"What are you doing in that tree?" Antonin yelled frantically as he stepped out onto his porch. The sound of two girlish giggles followed suit as he rushed down the steps and into the front yard.
"Lucille and Masha Dolohov, you answer me this instance!" He demanded from his twin three year olds as they continued to ignore him from their spot up in the tall birch tree.
"We didn't climb, Papa."
"We just appeared up here."
"It was like magic!" They simultaneously exclaimed before bursting into another round of giggles.
Feeling a tug on his pant leg, Antonin looked down to see his year-old son smiling up at him. "Up in tree too, Pa," he said confidently, or in what he most likely suspected to be confident for a toddler.
"Not today, Dolph," he said in a soft voice before looking back up at his chatterbox set of daughters. "And you two had better be out that tree and ready for dinner before your mother finds out what you've been up to," he said in his best fatherly voice. He was still working out the different tones but it seemed like they got the picture once he heard their defeated groans.
"Yes, Papa," came their resigned chorus.
Preening at his small win, he reached down to pick his son up in a one armed grasp before moving back onto to the porch, looking out occasionally to make sure his girls were getting out of the tree alright on their own. Salazar knew he would never hear the end of it if he offered to help. They were very independent children.
But it wasn't like he didn't know where they got it from. Just look at their parents.
Smiling slightly, he swung Dolph around in his arm in slow movements that had the toddler's feet moving in large circles that were keeping him readily occupied as his sister's finally hit the grass and came running back up to him.
"Can we go to Hogwarts now that we've done magic, Papa?" His eldest daughter, Masha, asked excitedly as she crashed into one of his long legs.
His other daughter, Lucille, ran up the stairs but stopped abruptly upon hearing her sister's question. She wrinkled her brow in what Hermione said was the exact same manner that he did before saying, "We can't go to Hogwarts until we're eleven, Masha. Mama said so."
She had also inherited her mother's know-it-all attitude and persona, but Antonin didn't keep his bollocks for these past few years by telling her that.
"Papa, pleeeease," Masha begged from underneath her brother's swinging feet.
Chuckling, Antonin reached down with his free hand to smooth the dark curls from her face before whispering, "I'll take you to visit the castle tomorrow. But only if you don't tell your mother. Promise?"
"Promise!" The tiny, hushed voice replied.
"Can I go too Papa?" Lucy asked, looking up at him with her big, whiskey colored eyes.
"Of course. We'll leave Dolph to distract Mama, right?" He said in a conspiratory voice, causing devilish grins to appear on his girls' faces. He suspected that they'd make grand Slytherins when they finally arrived for sorting at Hogwarts.
"Mama?" Dolph asked innocently before squirming around in Antonin's arm, trying to get free of the grasp. Gingerly placing him back on the ground, he watched as the boy toddled off in search of his mother and Antonin felt the need to do the same.
"Come along, devochki. You'll mother should be done by now."
He moved into his childhood home with the twins rushing past him and going straight for the dining room. As he neared closer, he could hear his wife's intoxicating laughter echo through the rooms and out into the hall. Feeling a smile creep across his face, he swung opened the door to see Hermione holding their son high above her head as the pair laughed and laughed.
As she brought him back to the ground, she looked up to meet his eye, a huge smile on her face as they took in the sight of each other. "Dinner's ready," she said happily.
"Yay!" The girl's exclaimed as they took their seats at the table. Antonin shook his head slightly before moving into the room to take his seat directly next to Hermione. She grasped his hand underneath of the table and squeezed as their children began digging into their food.
"I'm surprised they didn't kill you in such a short time. Did you have any problems?" She teased as he grabbed his glass of tea.
Scoffing, he remarked, "Nothing I couldn't handle. I do have an impressive history of dealing with children."
He heard her tut lightly from next to him before she said, "I do hope you don't treat them all the same way you treated me."
Feeling his face grow hot, he turned to scowl at her but it melted away as he looked into her eyes and remembered the situation he was in. Married to the love of his life, living in his childhood home, and surrounded by their children.
It was everything he had ever wanted but never thought he could have.
Taking her hand that was still intertwined with his, he kissed the back of it before telling her, "Never. It was a special situation for a special witch."
"I don't see why you think it's such a big deal," Hermione said disinterestedly as she flipped through a recent copy of Witch Weekly. Looking up from a particularly juicy article about Sirius Black and Pansy Parkinson's engagement, she watched her pacing husband move back and forth across their shared living area.
"A Hufflepuff, Hermione. Hufflepuff!" His arms rose with emphasis and Hermione could only quirk an eyebrow at the normally stoic man's unusual reaction to their son's sorting this evening.
The man looked at a loss for words at her disregard for his apparent crisis, but she really didn't see the big deal. So their son had been sorted into Hufflepuff. He was with Remus and Tonks' son Teddy, and Frank Longbottom had been sorted into the House with him as well, so Dolph would have friends. And seeing her son's smiling face during the welcoming feast had solidified in for her. He would be fine.
"How is he a Hufflepuff?"
"He's a particularly good finder," she quipped and outright laughed at the affronted look on her wizard's face.
