Author's Notes: Thank you so much to my lovely beta. She had this back to me in a day or two.
Thank you so much to my reviewers. I really can't tell you all how much your comments have meant to me over the last year and a half. It's been a long journey--one I thought would be finished in December 2006--and it means so much to me that so many people have followed along with my story. What started out as a ten-chapter idea became a novel length story that I'm proud of. You have each given me so much. Thank you. I hope you each enjoy the final installment.
Disclaimer: JKR owns HP. Too bad for me.
It All Comes Down To Time
"Why does it have to be me who rings the bell?" Hermione asked as they Apparated to her parents' home.
"Because they're your parents," Severus said. "It was your idea to tell them in person."
"Well, I couldn't write them a letter like you suggested. They're my parents!" Hermione glared at her husband. He'd been in a foul mood when she'd reminded him they had a lot of explaining to do to her very Muggle parents. They didn't understand a lot about the wizarding world, and Hermione's time-travel incident was sure to confuse them.
"If your father tries to kill me when he finds out I was one of your teachers, I won't be held responsible for my actions," Severus said as he helped Hermione climb the stairs.
Aiden was sleeping soundly, head resting on the top of her shoulder, and a trail of drool from his mouth was soaking through her shirt. Hermione sighed loudly as she gathered her courage and rang the bell.
"Looks like they're not home," Severus said, turning and taking a step toward the stairs.
Hermione grabbed the edge of his shirt and pulled him back as the lock clicked inside the house.
"Hello, Mum," Hermione said, smiling brightly.
Her mother stared at Aiden, mouth dropped open in shock.
"Are you going to let us inside?" Severus asked, nearly snarling in annoyance.
Hermione elbowed him in the stomach. "I can explain," she said.
"Let me see if I understand this." Hermione's father raked a shaky hand through his thin, gray hair. "You were transported nineteen years into the past. You chased your future teacher. Then, you got yourself pregnant."
Hermione flushed red and lowered her head in shame. "There was a bit more to it than that, Daddy," she said softly.
"But that covers the basics?" he asked.
"Yes," she whispered.
"Did it not cross your mind to use a contraceptive?" Her father frowned disapprovingly. It was obvious he was having a hard time believing that she had forgotten such a simple, yet vitally important, thing.
Hermione's mother hadn't spoken a word since they'd arrived. It had been nearly an hour, and she was still staring at Aiden in shock. Severus felt like a child for the first time in years as Hermione's father began with his questions after Hermione hurriedly explained the situation. Hermione had done an admirable job of handling things until her father asked about the contraceptive.
Hermione sputtered, obviously ashamed of herself. Severus decided it was time to intervene.
"No, sir. We were acting on hormones alone. Teenagers often do not consider the consequences of their actions; especially a young person in such a stressful situation as Hermione was in."
Mr. Granger's gaze rested on Severus, making Severus wish he was invisible. He didn't regret speaking up. It would have been cowardly to let Hermione take responsibility for everything.
Mr. Granger's eyes narrowed, and his face clouded with anger. "You. You took advantage of my little girl."
"Technically he didn't, Daddy," Hermione said quickly, placing a calming hand on Severus knee. "I was older than him when I went back in time. He was something of an outcast, and I took advantage of his loneliness."
Severus could almost feel Hermione's heartbeat increase as her father looked at her again.
"I must say, Hermione," her father said softly. "I'd expected better from you. Taking advantage of your future teacher was hardly becoming behavior."
Hermione's face fell. Severus knew those were the very words she was dreading to hear. Before either of them could say anything, her father continued.
"But what's done is done. You both realize you've made mistakes. And you were adult enough to be honest with us. Despite my disappointment that you were both so careless, I can only be proud of the way in which you have both handled a delicate situation."
Hermione sagged against Severus in relief. He put his arm around her as she breathed deeply.
"Can I hold him?" Hermione's mother asked suddenly, still staring at Aiden.
"Of course, Mum. You are his grandmother," Hermione said, standing and gently placing Aiden in her arms.
Aiden woke shortly after that and stole both his grandparents' hearts in a matter of seconds.
Two months later, the Ministry held a party to honor those who had played key roles in the defeat of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Severus hadn't wanted to attend, but Hermione had insisted that it would be good for his public perception. Nothing he'd said could convince her he truly didn't care, so he'd gone, if only to get her to shut up.
