Eileen Lily Potter-Snape was born at eight pounds six ounces. She had ten fingers, ten toes, green eyes, and Severus' nose. She was small and perfect. Twins came to the house, Jake and Annie. Their parents had died in a head on collision. It was odd to hear of wizards in a car at all. But a car crash hit Harry just a little too close to center. All of his childhood was spent worrying about cars, about accidents and death. Jake and Annie were five. And everything went quiet again. The older boys were all at Hogwarts and Harry missed them and wrote tons of owls. The house was back to daycare routines and a master bed with children in it every other night. Only Jenny was home out of the older kids.
It wasn't until Dumbledore announced the new DADA teacher that things went rocky. It was the end of year faculty meeting when he told the staff that Draco Malfoy would be taking over the class. Severus raised his hand.
"I understand that you need a DADA professor. I understand that a potions master is easy to replace. And I understand that he'll only last a year. Having said that, I'm pulling my eight boys. And I am resigning. I won't return next year. I will not abide being under the same roof as him. Watch him. I don't trust him an inch. He was a bully and a manipulative, emotionless bastard when he was seventeen. So keep a hawk eye on him."
"I'm not asking you to rethink. Filling the DADA position is incredibly difficult. I am the best potions master in Europe but you can find someone else who would love my job. You don't need my level of expertise to teach teenagers. The war is over; you don't need a spy. I will not allow my children to be in the same building with him. I'm sorry. I'll finish out the year; I'll help you find your new professor." He stood and said, "I'm sorry, Albus. But I need to retire from my position."
He Apparated home and showered his anger out. In the kitchen he pulled Annie into his lap. As she drew in crayons he said, "Potter, I told Albus we'd be pulling the boys." Harry waited for more, looking worried and nervous. To Annie he said, "Baby, why don't you go see what all the kids are up to, and Remus are doing upstairs?"
"I know, go see what the boys are up to?"
"Eileen's a baby."
"She's three," corrected Severus. "Would you like it if one of the big kids called you a baby? Because, to a twelve year old, you're little." She pouted a little and then Severus kissed her cheeks and eyes. She laughed, squirmed off his lap, and ran up the stairs. As she left, Severus leaned forward and kissed Harry slowly, worrying Harry's bottom lip between his teeth.
Panting slightly, Harry said, "Why are we pulling them? Is someone hurt?"
"No, it's Dumbledore. He's hired Malfoy as next year's DADA professor. So I am resigning and said that the boys would be leaving after this year." Harry's face contorted. "I don't know what we'll do with them. None of the other schools in Europe are as good. Short of starting a school-"
"We could do that."
"I'm at least half serious. You'll do potions, Hermione could do history, Neville on Herbology, Remus on DADA, I could do Transfiguration and Charms, we could all do flying."
"Harry, that's… almost plausible."
"Blaise and Pansy could get in on this. Blaise kicked arse at Astronomy and Divination. Runes and Arithmancy were always Pansy's and Hermione's stuff. Bill's bored with the bank. Charlie wants to quit with the dragons while he still has some fingers. Tonks said she wants to quit the Ministry… We would have the people so long as they wanted to do it."
"We need a staff, a curriculum, we need papers. We need to get clearance from the Ministry. It might take a while."
"Ten weeks. We have ten weeks… which I guess means we aren't going to Norfolk this summer."
Severus sighed. "Well then, I'm going to write out letters to our possible teachers. And if we get enough willing victims then we just need a facility and curriculum. I don't think the Ministry will oppose you. Partially because they're afraid of you, partially because it's legal for muggles to home school and Hermione is a scary lawyer."
"I don't want them to okay it if it's not a good idea. I need to know that they are going to take this seriously. I'm not a threat to the world. But I could be a threat to our children if they give us the go ahead purely because they're frightened of me. This is their education."
"We'll think about crossing that bridge when we get somewhere near it. I'll talk to Kingsley, make sure that the board doesn't go with it because you just because they're frightened."
"Is it a bad idea? Are you just being nice?"
"I don't do nice. It's fake and I'm finished with pretending. This will be difficult. But it's better than sending them off to France or having them in Hogwarts with that creature. You don't scare me. The concept of you terrifies me. You are quite possibly the powerful wizard who ever lived. You don't need a wand in your hand, a word from your mouth, or a spell in your head.
