. In Severin. It is love that brings you back from the brink, mends the wounds you cannot see. It was love that brought you back to Tobias' side despite all that happened— not randomness. Not manipulation. Try to remember that when despair fills your heart."
For a moment, Hermione's body was wreathed in flames, her eyes shimmering with the sands of many times and many places. "One thing throughout all the times I have seen, Eileen. One thing remains the same. You fell in love with a wonderful man. Your heart and mind were not faulty. You did not make the wrong choice. You made a choice that an outside force twisted into something horrible. For now, know that your love is what is going to bring him back to you."
Eileen clasped Hermione to her tightly, weeping. "Thank you."
Hermione shook her head. "I have done nothing."
"My love may affect his recovery, Hermione," Eileen said, holding her tight. "But yours heals so much more."
Eileen stood up straight and squared her shoulders. She smiled at her "sons" and walked into the room where Tobias was being loved on by a clutch of very happy chicks.
"Tobias," she whispered.
Tobias Snape lifted his head at the sound of her voice and smiled as bright as the sun. "Hello, love."
Saturday, October 26th, 1991 — Waning Gibbous 89%
"Homework done, children?" Severus asked, his own quill working furiously over his stack of scrolls.
"Yes, father!" his brood chimed.
"Yes, sir," Harry said, setting down his quill and looking very satisfied with his work.
Severus extended his hand, his fingers wiggling.
Harry gulped and placed the scroll in his hand.
Severus scanned it, eyes flicking rapidly across it. "Common rue is not the same in potions as the other varieties of rue. There are goat's rue and meadow rue as well as Syrian and wall rue. It's use in Transfiguration is very specific, and you have mentioned nothing. The other Professor Snape will catch you on that, and she will give you 'the look'."
Harry snatched his scroll back and frantically flipped through his textbook to find what he was looking for before quickly rewriting part of his essay.
Severus checked each of the scrolls of his children, grunting that they check a paragraph or two but not telling them what the exact answer was. Soon the entire room was filled with the sound of busy quilling. This process was repeated a few times until Severus' grunts finally changed into a nod of acceptance, then the kids packed up their books into neat piles for Monday when classes would begin anew.
"Daddy?" Lyra asked.
"Yes, my dear?"
"Can we invite Briar Rose over?"
Harry's face paled, and he shook his head violently but froze in place when Lyra suddenly turned his way.
Severus, far from being unobservant, arched a brow. "Reason?"
"She's my friend!"
"Harry is your friend, and he's already here."
Lyra pouted. "He's family; he doesn't count!"
Harry sputtered. He took off as a white and black barnacle goose and flew into the next room, followed by Rigel and Orion.
Severus, knowing where such fights always ended up— with Harry sulking with Minerva in the Headmistress's office with Rigel and Orion, the three of them begging shamelessly for almond shortbread biscuits from her secret stash— didn't react.
"Daughter, only last week you were crying in your room," Severus recalled. "You said you hated her and her stupid little girlfriends."
"But we made up!" Lyra protested.
Severus sighed. "You may ask, but you know the rules. If her homework is not finished, you are not to have fun with her. You and your siblings have all worked hard and finished your homework. You have all set your priorities. As for the Gryffindors, that falls under Professor Lupin's domain. He must approve her completed work and give his permission. Then and only then, may she come over— or you visit her there."
Severus' brows furrowed. "What have I told you about emotional manipulation in this house, young lady?"
"No guilting people to get what you want," Lyra said, chastened.
It was just then when Hermione swept into the room in a flurry of black robes, her eyes blazing like twin suns. "Merlin save me from imbeciles! If I have to watch over yet another detention with Miss Potter giggling as she passes notes back and forth with Mr Weasley thinking I won't notice, then I'm going to write a letter to Molly and let her know just how dreadful his work is and how bad his grades really are! And then, I'm going to write a letter to James and Lily and enclose copies of their daughter's fine essay work— which rated a sodding TROLL!"