To his surprise, he'd been awarded an Order of Merlin, First Class. He hadn't expected an award—certainly nothing higher than an Order of Merlin, Third Class. He hadn't even been conscious during the final battle.
It had surprised him even more when an Order of Merlin, Third Class had been presented posthumously to Draco Malfoy. His heart had begun pounding, and his head had ached. Hermione had accepted the award on Draco's behalf, speaking about how he'd turned against his father after a life of being emotionally abused.
Several hours later, Severus stood brooding in a dark corner of the room. He still hadn't completely forgiven Draco for his involvement in the kidnapping of his family. Hermione had told him on more than one occasion that it was Draco who'd kept them alive, giving the Order enough time to locate the Muggle manor where Voldemort hid.
He caught Hermione's smiling face as Ron swept her clumsily around the dance floor. His tremors were permanent, making graceful things like dancing nearly impossible. However, Ron's eyes lit up as he laughed with Hermione when he tripped over his own feet. Knowing Hermione wouldn't notice him missing for a while, Severus edged his way toward the exit, slipping out when her back was to him.
Breathing in the night air deeply, Severus Apparated. He knew where Draco was buried. He was right next to his mother. Severus had been to visit Narcissa's grave, mourning the loss of the woman who had been there for him during his tumultuous life. He hadn't spared a glance at Draco's grave, though Hermione had placed flowers on it and cried.
His steps echoed dully as he walked through the deserted graveyard. The stars twinkled above, the perfect night lighting his way. He paused in front of Narcissa's grave. He stared at the illuminated headstone, wishing she'd had a better, longer life.
Finally, he wrenched his eyes over to Draco's headstone. His feet finally followed his gaze, and he crouched before the headstone. Reaching out, he gently traced Draco's name.
"I forgive you," he whispered. "Thank you for saving her."
He fell silent, knowing no more words were needed. Somewhere, he knew Draco had a smile on his face.
"I'm going to Hogsmeade," Hermione said five months later.
Severus looked up from Aiden's dinner of ham and peas. The boy was wearing most of it enthusiastically. Pitsy had tried to convince Severus to let her feed Aiden, knowing the boy would wear more than he would eat, but Severus had dismissed her. "Why?" he asked.
"To kill Remus," she said as she threw on her cloak.
Severus' chuckle followed her out the door, making her mood darker. Two vomiting children had left the second year class she was teaching within a half an hour of each other. A few other students had tried to pretend that there was a stomach bug going around, but Hermione had refused to allow anyone who wasn't showing physical signs of illness to leave.
When she reached Remus' store, she threw the door open and was faced with the Weasley twins instead.
"Hermione," George said, hugging her tightly as she rolled her eyes.
"How are you doing today?" Fred asked, squeezing her when George released her.
"How am I doing today? I was coming here to kill Remus for selling contraband items to students, but since you two are here, you'll be an even better alternative." She took a step towards Fred because he was the closest to her.
"Uh… I'll just pop back to the stock room and get Remus," George said, abandoning his brother to Hermione.
Fred looked nervous as he stepped behind the counter. "Now, Hermione, you can't totally blame the two of us for your woes with your students," he said. "If it wasn't for you, we might never have gotten some of our best products marketable."
He ducked as Hermione fired a curse off. She intended to turn his hair, all of his hair, purple, but she ended up turning a cage full of Pygmy Puffs purple instead.
"Hermione? What are you doing?" Remus asked as he walked out of the storeroom. George cowered behind him, using him as a human shield.
"Do you know how unpleasant it is to see a half-digested lunch?" she asked, pointing her wand at him.
"As a matter of fact, I do," he said.
Hermione shot him a venomous look. "I ought to—"
"Hermione!" A happy voice behind Hermione caused her to turn around.
"Hagrid," she said in surprise. "I didn't know you were coming!"
"It's a surprise for your little one's first birthday," he said, smiling widely, taking up the entire doorway as he crouched below the frame. "I got the little bugger a pet."
Hermione groaned silently. She wondered what the half-giant deemed an appropriate pet for a one-year-old. "What a wonderful thought," she said, smiling through clenched teeth.
"I'd best be off to feed her," Hagrid said. "Just saw you through the door and thought I'd say hello. See you tomorrow then!"
