Disclaimer :

Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.

I am making no profit.

Nor am I claiming creation or ownership of anything Harry Potter related.

All of it is J. K. Rowling's, or Bloomsbury Books, or the WB's, or whomever's.

It's not mine.


Author Notes

The focus of my Harry Potter fan fiction a romantic relationship between:

The Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape, and Hermione Granger.

Please note that the age of consent where they live is sixteen (16).

However, in my stories the younger (Hermione Granger) of the two, is over the age of eighteen (18) BEFORE any romantic relationship develops.

Remember, not only is she a birth year older then her classmates; she gained years, and expirience, with her use of a Time-Turner as well.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

In my stories, (I am only speaking about my fan fiction and it's characters) the Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape and Hermione Granger are completely equal in their relationship, on all levels; emotional, intellectual, etceteras. Severus' emotional development is a bit delayed, no doubt because of his past. Whereas, Hermione is very advanced for her age. You will find that in my stories, she is no longer a student of his, prior to the development of their relationship. When she was his student, Professor Snape hardly noticed anything about her, other then her incessent hand raising. He was never a mentor to her, they were not friends, or close in any way when she was young. They never knew anything about each other, except for the fact that the other existed and was an annoyance.

There is no harm being done to either party in their relationship, on any level including; psychological, emotional, and physical.

(Nor is their relationship harming anyone else.)

Far fetched?
However, that is why they call it fan fiction.

With that said, if you are still interested, please read on!

22 October

Harry Potter despised Professor Severus Snape. His feelings had built up steadily over the past twelve years. Now, five years after finishing his education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his hatred for Snape was at its peak.

It was fueled by years of pent up frustration and resentment. By the time Harry had reached his fifth year at Hogwarts, he was fully prepared to blame Severus Snape for anything that went wrong in his life. That year, something went very wrong; Harry's beloved godfather died. So loathed was the Potions master that Harry blamed him for the death. It was true that Severus Snape and Sirius Black had been adversaries, but that didn't make Snape responsible for his death. Sirius Black, and no one else, made the decision that led to his demise. Harry Potter, however, needed someone to blame for his loss; and who better then his despised teacher?

Harry's most recent feelings of disapprobation came from Severus Snape's refusal to attend the memorial services of one of Harry's best friends, Hermione Granger. Five years ago, she had died serving the Light. Harry and Ron always held a memorial service on that sad anniversary, the twenty-second of October. As usual, Snape "could not attend". He never had. The rest of the Order paid their respects faithfully at Harry and Ron's annual memorial service. During the memorial, they remembered others who gave their lives serving the Light, as well, but for Harry and Ron, it was really about the loss of Hermione. That bit of disrespect on the part of Severus Snape, his refusal to attend again this year, was the last straw for Harry Potter.

While he was out of the country on a diplomatic mission, Albus Dumbledore had left Harry temporarily in charge of the Order. Harry Potter now sat in this seat of leadership during a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. Since Voldemort's demise, the Order's primary function was to track down bands of his remaining followers: small factions of Death Eaters who continued to torture and kill, even after Voldemort's defeat.

Harry sat through this particular meeting not worrying about the Order's objectives. Instead, he was thinking of all the reasons he could to justify the proposal of his own agenda. Professor Severus Snape, Potions master, was hard and sarcastic, black-hearted and antisocial, condescending and prejudiced, arrogant and presumptuous. He sneered; he scowled; he never spoke a kind word. His clothing was even pretentious. None of that was as good an argument for Harry's proposal as the mistake Severus Snape made when he was a child. In all his preadolescent, self-proclaimed, perfection, he had become a Death Eater. However, in the end, Harry needed no justification for his proposal. Most of the Order members, following Alastor Moody's example, never fully trusted Snape. Harry's proposal was accepted easily. The Order of the Phoenix would investigate Severus Snape. After all, Harry had reasoned, "If he's loyal to the Order, what harm could a simple investigation possibly do?"

