The rest is silence.
-Hamlet, William Shakespeare
LATE AUGUST, 2009
(11 Years Post Final Battle)
"All these are yours?" asked the Muggle woman at the hotel's front desk. She eyed Hermione and Severus and their brood: one thirteen year old with dark skin and box braids, one twelve year old with milky-white skin and a frizzy ponytail, one almost-seven-year-old with brand new glasses sliding down her tiny nose, one four-and-a-half year old with chocolate all over his fingers and face, and two grey-eyes toddlers with platinum blond hair.
"This week, they're all ours," said Hermione, smiling pleasantly. Beside her, Severus appeared annoyed by the question – by the fact that the woman was asking any questions, really. They'd taken the Floo network, two portkeys, and a Muggle bus to get to their hotel in Barcelona and he just wanted to check into their rooms to take a nap. He glared at the desk clerk, who regarded them with suspicion in return.
"I'm their only biological child," Annika Scamander piped up. "Can't you see the resemblance?" She tried to keep a straight face, but Delphini's shoulders started shaking and the two girls quickly half-collapsed into giggles. Helena joined them, though she didn't get the joke.
"I'm sorry about them. We've been traveling all day," said Hermione, bumping the girls aside. "The children are exhausted to the point of silliness."
As if on cue, Hero stretched her arms up, staring at Severus with a pout on her face. "Pick me up, Dada?"
"Me!" cried Scorpius, doing the same to Hermione, not one to be left out. "Up! Up!"
The hotel clerk handed Hermione their room keys as she and Severus lifted the toddlers. Once they'd found their rooms, Hermione insisted everyone take two hours of quiet time before going to eat and explore.
The room in which she and Severus would be sleeping boasted a large bed, a small couch, and the crib they'd requested in advance. In the adjoining room, there were two beds, an easy chair, and another crib.
Hermione quickly transfigured the couch into a bed for Henry and the chair into a bed for Helena while the older girls chose their own beds. She placed Hero in the crib in the girls' room for a quick nap and took Scorpius with her, Henry, and Severus into the larger room.
"I'm glad we offered to bring him," Hermione said as she set him down in the crib. She added in a whisper, "Narcissa said Astoria is growing sicker with every passing year. Draco doesn't want to think about the future, but Narcissa says she'll be surprised if his wife lives long enough to see Scorpius head to Hogwarts."
Once naptime was over, they went to a nearby tapas place for an early repast, then went out for dessert and took a walk on the beach at sunset.
"Why are so many Muggles looking at us the way that hotel clerk did?" Severus murmured to Hermione. Their stares made him feel like he had the first time he went to Diagon Alley after his release from the convalescent center.
"I don't know," she replied. "Could it be because, while I'm wearing a sundress and my three biological children are in summer attire, you, your daughter, and your daughter's cousin are all dressed more like you're about to attend a funeral than walk on the beach in August in Spain? And don't get me started on Annika's ensemble."
(Rolf's niece was wearing a short radish red frock paired with actual radishes for earrings, neon green stockings, at least thirty hand-made bracelets, and her patent leather school shoes, while Delphini had chosen to travel in a floor-length, long-sleeved black dress with cutout shoulders that looked like something her mother would've worn, though it had no corset, and Scorpius was in a tiny three-piece suit with bowtie, as Narcissa thought he should look 'presentable' when abroad and had been assured this was what upper-class Muggles wore.)
"I'm wearing what I always wear," Severus said, scowling. "I saw what you packed for me, and if you honestly think you'll get me into that strange pastel shirt and those trousers missing material from the knees down..."
"A blue polo shirt won't kill you, those trousers are called shorts, and, simply put, we don't blend in. What did you wear when you traveled on holiday with Charity Burbage?"
"This," he answered, gesturing down toward his traditional buttoned down vest and coat, long-sleeved shirt, and trousers, all black. "Though we never went to the beach. We visited Rome once. And Normandy. And Munich. And Cairo."
"How did you keep from overheating in Egypt?"
"Cooling charms, of course."
Hermione shook her head. "You're an impossible man. No cooling charms here. We're living like Muggles for one whole week, especially when in public, and that means dressing like them too! You can't swim in these heavy clothes."
"Swim!" He nearly fell face-first into the sand. "I can't swim in any clothes!"
"You prefer to swim naked?" she asked cheekily. Luckily the older children were far enough ahead not to hear them and the toddlers weren't paying attention.
"I can't swim at all. I've never tried. I've never put even a toe in the ocean. Or in the Mediterranean, for that matter. Hell, I've never even waded into a lake!"
"Oh, Severus." Hermione, looking upon him with pity, took his hand. "Well, I know what we'll be doing tomorrow. Good thing I packed swim trunks and sunscreen for you."
One week later, by the end of their vacation, Severus had become better acquainted with the water, but was still wary of it. The children, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to live on the beach. They'd done as much as possible in the lovely city, including visiting a museum featuring the work of Muggle artist Pablo Picasso, eating more shrimp and mussels than they thought they could handle, finding perhaps the best ice cream place in all of Europe, spending an entire day in the aquarium, and taking two educational sightseeing tours, which the children mostly hated but the adults enjoyed, in addition to spending a considerable amount of time in or near the Mediterranean sea.
The kids had mostly been well-behaved, though the youngest three had experienced their share of tears and tantrums at times, mostly when overtired, and Helena asked so many questions about everything Hermione eventually dragged them into a small store to buy the girl a guidebook written in English so she could find the answers herself... plus Severus, at one point, had to practically chase away a couple of fourteen-year-old Spanish boys who wanted to take Delphini and Annika out for tapas between lunch and dinner.
("No daughter of mine is going to be dating some boy," he'd snapped. Then, remembering Narcissa and Siobhan, he added, "Or some girl, either." Hermione had only laughed.)
"Do we have to go home so soon, Mummy?" asked Helena. She was sitting in the sand teaching Henry to build a castle, while Hero and Scorpius "helped," which mostly meant decorating it with shells and rocks until the towers collapsed.
"I'm sorry, Love," said Hermione. She was sitting in front of Severus with her back to his chest. She was in only a swimsuit, like the children (save for Delphini, who wore a long lace overlay over hers) and had managed to get Severus into the trunks, but he insisted upon wearing his black t-shirt too, 'to save anyone the discomfort of having to see my scars.' "I have to go back to work on Monday. The Ministry needs me. And Professor has to go back to doing... What is it you do all day, dear?"
He smiled, as able to tease her as she was him. "Watch movies on the telly and drink firewhiskey while the children roam the neighborhood unsupervised like a pack of wild dogs."
"That's right. How could I forget?" She giggled when he kissed her cheek.