"Hello, love," Severus answered, ignoring her rant to pull her down for a kiss.
Hermione slumped, relaxing. "Hi."
"Everything was fine until detention," Hermione said with a sigh. "Apparently Briar has pulling pranks on everyone from Gryffindor to Hufflepuff and in-between. Remus caught her applying sticking charms to seats. Charity caught her releasing these Muggle wind up cars that you pull back and leg go— only she had magicked them to perform a demolition derby with themselves and to chase after people as well. Tala said she was wrapping Ronald up like a mummy and having him stumbling around during the Healing class, and the only one who hasn't given her a detention is James because she's a right perfect angel in his class. Oh, and Xenophilius caught her tampering with the ink used for the Magical Journalism class, so that explains why the last edition of the paper came out in Yiddish and rainbow colours.
Severus blinked and stared blankly. "Apparently even hellhounds make better, more attentive students."
"They are perfect angels!" Hermione replied, throwing up her hands in disgust. "Oh, Lyra, I thought for sure you would be off trying to butter up Madam Pince for the latest edition of Furly-backed Ferns and Hippogriff Sense."
Lyra perked. "It came in!?"
"Obviously," Hermione replied.
"Can I go? Can I? Can I please?" Lyra begged.
Severus snorted. "What about spending time with Briar Rose?"
"But Daddy, BOOKS!" Lyra cried. "I've been waiting for Furly-Backed Ferns and Hippogriff Sense for months!"
Severus crossed his arms. "One condition. You go find Mr Potter, and you apologise to him for calling him 'family' and then saying he 'doesn't count' in the same sentence."
"What?!" Hermione exclaimed.
Lyra shrank down and stared at the floor. "Yes, Daddy." She hung her head in shame and the phantom head crest lowered as she was properly chastised.
"Go on now," Severus said, and watched his chick scurry away at once. "I liked her better when her highest and most lofty goal was being able to sing like Gilford."
"Oh, Severus," Hermione said with a laugh. "They are just kids. Regardless of species. They have to fall on their faces, learn boundaries, realise said boundaries are there for a reason, and learn from their mistakes. Eventually, we hope they can figure out how not to break their necks flying too fast or going around dating the wrong sort of phoenix."
Severus snorted and pulled her close.
"Did she really say that Harry was 'just family' and that he 'didn't count'?"
Severus nodded. "She didn't mean it the way it came out, but she needs to learn to pay attention to what she is saying. He's practically family and took what she said the wrong way. The next person could be a master looking for a new apprentice."
"True, and we can't expect all of our children to be snapped up for them like we were, hrm?"
"Our children are dunderheads," Severus griped.
"Not all of the time, husband," Hermione laughed. "They have their moments, yes, I do agree."
"I swear, I must have dropped her egg as newly-laid phoenix," Severus sighed. "Maybe I exposed her to too much time-stream sand before she was ready."
Hermione swatted him playfully. "We have it slightly easier than the poor Masters Barberry. The kitten-chick quartet was driving Gilford to rap them upside the heads each time they let their feline noses get them in trouble. Then Minerva wanted to swat their rumps for letting their birdishness startle them every time the wind blew sideways."
"Kitten-chicks—" Severus sighed. "Yes, at least we have no strange magical crossbreeding going on in there. Regulus says that Castor is everything you'd expect from a boy named after his grandfather and a chimaera. He protects everything and everyone he cares about— and if he has to study to be better at it, he does exactly that."
"My Lord Father is so proud," Hermione smiled. "Columba Walburga, however, is a right little terror. Prim and proper and a perfect miniature of my Lady Mother. If anyone could have a perfectly cloned family, it would be my dear baby brother."
"Not perfectly," Severus pointed out. "There is a distinctive lack of you."
"Hah! Wrong generation. If there was a me, then there would surely be another Sirius and Regulus."
"Oh, in case you didn't hear the gossip on the teacher-vine," Hermione said with a laugh, "Honey is thinking of taking her cousin's daughter, Luna, under her wing as an apprentice. She'll be coming to Hogwarts next year, and she wanted to warn us that there would be another Lovegood under the roof."