"Harry, I'm sorry, there just isn't anything we can do to trace his activities further. We followed him as far as Muggle London, and then he virtually disappeared," Kingsley Shacklebolt reported.

"He's a bloody genius," Tonks added. "I've never met anyone so untraceable. I mean, for five years now he disappears: summers, holidays, weekends, literally any time class isn't in session. It's no wonder he gave up being head of Slytherin House five years ago; he never hangs around long enough. He's spent more time during the last five years out of the castle than he has in it. Yet, he's left no record, there's no trace at all. For all I can tell, he shrinks and spends the time in one of his potions bottles."

After a brief pause, she added gently, "Harry, he does do his work for the Order faithfully."

"He makes it seem that way, doesn't he?" Harry replied. Harry paused thoughtfully before continuing. "But what does he do when he's not at Hogwarts or on Order business? He could be part of a group of Death Eaters. He could even be leading one," Harry retorted.

"We'll never know where he goes. We've exhausted our resources. No one can track him," Kingsley added.

"No, we haven't exhausted everything. If he won't play nice, then I won't, either," Harry declared. "I want this settled before the memorial service on the twenty-second. I'm going to detain him here at Headquarters. He won't make it to wherever he usually goes on weekends. While he's here, I'll question him. If he doesn't tell me what I want to know, I'll publicly interrogate him with Veritaserum at the next Order meeting."

This pronouncement earned Harry skeptical looks from Kingsley and Tonks.

"Veritaserum, Harry, are you sure that's necessary?" Tonks asked.

"It's my decision," Harry said authoritatively. At the looks he was receiving, he hurried to try and pacify his doubters. "If he answers reasonably, there'll be no need for the Veritaserum," Harry argued, all the while thinking that, in the end, it was his decision. Dumbledore had left him in charge, and he didn't need their approval.

Professor Snape had been trying to track down a faction of Death Eaters responsible for the recent torture and murder of an entire family of Muggles. When he arrived at Headquarters to make his report to Harry Potter, he was met at wand point.

"Professor Snape, if you'll hand me your wand, please?" Harry asked triumphantly.

"Now why would I do that?" Snape sneered.

"Because if you don't, I'll take it the hard way," Harry said. It was obvious that he immensely enjoyed having power over Professor Snape.

Seeing some of the other Order members milling about behind Harry, Snape grudgingly handed Harry his wand. "Potter, what is this about?" he hissed.

"Upstairs," Harry ordered, as he gestured with his wand for Snape to precede him.

Harry pushed Snape into a room. "You won't be going anywhere this weekend, Snape." he said victoriously. "This room is warded so thoroughly, it rivals Azkaban when its security was at its peak. Just relax, I'll be back later and we'll... talk." With that, Harry left, placing additional locking and warding charms securely on the door.

Two weekends had gone by and Harry still had Professor Snape secured in a room at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Wherever Snape went, he had not gone these last two weekends; Harry had seen to that. It was the twenty-first of October. The Order would be gathering for their meeting this afternoon. At this meeting, Harry would be questioning Professor Snape under Veritaserum. Depending on his answers, they would then act accordingly. Freeing tomorrow so they could concentrate on the memorial service for Hermione.

This year, Harry would make sure that Snape would not be allowed to insult Hermione's memory by being off, doing whatever it was he did on the sly, when he should have been honouring her sacrifice. Harry knew he would be satisfied tomorrow, satisfied in knowing that he had avenged Hermione's memory this small way.

The Order members began to filter in slowly and take their seats. Soon, almost everyone had arrived. They were just waiting for one more person. Tonks had insisted that Madam Pomfrey be present if an interrogation by Veritaserum was going to take place. After much badgering and quoting of laws, Harry had grudgingly agreed. Tonks had gone to Hogwarts that morning to fill Madam Pomfrey in on the details and to request her presence.

When Madam Pomfrey finally arrived, Harry went upstairs to bring his prisoner down. Everyone had taken to calling Snape that: 'Harry's Prisoner'. Harry acted in no way to discourage the term. It was clear to all that Harry Potter had taken Professor Severus Snape prisoner. Now he was going to interrogate Snape under Veritaserum. Not everyone agreed with this decision. Except for Alastor Moody, even those Order members who harboured doubts about Professor Snape's loyalties wouldn't have gone this far.