"Ew," said Delphini, catching the kiss. She and Annika were returning from buying juice drinks for everyone. "Must you do that in public? Merlin's beard, Dad! You two are as bad as Auntie and Siobhan."
"No, they're not," argued Annika. "Professor Black was in the Daily Prophet back in April because a reporter caught her having a snog – and a cigarette – behind Madam Puddifoot's while she was supposed to be supervising a Hogsmeade visit. I heard Professor McGonagall tipped her cauldron over it!"
"Auntie said at least she didn't get caught smoking elven herbs in the Forbidden Forest like Professor Vector," said Delphini.
Annika gasped. "Professor Vector got caught doing what?"
"That's enough gossip, girls," Hermione chastised lightly. But she had seen the picture too, and McGonagall had indeed 'tipped her cauldron,' according to a letter from Narcissa they received shortly thereafter.
Thankfully, the letter concluded, she's decided to keep me on staff for next year anyway, since the previous professor opted not to return.
That night, after another delicious dinner and an hour spent packing, Hermione and Severus tucked the six children into bed. Once they were certain the younger ones were asleep and the eldest two were reading quietly in their beds, they slipped out to the balcony off of their bedroom for a bottle of wine and some alone time. It was a warm, beautiful night with a light breeze and a full moon, reflected in the calm blue sea. They stood shoulder to shoulder, leaning against the balcony rail, staring out at the water.
"It seems we've survived our first holiday abroad as a family," Severus said, clinking his glass against Hermione's.
"With two extras in tow, no less!" She took a long sip. "Work will feel like a vacation after this vacation. But I've enjoyed every minute."
He set his glass down on the edge of the balcony, did the same with hers, and turned her to face him.
"We went on our first date one year ago this week," he said. "I took you to see Hamlet. Minerva watched the children. And you refused to have sex with me, no matter how much I begged, because you don't shag on the first date."
She giggled. "I don't remember it going quite that way, sir. As a matter of fact, I seem to recall asking you to spend the night and you saying in no uncertain terms that you'd do no such thing, even though I was ready and willing. You simply weren't interested."
"I wanted to take you to bed the first time I kissed you."
"In the cellar, while I was crying, after we'd had that silly row?"
"Yes." He kissed the tip of her nose. "You're a romantic crier."
"I appreciate that you respected me enough not to," she whispered, slipping her hands around his waist. "I think I fell in love with you on our first date, when I asked you to stay and you said no. Most men would not have said no."
"I am not most men."
"For that, I am undeniably grateful." She rested her cheek against his chest, listening to the sound of his heartbeat over the light waves of the sea. She was so content, so focused on the moment and cocooned by his love, she almost missed his quietly spoken next words.
"Hmm?" She pulled away, certain her ears must be playing tricks on her. They hadn't spoken of marriage, not at all, not one way or the other, since they made up from that huge fight they'd had the previous fall, shortly after Delphini came to live with him. "What did you say?"
"You can say no," Severus said quickly, wondering if she could make out the vulnerability surely evident in his eyes despite the darkness surrounding them. "If you say no, I'll understand, and I won't love you any less, and it will not impact how we–"
She cut him off. "Did you ask me to marry you?"
"I did," he said, taking a small box from his inside pocket. "But I'll not be hurt if you–"
"Ask me," she said, her eyes wide. "Ask me again. Ask me to marry you."
"Will you..." Severus cleared his throat and, somewhat awkwardly, thrust the small box, which was still closed, toward her. "Hermione Granger... Will you marry me?"
"Oh, Severus Snape!" she threw her arms around his neck, nearly knocking the box out of his hand. "Yes, I'll marry you; I would love to marry you!"
"Yes! I know I said I'd never get married again, but you're different. I'm different! And we'll be doing it for the right reasons, not because we feel we should, not because we feel we're expected to or because we're having a baby, but because we love each other and we're committed to each other and we want the world to know we share a life together."
"I had this made for you." He handed her the small box, which she'd already almost forgotten about. She opened it and gasped.
The band was simple and silver, but the stones caught her eye.
"Our birthstones were melded together to create the large stone," he explained, tapping the largest one in middle, set in silver. "Mine is garnet, the red, and it's been melted with your sapphire, which is why it's purple dead center." It was heart-shaped, flanked by four small round stones, two on either side. "On the left, Delphini's is amethyst, Helena's is garnet..."
"Henry's is emerald, and Hero's is aquamarine." She touched each small colored stone. "Severus, it's beautiful."
"By adding the children I thought, even if you said no, you might still like the ring." His cheeks went slightly pink, which just made Hermione love him all the more.
"I do like the ring. I love the ring! And I love you. You needn't have worried. I said yes and I mean yes, Severus." She cupped his cheek and stood on her tiptoes to press her lips to his.
He kissed her back, then pulled away to slip the ring on her finger. "I'm glad you like it. And I'm glad you said yes."
"There's only one problem," she whispered.
"It's so symmetrical. To which side will we add a stone... should we have another baby someday?"
His eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline. They'd been very careful with the birth control potion and had not discussed the possibility of more children, not since Siobhan asked over Christmas dessert and Hermione's answered "Not any time soon." Severus tucked a frazzled curl behind her ear.
"I suppose, to keep the ring looking its best, should we decide to have one we'll have to commit to having two." Now he was the one to cup her cheeks in his hands, leaning down to kiss her tenderly. "We've done quite well with six children this week, haven't we?"
"Oh no," she said. "We're going to end up like the Weasleys."
"Don't be silly," he murmured, his lips still touching hers. "With your hair and my nose, any child of ours would be much better looking than the Weasleys."
Then, thanks to the magic of Hermione's well-placed silencing charm and an obscuring disillusionment charm of Severus' own creation, they were able to make love on the balcony in the moonlight overlooking the sea.
(16 Years Post Final Battle)
Delphini had been home from Hogwarts for less than a month, Helena and Henry had been done with their new Muggle primary school for almost two months, and Hero had been home from her week-long vacation with Draco, Astoria, and Scorpius for three days, and already Severus and Hermione were going mad from having all of the children home all day, every day. Especially Severus, as at least Hermione was able to escape to work Monday through Friday.
Determined to have one calm, quiet Sunday to spend together before they had to start worrying about their upcoming annual holiday trip, Delphini's soon-to-begin last year of Hogwarts, Helena's soon-to-begin first year at Hogwarts, Henry's threat of being held back, and Hero's upcoming entry into Muggle primary school, they carefully arranged for all of the children to be out of the house for four uninterrupted hours of grown-up time.
They settled on the couch, determined to enjoy this afternoon (and not spend it napping, as they had the last full kid-free day they'd had, back in April). They were not having wine and cheese, as one might expect a couple to do on their in-home date, but tea and scones with jam and clotted cream, at Hermione's request.