"Merlin preserve us from more Lovegoods," Severus drawled, visibly amused.
Hermione snorted. "Solange and Xenophilius have had her studying abroad the last few years to learn how to effectively 'ground' herself. At least, I think that's what Solange said. I have no idea what that means, exactly— for a Lovegood, anyway."
"It means when she gets here she will see a hundred things no one else can— save, perhaps, for Solange and Honey. I'm never sure if Xenophilius actually sees things or merely pretends to." Severus tilted his head thoughtfully and shrugged.
"I know my parents would have never permitted me travel abroad by myself at the age of nine." Hermione frowned. "We let our chicks go places, I suppose, but there's always an older phoenix around to keep watch over them."
"Phoenixes are very social with other phoenixes, so at least we have that," Severus agreed. "Look at poor Black. His hellhound pups all want to be independent right now before they even know how to properly survive on their own."
"I think that's just about Sirius himself," Hermione said with a sigh. "The pups adore following everyone else around as much as possible."
"A pack of obnoxious little Gryffindor pups," Severus said, curling his lip slightly with disapproval.
"Still carrying that chip on your shoulder about Gryffindor?"
"Dumbledore was a Gryffindor."
"I was Gryffindor too!"
"In a previous life!"
Hermione silenced her husband with a searing kiss, about which he mumbled his sincere approval as he stared into her eyes afterwards.
"Fine, there were some notable Gryffindors who might not deserve to be thrown bodily into a vat of soapy water and bathed daily."
"Oh!" Hermione groaned. "Mr Passridge. Minerva said she was going to accidentally trip one day and cover him in lemon-scented soapy water— as it is, his dorm-mates have already 'accidentally' shaved those dreads off him and were actually dragging him kicking and screaming into the showers. Remus, of course, thanks to his sense of smell, couldn't even go in to intervene until most of the scrubbing was done. The kids weren't even there— he was being attacked by multiple animated scrub brushes and a bar of deodorant soap."
"Ah, the peer pressure to be clean," Severus said, eyebrow lifting. "I suppose there are worse things in life. Has there been a visit to the parents yet?"
Hermione closed her eyes. "Unfortunately."
Severus leaned in. "And?"
"Their whole family are—"
"You must be joking."
"Pig farmers, Severus," Hermione said with a shudder.
"As much respect as I have for the farming life, you don't catch Farmer Hastings and Farmer Gildforth rolling around in filth like it's an appropriate lifestyle. They always make their deliveries without smelling like shite, and Farmer Hastings has the finest pork in all of Britain."
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know, Severus. Perhaps there is some other issue going on other than a general neglect of personal hygiene. He acted like he'd never even seen the light before. I mean, he knows English, but he just mumbles, and—" she trailed off, a bit of horror on her face. "Oh Merlin, Severus. What if— they treated him like Harry from my original timeline, only they shut him up with the farm animals?"
Severus shuddered in horror and revulsion. "I had thought once that having an abusive, alcoholic father was the worst situation for a child to be caught up in, but I am starting to think the world continually tries to show me still more horrible things to remind me I could have had it much, much worse."
Hermione touched his chin and smiled warmly. "I love you, my Lord Husband."
Severus pressed his forehead to hers and smiled. "And I you, my Lady Wife."
Just then a flurry of phoenix fledglings, a fledgling goose, and a myriad of little catbird fledglings wooshed by them, headed for the bedroom, being herded there by three fully-grown and apparently highly brassed-off phoenixes: Teacup, Dandy, and Jean. The young fledglings barely managed to shut the door just in time for the older phoenixes to barely miss slamming into them.
Severus and Hermione exchanged curious looks.
Hermione walked over, and the irritated adult phoenixes made crooning peeping noises, appealing to their elders to "fix" this untenable situation. Hermione soothed their heads and turned the doorknob only to find that her hand was stuck to the knob and the door wasn't opening. Mad giggling was going on behind the door, and Hermione was definitely not amused. Narrowing her eyes, she transformed into her phoenix self and set herself on fire, searing away the doorknob and creating a phoenix shaped hole in the door.
