Christmas 1985 - A New Malfoy

The parlour (which had served as a birthing room) had been returned to its proper decor - festive with all the signs of Christmas - once the newest Malfoy arrived and Narcissa had recovered from the six hour ordeal that ended precisely at midnight on Christmas Eve. The boys had fallen to sleep in the playroom around eleven so it was not until breakfast that Draco learned from his godfather Severus that he had a sibling. All three boys were instantly awake and thoughts of Christmas presents had vanished as all three wanted to see the new baby.

Harry looked over his mixed berry blintz and whispered, "Draco, do you think you got a sister or a brother?"

Draco shrugged as he spooned honey-sugar sprinkled grapefruit sections into his mouth as fast as he could.

Severus glared at his godson. "Draco, slow down before you choke. Harry, stop gossiping and finish your blintz." He gave Neville a quick nodding smile. The small boy was busy eating, slowly, as he should, and not speculating.

Severus was on perhaps his fourth or fifth cup of coffee since eleven at night. He had spent a few hours with Lucius after Healer Gaya had thrown him out of the birthing room. Lucius had paced until he collapsed near to midnight for a few minutes of precious sleep. Severus had tried to nod off only to be woken up a few minutes later by Poppy stirring Lucius awake.

He recalled that although she had no longer worn her Healer robes but just a simple grey gown with a white apron, and hair pushed messily into a bun that she was the most beautiful sight for him to see on Christmas morning. Poppy had shoved a nervous Lucius towards the door to the birthing room, and then she had gone to Severus and thrown herself tiredly, but happily so, into his arms.

"Normal?" asked Severus.

"Completely. The babe is a bit small but has all ten toes and fingers," sighed Poppy.

Severus had tried to get the sex of Baby Malfoy with a few judicious kisses, but alas his efforts were for naught. At least for that small bit of info. A few minutes later he had seen the baby for himself, and found himself struck by how tiny the creature was!

So, it was with a bit of a smirk that he ushered the three boys into the family room where Narcissa now sat upon the comfortable sofa with Lucius nearby. Narcissa, looking much better than she had the other night, held the small, wrapped baby in her arms. Lucius was hovering protectively.

"Dragon!" smiled Lucius. "Come see your new sister!" Draco was restrained from jumping beside his mother by an observant Poppy. Once settled, Draco leaned over to peek into the swaddling.

"Hi," whispered Draco in awe of the teeny tiny person his mother held. "I'm your big brother, Draco." Draco then urged Neville and Harry to join him. "I've got a sister. You got to see her!"

"Not so loud, Dragon," Narcissa admonished gently. "Her ears are very tender."

Lucius nudged a hesitant Harry and then Neville to sit beside their cousin.

"She's so small," marvelled Harry.

"She's got hair!" giggled Neville in surprise.

"She does," agreed Draco. Tentatively he reached up to touch the soft curls. "As beautiful as feathers on a pearl."

"Can I touch her, Aunt Cissy?" asked Harry politely.

Narcissa nodded. "Just be gentle, Harry."

Harry slid off the sofa and stood in front of Narcissa and his new little cousin. Putting out his index finger Harry lightly stroked the small baby's cheek. "She's so warm."

At that moment the baby opened her eyes to reveal two beautiful silver blue eyes. She then burped. All three boys giggled.

"You're lucky, Draco," said Harry as tiny fingers curled around his own. "You get to be a big brother."

Poppy stepped closer to Severus who had stiffened at that moment. He relaxed, and drew Poppy closer to his side. He had heard the wistful wish in his son's voice.

"What's her name, Mama?" Draco asked after there were several minutes of silent appreciation.

Narcissa quickly looked at her husband who nodded in agreement. "Well, your father and I thought of a name but after hearing such a lovely description of your sister - As beautiful as feathers on a pearl - I think Pearl would be perfect, don't you, Dragon?"

Draco nodded enthusiastically. He'd just gotten to name his little sister! Nobody else got to do that, right? "Maybe the name you and papa thought of would work as a middle name, Mama. Then we all named the baby."

Narcissa knew the name she and Lucius had thought of would fit perfectly. She said it softly. "Pearl Rose. Welcome to the world, Pearl Rose Malfoy."

Lucius gently cupped his daughter's head, and marvelled at how large his hand was to the small skull. He leaned forward and gently brushed his lips to the soft, pale white curls on her head. "Welcome, Pearl Rose. My darling daughter."

Draco imitated his father and said, "Welcome, Pearl Rose. You're going to have such a lot of fun here!"

