A/N: That's it, folks – the very last chapter of the story... thank you so much for your support!
The Godfather – Chapter 34 – Epilogue
The first of September had been unusually warm. Years later, Hermione would still remember that she had worn a t-shirt while sitting across from the open window next to Severus, waiting for the well-known sound of Albus's owl, Vince, arriving. It was near midnight until when the barred owl* finally landed softly on the sill and dropped the letter from his beak to Severus's hand.
They would both bite their tongues before admitting it, but they had waited for its arrival in near painful excitement. The last months and weeks before Albus's first year at Hogwarts had seen a heated debate about whether he would be in Gryffindor or Slytherin.
Of course, all parties involved pretended to not care at all which house he would be in when the boy was present – Harry and Ginny in particular, but as soon as he was not there, they all tried to trump one another with arguments why Al should be in one house or the other.
Severus did not move an inch from his conviction that his godson would be a Slytherin, and deep inside, Hermione also feared that this would be the outcome, even though she hoped that Al would be in Gryffindor. She had spent hours telling him about the common room, the parties they had had after a victory of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, the many advantages of being a Gryffindor.
"Are you ready to finally get the proof that he is in Slytherin?" Severus asked her with a mocking grin.
"Never! Harry Potter's son? You must be kidding!" She made a grab for the letter, but he was faster and ripped it open.
Hermione bent towards him, and they started reading together.
I hope Vince will not collapse underway and the letter will reach you very quickly.
I am at Hogwarts now! During the whole train ride, I asked myself which house I might be in. James kept pulling my leg, telling me that I would probably get put into Beakgrunt, which was the fifth house for those nobody else wants, but that was nonsense, of course.
The Great Hall is even larger than you told me! When Professor McGonagall got the Sorting Hat, I almost didn't see anything, there were so many students. And suddenly, it was my turn. Everybody started awkwardly when she called my name, but then I was on the stool in no time and had the hat on my head. I can tell you, it took an eternity to make a decision!
It said (its voice was inside my head!) that I was fussing too much over how I could please everybody and that I was very clever and talented.
Hermione felt a wave of guilt roll over her when she read what the Sorting Hat had said. She had seen how pale Al had been when he had boarded the train, and she suddenly realised how much pressure they had all put on him. The poor boy must have felt sheer panic over the fact that he would disappoint either his parents and her or his beloved godfather, no matter whether he got into Gryffindor or Slytherin.
And then it said that I would be best suited to Ravenclaw! I hope you are not too disappointed that I did not make it into Slytherin. I know how happy you would have been... but to be honest, I am glad I am a Ravenclaw now. Maybe you can find it in you to be happy for me... at least a little bit? I don't want you, Mom, Dad and Hermione to have arguments because of me.
Severus lowered the letter, and in one perfectly synchonised movement, he and Hermione looked up at each other. "Ravenclaw," they both said in unison. In all those months, nobody had ever considered Ravenclaw as an option. Not once. They both resumed reading, flabbergasted.
My schedule says that my first lesson tomorrow morning will be Potions. I can hardly wait to tell the others that you are my godfather! They will certainly look surprised! I bet they don't know half as much about Potions as I do.
Please say hi to Hermione and write back soon.
Again, Severus lowered the letter.
"When you write him," Hermione finally said after a while, "don't forget to tell him that I am very happy for him."
"Ravenclaw," was all Severus said.
She took his hand. "He is a very clever boy, Severus. And he is so sensitive. He must have realised how everybody made a fuss about which house he would be in, and he did not want to disappoint anybody. Neither his parents nor you."
Severus said nothing for quite a while. Then, very softly and doubtfully, "Do you think a Ravenclaw can be the best student in Potions?"
"I think that not even his parents will be as proud as you when he earns glory for the house of Ravenclaw for the first time in many, many years." She grinned.
When Severus did not answer, she got up slowly. "I guess I'd better go home. It's late, and I have to be at work rather early tomorrow."
"Stay," he said, holding her hand. As she always did when he said this, she did not even try to turn him down.
Later, when she woke up to the sound of a quill scratching on parchment, she opened her eyes and saw him sitting on the bed, a candle floating in the air before him. Softly, she touched his shoulder and said, " Be proud of him."
He gave her hand a little squeeze and said, "I have always been, and I always will be."
Then he put the letter aside, blew out the candle and lay down next to her. After a while, he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair.