Disclaimer: All Harry Potter people, places, things, and ideas (all Harry Potter nouns) belong to J. K. Rowlings. All Elf-related topics, the Elvish language, references to staff magic, and any other Lord of the Rings nouns belong to J. R. R. Tolkien and the Elvish dictionary at Nevrast. The titles of the chapters were inspired by "Once Upon a December" from the cartoon movie Anastasia. Professor Heryn O'Sheen is mine.

Last Chapter 13: Someone holds me safe and warm.

Severus ducked out of the way as a beam shot forth from the blue staff. The Potions Master finally got a good look at his enemy. "Is that the best you can do?" he chastised as he fired a spell from the black staff.

Hornet was not fast enough and ended up on his back. However, Severus soon realized that the man had an advantage: he had many ancient incantations memorized. "I thought you were smarter than that. But I suppose that being trained by that wench I shouldn't expect much."

The Potions Master's anger had begun to burn. He shot fire from his staff, but Hornet quickly jumped out of the way, barely missing the flames that appeared directly in front of him. A few beads of sweat even ran down his face due to the fire's heat. Hornet realized that his opponent would not be put off easily.

"Did you really thing I'd let you live after what you've said and after what you did to her? Your luck can only last so long," Severus seethed.

Hornet tried to trip Severus with a gust of wind, but he jumped out of the way. "Do I look like I am so easily beaten? You underestimate me," Hornet sneered.

While the two dueled each other, the faculty fought off the deatheaters. Curses fired back and forth, dodged or blocked by counter-curses. As Severus blocked another attack from Hornet, a deatheater aimed his wand to fire, but Hornet shoved the man to his right. "No, this is between him and me!" he declared.

Hornet attacked Severus again. The Potions Master moved, but it still knocked the wind out of him. I must find a way to defeat him. If only I could get rid of his staff, then he would be much easier to eliminate, Severus reasoned. He looked away from his opponent long enough to see where they were. He soon realized that they had been moving toward the forbidden forest. Too bad there isn't anything useful in there, Severus thought.

But as he stepped backward on one of the roots, something he did not expect happened. He could sense a consciousness in the trees. Of course! She said that this was also Fangorn Forest, which means that there may still be Ents here, even if they are dormant, he reasoned. If only there was a way to wake them up.

As he watched Hornet shoot wind and objects in his direction, Severus realized what he could try to wake the Ents. He glared at his opponent and hollered, "I thought you had incantations memorized. From what I've seen you do, I'm certain that you've already forgotten how to use the fire spell!"

The other man laughed maliciously. "So you really want to see what this can do? I'll show you fire!"

The flames shot forth from the blue wand and Severus was able to make enough of a shield to step back and left, moving out of the way. Hitting a nearby tree, Hornet swore under his breath and stopped the spell. "You don't stand much of a chance against me. Give up and hand me my family's staff before I burn down this whole forest!"

Severus quickly doused the fire on the tree. He did not need to respond to his enemy as both felt the ground shaking. The tree next to him pulled its massive base from the ground and began to walk, looking at the two wizards with extreme scrutiny. The great creature picked up Severus and sniffed him. "Yooouuu shhhouldn't be playiiing with that staaaafff, but you'rrre not the onnnne," he said in a slow drawl before setting Severus back on the ground.

Then he reached over and lifted up Hornet, sniffing him as well. "Yooooouuuu wrrreak of Saauurumaaan!"

Hornet stared at the Ent in shock. Severus looked up and smirked. "Someone didn't read his history book of Middle Earth."

"If you think for a minute that I'm intimidated by a mere tree, you are mistaken," Hornet exclaimed with false bravado.

His face became ashen white as he saw five other Ents walk up to join their companion. The Potions Master knew Hornet was petrified and waited with interest to see what the Ents would do. The Ent holding Hornet snatched the staff from his hands. "We willlll beeee taking thiiiis. Doooo with him whaaaat you wiiish," he said as he dropped the man to the ground. The Ent then broke the blue staff as if it was nothing more than a toothpick. The breaking of the staff caused his army of Orcs to immediately vanish.

Severus smirked as he levitated Hornet. "I was going to kill you, but now I'm pondering if Azkaban would serve as a better punishment. First though, you will suffer for what you put her through."

Hornet suddenly found himself thrown to the ground, permanently mute as well as deaf. Severus strolled over to him and mouthed what he was about to say so that Hornet understood. "You hindered her ability to respond as herself by taking away her memory, but she did not know the full extent of what she had lost. I have hindered your ability to respond and have left your mind fully intact to know what you have lost."