Despite the joyous arrival of the newest Malfoy the Christmas presents were not going to wait forever. They sparkled and twinkled beneath the tree - calling to the three little boys.

"As the big brother to your little sister, Dragon, I think you should start off. Go to the tree and pick something out," suggested Lucius.

Draco, appearing very serious, left his mother's side to walk over to the tree. He studied all of the packages with the care a child always has when preparing to dismantle all the gifts beneath the tree. "You and Pearl are first, Mama," declared Draco importantly as he brought a slim box wrapped in purple foil paper with a gold ribbon. Draco was certain he had not seen the gift with all of the others last night.

Narcissa handed Pearl to her father, and then picked up the slim gift. "To Pearl, our Christmas daughter." She lifted her gaze to her husband who was standing, bouncing gently his daughter. "When did you slip this gift in, Lucius?"

"A simple 'flick and swish', my love," smirked Lucius.

Narcissa chuckled and then tore into the gift. The bow she sent to Draco who caught it and promptly stuck it to Neville's hair. The witch's eyes widened in appreciation as she took in the small bracelet of amethyst, black onyx and snowflake obsidian beads spaced every three stones with the rune of Sowelu and two love knots (to represent the proud parents).

"Pearl is rather small for a bracelet, Lucius. How will she wear it?" asked Narcissa.

"The protection bracelet will resize to fit," replied Lucius just as Pearl caught several strands of her father's pretty hair in her fist. "I would suggest her ankle, for now." Lucius carefully removed his hair from his child's fist. "Come now, Daughter. Are you not just a bit young to be pulling papa's hair?"

Narcissa unwrapped a tiny foot and circled the ankle. Magic shrunk the bracelet to fit. Lightly she kissed Pearl's foot, eliciting a little giggle, and then Narcissa looked up at her husband. "Perfectly beautiful, Lucius." The aristocratic wizard pulled his wife's side as he first enlarged the over-stuffed chair, and then sat beside the witch. He kissed Narcissa and Pearl.

"I will keep my family safe, Cissy," murmured Lucius. Narcissa was well aware that Lucius had fashioned a similar bracelet for Draco when he was only a few hours old, and herself upon their wedding day.

Harry then brought forth a box wrapped in gaily coloured foil paper that rivalled the boy's taste for curious coloured socks. "Nev and I both got this for you, Shadow."

Severus put down his wine glass on the table at his side, and then firmly took the obnoxious looking box from his son. He started to open the gift, but then he held out his hand and silently Summoned a scroll with a gold ribbon on it.

"Mouse, I think you ought to open this first," said Severus with a gentle smile.

Neville hesitated but then took the official looking scroll from his godfather. He unrolled it, and read it. He had learned a lot at school, and although he read slowly, he was able to make out the gist behind the words (when he glossed over the large ones). He lifted his head and looked at Severus. Neville's face broke out into a broad smile.

Severus smiled in return but then his expression sobered as he spoke, "Although a Magpie and a Dragon took it upon themselves to inform me that you wanted more than just a godfather I had already been thinking that I wanted more, as well. There were a few legal snarls…" Severus glanced at Lucius who smirked knowingly. "Once those snarls were dealt with I was able to adopt you, my son, Neville Longbottom-Snape."

"You're my dad now," breathed Neville. He dropped the scroll just as Severus scooped the small child up into his arms and squeezed him until he squeaked and giggled. "Thank you, Dad. This is the bestest Christmas present ever!"

Harry leaned up against his father's knee. "Don't forget, Nev, you're my for-real brother, now."

Neville grinned. "And you're mine, Harry."

Severus slid Neville from his lap and his new son leaned against his other knee. "All right, I shall open this gift from my two greatest treasures…"

Harry and Neville both smiled so brightly their joy could have blinded the sun.

Seeing the beaming joy in his sons faces, instead of carefully removing the colourful paper he suddenly ripped into it. Severus withdrew a heavily lacquered box of deep red and with vines of many shades of green all over the top and sides.

"A… box…" mused Severus with just enough puzzlement in his voice to worry his sons.

Harry stood straighter, and explained, "No, Shadow. It's not just a box. If you touch this corner," he pointed to the top left corner, "watch!"

He and Neville both grinned knowingly as Harry touched the corner. Draco clapped as a drawing tablet appeared on the top of the box. The box itself then lifted to an angle good for painting or drawing.

"A drawing tablet?" asked Severus with a slight smile.

Neville explained, "Me and Harry have seen you draw on spare pieces of parchment, Shadow, and we thought you'd like a drawing tablet."

"Yes," smirked Severus as he flipped the pristine, cream-coloured, slightly rough pages.

