Summary: [HG/SS] Lily learns that you should really be careful what you wish for. It's a magical world, after all. AU. Not-Canon. Probably Crack. Like all my stories.
A/N: Uh… I blame gnomes.
Beta Love: Halp, I'm publishing unsupervised! (Drat, caught again! I'm too slow!) The Dragon and the Rose, Dutchgirl01, and the Flyby Commander Shepard
Be Careful What You Wish For
We are never further from what we wish than when we believe that we have what we wished for. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"You know what, Sev? Just go away. Go hang out with your Death Eater friends. I am not forgiving you this time. I'm done. I'm so tired of you blaming my House for everything. I'm tired of you telling me that it's James, Sirius, Peter and Remus making your life miserable when you've been throwing curses at them every single chance you get. I'm tired of being the exception to your hateful peers. I wish you'd had someone else to focus on instead of me!" Lily screwed up her face and glowered as she turned and fled into the Gryffindor dorms, leaving a pale, stricken young wizard alone on the stairs.
When Severus met his new neighbour, he wasn't sure what to think. She was bushy-haired and talked to animals like they could understand her. She was chatty, bossy, and dragged large books out into the garden to read them. But, when the other neighbours made fun of her, calling her a freak, he saw her tears as she clung to her book and ran back into her parent's back garden. He was going to walk over and perhaps figure out why they called her a freak, but his father pulled him by the collar and dragged him back into the house, tanning his bum for showing his freakish face to the world.
Her name was Hermione, Severus heard it from her mother calling her in from the garden. They seemed nice, but they seemed to blame Hermione for not trying harder to fit in. They didn't abuse her, though. That seemed to be the job of the neighborhood kids, which he usually avoided by sitting alone out by the pond. His father didn't care to look there for him there either, and that pleased him.
She was talking to the animals in her garden again—
He wondered if they ever answered her.
"Freak, freak, you're nothing but a freaky freak!" the kids called, throwing sticks and stones at her. Hermione fled to the tree that had become his refuge, and he stepped out from behind it. Like his father, he was taller, and to the other kids he was intimidating thanks to his father's hand-me-down clothes. The moment he stood out the gang of kids turned tail and fled back in the other direction.
She looked at him, a hopeful smile on her face.
"Hullo," she said. "I'm Hermione. Like the play A Winter's Tale."
"Severus," he replied. "Like the Roman."
"Oh! Lucius Septimius Severus!" she exclaimed. "I read about him in one of my dad's books about the Romans!"
Severus blinked. She read those sort of things?
"Why were they chasing you?" he asked instead.
Hermione frowned. "They always do."
"Can you keep a secret?"
She opened up her pocket and a little dragonet flew out, chirping and singing melodiously. Its scales were like pearls, and its wings had colourful swirls of purple, gold, and red. It flew out and perched on her shoulder and peered at him with curious eyes.
Severus' eyes widened. "Oh," he breathed in awe.
"Chirr?" the dragonet said.
"Does he have a name?"
Hermione shook her head.
"How about…" Severus concentrated. "Morpheus. Like the Oneiroi."
Hermione brightened. "You read too!"
Severus had a small smile, nodding.
"You like that, Morpheus?"
"Chirr!" the dragonet answered, snuggling into her neck.
"You must be a witch," Severus said.
"That's not very nice."
"No," Severus said, shaking his head. "A real witch. Magical."
Hermione tilted her head. "Aren't witches supposed to be bad people?"
"Not real ones, well—" Severus frowned. "I suppose you can have bad ones too. Like anyone can be."
Hermione seemed to think on it. "How do you know?"
Severus plucked a small green apple from the tree and held it in his hand. It grew larger, turning a pink and red hue, ripening before their very eyes. "I'll be a wizard. Magical too."
Morpheus chirped excitedly and sank his teeth into the apple.
Severus scowled at the creature, but Hermione squeezed his hand tight, smiling. "That's amazing!"
Severus said nothing, but in his heart, he already thought Hermione was pretty amazing too.
"Your eye—" Hermione said, reaching out.
"It's nothing!" Severus yelled, slapping her hand away.
Hermione shrank away, carefully placing her hands in her lap.
Severus winced. "I'm sorry."
Hermione didn't face him.
He reached out, touching her hand. "I'm sorry. It's just so— embarrassing."
Hermione frowned, but she reached out again, touching the purple bruise on his eye. "Your father— was he drinking again?"
Severus nodded ruefully. "He always drinks."
Morpheus landed on Hermione's hand, and there was a warm flood of tingling magic.
Severus gasped as his eye suddenly didn't hurt anymore. He scrambled to the pond and looked in, touching his face. "It's gone." He turned back to Hermione, a genuine smile on his face.
"Enjoying the barbecue, Severus?"