Professor Snape came into the room, held at wand point by Harry Potter. Harry instructed him to sit in a chair he had placed in the centre front of the room. All the other seats were arranged facing it, not unlike a theatre. Snape made his way to the chair with dignity. Most of the Order members wouldn't meet the Professor's eyes as he scanned the room.

Tonks made her way over to the Professor. "I'm sorry, sir," she said quietly. "Harry's orders. I'll be here to make sure that nothing untoward happens, and I've insisted that Poppy be present, as well. I want to make this as easy as possible for you. I don't agree with what Harry's doing. Just answer his questions, and you'll be free to go."

As Tonks finished speaking, Harry came up with a phial of clear potion. The Veritaserum. "Drink this, Snape," he ordered.

The Professor took the phial and uncorked it. He inspected the contents. "A good batch. I brewed it myself," he said sarcastically. "Do you expect me to drink the entire phial's worth?" Snape asked, with a raised eyebrow.

"Drink it all," Harry ordered.

The Professor uncorked the phial and placed it at his lips to comply. He had drunk a good mouthful before Madam Pomfrey wrested it from his hands.

"Harry Potter, you should know three drops is all it takes. Do you want to kill him?"

"I didn't know; I assumed a phial was a dose," Harry said, uncomfortably.

"How typical." Professor Snape sneered. "Did you ever pay attention in my class, Potter?"

"He's taken more than three drops; let's get this over with so he can go, Harry," Tonks interjected.

Harry, recovering his vindictive zeal, turned to see that Professor Snape had a slightly dazed look on his face from the potion. Harry smirked. He looked like a cat about to finish off the kill it had been toying with.

"Your name?" he asked.

"Severus Snape."

"Your occupation?"

"I am a Potions master and a professor."

"You are employed at ... ?"

"Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"Do you enjoy teaching?"


"Harry, get to the point," Moody growled from his seat near the front.

"Are you a Death Eater?" Harry continued.



"...and no."

"What do you mean, yes and no?"

"I am a Death Eater in name only so that I can perform my work for the Order of the Phoenix; I do not participate in, nor do I condone, Death Eater activities or philosophies."

"There you have it, Harry. Why don't you let him go now," Tonks suggested.

"No! He's found a way to trick us," Harry snapped at Tonks.

Turning his attention back to Professor Snape, Harry asked, "Are you loyal to the Order of the Phoenix?"


"Have you always been a loyal member of the Order?"

"As long as I have been a member, I have been loyal to the Order of the Phoenix, yes."

"So, if you don't participate in or condone Death Eater activities and philosophies, if you're a loyal member of the Order of the Phoenix, where do you go?"

"I have been going nowhere; I have been locked in a room here for over two weeks."

"No, I mean, where do you go when you disappear? Where've you been going for five years? Where do you spend your summers, your weekends, your holidays?"

"Harry, what're doing? You can only ask one question at a time!" Tonks exclaimed, concern evident in her voice.

"They'll all have the same answer," Harry said dismissively. He was obviously unconcerned that he may have overloaded the Veritaserum victim.

Professor Snape said nothing.

"Answer the question, Snape! Where do you go?" Harry yelled.

The Professor remained silent. Sweat began to bead on his forehead.

"Professor Snape, we already know you're loyal. You need to answer Harry; you'll make yourself sick if you don't," Tonks urged gently.

Professor Snape still did not speak. Minutes passed as Tonks tried to convince the Professor to answer. "Professor, don't worry, whatever it is, no one'll judge you for it. Please, Professor, you really need to answer, you're going to be very sick. Nothing is worth that," she urged. She was starting to become quite worried.

Professor Snape's eyes were shut and obviously rolling under his lids. He was sweating profusely now, and his long elegant hands clutched the arms of the wooden chair until he began to dig splinters.

Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke from his seat in the front row. "Professor Snape, please answer the question. We've already established that your actions on behalf of the Order are above reproach. For your own health, sir, you must answer."

More time passed, and still Professor Snape refused to answer the question. He was now shaking terribly, and he had turned quite red.

Poppy Pomfrey put her hand on Professor Snape's forehead and looked seriously at him. "Severus, you know this potion. You know that I don't have an antidote. Your blood pressure is rising dangerously. Take the risk. Speak. You're a Potions master; you know what will happen if you continue to fight the Veritaserum. For Merlin's sake, man, you won't be of any help if you're dead."

Harry began to back away slowly. As he did, his mind reeled. 'I wanted to trap Snape. I wanted to humiliate him. Why won't he answer the question? He won't listen to reason. He's not going to change his mind. It'll kill him in the end if he doesn't answer. It looks like his heart's going to explode from fighting the Veritaserum. I never thought he'd be able to fight it; most people can't resist it at all. Why didn't I think? Snape's been a spy for the Order for years. He's a Potions master. Of course he's practised resisting the potion! I should've realised that! He's still fighting it; he won't give in; he won't break. For some reason, a reason that we'll never know, Snape's willing to die for this secret. I'm going to watch Professor Snape, an innocent man, die this afternoon. And it's all my fault.'

Harry could feel a terrible sense of guilt starting to spread through him. His mind still working overtime, he thought, 'Snape already said that he was a faithful member of the Order of the Phoenix and that he doesn't engage in Death Eater activities, or even condone their philosophies. Why didn't I leave it at that?'

Harry backed further away, finally coming to rest against the back wall. He was as far away from Snape and the scene unfolding before his eyes as possible. However, distance didn't stop his mind from realising his error in judgement. 'I was sure Snape's secret must be embarrassing to him, and I just had to push. All I wanted to do was humiliate him. I never thought it could be a secret that Snape would be willing to die for. That's just it, I didn't think. I had to try and degrade him, no matter what. Now he's going to die for his secret. I've killed an innocent man. Snape saved my life on more then one occasion. What have I done? I was wrong. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' Harry's anguished thoughts continued.

Someone was pounding on the door. It had to be an Order member. No one else could find Headquarters, and no one who was a threat would knock.

Poppy ran from the room where Professor Snape was being questioned to answer the knock. Everyone could hear Poppy speaking to someone. "Thank goodness you're here. When I contacted you this morning, after Tonks told me, I didn't know if you would get here in time. He's been questioned under Veritaserum. He was asked where he goes. He's refusing to answer."

All the Order members watched as a woman Poppy obviously knew and trusted ran into the room. She had an aura of dignity about her, even in her haste. She was dressed in aristocratic layers, and her hair was piled ornately on her head. She was closely followed by Poppy who now carried a little girl. The child looked to be about three years old and was dressed in the same manner as the woman.

No one got a close look at the woman because, to the surprise of all, she ran straight to Snape. When she reached him, she went down on her knees in front of him. "Severus," she said pleadingly. "Severus, I'm here."

The woman peeled off her gloves and ran her hands over Snape's burning, sweaty face. "Severus, listen to me, look at me," the woman implored.

Professor Snape opened his eyes slowly and tried to focus on the woman.

"Severus, I've told them everything. You're not protecting me with your silence any longer. Answer their question," she insisted.

A slow agonising minute ticked past, and Snape began to shake more violently.

The woman continued to soothe him with her hands. "Answer them!" the woman said desperately. "I know you're trying to protect me, but who will protect me if you die from this? I've told them everything already. Everything. You can answer the question. Do you understand me? They already know; I told them. Poppy confirmed my words; they know everything." The woman's voice broke with emotion. "Answer them now. Severus, please! I can't lose you!"

Snape opened his cracked lips and spoke slowly. His voice was hoarse and weak. "I go to be with my wife."

His answer shocked the room. Only Poppy Pomfrey seemed unsurprised. "Answer the question completely, there's no point in holding anything back and making yourself worse," Poppy dictated.