"There's more, Shadow!" burst Harry. "If you touch each of the sides you get paints, chalk…" Neville quickly whispered into his brother's ear. "…I mean pastels, and sketching ink. There's also drawing pens and some neat brushes. Uncle Lucius helped with that extra stuff."

Severus nodded to Lucius. "My boys, this is perfect. I think the first thing I will draw is a mouse and a magpie playing together."

Just when all the gifts were opened Severus put down his 'art box' beside Poppy and walked over to his godson. He handed Draco a heavy, parchment envelope with a small gold bow at one corner.

"What could it be, Uncle Severus?" asked Draco as he broke the silver seal on the opposite side of the envelope. From within he withdrew a gold skeleton key. Draco looked up in puzzlement. "A key?"

Severus smirked. "I believe if you go to the door of your bedroom you will discover what it is for, Draco."

Draco scrambled to his feet and left his parents bedroom at a run. Behind him were his two curious cousins.

"Whenever did you find the time, Severus?" asked Lucius knowingly.

Severus smiled secretively. "Magic, dear brother."

Draco, Harry, and Neville all stopped in front of the door to Draco's bedroom. In the center of the pristine white door was an ornate gold lock. Draco held up his key, inserted it in the lock, and turned the key.

"Ooooo!" marvelled all three boys in a chorus of awe.

The door's facade changed from the white wood into an old, heavy looking door of stained oak planks. Slowly it creaked open. Draco peered in and was instantly startled as a large axe wielded by an armored figure dropped the axe and impeding their ability to step any further.

"Password!" demanded the silver knight in a deep voice that sounded suspiciously like Severus.

Draco glanced worriedly at his cousins. "What do I do? I don't have a password," he whispered.

"Check the envelope," suggested Neville.

Draco removed the envelope from his pocket and turned it several times as he studied it. He glanced within it, but there was nothing. Harry caught something glinting and he stopped Draco from turning the envelope again. "It's there," Harry pointed.

Draco smiled. There was a word there! "The password is 'Camelot'!"

The knight drew his axe sharply in front of him allowing the boys to enter.

Draco's room which suffered from a plethora of white was no longer. It was as if they were stepping back into 'days of olde'. The carpet was now several shades of grey done artfully so to appear like stone. The walls had that same grey stone but falling from floor to ceiling were four tapestries on each wall. Each of the tapestries depicted, in turn, a small boy struggling with a sword in a stone, a coronation, a wedding for a king and queen, and then a royal hunt.

The bed now took center stage as it had been shaped like a round table. Around the 'table' were thirteen chairs of dark oak each topped by upon their 'crowns' with crystals of varying colours. At the head of the table, the thirteenth chair was a throne looking cleverly like a headboard. It was the grandest chair of beautifully carved oak and gilded with highlights of gold.

As the boys studied the chairs they discovered that the seats became part of the bed's support. The chairs were deceptively tightly stuffed softness that they could climb on to get to the bed. The bed/table was covered in a thick duvet of goose down that looked like deep, burnished gold. Pillows with embroidery of leaves and ivy around the edges waited upon the throne headboard.

On the walls of the bedroom were twelve of the knights and their ladies. Each of the ladies wore beautiful dresses of all different colours.

The fireplace in Draco's bedroom was now more primitive, and rugged looking with a wide stone hearth and a wrought iron gate to protect from sneaky flames. The wardrobe also appeared to be a rugged, yet handsome piece of stained oak that was painted with all sorts of knightly weapons on its front and sides.

The best part of Draco's bedroom was the 3/4 tower at the corner of his bedroom. There had just been a window to look out upon the garden before but now there was a window seat in front of a tall, stained glass window that depicted the magnificent King Arthur and his beautiful queen Guinevere. On either side of the window seat there were bookcases that held all of Draco's favourite books, and several trinkets including all thirteen of King Arthur and his knights.

For awhile all three boys were captivated by the miniature figures of the knights. Knowledgeably, Draco pointed each one out. "The tallest is King Arthur and beside him is Sir Launcelot. Then there's Gawain, Geraint, Gareth, Gaheris, Bedivere, Galahad, Kay, Bors de Ganis, Lamorak, Tristan, and Percivale."

"You really know them all, Draco," said Harry with admiration.

"You must really love King Arthur's legend," added Neville.

"I love my bedroom!" Draco enthused. "I don't ever want to leave." However, in the same breath Draco dashed passed the knight at his door and raced back to his parents bedroom. He barrelled into his godfather, clambered up into his lap, and threw his arms around the Potions Master's neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! Uncle Severus my room is the best one in the world!"