"Yes, sir," Severus answered.
"You and Hermione staying out of trouble?"
"We try to, sir," Severus said. "Sometimes trouble finds us."
Mr Granger placed a hand on Severus' head. "Sometimes our peers aren't good for us. It's good you found a friend in my daughter, hrm? None of that bullying."
"I hear you're going to that magical school too. Like our Hermione."
The boy nodded.
"Well, we look forward to hearing all about it when you come home for Christmas, yes?"
Severus smiled a little. "Okay."
Hermione sat on the chair as the hat came down on her head. She stared, frowning as one of the girls that had made fun of her for so long stared back at her from Gryffindor.
What a hypocrite. All those years calling her a freak.
She looked back to see her one friend, looking at her so forlorn, convinced they were finally going to be parted, their friendship ended by the whim of a hat.
"Hrm," the hat said. "Hrm… brave. You would do well in Gryffindor."
Hermione stared toward Gryffindor. There were some friendly faces, but that one girl was already whispering to the others, jutting her chin out at Hermione and laughing.
"Gryffindor!" the hat announced.
Hermione, stricken, stared at her friend, who was yet to be Sorted.
Hermione's books went flying all over as the boys pushed by her. One of them turned to admire his feat, smiling smugly.
Severus helped her pick up her books, watching her glare at the boy with nothing short of loathing. Hermione smiled at him, trying so hard to be brave despite it all. Her entire House seemed to have it out for her.
How he hated Gryffindor.
Except for her.
She was always— Hermione.
The potion exploded violently, covering Hermione in purple goo.
The other students snickered to themselves. Slytherin snickered at her too. Severus' fist clenched. "Leave her alone," he hissed at them.
"What are you going to do about it, Snivellus?" Potter mocked.
"Yeah, what are you going to do about it, Snapey-wapey," Black jeered.
Hermione's fist connected to Black's face, knocking him flat on the ground.
Slughorn turned around. "Oh, dear, Hermione. Are you okay?" He fussed over her and the exploded potion, seemingly ignoring Black who was on the floor. "You should go to the infirmary so the matron can make sure you're alright."
Hermione nodded silently and walked out of the class, carrying her books tightly against her body.
Slughorn turned around. "Don't think I didn't miss you putting that exploding caterpillar in Miss Granger's cauldron, you lot. That's five points from each of you, including those of you who watched and said nothing."
Gryffindor gasped collectively.
"Now, pull your fellow off the floor and let us begin again."
"How are you liking it with Professor McGonagall?" Severus asked. "You like being her apprentice?"
"She's nice," Hermione said, leaning against him as they studied under the tree. "I think she was tired of not being able to keep an eye on them all the time."
"She may think you're pretty talented too," Severus said.
"No, you are. You're talented. She's teaching you how to be an Animagus right? Second year? That's amazing."
Hermione smiled a little. "Thanks, Severus."
"I'm better at potions than you, though," he said, tilted his head up.
Hermione nudged him with her elbow. "Help me with Potions and I'll help with Transfiguration."
"Don't be a prat, Severus."
Severus smiled at her.
"Well, what are you?" Severus asked.
Hermione turned away, flushing. "It's embarrassing."
"Come on, Hermione?" Severus gave her the look.
Hermione huffed. Morpheus huffed with her.
A gaggle of Ravenclaw went by, chatting, and Morpheus transformed himself into an orange, disgruntled-looking half-Kneazle until they went away.
"Silly thing," Hermione said, scratching Morpheus under the chin.
"Come on, Hermione, show me."
Severus poked her with his toe as they sat on the end of the dock together.
"I'm unnatural," Hermione whinged.
"It can't be that bad," Severus insisted.
There was a furry water-weasel in Severus' lap— with a dark set of magpie wings.
"A winged otter?" Severus said, boggling.
"That's so wicked!" Severus said, picking her up and pressing his nose to hers.
Hermione squeaked, slapping her webbed paws against his face.
"Teach me," Severus said, his hand gently rubbing her ears and chin.
Hermione stared up at him, her otter-eyes wide.
"I'll teach you how to ace your Potions exams," Severus said.
Hermione squeaked, pressing a webbed paw to his thumb.
Severus hugged the winged otter. "You're such a Slytherin."
Golden potion dripped from Snape's hair and Hermione's.
"I'm so sorry!" Hermione wailed, cleaning up the potion from the table, the cauldron, and themselves.
Snape stared at her through a curtain of shampoo commercial shiny hair and sighed. "Let's just— begin again."
"I'm so sorry!" Hermione groaned.
"It's nothing," Severus grunted, blowing a strand out of his face. "At least my hair is waterproof, now."
"Leave him alone!" Hermione shrieked. "Protego!"