Professor Snape continued, "I spend my summers, my weekends, my holidays, with my wife. When I disappear, I am going to my wife, my family."

"Are you Mrs Snape?" Tonks asked the woman.

Poppy answered for her, as the woman was too intent on the Professor to look up or answer. "Yes, Tonks, she's Professor Snape's wife."

Most of the Order members were shifting uncomfortably in their seats. They were unavoidably witnessing a scene they knew Professor Snape would rather keep private. Even if they looked away from the sight of the woman lovingly caressing Professor Snape's face, they could still hear everything. Therefore, most didn't bother to look elsewhere.

The Professor's violent shaking lessened somewhat. Yet, he still did not look well at all. The woman plunged her hand into a bag she had dropped when she reached Snape. From it, she withdrew a phial. "Drink," she said, gently holding the phial to Snape's lips. With her help, he managed to drink the potion. Snape's breathing became somewhat easier.

The woman smoothed his sweaty hair from his face. "You're going to be all right now, My Heart. I was so worried. I was so scared when you didn't come to us. I thought something had happened to you. I thought you were..." The woman's voice trailed off; tears were running down her face. "You're going to be all right now. I have you." She smiled through her tears, raw emotion evident in her voice. Then the woman embraced Snape and kissed him gently. Snape wrapped a long arm around the woman, drawing her close, as she buried her face in his neck and shoulder.

Just then, everyone's attention was drawn to the little girl who stood near Snape and the woman. Poppy had put the child down at some point. She was an ethereal beauty, about three years old. She was faerie-like, with a delicate heart-shaped face and large, innocent brown eyes. Her straight, shiny black hair was held off her face by a ribbon before it flowed down over her shoulders. The lovely little girl stood ramrod straight and crossed her arms over her chest. She surveyed the Order members with... disdain. After a minute, she spoke clearly, her sweet baby voice oddly quiet and commanding. "Who did this to my father?"

Poppy approached her. "Sweetheart - " she began.

She was overridden when the little girl got angry, very angry. "Who hurt my daddy?" the child cried with surprising ferocity. She aimed her question at the group of adults in the room.

"Princess..." Snape called, his normally smooth velvet voice cracking with the effort of speech.

The little girl turned and went to Snape as fast as her legs would take her. She scrambled up onto his knee, across from the woman. "Daddy!" She looked at Snape. "We were afraid for you." Even from the back of the room, the trembling of her bottom lip could be seen.

Severus Snape held the child close. "I am fine, Princess. No need to be upset," he said. No one had ever heard him speak with such care, such reassurance.

The Order members were stunned. There was Snape with a woman's face buried in one side of his neck and a small girl's in the other. Snape's face was even more shocking. His eyes were closed as he held them, and he looked... he looked like he held everything that was good and right in his arms.

The room was utterly silent, and the little girl's voice, although hushed, was clearly heard by all. "Daddy, who hurt you? I'm going to hurt them back!" the little girl asserted fiercely.

"Sulis Snape! You'll do no such thing," the woman snapped, lifting her head to regard the little girl. "What have you been taught about that?" the woman asked bossily.

"That we need to forgive people who hurt us, or we're as bad as they are," the little girl recited with an adorable pout. She was obviously put out that she would not be allowed to avenge her father.

Just then, Snape dissolved in a fit of coughing that produced bright red blood on the pristine white handkerchief Tonks pressed into his hand.

"Severus!" the woman in his arms exclaimed in alarm. When the spasm passed, she called, "Poppy!" Panic was evident in her voice as she held Professor Snape.

The little girl climbed down from her father's lap and moved to stand slightly behind him.

The matron came back to them quickly, and, running her wand over Professor Snape, she cast diagnostic spells. "He'll be fine, dear. Just aftereffects," she told the worried woman, as she patted her shoulder affectionately.

"Thank you, Poppy," the woman said, as she relaxed somewhat. "Is it safe to take him home?"

Any answer was impossible as Professor Snape suffered more coughing spasms. When the coughing had passed, the woman caressed Snape's hands and gasped, "Poppy, his hands!"