"Oh, no," Hermione said, moaning as she dropped her head into her hands.
"It'll be okay, Hermione," Remus said, placing a soothing hand on her arm. "I'll help you set the animal free after Hagrid leaves."
"Thank you," she said, less annoyed at him than she had been upon entering.
"You need some cheering up," Remus said. "Go home and ask Severus why he was in the hospital wing when you arrived at Hogwarts in 1977." He winked at her as he turned around and walked back into the storeroom.
As Hermione climbed into bed that night, Remus' words came to mind, so she turned to Severus. "Why were you in the hospital wing when I was in 1977?"
Severus, who had been in a good mood given the fact that he had resumed teaching at the beginning of the new term, glowered darkly. "Lupin told you to ask, didn't he?"
Hermione didn't look at him. "Why do you always blame Remus for things?"
Severus snorted. "Do you really want me to answer that?"
"I really want you to answer that."
Severus laid the book he'd been reading down on his lap. "Because Lupin always puts ideas into your head about our school da—"
Hermione smacked Severus' arm. "I want you to answer my question about being in the hospital, Severus."
Severus rubbed his eyes. "I got hexed by Black and Potter. They claimed it was an accidentally miscast spell that missed its intended target."
"Miscast?" Hermione asked, skepticism lacing her voice. "What did it do to you?"
"I …" Severus sighed heavily. "I grew a forked tail."
"You grew a forked tail?" Hermione stared at him in shock. "They hexed you to grow a tail?" Her lips quivered.
"It wasn't funny."
Hermione burst out laughing. "I'm s-so s-s-sorry, Severus. It's just that—"
"Yes, my humiliation amused everyone then too," he said as he put his book on the nightstand and laid down with his back to Hermione.
"Severus, you know that I'm not laughing at your humiliation." Hermione scooted closer to him, resting her head on his upper arm. "You're talking to the person who got turned into a cat in her second year. And I did it to myself. At least someone else caused you to grow a tail."
Severus rolled over, dislodging Hermione from his arm. "I remember that incident well. And you had a tail, too."
The following day, Aiden's birthday party was set up in their living room. Severus had groused all morning. He wasn't in the mood for people to invade his privacy. He especially wasn't in the mood for whatever creature Hagrid was bringing to his home.
"I don't know why you feel the need to have so many people over," he said as Hermione set the table with party plates.
"It's Aiden's first birthday, Severus. This is special!" She didn't even look at him as she gave the same excuse she had only an hour ago.
"But he doesn't even know it's his birthday," Severus said.
"I know it is, Severus Snape," Hermione said, turning on him with a dark look.
Severus sat down on the couch. His only job was to keep his hands off of the things Hermione set up. He decided it had to be the most difficult job he could be given. When she set up a life-sized pony balloon that was charmed to do everything a real pony does, Severus had wanted to hex it. It was the most annoying thing he'd ever seen.
When Hermione set up the teddy bears charmed to sing Happy Birthday every time someone walked past, Severus would have gladly kissed the pony balloon.
He scowled as his cozy living room was turned into a heinous zoo attraction. He hated parties, and he hated having people in his home. Combining the two made him want to destroy something. He was reaching out to rip the head off of one of the bears on the table when Hermione caught him.
"Don't you dare touch that bear," she said, wand pointed straight at him. "You will enjoy this party."
"Why did I get married?" he muttered as he sat back, arms crossed over his chest.
Much to Severus' dismay, Aiden screamed in delight when he woke up from his nap. He loved the pony and the bears saying, "Pretty, Mummy! Pretty!" As he smiled over everything, Severus couldn't help but be drawn in by his son's enthusiasm.
By the time the guests arrived, Severus was almost in good enough spirits to smile. His outward appearance was normal, but he knew Hermione and Aiden could tell he was in a decent mood.
As the day wore on, his head began aching, and his temperament plummeted. When Aiden opened Hagrid's gift to reveal a Diricawl, Severus nearly moaned aloud. The Muggle term of Dodo was apt as the creatures were stupid. The only things unusual about them were their abilities to disappear.
Aiden shrieked with laughter as the bird disappeared before his eyes, reappearing across the room.
Severus forced himself not to rub his temples. At least they'd be able to tell Hagrid it was simply invisible when he visited.
When everyone had gone but Remus, Severus said, "We're not having a party next year."
