Number Three

The low hum of voices intrigued Hermione, and she inched closer to the half open door. It wasn't like she was spying; no, certainly not that. There were no secrets in the Headmaster's rooms. Everything was shared and mulled over, discussed and fought about, skirted around or dealt with between kisses to the forehead or sometimes (behind a silenced and warded door) on the open mouth.

Her husband's voice was soft and low, just above the sound of the light rain falling down from the clouds not only outside, but from the enchanted ceiling above their daughters' beds. Not that it fell on the girls - never that, for the Headmaster would have a fit and get himself into a right snit about colds and headaches and runny noses. She almost gave away her hiding place in the shadows outside the door at that point, silencing her tiny snort of laughter at the way her husband would fuss over the girls like a mother hen on overdrive. Not that she minded; it was one of the sexiest things she'd ever seen. Her friends, the 'old girls' as they jokingly called themselves, were all mothers now and shared such secrets over wines and naughty slices of rich, chocolate cake - it was beyond gratifying to know that the man Hermione had fought so hard for was, according to all of the evidence, the most attentive father that might ever exist.

Everybody knew, of course. From the way she preened at Friday night drinks around Ginny's sitting room, it was obvious that her man was the one to beat. But she did not say a word; her husband valued his privacy, and those of his girls above all. Now, she had just one more thing to only mention with sly giggles and gushing sighs, if she was gauging the conversation in the next room correctly.

"Are you sure?" Her husband's deep voice floated out to her, washing over her in waves like the rain on the windows. "It's a big commitment, Sophia. Things would change irrevocably-"

"I know that, Da," Sophia cut in haughtily, and with her long, elegant nose in the air if her voice was anything to go by. Hermione put a hand over her mouth, shaking with silent laughter. She could picture it well: her eldest in the double bed by the window on the right hand side of the room, calling her father by that funny shortened 'Da' that he'd protested at when she was a toddler, then told her to keep using when she'd gotten old enough to try and defy him. The nine year old would be sitting up in bed, pouting and trying to throw hinting looks at her younger sister on the other side of the room.

True to Hermione's guess, Perdita made her opinion known by a small sound of assent followed by her thin voice that still carried a small lisp. "I want another one too!"

"You're five," her father said flatly. "How do I know this isn't just a 'here today gone tomorrow' wish? You were both like this when you wanted us to buy that piece of land outside of Hogsmeade for all of those horses you thought you wanted, and then forgot about when your mother and I finally looked into it properly."

"But Da," whined Sophia, "this is different! This is important! I've never wanted anything else more in the world!"

"Me too!" Perdita cut in. Hermione shook her head, amused. By themselves, her daughters were manageable, but together, their adorable black curls and bright brown eyes could hook even the sternest of men around their little fingers. They changed tactics, and Hermione felt her heart thud as the conversation continued.

"And besides, we both know that you want the same thing," Sophia said primly. "Anyone can see the way you look at-"

"Yes, yes, I'm a bad actor, I do realise that," he huffed. "But just because I want it, doesn't mean that it's something to demand from your mother. She is not simply a vessel, girls, I have spoken about this before-"

"But you'll help us!"

"Of course, Perdita. Beautiful girl, I'd never do anything else, but-"

"You want it too, Da! You're always slinking around with that funny look on your face, the same one you get when you look at those old photos of-"

"Darling, I know. But it's not just my decision. If it's something your mother wishes for and decides in her own time, then we'll talk about it."

"Then make her say yes, Da! You're always good at making her agree to things. Just tell her you'll do everything for her like last time!"

"Yes, like the Time Turner!"

"Perdita! Gods. Firstly, Sophia, I did not do everything – your mother was the one who 'did everything'. And Perdita, how did you hear about the Time Turner?"

"Aunty Win told me."

"Gin, sweetheart. Or Ginny. Ginevra if you want to give your old Da a laugh. And for the record, it was only for a few night feedings-"

"Grandfather Arthur told us that you used it for every meeting that took you out of the quarters for the first five months and that's why he took it back to the Ministry!"

Hermione tried her best to stifle a wail of laughter, with one hand on her mouth and the other over her chest as she remembered those early days of trying to become accustomed to the shock that was going from one child to two. Her husband had managed to find her old Time Turner and had run himself into the ground by being there for almost every feeding, bath and nappy change for Perdita to make sure that Sophia could still boss her mother around. Merlin, he'd been the perfect man… And he still is, she added silently.

