Disclaimer: All the characters are JKR's, and the song from which inspiration was derived is Elsewhere by Sarah McLachlan – it's quite lovely. Go d-load it. A big thanks to Nancy for beta-ing this little monster for me so quickly.
This is heaven to no one else but me,
And I'll defend it as
long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence,
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?
She hums quietly to herself and brushes a stray strand of hair from the sleeping child's face. So like a cherub, she thinks, with those golden ringlets framing his small face. Lord knows where they got that colour from, certainly not his father, ha-ha, but she's quite aware that she's no veela either.
She leans forward and places a light kiss on the small forehead, noting with concern that he feels clammy, and a bit chilled. Her humming falters for a moment, but she picks up the tune again with ferocious cheerfulness. She hugs him closer and wills her own heat into the small body in her arms.
Poor thing, he's had too much excitement today. And sweets, surprisingly. Apparently dentists conform to the same grandparent-mould as everyone else, profession notwithstanding.
She stands up, and slowly starts walking up the stairs, wondering when he started getting so heavy. He's only 18 months, but he's healthy, and has grown incredibly fast. It's quite funny to compare his golden head and chubby cheeks to his father's dark, stick-straight hair and thin face. Well, fun for her at least. His father doesn't seem to find it nearly as funny.
Another lull in her humming, but it's quickly taken up again. She wonders briefly whom she's humming for, but smothers the thought – it threatens to open something in her mind, some memory she can't quite –
She grinds her teeth together and walks faster. Something is wrong, and once her baby is safe in bed, she can figure it out. She just needs to make sure he's safe. She can feel the lioness of her maternal instincts stirring inside, and if she had hackles, they'd be raised.
Where is he? Her husband, he's never home this late. Something isn't right, no, certainly not. He should be here.
Ahhh, here we are. She tucks the small body into the increasingly-impractical crib, and pulls a blanket up tight around his chin. She smiles, softly, and runs a fingertip over the baby-soft cheek. Why is he so cold? She'll ask her husband, when he's home.
Over-protective as it may be, she draws her wand and casts a simple, protective charm around the small crib, then slips slowly out of the room and walks down the hall, back to the stairs. Her mind edits out what it does not want to see, and she is back in the parlour shortly. She sits down on the couch to wait.
He knew that he was placing her in danger when he married her. Though the Dark Lord had been defeated in a spectacular battle a year previously, there were still errant Death Eaters who had escaped the country. And, inevitably, he was at the top of their list, once his true loyalties came out.
But they were so happy, and any threat of harm seemed to fade into the background – she had even named their home Heaven, once their son was born, claiming that he looked far too much like an angel for it to be coincidence.
At the back of his mind, he'd always wondered how long it could last - but he never expected this.
The small house looked so normal when he Apparated outside the front gate, but once through the door…how could there be so much blood?
He was shocked into inaction, and stood there, in the doorway, for what felt like hours, until he found the energy to walk, mechanically, into the sitting room. He found his wife sitting calmly on the couch, the headless corpse of her mother beside her, and her father's eviscerated body on the floor by her feet.
She smiled at him, and got up quickly, coming over to hug him.
"You're late…busy day?"
He stared at her.
"What is it?"
"What…your parents," he choked out.
"Yes, they were here, but they left a few hours ago, after spoiling the muppet terribly," she laughed.
He shook his head, and grabbed her shoulders, giving her an unintentional shake.
"Where is he?"
She looks up at him, confused. "Upstairs, asleep…why?"
But he was already gone, taking them two at a time. Because although his wife did not appear to be hurt, she was covered in blood, and he had lived under the shadow of death for far too long to dare to hope.
He staggered down the stairs, the body of his son in his arms. The little face, remarkably, was untouched, except for a streak of blood down one cheek.
She was standing at the bottom of the stairs, anxiously.
"What's wrong? Why did you bring him down here? You'll wake him up!"
He can hear the indignation in her voice, and honest concern. This scares him more than anything. He carries the child to the sitting room, where the fire has almost burnt out. He puts the small body on the floor, gently, and takes a pinch of silver powder from the jar on the mantle.
He tosses it on the fire, which burns bright green, and calls, hoarsely, "Ministry of Magic – Aurors."
The bureaucratic face which appears is the first of many he'll be seeing.
She sits quietly on the bed and picks at the unravelling hem of her hospital shirt. She doesn't understand why she's here, or why they refuse to let her see her son. She has vague recollections of strange people, bad people, coming here and telling her…something. Something not true, something bad and cruel. After they come there's always medication, and the straps on her little bed are put to good use. She doesn't understand this either.
Her husband comes to see her, every day, and each time he looks more and more haggard. He must be under a great deal of stress – to teach and look after their son all by himself is running him down. She hopes she is allowed to go home soon, so he stops looking so tired and dea –
She instead begins to hum again, that song her son liked so much. She misses him, and wants to see him. She doesn't trust the doctors; they look upset and nervous when she asks after him, and refuse to say how he's doing, or when she can see him.
The door opens, and she looks up, hoping it's her son, but it's her husband, alone.
He is pale, and the bags under his eyes speak volumes. She gets up and hugs him, frowning her worry up at his face.
He kisses her forehead lightly, and leads her to sit down in one of the two chairs in the room. He takes the other. She happily obliges, and, as always, asks after their son. Her husband just shakes his head, unable to speak. He must be exhausted.
"You should ask my parents for help with him – Mum would be thrilled to take him for a week."
He just looks at her, pain and anger and grief flickering across his normally blank face. She ignores this.
"Why haven't they come to see me? You should bring them, love. I miss them."
He buries his face in his hands, and what could be unease creases into the fine lines of her face. But the expression is gone quickly, and she smiles at a point a few inches to the right of his head, her mind occupied by happy memory.
"Hermione, why are you doing this," he finally whispers.
"Our life is so perfect, Severus," comes the calm reply, "I'm so happy. I just want to go home, and I want it to never change. We'll always be together, in Heaven, won't we? The three of us?"
He stands, only to fall to his knees in front of her chair a moment later. Wrapping his arms around her thin waist, he buries his face in her lap. She, holds him, and hums.