It was a bright afternoon, when Snape awoke from his nap. He stretched his lanky, full length out on the bed and pushed a graying lock of hair from his eyes. Years ago, he mused, a nap would have been an unnecessary luxury.

But, now?

'Now, it's a necessary means of escape,' he laughed. Sitting up and attempting to gather his thoughts, the noise from outside his bedroom window finally hit his ears.

Squeals - that would be Minerva.

Whining - that would be Ron, he was aptly named, Snape thought.

Grumbling - that would be Severus.

Sounds of exasperation - THAT would be his wife. He smiled at the frustrated words floating back to his ears.

"Minerva, leave the cake alone, you know it's Severus' birthday, not yours," Hermione growled out. "No, I know that you're younger and prettier than he is, but by Merlin, you can wait for your own party! No, I don't think he wants to have a ladybug tea party for his birthday - RON! Put that lizard BACK in your room!"

His smile grew as he heard her reach the breaking point. 'Three, two, one -'


He laughed and threw off the worn quilt he had been wrapped in, a present from Hagrid on their wedding day, so many years ago.

"I'm coming, dear!"

"You damn well better be!"

He wiped the smile from his face and swiftly went to the back garden of their home. The smallish Hogsmeade cottage was surprisingly quaint and light for a former Death Eater's residence, he mused as he looked at his wife's rose garden and the decorations she had put up for the party. Of course, it all screamed Hermione, but he didn't mind, because after all these years, 'Hermione' equaled home. For him and for their children.

He took the silver and green balloons she handed him and snuck a brief kiss as she scowled at him. He walked to the nearest fencepost and tied them on, glancing around for his oldest son, Severus. The 12-year-old Slytherin boy was, as Snape had suspected, sulking around the corner of the house by the broomshed. Snape also suspected that he would have preferred to spend his birthday quietly at Hogwarts. He was a fairly popular first-year, thought Snape, despite the dual hinderance of his mother being the Potions Mistress and his father the Headmaster. Add in a godfather of a former Headmaster swooping through the halls as a ghost and "Uncle Harry" teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts and the poor kid had a tough hill to climb. But, he had made friends in his first year and was doing well in his studies.

'He's a good boy,' mused Snape, proudly. He walked up to his brooding son and waited for him to begin venting. Which he did in a very Snapelike manner.

"Dad, does Mum HAVE to put balloons up? And did you SEE the cake her and Mrs. Weasley made me? Did you?" the boy sneered, in a fair imitation of his father while tossing long black locks from his eyes defiantly. "How am I going to show my face at Hogwarts on Monday? I'm not a little kid anymore."

"I know, Sev, I know," said Snape. "But you know how important birthdays are for your mother. Just like any holiday, she goes all out and goes a little overboard. But family birthdays and holidays mean a lot to her - just like you mean a lot to her. So can you at least pretend to enjoy yourself today?"

"Dad - she didn't buy me any - any underwear for my present this year, did she? I CAN'T open underwear in front of the Slytherins," young Severus said.

"No, we got you something I believe you will love," smiled Snape. "Not embarrassing at all."

"What? What is it, Dad?"

"I can't tell you. You're mother will have my head on a platter," said Snape, backing off and shaking his head, yet grinning.

"Dad -"

"She'll hex me! Or poison me!"

"No, she won't. All you have to do is make those goo-goo eyes at her and she'll go all mushy and forget she's mad at you," said Severus, looking sick to his stomach. "Please, Dad? Just a hint!"

"All right. Here's your hint: Uncle Harry helped us pick it out," whispered the elder Snape.

"YES! A Firebolt 2020! YES!" hissed the younger boy. "I'll act surprised, I promise. Thanks Dad!"

And with a hug, the younger boy trotted off - a bit happier about the state of his birthday party. Snape sighed and watched him with pride and a bit of sadness as he mentally swore - yet again - to not let his children go down the dark path he once had.

"Knut for your thoughts," said a feminine voice in his ear. He smiled.

"I was just thinking what a great kid we have there," he said. "All of them, actually. How in the hell did that happen?"

"With us for parents? No idea."

"I mean it, Hermione. Severus is a bit brooding, but he's clever and makes friends easily. He's one of the top students in his year. Ronald can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but he's a good boy and amazingly gentle and kind. Sometimes I think he'll be another Hagrid, he's so good with animals and magical creatures - only quieter. And Minerva - she's the spitting image of you. Brains, beauty and a powerful young witch."

"I'm hoping she'll follow in my footsteps at Hogwarts, like Severus is in yours. Gryffindor, prefect, Head Girl, top OWLS and NEWTS -"

"As long as she doesn't sleep with any of her professors, then she can follow in your footsteps," growled Snape, possessively. He looked across the garden to his youngest child, a curly-headed toddler setting the table with her mother's old wand. "Let's just say I don't plan to hire any young and handsome men to teach before she graduates. All the teachers we currently have are either too old for her or are her family," he finished.

