Disclaimer: Do you recognize it? Guess what. It belongs to JKR. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Inspired by my godson, Daniel.Confirmation
I have never been so nervous in all my life.
As I sit down at the small table and pick up the cup of blissfully strong coffee, I find that my hands are shaking just the least little bit. That is not acceptable. Certainly a man of my years and my reputation (both the good and the bad) would be able to deal with this in a much more mature fashion.
But what if…
No, I will not think about that. It does not matter. Nothing will change and, in my heart, I know that I am telling the truth.
I take a sip of the coffee and wince as it scalds my tongue. Nothing like a bit of pain to bring a wizard back down from a state of elevated nerves. I would swear on Merlin's earwax that she did it on purpose. A bit of shock therapy. If that is the case, I would congratulate her on being such a Slytherin about it…something she picked up from me, no doubt.
Fourteen years. Has it really been so long? I look around the kitchen of my home and marvel that there are pictures of me and I am actually smiling.
It is all her fault.
With a smirk, I look at her as she bustles around the kitchen muttering inaudible things under her breath as she searches for honey. I perform a quick 'Accio' spell and it flies into her hand.
"Thank you," she smiles as she prepares the table for breakfast. This is her time…this morning rush to ensure that we start our day off properly. We have a happy division of labour around everything except breakfast. Breakfast is her territory and who am I to go where Cornish pixies fear to tread?
"The weather is rather frightful…the post will no doubt be late," she comments as she looks outside with a worried expression.
"It does not matter," I reply, daring to take another sip of coffee.
She turns to me in some surprise and I hold out my hand to her. She takes it and sits on my lap.
"Are you all right?" I ask gently, setting my cup down on the table so that I can embrace her properly without fear of second-degree burns…not that I do not have potions for that sort of thing.
"Well…yes. No…not really," she mutters, burying her head in the crook of my neck.
"You sound as decided as a Hufflepuff."
"I…I know how you feel about all this and I can't help but think that maybe…because of me…"
She doesn't continue and it doesn't take an Auror to see that she is crying.
"This would simply not be if it were not for you. Nothing else matters," I reply softly, kissing the top of her head, bushy hair and all. "You should already know that."
She looks up at me and wipes away the tears from her face. "Do you mean that? It sounds suspiciously like a Gryffindor thing to say."
I snort and she bursts out laughing. I will never understand this woman…this wife of mine.
And then she kisses me…and I realize that I don't much care if I ever will understand her. I do understand this…and us…and…
"Mother! Father! I…oh, am I interrupting something?"
I pull away from her and glare at our son who is smirking in a decidedly Slytherin fashion. He sits down at the table, opposite me.
"Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answer?" I ask with as much dignity as I can muster as my wife gets up to hug the young man in front of me.
"That would be an example of waxing Socratic…is that not right, Mother?" he says in a voice muffled by his mother's bushy hair.
"I am so proud of you," she kisses his forehead which earns her a rolling of the eyes.
"As am I," I lean over to tousle his hair in a way I know he hates. He grumbles as he tries to set his hair to rights.
She returns to the breakfast preparations and barely misses being barreled over by our two younger children. Twins. Identical as two Quaffles. After some fierce embraces, they both come hug me before going to sit on either side of their brother.
"Go away," he grumbles as they inch closer to him.
"Happy Birthday!" They yell in chorus. The two girls proceed to jump out of their chairs and run around the kitchen singing 'Happy Birthday' at the top of their lungs while their mother finishes putting breakfast on the table.
I find I rather like this domestic chaos.
"You sound like a pair of banshees," their unappreciative brother grimaces as he takes some sausages and eggs for himself. The girls, seeing food, sit down immediately and fill their plates, as do I.
But she eats nothing.
She is looking out the window.
"As you said, the weather is frightful…have something to eat. You really have outdone yourself you know. There is enough food here to feed the Cannons."
She shakes her head, as if to dispel a dark thought, and puts some toast and eggs on her plate. The children begin talking about Quidditch and our planned trip to Diagon Alley and all the wonderful treats they are going to buy. My wife is strangely silent and glances at the window every now and again. I place my hand over hers and smile.
"I love you," I whisper. "I love them. All of them. Our proud and somewhat taciturn Colin and the rambunctious Emma and equally rambunctious Olivia. They are my hope for the future and the redemption for my past. Never doubt that, Hermione."
Her eyes are suspiciously bright. "Thank you, Severus."
We eat our breakfast and I watch the interplay between our children. I never tire of watching them, reading to them, taking care of their bumps and bruises. Every moment we spend together is precious.
And it doesn't hurt that they think their parents are amazing simply because we can count The Boy Who Lived…The Man Who Lived Yet Again among our close friends.
Although, I am not certain I like the way Potter's daughter looks at Colin…
Suddenly, Hermione dashes from the table. The children fall silent as they watch their mother practically accost an owl at the kitchen door. She takes an envelope from its leg. I hold my breath. Sending the owl on its way, she returns to the table, looking at the envelope as if it is going to burst into flame.
"Hermione?" I ask, somewhat concerned.
"Mother?" Colin asks, a puzzled expression on his face. Emma and Olivia are silent which is, in itself, most unusual.
And then, a beautiful smile appears on her face…a look of pride that almost makes me want to weep.
"It's for you, Colin. Happy birthday and congratulations," she manages to say as she gives him the letter, which I know confirms his acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Colin opens his letter and reads it in silence, ignoring the pleas of his sisters to read it aloud.
Hermione turns to me and smiles.
"Happy birthday, Colin, and congratulations," I say. His dark eyes fly up to meet mine. "I just want you to know that, even if you had not been accepted, I would always love you and be proud to have you as my son."
He gets up and walks over to me. I embrace him and close my eyes, thankful for all the goodness in my life.
"I know," he whispers.
"Be sure you are sorted into Slytherin or I will never hear the end of it from your mother," I reply.