They chatted awhile, but soon enough this progressed to cuddling, and then to snogging, and before long, Hermione was positioned in the lap of her husband of over four years, grinding against him as his hands made their way up the back of her blouse. She moaned, arching her back as his lips met the center of her throat. She was just about to ask him to take her upstairs when the front door slammed open and shut again, startling the pair on the couch.
"What... Delphini!" Hermione exclaimed as the seventeen-year-old barged into the room. "What's wrong?"
Delphini, who was looking more and more like her mother with each passing year, was red-faced and teary eyed, her fists clenched, her hair a wild mess. She wore all black, as usual, and her hair was today untamed, but clean and brushed. She even wore makeup, as much as Severus hated it, for it increased her resemblance to Bellatrix (but he would not tell her so).
Hermione climbed off of her husband's lap, awaiting Delphini's answer with concern.
"That toad!" the teen shrieked, finally finding her words. "I gave him the best months of my life and he wants to see other witches?!"
"This is about your boyfriend?" asked Severus.
Delphini narrowed her eyes.
"No, it's about Professor Flitwick." She threw up her hands. "Of course it's about my boyfriend! No, wait, I suppose it isn't. I suppose it's about my ex-boyfriend. Can you believe he tossed me aside, like yesterday's rubbish? Can you believe I let him see me naked?! He actually had the gall to say we could still fool around, even if he's dating someone else, as if I would! As if my self-worth is so low that I would entertain the possibility of... of... of... Aughh! That pervert! That snake! That... that... that undeserving troglodyte!" She shrieked once more and stomped up the stairs to her bedroom, slamming that door as she had the front one.
"Did she say he saw her...?" Severus couldn't finish the sentence. Hermione avoided his gaze; she knew the extent of her stepdaughter's relationship with the young Muggleborn Hufflepuff who lived nearby, but by mutual agreement they hadn't told Severus. "Hermione, has that vile boy deflowered my Delphi?!"
"Let me talk to her," said Hermione, purposely not answering his question. "I've been a teenage girl and I've also been dumped by an undeserving troglodyte." She hurried upstairs.
Severus sat on the couch sipping tea (and thinking up all the ways he could kill that rotten, dirty Hufflepuff without getting caught) for a good half hour before Hermione finally returned to the sitting room.
"She'll be alright," said Hermione. "She wants to be alone for awhile. It hurts now, but she'll get past it. Now... where were we?" She crawled into his lap and kissed him soundly.
"We can't now!" he said, eyes darting toward the door.
"She'll be in her room awhile and if she comes out, we'll hear her. Of course if you'd rather take me up to our room..."
"Has that boy been shagging my daughter?" asked Severus, unable to get past this. "Has he been taking advantage of my innocent little girl?"
"No," said Hermione with a sigh. She patted his knee. "She's not little, remember, she's of age, but she told him she's not ready for... that. Which is why he wants to see other witches."
"I have a good idea about where to hide his body."
Hermione stood, pulling him up by the hand, and placed that hand on her hip. "Forget the boy. Eventually, she will. She'll be fine. It happens. She's young. I'm the one who's suffering. You realize we haven't had sex in over three weeks? This was supposed to be our afternoon together. Take me upstairs."
Putting Delphini's awful ex-Hufflepuff out of mind for now, he lifted his wife, holding her up with her legs around his waist, prepared to try to enjoy what was left of their kid-free day, when the front door opened again. And slammed shut.
"I'm never going over there ever again so long as I live!" shouted Henry. He threw his Junior Flyer Quidditch Broom on the sitting room floor and plopped on the couch, not at all noticing the semi-compromising position in which he'd found his parents.
"Henry!" gasped Hermione. Severus set her down. "How did you get home?"
"That's too long for you to walk alone," Severus scolded. "You know that."
"You can't tell me what to do!" shouted Henry. "You're not my father! That's what Robby Mickles says, anyway. He said, 'Why do you call your stepfather Professor? That's weird. I call mine Dad because he's like my dad.' I said, 'Professor is like my dad, I just don't call him Dad, I call him Professor' and he said, 'That's stupid. Is he even still a professor? Or maybe your Mum doesn't know his name! Har-har-har!' And I said, 'You take that back, Robby Mickles, you fuckin' tosser!' And he said..."
"You called your friend a 'fuckin' tosser?'" asked Severus. He tried to regard the boy sternly but as he had so often when Henry was little, he was fighting the urge to laugh. Hermione shot him a sharp look over her son's head and, using Occlumency, he composed himself.
"He can't talk about my mum and he can't talk about you either!" Henry insisted defensively. "He's a git anyway. I only play with him because there's only two wizard families besides us in this whole bloody town and he's the only kid my age and that rots!"
"You're this angry just because he asked you why you call Severus Professor? Doesn't that seem... excessive?" Hermione asked gently. "Why didn't you tell him..."
"There's more! He said what's even weirder is that Hero calls him Dad when he's not her dad, and I said yeah, he is, and he said, 'No, my mum's a witch and she says he's not,' and I said, 'Yeah, well your Mum's an ugly old...'"
"Let's have a chat, Henry," interrupted Severus. "Come up to your room. You're nine now, not a little boy, and I'm going to be honest with you. If, at the end of it, you'd like to call me something other than Professor, that will be your choice. Alright, then?"
"Alright," said Henry. He was clearly still angry with his friend, but curious about whatever Severus was going to say. Hermione glanced at her husband nervously as he followed the boy from the room. Hero had started calling Severus "Dad" shortly after Delphini did, and they'd never stopped or corrected her, especially as Helena and Henry seemed to understand that she wasn't Reginald Park's daughter. She didn't want her son and daughter to know about Malfoy, but she supposed they had to be told something, eventually.
She sat on the couch, nervously sipping tea and pulling apart a blueberry scone, until Severus returned.
"I didn't tell him about Malfoy," were the first words out of his mouth. She heaved a pronounced sigh of relief. "I told him Hero was born after you divorced his father, but before anyone knew about us, which is technically true, and reminded him that we didn't marry until he was five, but that doesn't make us any less of a family. I also reminded him that he and Helena call me Professor is because that's how you introduced us when they were little. He said he doesn't remember that. He says..." Severus couldn't help smiling. "He says he can't remember a time when I wasn't there, even though he remembers his father too. I told him if he would like to call me Dad as Hero does, I would be happy to have earned the title, but that it is entirely up to him. He asked where his dad is now and I said he's in Azkaban for kidnapping, illegal betting, and hurting Narcissa."
"He knows that," Hermione said. "We've talked about it."