Snape went crashing to the ground from his embarrassing position upside down by his ankles. He frantically pulled his trousers back up.
Potter, Black, Pettigrew, and Lupin stood by, pouting.
"You need to pick better friends, 'Mione," Potter said. "He's such a Slytherin sleazeball."
"Not to mention his disgusting greasy hair."
"Why can't you just leave him alone!"
"It's more because he exists," Black answered. "You hear that, Snivellus? She wants us to leave you alone. Should we leave you alone?"
"I don't need any help from a dirty Mudblood like her!" Snape hissed.
Hermione froze in place, her lip trembling.
"There, you see? His true colours. We always told you he was bad news," Potter jeered.
Hermione squared her shoulders, her hair rising with the flare of her magic. "You're all a bunch of idiots." She stormed off, making a sharp gesture with her hand and jerking down. All their wands came flying to her hand and she took them with her.
All of their ties rose up like vipers and bit their faces before slithering off into the grass, leaving them all sitting in the mud, wandless, and guilty.
"Shite, Prongs," Peter moaned. "Why did you have to go and brass her off? Of all witches."
"Shut it, Wormtail."
Black looked strangely starry-eyed. "What a witch."
Remus looked disgusted and shoved mud into Black's face. "You don't rate her. None of us do."
"I'm sorry!" Severus grovelled, falling to his knees in front of Hermione.
"For what, Severus? Saying what all your friends in Slytherin have been trying to get you to say for years?" Hermione scowled at him. "I hear you talking with them, laughing at all the Mudbloods. I hear them scorn you for having anything to do with me. What are you sorry for, exactly? Why should I be any different, hrm?"
"I didn't mean it," Severus insisted. "I swear I didn't mean it. I was angry. Embarrassed!"
"Do I embarrass you so much?"
"Why do you group yourself with such horrible people, Severus? You don't need them to be special. You don't need them to get back at your dad."
Severus winced. "I never want to be weak!" he said. "I need to be strong! Powerful!"
Hermione shook her head. "That's rubbish. All you need to be is you. Why would you think being strong and powerful is going to solve your problems? It just makes you more of a target for jealous people."
"I have to be!" Severus insisted. "I have to be strong."
"To protect you! To be worthy of you!" Severus blurted, and then immediately turned red, turning away, a look of agony on his face.
Hermione's earlier fury drained out of her. "Is that what this is about?"
"And now you think I'm even more the idiot," he said bitterly.
"You're such a dunderhead," Hermione said, pulling him to his feet. She hugged him, pressing her head against his chest.
Severus stiffened at first, but his arms wrapped around her with wonder as he savoured the feel of the witch in his arms. "Does this mean I'm forgiven?"
"Not until I see your Animagus form."
Snape winced, turning his head away.
"Come on, Severus," Hermione said. "I'm a flying otter. I'm not going to judge you."
"You might after seeing mine."
Hermione scowled at him.
Severus took in a deep breath. He exhaled softly. His form transformed—
Down, down, down—
Into a black European polecat— with a fine set of bat wings.
Hermione's face lit up like a tree at Christmas as she fell on him as a winged otter.
With a series of squeaks, they chased each other around Minerva's office, toppling the quills and a tin of biscuits, which were subsequently looted and devoured.
Hours later, Minerva came into her office to find an adorable fur pile in the middle of her desk of Animagi carnage. The otter and the polecat were curled up together, wings wrapped and entangled, fast asleep.
"Well, I suppose that ends that horrible fight, hrm?" the Deputy Headmistress said with a chuckle. She pulled out a piece of parchment and sketched out the two together along with making note of specific markings, affixing the galleon fee for registering the Animagus form as well as her signed testament to having witnessed it first hand.
An owl arrived, sensing she needed it, and she carefully gave it the scroll. Giving the owl a frogleg, the owl hooted in gratitude before flying off.
"Well, I hope this ends the disagreeableness going on between you two," she chided, waving her wand to clean up her desk and setting about grading parchments.
Severus knew that he should be meeting Hermione that night to study for their exams, but Black's lure of finding out why they were so protective of their little "gang" was far too appealing to just ignore. He sent a Patronus to her to let her know he was going to be late, hoping she read him the riot act for letting anything in the way of studying for their exams.
Normally he'd agree—
But that gaggle of sodding miscreants had been plaguing Hermione for as long if not longer than him, and he wanted to know what could possibly be so important that it justified acting like righteous wankers.
It probably wasn't anything that really justified them, but—
Curiosity was the bane of his life. He blamed the polecat.
Hermione would tell him, technically he was a polecat at heart so, technically blaming the polecat was blaming himself. Why did she have to be so logical about it?
He scratched his head and sighed, continuing up the path Sirius had told him to until he got to a strangely still Willow. Odd that the tree wasn't moving. Normally leaves fluttered at least a little.
But, there was the path Black had detailed almost perfectly.
"This feels like a trap."
Severus jumped sky-high as he realised that Hermione had found him already.
"Do you know that Potter is out there frantically searching for Evans? My master is trying to get him to speak plainly, but he can't seem to utter a coherent sentence to save his soul." Hermione peered at the path. "Black wants you to meet under the full moon under the Whomping Willow? An oddly motionless Whomping Willow?"
Severus frowned, realising in the stillness of the tree, he'd failed to recognise it for what it was. After all, when wasn't the Whomping Willow— well, whomping?
Severus sighed. She was right. She tended to be.
"You know, Lupin is always sick around now. Always during the full moon. He's not in the infirmary. I was there giving Madam Pomfrey a tin of biscuits from my master. What if he's the secret they've been hiding all these years with those stupid nicknames of theirs? Prongs, Wormtail, Padfoot— Moony."
Severus stared at Hermione, brows furrowing.
"Let's go study, Severus. Try to get him to show you this so-called secret of his when it isn't a full moon. If he won't— then you know something is up."
Severus looked conflicted. Yet— Hermione was usually right. If she was going to be wrong about something, it was usually when trying something new, like adjusting a potion in a way that wasn't in the book. Transfiguration was much more her style, and Potions more his. But when it came to rational connections and fine detail, Hermione was good, and she didn't let her emotion blind her to them.
"You're right," Severus said, deciding that she hadn't led him wrong before. "Do you think your master will let us study together after curfew for an hour or so?"
"She always has. She knows we are actually studying."
The both of them froze as two shrieks of agony came from the tunnel.
They stared. Hermione grabbed his hand tightly, frightened by the continual shrieks of pain that seemed to be coming from the other direction. They exchanged fearful glances.
The pair of them took their Animagus forms and hunkered down in the long grass, noses twitching.
Just as they did so, a large black dog ran by, panting heavily, a rat clasped securely between his jaws.
Hermione and Severus zipped into a nearby hollow log, wedged up close together, ears swivelling and bodies tense.
"You said you told him!" Pettigrew's voice said.
"I did!" Black answered.
"I don't see them!"
"They were here— both of them were. I smelled them just now."
"But where the hell are they?" Peter insisted.
"Don't you have the map?" Sirius growled.
Sirius snatched a parchment out of Peter's hands, tapping it with his wand. "I do solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
"They are here. I see them close," Sirius said.
"Wait, why is Lily on the map with Moony?"
"What? Let me see."
Sirius glared at the map. "No, this can't be right. Prongs is with Lily, right?"
"He said he was going to find her, yeah."
Twin howls echoed across the green.
"Come on, Padfoot, Moony is coming!"
"And just what are you two boys doing out here?" Minerva's voice said as she and Professor Slughorn walked up across the grounds.
"We're sorry, ma'am we'll just be going back to the school right now!" The two boys said hastily, making their way back.
Minerva stood in their way. "Why, what is the rush, hrm?"
"Browwwwllllllll!" the howl came, louder now.
"He's going to get us!" Peter screamed.
He was a rat, scrambling frantically between Minerva's legs and back toward Hogwarts.
"Wormtail! FUCK!" Sirius yelled.
Minerva looked like she was going to say something, but two snarling lupine muzzles appeared over the grass as the werewolves made a leap towards them all, slaver dripping from their fangs.
Sirius hastily transformed and slammed into the dark grey wolf, and the two went tumbling into the grass— but the smaller, light red and white wolf kept going forward, committed to the attack.
Minerva sent magic zinging towards Slughorn, transforming him into a large, plump sofa chair as she landed on top as a silver grey tabby, and the werewolf dropped to its feet and looked confused.
The other werewolf's call caught their attention, and the smaller werewolf dashed through the grass after it.
As soon as the werewolf was safely out of range, Minerva transformed, sending Slughorn back for help as her Patronus went zooming towards the Headmaster's office.
A sharp canine yelp and two lupine growls sounded off nearby, and Minerva's expression darkened as she realised her apprentice had been out here— right in the path of two rampaging werewolves.
"Miss Granger? Mr Snape, if you are within earshot, I want you to fly back to Hogwarts this instant and wait for me in my office. Don't leave until I return."
The otter and the polecat exchanged glances and shimmied their way out of the log to do as they were told.
Alastor Moody had a horrendous migraine pounding on one side of his skull as he listened to the chaotic mess that was currently going on in the Headmaster's Office.
"So let me get this straight," Moody rasped, his magical eye whirling. "You thought that becoming Animagi— unregistered Animagi— gave you the right to set loose a werewolf on the school grounds? Since when is tampering with the door that distinctly requires the use of HANDS on a place that should have safely contained a werewolf helping anyone?"