The rest of the faculty had finished off the deatheaters and Albus approached Minerva. "My dear it's finally over," he commented.

She brushed her lips with his. "Yes, and that feeling of gloom and doom has finally left me."

He noticed that her bun was in disarray with tendrils of her ebony-grey hair falling out. Using his wand, he put her hair back in place and studied her face to see if she was indeed alright. Then he pulled her into a warm embrace. "I want you to go see Poppy. You should not have been out here fighting a battle like this in your state of health." She nodded and walked back toward the castle.

Severus strode over to Albus. "What should we do with the surviving deatheaters and Hornet?" the younger man inquired. "I want him in Azkaban."

"I will contact the Ministry of Magic and see that they do something with them. We might as well leave them petrified for now. Byron Hornet will get his comeuppance. Now I believe there is a certain lady you wish to see in the infirmary?" Albus mentioned. Severus nodded and used his staff to make his own army disappear, surprised that it had worked without the incantation. Then he headed over to the castle, fully conscious of his injuries as he attempted to hurry.

Minerva and Poppy stood on each side of the bed when Heryn awoke. Poppy had given her a catnap potion to examine her injuries more efficiently. The Elvish woman sat up to face to concerned witches, eying her with scrutiny. She raised an eyebrow and looked from one to the other.

"Do either of you have a reason for analyzing me?" she asked dryly.

The Transfiguration professor spoke first. "Do you know who you are?"

"And who we are?" the medwitch followed suit.

Heryn sighed. "I am Professor Heryn O'Sheen. Minerva, Poppy, I can assure you that nothing was done to my head this time. You will tell me what happened regarding the battle, yes?"

"Hornet and the deatheaters that are not dead will be taken care of by the Ministry of Magic and most likely sent to Azkaban," Minerva explained.

Suddenly Heryn's eyes widened as she looked around the room frantically. "Minerva, where is Severus?"

They heard the door open and an exhausted figure in black robes staggered into the infirmary. Before Poppy could stop her, Heryn leaped off her bed and made her way toward him. "My Severus, you are alright. How-" pain shot through her leg and she would have collapsed onto the ground had he not caught her.

"You were always one of the worst patients. The healing spell for that leg isn't finished yet, so you need to return to your bed," Poppy ordered.

Severus, not wanting to let Heryn notice his own injuries, started to pick her up to place her on the bed. Poppy immediately stopped him. "And you are in no condition to try an stunt like that! Who knows what you broke! She can get there herself and you might as well sit down next to her," she growled.

Poppy knew that he would never agree to be unconscious for a diagnosis and cast her usual spell on him. After learning what his injuries were, the medwitch walked away to find him a few potions. Heryn took the opportunity to look over at Severus. "How did it end?" she whispered, caressing his cheek with her hand.

"I remembered you telling me that the Forbidden Forest was actually Fangorn Forest and I decided to use a hunch about Ents still being there. Fortunately for us I was correct and the Ents stopped Hornet. They also broke his wand. He will see the justice he deserves," he recalled as he wrapped his arms around her.

She did not miss how he had said the last phrase. Knowing Severus as well as she did, she knew that he had already dealt some sort of punishment to Hornet. She was considering asking him about it until he pulled her close and kissed her soundly. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she responded and the two did not part until and impatient medwitch cleared her throat.

"Ahem, there will be plenty of time for that later. Now, Severus, you have a few broken ribs aside from numerous bruises and scratches. You will take what I give you and stay put for a while. Don't give me that 'I am the Potions Master and I don't have time for this' look. And the same goes for you, Heryn," Poppy instructed.

They both smirked before he downed the potions. Minerva shook her head and smiled at the two as she left in search of Albus. The Headmaster was sitting in his study, looking out of the window at the battleground. He turned when she entered. "Albus, what did the Ministry do with Hornet and the others?" she questioned.

"All of them will spend the rest of their lives in Azkaban," he mentioned, not looking her in the eyes.

She moved to meet his gaze and sighed, shaking her head. "What aren't you telling me?"

His features seemed downcast as he spoke. "Hornet left mute as well as deaf, and it was irreversible."

Minerva gasped. "Severus?"

Albus nodded. "He has always had is own ways of retribution. As you know, to make something irreversible requires dark magic, and such magic has physical repercussions, broken bones."