Severus smirked and then drawled dryly, "I suppose you like it, then?"

"I… love… it!" Draco kissed his godfather's cheek, and whispered one last thank you.

Harry and Neville entered the Christmas bedroom. "It's wicked, Shadow!" gasped Harry.

"It's going to be fun visiting Draco," nodded Neville.

Draco slipped from Severus' lap and then went over to his father. He gave Lucius a hug as the man lifted him up to sit between himself and Narcissa. "Thank you for letting Uncle Severus paint my bedroom, Papa. There's a real knight in there that's got a password to let people in. I can't wait to see what Pearl gets her bedroom turned into when she's older!"

Hearing that, Severus groaned softly, "I should never have done Harry's bedroom."

Once all the gifts under the tree were opened, Albus arrived with even more. He carried a red velvet bag, wore green robes of velvet, gold slippers, and a gold hat that sparkled with shiny snowflakes. He looked like a rather ostentatious Father Christmas. Of course, he gave everyone hand knitted socks, as well.

The adults sipped an aged cognac that Albus brought for Lucius and Narcissa to celebrate the arrival of Pearl Rose (one of the few times he did not bestow hand-knitted socks on someone). The three rambunctious boys went outside with two house elves to oversee them as they went to play in the snow.

The family parlour of Malfoy Manor sparkled softly just at twilight. This was when all the Christmas magic in the world reigned in silent majesty and the warmth of family, love, and cozy fires. Albus had admired the newest Malfoy. By his gentle mien, and rather grandfatherly behaviour, he was most certainly caught by the babe's spell. The elder wizard had conjured a small rattle that perfectly fit her small hand. She held the rattle, and was now snoozing.

Severus had removed himself to the window seat where he was able to watch his sons and godson throwing snowballs at each other under the watchful eyes of two of the Malfoy house elves. The house elves had conjured soft amber balls of light to bring light to the snowy, night backyard. In Severus' lap was his new drawing tablet and he sketched between watching the boys play. Poppy also sat on the window seat at Severus' feet reading a book called "The Tales of The Healer" that Albus had given her for Christmas.

Albus ambled over to his son, conjured a chair and sat beside him so he could look at what Severus was drawing. "Curious, my dear. I thought with the way you keep watching the boys that you were drawing them."

Severus glanced up from his drawing which was a soft sketch of a dragon (small in stature), a mouse (rather large for a normal mouse), and a magpie (equal in height to the mouse and the dragon) that played in the snow. He smirked wryly, "But, Father, I am drawing the boys." He pointed with the end of his drawing quill, "My curious Magpie, my quiet Mouse, and my protective Dragon."

"Ahhh, very clever, Severus!" smiled Albus.

For a long moment there was quiet that was interrupted by Lucius. He announced, "I am taking Cissy and Pearl to bed, gentlemen. I shall return for a nightcap, and to gather my son, in about a half hour." Lucius then stood, removed Pearl from her mother's arms, and gave his elbow to Narcissa to help her to stand.

"Goodnight, Severus… Albus… Poppy," said Narcissa. "Thank you for making this a special Christmas."

Severus, Albus, and Poppy all echoed Narcissa's sentiment of a good night and watched as husband and wife left the parlour.

"Now," began Albus, "I have been wondering my dear Severus and Poppy. The wind has whispered that the two of you have a secret that is not so secret."

"The wind, Father?" chuckled Severus.

Albus smiled and gave his son a slight shrug. "It is poetic, perhaps, but I am not the only one that has noticed…"

Severus frowned, "Noticed what?"

Poppy touched Severus' thigh with a chiding pat. "Oh stop, Severus. Nearly everyone has caught you and I kissing. Why don't you just tell your father our news?"

Severus caught Poppy's hand and he drew her fingers to his lips and kissed them. His dark eyes sparkled with pride, and certainly love. Taking a breath, he then looked to Albus, and revealed, "Father, I've asked Poppy to be my wife."

"Congratulations!" Albus leaned forward so he could kiss Poppy's cheeks, and then he embarrassed Severus by kissing his cheek, too. "Is there, perhaps, a sibling waiting for Harry and Neville?" he asked hopefully.

"Certainly not!" "Good Gaia, no!" both Poppy and Severus exclaimed at the same time. While Poppy chuckled at the implication that she was now "expecting" Severus appeared affronted that his father thought he had compromised Poppy's honour.

Albus quickly smiled in apology, "Dear me, Poppy and Severus, my apologies. It is just that I have found it a joy to be around young Harry and Neville that I would not mind more grandchildren."