"He was beating himself up!" Sirius said.
"We were keeping him company!" Peter moaned.
"By setting him loose on the grounds of Hogwarts!?"
"We'd always be with him! It was perfectly safe!" Sirius insisted.
"And where were you, Mr Black, while Professor McGonagall was turning Professor Slughorn into an armchair to save him from your "safe" friend? Hrm? EHHH?"
Black startled, staring down at his shoes.
"I'll tell you what you were about," Moody barked. "You were trying to lure a fellow student into the jaws of a known werewolf and get him killed, but what you didn't count on was that he wouldn't be alone, which proves to me that you weren't really looking out for your friend, were you, Mr Black? Neither were you, Mr Pettigrew. Because if you had, you'd have known that just a month ago, Mr Lupin turned Miss Evans during a— tryst— and there were two of them in there! So not only did you all violate a hundred school rules, attempt to murder your school mates, and set loose werewolves on the school grounds, you also deliberately tampered with wards and safety measures that I KNOW were put in place to keep Lupin and his paramour safe during full moons!"
"You son of a bitch!" James roared, launching himself at Sirius. "You set Lily up to be bitten!"
"What? No! I didn't—"
James punched Sirius in the mouth, bloodying his face. "That note you gave Lily last month— it wasn't mine, was it? You set her up to be with Moony!"
Dumbledore rubbed the space between his eyes. "Do whatever you must, Alastor, but please, do try to spare Mr Lupin and Miss Evans. It wasn't their fault they were being used as potential murder weapons. They had both agreed to be put in that shack for their own safety after all."
James' face reddened even further. "You tried to use Lils and Moony as murder weapons, you sick son of bitch?!" He launched himself at Sirius, and Sirius instinctively shifted into his dog form to fight back. This triggered James to turn into a huge stag, and they were trying to murder each other right in the middle of Dumbledore's office.
"Petrificus Totalus," Dumbledore said calmly and the two Animagus combatants fell to the floor, frozen and unmoving. "That will be quite enough from the both of you. Now, as for you, Mr Pettigrew. Would you mind telling me precisely why none of you bothered to register your Animagus forms?"
"Perhaps you can also explain how you think assisting your friend here with his conspiracy to murder another student with a werewolf does not make you equally guilty of such a despicable act?"
Peter frantically scratched at his arm so intensely that blood began ran down to his fingers in rivulets of red. "N-nu-nothing!"
"Mr Pettigrew!" Minerva exclaimed, rushing forward to tend his arm. She grabbed for a roll of bandages and a tin of balm from the Headmaster's desk.
"NO!" Peter cried, backhanding the Deputy Head with a violent protest, and then he abruptly seemed to realise what he had just done.
Alastor snatched the boy up by the collar and threw him back onto the chair, jerking his left robe sleeve up to expose the Dark Mark writhing and pulsing under his skin.
"Death Eater," he hissed, putting his wand to the boy's throat.
"You saved my life," Severus said staring out over Black Lake as they shared the dock together.
Hermione shook her head. "I was selfish."
He frowned. "How?"
"I wanted you around longer."
Snape stared at their reflections on the surface of the lake. "Not even my own mother could have— would have done that."
Hermione frowned. "Truly?"
She stared into the water. "I'm sorry."
"That compassion is so terribly fleeting in your life that you think it cannot possibly be meant for you."
Morpheus peered down into the water from his perch atop Hermione's head. "Chirr!"
Hermione pulled him into her arms and snuggled him. She placed a soft kiss on his muzzle and smiled as the little dragonet squirmed and pawed at her face, wings pumping with ticklish happiness.
"I think I'm a little jealous," Severus muttered, turning away somewhat awkwardly.
Hermione placed the squirmy, playful Morpheus in his lap, and Snape gently tickled the dragonet with his hand, a sad expression on his face.
Hermione's hand touched his face, her fingers teasing gently through his hair and drawing it away from his face.
Snape's eyes grew wide. She pressed her forehead to his by drawing his head down to touch hers, slowly rubbing her cheek against his with a low purr of invitation. He flinched, staring at her with wonder, his hand touching her cheek. His fingers lightly traced her ear as he lowered his mouth to hers. He hovered there, but a breath away, unsure— nervous.
"Are you sure?" he whispered.
Hermione gave a huffing sort of laugh. "No. Yes? Is anyone ever really sure when they're afraid the person they really like will reject them?"
"How could I ever reject you, Hermione?" Severus asked, a frown on his lips.
"I'm insecure?" Hermione said with a sigh.
Severus scoffed. "You?"
"I do have my moments," she said.
