THE FAMILY END
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit tribute to the works of JK Rowling who created and, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and settings elaborated herein.
Thanks to my reviewers and especially to my previewer, Bellegeste. (Enjoy your holiday, Cecelle.)
This was originally ch 21 of "Everything" but I've moved it to a place in its own right as a bona fide sequel, instead of just an add-on. So a quick recap: HBP never happened. Hermione married Severus three years after graduating Hogwarts and they have two children, Callie and Cammie. He's Deputy Headmaster and she's an Unspeakable. Friendships have grown and/or broken between unexpected partners.
I've used italics for the flashback to avoid confusion since it's interspersed with the Welcoming Feast.
Hermione sat at the family end of the Head Table, watching the new first years troop in behind her husband. She was sitting next to Ginny tonight as Severus always sat between Minerva and Amory on ceremonial occasions. Callie, at the Slytherin table, was arguing as usual with Tavie Greengrass and Gerry Nott, her inseparable best friends, and soon Cammie would be sorted into Gryffindor. They'd all known that ever since her tremendous tantrum when her father caught her dragging a school broom to the Quidditch field at the age of three and a half and firmly removed it from her grasp. There she was with Alison, her best friend since infant school.
Severus glanced across at Hermione with a half-roll of the eyes and a grim twitch at the corner of his mouth. She followed his eyes to the three new Weasleys – Fred's, George's and Charlie's – and the two pink-robed boys glaring at them and shook her head in sympathy. She nudged Ginny.
"They must have started on the train already," she muttered.
"Just be glad the twins' kids only come in singles," Ginny muttered back. "Imagine four of Fred's and George's kids in the same class!"
Hermione shuddered. It was bad enough that their wives always seemed to get pregnant at the same time.
"I have enough headaches, thank you very much." Times like this reminded her why she hadn't gone into teaching.
Neville frowned, scanning the Gryffindor table and tallying up how many other nephews and nieces he'd be teaching. Two of Bill's, two of Charlie's, three of Ron's, one each of the twins' and, of course, there were his own two sons. Bill's girls were at Beauxbatons.
"If I'd remembered which nephews were starting this year, I'd never have let Severus convince me to take this job," he grumbled. "Plants don't play pranks."
"But you are glad to be back, aren't you?" Hermione said. "Maybe it's different for you two, but Hogwarts was my first home in our world. I still smile every morning I wake up and remember where I am and I've been back almost seventeen years now."
"I never expected to be returning as a teacher," Neville said. "And when I remember how Severus used to terrify me, I'm sure I'd have fainted at the very thought."
"I suppose that's the famous Alison?" Ginny asked, turning back to the first years and craning her neck for a closer look at Cammie's companion. The girl was taller than Cammie, with hair quite as dark but much curlier and the milk-coffee skin of a bi-racial heritage. "Does she look like her dad or her mum?" She'd been hearing about them for years. "I must say, I still find it hard to believe that Severus could be such friends with a Muggle!"
"It began with the girls. I used to see Amanda at after-school care when I picked my girls up – remember how busy I was that year? My first as a supervisor –and then when all their kids turned out to be witches and we began advising them on magic issues, well, it all flowed on from there. Shh, the Sorting's starting."
Inwardly, Hermione breathed a sigh of relief for the fortunate interruption. It hadn't been quite like that. One day Ginny would find out the truth and then she'd probably never speak to her again. But she had no choice. She'd promised.
It was a-many years ago,
Try ten by ten by ten,
The Founders joined to start this school,
For they were all friends then.
Each had a different vision
Of what a school should be,
And to Sort each fine new student,
They gave the task to me.
For I can see what's hidden
What you yourself don't know,
And after looking in your head,
I'll tell you where to go.
There was a ripple of laughter. The Hat gave what, in a person, would be a smug bow and continued.
Bold Gryffindor chose courage,
The swift and bold and brave
Sage Ravenclaw loved wisdom,
The thoughtful, bright and grave,
Sly Slytherin prized cunning,
The persuasive-tongued and clever,
Kind Hufflepuff chose patience,
Those persistent in endeavour.
The differences they cherished.
You see, it takes all kinds;
To build up something lasting
Needs hearts, hands, eyes and minds.
So do not hate a brother
Just because he's not like you
And his ways are not your ways.
His heart may still be true.