"And you don't know if you can let him go unpunished for using dark magic, but you also know that it was mostly for her," Minerva assessed.

He nodded. "As usual, you are quite right. I do not know what ought to be done."

She smiled. "There is a reason that I am Deputy Headmistress. I am here to give you suggestions when you run out of ideas. I think it would be a suitable punishment to allow him to teach only half his classes. Professor O'Sheen could teach the rest. You did want to find her a position if I recall."

The twinkle appeared in his blue eyes. "That is an excellent idea."

She nodded. "I am sure they will be pleased."

"You've come from the infirmary; how are they, Tabby?" he asked.

"They are both fine, each as horrible a patient as ever," she admitted

He chuckled. "It's good to know that even with a constantly changing world, some things remain the same. Those two were meant to be together from the start."

His hand caressed Minerva's cheek and she purred, relieved that the battle was over and content that the man she loved had survived. "Were they the only ones?" she whispered. With that he leaned toward her and captured her lips in a passionate kiss.

On Monday morning, Albus stood at the head table and made his announcements before the students began eating their breakfast. "First of all, I would like to introduce you to Professor Heryn O'Sheen. She was previously introduced as 'Moira' because her memory had been tampered with. She was once the Potions Mistress here. My second announcement applies to the potions classes. Professor Snape will only be teaching the first years, third years, and N.E.W.T. level Potions. All other Potions classes will be taught by Professor O'Sheen."

The students simply nodded and began to eat, not knowing whether or not they should be terrified or relieved. The idea of having two Potions teachers was rather disconcerting. Severus turned to Heryn and smirked, noting the students' reactions. "This year is going to be very interesting indeed," he whispered.

Her first class of the day were second-year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. She smiled broadly as they filed in, overjoyed to finally be teaching again. The students looked at her, petrified and suspicious. She forced herself not to laugh. Severus must terrify them, she realized. The lessons went well and the students were pleasantly surprised by Heryn's McGonagall-like teaching style. She was prim and proper, sticking to the rules, but there was a levity in the room that had not been there before.

Sinking into her chair as the last class left, she sighed with contentment, and a hint of fatigue. Glancing up, she noticed Severus in the back of the room and smiled warmly. He walked toward her and crosses his arms. "I hope you know you're ruining the feared reputation of 'Potions Master.' And I will bet that you did not even take away a single house point," he snapped, mocking disgust.

She saw right through him and laughed. "Severus, I have not ruined your reputation. I have merely revived my own. The students will still cower in terror as you walk by, and don't think I have not been observant in how they react to you. Care to enlighten a befuddled Elf with something other than criticism?"

He grinned mischievously and bent down to her for a quick kiss. She raised an eyebrow and wondered if he intended to close the classroom door. "Most students would not dare take a look in the Potions classroom. After all, most of my classes are tomorrow. And in all honesty, I forgot how much fun it was to watch you at work. You always did have a way of making the simplest project seem fascinating."

Standing, she walked around the front of the desk to face him. "Were you fascinated by the project or the teacher?" she asked with a grin that mirrored his.

"If I didn't know better, I would say you were flirting with me, Professor O'Sheen," Severus teased.

Heryn laughed again. "Now why would I do a silly thing like that when it would certainly ruin your reputation?"

He smiled back and kissed her hand. "Will you join me for dinner tonight? I have something special planned."

"Of course, you have my curiosity," she replied.

Dinner was fettuccini Alfredo with chicken, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts. "This is absolutely delicious. Someone must think this is a special occasion, yes?" Heryn remarked.

Severus merely smirked and continued eating. After the meal, she cleaned the dishes with magic and put them away. As she adjusted the plates in his cupboard, she turned back to him for a moment. "Are you aware that your students call you an 'overgrown bat' and a 'greasy git?' Honestly Severus, what have you been doing in my absence?" she questioned wryly with a mischievous smirk.

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Then he began kissing her neck. "I've spent nearly every day missing you."

She turned and her lips met his. After they parted for breath, he reached into his pocket and removed a small wooden box with a Lothlorien leaf design carved on the top. "Heryn, I don't want to miss you anymore. I should have asked this years ago, but I wasn't ready. I have regretted it so many times over. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Heryn O'Sheen, would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"

Her breath caught in her throat as she opened the box and found a simple diamond on a ring of Black Hills gold, with leaf designs. She allowed him to slip it onto her finger and he saw the depth of her love for him when he looked into her violet eyes. "My Severus, I love you, so very much. Yes, I will marry you." The box was set on the counter as they wrapped their arms around each other and kissed.