Severus continued with a sigh, "That is not to say that the possibility of us welcoming a third child into our family is out of the realm of thought, Albus. Poppy and I have discussed… children…" a light dusting of a blush reddened the younger man's cheeks. "Something to look forward to after the wedding?"

Poppy laughed as Severus' light blush deepened as she recalled how, in privacy, her beau had remarked that the 'practising would be a delight'. Albus took only a moment, but then he blushed as he guessed at his son's embarrassment.

Before any of the adults could dwell longer upon the topic of grandchildren a strong pop announced the arrival of three breathless boys brought in from outside by one of the house elves. "Shadow!" Harry sprinted to his father and launched himself at his lap.

Severus caught his son and was glad that the elves had made sure his child was dry and warmed. He then caught Neville's gaze as the boy waited patiently to have his new father's attention. Shifting himself so his feet were no longer on the window seat, he shifted so Harry was now at his side and next to Poppy. He then raised his other arm inviting Neville to jump up beside him. Neville's smile widened and he did not hesitate to join his brother.

"We had great fun, Shadow," Neville spoke softly but his voice was shaded by the same exuberance Harry had.

"Yeah," added Draco. "A snowball fight at night! I bet nobody else gets to do that." The little boy smirked as his eyes sparkled, "And the best bedroom ever!"

Harry pulled back slightly from his father, and scrutinised him. "You look like the cat that ate the canary, Shadow."

"I… what?" Poppy giggled knowingly softly near him. Severus then scowled. "Wherever did you learn that phrase, Magpie?"

Widening his eyes into innocence, Harry shrugged as if he was completely unaware that there was an answer. Severus then smirked after catching Poppy's gaze. "My clever, little, Magpie." He then squeezed Neville to his side until he squeaked in protest. "And you, my dearest Mouse. The two of you, and myself, of course, are going to marry Poppy."

"Marry?" Neville gasped.

Harry was practically bouncing as he exclaimed, "We're getting a mum, Nev!"

"Mum?" Neville glanced shyly at Poppy who was sitting just beside him. The soon-to-be-mum hugged the small boy, and kissed his cheek. Neville's smile was as bright as the sun as he breathed, "Mum!"

The sun suddenly faded, and Poppy divined the problem. "We're planning a visit to St. Mungo's, Neville, and you will tell your parents all about us. I am certain your mother would not be at all saddened if she knows you are part of a family, and loved."

"Do you love me?" Neville asked wonderingly.

"Very much so, Neville. I am such a lucky woman to have two, wonderful sons," enthused Poppy.

"And, a nephew, Aunt Poppy," piped up Draco. "You wouldn't want to forget about me, right?"

Poppy chuckled and grasped Draco under his arms and brought him onto her lap. She embraced him, and when his arms went around her neck, she kissed his temple. "How could I forget the best nephew ever, Draco?"

"Are we getting married tomorrow, Shadow?" Harry asked hopefully.

"Not that soon, Magpie," Severus shook his head. "There is just a bit to plan and we have a few things to do first."

"Like visiting Neville's parents?" asked Draco.

Severus nodded, "Absolutely, Draco."

Poppy spoke up, "St. Mungo's isn't open for visitors the day after Christmas but I am certain I will be able to get us in."

26 December 1985 - St. Mungo's, Janus Thickey Ward for Irreversible Spell Damage

The family Snape were joined by a friend of Poppy's that was a Healer in the Janus Thickey Ward. Healer Anna Poule was a motherly shaped woman with a twinkle in her blue eyes when she smiled. Her brown hair was barely touched by grey, and there were only a few wrinkles upon her dark skin.

Anna Poule was not a tall witch but she was stocky (from Country stock she would always chuckle with pride) and had the strength she needed at times to deal with her patients. Her number of patients were few but they were the witches and wizards who would never recover from damage incurred by spells and curses. Two patients had been in residence for nearly five years: Frank and Alice Longbottom.

Voldemort had decided that Harry Potter was the boy he would kill but the toddler Neville Longbottom would be either severely disabled or removed, just in case. Voldemort had sent Bellatrix LeStrange with her husband and brother-in-law. The mad wizard did not have a care what those three would do. In fact, it is likely he counted upon the torture the parents received. Frank and Alice Longbottom had been tormented by the continued, sadistic application of the Cruciatus Curse until their minds retreated as far away from the pain as possible. Neville did not receive the Cruciatus Curse but he, only fifteen months old, watched the torture of his parents. It was only the abrupt end to Voldemort that disabled Bellatrix and her compatriots when the death of their master came through their Dark Marks that saved the child.