"Dumbledore needs a wand, Voldemort needed eye contact, Slytherin needed a spell. You need a thought, an intention. To my knowledge no one has ever done that. You killed a graveyard of wicked bastards when you were seventeen with one screamed curse. Wizards don't come fully into power until their late seventies. And you see nothing strange about it. If you wanted to you could kill everyone on Earth just by really thinking about it, wanting it, visualizing it.
"Anyone sensible would be frightened of that power. But killing people isn't your agenda. So, yes, they're scared of you because they don't know you well enough to know that what you say want is really what you want. They cannot comprehend how someone with so much power uses it to get ribenna stains out of white shirts because cleaning spells don't get it quite clean enough. If they realized that fact they would most likely think you simple minded because you don't have a master plan.
"They all assume this house is some step for you. So they might, if honest, be reticent to grant us the right to be a school because they might think that you're training the kids for something. But if we go in with a good plan and clear about our intentions then maybe they'll judge it on merit." He stood and went to the kettle, filled it with water, and thrust it into the fire. He was unwilling, even after all the years, to use the stove.
"But is it a bad idea?"
"Not if everyone is willing to be a part of it. I think it could be a better school than Hogwarts. For one thing, if Blaise does Divination the kids might actually learn something." He kissed Harry's cheek.
Remus came into the room with Annie on his hip. David and the others were talking behind him. "Remus, would you like to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts?" asked Harry.
"Albus isn't really going to offer me that job again, is he?" asked Remus with a small laugh.
"No, Potter is," Severus pulled the kettle out of the fire as mugs and a sippy cup floated out of the cupboard.
"Why would you be offering the job of DADA professor?"
"He's starting a school," Severus said with a smirk as he poured out tea. "Are you surprised?"
"Not particularly. And, yes, I'll take the job. If you can get it started I'd be only too pleased to take the position." He accepted a cup from Severus.
Eileen started to cry upstairs as Severus screwed the top of the cup, "Like clockwork," he said, "I'll go." He left the other mugs on the counter as he went to the stairs.
"Why are you starting a school?" asked Remus passing out the cups.
"Malfoy is going to be the new DADA prof. and Severus resigned and said we'd be pulling the boys."
At supper Jenny asked if she could sleep over at a friend's house. At the subdued response she said, "What gives? You're always all, 'Do her parents know?' 'What will you be doing?' 'Do you know their phone number?' and now you just say 'yes'. What's going on?"
"Severus told Professor Dumbledore that he's quitting and we're pulling the boys out of school. Sorry, Jennybean, we're all just a little distracted. Do we know Sarah?"
"Yeah, you met her at parents' day. She was the redhead?" she took in a breath, "If you're pulling the boys are they going to France?" She looked worried. Side along Apparating was illegal with a muggle and the Floo System wouldn't carry a muggle. When she wanted to see the boys they had to drive up to Scotland. France would take the boys even farther away.
"We're trying to home school them." Harry said, "Do you have a phone number for Sarah's parents?"
"I don't want them to go to France."
"None of us do, sweetheart." Severus put down his fork and reached out to touch her arm. "That's why we're trying to get accredited. Does this Sarah do anything truly stupid and dangerous that we should know about?"
"Just because hash is available to you doesn't mean you have to try it," added Harry.
"Not smoking is cooler. Not smoking doesn't give you cancer. And smoking hash is six times worse for your lungs then fags. We get that you're fourteen, so if you want to experiment with smoking, which I don't think you should, please stick to cigarettes." Severus was pointing his fork at her.
"I'm not going to try hash. Sarah doesn't smoke anything. Her parents will be there. They want to take us to the movies."
"Their school ends in two weeks. They'll be home for two months no matter what," said Remus.
"But if they get home schooled they'll be here all the time. And that would be so cool."
"And I won't have to eat at Hogwarts," added Severus.
"Point," said Remus. "If we have all of us plus all of our friends here and I'm doing DADA, I'm not going to be able to cook."
Harry thought and then said, "No, we'll have to hire a cook. It's sort of sad; no one cooks mashed swede like you."
The school worked out. The board considered their plan and told them a week later that they could open on a probation period of a year before they would be considered for full accreditation. The Prophet requested to do a piece on it and Harry had said, "It's real news; you go right ahead. Try to be polite."
Before the first day of the new school year they had several parents visit. They all had similar reasons for coming. They had children who weren't ready to board, they weren't ready to let their children board, they couldn't afford the high price of Hogwarts. These children were all up for the challenge of the school but weren't, for whatever reason, able to attend.