As Hermione dropped the melted doorknob, she assumed her human shape again, and Teacup, Dandy, and Jean squeezed through the hole and proceeded to divebomb the children as they frantically stuffed the remaining biscuit "evidence" into their faces. Minerva leapt through the phoenix-shaped hole, and Severus pushed open the rather customised door with his fingers and glowered down at his children.
The phoenix chick-children immediately transformed, peeping as Teacup, Dandy, and Jean fell upon them and beat them with their wings, driving them back out of the room towards the bathroom.
Minerva gathered up her woeful kitten-chicks by the scruff of their necks and carried them out toward the floo she had come in, repeating the procedure until every single one of her wayward biscuit-stealing offspring was well and truly dealt with.
In the end, there was Harry— the poor, abandoned Barnacle goose gosling.
"Tell me, Harry," Hermione asked. "Did you partake of the biscuits?"
The gosling hung his head and nodded in shame.
"Did you ask first?"
Harry shook his head affirmative.
"And did she give you permission?"
Harry shook his head yes.
"Then, Harry, why are you frightened?"
"Perhaps, our young gosling thinks that since our exceedingly sneaky biscuit-thieving chicks stole the goods from Minerva's biscuit tin then he, too, shall be blamed, hrm?" Severus said, eyeing the black and white gosling with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said, gently rubbing him under the chin with her finger. "If you are honest, we will always have your back. We cannot protect you if we do not know the truth, yes?"
Harry made a tiny gosling peep and nodded his head shyly.
"Just realise that none of our children cannot resist the urge to be mischievous around food, and you'll be just fine," Severus assured Harry with a shake of his head.
A giant bloodhound Patronus burst through the nearby wall and said, "Hey, sis? Could you please watch over Harry tonight? I have to help Lily with an incoming shipment, and all of her usual people are down with a nasty case of the Wizard Flu. I don't want Harry to end up with it. Hell, I don't want to get it either. James wanted me to watch him tonight, but he's here too. It's going to be a crazy night. Merlin, I hope I don't end up sick. Briar is currently on lockdown, so you don't need to worry about her. Lily heard all about her daughter sticking people to their chairs and sent a screaming Howler. I'm pretty sure everyone in Hogsmeade now knows exactly what Briar did and just how Lily feels about it. How's that for a real public shaming? Anyway, gotta go. Please keep Harry safe and uninfected. Love you, sis."
Hermione had a rather sly smirk on her face. "Harry, we'll just keep the shortbread flu inoculation biscuit a secret between us, okay?"
Harry nodded his head happily up and down.
"Good boy," Hermione said with a grin. "Go wash up for bed, please." She set Harry down, and the gangly young gosling shuffled off toward the washroom.
"I look forward to a good night's sleep," Severus said as he quickly repaired the door that Hermione had burned her way through. "Temper, love?"
"Maybe," Hermione replied. "Not quite as much as Teacup, Dandy, and Jean, though."
Severus' lips quirked up in a small smile. "Now that our chicks have been properly cowed by their avian aunts and uncles, and Minerva's kitten-chicks have been returned to sender, I think it is time for bed. For once, we do not have to patrol tonight."
"Have you noticed patrol doesn't seem even remotely horrible as it was that first week in?"
"All, well, most of the dunderheads now realise that trying to hide from Argus, Mrs Norris, and Bubbles is next to impossible by the second week," Severus mused. "You might, perhaps, be able to elude one of them, but not the entire team."
Hermione leaned up against Severus' shoulder. "Even with this insane influx of children— all the post-war baby boomers— It feels so peaceful here, Severus. It feels like home, even when we aren't back at the house."
