Disclaimer: Not mine.
It is not necessary to read Finding Home first, but I strongly suggest it as some of the references may be confusing with out having done so.
Sequel to Finding Home
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig.
Hermione sat on the floor cross-legged with Elaine. She took her daughter's gloved hands clapping them together and reciting rhymes. Elaine pulled her hands back and tucked them under her bum pouting and putting her chin on her chest.
"Elaine," Hermione tried again. "How about Pat-a-cake, Pat-a cake?"
Elaine shook her head and looked up through her lashes at her Mum. "No, teacup up."
"No, no more floating teacups," Hermione shook her head. "Pat-a -cake."
"No," Elaine's voice became load and urgent. "No pat-n-pat. Teacup."
Hermione sighed and stood up, putting her hands on her hips and looking down at the raven haired girl. She had been up for hours already and it was not yet noon. Hermione had a fleeting thought of sleeping in times and quiet days snuggled in a wing-backed chair with a favourite book.
"Elaine, how about we read that new book Grandma gave you? The book with Corduroy the bear?"
"No like Cor-roy, like teacup."
"When Daddy comes home for lunch you can drink from a teacup. How does that sound?"
"No, teacup now. Up." She raised her pink bunny and shook her arm. "Off."
"Oh no, we need to keep those on," Hermione squatted down to check the wrist strap. "Maybe Mr. Bunny wants to play with Mr. Dragon."
She pulled Elaine's other hand up from under her, exposing the purple dragon. Then taking both of the child's hands, she faced the heads of the puppets together.
Suddenly she was sprawled backwards on the floor groaning as she raised her head from the hardwood floor. Elaine laughed and clapped the dragon and bunny together, giggling at her mother. Hermione's hand went instinctively to her stomach, protecting too late the new life that grew there. She struggled to sit up and sat staring at the girl while she gasped for breath and winced in pain.
Elaine leaned forward falling onto her gloved hands and bringing her legs out from under her, she crawled over to Hermione.
"Mum ka-eye?" she put her hand to Hermione's cheek, and then climbed on her lap, leaning her head against her chest. "No ka-eye, K?"
"No, Mum not cry," she sighed. "Mum no ka-eye."
She wrapped her arms around the girl and buried her head in her hair fighting back tears.
"Daddy!" Elaine squealed as she clamoured off Hermione's lap and ran to the door where Severus stood hanging his cloak on the coat tree. "Mum ka-eye."
She lifted her arms up to him fully expecting him to scoop her up, surprised when he swept past her, hurrying to Hermione.
"What happened?" he scowled going down on one knee in front of her. He saw her hand over her stomach and a look of pain in her eyes. "Hermione? Talk to me."
"I think I am fine, just got the wind knocked out of me, that and a little bump to my head to say nothing about my ego."
He leaned forward, running his fingers through her hair. "You're bleeding."
He picked her up and carried her to the sofa before turning around expecting to find Elaine. Not seeing her he hurried to the front door knowing her penchant for sneaking outside, when a crash came from the kitchen.
He glanced at Hermione on his way to the next room and saw her lower her head into her hands. He scowled and turned, his robes billowing behind him as he hurried to the kitchen where he found Elaine sitting in the midst of broken china trying to still her sobs by thrusting her thumb in her mouth.
"Elaine! Don't move." He pulled his wand and rid the floor of the broken shards of teacups before walking over to her and squatting down to check for cuts.
"Bad teacups," he muttered in his attempt to mimic Hormone's scolding voice. He picked her up, slinging her on his hip to take her back out to the sitting room.
Hermione didn't look up as she heard him re-enter the sitting room. She only heard Elaine's scream of anguish as he transfigured the chair in to a large pen and warded her inside. Trying to stifle her own sobs she no-longer had the energy or the desire to berate him for his treatment of his daughter.
"Now, tell me what happened," he fumed at her.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. That's what's wrong," she spat at him. "I know she doesn't mean it but sometimes it seems she is out to get me."
Severus felt his lip twitch and fought hard not to show that he saw any amusement in the situation. Twice already, he had snuck back into their bed from the sofa where she had banished him for laughing at her.
"What was it this time?"
"She didn't want to play with her hand puppets. She wants to play with those damn teacups again."
"That my dear is no longer a problem." He sat down beside her and pulled her into his side. "I just cleaned up the last one."
"Did you try the blocks Molly sent?"
"Oh yes, that worked," she rolled her eyes. "Why would she think that letting her use magic blocks was better than teacups?"
"What happened?" He raised his eyebrow and looked down at her.
"I don't think that window will take another repair spell, and I don't dare try with her around," Hermione looked at Elaine. "She tries to mimic every spell I use."
"How does she… I mean that's too bad," he tried to look disappointed.