"Perhaps he needed to hear it again," said Severus. He sat beside her, taking the mangled scone from her hands and putting it back on a plate, which he then placed on the table. "He also asked why Hero's last name is Granger-Snape but his is simply Granger and I told him this is because when you changed his name when he was little, it was only to be rid of his father's name, not to add mine. He said perhaps he'd like to add my name too, then." Severus' smile grew and Hermione couldn't help grinning back – he looked downright proud of himself, like a little boy who'd built a huge tower of blocks and wanted his mother to see it before it fell down. "I said I would talk to you about it. He said either way, yes, he'd like to call me Dad, as Hero does, and not because that fuckin' tosser Robby Mickle calls his stepfather dad."
"Did he say those words again? I hope you told him off for it."
"I would have, Hermione, but honestly, I've met Robby Mickle. He's a fuckin' tosser."
She swatted at his chest. Smirking, he leaned forward to kiss her.
Footsteps on the stairs parted them. It was Delphini.
"I'm Flooing to Rolf and Luna's," she said. "That's where Annika's spending the summer. I'll be back before dinner. I just got an owl from her." She held up a piece of parchment. "Her boyfriend broke it off with her a few days ago, for the same reason mine did! Can you imagine? I told her not to date a lousy Gryffindor." She glanced at Hermione and cringed apologetically. "No offense. But then, what do I know anyway? I thought I had a good, sweet Hufflepuff and he turns out to be a... a... a..."
"A fuckin' tosser?" Severus supplied. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Precisely! I'll be back soon." She stalked over to the fireplace, tossed in the Floo powder, stepped into the flames, and called out, 'Scamander Residence, Ottery St. Catchpole!"
"Now if we can only get Henry back out of the house," Severus started quietly, leaning forward to kiss his wife. But again they were interrupted by footsteps on the stairs.
"Hey, er, Dad? Will you walk me back to Robby's?" asked Henry, looking to Severus. He picked up his broom. "His cousins are coming over later and we're going to play a game, three on three, no seekers. I don't want to miss it, even if he is a..." Henry broke off, catching the stern glare of his mother. "A terrible friend sometimes."
"I'll be back soon," he said, glancing back at Hermione. "I have to walk my son to his mate's house."
She nodded, smiling, and summoned over her briefcase. She might as well get some work done from home if she was going to have the place to herself.
About half an hour passed before Severus finally returned.
"They made up," he explained. "All's well now... and he told Robby Mickle he's decided to call me Dad."
"That's nice. Now, can we continue our adults-only afternoon? We're running low on time!" Hermione grabbed him by the front of his shirt and pulled him down into a searing kiss. She Vanished her paperwork to her desk upstairs as he lowered himself on top of her, one hand going to her hip, the other to her breast. "Mmm... yes... Severus... We should go upstairs."
"Why?" The hand on her hip moved up her sundress to the back of her thigh, thrusting her against him, the way he used to sixteen years before when they started this relationship, when they were determined not to have sex but couldn't keep their hands off each other.
She moaned, snaking her fingers under his hair to scratch at the back of his head. Their mouths met, lips parted, tongues caressing each other, and he thrust once between her legs as she again pleaded with him to take her to bed.
He was ready to comply when the front damn door opened again and slammed shut.
"MY LIFE IS OVER!" cried Helena, standing there in the doorway, tears streaming freely down her cheeks, looking very much like Delphini had a couple of hours earlier.
"Did a boy dump you, too?" asked Severus.
"A boy?! A BOY?! You're asking if a BOY...? I HATE BOYS! I HATE GIRLS. I HATE EVERYTHING! MY LIFE IS OVER!" Sobbing, Helena hurried up the stairs two at a time. A second later, her bedroom door slammed.
"We could probably have sex in the cellar," suggested Severus unhelpfully. "They won't find us down there. We'll charm the door locked. They'll think we went to the market or something."
She pushed him off. "I have to see what's wrong with her."
It was forty-five minutes before Hermione came back downstairs, during which time Severus traded his tea for a firewhiskey and read the first two acts of King Lear for the tenth time.
"What happened?" he asked, setting the play down. "She was supposed to be with her Muggle study group at the library."
"One of their mums drove her home. She got her..." Hermione sat beside him on the couch and lowered her voice, afraid to upset Helena further if she heard them discussing her. "She got her cycle. It seems, while I did a decent job of talking about boys and sex with Delphini, I neglected to explain the joys of womanhood to Helena. I suppose I simply thought she was too young to worry about it, but here we are. She thought she must have been cursed, like Astoria, and that she was literally going to die."
"You've been discussing boys and sex with Delphini?"
"That's beside the point, Severus." Hermione reached for the blueberry scone she'd been picking at earlier. It was slightly stale now, but she took a bite anyway.
"Will she be alright?"
"Yes. She'll be fine until I traumatize her with the particulars of where babies come from."
He snorted. "Is she going back to the study group?"
"No. I drew her a bubble bath. I told her the heat would help with the pain. She's soaking in it now, with a book, of course. And I also told her we'll have to have 'the talk' before she heads to Hogwarts. I don't want her to learn about sex from the other girls in her dorm."
"I don't want her to learn about it at all!" Severus broke off a piece of the scone and dipped it in his whiskey, which made Hermione cringe. "I want them all to be small again, like they were."
"Well, that's actually something I'd hoped to talk to you about today," Hermione began. She took his drink and put it on the table, then held his hands in hers. "I know we've given up trying..."
The blue flames in the fireplace turned green and a second later, grey-eyed Hero, age seven, stepped out of the Floo. She was dressed, as she usually was, more like a Muggle boy than like a young witch, in jeans, a striped t-shirt, and trainers. Her blonde hair was too short to plait, and over the years she'd developed a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks, which thankfully helped reduce her resemblance to her half-brother, Draco, who stepped out of the fireplace a moment after she had.
"What is this, the bloody train station?" asked Severus. Hermione shushed him.
"Sorry to interrupt your afternoon," said Draco. "But we had a bit of a mishap."
"Look at my mouth!" said Hero, opening wide. Hermione gasped.
"Your front teeth are gone! Those were your only permanent teeth!"
"Scorpius hit me in the face while we were playing. On accident."
"Were you playing Quidditch?" Severus looked upon her with concern.
Hero shook her head. "No, chess."
"How did he knock out your teeth playing chess?" Hermione stared incredulously up at Draco, then shot Hero her best exasperated Mum expression.
"He said, 'Bet you can't catch this rook with your eyes closed!' I said, 'Bet you I can!' Then I closed my eyes and he threw it."
"Turns out she can't catch a rook with her eyes closed," said Draco dryly. "I'm terribly sorry about this. I could take her to St. Mungo's if..."