Snape nuzzled her neck, and Hermione wrapped her arms around his robes, pulling him close. He growled softly, his mouth seeking hers, and she welcomed his attention, drawing him down with a breathy groan. Painfully, he pulled away, and hermione gave him a sad, resigned look.
But Severus pressed his finger to her lips as he pulled a small vial out from his robes, popping the cork and drinking it.
Hermione's eyes widened. "Contraceptive potion?"
"You just happened to have one?" she asked dubiously.
Severus snorted. "I'm a Slytherin. We all carry them because we believe that the gods would strike us down if we were ever to have a child out of wedlock or— gods forbid— manage to end up married due to a magical bond consummated by the moment of conception."
Hermione snorted. She pulled out her own bottle and took a swig.
"What's YOUR reason?" Snape inquired.
"I live with a bunch of hyperactive, hormonal, sexually obsessed Gryffindors who like to prank each other with love and lust potions. I carry powdered bezoar in one flask and contraception potion in another."
"Who says romantic love is dead?" Severus asked, dryly.
"I wouldn't quite call it love," Hermione snorted. "More like random acts of recklessness and idioc— mmfffgh!"
Severus' mouth cut off her rant as they engaged in a little responsible recklessness of their own.
As Minerva opened up her balcony, she found a winged otter and a winged polecat curled up together in her flower box between the begonias. She smiled at the rather charming sight, shaking her head. She rubbed the otter and the polecat under the chin. "Time for bed, Mr Snape. Don't make me dock points from Slytherin for being out after curfew."
The polecat yawned and stretched from nose to black-tipped tail, nuzzled the otter with his cheek, and then launched off the planter with a sort of sleep-groggy wobbly flight.
Minerva gently rubbed the otter's ears. "To bed with you too, apprentice."
Hermione yawned groggily, sleep gnawing on Minerva's fingers.
"Off with you then," she said.
Hermione rubbed up against Minerva's hand and hopped down off the flower planter, bounding off toward her quarters with a flurry of ottery squeaks.
"Did you read the paper today, Severus?"
"I try not to," he replied as he threw on his teaching robes.
"The Death Eaters attacked the Longbottoms. They say the Dark Lord was there— murdered them. Only their son remained."
Severus frowned. "My wife, do you insist on reading such depressing news before I've even had my tea?"
Hermione sighed and came up to him, wrapping her arms around him. "I'm just glad it's not us," she said. "I had to go in and check on Ethan. Just listen to him breathe, you know?"
Severus hugged his wife close, pressing his lips to her forehead. "I love you."
Hermione smiled against his row of buttons. "I love you too."
He caressed her cheek, a gently smile on his face. "You are the best thing I could ask for, Hermione. I am so glad— I never took the Mark."
Hermione looked up at him. "Me too."
"Will you be taking Ethan to Narcissa to have her look after him and Draco?"
Hermione nodded. "Narcissa promised them butter shortbreads."
"They are one, do you really think they know the difference between biscuits?"
Hermione grinned. "It just gives Narcissa even more reason to bake and keep Dobby out of the kitchen."
Severus sighed. "I suppose." He pressed a tender kiss to his wife's lips. "I must meet with the old man this morning. See you at breakfast?"
Hermione smiled, nodding. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Oh, are they making those cherry tartlets again?"
She swatted him on the chest. "You'll be there. And there will be cherry tartlets."
Snape smiled, tapping his nose. "I'm sure you'll want to talk to someone about the Longbottom boy, yes? You and Alice were friends?"
Hermione nodded. "They were in some kind of secret Order," she said. They said they couldn't tell me about it, but I think Alice and Frank knew they were in danger. I guess Augusta will take care of him— but I want to be sure she doesn't need support. She's grieving and all."
Severus nodded. "Do what you must. I trust you."
Hermione nodded. "I'll talk to Minerva first. She will know how to approach it better."
"She is a wise witch," Severus agreed. He pulled on his outer robe. "You were wise to make her Ethan's godmother and Lucius the godfather. Did you plan that?"
"Husband? What are you implying?"
Severus' lips quirked. "That you should have been in Slytherin. Maybe even that you're the ultimate Slytherin, so much so that people just think you are Gryffindor."
Hermione gasped in mock-affront. "Why would you think that?"
"He smiled smugly. "You otter know."
Multiple Fires Break Out Over Britain!
Dark Lord Dies By His Own Spell!
Longbottom Child Boy-Who-Lived!
Frank and Alice Longbottom were reported to have been killed last night after the Dark Lord stormed his way into their safe house and murdered them in cold blood. Yet, as the final killing curse was cast against the child of the two well-known Aurors, it ricocheted, and the Dark Lord died at the scene by his own hand
According to reports, at exactly that time, fires broke out in multiple locations across magical Britain. The blazes, believed to be caused by Fiendfyre, seemed to be somehow triggered by the Dark Lord's demise. Aurors believe that it was the man's attempt at immortality through the use of ancient Dark magic to house a fragment of his soul in an object to gain immortality. Something, however, went wrong. Instead of preserving his life, they burst into flames.
