Chapter 11 and Epilogue
Nathaniel was born at home one snowy December morning three days after their fifth anniversary. Molly floo'd over with Poppy to perform midwifery duties for Hermione. The pregnancy as a whole had been problem free as was the delivery. Snape was presented with his son four hours after Hermione's water broke. His sense of wonder was in no way diminished even though this was number three. He took Nathaniel to Alexandra for her approval as he and Hermione had plotted. At first, Alexandra was simply not interested. She was much more interested in decorating her mother's Witch Weekly with magic crayons. As Snape sat in the rocker that he usually shared with Alexandra, she moved in on them. She peeked around her father's shoulder to look at the newborn. Snape had his son tucked close to his chest.
Snape saw Alexandra out of the corner of his eye and smiled to himself. He scooted over to give her some room to climb into his lap. He moved the baby into the crook of his arm and let her snuggle under his other arm. He then brought the baby into their mutually formed laps for Alexandra to see. She did not pinch or poke at him but rather looked at him with wide-eyed wonder. She gently stroked his tiny hands and giggled. Then Snape leaned over and kissed his daughter's head and took a deep breath. A fourth child arrived two winters following Nathaniel. They named her Ophelia. This time there were no major battles over to hover or not to hover. Snape, while a slow learner when it came to relationships, had finally decided to control his own actions rather than try to control his wife. For her part, Hermione was mindful of his unexpressed feelings. She held her own bold nature in check so that her husband's feelings would be spared undue hardship.
After seven years of marriage, they were beginning to come to more and more understandings and fewer and fewer knock-down-drag-out fights that left both feeling terrible. Both learned how to put up with the little annoyances of differences without feeling the need to "fix" their partner. Snape remained at his core overbearing, demanding, and obsessive; but he did eliminate his hair-trigger temper at home. Hermione remained a know-it-all, fix-it-all at her core; however, she did lost her instantaneous response time for those traits. By the time the children went off to Hogwarts, the Snapes had found a quiet love even more engaging, more fulfilling, and deeper than the hot-and-heavy make love three times a day of the first months of their marriage. Snape even learned that saying, "I love you," to his wife and children would not destroy his image or ruin his reputation as Hogwart's most feared professor. He could even hold Hermione's hand in public. By that time, he was also able to weep openly when Professor Albus Dumbledore finally succumbed to old age. His body was returned to the crypt at the school.
An amazed Snape succeeded McGonagall as Deputy Headmaster as she was named Headmistress in Dumbledore's place. He gave the Head of House position to Draco Malfoy, who had returned after years away, to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. Percy Weasley was a no-nonsense Head of House for the Gryffindors. The next generation of wizards was beginning to assume leadership roles as they matured. Once all three Snape children were in Hogwarts, Hermione took up a position at the Ministry in Arithmancy. In time, her frank and honest style would move her up the ladder to Assistant Minister of Magic. It would also keep her from ever becoming Minister of Magic. When Snape was named McGonagall's successor, he was wise enough to select his opposite to be Deputy Headmaster. He knew that to be effective with the students and faculty, a more personable Deputy was required. He could never be the kindly grandfather-type Headmaster that Dumbledore had been, but he could choose someone who could fulfill that role. Professor Neville Longbottom had taken over the greenhouses for Professor Sprout many years ago. Longbottom balanced Snape perfectly.Epilogue
All the Snape children decided against careers in teaching. Alexandra followed her Uncles Harry and Ron into the auror field. It was unusual for a Slytherin to become auror, but there she was, possessed of her mother's drive and father's stealth. She became the perfect auror. Nathaniel, who was a model Gryffindor, had his father's talents for potions. He opened an apothecary in Diagon Alley. Everyone commented on how much Nathaniel was the spitting image of his father but were surprised by his mother's more loving and open personality. Ophelia, a Ravenclaw, followed her mother into the Ministry of Magic. She researched curse breaking together with her husband, Arthur Weasley, Ron's eldest son. Severus and Hermione together saw twelve grandchildren, four-dozen great-grandchildren, and over one hundred great-great-grandchildren. At the age of 127, Professor Severus Snape, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, died peacefully one night in his sleep next to his beloved Hermione. His body was laid to rest next to his infant daughter Olivia at The Burrow. Hermione found life without her equally beloved Severus too much to bear. Her grief sent her to an early grave at a mere 109, even though Nathaniel and his family moved into the Hogsmeade house to keep her company. Harry thought it was the bond of blood that kept her from getting over Snape's death. After all, the bond was unbreakable and bound them together for life and in death.