"So you don't have anything to worry about," smiled Hermione. "But, just remember how well our story has turned out, love."

He smiled and pulled her in for a deep and lengthy kiss; only pulling apart when he heard his children making distinct gagging noises in the distance. He looked at his wife mischievously and said softly, "I suppose now would not be a good time to tell them we're having another baby?"

"Good Merlin, no!" laughed Hermione, giving him a soft peck and smiling at the "blech" noise that escaped from six-year-old Ron. "Severus' class just had their wizard anatomy and sex lesson this month with Poppy. I think he's come to grips with the 'grossness' of how things work, but the idea of you and I actually 'doing it' would probably ruin his birthday."

They laughed softly together for a moment.

"All right, what's so funny? Did my favorite Slytherin turn up wearing Gryffindor colors to his birthday party?" came a voice from behind them. They turned and smiled at their guest and his wife, as the pink blur that was Minerva attacked them.

"Uncle Neville!!!" she gushed, pouting. "Mummy said we can't have a ladybug tea party for Severus' birthday."

"Mean ol' Mummy," teased Neville, looking over her curly hair at Hermione, who was hugging his wife in greeting. "Tell you what, princess, if Mum and Dad say it's okay, you can come to work with me on Monday and we'll go into the ladybug room and you can see them all."

"Really? You have a ladybug ROOM?" squealed the three-year-old girl. "Can we bring Ron too? He LOVES bugs."

"Yep, ladybugs help us protect the plants from mean bugs who want to eat them," said Neville, seriously. "So they have a room all to themselves. And yes, of course, Ron can come, too."

"Mummy? Daddy? Can I?" she asked.

"Of course, pumpkin," said Snape, taking her from Neville's arms for a quick squeeze. "Go tell Ron."

He set his daughter down and she skipped off to her brother, who was busy keeping the family cat away from the food table by spoiling it with attention and scratches. Snape held his hand out to Neville for a handshake.

"Things going well at work, then, Neville?" he asked, gesturing that they should follow the women, who had already moved to the picnic tables. "I heard from my cousin that you've gotten another promotion."

"Yes, last week," smiled Longbottom. "I can't believe it myself."

"I can, you were always talented at Herbology. By the way, did Hermione tell you she asked Professor Sprout to come today?" asked Snape. "She thought the two of you would like to catch up."

Neville's eyes lit up and he began to speak, but was interrupted by a loud, dual female squeal from the direction of the cake.

"I think Cassie just told Hermione our good news," he said, smiling. "We're expecting our first baby in about seven months."

"Congratulations, Longbottom!" said Snape. "Thank Merlin I don't teach Potions anymore, if you're reproducing."

Both men laughed comfortably before being interrupted by another squeal. It was Snape's turn to smile: "I think she just told Cassie OUR good news. We're expecting in about seven months, as well."

The two expectant fathers shook hands and went to join the women. Young Severus had apparently heard enough of their conversation and was standing next to the cake, contemplating it and looking decidedly green.

Snape thought to go console him, but was stopped by the arrival of another guest: Harry Potter. The two men shook hands briefly before Hermione and Neville claimed him in discussion. Snape then trudged over to his son, feeling strangely embarrassed about the whole situation.

"So, I guess you heard," he said, clearing his throat, shoving his hands into the Muggle jeans Hermione bought him and desperately wishing for some robes to swish. His son looked at him in disgust.

"Yep." Young Severus glared at the group of adults when Harry yelped happily and began to spin Hermione around.

"Are you looking forward to having another brother of sister then?"

"I suppose. It's just - well, it's just gross, Dad. It's MUM. And -- You guys are old."

Snape laughed self-consciously and glanced over his shoulder at the group of adults pretending very hard not to listen to the discussion.

"Well, I know Poppy told you all about the mechanics of sex, Severus. But there's more to it than that. You're mother and I love each other very much and it's how we can best express -"

"Merlin's balls, Dad! Stop! I'm going to have to go poke out my mind's eye as it is, I don't need a play-by-play from you," spat Severus. His father thought he heard a few choked giggles behind him. He sighed and plowed ahead.

"Severus, some day you are going to find a young woman that you love," began Snape, as Harry joined him and handed him a glass of whiskey with a grin. "Not just love, but someone you love so much you would give up everything for her, die for her --- And when you do, I promise that it won't seem gross to you. Making love to your wife will be the most incredible and life affirming thing you can do - right up there with loving and parenting your children."

"It's not sex that seems gross, Dad," sneered the boy, under his breath. "It's you and MUM doing it. Merlin, haven't you done it enough? You're in your 50s and Mum is in her 30s, I mean - geez. It's not like you're young anymore!"