Some of the experts at the Ministry believe that it was the magic used to protect young Neville Longbottom that travelled back through the Dark Lord and everything he was bound to, destroying him completely. Many believe that love magic is the strongest, most powerful magic there is, capable of staving off death when combined with an act of great sacrifice. Proof seems to come in the form of multiple corpses found in various pureblood homes and the homes of those who had openly supported the Dark Lord. All of them were dead, with their left arms burned off completely— the shock of which ultimately killed them.
Whatever the reason, the Wizarding world can now breathe a sigh of tremendous relief, and there is already talk of having a memorial wall and statues housed in the Ministry atrium to honour those who gave their lives to end the war and bring about a much desired peace.
"Gryffindor!" the Sorting Hat announced. A chubby boy with mousy brown hair slowly crept over to the Gryffindor tables, his hat seemingly trying to escape his head. He frantically pulled it down over his head, over the scar on his forehead.
"Ah, the Longbottom boy," Pomona said approvingly. "I hope he's as good as his father in the greenhouse."
The Sorting Hat continued from child to child as the teachers and staff chatted away at the Head Table.
"Hufflepuff!" came the Sorting Hat's cry, and a boy with a black hair resembling a mop ran over to the Hufflepuff tables.
"Was that the Potter child?" one of the teachers whispered.
"Harry Potter? Oh yes, James married the former Mary McDonald, another Gryffindor. She was such a quiet, pretty girl."
"That James and Remus were the only ones forgiven after that whole Marauder mess."
Another teacher nodded. "Well, at least Remus and Lily have been great parents. Their Rose is quite a delightful little girl."
"I think a lot of growing up happened after that mess. At least it ended better."
"Slytherin!" came the call from the hat, and the young black-haired boy jumped up with happiness and ran to the Slytherin table. The young Draco Malfoy clapped the other boy on the back. "We knew you were with the rest of us, Ethan!" Draco cried, grinning broadly.
"Those two are going to be such trouble," Filius chuckled. "Just like their parents."
The Snapes eyed Flitwick. "Filius!" Hermione gasped.
Flitwick grunted. "Flying mischief makers," he said.
"Psh," Minerva said. "They stayed out of trouble."
"They should be fine unless they find someone to teach them how to be Animagi," Sinistra said.
All eyes turned to Minerva.
"Oh, so if it has to do with Animagi, it has to be my fault?" she scoffed.
"It's only logical," Hooch said. "You are the one who trained them." She winked and pointed her salad fork at Severus and Hermione.
Minerva rolled her eyes as the Sorting Hat announced, "Gryffindor!" The child ran over to the Gryffindor table, and was greeted by a red-headed child with bright green eyes.
"Welcome to Gryffindor! I'm Rose Lupin, one of your prefects along with this guy, Percy Weasley."
"Follow the rules, and you'll be good," Percy promised.
"Ravenclaw!" the Sorting Hat announced, and a tiny, wisp of a girl ran over to their table.
The string of children kept on going, with the professors making bets on which child would be Sorted where.
Finally, the hat reached the last boy, and before it even hit the boy's head, the hat proclaimed "GRYFFINDOR!"
Severus sighed. "Weasley."
Hermione shrugged. "He can't be more trouble than the twins, hrm?"
"Weasleys find a way, wife," Severus said with a sigh. "They always do."
Hermione grinned, tickling the dragonet-gone-Kneazle as he lay on his back in her lap. "Sounds a lot like a Snape."
"There are no similarities between us!" Severus grumbled.
Hermione kissed him on the cheek.
Severus mumbled, but his expression softened. "Must you always be right?"
"I was right about you, wasn't I?"
Severus flushed, his pale skin turning a dark pink.
Hermione grinned broadly, victorious.
Children's laughter echoed across Black Lake as the little gathering of children carried on telling tales and trying to concentrate at the same time.
"I'm going to be a falcon!" Harry announced.
"Why do you think that?"
"In my meditation, I was always in a tree."
Draco scoffed. "Maybe you're a squirrel."
Harry pouted. "I will not be a squirrel!"
Ethan grinned. "I don't know what I'm going to be."
"A freak of nature just like your parents," Draco said, smiling.
"Well, it is a family trend!" Ethan grinned at his friend. "Maybe I'll be a chimaera!"
"Psh," Draco said. "I think I'd like to be a real dragon."
"Maybe a sooty fire lizard," Harry teased.
"Shut it, Potter!" Draco said with a patently fake scowl.
"Hush! We've got to do this tonight!"