Neville could not recall the past when his parents were still themselves and raising him. Those wonderful months had been chased away by a child's fear as he witnessed the worst. He was then given to his grandmother who told Neville right away that his parents were dead. It was Uncle Algy, that horrid old uncle of his, that luridly told a tale of "imbecilic, brain-obliterated, parents" in St. Mungo's. Neville had pleaded for the truth from his grandmother who had simply told her grandson, "Your parents are in St. Mungo's but they are shells of what they once were. They know nothing. They don't know about me, and they don't know about you."

Neville, just barely two years old, understood that once again he had lost his parents. Much later, in the Snape family, his new father Severus carefully explained about his parents. His parents were alive but their minds had protected them by drawing 'that which makes us all who we are' far away from the pain.

"How aware are Frank and Alice, Healer Poule?" asked Severus knowing that Neville was listening to every word.

"Well, it's been very slow work, Master Snape, but there has been a little improvement," replied the Healer. "Frank draws with crayons. Not terribly well but you can clearly see the figure of a baby that he often draws and colours. Alice adores her picture books. She always hums but as a Healer I have learned that one must always pay attention to one's patient. Alice's hums are not one tune hummed over and over, the hummed tunes vary with her emotions." Healer Poule chuckled softly. "I've gotten rather good at reading the dear witch, at times."

They had stopped outside of a door marked Janus Thickey Atrium. The Healer settled her attention upon little five year old Neville.

"Neville, is it?" she asked in a gentle, mothering tone. Neville nodded as he reached for Severus' hand. "I know you've never come to visit your parents before so I wanted you to know that they appear normal but they are not."

Neville nodded sharply. "My dad… Shadow… he explained that what made them who they were is far away. That's because it was the only way to escape the pain."

The Healer glanced up at Severus. The child was too young to have known that. "I will not keep my sons ignorant when they asked, Healer Poule. Neville wanted to understand, to know, and so I told him. He is not frightened… of them. Simply nervous."

"Right. Then, this way, please." Healer Poule opened the door to the Janus Thickey Atrium.

It was as if a lush garden had been captured beneath a huge dome of latticed glass. There were trees that brushed the ceiling above them. Grass carpeted the floor and moss sparkled beneath the running water of a waterfall. Everywhere else, as if there was no thought beyond the paths of wooden slats, grew a wealth of flowers, ferns, and flowering vines that twined about many of the trees. The atrium also sang with twittering birdsong, and Harry nudged his father when he spotted a crimson bird in a tall oak.

The Healer directed them along a path that went to the right. "This leads to the gazebo. Frank and Alice are there at this time of day."

Frank Longbottom was colouring one of the many pictures he would draw daily of a small family - a toddler and a mother and a father. As his mood was good this day the small family were outside beneath a cheery, yellow sun. Frank had short, brown hair and features that had been known to be soft and kind to all who had known him.

Alice Longbottom was humming and she was folding small pieces of paper into rectangles that she added to a chain that fell off her lap. Alice's hair went to here shoulders in a simple bob. Her hair was a dark honeyed brown. Her features were pleasant, with defined cheekbones and lush lips; a beauty from a Pureblood family.

"Frank? Alice?" said Healer Poule gently. "You have visitors. Severus Snape, Poppy Pomfrey, Harry Potter, and your dear child, Neville."

"Are you all right, Little Mouse?" asked Severus when he felt Neville lean back against his legs.

"Shadow," Neville whispered, "I don't know what to do." His eyes were wide. He really wasn't afraid, but he did feel lost. He could not remember these two people as being his parents. He wanted to, but that memory felt like it was being a skittery squirrel in his mind and he could not grab it.

Poppy crouched down to eye-level with Neville. "You've never really met your parents, have you, dear?" Neville just shook his head sadly. "Well, introductions are in order, then. Harry, you too. You should be beside your brother." The no-nonsense witch took each of the boys by hand and walked them two the witch and wizard who appeared unaware of their guests. "Frank and Alice Longbottom, I'd like you to meet your son, Neville, and the boy that is so close to him he calls him 'brother'. This is Harry Potter-Snape."

"Hi," said Harry as he grasped his father's cloak in his shyness.

Neville eyed both of his parents for another quiet moment, and then he spoke softly, "I'm glad I get to visit you both now." Neville drew in a very slightly, shuddery breath as he held the tears threatening, at bay. "I think about you both a lot, mum and da. I wish you were with me… but… my Dad Shadow is really great. We're going to marry Poppy Pomfrey. I have a nifty brother and a cool cousin." Neville stepped back against Poppy's legs and she caught his shoulders gently. Neville's brain was filled with a lot of things to tell his parents but they didn't do anything. It was a little weird speaking to someone who had no reaction whatsoever.