Harry was always the first to point out what he thought could be considered flaws saying, "Right, but you do understand that Tonks is semi mad, Remus is a werewolf, Severus was a Death Eater, and I'm a head case. Are you sure you're willing to place your child with us?"
And they always fixed him with the same perplexed look. And then they would say something along the lines of, "So you want to make sure we're alright with our kid being educated by some of the greatest heroes of the war? Yes. Yes we are."
When the children were little they spent the summer in Cornwall, Norfolk, Devon, Wales, places that could be reached by car if necessary. The year Tom, Kelly, and the Jims turned seventeen the family went to Greece.
Harry was on his stomach in bright sunlight with one arm under his face. He opened his eyes, rolled over, and asked, "How's your book?"
Severus glanced up and said, "It's fascinating. How's tanning?"
"Highly productive. Aren't you glad we came to Greece?"
"I'll be quiet."
Harry was about to go back to dozing when Severus put aside his book and said, "Good. Come here and put your mouth to better use."
He moved to sit next to Severus on the wide canvas beach chair and asked, "Do I get kisses?"
Severus pulled him into his lap for slow, lazy kisses. When they parted Harry laid his head on Severus's shoulder. Watching out over the sand he said, "Look at our kids in the water. This is nothing like I imagined our trip would be like."
"Are you kidding? I'm here with my whole family." Looking at Severus' foreign attire he said, "Are you copping?"
"I'll tell you a secret but if you ever tell the wolf I will call you a liar."
"You hate it and are considering Apparating home?" guessed Harry.
"Worse. I love it. I'm getting a tan, which I didn't think was possible. And yesterday in the market I found an Etruscan Bleeding Fern, which I thought was only a myth. This is the best holiday we've ever had in my opinion and if you tell Remus that I'm rating it above the minibreak we took to that convention on the study of potion brewing in the Dark Ages in Italy I will deny to my last breath."
Harry laughed and relaxed against his husband. He watched Eileen, now seven, holding their four year old son Mycroft's hand. "Mikey, the water's nice and Daddy put the no-bite-float spell on you."
"No bite?" asked Harry.
"He's afraid of sharks."
"There's a spell to repel shark bites?" Severus fixed him with an amused, condescending look. "Well it did seem a bit foolish."
"Why would there be a spell for that?" asked Severus. "You're as gullible as our four year old."
The Jims induced Mycroft into the water by arranging a chicken fight with him and Eileen. It was clearly rigged as Jim Landis fell backwards theatrically while carefully keeping Eileen's head above water. The ploy worked and Mycroft was instantly more confident in the water. He swam around his sister gloating at his win. He was crowing and being a generally sore winner.
Severus laughed softly, "That's my boy."
Tom and Kelly came over, took in the sight of them, and Kelly said, over dramatically, "Do I get kisses?"
Tom swept him low and attacked his mouth. Kelly pretended to swoon. "You taste of honey," Tom said, licking his lips to catch the flavor.
"Frozen drink." Tom dropped him to the sand. "Hey!"
"Want another one?" asked Tom, smiling.
"Ask for a blue fizzy drink, see what they hand you," requested Kelly, now relaxing into the hot sand.
"Severus? Harry? It's a magic bar. They can make you anything. I love this place. Jenny and David wanted to go for donkey rides this morning. It turns out they're flying donkeys. So what would you two like?"
"A virgin piña colada, please." Harry smiled up at him.
"An elderflower cordial."
"You're on holiday and neither of you wants a real drink?" asked Tom scornfully.
"There are children in the water," they replied in unison.
Tom rolled his eyes. "You are such fuddy-duddies."
Harry tensed suddenly and Severus asked, "Are you okay?"
"I thought I saw… I'm fine."
Eileen and Mycroft came trotting up the beach. "Daddy," said Eileen, "can we go out to the rock pools? I want to see the enemies."
"Anemones, sweetheart. Let's put your shoes on so you don't cut your feet."
Harry watched Severus Snape, in a Speedo and beach shoes, buckle pink jelly shoes. As he straightened he saw Harry's expression. "What?"
"Right, come on, Eileen, let's go see the anemones."
Mycroft pulled at Harry's hand and said, "Dada, make a castle with me!"
Harry dropped into the sand, "What kind of castle?"
"A good one," replied Mycroft.
Harry looked at the two story castle they'd built earlier, it has an interior staircase and windows. "That's not a good one?"
"It's magic, Dada, it's not real. I want a little one."