Heryn's mother and her three brothers came to the wedding along with the rest of the faculty. Her father had passed away several years ago, so she had asked Albus to give her away. Severus was too nervous to look anywhere else as he stood at the altar. When he finally faced her, he felt tongue-tied for what felt like hours, but it was only seconds. They said their vows and were married in a binding wizard's wedding, with a deep kiss at the end. Minerva caught the bouquet and laughed as Albus winked at her.

Because both were teaching Potions classes, they only went on a honeymoon for the weekend, in Greece. They decided that it would be more comfortable for the students if they wore the wedding bands, but Heryn would still go by 'Professor O'Sheen.' The new class situation continued to flow smoothly as time passed.

It had been four months since their marriage when Heryn walked out of their room and immediately placed her hand over her nose. She looked over at Severus as he brewed air freshener that a few staff members had asked for. "Severus, what on earth is that smell?"

"Honeysuckle and lilac, I've made this before and it didn't bother you. Perhaps you should go see Poppy," he suggested.

She shook her head adamantly. "I'm alright, just tired. The smell is just overwhelming this morning."

He raised an eyebrow, but let the incident pass. Later that day she distributed a quiz to her fourth-years and took a seat as they began to write, knowing that it would take them the entire class time. The strange feeling of exhaustion had not left her as she watched the monotony of their scrawling. Sighing, she rested her head in her hands. She jerked her head up as she heard the bell ring, signaling the end of the class. Quizzes were placed on her desk and the students filed out of the room.

When she stood as the next class found their seats, a moment of dizziness swept over her and she extended her arm out to use her desk for balance. Fortunately the class had not noticed. Quizzes were distributed once she had composed herself. At the end of the day she walked briskly to the infirmary. Poppy looked over at her with curiosity as she entered.

"Is something bothering you?" the medwitch inquired.

The Potions Mistress nodded. "My sense of smell is more sensitive than usual, I was dizzy today, and I fell asleep in one of my own classes."

Poppy examined her and both were surprised at the diagnosis. Heryn decided to break the news to Severus over dinner. She made him tortellini with marinara sauce and garlic bread. He smiled when he came home to find a delicious dinner. "Dinner looks wonderful, and forgive my suspicious nature, but what's the occasion?" he asked.

He was surprised to see her blush. Then she smiled and walked over to him. "I fell asleep in the middle of my class while they were taking quizzes. I decided to visit Poppy to see that everything was well," she paused and met his gaze as he stood.

"And?" he encouraged, feeling slightly concerned.

She placed her hand over her abdomen. "You're going to be a father."

When he stared at her, wide-eyed with a look of disbelief, she had to resist the urge to laugh. After the shock wore off, he embraced her and kissed her passionately. Then he began twirling her around the room. "You know, I was already dizzy this morning and this isn't helping," she reminded with a wry smile.

He immediately stopped and then the two hugged. "I love you," was all he said.

The two sat down and ate their meal. Neither spoke until it was finished. "I will still be teaching Potions," she told him.

A look of concern flashed in his dark eyes. "Won't the fumes be harmful?"

She shook her head. "Poppy gave me five potions. The first three are vitamin mixtures and the other two are for immunities against the fumes."

"How long do we have?" he questioned.

"Another seven and a half months, as Poppy figured it," she replied.

"Then we ought to find a concealing charm soon," he mentioned.

She cleaned up the plates and shook her head. "The dangers are gone and I do not wish to worry about hiding things."

Severus huffed. "How soon do you want to tell the staff?"

"I would like to tell them at the next meeting," she responded.

Heryn and Severus sat in adjacent chairs at the next meeting, waiting anxiously as Albus finished his announcements. When the Headmaster was finally seated, Heryn stood. She looked behind her to see her husband still seated. "Come on, Severus. It's not as if I asked you to go square-dancing again."

He sighed and stood, hearing the rest of the staff snicker. "Your blasted memory's as good as an elephant's when it's working correctly," he grumbled.

"I'm sure you have a fascinating story about all this, Severus," Minerva began, "but I'd really like to know what Heryn wants to tell us."

Severus took both of Heryn's hands in his to give her more confidence. She smiled warmly at him and then faced the others. "We have some good news I thought we should share with you. Severus and I are going to be parents, you see." To their surprise, the staff applauded.

