A/N: And here is the last chapter! Thank you so much to everyone for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. :)
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
epilogue - two years later
The swell of her belly is an encumbrance as she pushes herself up from the chair with a huff. Shuffling through the living room and into the kitchen, Hermione reaches up, pulling down the tin of good tea before adding water to the kettle and setting it to boil. She hums as she moves, preparing for tea.
"I told you I was going to make the tea, Hermione."
She peers over her shoulder at him with a smile. Severus has no hope of sneaking up on her anymore, not after the hours of time she spends with the wards in virtually every building they spend any time in, and he is still a bit miffed about it, but makes up for it to himself whenever Harry or Ron are around by continuously scaring the literal life from them. It's especially easy in their new house on the far outskirts of Hogsmeade; the boys haven't learned all of the corners yet, despite their often dinners over at the house.
"I know, love. And you were still busy and I was feeling peckish. Your son is awfully demanding, especially when it's food time."
As usual, ever since finding out that she was pregnant, Severus's expression struggles between pride and fear, but it's taking less and less time for the pride to win out as the months pass, and within only a few heartbeats, he's striding across the room to curl his hands across her wide belly.
He presses a kiss to her neck, nuzzling the warm skin bared by the leather tie pulling her long curls over to the opposite side, as he rubs her stomach. The warmth of their touch spreads through their limbs and Hermione sighs happily as the baby in her womb moves, reacting to his father's presence.
They stand together for a long moment before reluctantly pulling apart in order to finish brewing the tea. Severus pulls down a few nibbles, some fruit and cheese, leftover chicken from dinner the night before, and some crackers. Dropping the plate onto a platter and waving his wife away as he gathers the cups and teapot, he scoops up the entire collection and heads back into the living room.
"Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm going to break, Severus." Hermione grumbles as she settles back down onto the couch, wincing as her hip aches until she gets the pillow tucked under her at just the right angle. She studiously ignores Severus's smirk as he settles onto the end of the couch by her feet, before she imperiously holds a hand out to him, mimicking his arched eyebrow. "My tea?"
He snorts, snapping his fingers so that the pot levitates and, with an impressive show of control, pours into the teacups. He adds the sugar to his and milk to them both by hand, stirring and passing hers before loading a small plate with some of everything and passing it to her as well.
Hermione takes it with ill grace, pouting as she pops a grape into her mouth. "I should invite Molly over; she would be less of a mother hen than you, I think."
With a dismissive sneer, his long fingers curl around her foot, bare despite the chill from the coming autumn across the wood floors. As soon as their skin touches, the familiar warmth spreads through their bodies and Hermione sighs as she sinks bonelessly into the pillows, her eyes drifting closed. "Thank you, sweetheart."
"I know you're not feeling your best. The little bugger is awfully hard on you already, and two months still to go." Severus chuckles as she sticks her tongue out at him without even opening her eyes, and he squeezes her foot before massaging it carefully.
She moans softly as he continues to massage her foot, switching to the other after a few minutes, though she laughs softly. "I'd say he takes after his father-" she groans when he hits a particularly sensitive spot, "-but you're so lovely, we know it's not true."
Severus smirks down at her toes before lightly tickling her foot. "So you say. Eat, and drink your tea. The midwife said you still need to gain a bit more weight."
Rolling her eyes, she props her plate on her stomach, shoving an entire cracker and slice of cheese into her mouth in one bite, staring at him the entire time, fighting a grin. He ignores her antics, tucking her feet snugly into his lap as he grabs his tea cup, settling back on the couch.
eleven (more) years later
"Make sure you behave yourself, Jacob." Hermione huffs, smoothing her son's black waves from his eyes, even as he attempts to escape from her clutches.
"Mum! I'm fine! I'll be good. Da and Auntie Minnie are both there, so it's not like I'll be able to get away with much anyway." Jacob shrugs.
Severus steps up behind Jacob, laying a pale hand on his shoulder with a smirk. The little girl of about two, all long arms and legs and huge black curls, perched on his hip mimics it eerily well, despite only having the two front teeth. "You'll be just fine. And it's not as though your mum can't come visit the castle whenever she likes, you know."
Jacob groans loudly before spotting Teddy and his family in the crowd. Shooting off to the Potters, he and Teddy bunch together for only a moment before swooping in to give Ginny, then Hermione, hugs and kisses, a shouted jumble of "love yous" and "byes" before disappearing into the depths of the train.
Severus looks mildly appalled as Harry, a six year old James Sirius trotting along beside him, and Ginny, Albus Severus strapped to her back, stroll up, grinning. "Welcome to eleven. Boys are the best. Wait another year or two until the hormones really kick in! I've found so many petrified socks in Teddy's room…"
"Ginny! Welcome back! How was Europe?" Hermione bursts in, laughing as her face reddens in embarrassment.
Cassandra buries her face into Snape's neck, which makes him sigh softly and heft her a bit higher onto his hip, before reaching out to shake Harry's hand. "Potter."
"Snape." Returning the shake, Harry grins at Severus before glancing down to James, the grin widening to Marauder proportions. "James, you remember Professor Snape?"