Harry smiled; glad that his son could tell the difference between effort and result. He reached for a bucket and said, "We need some water. Let's go down to the sea." As they walked, he watched Severus balancing on the rocks. He was holding Eileen's hand and pointing to something.
Harry woke up and smiled into Severus' armpit. He smelled salty, musty, perfect. He kissed the soft skin before untangling their limbs and sitting up. Severus used to wake up when Harry breathed too loudly near him. Now he slept through children climbing in and out of bed, cats fighting in the yard, small explosions. Harry left a note on the table that said, "You looked way too comfortable to wake. I'll be back before breakfast. Love you."
He headed down to the beach, in the predawn darkness, in sandals, a tee-shirt, and a bathing suit. The air was warm and still. And everything felt perfect until he heard, "Potter," behind him.
His shoulders tightened. "I knew I saw you on the beach yesterday."
"I'm surprised you saw anything from your position as Snape's lap rug."
Turning finally, he said, "Malfoy, bugger off."
"Plus you were surrounded by all the orphans."
"I told you to leave me alone and have a nice life. As you seem to have nothing better to do with your predawn hours than stalking me you've clearly done neither. I pity you."
"What I don't get-"
"I don't care! Leave me alone."
"Is why did you let me blackmail you for three months-"
"Ninety days," Harry corrected.
"And then tell him a week later. Did you think it would make him love you?"
"I didn't tell him; he found out."
"What's it like to fuck in a professor's office? And are you ever worried that he'll 'fall in love' with another child?"
A fist hit Draco's face as Tom shouted, "How dare you?"
"Tom! We do not hit people!" Harry stared at the boy in horror.
Draco's nose was gushing blood onto the sand but he laughed. "One of them's called Tom? That's rich."
"We're watching the sunrise from the cliffs. Don't follow us. If you come near me I will give the Ministry a reason to throw you out of the county, they'll do pretty much anything to keep me happy. And I won't have you near my family." He took Tom's hand and dragged him away.
"Tom, I've wanted to see this sunrise since I was fourteen. Please, allow me to enjoy it. We'll talk later." He kept a hold of Tom's hand and watched as the sun came up over the water. The light sparkled on the pale blue water and Harry said, "Let's go for a swim."
"Fine. My life… was horrific. And the darkest moment was when Malfoy blackmailed me. He knew about how I felt for Severus and I didn't want him to find out. And then, after all that, Severus found out. Severus loathed me. He hated me for years. And after he learned… maybe if it hadn't been for the blackmail he wouldn't have looked at me… who knows. But things were so much better. Suddenly, the man I loved was mine." He pulled at Tom's hand until he started moving down the cliff path.
"He was your professor. He was in a position of power. I knew he was a professor at Hogwarts; I knew you went to Hogwarts. But I never… that is so unethical."
"I was young, but I wasn't being graded. And we weren't… we didn't make love, until after I left school. So, unethical? To comfort a lonely, sad, frightened boy? To fall in love? To give that boy the world?"
"The world? Harry, you could have had anyone, done anything, have anything." Tom rolled his eyes and Harry felt his anger rising. He didn't look at Tom, watched his feet as they went down the trail. "Tom, have we failed you? I know it sucks not to have parents. And I know that, no matter what I call the house, it's still an orphanage. It's a place for wards of the government. But it's not too bad, is it? You've been taken care of, protected, loved. We did our best."
"It's my home. You're my family."
"Well it's my life. So it would be nice if you stopped attacking the man who is responsible for it. If that intensely private man hadn't opened our house, and frequently our bed, to you kids it wouldn't have happened. He loathed children and intimacy. A decade later he lives with dozens of kids, Neville Longbottom, and Remus Bloody Lupin. He loves you and would do anything for you. But it took him a long time to get to that point. He didn't change for any of you. He helped me get the family I always wanted. And that's not a little thing so I wouldn't be so disparaging. That unethical man you apparently find wanting is the man who gave me my world. That's not such a little thing."
"Harry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to insult you. I love him too. I didn't mean… I'm sorry."
"Why were you even on the beach? This is history, there's no reason to get mad. It was eleven years ago. What's really wrong?"
"We snuck out last night."
"I heard you, I was going to stop you as I heard David, and he's ten. But Severus said you would take care of each other."
"He just came with; he had fizzy-drinks. But, at the first club, Seth had the hots for the barwitch. But he only knows the Greek for 'beautiful' 'eyes' and 'thank you' so his love magic was limited."