Severus tenderly pressed his lips to her temple. "I am truly glad of it. I am also glad that Minerva saw ahead enough to hire multiple professors for the classes, though if Professor Burntkettle doesn't keep his sticky hands out of my private storage closet, I fear I will have to borrow the three-headed beast from Hope to guard it."
Hermione snorted and laughed. "Severus!"
"He's a moron."
"You think everyone not taught by the other Masters are morons."
"Self-taught, takes a test, thinks it makes him an exp—MPH!"
Severus' eyes widened as Hermione silenced him with a kiss.
"I love you, my Lord Husband," she purred. "Besides, love, if she didn't hire someone else, you'd be having to teach all the classes. And— you have to admit that he does stress safety."
"True," Severus admitted. "He does do well with the basics and instilling the basic safety procedures."
"And leaves you to teach the ones who survive their O.W.L.s," Hermione said with a wink.
"Must you be so positive?" Severus sighed. "You're so insufferable."
"All yours," Hermione sang with a grin.
"Thank Merlin," Severus replied firmly, pressing his lips to her.
Meanwhile, a totem pole of phoenix chicks piled on top of each other to peer around the doorway to stare. A black and white barnacle goose fledgling sneakily crept up upon them.
"HONKKKKKK!" Harry exclaimed, and the chicks tumbled off in random directions, scrambling and peeping madly.
Hermione pulled back from Severus and grinned. She clapped her hands. "To bed, my chicks! Goslings too! Lyra Titania, if I catch you reading by wand-light instead of sleeping, you'll be spending your picnic time reading the kind of book that puts even me to sleep and using an entire roll of parchment to report on it."
Sad peeping came from under the couch as a dusty sienna chick hauled off to bed.
"To bed, or I will force your Uncle Sirius to adopt you all!"
Frantic peeping came from every direction as every chick hopped into bed with all due haste.
Hermione tucked each chick into their nest which was conveniently located near a human-sized bed. Most of them, despite their age, preferred to sleep in their bird forms, and even gosling-Harry was no exception. He would sleep, head tucked under wing, in the middle of the bed. She kissed each chick on the head and waved her hand to extinguish the lights.
Hermione climbed the spiral stairs to the upstairs section of their living quarters, smiling as she saw Severus curled up in the commandeered flowerbox he had lined with comfy fibres and various types of nesting material. While the door to their chambers still connected to the Slytherin "dungeons", Professor Burntkettle had moved into their old chambers. Now, with four fledgling chicks and numerous visitors, they had a larger space, but an even better view overlooking the Black Lake and a peaceful garden, thanks to Honey's latest project.
Hermione transformed, landing next to her mate with a soft croon and wrapped her neck around his. Severus flopped his wing over her, warbling happily. They cuddled with each other, softly singing a sweet song of contentment that drifted through Hogwarts.
Finally, when all the lights had long been out, and even Argus' light had gone dark, four phoenix chicks and one black and white gosling sneaked up into the flower box, tucked themselves under the adults' wings, and went to sleep.
Hermione's eyes flickered open as she felt the warmth of her chicks sneaking under her wings and she smiled. Even as they continued to grow, they still wanted to share the nest with mum and dad, but she was okay with that. Harry was living a good, happy life— never having known the Dursleys save from his mother's rather heated descriptions. No Dark Lord or Heartless General of the Greater Good was wrestling for power and corrupting the younger generation from a very early age.
James and Lily Potter were alive.
Sirius had become a respectable pillar of society— if there even was such a thing for him, forced to teach his young pups to not follow in his own footsteps.
Beloved Minerva was happily married and a mother, valiantly keeping her mutant kitten-chicks in line despite their frequent attempts to get out of it. Gilford, proud robin and father was truly the best role model for all of their children.
Alastor and Hope Moody were the furthest things from moody as a family could be. Hope was the most understanding Muggle mum for a family of magical lupine misfits than anyone could ask for. Alastor, of course, was the best overprotective, paranoid dad anyone couldn't ask for, but everyone loved him anyway—they just feared for his daughter's future suitors.