"Piffle," her husband's voice, gruff from his own memories, chided. "Your Da's a law abiding man, girls. I toe the line with the best of them. Now, to bed with you both or I'll tell Winky to come and sing you a lullaby."

The familiar chorus of "Da, no!" reminded Hermione of her attempt at stealth, and she giggled silently as she ran on tip toes into the bedroom, shut the door and dove under the covers.

"I know you heard every single word."

"I didn't, I didn't!"

"Silly little witch, don't you think I know when my wife's trying not to laugh?"

"No, I've been the perfect little wife; I would never do such a thing."

"Good heavens, that façade went out the window years ago, woman. Will you put me out of my misery and tell me what you honestly think?"

Severus finished throwing his shirt and trousers over the back of the chair in the corner of the room then slid under the covers. An unintelligible grumble announced that her feet were cold as they wound around his legs, but his hands splayed over her stomach all the same and he burrowed his face into the curve where her neck met her shoulder. His breath was warm yet his body was tense as he waited, and yet again, Hermione wondered just how on earth she had managed to win herself the wizard in her arms. It had felt almost like fate during their first hurried, breathless kiss all of those years ago when they'd lit up his office with one of their usual arguments over funding, and now, though he was still the dour Headmaster and she the Librarian, it still felt like there was something larger than just two pairs of arms and legs keeping them together.

"I love you," she whispered into the air, nerves pooling in her belly when he froze.

"And I you," he said cautiously, his face still hidden. The words were muffled when they left his mouth and collided with the bare skin of her neck. "Is that a…?"

"How could it be anything else, you big grump? Sophia isn't the only one that's seen you moping around and looking at all the baby photos. You almost didn't hand back Ginny's newborn last month - I could see you looking for escape routes!"

"Yes well… he just felt so… so… bloody hell, Hermione. Must I spell it out?"

"Yes!" she agreed gleefully, grinning and worming her naked body around until they were facing each other. His cheeks were a furious shade of red, but he smiled and drew her closer, pushing a curl away from her forehead.

"I want," he began carefully, "I want… bugger it. I want another child, love - I'll do anything and everything, we'll make it work – the quarters can be added to, we can get a bigger bed, I'll do everything, I'll bring you brie and camembert in bed as soon as he's born, I'll make that non-alcoholic wine you used to love so much, I'll even brew the salve that massages your feet even though it takes a week-"

"In short, you'll do what you've done for the last two?" Hermione supplied in a happy whisper as she hooked her leg around his thigh, trailing her fingers down his chest, then lower still. When he nodded wordlessly, she smiled again, a full beam that was soon accompanied by a peal of laughter that rang out in the dark room.

"As long as you do what you've done for the last two," he countered, his eager hands delving down into the curls between her thighs. He bent his head until his mouth was at her ear, and then spoke in that low and teasing coffee coloured voice, "Let's make another baby, Hermione. Just one more."

"You'll be saying 'just one more' until we have five!"

"You're being ridiculous," he shot back, working his way down until he was level with her bellybutton. One long, possessive lick to her stomach made her shiver and buck. "You know I'd much prefer at least enough for a Granger-Snape Quidditch team."

"Seven!" she gasped, more from pleasure than anything else. "Good lord, I'll end up looking like-"

"The most beautiful witch on earth," he said, grinning wickedly, his black eyes gleaming. "Now be quiet, there's a good girl, and let me do my best to convince you."

"Try your best, husband," she laughed. "But I'm telling you now – oh! Keep going, keep going – that my mind is made up, and you don't have much of a- oh! – chance of changing it!"

Severus hummed and shrugged, the movement of his shoulders tickling her thighs before he moved back up her body and positioned himself with an indulgent smile. "Good. That means it's a yes, in which case I shall just have to congratulate you, and do my best to get the job done right now."

She didn't respond immediately, choosing instead to reach for him and tug his head down for a kiss, sliding her tongue into his mouth and working her fingers through his hair. When she pulled away, he rested his forehead against hers, his lips forming a languid, entirely pleased and delighted, smile.