The silence hung, uncomfortably, as everyone waited. Even Healer Poule was feeling a bit wrong-footed. Was there anything else to be said? Just as Severus was going to suggest that Neville make his farewell, Frank Longbottom rose from the table where he had been colouring one of his pictures. He did not look at anyone, just his feet, as he shuffled over to his son. He held out the drawing. Neville, curious and nervous, slowly took the drawing from his father. Frank turned away and went back to his table. He began to draw once more.

Neville stared at the drawing. It was crude but there clearly was a boy standing between two adults that smiled. Above them was a shining sun. Behind them was a simple house. Neville's eyes suddenly widened as he saw something of interest in the drawing. "Shadow! Look!" He turned and shoved the drawing at his father.

Severus took the drawing and studied it. His own eyes widened at the addition of two more adults and another boy. One adult was in black all black; beside him was a woman in a summery Peach coloured dress. Clearly, those two adults were Severus and Poppy. The second boy who had green eyes was most assuredly Harry.

Before Severus or Poppy could comment, though, Alice's humming changed. Healer Poule frowned. "It's a new tune I've never heard before."

A tear slid down Neville's cheek as a memory of love returned to his mind. "I know it. Mum used to sing that to me every night."

Alice stood, walked over to Neville, picked up his hand, and put several strands of the paper chain into her son's hand. She continued humming the lullaby that Neville remembered as she began a new chain of paper.

"Your father was right, Harry," said Neville with a smile. "My parents know I'm here."

Harry beamed and caught Severus' hand in his. "I always knew they would, Nev."

New Year's Day - 1st January 1986 - The Garden Atrium of Hogwarts Infirmary

Gathered within the atrium that was an adjunct to the Hogwarts Infirmary begun by Poppy and then added to by the other teachers stood a proud father and grandfather, Albus Dumbledore, as he officiated the wedding of his adopted son and his Healer Poppy Pomfrey. Albus wore the rich purple robes that both his grandsons, Harry and Neville, adored. Severus was handsome standing straight and tall in a suit of dark grey trousers and a coat of black with tails that fell to the backs of his knees. Harry had chosen his father's deep green velvet waistcoat to wear over a crisp, white linen shirt. Neville had chosen a silver-grey cravat pinned with an emerald signet of an 'S and P' Narcissa had had made for the new couple.

Poppy's gown was a simple 'slip' of white silk that flowed gracefully over her curves. She wore a platinum chain with an oval cameo that had a bas-relief of two roses intertwined that Lucius had had made for the soon-to-be wed couple. Her hair was loose and adorned by a web of tiny diamonds that were an heirloom gift from Albus.

Harry and Neville both wore suits that were just like their father's; dark green for Harry and deep blue for Neville.

Lucius and Narcissa were both dressed beautifully but Lucius was in dove grey whereas Narcissa was in ivory. Newly born Pearl was warmly wrapped in a lush, cashmere blanket of the softest cream. Draco wore a suit of darker grey that was just like his father's suit.

Each in the wedding party were gems of finesse and beauty; the nervous ('I am not nervous!') Severus and his delighted bride Poppy. Magic in cascades of sparkling, ghostly ribbons twined themselves around the couple's wrists as each spoke words of devotion and love to each other. What the words were neither Severus nor Poppy would recall later but the essence of what those words meant would forever be etched upon their hearts and souls.

The ceremony was brought to a close by the bestowing of two rings given by Harry and Neville. Lucius had taken the boys to a jeweller in France and they had picked out what they felt was perfect for each parent. Harry gave to Severus a silver ring of Celtic love knots highlighted by a green emerald. Neville gave to Poppy a similar silver ring of Celtic love knots that surrounded a modest emerald in the shape of a teardrop.

Albus beamed as he ended the ceremony with a kiss of blessing to Severus and Poppy's foreheads. He then nudged the newlyweds to face their small audience. "I give to you Severus and Poppy Snape."

Lucius clapped in approval as he walked up to the man he had chosen as his brother during the most difficult period in his life; the rise of Voldemort. He shook Severus' hand and then drew him into an embrace that Severus returned.

"Splendid, Brother," Lucius smiled. He then turned to Poppy, cupped her cheek and drew her forehead to him for a brief kiss of blessing. "I am so pleased for you both."

"Thank you, Lucius," Poppy bowed her head and then lifted it to bestow the most beautiful smile ever upon her husband.

