and so it ends...and I still didn't make any money.
The tale of The Princess of Gryffindor started with the whisper of hope disguised as detritus drifting in on the evening human tide and I have decided to end it with the memorial to all who gave their lives because of what that hope blossomed into.
My story doesn't end there but the rest is already public record. My husband and I worked feverishly that first year to reestablish a functioning society. Many, many people came forward and lent their knowledge and expertise to help reestablish a rule of law and Wizarding rights. I am proud to say that we even expanded those rights to include our allies, the Centaurs, as well as granting what rights to House Elves that they would allow. Severus renegotiated treaties with the Goblins, and I don't know if it was because he was still sore at his failed bargain with Death or not, but he was a shrewd negotiator and a ferocious reader of fine print.
Our greatest resource during that time was the portraits. People all over the Wizarding community donated portraits of ancestors that they had been hiding after Voldemort's infamous Portrait Massacre. Artists imported from several countries furiously painted copies or new settings to be hung in the Ministry and also to grace the walls of Hogwarts. We had the minds of hundreds of esteemed former members of the Wizengamot to help us as we pulled and pushed our Ministry back into shape. Severus had come back from the great beyond with a tremendous gift. It seems his status of not dead yet not alive for that short time was enough for him to act as a catalyst for those portraits that had been utterly destroyed. We were able to have portraits painted of all of the Hogwarts staff and a large number of former headmasters. Thus, an enormous amount of knowledge was preserved as well.
We were able and more than ready to hold free elections on the first anniversary of Voldemort's final death. One of Severus's last dictatorial acts was to demand Percy Weasley run. On election day, Severus and I furiously packed up our offices and slipped from the Ministry with our son, Julius, under one arm and boxes of personal possessions and handmade thank you gifts from a grateful population under the others. I was more than willing to cede my office to anyone with a modicum of training in Law and Severus would have gladly turned his office over to a pigmy puff.
We were at home, sitting quietly on the couch watching our son sleep in the cradle Neville had made, when the press arrived to congratulate us. At first, we thought it was on a job well done and were gracious, but we were swiftly disabused of the notion. Severus had won the election by a landslide. An election he didn't enter, nor did he allow anyone put forth his name as a candidate on the ballot. The vast majority of the Wizarding population ignored the official ballot and simply wrote his name on a piece of parchment, affixed their magical signature and flooded the Ministry with their personal owls.
So we were stuck for the next five years, and the next five and so on. Severus appointed me Deputy Minister and together we thrashed out the important issues of that second year. With experienced people in key positions in the Ministry, as well as dependable representation on the Wizengamot, it was fairly easy to get reforms and changes passed.
Most of the displaced people had been returned to their homes or gained new ones by that point. So the focus of the second year was the reopening of Hogwarts as a school. In an act of both farsightedness and petty revenge, Severus appointed Percy Weasley as Headmaster and then proceeded to micro-manage him to the point of apoplexy. Neville Longbottom was hired as the Herbology teacher and Viktor Krum took the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Theodore Nott became our Charms master and his wife, Caroline became the School Matron. Greg Goyle settled into the groundskeeper's hut and was surprisingly content, saying that this was what his oath wanted him to do. Professor Firenze came back to teach Divination and the other professors came from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.
The school was set up slightly differently; remedial lessons were mandatory for those students denied any education for the five years of Voldemort's rule, so it was many years before it was returned to the traditional seven year curriculum. Another change Percy made was to have every student resorted at the beginning of every year. Few stayed in the same house all seven years and it strengthened ties as well as helped develop the changing strengths of each student.
The ladies of the house all moved back into society in a variety of ways. A few struggled, but we were always there for each other in the following years to lend a hand or a home or just an ear, when needed. I will not say where they went, or what they did, because with the exception of Peaches, who couldn't care less what people thought of her, the rest of them would rather not have their past follow them around. We all meet up once a year at the house and talk. Sometimes we talk about our families and sometimes we talk about the past; we always remember our fallen. As for Caroline, well, at least once a year a bold student makes a comment about the nurse's past and about once a year that same student has to dust all the portraits in the castle without magic while listening to the hundreds of lectures from those portraits. Molly and Arthur hang on the fourth floor and are always especially vocal during a 'lecture series', as Caroline likes to call it.
Agatha Rosier took it upon herself to see to the welfare of those children orphaned by the fighting. Severus turned over the Malfoy estate for her to use as she saw fit and she turned it into a happy, if loud, home. They referred to themselves with pride as Snape's Children and as much as he grumbled about that, Severus spent a good amount of time there with them, listening to their tales and giving advice. When the last of the orphans married and moved away, Agatha went to work for the Department of Magical Cooperation. Seventeen years of playing arbiter of disputes to forty children gave her a unique set of skills and this year she was promoted to head of the department.