Hermione's head jerked up and she glanced instinctively at her husband in query. He gave her the little shake of the head and half-raised eyebrow that meant, "I had nothing to do with it," and unrolled the scroll of names with ceremonial deliberation.
Six years ago, she'd gone to pick up the girls from Northfield Primary after-care as usual at 5.30 pm, but that afternoon it hadn't been cheerful West Indian Amanda with her gaggle of little girls, two walking, two in a double-stroller and one in a baby-carrier, picking up Cammie's new best friend. It had been her husband.
"Carey, Solomon!" That was the first pink-robed boy, still grimacing at the Weasley three until the Hat covered his face.
Lanky and fidgety in pinstriped business suit andforward-tilted hat, Manda's husband had hurried in through the gate and looked around for his daughter. He'd picked her up and whirled her around and still Hermione, checking through Callie's bag for her homework book, hadn't seen his face. Then Alison had pulled off his hat and put it on her own head - "Look at me, daddy!" – and Hermione had glanced up at short curly hair in a very familiar shade of red. He'd turned a little and she'd seen his profile. Callie's homework had been forgotten.
Not twins, cousins. There were a lot of cousins this year – and not all of them were Weasleys.
"Percy! What are you – You're supposed to be dead!" A freak Floo accident a week after Voldemort's defeat. Bill had identified the body.
The man's head snapped up and paled behind the freckles. His nostrils flared, but he said nothing.
"My daddy isn't deaded." Alison glared. "You're very silly, Cammie's mummy."
"My mummy's not silly," Hermione's girls chimed in together. "You're silly."
"My mummy's not silly," Hermione's girls chimed in together. "You're silly."
Both parents hushed their children, then Alison's father spoke.
"I'm afraid you must have mistaken me for someone else. My name's Adam Wales." He had Percy's voice, but a rather less formal speech pattern. Still, it had been over a decade ago. People changed.
"You looked up when I said Percy."
He cleared his throat.
"My middle name's Percival. Some of my friends used to call me that." He flushed at the disbelieving look she gave in reply, but stood his ground, a polite false smile pinned on his rigid face. "If that's all?"
She'd have to shock him out of his denial.
"Your father passed away last year," she told him. "We think he was working on an aeroplane engine but it caught fire and then the firecrackers went up too."
His smile flickered and his Adam's apple bobbed twice, but he didn't reply.
"Ow, Daddy! You're squashing me."
He blinked and looked down at the indignant little girl in his arms. He dropped a kiss on her hair.
"Sorry poppet." His voice was muffled. "Look, I really have to get going. Nice meeting you, Mrs –?"
He was already turning away, still holding on to his daughter.
"Ginny's my best friend," Hermione said. He'd forgotten Alison's bag. She picked it up and took a step towards him. Cammie and Callie picked up their bags and came too. "I can't not tell her. And then she'll tell the twins and –"
He swung back instantly.
"Don't tell them!" His voice cracked. "Please, Hermione. If you ever felt any friendship for me at all."
She gave him Alison's bag. He took it and allowed Alison to scramble down and skip over to Hermione's girls. They didn't know what the conversation was about and they didn't care. The important thing was that grown-ups talking meant extra play-time for them.
"Why, Percy? Why did you do it?" Fake his own death and leave the wizard world to live as a Muggle. Leave his promising career in the ministry and all his ambitions. She could hardly believe it even now.
He glanced wildly around. Nobody was close enough to hear their conversation. He licked his lips and shook his head.
"I can't talk about that here."
She checked her watch.
"There's a park around the corner. I have half an hour. You?"
He turned his head away. His shoulders sagged.
"I'll ask." He pulled out his mobile. "Manda, love, Alison wants to go to the park with – what did you say your girls' names were? Callie and Cammie. Is that all right or do you need us home?"
Severus paused to glare at the three new Weasleys for chattering. Charlotte hung her head a little, but both boys grinned. They really were very like their fathers.
"Parkinson, Patrick!" The other pink-robed boy. Pansy's cousin, wasn't it, Hermione thought. No prizes for guessing what he'd be.
Permission given, the five set out, three excited little girls pulling their elders forward by the hands. Hermione waited till she was seated next to Percy on a bench close enough to supervise the girls on the slide, before asking again.
