„Mummy, Mummy, wake up!"
How could her mother be in bed at seven in the morning on such an important day?
„Mummy, come on!" Seeing that her mother didn't act as quick as she would have liked, Stella opened her Mum's eyes with her thumbs and forefingers. „Mu –um!"
Giving in to the fate that she was sure would befall every parent sooner or later, Hermione looked sleepily at her daughter. „Good morning, my darling and happy birthday." She pulled her little girl into a hug.
„Can I go and wake Nana and Grandpa now?" Stella asked excited.
„What time is it?"
„It is seven already!" Why do adults want to sleep in so late was beyond the girls understanding.
Hermione smiled amused. Well, they wanted to be grandparents … „Yes, darling. Go ahead and I'll get ready."
If anyone had stopped the time, they would have noticed that Stella established her new record for running from her quarters to her grandparents' rooms.
Seeing nobody in the sitting room, she ran straight through it into the bedroom, where she stood on her spot on the foot end of the bed before letting herself fall onto the mattress between her grandparents with a „Mooorrning!"
Hearing the groans of her family Stella met their sleep-filled eyes with her sweetest smile. „Waky waky, Nana. Waky waky, gramp. Don't you know what day is today?"
Minerva pulled the small bundle of energy down into her arms. „How could we ever forget the fifth birthday of my little princess."
„Oh yes, I think you look taller than yesterday already," Albus assured his granddaughter.
Stella's eyes went big with pride and she leaped onto his stomach. „Do you think so? I feel taller, too!"
Minerva was already out of bed. „Come here and we'll see how tall you are. Next year we do the same and look how much you have grown."
Stella thought it was a brilliant idea and moved to stand beside her granny.
„Now please stand against the wall." Seeing that her granddaughter tried to look taller by standing on her toes, Minerva smiled amused. „No cheating, princess."
A flick of her wand and a gold line appeared on the wall. Stella at her 5th birthday. 102cm!
The little girl was still so excited. 102cm! „Granny, I am tall!"
Minerva laughed hearty. „Oh yes, if we don't watch out you will be a giant!" She swept the little girl into her arms.
„YES! And one day I will be as tall as you and grandpa, right?" Stella wondered exactly how long she would have to wait to grow that much.
Albus, who got up to join his ladies reassured her. „Absolutely right. And do you want to know why I am so sure you will be a tall young woman one day?"
At once Stella's hands went up to feel her ears.
„Oh Albus don't tell her such nonsense!" Minerva protested, rolling her eyes.
„My ears?" she asked sceptical.
„Oh yes. You right ear is just a tad bigger than your left."
„Granny, is that true?" Stella was not convinced her grandpa was right about that…
„Of course not, my little princess. Your grandpa is just trying to be funny. Your ears are perfectly fine and no one can tell how tall you are going to be by looking at your ears."
Albus tried to look hurt. „You don't trust me, my darling?" he asked playfully.
„Mummy said boys are silly and that you are a very big boy."
Minerva laughed so hard she had to put Stella down. „Your mummy is such a clever woman!"
Stella really didn't know what was so funny, but she loved it when her granny laughed liked that.
A knock on the door interrupted the trio.
„Come in, Hermione," Albus called.
Taking in the scene before her the young woman raised an eyebrow. „Did I miss something?"
Shaking her head, Minerva went over to Hermione and kissed her forehead. „No, my darling. I am just delighted to have you and your wits back to help me deal with this big boy."
A few weeks ago, the young witch would have blushed in embarrassment, but having found an unexpected familiarity with her former professors she just smiled and said, „Yes, I thought you could do with some help."
Albus tried very hard to look hurt, but he failed miserably. „We better have breakfast now. I have the feeling I won't stand a chance against your combined force."
Breakfast was as happy and chatty as always and Stella was really excited about the presents she got. „Mummy, can I put on my new dress now?"
„Of course you can," Albus answered instead and with a flick of his wand redressed the little girl. „And then I have a very special surprise for you."
Minerva raised a questioning eyebrow. She had no idea what her husband was talking about and by the looks of it, neither had Hermione.
„Now, my little Lady, would you like to come with me to get your surprise?"he asked with a little bow that made the little girl giggle. Stella reached up and allowed her grandfather to pick her up before saying very seriously, „Of course, dear grandfather. You may take me with you."
Hermione, who had just taken a sip of her tea, spilled it all over her clothes. She'd never know how her daughter could always come up with things like that.
Minerva who only just got her laughing under control suggested, „We need to send her to acting classes. It would be a shame to waste a talent like that."
Getting slightly impatient, Stella playfully pulled at her grandfather's beard. „Gramp, can we go now?" It was really beyond her understanding why adults had to be so slow and briefly wondered if it came with being tall. After all they had to move more body…
Her musings were interrupted when her grandpa started moving. „All right, we are off. Don't worry, ladies, we will be back in time for the party."
