In his eagerness to exercise his newfound financial independence, Severus Snape had forgotten one crucial factor: his parole required him to stay at Hogwarts. It took another year of appeals—as well as testimony from Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall, and Harry Potter, among others—to release him from that bondage.
On the day he was finally cleared of all charges, he and Hermione had been married for exactly six months. They'd chosen the Winter Solstice for their wedding, to symbolize the fact that, though life had been dark, it would only get brighter. And it did.
Hermione had known that her husband's appeal would be granted; Percy Weasley had leaked her the information a week in advance. While Severus hunched over end-of-term exams, she'd taken Carly and Stephen out house hunting.
When, at the end of the hearing, he'd been given the papers that signified his freedom, she'd never seen him glow so brightly. Of course, that record was shattered fifteen minutes later, when she Apparated him to the aging Tudor estate she'd bought for a song. It would need a bit more fixing, but in time it would be a spacious and stately manor.
On a bright summer morning, four years later, Ron Weasley Apparated just outside the boundaries of the Snape estate. The gates swung open as he approached, and he began the long, pleasant walk to the front door.
Ron had been quite successful in both his Quidditch career and the investment ventures that he'd dabbled in on the side. He had a large house, too, but it was nothing like this. Something was different—what, he wasn't sure.
His former professor opened the door. "I was unaware that you would be arriving early, Mr. Weasley."
"Hermione wanted me to help set up for the party. Luna and the kids will arrive later."
"Well, carry on." Severus indicated the rear of the house with a toss of his head. "She knows where to find me if I'm needed." He turned and went down a staircase without another word.
Ron snorted. The Bat still preferred dungeons, it seemed. He meandered into the kitchen, where Dobby was putting the finishing touches on a large cake. "Missus is decorating the verandah," the diminutive creature squeaked.
"Thanks, Dobby. It smells great, by the way. I don't suppose…"
Dobby grinned. He was quite familiar with the habits of the red-haired wizard. "I be making an appetizer cake just for you, Mr. Ron." He waved one green arm in the direction of the sideboard, where there was a miniature version of the culinary masterpiece.
"Ron! There you are!" Hermione bustled into the kitchen with an armful of streamers. The redhead looked up from the half-finished plate and mumbled something through a mouthful of cake.
"Eliza is dying of impatience. Can you finish that later? I'm about done with the decorations, but the enchanted maze hasn't been started yet. When is Luna coming?"
"Just before noon. Not nearly soon enough for Anna—she's been up since the crack of dawn."
Eliza Snape and Anna Weasley were the same age—to the very hour. At the tender age of four, they were already "bestest" friends, and would not dream of having separate birthday parties.
It was while Ron was putting faerie enchantments on the privet bushes that he realized why the Snape household was so different than his own: it was quiet. His own home was a riot of noise—Anna was a chatterbox; Arthur was constantly tearing things apart to see how they worked; and the twins, just past a year old, were always walking around, making a mess, and screaming just for the heck of it. Fawn and Alan, the two adoptees, were off at Hogwarts most of the year, which was the only reason his home was even halfway sane.
Here, in Hermione's house, there was never even a whisper until his own children showed up. It was unnaturally quiet. He looked out across the lawn. Carly was zooming around in her enchanted chair, and Stephen and Eliza and even little Toby were playing some sort of running game—hide and seek, perhaps. In the Weasley home, such a game would have been accompanied by giggles, if not shrieks of laughter. Yet not one of the Snape children uttered so much as a snicker.
"Don't your children ever speak?"
Hermione grinned. "They're chattering like mad, Ron. Learn Legilimency, why don't you?"
Flushing bright red, Ron stammered, "They…they can read my thoughts?" He tried to quickly shove thoughts of his morning activities with Luna to the back of his mind.
"Oh, grow up, Ron. They aren't interested in adults. But if you want to be safe…why, you could learn Occlumency, too. I've been telling you to do so for years."
At that moment, Eliza ran up to him. "Hi, Unca Ron! I saw your name in Hogwarts, a History last night!"
This solemn pronouncement caused the redhead to chuckle hysterically. When, at last, he'd finally calmed down, he managed to choke out these words: "Hermione, I am terribly glad that I am not your child."
"I'm glad I'm not her child, too," deadpanned Severus, who suddenly appeared behind his wife. "You can't have much fun with your own mother."
Ron groaned, "Spare me the thought."
Pulling his wife close, Severus whispered, "Brewing complete." She saw the subtle twinkle in his dark eyes; the rest of his face remained completely sober.
She thought ahead to the Polyjuice potion which would soon be slipped into Ron's drink and suppressed a giggle. Being married to a Potions Master was never dull.
And that's where I would end the story, Dear Readers. However, I know that, were I to do so, I would receive about 1,000 reviews begging me to tell you what happened to the Snapes. Here is a brief summary of what happened to each member of that illustrious family.
Carly went to Hogwarts that fall, was sorted into Ravenclaw, and became an academic superstar, just like her mother. The elixir that Severus and Hermione had developed years earlier allowed her enough freedom of movement to write and control her wand movements, but not much else. It wasn't until the age of eighteen that she underwent the medical treatments that allowed her full use of her body. She went on to become a mediwitch specializing in degenerative diseases.
Stephen became Gryffindor's star chaser a few years later. He did well in school (though never so well as Carly—he was too busy partying to study) and went into Auror training fresh out of Hogwarts. His training in Legilimency and Occlumency gave him an edge over his adversaries.
Eliza was the first Snape to be sorted into Slytherin. Her grades were barely above average, and she took a menial desk job after finishing her NEWTs. Once out of school, however, she blossomed; within fifteen years, she became the Minister of Magic.
Toby was also sorted into Slytherin. When he graduated, he followed in his father's footsteps by completing an apprenticeship in Potions. Soon afterward, Ron Weasley, the new Headmaster of Hogwarts, called on him to be the new Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House. His students swore that he could tell what they were thinking!
Severus and Hermione founded Snape Potions LLC, the premier distributor of medicinal elixirs in Britain. In time, they even bought out Malfoy Medicinals; they immediately hired Draco to take over management of the company, so they could continue spending the bulk of their time on potions development and refinement.