Grandpa Orion went on long walks with his grandson and fellow chimaera— the little miniature Orion walking side by side with his namesake, and it never failed with young Castor Orion— if he fell asleep, he would attract phoenixes, just like his granddad. Ironically, Castor Orion usually ended up with his phoenix cousin, Orion Perseus, nestling under his chin during naptime, increasing the household's Orion count to three. Meanwhile, his sister Columba adored social politics, and was her grandmother's mini-me in all things. The relationship between Walburga and the rest of her children had become far more relaxed as a result. No one was complaining about that.
Draco and his twin sister Carina had become so inseparable that many came to believe that parting them for more than an hour would cause a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, when the time for Hogwarts came around, the twins had branched out on their own but still remained close, and Hermione was glad to know that Lucius and Narcissa had finally found love and acceptance within each other and their new family.
As Sagacity landed on the flower box, consumed his rodent-dinner, and settled in beside his phoenix family, everything felt like it was going to be the way it was supposed to be.
No Dark Lords— No power-hungry Lord of the Greater Good. Death had reclaimed his Hallows, and the curse of slowly-fading magic that had afflicted the Potter family seemed to have been released at long last.
Even the Weasleys— while swamped with more children than they had ever planned for— were doing just fine. Ronald, while surely someone to be punished for committing some truly unspeakable things in her original timeline, was now just a lazy and annoying boy who had never managed to set appropriate priorities for himself. While the Snapes did not socialise much with the Weasleys after the war, mostly due to Molly having no time outside of raising her brood of nine children, Hermione believed things had turned out for the better. Molly's brothers, Gideon and Fabian, were still alive. Fred and George were growing up to be just as healthy and as obnoxious as they ever were in her original time— only strangely far less so than their younger brother, Ronald. Arthur had been promoted, so even with the explosion of Weasley children, he was not struggling to make ends meet like the man Hermione remembered so well from her future-past.
The time-refugees were all living well-adjusted and happy lives away from most of the Wizarding world as to not rock the time-boat, but close enough that they were not outcasts in their new home. There were those like Severin and Jean, who had fully embraced their new lives, and Hermione suspected Jean was expecting their second or rather, third, child. Both parents-to-be were keeping tight lips this time, however— seemingly forgetting that nosy phoenixes tend to find out before anyone else.
The centaurs had a foal-boom just like their human counterparts, and for the first time in centuries, the forest was full of centaurs. The Snapes, Barberrys, Lupins, Blacks, Potters and Moodys often visited their friends in the herd. Alastor had commented that you couldn't even trip anymore without falling on a centaur, and Meliton had announced that was the best news that the centaur people had ever had. Meliton was now reaching his elder years, and despite his being healthy and strong, was finally passing leadership of the herd over to Magorian. Magorian, having never learned to be bitter and untrusting of humans, was looking to be a fine leader who maintained the peace and friendship between the centaur and Hogwarts. Bane and Firenze had become fast friends, and their presence at Hogwarts remained a strong testament of the faith between the centaur and humans— something that Hermione could only have dreamed for the herd in her old timeline.
And Remus— dear Remus— was alive and well. He had a mate. They had two healthy children, and he was probably the most beloved teacher at Hogwarts due to his warmth, kindness and sense of humour, even despite his far stricter teaching demeanour when compared to the Remus she had once known.
If this had all been part of Death's gift to them, then Hermione wasn't complaining. Death hadn't been terribly specific, but Severus believed it had been the "blessing of a hundred children." Hermione wasn't sure, but she wasn't keen about looking too closely. Life was good, and everyone knew that one did not look a gift from Death himself in the mouth, much less dare to question his munificence.
And all of it seemed to pale in comparison to the fact that so many people existed now, in this present, people who had never had a chance before. Violet and Stephan Beardog, Masters Highweather, Teaworth, Greenpetal, Willowbark, and Armstead— all of them were alive. Hermione couldn't help but think that while she was banned forever from the timestream she had been born in that she had ended up okay.