"Sex isn't just for hormonal teenagers, Severus," his father finally snapped. "In fact, it would be best if you remembered that and didn't do any experimenting of your own until you finished Hogwarts, young man. Or married, would be better."

Harry spat part of his drink back into the highball glass and Hermione walked to join the men's chat.

"Oh, yeah, right, like you two waited until you were married," said Severus.

"No, we didn't," admitted Hermione. "But, your father WAS the first man I ever slept with and besides, I don't see-"

"And I was in college before I had sex with a woman," said Snape, sipping his drink. "We were responsible adults and prepared for any risks or consequences, son. That's the most important thing; being old enough to accept the responsibility of the magnitude of the act itself and the possibility of becoming a parent. Because birth control isn't foolproof."

"Well, how old were you, Mum? You were obviously out of Hogwarts, if it was with Dad. Was it when you were in college, too? How DID you two meet up again?"

In the small silence that followed the questions, Harry just beamed and looked from one stunned parent to the other.

"Well, I'll just leave the three of you to chat," he grinned.

"Harry - " they both began.

"No, no, this sounds like a parent-child discussion. I really shouldn't butt in," he said. He squeezed Severus' shoulder before whispering in the boy's ear. "If the story doesn't sound kosher, it's probably not. Owl me, I have the scoop."


Severus just folded his arms and regarded his yelling parents with a disgusted expression.

"I'm not sure I want to know," he said looking from one parent to the other. "Although if you can't keep your hands off each other now -"

His tirade was cut short by the arrival of his friends from Hogwarts. He was quickly swallowed up by the group of mostly Slytherin boys and they ravenously attacked the food table that Hermione had so carefully and meticulously laid out. She leaned back against the chest of her husband and smiled, watching the demolition.

"Well, I see that the day's disgusting topic hasn't left him unable to eat," she said wryly. Snape sighed.

"What are we going to tell them?" he said. "Surely we can't tell them the truth."

"Why not? The truth has always worked for us in the past."

"I suppose it has, Hermione. But -"

"Let's just enjoy our son's birthday party today. We'll talk about it tonight," she said, leaning back to nibble an ear beneath the silvery-raven hair. "And then after -"

She felt him grinning into her curls.


"I thought maybe after we could do some more of that gross thing that creates these beautiful children of ours," she said, grinning up at him.

"Sounds good to me," he said. "On one condition."


"That you cast your strongest silencing charm, first," he said, chuckling. "I'm not sure Sev could handle it if he heard us."

"Yes, sir, Professor Snape," she whispered, sending a shiver down his spine.

They stood quietly watching the festivities for some time. When Severus and his friends turned their attention from the food table to the gift table, however, they exchanged a brief kiss and returned to the party. Soon, Severus came over to where they were sitting with the chatting adults to thank them for his new broom.

"Thanks Mum, Dad, Uncle Harry," he said, hugging them quickly in turn. "It's incredible. Just what I wanted."

"You're a good young man, Severus," said his father. "You deserve it. Just make sure you don't spend so much time riding it that you fail your final exams next week."

"No sir!"

Severus threw his father a jaunty salute and scampered off with the other boys to the field behind the cottage. Soon the broom was soaring overhead with a variety of different riders. And soon the sun began to set and the party broke up. Snape and Hermione sent their three children to bed while they cleaned up the mess by torchlight.

"It was a lovely party, dear."

"You don't think the balloons were too much?" she asked, chewing her lower lip. A pile of trash and leftover food incinerated at the swish of her wand.

"Well, maybe you can leave them off next year," he said, banishing the picnic tables to the patio. "And it sounds like you have a ladybug tea party to plan for Minerva's birthday."

"I guess I'd better begin planning it soon, too," Hermione sighed as she picked up the last piece of crinkled wrapping paper. "I'll be huge and miserable by then, so I won't be up to doing much. If I get it planned, will you take over on the actual day?"

"You know I will."

The pair sat down on a bench and sighed.

"Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that the night we spent together on the grass of the Quidditch pitch would lead to this?" she said, smiling in the darkness.


"You don't regret it, do you?"


"Not even losing your independence and the free time for research and -"


"Can you say anything, but nope, Severus?"

"Nope. I'm a bit preoccupied with the idea of making love to my wife in the grass - think you can add an invisibility charm to that silencing one, dear?" he said, moving his hand from her shoulder to caress one breast.

"I think I can do that."

"Then what are you waiting for, Miss Granger?" he growled.

She just grinned at him, swished her wand and pulled him down into the soft grass beside the bench.

"I do love you, Professor Snape."

"And I love you, Miss Granger."


That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas

Tales of best sentence and moost solaas,

Shal have a soper at oure aller cost

Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,

Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.


The End.