"I'm serious, pchelka."
"As am I," she replied before looking back down at her magazine. She felt the couch shift under his weight as he sat down next to her.
"Are you sure he's our son?" He asked suddenly.
Whipping the mass of papers down onto her lap, she turned to glare at the man before exclaiming, "He looks just like you Antonin. Of course he's your bloody son."
"He has your nose," he muttered to no one in particular.
Huffing in disbelief, she picked the magazine back up, but not before replying, "Just because Rodolphus is a Hufflepuff and enjoys Quidditch, doesn't mean he isn't a part of this family. If anything, I think he acts more like you than you'd like to admit."
"You don't like to admit Lucille's like you," he pointed out.
He turned his head when he saw the glare she was sending his way, but she knew he had a point about that as well. Lucille was, for lack of a better phrase, a bossy swot. She was almost exactly like Hermione when she was that age. Except Lucy had a touch more Slytherin to her. Which explained her and her sister's House.
Lucille was much more like her godfather. Why she ever let Antonin chose Lucius Malfoy to be a godfather of one of their children, she'll never know. But she did admit that he wasn't a bad one. He spoiled her to no end and doted on all of their children, but he wasn't awful.
Professor McGonagall on the other hand… She had tried to put her foot down on that one because she didn't want any of her children scarred for life, but she and Masha actually seemed to get along pretty well. She was eager to learn and practically idolized her godmother. And to her surprise, McGonagall was greatly honored and took her role very seriously.
Dolph felt as though he got the sweetest end of the deal though, with Harry Potter for his godfather.
He was surprisingly her husband's first choice for their son. And Hermione didn't mind it one bit.
Her attention returned to her husband as she heard his large sigh from next to her. Looking over at him, she met his eye as he dryly said, "He gets it from you."
Grinning at his absurdity, she reached over to pull herself into his lap. "I think you need a better lesson, Professor Dolohov. I'm much naughtier than any Hufflepuff."
"Why, Professor Granger. I'm certain that's one lesson I won't want to miss," he husked back as she chuckled against his lips.
It was no surprise that he enjoyed using her title all most as much as she liked using his. Because after he had taken the Charms position, and she had finished all of her training…
She had taken the Magical Theory position.
"Antonin, stay after for a moment please," the Headmistress requested as their meeting came to a close. Internally groaning, Antonin shot a look at the cheeky grin on his wife's face as she sashayed out of the room after having teased him for the entirety of the two-hour meeting.
He still despised them, even after twenty plus years.
Especially now that he couldn't just go back to his rooms and ravish his mischievous wife.
"Yes, Headmistress?" He said as everyone trickled out and they were left alone together.
"Minerva please, how many times have I told you that," she chastised lightly as he came to stand in front of her. He couldn't help but shake his head slightly.
"Plenty. It's just difficult for me to regard you without the respect you deserve."
"Well knock it off. I'm not dead or martyred yet."
The two shared a brief huff of laughter before he asked, "What was it that you wanted to speak to me about?"
"I was just checking in on you. Things have really changed in the past twenty years. You've helped to defeat a Dark Lord, gotten married, and had children while simultaneously teaching even more of them. I wanted to make sure you hadn't begun to have an existential crisis or the like."
He rolled his eyes at the notion of it before replying, "I'm perfectly fine, Minerva. Happy and fulfilled and… whole."
"Is it different?"
"An entirely different world from where I used to be," he responded fondly, thinking back to the first time he saw that familiar head of curly hair and moving on to the first time he saw the curly heads of his daughters after they had been born.
"But still better," she said, stating the fact, not asking a question. Until a few moments later, that is. "I had an ulterior motive for asking you to stay," she admitted.
"I figured as much," he drawled, having felt his Slytherin senses picking up on it.
"Something has been weighing on my mind, for a while now. Do you remember the night Albus died? You had been so worried about being killed that you disclosed something to me before you left and sealed my memories of it," she explained, reminding him of that exact moment.
And he remembered. It had been one of the most stressful moments of his entire life. Besides dealing with his little witch while she was in labor. He still stood to the suspicion that she had broken a bone in his hand.
"You were wondering what exactly I had told you?" He finished for her. She nodded and he looked down slightly before smiling.
"I told you about my mother and sister and where they were located. Someone needed to know if I had died that night," he told her.
"You know I figured as much," she said with a pleasant smile. But he held up his hand as she went to stand. He wasn't finished yet.
"I had also asked you to tell Hermione that I loved her. That I had always loved her and wasn't strong enough to tell her. But that it was true nonetheless."
He watched one of the bravest women he knew besides his own mother tear up at his confession before she threw her arms around him and pulled him in for a tight embrace.
"You are the best man I could have ever hoped for that girl," she whispered to him and Antonin felt his own emotions welling up deep inside of him.
"You continue taking care of her and allowing her to take care of you."
"Always," he promised.
And he meant it. Once he had her, he knew that there was no chance of him ever giving her up.
From her professor to her lover to her boyfriend to her husband… He would never change a single moment of it. Not for anything in the world.