"It's alright, Draco." Hermione stood, sighing. "I'll take her."
"Sorry, Mummy! Sorry, Dad. I know you were gonna spend all day snogging and I didn't mean to wreck it!"
"You were going to spend all day snogging?" Draco seemed to be both repulsed and amused by this. "Taking a cue from my mother?"
"I don't know which of your siblings told you that, Hero Grace Granger-Snape, but it's not true!" snipped Hermione. "Do you have your teeth?"
Hero held them up.
"Let's go, then. Thank you for bringing her home, Draco. We'll be back in time for dinner, Severus. I hope!"
Once they'd gone, Severus and Draco chatted for a few minutes, then the younger wizard returned to Malfoy Manor, which he'd inherited upon his father's death two years ago. It made both Hermione and Severus uncomfortable for Hero to play over there, but since she and Scorpius were such good friends, and neither child had any reason to see the Manor as anything more or less than a large house with a lake on the grounds and a number of peacocks strutting about, they tried to set aside their personal discomfort for the sake of the kids.
Everyone made it home in time for dinner.
Hero could only have clear soups and water (for the next three days, until her magically reattached teeth had finished healing) but everyone else had takeaway fish and chips with pumpkin juice or butterbeer. After dinner, hormonal Helena and heartbroken Delphini had a screaming match over absolutely nothing, then Henry accidentally knocked Hero in the mouth with his broomstick (thankfully her teeth stayed in), then Hero and Helena fought over the loo as Hero needed a shower but Helena wanted another bath, after which Henry bore the brunt of Delphini's wrath when she caught him trying to use a wand to charm open her locked diary, which led to a row between Helena and Henry, as the wand he was using was hers, and finally Hero accidentally made Delphini cry when she asked innocently, "Did you boyfriend break up with you because you've got fat?"
Severus punished Henry for his misbehavior with the diary by taking away his broom for a week, while Hermione assured Delphini that going up two bra sizes since Christmas certainly didn't mean she "got fat" and was more likely to be the reason her boyfriend wanted to see her naked than the reason he broke up with her. Then Severus took Hero for a walk around Spinner's End to impart to her all the reasons she should keep such thoughts to herself, while Hermione held crying Helena, promising that growing into womanhood wasn't really as bad as it seemed.
By the time Severus and Hermione crawled into bed, it was nearly midnight and they were as exhausted as they'd been when the children were small and needed constant supervision.
"Just think," said Severus, spooning his wife, his hands on her midsection and her back to his chest. "In five years, Delphini will have moved out and the others will all be at Hogwarts from September through June, and we can have quiet sex-filled afternoons whenever we want them." He kissed her shoulder.
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Severus." Hermione placed her hands over his, pressing them into her abdomen. "I know we stopped trying to get pregnant over a year ago..."
"But you'd like to try again?" He closed his eyes. "I don't know, Hermione. Those two years we gave it a go were awfully stressful. You remember how upset you were every month when...?"
"I don't want to try again," she interrupted. "I've already... We already... I... we... Severus?" She untangled herself from his arms and rolled over to face him. "In about six months, we're going to need a new stone for my ring."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying... I'm pregnant."
Severus was too shocked to react right away. His mouth dropped open like that of an old cartoon character, and he was quite certain his heart literally stopped beating for several seconds.
She smiled at him in the dark. "Yes, Love. We're pregnant."
"We're pregnant!" He kissed her, hard and quick, then leapt out of bed. "We have to prepare! We need to buy baby things! We'll have to choose a name! We have to tell the children! Where will be put a baby? Where can we fit a crib? We have so little room! That's it. One of the children has to move out. We'll have a vote to decide who. Let's tell them now."
"Not now!" She grabbed hold of his wrist, giggling. "Come back to bed."
"Are you certain?" He climbed back in beside her. "We shouldn't tell them if we're not certain."
"I'm certain. I went to St. Mungo's on my lunch hour Friday and I've been trying to tell you all weekend, but there has't been a proper moment. We're due around Christmas. We've got half a year to prepare."
"Half a year." Severus positioned himself over his wife. "You've wanted to tell me this all day?"
"All day." She kissed him. "All weekend. But the children, apparently, had other plans."
"They don't know yet?"
"They don't know."
"We'll tell them tomorrow?"
"We'll tell them tomorrow."
"Yes." She brushed back his hair to better look upon his face. "I'm pregnant."
He moved his mouth down her body, kissing his way from her lips, down her throat, between her breasts, over her stomach, to her lower belly.
"Where?" he asked. "Whereabouts is it?"
"Here." She touched her fingertips to the approximate location of her uterus. "It's about the size of a lime."
"A baby." He kissed the spot where she'd placed her fingers. "Our baby."
"Our baby," she confirmed, resting her hand on the back of his head as he again kissed her lower belly. "The baby we made together."
He moved to spoon her again, his palm settled protectively over the approximate location of his lime-sized baby. "I suppose it's a damn good thing we didn't have sex today, then, isn't it? We could have hurt the baby."
She laughed. "Trust me, it won't hurt the baby."
"In that case..." He pulled her closer, so her arse rubbed against his already growing erection, as one hand snaked up to her breast. "I reckon there's no reason not to...?"
She sighed contentedly as his lips moved to her shoulder, to the back of her neck, to the spot below her ear.
"Severus, I've been asking you to take me upstairs all day."
"In case it escaped your notice, Hermione..." He moved her to her back and slipped her pajama top off over her head. "We're upstairs now."
1st SEPTEMBER, 2018
(20 Years Post Final Battle)
"YOU GOT A WHAT?" Severus shouted.
He was now fifty-eight years old, five years pain-potion free, a biological father of two and adoptive father of three, and the owner of his own apothecary, Mad Ophelia's, named for Hamlet's long-suffering girlfriend. He was a great many things he'd never thought he'd ever be, but one thing he was not, at least according to his twenty-one-year-old daughter, was cool.
Delphini raised her eyebrows. "Don't look so gobsmacked! Everyone's got them these days. Besides, who are you to judge? You've got the Dark Mark on your arm, and my mother had it on hers, and Hermione has the word Mud–"
"Those are not tattoos! Those are terrible reminders of a past we'd like to forget!" Severus shoved up Delphini's sleeve so he could see what permanent harm she'd let some pierced-up Muggle do to the lovely, unblemished skin of her forearm, but a bandage covered the carnage.
"Well, mine is something I wish to remember! I thought you'd like it, Dad. Let me take this off so you can see..."
"You thought I'd like it?"