"Oh, come now, Severus," Remus said as he picked up the singing bears, one by one. They sang enthusiastically, all on different lines of the song. "Aiden had a good time."
"How wonderful. We're not doing this next year." Severus sat sullenly on the couch. If it wasn't for Hermione, he'd have hexed everyone.
Dumbledore, McGonagall, Potter, Weasley, Lupin, and Hagrid had all been very cheerful, adding to Severus' headache. Hermione's parents, who still hadn't warmed up to Severus very much, had come to the party, adding an uncomfortable air to his day.
Aiden had fallen to sleep an hour before the party broke up, a Silencing Charm put on his room to insure his sleep.
Severus broke from his brooding just in time to hear Lupin say, "Hermione, those Pygmy Puffs you hexed sold like hot-cakes yesterday."
"Go home, Remus," Hermione said. She pointed to the door.
Remus laughed as he headed for the door. "I'm just saying that you can come hex the Pygmy Puffs again anytime you'd like," he said.
Hermione's eyes flashed as she took a step toward Remus, wand still outstretched.
Severus briefly wondered if Hermione had hexed him. Waving his wand a few times, he cleaned up his living room.
"I wanted to save some things as mementos of Aiden's first birthday," Hermione said, turning toward him.
"You have things right there to save," Severus said, pointing at a few items on the table. "I'm going into my study to recuperate from the day."
"I hate that study," Hermione muttered.
Severus smiled. "If you'd like, you can come in, too."
Hermione stared at him as if she'd misheard. "Into your study?"
Severus almost laughed at the look on her face. "Yes, into my study," he said, confirming his invitation.
Hermione walked through the door, looking around as if she was expecting something life-changing. "There are only a desk and a couple of chairs in here," she said, turning around. A disappointed look crossed her face. "This is what you've been hiding from me?" she asked.
Severus pulled Hermione into a hug. "There's a little more to it than that." He opened the door to a small cabinet, revealing a wizarding picture of Hermione. She was smiling and waving, Hogsmeade behind her.
"Where did you get that?" she asked. "I don't remember that picture… When was it taken?"
"It was taken by a Daily Prophet photographer in 1977. He was doing a story on Hogwarts. I took the film out of his bag when he was drinking in The Three Broomsticks later." He flushed, surprising Hermione. "I was too shy to ask you for a picture."
"Shy?" An incredulous feeling swept through her body, and she laughed. "We'd been having sex, and you were too afraid to ask for my picture?"
"I didn't say it was a rational feeling," Severus said, jumping on the defense.
"I think it's romantic," Hermione whispered, hand stealing up to her neck. She pulled the silver chain from her shirt and ran her fingers over the letters on the small charm. "Why didn't you want me to know about it?"
"I wasn't ready for you to know I'd loved you for all those years." His voice was soft. Before Hermione could react, he added, "And you're a bloody nosy woman. If I'd allowed you in here, you would have found out in scant seconds as you rifled through my belongings."
Hermione glared at him. "I do not rifle through other people's things." Severus noticed she'd let the nosy comment slid. It must have taken a lot out of her not to comment on that. "Besides, you've let other people in before. Weren't you worried they'd see the portrait?"
"They wouldn't be thumbing through my things. How many people do you actually think have seen the inside of my quarters anyway?" He stared at her impassively.
"You're the most irritating man," Hermione said, smacking his arm lightly.
"And you're a meddlesome woman." Sharing his feelings with Hermione wasn't as difficult as he'd thought it would be. In a very satisfying way, he felt liberated. "What hex did you use on Lupin as he left?"
"Me?" Hermione looked up at him innocently. "Remus is my friend. I'd never hurt him."
"I didn't say you hurt him. Now out with it. I know you did something."
The twinkle in Hermione's eye betrayed her innocent look. Finally, her lips curled up as she started into his eyes. The deviousness of her stance and face made Severus thankful he was on her good side at the moment.
"Let's just say that he'll be staring at a purple werewolf in the mirror with the next full moon."
Severus threw his head back, laughing loudly. "I didn't think you had it in you."
Hermione sniffed. "There are still a few things you have to learn about me."
Severus grabbed her, and she screamed. "It's a good thing I put a Silencing Charm on Aiden's room," she said, laughing.
"It's a very good thing," Severus said, winking as he carried her to their bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him.