"Why did you do it, Percy? Voldemort was dead, there was nothing to be afraid of any more and Scrimgeour had just promoted you again. I thought you liked working for the Ministry."
His eyes were trained on his daughter, but he seemed to be seeing something much further away.
"I'd been thinking about leaving forat least a year and a half," he said at last. "Mum has a cousin who's a squib. I'd been visiting him sometimes on Sunday afternoons, getting familiar with the Muggle world, learning what I'd need to know. He was always happy to see me." His mouth tightened. "And that made a nice change then, being welcome amongst family."
Hermione's throat closed, even as her eyes widened. He'd seemed so self-satisfied in those days, the few occasions she'd seen him.
"I just wanted to keep them all safe, you know. That's all I've ever wanted. I remember – enough – of the first war to need that. I thought I could do that better in the Ministry, because you can't change things from outside. But they wouldn't listen. And then after V-Voldemort was gone – and everyone said it was for good this time –" He turned to her with narrowed eyes. "It was for good, wasn't it?"
Hermione sent a look of commiseration to her husband and of congratulation to her younger daughter, then glanced over at Callie and her friends, who were clapping as hard as any Gryffindor. The girls waved and Severus's mouth twitched.
"I knew they didn't need me any more after that. And they didn't want me. They'd never wanted me." Throat working, he stared blindly at his daughter, clambering now up a rope ladder. She was a good climber.
"They did," Hermione protested weakly.
"Don't – lie to me, Hermione! The last time I was at the Burrow, they threw mashed parsnip in my face!"
It should have sounded funny, but she'd never felt less like laughing.
"And they've thrown worse. Fred and George – That doesn't matter now. Just – if you tell them, I'll have to start over again elsewhere in a hurry. And it's so much harder with a family."
"Your mother – She always loved you."
He shook his head.
"As long as I was good little Percy who did as he was told. But when I dared to think for myself, she took my father's side."
"Only because you were wrong." Molly had tried to make up with him. He'd refused to see her and sent back her letters unread.
"I wasn't wrong, Hermione. For five years, I watched Ron and Ginny get hurt or almost killed chasing after Harry while Dumbledore sat on his hands or, worse, rewarded him! Penny got Petrified by a basilisk in my sixth year and he still didn't close the school till Ginny got taken! Ron almost got eaten by a werewolf and I thought he was drowned at the Triwizards! They got hurt fighting Death Eaters when they should have been at school! And Dumbledore praised them!"
"They were right about Voldemort's return and the Ministry was wrong," she pointed out.
"They were wrong about how they wanted to deal with it. Their entire effort in the hands of a reckless, irresponsible teenager!"
"There was a Prophecy, It had to be Harry." Not that Percy could have known that at the time.
"How can we know that?" Percy argued. "Prophecies are self-fulfilling. They only work because people follow them. Dumbledore thought it had to be Harry, so he didn't try anything else."
There wasn't much point in arguing about that now. Events had vindicated Dumbledore, but things were always clearer in hindsight, weren't they?
"I suppose I can understand how you might see it that way. But Percy – You can't hide forever. Alison will get a Hogwarts letter one day and then what will you do?"
Cammie jumped and squeaked with joy. Hermione's eyes met her husband's again. It wasn't a surprise nor was it totally unwelcome. The girls would be happy, at least, their elders less so. Rooming with relatives would make discovery more likely.
"I'm hoping she'll be a squib," he said. "That they'll all be squibs."
"Oh, Percy." Six children already and he hoped they'd all be squibs? "I have to go, but I think you should talk to my husband at least. He's Deputy Headmaster now and besides – he knows what it's like to have a past you don't want to remember." And he was the best confidant if you wanted honesty rather than false sympathy. He never sugar-coated his responses, but he'd learnt tact, discretion and imperturbability at Voldemort's elbow – nothing like a Crucio to teach one to be silent and unshockable – and honed his listening skills in three decades as a Head of House.
Weasley, Charlotte; Weasley, David; and Weasley, Jonathan. All Gryffindors. No surprises there either.
"Who did you marry? Not – not one of my brothers?" Percy looked at the laughing girls chasing each other into and out of the tunnel and his brow cleared. "No, not with that hair."
Hermione gave a choke of laughter.
"No, I can safely say that Severus is not one of your brothers."
"Severus? I don't remember a Severus at Hogwarts. Do I know him?"