"Look!" She removed the white gauze to reveal glossy, Gothic letters inked onto her inner forearm. "It's a quote from that play you and Hermione like so much: 'This above all, to thine own self be true.' I thought it was brilliant! It represents everything important to me. My mother was true to herself, that's why she was proud of her Dark Mark, but you had to pretend to be something you weren't for the greater good, keeping your true self hidden, and Hermione no longer hides the slur on her arm, because she's being true to herself, and it's a good reminder for me, to always remain true to my..."
"If you'd knitted it onto a jumper I think I'd like it better," said Severus, but he couldn't help feeling touched that she'd chosen such a significant quote.
"What are we doing standing around? We're going to miss the Hogwarts Express!" Helena rushed down the stairs, dragging her heavy trunk behind her, just-barely catching her glasses as they slipped off her face. "Is Hero ready? Is Mum? Where's Henry? Has anyone seen Henry?"
"You worry too much, Helena." Henry entered the sitting room from the kitchen, his broomstick slung over his shoulder. "Mum's ready, Hero's ready, I'm ready. We've all been waiting on you."
"On me? No one told me we were all ready! No one told me..."
"Calm down, Helena." Delphini threw an arm around her younger sister. "He's teasing. We're not ready to leave yet. While we're waiting, look what I got yesterday when I was out with Annika and the girls from work..."
Hermione bustled in, checking off items on her list. "I think that's everything. Oh, good, Delphini, you're here. We were worried when you didn't make it home last night."
"She branded herself," said Severus sullenly.
"That's nice," Hermione replied, distracted. She shrunk their trunks, hovered them into her expandable-charmed bag, and led them to the back door. "I feel like we're forgetting something. Let me think. We've got the school trunks, we're taking a Portkey from the back garden straight to London, we'll go via the Underground to..."
"Mummy!" A small boy slid down the stairs on his bum, calling for his mother in a panicked voice. "Mummy, what 'bout me?"
"Oh! Horatio! My baby!" She handed the charmed bag to Severus and hurried to pick up their son, three years and eight months old, the perfect mix of herself and her husband. He had Severus' silky black hair and dark eyes, but her easily tanned complexion and small nose. He also had a sunny disposition and strong desire to learn, but unfortunately he'd inherited their penchant for worrying.
"You leaved me on the potty. You said 'I be right back!' You did not come right back. I thinked maybe you never comed back! I hadda wash my hands all by myself!" He held them up to prove they were clean.
"I'm so sorry, Love! It's your sister's first year at Hogwarts and..." She glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner. "And we're going to be late! Let's go or we'll miss the Portkey!"
An hour later, they were standing on Platform 9¾, saying goodbye, as they'd done every year since 2009.
"What if no one likes me, Mum?" Hero asked anxiously. "What if I'm rubbish at all my subjects? What if...?"
"Hero!" Scorpius Malfoy rushed over, waving excitedly. "We're finally going to Hogwarts! We'll see all the ghosts! I hope we're in the same House. My grandmother says I have to call her Professor now and everything!"
"Henry!" Now another boy was shouting and waving. Hermione and Severus glanced down the platform to see James Sirius Potter, thirteen, and his younger brother Albus Arthur, standing between their parents. Holding Ginny's hand was a small girl Hermione knew to be Lily Luna. James Sirius called Henry's name again. This time Henry heard him and shouted back.
"Hey, you dumb git! Where've you been?"
"Must you talk to your friends that way?" Hermione asked. Henry, a third year, shrugged and hurried off to punch James in the arm, receiving a harder punch in return.
"You stupid bastard!" said James Sirius affectionately. "You barely wrote me all summer!"
"Gryffindors," scoffed Severus. Helena had ended up in Ravenclaw like her stepsister, but Henry was Gryffindor through-and-through, a brave and boastful boy, always showing off, with a trouble-making side. Severus couldn't help banking on Horatio being a Slytherin, like him, but didn't know what to hope for with Hero.
Harry made his way to Hermione and Severus. Ginny hesitated only a second before following. Helena, meanwhile, hurried over to her brother and his friend to tell them off for roughhousing in her official capacity as Prefect.
"The boys certainly are good friends," said Ginny, smiling awkwardly at Hermione. Shy Lily Luna hid behind her mother.
"Yes, they are," agreed Hermione, returning the awkward smile. The two mothers glanced back at them. Now they were huddled together with Robby Mickle and another boy their age, whispering.
"They're always in detention," lamented Hermione. "Pulling pranks and losing House Points."
"They're the Fred and George of their time. It's not just me who says it. George does too. He loves getting letters from James Sirius, telling him all about their latest antics. I think he's already offered them jobs at the store for once they're out of school."
"Henry's given me more grief and grey hair than all my other children put together," said Hermione, chuckling. "I don't know how your mother handled having the twins."
"She hasn't seen you in awhile." Ginny looked a little sheepish, knowing she was partly the reason Hermione rarely came by the Burrow, now that she and Harry were living there. "She says she'd love to have you and Delphini for tea with us one afternoon soon, if you can get away from the Ministry."
"I'd like that. This attempted pureblood uprising has been keeping us pretty busy, but I think we've got it under control. Harry probably told you, but Montague and a number of former Death Eaters were arrested last week. That was akin to chopping the head off the snake."
The train whistle blew, indicating it would be leaving soon, as the engines roared to life.
Ginny and Harry said goodbye to their children as Draco and Astoria fussed over Scorpius, and Hermione hugged all three of her young students, reminding them to study hard and do their best and, for goodness sake, behave themselves (that last one was directed at Henry, of course). Delphini and Severus hugged the trio too, and Horatio cried when Hero stepped onto the train.
"Are you going to miss your big sister?" asked Severus, holding the boy in his arms. Horatio nodded.
"I'll write you letters, Horatio!" Hero called out the open window of the compartment she and Scorpius had taken.
"I can't read!" Horatio called back miserably.
"I'll draw pictures!"
Hero and Scorpius hung half out the window, waving, as the Malfoys and Granger-Snapes waved back. Helena, Hermione knew, was already getting ready to patrol the corridors, her new Prefect badge displayed proudly on her chest, while Henry was probably already managing some mischief with James Sirius.
They remained on the platform until the train had chugged completely out of sight.
"Well," said Severus, putting an arm around his wife, balancing Horatio on his hip. "Just think. Only eight more years and we'll have the house on Spinner's End all to ourselves."
"Oh, Dad, did I forget to tell you?" Delphini patted his arm sympathetically. "I'm pregnant."
"WHAT?!" he roared, causing Horatio to flinch and several sets of parents to look their way. He clutched his chest with the hand not holding his son, as if having a heart attack.
"Ha! Kidding!" She sniggered.
"That is not funny, Delphini!" Hermione scolded. "You nearly killed your father."