"What a mess. He must have injured them on the chair when he resisted answering the questions. I'll fix them right up," Poppy said with an air of professionalism. She began waving her wand over Snape's hands, and healing light emerged from its tip. The little girl patted Snape's hair as Poppy worked. The woman still knelt with her back to the people in the room; her entire focus never wavered from Snape. Her hands reassuringly stroked the length of Professor Snape's thighs as Poppy worked.

Suddenly, a shout came from the group. "So, Snape, you're gonna be okay. You're loyal and you're innocent. You know, I'm actually glad of that. What I'd like to know is, why you haven't ever come to Hermione's memorials? Would it've hurt you to show a little respect?" This was from Ron Weasley. It seemed he was trying, in his own way, to defend Harry's decision to interrogate Snape.

Still under the effects of the Veritaserum, Snape was compelled to answer Ron's question. His voice cracked as he said, "That day five years ago, the twenty-second of October, was the day I was married. Since then, I have spent my anniversaries with my wife, rather than attend memorial services."

Ron turned bright red and his raging voice echoed through the room. "You got married on the day Hermione died? When you were supposed to be helping in the search for Hermione, you took off and got married? You bastard!"

Snape's voice had become weak from his ordeal as he answered. "Yes, I was married on the day you believed me to be helping in the search for Hermione."

The woman rose from Professor Snape. In her wrath, she turned to face the Order members. Her fury was evident even in her graceful movements. Power flowed from her, through her, around her. Her clothes blew, though there was no breeze in the room. She was surrounded by a golden light. It was elemental. A protective force like the one Harry's mother must have summoned when she protected Harry from Voldemort. As she spoke, she was shaking with indignation. "The next person to ask my husband a question will answer to me." Her tone left no room for mistake. She could, and would, defend Snape. She would not allow anyone to cause him more harm. She glared at the group.
All of the Order members were stunned. They were beyond shock; no one could even speak.

Remus Lupin was the first to find his voice. "Hermione," he said gently. It was not a question.

Then Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke in an official tone. "Hermione? Hermione Granger?"

The woman turned to the Auror. "Yes, I'm Hermione. I'm Hermione SNAPE." Hermione knelt beside Professor Snape again. She laid her hands on his arms and smiled gently into his deep black eyes. "Five years tomorrow, My Heart," she whispered. Her words were very quiet, but in the silence they were heard by all.

"You, you, you're alive? Hermione, you're alive?" Ron asked urgently into the quiet.

"Miss Grang-, er, Madam Snape, you have been declared dead. I think we need to clear up a few things," Kingsley Shacklebolt said in his authoritative voice.

"When my husband's well, when he has recovered from your treatment of him, I'll consider it," Hermione responded with cold malice.

"I think I can help with both of those things." Albus Dumbledore spoke from the doorway. He approached Severus and Hermione and extended a phial. "I stopped by Severus' dungeons on my way here. I thought this might be needed."

Hermione accepted the phial and inspected its contents. "Thank you, Albus, this is just what Severus needs." As soon as Hermione administered the potion to Severus, he seemed to recover most of his strength. Now that he could, he sat straight in the chair. He held his hand out to his daughter, who happily resumed her place on his knee.

"Hermione," Severus began, "Kingsley, Tonks, Lupin, none of them had any part in my interrogation. I have come to realise that they, in fact, opposed it. Most of the Order members did not agree with it." Severus brushed Hermione's cheek with the back of his long fingers.

"Who then, who did this to you?" Hermione asked softly.

"Now is not the time, My Love," Severus whispered, as he held her gaze with his own.

"No, not in front of our daughter," Hermione agreed.

"Kingsley, perhaps Poppy could shed some light on this for you," Albus Dumbledore suggested. "If you don't mind, Poppy?" he asked the matron.