"That's a direct quote. She realized we were English and started talking English. She asked if we were brothers. Alun thought playing 'the orphan card' with his big eyes and Welsh-curly-lamb hair-"
"Watch the sheep jokes." They'd reached the beach and Harry kicked off his shoes and pulled at his shirt.
"Sorry. He thought we could scrounge free drinks. And, I guess, a rich family of wizard orphans is pretty rare so she put wand and spell together and came up with magic. She asked what it was like to live with you. Jim Landis asked what to live with her dad. And she said that you aren't our father and that hers isn't a celebrity. We left before it got nasty."
"And I realized that, other than when you picked me up at the orphanage, you've never been Harry Potter. You were a kid and your life was over. You gave up so much for us."
Turning to see Tom for the first time he pulled the young man into his arms. "I lost nothing. I had fans, a famous name, and a public who turned on me at the flip of a dime. I hated that attention. I was lonely, and I had a few friends. And then I had a house full of little boys, and laughter, and floating objects, and disappearing pens. I had fans who loved me not for being 'The Boy Who Lived' but for giving them double pudding when they ate double veg."
"I'll still eat two servings of cabbage if I can have two slices of cake." Tom started to strip down and followed Harry to the water's edge.
"Me too." Harry dunked under the surface and started swimming in circles, working out the tension in his shoulders.
"I can't believe you all followed that rule."
"A rule is a rule for everyone. The next time you think I've missed out on something. Remember that I want for nothing."
"Well, breakfast. But the others won't be up for another twenty minutes." They swam about, splashing one another. Afterwards they made their way back to the hotel where they'd taken up an entire floor.
"Why did he laugh at my name?"
"Voldemort. His name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. Imagine my surprise when the fist kid I track down is a Tom Martin Rider."
"Were you scared?"
"No, I thought Fate had a sense of humor."
Stepping out of the elevator they saw Severus in his nightshirt. "The children who are awake are in your room. Kelly's entertaining them all by having a raging hangover."
Tom laughed, "That's my Kel. Is it too much to hope that you assumed we'd be idiots?"
Severus smirked, "There's a case of hangover cure." He gestured over his shoulder towards Harry and his room.
"I'll hand them out."
"You're a braver man than me." Looking at Harry he asked, "Why are you so pale?"
"Long morning." Severus stood, waiting for the rest of it. "Malfoy was on the beach."
"I punched him!" chimed in Tom.
"Good man." This time it was Harry who did the staring down. "Tom, we don't hit people."
"Harry said that too. Only he said it with more conviction."
"Well, he's a gryfindor. They don't believe in hitting people even when they deserve it." He handed Tom a bag. "Blue is heat stroke, red is food poisoning, and green is hangover." He pulled a stone Gringotts credit card. "Get the other kids up and see if the Weasleys, Longbottoms, Lupins, or Zambinis want to go and take them all out to a posh breakfast at the hotel down the beach that has the porch." He ushered Tom out.
At the door Tom said, "Severus, I said some awful things about you at the beach… after Malfoy…"
"Are you over it now?"
"Good, have a nice breakfast." He shut the door and turning to Harry he asked, "Are you alright?"
Harry nodded and stripped. Lying down on the bed he said, "I'm fine now."
Severus crawled in next to him. "Really?"
"When he was talking at me I felt tiny and then Tom hit him. And I remembered that I'm not the boy he used. I felt like laughing at him. What the hell has he done? He doesn't have anyone. And I was sitting on the cliffs with Tom and I was shaken. And I realized how much has changed."
"It's been over a decade."
"I didn't think I'd live this long. I always felt like I was fighting. Every morning I woke up scared that things would go wrong, that someone would die, or it would be the day I died or broke or lost. Every night I worried about visions, nightmares, the morning. I don't remember the last day like that. I wake up drooling into your clavicle, or warm underneath you with your hair in my mouth, or holding a kid, or feeling you watching me before I even open my eyes. I'm excited and happy. And I go to bed exhausted from the kids, teaching, working, playing, making love. The only thing I worry about before falling asleep is whether or not I gave our school bound kids dinner money for the next day. It was strange to remember that. It seems like another life. I'm the luckiest man on earth."
"No you aren't. I am."
"No. You're the sexiest."
Severus laughed, "Is that so?"
"Do I have time to prove it and have room service before they get back?"
Severus looked at his watch and shrugged. "If we combine it with a shower."
Laughing Harry said, "You are so on."
I hope you enjoyed this story, I would love to hear your feedback.