"A little tattoo doesn't seem so bad now, though, does it Dad? I mean, it could be worse. I could be pregnant!"
"You could also be living on your own," Severus pointed out. "You're old enough now that no one would judge us for tossing you out in the streets."
She laughed at the threat, knowing he'd never make good on it.
"Horatio, my son, you'll never try to scare your father to death, will you?"
"That's a good lad."
"You be good for Daddy, Love." Hermione kissed her son on his forehead. "Delphini and I are off to work. Go home and work on your ABCs."
"Daddy!" Horatio looked betrayed. "You said we gonna watch the telly an' eat candy all day!"
Hermione cocked an eyebrow at Severus, who shrugged.
"I promise, Hermione. I only intend to ruin this one."
2 MAY, 2023
(25 Years Post Final Battle)
"Another one of those Where Are They Now anniversary special editions of the Daily Prophet." Severus slipped it across the breakfast table to Hermione. "Look, they've included your picture. Hermione Granger-Snape, age forty-three, was considered the brains of Harry Potter's Golden Trio... She went on to marry three times – nice of them to list each of your husband's names, that's certainly pertinent information readers wouldn't wish to miss – and has five children, two of whom work for the Ministry, and one of whom works at Weasleys Wizard Wheezes."
"I hold out hope Henry will find a real career someday," said Hermione, winking at eight-year-old Horatio across the table. Horatio loved his big brother's job.
"It even mentions that Hero is a prefect, how thorough."
"Does it mention me?" asked Horatio, nearly knocking over his juice while reaching for the paper.
"Indeed it does. See? Horatio Prince Snape, age eight."
Horatio, grinning, read the rest of the blurb out loud.
"As our readers are no doubt aware, Hermione Granger-Snape took a two-year break from the office of Magical Law Enforcement two decades ago, only to return and rise quickly up the ranks, being named Minister for Magic just last year, the youngest woman to ever hold the position, and the eighth youngest Minister ever. She is well-known as a champion for the rights of house-elves and a proponent of the reclaiming of the blood-status slur You-Know-Who was famous for using against both Muggleborn and mixed-blood wizards and witches. Over the last five years, she successfully squelched a rising pureblood supremacy movement as Magical Law Enforcement Department Head, and was recommended for the position of Minister for Magic by then-current Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt, who held the position longer than any other wizard in documented history. I like your picture, Mummy."
It was from the day she was officially named Minister for Magic.
"I can't believe it's been twenty-five years since the Final Battle," said Hermione, taking the paper from her son. There were photographs and blurbs about all the regulars: Harry, Ron, Severus, Bellatrix, Voldemort, Minerva, Dumbledore, Draco, Narcissa, Neville...
"It's always a difficult day for Delphini," said Severus quietly. "When you see her at the Ministry today, invite her over for dinner. I don't want her to spend the night home alone with her cat."
"I will. Speaking of the Ministry..." Hermione stood, waving her wand to send her dishes to the sink. "I'm off to work. Don't want to be late!" She kissed Horatio first, then Severus. "I love you both."
"Love you," Severus said. "Thank you for saving me from the snake twenty-five years ago."
She kissed him a second time. "And thank you for answering my ad."
"You shouldn't kiss on the mouth," said Horatio, thoroughly grossed out. "My friend Ricky Mickle says that's how you get germs."
Severus cocked an eyebrow. "And Ricky Mickle is the expert, is he?"
"Kissing gives you germs. Now that's the story the Prophet should be printing," joked Hermione. "People deserve to know."
"Now you know," said Horatio. He carried his plate and fork to the sink and headed up to his bedroom, the one he shared with Henry, to begin his home-schooling.
Once he was out of earshot, Severus pulled Hermione into his lap, cupped her face with his hand, and kissed her – a long, loving, germ-swapping kiss - which she heartily reciprocated. After fifteen years together, they were still more in love than either of them ever could've imagined was possible back when both were broken, alone, desperate and hopeless.
"I meant it, Hermione. Every year on this date, all I can think is how grateful I am to you. You could have let me die. No one would have blamed you for letting me die. And for years, I wished you'd let me die. But now, I can't believe I ever felt that way. I cannot fathom life without you. Thank you."
"No need for thanks, Severus," Hermione whispered, stroking her husband's cheek, wishing she could make him understand how very much she loved him, and how grateful she was for him, too. "We're even, aren't we? I saved you and you saved me... and, as Hamlet says in his final speech to Horatio, 'the rest is silence.'"
She kissed him. He apparated them upstairs to their bedroom. She charmed the door locked. He charmed the room for privacy's sake.
They tumbled together onto the bed, quickly divesting each other of their clothing, both aware she would indeed be late to work that morning.
And the rest was silence.
It appears we have reached the end!
I apologize, but the tag I had initially planned (the original epilogue I wrote when I first started this fic) no longer fits the story, no matter how much I tried to force it to, so I cut it and absorbed the important info into the epilogue above, which means this fanfic is officially COMPLETE!
I had a few requests to write a sequel to it or a companion fic from Delphini or Narcissa's point of view, and I considered it, but honestly I liked wrapping it all up and don't think I have anything of substance to add, so I probably won't. But I might end up posting a couple of one-shots set within this fic in the future if a plot bunny attacks.
About Lucius - in my original epilogue, he finally got his comeuppance in the form of a mutual roughing up by Severus and Hermione followed by an arrest for reasons I had to really stretch to make realistic, but as I kept writing, I stopped moving in that direction. It didn't ring true. I honestly feel that Lucius Malfoy is the sort of person who gets away with things, who slinks off like a snake and returns later and makes himself better and stronger than before, thus I decided the ultimate punishment for him was to be simply forgotten. His wife moved on with Siobhan, Hermione and Severus lived happily ever after, Draco raised his son away from Malfoy Manor until after his father's death, he never managed to get back on the Hogwarts Board or have pull at the Ministry again, and he died basically a disgraced former-somebody. I hope none of you calling for his head are too disappointed by that. (If it helps, Reginald eventually died in Bella's cell in Azkaban, having long claimed she was haunting him into insanity.)
I need to share my inspiration for this fic with my gratitude. First, to Disney's new live-action Beauty & The Beast starring Emma Watson, which made me want to write Hermione/Snape. Then, Shakespeare's line from Hamlet, "When sorrows come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions," which caught my ear when watching Helena Bonham Carter play Ophelia in a 1990 version of the tragedy, and finally, to The Golden Girls, that classic '80s sicom starring Betty White and Bea Arthur, because there is an episode in which Rose (not the brightest bulb) is supposed to drop off the 'Seeking Employment' ad of roommate Dorothy (the smart one) at the newspaper office, and accidentally submits it to the Personals, thereby telling the world Dorothy "will do anything for $8 an hour." It got me thinking about what would happen if someone put an ad like that in the Personals on purpose out of desperation, thus the first chapter of When Sorrows Come came to be.