"Severus, Hermione, may I?" Poppy asked. The two nodded their assent, and Poppy dove right into the explanation. "Hermione did not die, as you can see. As you know, Hermione created the potion that in the end was highly instrumental in the downfall of Voldemort. Harry would not have been victorious without it. The Death Eaters that are still on the loose blame Hermione for Voldemort's demise; they want her dead. In an effort to keep Hermione safe from them, Albus faked her death. You can't kill someone who is already dead, now can you? I have been Hermione's Secret-Keeper for five years. She has been living under the Fidelius Charm. Only her husband and myself knew where she was all this time. It was completely necessary or she would surely have been murdered. Now the Fidelius is broken. This morning when I learned of the plans to interrogate Professor Snape with Veritaserum, I knew full well that he would not tell that Hermione is alive. I knew that if he were asked, he would give his life to protect her. So I contacted Hermione. Had I not and had Severus Snape, an innocent man I might add, been allowed to die, Hermione would have broken the Fidelius on her own, anyway. So there you have it." Poppy turned her gaze to the back of the room. "I hope you are proud of yourself, young man. Moreover, I hope you have learnt a valuable lesson. You nearly killed an innocent man. Now you have gravely endangered a woman you call friend; you have endangered your friend's husband, their daughter, and their unborn child," Poppy finished on a angry, scathing note.

"Hermione?" Professor Snape questioned.

"Yes, Severus. Although this is most definitely not how, or where, I would have chosen to tell you. I am three weeks pregnant." Hermione paused in thought and said, "Poppy says they kept you locked in a room here for the past two and a half weeks. So I couldn't... I couldn't tell you... and, and, when you didn't come home - "

Poppy interrupted her. "It's a miracle she didn't lose the baby with the stress of worrying about what might have happened to you."

Sulis reached out a hand and put it on her mother. "Daddy, Mummy has my baby brother," then the little girl lowered her voice conspiratorially, "inside her." The little girl wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Don't worry, though, he'll come out."

Severus and Hermione smiled indulgently at their daughter.

"That's wonderful," Albus Dumbledore said, mustering a smile. "Perhaps the dungeons of Hogwarts would be the safest place for you all for the time being? Kingsley, Tonks, can you take leave from the Ministry? I would like to post you to protect the Snapes until we find a safer solution."

"I would be pleased to assist, I have quite a bit of leave accrued," Kingsley answered pleasantly.

"Me too, Albus," Tonks agreed.

"Well that's decided then. Let's get you all to Hogwarts and settled in," Albus smiled benevolently.

"I get to go to the castle where you work, Daddy?" Sulis asked with awe.

"It would seem so, Princess," Professor Snape answered, in what could only be described as a tolerant tone, a tone that bordered on affectionate.

Albus Dumbledore turned to the Order members and addressed them. "I'm sure you would all like to talk to Hermione, but I ask that you wait. Give them time to settle in, to adjust. This has been quite an ordeal for them all. I'm sure it was extremely trying for Hermione to not know what had befallen her husband for two and a half weeks. Severus must have been intensely distraught during that time as well. His inability to contact his wife, knowing what she would be going through, must have been horrible. Then this afternoon, I am sure that Professor Snape expected to die at the hands of his compatriots. Now their home is lost to them, and I am sure their daughter is very confused. Yes, give them time. I believe Hermione will welcome the chance to have a reunion with you all... in a few days," Albus finished wisely.

Then Albus turned to Severus and Hermione. "However, children," he said to them, "perhaps your daughter would like to meet your friends sooner. Poppy and I would be glad to take her tomorrow. We will keep her safe and happy, and you two can celebrate your anniversary," Albus offered.

Severus and Hermione looked at each other. "I'll make sure Kingsley stays with us, and we won't leave the castle," Albus reassured them. "Sulis will be perfectly safe with Poppy, Kingsley, and myself." He then turned to Sulis. "Would you like Poppy and me to show you the castle where your father works?"

Sulis looked to her parents, who nodded their assent. "Yes, please!" Sulis answered enthusiastically.

"Good," Albus pronounced. "It's all settled then."

-finite fabula-

With many thanks to the brilliant Nakhash Mekashefah for her beta-reading!