Severus was looking at her, letting out a soft chirr of concern. She preened him, projecting her joy and heartfelt love. And there was the biggest reason of all that told her that while she had lost much, she had gained more— a second chance for an actual greater good. She had succeeded. No, not just her— they had all built a life together. They had all defied the greater good of two sides of a spectrum of light and darkness, settling happily in the grey of peace. Best of all, they had placated Death, giving back what had always been His. It wasn't bad for a life's resume of relatively newborn phoenixes, a werewolf, and most of all— friends. The peace and respect had grown between purebloods and Muggleborns, and life was better for it— even if most of those that didn't support it had been sort of, ahem, turned into werepoodles. Hell, even the Dementors were happy, now. Happy Dementors. What? Hagrid was happily tending the Azkaban werepoodles. Bane had become one of the best-loved teachers of Care of Magical Creatures in the history of Hogwarts. Firenze had a waiting list of people wanting to be in his Divination classes. Minerva had brought such reform in bringing in new classes and new (competent) professors that many children were saying they loved school and didn't want to leave.
That sounded like success to Hermione.
A tiny warblepeep came from Harry as he twitched in his sleep, and the other chicks preened him to quiet him down. All of them nestled together in contentment, whatever arguments and trials they may have had during the day forgotten. Hermione warbled a happy song, and Severus answered her, entwining his neck with hers. They snuggled together, closing their eyes as sleep claimed them.
In the very distant future past…
The great volcano belched ash and lava into the air, rivulets of smoking red and black trickling down the sides and over the valley below. A shadow cast itself upon the nest built nestled in a giant mushroom that stretched tall in the air as tall as any tree— had there been any trees around to compare them to.
A sienna brown phoenix hen sat on her large nest built into a divot in the mushroom's cap. Above them towered even larger mushrooms, but they acted as shelter over the seemingly small nest. The black phoenix landed on the rim of the next, holding a bunch of seapods and fruits pillaged from far away. He held them out in his beak, which the female accepted gratefully. They ate together in silence, pausing every few seconds to preen each other, and then they looked down in the nest.
Faint peeping and tapping came from the shells, and both parents looked on, cocking their heads to listen, warbling softly in encouragement. Cracks appeared in the shell, and a bright orange eggtooth poked out with the soot black beak. The beak parted as the chick inside heaved before continuing its struggle to be free. The other eggs tumbled and cracked. All of the chicks making soft peeps of determination.
The black phoenix sang, and the sienna brown female echoed him, singing their new chicks into the world with encouragement and love. With a sharp crack, the shell burst open and the little chick inside began to glow with fire.
The shell incinerated and a fluffy red and orange chick sat in the egg's place.
Peep. Peeeeep. Peep. Peep!
The chick opened his mouth, clearly starving.
Hermione stuffed mashed fruit into his gaping maw, radiating happiness.
She and Severus looked down on their firstborn of the clutch and sang a song that carried across the mushroom tops to the distant volcano.
And burning red
A phoenix is born
With tiny wings spread.
Black eyes like the father,
And heart of the mum—
May his song be strong
Across the time-streams hum.
May your song and name echo
across the mountain's rocks.
We name you here—
We name you… Fawkes.
The little chick gave his first tiny warble of song, inspiring his brothers and sisters to hatch even faster. Hermione and Severus nuzzled their little chick, proud of what he was and what he would be far, far in the future.
Whatever time in which they made their nests, they would be one— together.
A/N: And so the epic ends. Thank you all for your overwhelming support. Thank you, too, for those that understand that real life is real, and inspiration is not done on a forced schedule. It is to you, the patient, the compassionate, and the understanding that I dedicate this story.
A big thanks to my lovely (and one handsome) betas: fluffpanda (the overly busy and omg what is all this stuff to do!?), The Dragon and the Rose, Dutchgirl01 (she is the ONLY 01!), and Flyby Commander Shepherd (shooter of bad guys for my honour). Thank you. I love you all.
And thanks you, dear readers, for sticking with me to the end.
Dank je wel.