The Orphans have made Severus an honorary grandfather eight times over now and he is a ridiculously indulgent one. It would seem the rules he always felt were important for training a young mind go out the window when it comes to that next generation. Severus never gets tired of referring to himself as a man with forty-four children and he is, if you add the forty orphans to our own set. Julius is finishing up his Charms apprenticeship here at the school under Theo and already has an offer to teach next year at Durmstrang, and Silvia is an Auror. Our eight year old daughter Brilliant is always either reading a book or dragging her six year old brother Auberon off on some adventure bound to get them both filthy and in trouble. Silvia is quite attached to Percy's son Arthur and I expect a wedding announcement by Christmas. It's hard to picture having a married daughter when you are still running around making sure your youngest didn't put his shoes on the wrong feet.
Severus is a stern but doting father and never shirks his responsibilities. More than one important meeting was interrupted by a squalling infant waking from a nap behind his chair or preempted for a child's Gobstones match. In my opinion, for a man terrified he would be a terrible father, he could have written 'how to' books on the subject.
We raised our children in a constant state of chaos and the Ministry became their second home during the fifteen years that my husband was Minister for Magic and the following five where our dunderheaded Wizarding population finally took Severus seriously when he said he would flee Britain completely if he was elected again so they wrote me into office instead. I served one term and then threatened to become the new Dark Lord and that was how, after twenty years of Snape rule, Percy Weasley finally became Minister for Magic.
Severus graciously accepted the position of Headmaster at his beloved school. Percy joked about how he always had been anyway and was more than happy to finally hand over the reins and become Minister. Severus mostly left him to it unless he felt the Minister was about to commit an act of utter stupidity and needed a personal visit to set him straight.
My connection with Harry and Ron never left, and under intense strain, such as late pregnancy or the act of childbirth, I would be able to talk to them quite freely. They have always been able to connect with the little soul under my heart and would often pass on reassuring tidbits on their personalities before they were born. I was always happy for the heads up. Unfortunately it was just such an instance that resulted in the name of our youngest daughter. Ron was chattering on about how much this baby had Fred and George's playful streak just as Severus was inquiring about what name I had decided on. Under the influence of pain potions, my words were a jumble of two conversations before I passed out. Severus had learned not to argue with me for weeks after a birth by this time so he just scowled and wrote what he thought I said on her certificate and that is why my eight year old holds the utterly apt name: Brilliant Mischief Molly Snape, instead of Caelia Ginevra Molly Snape.
My life since that day we buried our dead has been full: full of life, full of love, full of laughter and full of challenges. The love of friends and family has allowed me to accept my past and learn to trust that life can be good. I am not without my inner scars; I still get unsettled in large open spaces. A picnic outing with the children to Yorkshire could turn quickly into Severus sending the children off to find frogs or some such while he discretely held me and crooned reassurance as I tried to calm my racing heart and will away the irrational feeling of danger. The advantage of living with a man that can read your mind is that I never had to find the words to explain. He simply understands. If I was short tempered, or withdrawn sometimes, he would coax me back with gentle reassurances and reminders that it was to be expected. The man that was never known for his patience always had an endless supply for a wife that might suddenly need to slip away to be alone. Indeed, you could say that Severus has become a very patient man. Free from the terrible pain and pressure that had been on his shoulders his entire adult life, he has slowly relaxed and become more tolerant of others. Still not one to suffer fools, he at least waits until the fool leaves the room to vent his spleen to me in private. He was not without his own after effects either. Many a night in the early years I would be woken from a sound sleep when he would snatch me up in a crushing embrace with his heart beating franticly and sweat pouring down his body, seeking reassurance that I was indeed whole and safe and his.
My only regret in all these years is my parents. They still reside in Australia with the false memories I had given them. It took me months and many nights crying on my husband's shoulder to work up the courage to go find them. I agonized over how much of the truth to tell them and my conscience was still sore at my decision when we found the matter was moot. They had lived too long with their false memories and the charms could not be reversed. They know me as a slightly strange but nice person who made friends with them on vacation years ago and always welcome my visits. It hurts.
Every person who lived through those times has a story to tell and I was very interested and supportive when I received the entreaty to tell my tale from Rosamund Sage, Rita Skeeter's daughter. She has become quite a historian and I am very impressed with her work and her effort to create an official record of the accounts of all the survivors as a memorial. However, twenty five years of living with Severus has rubbed off and so I shall spell this diary closed until after the death of both Severus and myself. Some of the facts would be better told when my children are grandparents themselves and Rosamund is a Skeeter, so even though I do enjoy our discussions, I cannot bring myself to trust her with the truth yet.
It is my deepest desire that my life, and I have it on good authority that I am looking at another hundred years at least, will be quite boring from here on in and so I foresee no need to ever write another journal like this again. However I must say that I have enjoyed the experience. I have never told my tale to anyone who wasn't already a part of it and the act of putting it all down on parchment has been very cathartic.
To anyone in the future who reads this, I hope you are living your happily ever after, as I am living mine. And to anyone caught under the weight of despair I say this to you: do not give up, do not surrender, for life can turn on a knut and change is still possible as long as you still have breath left and the will to clutch at any straw that brushes against your fingers, no matter how pathetic the possibility looks.
-Hermione Jean Granger Snape, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and School Librarian.
Young Angel Anne Warrington tried not to look into the eyes of the Headmaster and tried to keep her breathing normal as he soundlessly vanished the cake she had been hiding behind her back.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor, Miss Warrington, for being out after curfew, and detention with Professor Longbottom tomorrow evening. I am disappointed in you, child. Your father would be as well. You were in Slytherin last year, did you learn nothing of discretion?" he asked the diminutive second year. He sighed as she hung her head in shame.
"Miss Warrington, there's a reason we don't allow students to run amok in the hallways at night or have free access to the kitchens, can you tell me what it is again please?"
Angel Anne looked up into the black eyes of the Headmaster and repeated the words he had said to her when he had caught her the first time.
"Because we need our sleep, sir, and the stairs are dangerous in the dark and the elves have better things to do than stuff students full of sugar, and your job is difficult enough without a whole school full of sleepy students with rotted teeth and broken legs. Sir."
"Very good, Miss Warrington. Now can you explain what part of that you did not understand last week?"
As Angel Anne stumbled through her excuses and apologies the Headmaster lifted up his hand and held it out to his side. A few moments later Madam Snape showed up from around the corner and rested her fingers lightly on his hand.
"What have we here?" she asked in a gentle voice
"A recidivist," replied the Headmaster.
The girl screwed up her face in confusion.
"It means a repeat offender, Miss Warrington," the librarian explained.
"Yes, Madam Snape. Thank you for explaining that to me."
"Miss Warrington, do you think it possible to find your way to your common room without any more rule breaking?"
"Then be so good as to do so immediately, please."
The girl took off with only one last glance back at the couple watching her go.
When she was out of sight Hermione let out a soft musical laugh.
"So that's this year's broken heart."
"I have no idea what you are prattling on about, woman," Severus replied as they walked down the hall towards the stairs.
"Oh, yes you do. I bet you two galleons you catch her next week as well, it's as plain as the nose on your face that she has a crush on you."
"I have it on good authority that my nose is rather uncommon and, indeed, noble; one could hardly call it plain, Madam."
"Regardless, I stand by my words."
"You're on. I think you and Caroline are completely ridiculous with your claims of adolescent adoration and will be happy to prove you wrong."
"And I will reassert that you are positively dreamy in the eyes of a young girl. You are a hero, you are dark and mysterious and since you grew that beard you can stop hearts at a hundred paces. Add to that how every new batch of female students is regaled with tales of how deeply misunderstood you were for years and that makes you the stuff of dreams and legend."
"I thought Lockhart was the stuff of young girls' dreams," he said snidely.
"Oh, gods, Severus, don't throw that in my face again, I beg you. I can't believe I ever told you that."
He brought her hand up to his lips for a kiss.
"You're the only one that ever found me so, Hermione, but if it amuses you to see conspiracies where there are none, then I will put forth my opinion that perhaps you simply have too much time on your hands with Auberon now running off after Brilliant all the time. Well, more of a stumble really. When is that boy going to learn which shoe is which?"
"I don't know, I despair of ever getting him to even bother to look at his feet. Weren't we supposed to have handed him over to Julius to raise anyway by now? I seem to remember that being the plan."
The couple continued on their way through the silent halls, stopping to exchange pleasantries with Sir Nicholas before making their way to the Headmaster's office and up to their private apartments.
They made a striking couple, indeed. She was a beauty with her swanlike neck and her ample curves accentuated by the cut of her dark red robes. Her hair was swept up into a tight bun, elaborately braided and held in place by the combs she had received as an anniversary present. A trace of wrinkles around her eyes were the only concession to her more than fifty years. He cut an even more impressive figure in his seventies with his floor length silvery-green robes, heavily embroidered with black stitching. His hair flowed down to his shoulders before being gathered in a braid that fell another eighteen inches. It was iron grey in color shading toward black underneath. His face was creased with hard lines and his nose was ever a long, sharp hook; and he sported a black beard, neatly trimmed to a point just below his chin with a silver streak down the center. Their eyes matched in intensity of gaze, reflecting a high intelligence and quick wit as well as deep contentment and gentleness.