"You have to stop encouraging her," Hermione lifted her head to him. "She knows what you are saying you know. Look at her! She hears you and she's already smiling knowing you aren't going to discipline her."
"I spoke to Minerva today. How would you like some help around here?"
"Help?" Hermione pulled away from him and sat up looking at him hopefully. "Can we afford it? I thought you said that until the potions began to sell we had to be careful."
"I said we could not afford foolish spending," he frowned at her. "We have more than enough for what we need. And yes we can afford it."
"Who? Did she know someone that would be willing?"
"Years ago my mother's family sent her elf to Hogwarts. Millie has been there ever since, and although I do not consider her mine, it seems she still considers me her's."
"I can't have an elf work here for … well, would she take pay?"
"No, she is rather traditional."
"Traditional you say." Hermione chewed her lip as she watched Elaine work on opening the pen.
"We can tell everyone she is wealthy and refuses pay to feed the poor."
Hermione turned to glare at him when she heard the click of the lock on the pen's door.
"She may not even stay." He said frowning at Elaine as she crawled out of the pen and up to him.
"I am worried about her talking early," she bit her lip. "One mispronounced word and we could lose every thing we have. Mum even said that the lights go out whenever she says not or knots."
"Knots? Well if she didn't tie her in the chair that would not have happened."
"Severus, we tie her in and we have magic."
"She's ours, well at least yours."
"When can she start?" she asked doing her best to ignore him.
"She's hiding under the sink. I thought it prudent to bring her before she changes her mind or hears too much."
"My gods, now we are reduced to lying to an elf," Hermione wailed.
"Hermione, it is nothing parents have not been doing for ages. Look at the Weasleys, they managed to convince even the most astute that theirs were normal children," he frowned and bent over to pick up Elaine.
"Fine, call the elf out and lets get on with it," she sighed and put a hand to the back of her head.
"You are still bleeding," Severus walked over and pushed her head down examining the cut. "I need to get this looked at."
"No, that's my son you carry. I won't have you any more uncomfortable than you are, and I won't risk the baby," he handed Elaine to her. "I'll collect Millie from the cupboard. She can watch Elaine while I take you to St. Mungo's."
"Can we just go see Poppy? I hate St. Mungo's, they treat me … well, I just don't like them."
"They treat you like the wife of a Death Eater and a…"
"Stop it," she hissed. "I told you I don't want to hear that. It's changing, slowly, but it is."
"Millie!" he stood and shouted. "Come meet your new charge."
Hermione turned where she sat with Elaine on her lap and saw the elf peeking out of the kitchen. Her ears hung almost to the floor, her eyes large and moist.
"Oh, Mrs Snape. She is a beauty she is. Looks like her grandmother she does." She clasped her hands in front of her and sighed loudly. "A black haired beauty my little girl she was."
Severus frowned at the mention of his mother. "Millie, please meet Miss…"
"I knows Master," she took a tentative step closer. "Elaine she is, like my Eileen's name, only different."
"Millie? That's correct? Your name is Millie?" Hermione bit her lip seeing the elf nod. "We would prefer you to take pay…"
"No," Millie ran and hid behind the chair, peeking out at Severus. "Please Master?"
"I was saying," Hermione snarled. "We would prefer to pay you but the choice is yours. If you want to stay a slave that's up to you."
"Hermione." Severus said her name in warning. "Tread softly."
She put her hand to her head feeling the pain begin to grow. "Oh … fine. Let's just find her a place to stay."
"I like the cupboard. It is fine and big. The cupboard will be where I stay."
"No, we will think of something," she sighed.
"I always thought Potter was related to…" Severus began.
"Don't say it," she felt her lip twitch but nodded to Elaine. "You have to be careful. She tries to repeat everything she hears."
"Millie, Elaine is somewhat … active. She will need close attention and I trust you will not disappoint," Severus instructed.
"Active," Hermione stood up and handed her to her father. "That's polite."
"I will purchase a chifforobe for Elaine's room Millie. She will need extra attention at night," Severus pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand.
Hermione sat back down heavily, fighting to keep her eyes open. "Severus? I think you are right… I think…"
Severus put Elaine down on the floor and quickly crossed to Hermione going down on one knee in front of her as he had before. He pulled her head forward and forced it down to examine the bump. Picking her up in his arms, he became alarmed when she slumped against his chest offering no resistance.
"Millie," Severus stood up with his wife in his arms. "Watch your new charge, Mrs Snape requires medical attention."
"Yes Master, I do good job with little Miss."
"Millie," he paused at the floo, "she is … active. You can not leave her alone for a moment."
"I heard Master, Mrs Longbottom and Professor McGonagall talk of her. I will be good."
"Thank you Millie," he stepped into the floo as Millie grabbed a handful of powder and threw it at his feet. "St Mungo's"