"We're married!" Harry crowed as first he hugged his father and then his mother. To Poppy he said, "You're my real mum now!"

Neville hugged Severus, then just as quickly hugged his new mother. "Don't we have the best family ever, Harry?"

"Of course you do!" replied Draco. "Do we get cake now?"

Severus' eyebrow rose sardonically as Poppy giggled. "Well, at least we know where are priorities are." He looked to his father. "Albus, we need cake."

"Of course, my dear. The elves have made a wonderful cake…" he pointed towards a table that held a two tiered cake with frosting that looked like swathes of cream-coloured lace over it.

Lucius spoke up, "I procured a perfect champagne when the boys and I went to get your rings."

"Elf made, no doubt, Lucius?" smirked Severus.

"But of course, Severus."

As Lucius went to pour the champagne Harry stepped over to his father… and his mother. He held up a plate with a large slice of cake on it. Poppy took the offer as Severus knelt down on one knee and impulsively hugged his son.

"Shadow?" asked Harry softly. "Are you all right?"

"Better than, Magpie," smiled Severus at his son. "I am most content."

Harry beamed and then hugged his father quickly. "Me too. Isn't it perfect now? You got me and Nev, and we all got Poppy… I mean… Mum."

Severus rose to his feet just as Lucius walked over with two glasses of champagne. He handed one to Severus and one to Poppy.

"Everything is perfect, Magpie," agreed Severus. He turned to Poppy. "Mrs. Snape, welcome to my little family." He clinked his glass to Poppy's.

"I am blessed, Mr. Snape," smiled Poppy. Together they both took a sip of the champagne.

The three moved to a table where Draco and Neville sat eating their cake. Both had thin moustaches from the white cake frosting. Harry sat down in front of his cake and took a big bite. For a moment Severus watched as three cake slices were devoured. The boys were not careful and so crumbs began to drift everywhere.

With a wave of his wand the crumbs vanished. Severus glowered at the three troublemakers who slowly put down their forks, and swallowed what they each had in their mouths. "The three of you have better manners than this. Eat like civilised gentlemen, not trolls."

"Sorry, Dad," said Harry as he straightened. "Sorry, Dad," followed Neville as he wiped his upper lip with his napkin. "Sorry, Uncle," whispered Draco as he smiled showing a small dimple in his cheek.

"Hmph," grunted Severus as he sipped at his champagne. Poppy just laughed, her eyes sparkling.

1st January 1986 — 2am

The wedding of Severus and Poppy on the birth of a New Year was something to never forget. For three little five year olds it meant lots of cake until they were bouncing on a sugar high into exhaustion. Lucius and Narcissa took their children home when it was near to two. Pearl was asleep, Draco had dropped off not long after, and even Narcissa was beginning to yawn. Severus made sure to see all of them safely through the Infirmary Floo, and then he escorted his family home.

Poppy and Severus, each holding a sleepy child in their arms carried their sons to bed. Poppy put Neville to bed in his garden bedroom, and Severus put Harry to bed in his jungle room. Severus had just spelled away his son's suit and charmed his pyjamas on when Harry turned sleepily.

"Dad," Harry half smiled and half yawned. "It's been great."

"Has it, Harry?" Severus asked in the same soft tone his son had used.

"You know, I was afraid that this was all a dream and it would go away at the end of the year… it hasn't though. It's all brand new."

"I am not sure of what you are saying, my confusing Magpie," replied Severus as he tucked the blanket around Harry just as he liked it.

Harry drew in a deep breath as he prepared to explain himself. "We said goodbye to all that was old, all the nightmares of the past, when we shut off the tree lights. Christmas is a way of tucking all the bad things away. The New Year then makes all of it new like… uhm…" a yawn escaped and he giggled sleepily. "Like when you light a fire under a cauldron. We're all new. You are new because you have my new mum. I'm new because I have my new brother Nev." Harry giggled softly and began to snooze.

Severus leaned down, brushed his son's hair with his fingers then kissed his forehead. "We are new." He turned to leave his child when the little boy stirred.

"Shadow, I'm glad you founded me," purred Harry before dropping deeper into sleep.

"I am pleased that I found you, too, Magpie." Severus closed the door silently and then caught his wife about her waist. He kissed her. "Come, Mrs. Snape. I believe we have something to practise."


a/n: This is not the best place to end this story but maybe, someday I can visit in little oneshots. I thank all of who read my story, followed it or me,favourited the story or me and added it to communities. I do apologise for this ending chapter taking so long but it is extra long so I hope you all will enjoy it.

etherian - Jayne d'Arcy