James tilts his head up, staring at the tall man all clad in black, with a neatly trimmed black and silver beard, and a small child clinging to his side like a barnacle, before grinning hugely and showing off all seven missing teeth. "I do! Hi, Prof'sor Snape! Where's Aunt Miney?" He spins around before spotting his favorite, standing chatting with his second favorite (with the least favorite clinging to her back like the evil little monkey he is) before breaking away from his father and dashing across the massive distance of at least five feet. Once clinging to his mother's hand, he looks back at his father and laughs victoriously.
Harry sighs in exhaustion, while Severus actually laughs. "Well. You certainly have your work cut out for you, don't you, Potter?"
"I do, but you know whose student he'll be in five more years?" Harry grins through his own scruffy beard, though his remains all brown.
Severus shrugs, smirking. "Perhaps. Maybe I'll have retired by then. I am, after all, an old bat, I believe was what he called me last time. At his birthday party." He sneers the last, rolling his eyes.
Harry wheezes, almost laughing out loud before controlling himself. "Well. You know. I do have my work cut out for me." It's a heartbeat longer before he finally loses it and he starts laughing, while Severus just sighs and walks over to his wife, leaving Harry behind to lean up against a brick wall and get control of himself.
"I know; my husband is a dunderhead." Ginny grins and shrugs, while Albus laughs and waves happily at his godfather.
Severus arches a disdainful eyebrow at Ginny, all while reaching out to Albus and magically pulling a knut from his ear before passing it to the preschooler who screams in delight, right in his mummy's ears.
"Merlin's pants, son, please stop trying to deafen mummy!" Ginny reaches up and puts her hand over Albus's mouth, glaring at an unrepentant Severus who has moved to stand beside Hermione, passing the clingy urchin off to his wife with a kiss to the top of her head.
"The train's moving," Harry strides up, having finally gotten control of himself, and motioning to the train, which indeed is rolling steadily out of the station. "Teddy's usually at the end somewhere."
And sure enough, at the very end of the train, Teddy's green head and Jacob's black one pop out briefly as their arms wave, everyone on the platform waving back, even Cassandra, who has finally picked her head up from her mother's shoulder. Hermione sniffles, wiping her face with a handkerchief as her son rides off to his first year of school, as Severus wraps an arm around his girls.
(another) twenty years later
Hermione smiles, staring out over the glittering lake at Malfoy Manor. Cassandra and Leo Malfoy - both Ravenclaws of the same year at school - had just left for their honeymoon in Greece, and Severus was still chatting with Draco at the bar. So, grabbing one last glass of champagne, Hermione slinks down to one of the cushioned benches on the veranda and stretches out there.
Life had been amazing. There were all of the ups and downs, fights and makeups, life and death. Cassandra and Leo had just married, tying the Snape and Malfoy families even closer together. Albus and Scorpius were partners, which had really shocked no one, and which Draco still liked to whine about, just to annoy his oldest son.
The other children were off doing their own things, jobs across the board from arithmancy (Lily Luna was one of the youngest to obtain her mastery) to magizoology (the Lovegood-Scamander twins had that down to a literal science).
Jacob, her blessed son, had gone into the aurory, eyes set on his hero and godfather, Harry Potter. Luckily for him, between his parents and said godfather, he walked into his first day of training well versed in all manner of offensive and defensive spells, and had only moved up in the rankings from there, soundly trouncing any who tried to claim "special treatment" in a wizard's duel.
Cassandra had inherited Hermione's talents with charms and then some, and was studying under Flitwick for her mastery, likely his last apprentice due to his well advanced age.
Hermione herself had spent years as one of the world authorities on warding, before retiring along with her husband to write a book on soul mates. She is occasionally still called upon for a special consult, but is hardly ever active anymore.
WIth a sigh, Hermione sits the empty glass down on the marble beneath her, whilst reaching out with her other hand to capture Severus's as he steps around the bench to settle beside her. Anyone watching might have thought they'd practiced the move, as smoothly as they managed it without any conversation.
She peers up at him with a smile, tilting her head as she looks him over. He's aged well, staying active - once Minnie retired, he took over again as Headmaster, though only for a few years while they settled affairs and hired a more permanent replacement. Once the board had found the replacement, Severus retired from teaching, for good, and settled in as an independent potion maker.
The object of her thoughts huffs a bit, the heavily silvered beard twitching. "Quit eyeing me like that, woman. You're making me wonder if you're finally going to turn me into potions ingredients, as you've been threatening for years."
She laughs, curling her silk-clad arm through his black wool as she lays her head against his shoulder. "Hush, you tyrant. Before you so rudely interrupted me, I was just contemplating how very happy I am, and how most of it is to do with you." Tilting her head back, she smirks, catching the soft look he's directing her way before he snorts.
"Of course you were. Weddings do tend to make you... mushy." Severus gathers her closer, tucking her under his arm close against his side with well practiced ease. "I can't imagine what you'll be like if Jacob ever gets married!"
Hermione thumps his thigh with her fist, ignoring his hiss of pain. "Ah, hush! Jacob is not my favorite, he is just my first." She snuggles back against him with a soft sigh. "But still. I am happy, and thank you for making my life so happy."
Severus tilts his head down, pressing his mouth to the top of her head before murmuring into her still vibrant silvered curls. "Thank you for exactly the same, my love. Thank you."