"Oh, I think so." Her eyes danced. "He taught you Potions for seven years."
He stared at her aghast.
"Snape? Not Snape, Hermione? Tell me you didn't marry him! He's – was – a bully, a traitor, a –" He flushed. "I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't be badmouthing him to you, but – a Death Eater, Hermione!"
She bit hard on her lower lip to still the ache in her heart. She'd thought she was over caring what people still sometimes said about her husband, but even this outcast from their world criticised her choice.
"Not a Death Eater," she said shortly. "A war hero. Our spy in their camp for almost twenty years. The bravest, most honourable person I know."
Severus had been almost as reluctant to speak to Percy as Percy had been to speak to him, but she'd been married long enough to know exactly which buttons to push.
"I know. I'm always asking you to be nice to my repellent friends." She'd snaked one arm around his waist and the other hand through his hair and gazed up into his dark eyes. "But he was the first person at Hogwarts to be nice to me. The only one, at first. I owe him for that."
And from that first wary meeting, a friendship had grown between their two families as Percy – Adam – began to rely more and more on Severus's advice. He'd helped him get the courage to open up to Manda about his background and helped them deal with the first unwelcome signs of magic in their children. They'd planned and strategised together about the future.
Percy hadn't wanted his daughters to go to Hogwarts, for fear of their being recognised. Most of the children resembled Manda, but the older twins, Amalie and Adelaide, had dark red hair and long Weasley noses. He'd favoured Beauxbatons at first, until Bill sent Louise and Jeanne-Paule there. After that,he'd begun talking about moving to the Americas for Salem Academy or to New Zealand for the small but very exclusive Wanganui Witchcraft College.Then Manda had developed breast cancer. She'd been in remission for three years now, but all thoughts of leaving Great Britain had been set aside. They'd just have to take their chances. So here Alison was.
That was the last. Severus rolled up the scroll, picked up the Sorting Hat and left the Hall. Hermione knew he'd make a detour to the Owlery before coming back, to send Adam the news. Another promise. And promises had to be kept.
A/N Although this story is canon-compatible only with the first five books, I've taken Scrimgeour and the mashed parsnip incident from HBP. "Long Weasley noses" is an extension of JK's description of Ron. I don't think she mentions what the other Weasleys' noses look like.
I'd been thinking of a Crookshanks-eye view of Hermione's first week of marriage, but Percy came storming in and demanded his story be told. Would he really leave his career and his world to go into hiding? Obviously, I see it as a possibility. He felt rejected by his family long before he rejected them, and their world is so small (with the twins so persistently harassing and the Ministry so intent on using him as a bridge) that he can't really escape them any other way.
There are so many second-generation children in this story, I've included a character list to help you remember who's who.
Severus Snape (Deputy Head, Slytherin Head, Potions master) m Hermione Granger
Calendula Marigold (Callie) - 3rd year
Camomile Aster (Cammie) - 1st year
Gerrilyn (Gerry) Nott and Tavia (Tavie) Greengrass are Callie's best friends.
Adam Wales (aka Percy Weasley) m Amanda (Manda)
Alison - 1st year, age 12
twins Amalie (Am) and Adelaide (Addie) - age 11
Anthea (Thea) - age 10
Abigail - age 9
Aglaia (Aggie) - age 7 1/2
Amy-Rose - age 6
Alfrida - age 5
twins Arielle and Aislynn - 3 1/2
Bill Weasley m Fleur Delacour
Thierry - Head Boy, 7th year
Louise - 5th year, Beauxbatons
Jeanne-Paule - 3rd year Beauxbatons
Julien - 2nd year
Charlie Weasley m
Marianna - 6th year, Prefect
Martin - 5th year, Quidditch team
Charlotte - 1st year
Natalie - age 10
Kerry - 4th year, Quidditch team
Jonathon - 1st year
Kelly - 4th year, Quidditch team
David - 1st year
Ron Weasley m Susan Bones
twins Michael Jacob and Diana - 6th year
Laura Johanna - 3rd year
Neville Longbottom (Herbology Professor) m Ginny Weasley
Stephen - 5th year, Prefect
Frank - 3rd year
Minerva McGonagall (Head) m Amory Marchant (Gryffindor Head, Defense Professor)
Harry Potter m Hannah Abbott