"Because it's been two years!" Ethan whinged. "Mum and Dad only took a single year!"
Draco ribbed Ethan with his elbow.
The children silenced themselves in between giggles and closed their eyes, trying to bring their meditations to fruition.
A young black-footed ferret with a pair of green miniature dragon wings stared at a silver fox with fine set of black eagle wings. Meanwhile, a young black ram with thick, curly raven-coloured wool and a set of miniature curved horns baaaahhhhed.
The ferret and the fox went flying off across the lake, their virgin-flight a bit wobbly.
Harry bahhhhed again in distress, running to the shore and splashing in, not wanting to be left behind, but his friends were too excited to come back— how could he blame them? He'd be flying too!
Harry hung his head, utterly depressed. He stared up at the stars, trembling.
Suddenly his friends flew back, and they tried to pick him up and fly with him, but he was much too heavy for them. They strained and grunted, trying desperately to bring him with, but foxes and ferrets, even flying ones, were not built for heavy loads.
Still, they tried.
Still, they wanted him to come with them.
A pair of huge butterfly wings in a vibrant shade of Hufflepuff yellow sprouted up out of Harry's back— just large enough to grant one young black sheep access to the skies.
Harry bleated in joy, flapping his new wings excitedly as his hooves left the ground. Draco and Ethan swirled around him, chittering and yipping with glee. The trio flew out over the lake, oblivious to everything but their own shared joy and friendship made whole.
Severus groomed his mate's ears as they curled up together on a large tree branch, watching over the children as they played over the Black Lake. Hermione squeaked with pleasure, rubbing up against him. Morpheus chirruped and happily snuggled up to them both.
As they looked up into the sky, they wondered why fate had been so kind to them even when so many things had tried to go wrong. But neither of them ever took the good times for granted, from the friendship with the grateful Malfoys to the blessings of a healthy son who had never had to worry about war, to the even greater blessing of a childhood friendship that had blossomed into something far greater than either could have dreamed of— they loved each other as they loved their life.
Lily startled out of bed, panting heavily.
Remus curled his arm around her and pulled her close. "What's wrong, love?"
Lily wiped her brow and sank into his arms. "That stupid nightmare again."
"Married to Prongs?"
Lily nodded. "The Dark Lord killed us, and our child was left an orphan and living with my sister, Petunia."
"Well, that would make any dream a nightmare, love." Remus smiled at her.
Lily smiled back at him. "You have no idea. I wouldn't wish her on my worst enemies. It was odd though, I dreamed that I'd been friends with Snape."
"No one liked him. I didn't forgive him for calling me something, and then the war happened and we died—"
"Yes, but later, in a second war."
Remus frowned. "That's it, no more oregano for you before bed."
Lily laughed. "I guess I am being really silly, huh? Here I am with my love dreaming about a second war and me being dead. I don't even know Snape, except for that he was wicked brilliant at Potions. But everyone— everyone knew he only had eyes for her."
"She was brilliant too, love. She gave us a thrashing every time we thought we could pull the wool over her eyes."
"I'm glad you got away from that."
Remus nodded. "I think we all grew up, Lil."
"Even that obnoxious toe-rag, James," Lily said, scowling.
"Even him, love," Remus said, kissing his mate on the forehead. "Let me rub your back, huh?"
"Thanks, Remus," Lily said, snuggling into the pillow as her mate worked on her tense shoulders. "Where would I be without you?"
Remus nibbled on her neck. "With James bloody Potter," he growled.
"Psh," Lily said. "That was only a dream."
Remus smiled as he rubbed his mate's muscles. "I have all the dream I want right here, my love."
As the two cuddled and went to sleep, a single solitary spider glided down from the window sill and skittered out of sight.
It's the anniversary of the end of the war again, and I felt I had to write you once more to thank you and your lady for convincing me not to take the Mark. I know you were equally stern with Lucius, but I feel as though you've always been the brother I should have had.
Life in the Netherlands has treated me well, and despite a few inadvertent language faux pas involving celery and the mother-in-law, everything is well. Marcus Severus and Rosalind Hermione are taking the world by the throat, and charming everyone in a way that I'm sure the Black family would truly approve of. I'm so glad that I put an end to the naming after the stars— I really didn't want one more reminder of the unspeakable horrors that my brother and the rest of my lovely family brought upon me.
Life is good, my old friend, and I will never forget what has allowed me to continue to live it.
Please give my best to your lady and your son. I hope to visit when next I am not attempting to complete a hundred different assignments at once. Hopefully that will be near the winter holidays.
Yours in gratitude,
(seal of the House of Black)
A/N: This story is an apology for making you cry reading the last story. Sorry/Not sorry!
All praises to the lovely The Dragon and the Rose for staying up and looking at my stuff past her bedtime!