Minerva and Albus were the last in the room after the staff meeting. "Well, things have certainly turned out differently than I had expected," the Transfiguration professor assessed.

The Headmaster smiled broadly, his eyes twinkling. "I think things have turned out better than any of us had ever imagined."

"I suppose you are correct. I would like to hear that square-dancing story someday though," she smirked.

Albus had watched her closely throughout the meeting, wanting to tell her. As she began to walk toward the door, he grabbed her hand and pulled her back toward him. Then he lifted it to his lips for a kiss and after a moment dropped the hand. "My dear Tabby," he began softly, "not a day has gone by since you caught that bouquet that I did not long to ask for your hand in marriage. But I was too worried to tell you."

She rested her hands on his shoulders. "How could you ever think I would refuse?"

His heart soared as his arms slowly found their way around her waist. "Minerva McGonagall, you would make me the happiest wizard in all the western hemisphere if you would accept my hand in marriage. Will you marry me?" he proposed.

A broad grin spread across her face. "Yes! Albus I have wanted you to ask since I caught that bouquet!" she exclaimed. They moved toward each other for a passionate kiss.Neither wentdown to dinner until after their snogging session.

Heryn watched two children playing on the living room rug five years later. The boy's name was Augustus Enyal Snape. His hair matched his mother's, a wavy copper mess, but his dark brown eyes came from his father. Augustus was four, playing with his little sister, two years younger than him. Amaurea Alicia Snape had her father's obsidian black hair and her mother's violet eyes. Both children had the pointy Elvish ears. There mother took a drink of water and then set the cup back down on the table as she observed them.

Severus had been fully reinstated in his position as Potions Master, resuming all the classes when his second child was born. Heryn reluctantly stood, taking the empty glass back to the kitchen. Her back was aching again, but she knew it was time to stand up. Sitting had been far too comfortable. She was about to walk back into the living room when two hands caught her and began giving her a massage.

She sighed with contentment. "My Severus, you keep improving on that. It is much appreciated."

His hands moved to circle her abdomen and he felt a few kicks. "It is my duty to make you comfortable until this one is born, of course. I never thought for a moment that I would have a wife I cannot live without, and three wonderful children. How many more months?"

"Fortunately we only have to wait for two. I think this one will be a boy," she commented as she too rested her hand on her abdomen to feel a kick.

"I cannot wait to find out what houses they will all be in," Severus stated.

Heryn turned to face him and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I want to savor each moment as it comes, my Severus," she whispered. He drew her to him and kissed her deeply, doing exactly as she had suggested.

Several years later, after Heryn had been given a permanent teaching position when she had finished caring for small children, she and Severus sat at the head table to watch the sorting ceremony. "Snape, Justin Estel," was the name called. An eleven-year-old boy with wavy copper hair and dark eyes sat on the stool. "Good gracious it's another Snape!" the hat began. "Who would have known that fatherhood would suit the old bat?"

Severus heard that and snorted. Heryn smirked and kissed his cheek, knowing that the students were more interested in the boy in the stool than the grouchy man in the background. "What do we have here? I see great intellect. You could do much with that, and you could join your brother and sister in Ravenclaw. Ah, then you have courage as well. My, you are an interesting one to place. Loyalty and cunning are part of you also. I think for now the best place to put you is… GRYFFINDOR!"

The Potions Master had made the mistake of taking a gulp of his water before the verdict was announced. He spit it out and stared in astonishment. Heryn smiled broadly and watched as her third and last child sat down with the rest of his new house. The she looked back at her husband. "You shouldn't look so surprised. We both have a great deal of courage within us, yes? I expected no less from the boy."

"I suppose that is one explanation," he grumbled.

"You're such a grouch," she exclaimed, swatting his arm playfully as they headed back to their quarters.

The two entered and he wrapped one arm around her waist after shutting the door. "I'm not always a grouch," he reminded her before kissing her neck again.

She turned and kissed his lips with passion. "No, you're not," she breathed when the kiss had ended. "Sometimes you are a gentleman and a scoundrel at the same time, but I have always loved you for it."

"Then I am thankful that some things never change," he murmured before kissing her again.


('Enyal' is 'remember,' 'Amaurea' means 'dawn,' and 'Estel' means 'trust;' this was a fun piece to write and I hope you all had fun reading it; my thanks to S.S.S.570, Leta McGotor for giving reviews since the beginning, and to miss McGonagle for reviewing :D)