They entered their living room and found the usual motley collection of young adults. Snapes, Weasleys, Longbottoms and Notts, along with a few unidentified friends.
"Hello, Mum," said Silvia before wrapping herself in her father's arms. "The little ones are asleep. We were just heading out to the Three Broomsticks, is it okay if we all can crash here when we're done?"
"Ask your father," Hermione replied, which was as good as saying yes.
Silvia just looked at her father with her enormous black eyes and smiled as his lips pressed a kiss to her head.
"As long as all of your friends are aware that the door is warded and they will not be allowed access to the school."
"Thanks Dad!" She leaned up and kissed his cheek. All the young people gathered themselves by the floo but stopped when Severus raised his voice.
"Julius," he called, "it is Friday evening. You have until this time on Sunday to teach Auberon how to put his shoes on correctly or I promise you, there will be thestral stables in your future."
Julius Snape raised an eyebrow at this unexpected request but, used to such things, he simply quirked his lips, nodded his acceptance and blew his mother a kiss before turning back to his girlfriend and disappearing into the floo.
Two minutes of chaos and then the room was silent.
Severus took his wife's hand and tugged her towards their bedroom.
She pulled her hand back.
"You go ahead, I want to check the children."
"You don't need to, Sylvia said they're fine," he said as he reached to pull her towards him.
"Yes, I do, now leave off," she laughed and pushed him away.
Twenty minutes later and Hermione entered the bedroom with a slightly sad expression on her face. Her husband was under the covers reading a journal and seemed to not notice her as she came into the room. She changed into a silk nightie and sat at her table and started to unbraid her hair. She thought she felt her husband's eyes burning her skin but every time she darted a glance in the mirror he was simply reading. She looked at him laying there with his knees up and his long hair flowing across the pillow and down off the bed and her breath caught at how handsome she thought he was. He was such a fool not to see how happiness had made him so attractive. Hermione heaved a sigh.
Watching her older children take off with their friends had made her feel old; watching her little ones sleeping without a care had made her feel curiously unneeded. Watching her husband simply reading while she brushed out her waist length hair for some reason made her feel undesirable. She crawled under the covers and blew out the candle on her side of the bed and snuggled up close to her husband. She gave a happy little cry when she realized he was completely naked. With a smug smile he tossed his journal down and doused the lights with a flick of his fingers.
"You are a ridiculous woman if you think you are undesirable in any way," he said as he started to nibble on her neck.
She laughed and brought his face up to kiss.
"I'm sure it must have been a passing moment of sadness."
"No it wasn't, you've been restless and broody for weeks." He continued down her collar bone, disappearing under the blankets and pressed kisses along the tops of her breasts.
"I've been working on my journal, it made me…pensive."
He slid back out from under the covers and kissed her on her nose.
"Did you finish, my love?" His eyes were full of concern.
"Yes, this evening, just before I closed up the library."
"Will you let me read it?"
"No. When I finished it I spelled the book shut until after we are both dead and gone. You do not need to read it, love, you were there."
He kissed her tenderly.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked, caressing her face with his nose.
"No. I think I am done talking about it. I'm done writing about it and maybe even done thinking about it at least for a long while. I'd rather think about something else," she said running her hands up her husband's strong back.
His eyes closed as he leaned into her touch.
"What would you like to think about," he growled as his hands slid up along her sides.
"Oh, Probably the same thing you have been thinking about for the last year," she said whimsically.
Severus went still above her.
"Do you mean it?" he asked. His voice was soft and full of barely restrained hope.
"That I want another child? Yes, Severus. I do."
He kissed her passionately and with a wordless charm he vanished her nightgown.
He broke the kiss, lifting himself up on his arms, and looked deep into her eyes. His own were on fire with a powerful combination of love and lust.
"I love you, Hermione."
"Thank God," she answered.
As he crashed down on her and enveloped her with his passion, Hermione closed her eyes and thanked fate, as she did every night, for the day she saw that poor dumb bastard, dragged unwillingly into her prison clutching hope tightly in his fist.
AN: Thank you all so very much for your reviews and your encouragement. To those who flagged this story for updates, I thank you for allowing me to spam your inboxes; to those who I could not thank personally, know that I do so now. To Whitehound, who pushed me past my comfort zone and made this a better story, and Hebe GB, my new creepy best friend, who constantly cheered me on when I was more than ready to throw in the towel, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I encourage you all to read their stories, they are amazing writers.