Minerva, who was slightly annoyed that her husband hadn't told her anything about this, muttered a „You better are..." under her breath, just as the door was closed. Turning to Hermione, she answered the unspoken question. „I have no idea, Hermione. No clue at all."
„I am sure we will find out soon enough."
„I have no doubt. Shall we get everything ready for the party?" Typically Albus to take Stella and leave them behind with all the work.
Hermione nodded, not looking quite happy.
„Are you nervous?" Minerva had noticed that Hermione had been somewhat hesitant to meet the staff, but so far she couldn't figure out why.
„ I guess I am. What did you tell them? I mean, do they know she is my daughter? And what if they don't want-"
„Hermione, "the older woman interrupted.
But Hermione didn't care. "... a child here or if they think I am an awful choice..."
„Darling, please," Minerva tried again.
"...as a new colleague? What…"
„Miss Granger, stop!" That old professor tone never stopped working. "You are the most talented witch of your age and I can assure you that everybody will be delighted to have you here. Yes, it is a novelty to have a child at Hogwarts, but knowing our Stella, she will worm herself into the hearts of the staff very quickly."
"And what if they don't think it appropriate to live here with a child?" Hermione asked, afraid that she'd have to leave their new home and above all, their new family.
"So what? They will have to get used to it, because we have absolutely no intention to let you go." Looking into Hermione's watering eyes, she gathered her into a loving embrace. "Now now, my darling. Don't worry. All will be well."
Hermione slowly composed herself and smiled gratefully at the elder witch. "Thank you, Minerva. How will you and Albus explain that Stella calls you her grandparents? Or shall I tell Stella that she can only call you that in private?"
"No, please don't. For nearly all my life I had to protect the ones I loved, by either leaving them behind or keeping quiet about my marriage. First because of Grindelwald and then later, because of Tom Riddle. I am more than ready to live with my family without hiding them." She reached out and gently smoothed Hermione's hair.
"Am I?" Hermione asked shyly. Seeing the slightly confused look on Minerva's face she added, "Family, I mean?"
The elder woman took Hermione's face between her hands, shocked that she never had taken the time to tell the young woman just how much she meant to her. "I am so sorry, Hermione. Stella is my granddaughter. I assumed it was obvious what that makes of you, my darling daughter."
Hermione felt embarrassed to feel her eyes water. "Are you sure?" she whispered.
"Oh Hermione, of course I'm sure. We always had a very unique relationship, didn't we?"
The thought of all the evenings she had spent in the quarters of her Professor, discussing Transfigurations, the boys and the world in general brought a smile to the younger woman's lips. "Yes. We most certainly had."
"Well then…let's go and prepare the room for the party. I think the staff room would be a good choice."
"Mummy, Nana, look what I've got!" Stella was running at the two women, who just finished decorating the room at top speed, so excited to show them her present.
"What is it, princess?" Hermione smiled at the joyful face of her little girl.
Minerva came to stand beside them, curious to see what her husband was up to.
Stella reached into the bag and pulled out a longish black box. "It's my first wand! It chose me and there was a bright light and grandpa said I couldn't tell anyone but you and…"
"Wow, princess, slow down." Hermione stared in wonderment at the beautiful wand in her daughter's hand. She had never heard of a wand for children that young and a quick glance at Minerva told her clearly that there usually was no such thing.
The older woman knelt down beside Stella and gave her cheek an affectionate kiss. "It is wonderful, my little one. Do you know what it is made of?"
The small girl nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, it is made of ash tree wood and the core is one of Fawksy's feathers!"
At that both Minerva and Hermione turned to look at Albus. "It is true. It was on the bed after her very first night here."
The elder woman turned back to her grandchild. "If you want we can teach you your first spell tonight, but only when you run to your room and get dressed very quickly. The guests will be here in fifteen minutes." She took the wand from Stella. "I'll take that for you until tonight. Off you go."
Well knowing that he would have to explain a lot if he stayed, he held his arms out for Stella. "Come on, sweety, your grandpa needs to change as well." With one last wink and innocent smile, the headmaster was gone, happy that he had managed to escape from his wife.
Hermione was still slightly shocked. "A wand? How did he manage to get that?"
The pain in her joints reminded Minerva that kneeling at her age, with a body as battered as hers, was not the best idea.
"Hermione," was all she needed to say and the young woman quickly reached down and helped Minerva stand. It took a moment until the elder witch was able to stretch her legs.
"He is Albus bloody Dumbledore," Minerva stated through clenched teeth, promising to herself that she'd never kneel on the floor again. "I am sure it was a special production." The tone of her voice indicated that she had much experience when it came to the special treatment her husband seemed to get everywhere.
Hermione chuckled and patted Minerva's shoulders. "Sit down for a moment and relax." She lead the older woman to a nearby chair. Standing behind the seated woman she placed her hands on Minerva's shoulders and smiled when Minerva closed her eyes and trustingly leaned back and let her head rest against her.
