And here's me, spinning from one fic to another... ;-)


"I'm sorry, Hermione."

Harry leant around the stone jamb of the open door to Severus' sitting room, still flushed and his breathing quick and uneven. "Professor McGonagall got swept up in children." He winced. "All eager to get a look at me...and Ron got through."

"Don't worry about it, Harry. We needed to speak." Her gaze slipped to the cursed ring sitting so innocently on the low table. "About a number of things."

Harry frowned at the ring and looked to her, but Hermione simply gave him a short smile, rearranged herself on the couch, Septimus tucked into her body and her wand tight in her free right hand.

Harry was more sensible post-war. And she put that down to the distinct absence of a chunk of Voldemort's soul as an unwanted passenger. But Ron… Ron was still…Ron.

And he was huffing and muttering as the spiral stairs carried him upwards.

Harry's wand slipped into his hand as Ron surged into the little sitting room. He closed the door and pushed himself away to stand behind his old friend. Sharp and aware. And for the first time, Hermione saw the auror in him.

Ron—oblivious Ron—jerked to a stop and rocked back on his heels.

"You took off my ring."

Ah, not so oblivious then. Hermione's lips pursed. "And I still have the red welts. A cursed ring, Ron? A bonding ring for reluctant brides? Really?"

The mottled flush to his already reddened face deepened. "It's a family heirloom. You should've been proud to have it."

"You knew."

Only holding Septimus kept her from charging at the imbecilic wizard and trying to slap some sense in him. It would be futile. Oh, but it would feel wonderful.

She pulled in a breath and resettled her fingers against her precious little boy.

"Well, you'll be happy to know I got over my reluctance. It's now a definite fuck off and fuck you, Ronald Weasley."

She closed her eyes. Oh dear. It seemed she was still very angry. And really she shouldn't swear in front of her child. She pressed her lips together to deny a smile. Really, the poor boy. Already scarred by being witness to his parents kissing and now this.

"But you haven't, have you? You kept your legs together with a permanent sticking charm and I thought—"

Ron bit of the rest of his words and Hermione was staring at him in shocked disbelief. "You thought…?" She blinked, willing down the surge of wild magic that wanted to lash against him. It was so much worse than she could've imagined. So much worse. "You thought that your cursed ring would get me to sleep with you?"

He jutted out his jaw, hard and belligerent and she understood Severus' dislike of the Gryffindor breed. "Well nothing else would."

"Ron, mate…" Harry was shaking his head, disgust thick in his voice. "That's low."

"Well you have that git, Snape now, don't you? More than happy to knock boots with the Greasy Git, eh Mione?"

"Indeed, she does…have me."

All blood drained from Ron.

Severus strode out from the hearth in a surge of green fire, smoke and the billow of his black robes. Hermione bit her lip. Oh, the wizard could make an entrance...

She found herself smiling, a rush of relief settling her magic. She rose, wanting, needing to have him close, the security he offered their son…and her. And it seemed he had the same idea as he stepped to her side, tucking the sleeping Septimus into his chest, his arm around her. His wand was firm in his left hand. The rightness of the three of them, of the pull of magic eased through her, his heat, his strength, his scent wrapping around her. His right hand flexed and squeezed her upper arm and she hoped -she wanted- him to find the same peace in her.

"What did you do to her?" Ron bit out the words, anger hot and pressured around the question.

And perhaps her very-much-kicked-to-the-kerb fiance was witnessing just that. Good.

Severus lifted an eyebrow. "I believe we should wait for our guests before—"

Ron was slammed against a bare stretch of wall, his startled screech cutting through the air. In a blaze of spells, his arms and legs were pinned, his head thrown back and his red hair splayed in spidery strands against the cracked plaster. His wand slid from his stiff fingers and dropped to the stone floor with a soft tink.

Severus turned, stalking towards the trapped wizard. Fury held him tight. He jabbed his wandtip into Ron's jaw and his eyes narrowed as Ron gagged and swallowed and shook.

"You would hex a woman…holding a baby?"

It was a low and ferocious growl and Hermione's skin pricked. The anger rolled off him, his eyes slate-black and just as hard and cold.

"He is my son. And I will defend to my very last breath what is mine. Do you understand, Mr Weasley?"

Ron jerked a nod. Or as much as he could with his head slammed to the plaster.

"I believe you will be safer there, whilst we proceed." Severus turned on his heel, his black gaze sliding over Harry, before returning to her. "He is waking, Hermione."

She blinked, the half-formed "Who?" on her lips before Septimus' soft little grizzle pushed into the silence of the room. She smiled down at him, shifting him in her arms…but caught with her wand—

"Here." Severus took their son with an ease that still surprised her. He rocked Septimus, murmuring soft words, simply uncaring that Harry and Ron were witness to him and his interactions with his son. That fact swelled around her heart. Severus Snape would be a wonderful -if completely fearsome- father.

Harry was staring at her now. "Son?" He mouthed the question, his eyebrows high over his glasses.

Hermione shrugged and flashed her left hand at him, wiggling her ring finger and grinning as Harry blinked twice. Hard.

"When you have finished miming at each other?" Severus looked up and pinned Harry with one of his infamous glares. Harry flushed and winced. "We are waiting on Minerva. The Minister and Miss Lovegood will also join us shortly. They are aware of the…circumstances surrounding Septimus. So once…"

A rap at the door moved his gaze to it.

"And here she is."

"Severus Tobias Snape, if you don't tell me what is going on this instant—"

His glare and a long finger to his mouth quieted her. "Septimus has just woken up. I prefer he not be further disturbed."

Minerva blinked and frowned. "Why is Mr Weasley pinned to the wall?"

"As I said, I prefer my son remain...undisturbed."

The twist of a dark smile pulled at Severus' mouth and Hermione stopped herself from biting her lip. He looked so deliciously…wicked. And the thought caught her. Held her. Her heart thudding. Merlin, had she ever thought this about him before? Yes. Yes, she had... The dark little secret she'd buried deep many years before, a secret she convinced herself was simply a school girl crush. Had her other-self started out the same way…but never denied it?

"Have you had your whiskies, Minerva?"

The Scottish witch's lips pinched together. "Severus…" It was tight and waspish.

Severus gave her a practised —a Slytherin— smile and the play of their long association was right there. Something about it, even in that stressful moment, warmed Hermione.

"Well," Severus looked to the baby in his arms, who reached up to grab at his cravat, little fingers tugging and fisting, "you very well might need more."