I am ridiculously grateful for all of your support!
So many of your reviews gave me ideas or prompted me to fix upcoming chapters that I hadn't even realized had issues yet. Your questions made me think, "Oh, damn, did I answer that?" and "Ooh, what a great idea!" (to those reviewers whose ideas I incorporated with your permission and while giving you credit, I thank you again!). And to lilikaco, who said she would ship Narcissa and Siobhan, I owe you thanks too, because I'd wanted to go in that direction but was afraid it would be ill-received and your comment made me decide, "Okay, yes, I'm doing this." I couldn't thank you in-chapter at the time like I did with others without giving away a spoiler. Speaking of spoilers, Garnet, you asked so many questions and made such spot-on predictions in some reviews that I felt like you must be a Legilimens! It was killing me not to respond!
Thanks and cheers to my regular multi-chap reviewers, who gave a ton of feedback: HarryPGinnyW4eva (for your section-by-section chapter reviews), RhodaBush (for being first to comment on many chapters), Harry Hobbit (for sticking with another fic featuring a ship you don't ship - lol), lilicako (for responding to every chapter, in detail!), sunny day (even though you don't like Hermione), Helikesitheymikey & Garnet & dmeb & Thorn & traveltotheend & thewinnowingwind & SheLitAFire & cloudshape to ennien (you all left such lovely, detailed reviews!),plus PopularCats, RainCityWriter, elizabethrose1974, purplehedgehog13, haveyouseenmyprefectbadge, sassanech, sevslave1, FrancineHibiscus, lunarose87, Twihardkristen-once, surugasasa, ShannaSnape, Megan13, The Blind Apprentice, worrywart, marzipan4, browni'dbrunette, arizonadaydreamer, CinderSpire793, lunarose87, Myracle-Wryter, Sassyluv, DutchGirl01, Viola1701e, DaisyChain2109, Sedgehammer (so many of you responded to nearly every chapter, which I love! I looked forward to seeing your usernames in my notifications).
And to all those who also reviewed, whether it be to one chapter, five chapters, ten chapters, or twenty, letting me know your thoughts and reactions, thank you times a thousand! I appreciated every single one of you and every single review: Andthetonygoesto (Annika!), HenriettaV (love the name!), IDeliverDismalEndings, Mira, Freak of a Fangirl, MoraDreamWeaver, Moonlit Glitter, jmullinax, desidiriam, snazzieshazzie, caitlin dunne 12, Gg10679, Professor Severus Tobias Snape, fifiotoole, Elphaba8387, gerrylynner, 09sasha, btterflykiss69, HallowRain8587, bournespeed, catsgotmytongue, OnyxObsidian, MayP, tsuki-shiroi, millydown, Karli1252, Luna826, iron-on-maiden, Lunne Lunnaris, Sweet Trufflepuff, IbelieveinSnape, CameronSister, naughtycat, mirpyfaces, ihatedunderheads, ConstanceV, LunaJen323, Frenchie84, AdeliaMaggot, Sakura Lisel, Calindy, lightjourney, jlove34, JM2010, APieceOfPie4Everybody011, Karinepira, Concrete63, Tonixx, SexySlyDevilxxx, KSMack, Stephanie, CupcakeMerderer, Scarecrowsgirl2016, Zedoc, Megan13, Mayhem Call, Calimocho, JaneDoh0, ninaaaaa, MHS1986, vickety, crankypants16, LoveInTheBattleField, Makaco, Vadimmom, nads31, fallenangel36910, Scaleybark, Jace, Zabe18, Midnight Lilly, Cat130, Jesserella, Baskina, Kira-Chu-Alana, TheLadyBookworm, Rabbidreader, SectumSemprae, frog8590, CharD, Asterix Tutnix, chattympc, Kika, LazyByComparison, ndavis77, Lena2244, CountessBlack, LadySnape89, FrancineHibiscus, lilyevans12681998, Davey Dorko, C, clarasnotlikely, Vani12, cares 1970, SallyDog3, Mikailah, TheFoundersDaughter, roon0, TheSlytherinWitch, Liz556, EmilyWood, Halle Alexis, M, surugasasa, Thegirlintheboat, mione-draco123, Hello, TopazPeridot, CyBr3, kmuscutt23, decadenceofmysoul, CameronSister, coloa, rivruskende, Anon, and each and every guest.
I'm even thankful to those who left honest but negative reviews or who shared their genuine reasons they couldn't keep reading, including gahmeep (sorry!), sanbeegoldiewhitey, and even Jenna... plus I'm a little proud because after over 20 years of writing fanfiction, 14 on this site, I attracted my first real trolls with this fic! I won't share their names and I deleted their anonymous flames full of curse words and personal insults (and one attempted link to a porn site!), but it was kind of fascinating all the same - I feel honored! lol ;)
(As an aside, if you previously reviewed and I missed you above, please don't be shy - let me know! I'll edit. I'm sure I'm bound to have missed a reviewer or two and I'd feel terrible if anyone felt slighted because of it. Also, if you have dots in your username, ffnet tends to delete the name, so you might have disappeared.)
A huge happy thank you to the 280 people who have added this fic to your favorites and to the 638 readers who are following. I've never had such high numbers for one of my fics on this site before, and possibly not on any site before, thus this was really quite thrilling!
For the next few months, while I'm knee-deep in the agent-led editing process and going out on submission (always stressful) for my first Middle Grade novel (previously I wrote YA), I'm unlikely to write any long, involved fics like this one, but I'll probably pop in with short fics and/or one-shots, including some HGSS (I already have a new idea that I'm trying to ignore!). Also, to those who write HGSS and whose stories I'm following, I'm going to go catch up now! It's hard for me to read in the ship I'm currently writing. If you're looking for a fic that redeems Lucius, Fragilereality's ongoing Masterchef (HGLM) is one of my current faves, for something different, Kerrymdb's SSNT fic The Forgiveness Within is one of my longtime faves, and for a shorter finished piece, mrs. milfoy's Hospital Beds (SSNM) is fascinating. Or you could check out my Augury Origin fics, including Wanting Narcissa, which has a few character-traits in common with this one because they're part of my (SS, BL, LM, & NM) headcanon. And if you think you know of any fics I should be reading, preferably featuring Snape, Narcissa, Minerva, or Bellatrix, feel free to send me a msg!
Thanks again. This has been my most personally satisfying fic thus far and I have truly enjoyed writing it, in great part because of the responses from you.
-Amandah Leigh (AL)