"Is it even legal to have a wand that young?" Hermione asked.
"There is no law against it as wand makers don't usually sell wands to children under the age of eleven, but I do think we should keep it quiet and only let her have it when one of us is with her."
"Thank you so much, Aunt Poppy!" Stella was overwhelmed that nearly all of her guests had brought a present for her. She held the teddy she just got in her right arm, another identical teddy sitting in her left. Stella was not sure if she could remember all the names, but her grandpa had said that all the people were living in the castle during term, so she would have enough time to get to know them better.
"You are welcome, but I see you already have got one of those teddies. Let me transfigure it into another animal," Madam Pomfrey offered, obviously pleased by the little girl's excellent manners.
Stella looked scandalized. "No. You chose it for me and I'd like to keep it."
Poppy laughed at the sweet girl. "Is that so? Well then you shall keep it, of course." She leant forwards and kissed Stella's hair. It was wonderful to have such a small child in the castle.
Hermione watched the scene, grateful that her former teachers had given her such a warm welcome. She was even more grateful that Minerva hadn't left her side, preventing her colleagues to ask too many questions. She knew she wouldn't be able to avoid them for long, but for tonight they left her in peace.
Noticing the young mother's musings, Minerva took her hand under the table. "Are you all right?"
Hermione smiled at the thoughtfulness. "Yes. I think it is going well."
"I told you she would have them wrapped around her finger in no time. We need to watch out, though. I am sure her new 'aunts' will spoil her more than is good for her."
The door opened and the looks of everyone in the room turned to the tall man with the black robes.
Only Stella seemed to be very un-fussed by the man's arrival. "Who's that, grandpa?" she asked.
"That, my dear, is Uncle Severus." The blue eyes twinkled madly.
The Potions teacher stopped in front of them, his usually dark expression in place.
"Hello, Uncle Sev," Stella greeted happily.
"I am not your uncle," he stated grumpily. He was clearly not happy at being summoned to a children's birthday party.
"But mummy says that calling older people uncle or aunt shows that I have respect," Stella countered.
"Another know-it-all. Just what we needed here. And so naïve that she is over the moon for getting two identical presents." He had every intention to let everyone know that he wasn't here on his free will.
Minerva was about to stand up, a retort already on her lips, but Hermione didn't let go of her hand. Knowing her daughter, it was very likely that she would handle the situation without her granny. "Wait a minute," she whispered to the enraged Minerva, watching her daughter.
Stella who was still in her grandfather's arms asked, "How can I know it all? I am only five years old!" Really, adults were supposed to be clever! "And who is the other know-it-all? Granny or Grandpa, right? I bet it's Grandpa, because he is older than Nana!"
"God help us," Snape complained unfriendly.
"Why are you so grumpy, Uncle Sev?" Stella asked.
Before the professor had a chance to reply, Albus smiled amused and answered, "You know, I think your uncle is sad and maybe a little jealous. When he was your age he never had a teddy bear."
Severus Snape was about protest when he saw a look in the headmaster's eyes that showed clearly that he wouldn't teach another term if he said what he was thinking now.
Stella looked thoughtful for a moment, then whispered something into her grandpa's ear, too quiet for the others to hear. It was unthinkable that one didn't have at least one teddy. No wonder he didn't understand that one couldn't have too many of them.
Albus smiled proudly at his granddaughter. "I think that is a wonderful idea," he said and let her down.
All eyes were on the little girl when she walked up at her new uncle and placed one of her teddies into the stunned man's hand. "Here, Uncle Sev. Now you have a teddy too that can watch you when you sleep. He is called Momo."
There was a stunned silence in the room. Everybody was holding their breath, waiting for the man's reaction.
Seconds that felt like minutes passed until Severus Snape turned sharply and left the room, the teddy still in his hand.
Stella just smiled and ran to her granny, climbing on her lap. "Nana, can I have more cake?" she asked as if nothing had happened and the tension in the room quickly faded.
Minerva smiled proudly, first at Hermione and then at Stella. "Of course, my little one. It was very generous of you to give your present to Uncle Severus," she praised.
Having her first bite of the delicious cake in her mouth the little girl answered, "Nobody should live without a teddy! I bet that was why he was so sad! I think he will be my friend. Do you think I can visit tomorrow?"
Hermione was at least trying to keep a straight face, albeit Minerva had long lost that battle and had to keep her hand over her mouth in order not to laugh.
"Of course, my darling," Hermione replied. "I am sure he'd love that."
Little did they know that the head of Slytherin house would place the stuffed animal on his bed and only the Slytherins would ever know of the speech every first year would get, promising them a long and painful death if they should only think of harming or even talking to Stella.
I hope you enjoyed the party :D If you did, please leave a review. Thank you very much to my wonderful beta reader Bola!