"Wishes Can Come True"
There were mixed feelings about this graduation. Aranea Snape had graduated top of her class—who hadn't foreseen that, quite frankly?—which made her father unbearably smug. But it couldn't be denied that her summer work was… how to put it? Less than desirable.
She was going to work at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
What no one had the courage to tell her father yet, though, was that she had been developing products with Fred during her later school years. And that their letters hadn't always been work-related…
Aranea smiled from her seat, situated between a Ravenclaw and one of her fellow Slytherins. She twisted around to wave at Monile, who would be starting her last year at school in only a few months' time. Monny was sitting next to Teddy, who she was dating. Both were in Ravenclaw house. Johnny and Orion were too young—only third years—to sit with the others. Orion was in Gryffindor—Sirius had thrown a party to celebrate—and Johnny in Hufflepuff.
Carmen was looking after her favourite person in the whole world: nine-year-old Carina, who had been given permission to sit with her. Carmen was in Gryffindor. Silvanus Snape, still growing in his mother's stomach, gave a kick. Hermione grimaced, and tugged her husband's hand over. He smiled.
"We just need this one to be in Hufflepuff," he said. "Then all of the houses will be represented in the family…" However, he fell quiet just then, as it was Aranea's turn to speak. She was Head Girl, and proud of it, too. She also had the biggest crush on Fred Weasley—or, at least, she used to. They had been writing flirtatious letters to each other since she was fifteen, though he tried to discourage it at first. Apparently, even one of the dreaded Weasley twins was still capable of having some semblance of honour.
During the last holidays, though, she had gone for a job interview at WWW, despite the fact that her clandestine help with some of their inventions was more than enough recommendation for a position there. When she saw Fred up close, though, after all that time, she had fallen completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love with him. Hermione had nearly flipped when she heard this, but knew better than to believe that her daughter was delusional. She had then written a letter of support to Fred, though she had enclosed the usual 'if you hurt my daughter I will kill you' warning.
Severus, however, wasn't thinking about this. Minerva had spoken to him privately before the feast, and offered him the position as headmaster, because she planned to retire. Speechless, he had nodded, and was given the summer holidays to find a replacement potions master. With the publication of his first book, and subsequent works, many names had sprung to mind immediately, since so many more people were interested in potions nowadays, and a number of them were more than capable of teaching the subject.
Aranea's speech came to an end, and applause broke out around the Great Hall. Silvanus kicked his father's hand again, as it was still resting on Hermione's belly. The Snapes found themselves remembering the conversation that morning:
"So you're naming him 'Silvanus'?" Aranea said. Her parents nodded. "That means 'of the woods' in Latin, doesn't it?"
"Yes," Hermione said, not liking where this conversation was going. But she just had to ask.
"Why are you giving him that name, then?" she said. Severus smirked at his wife, who gave him a horrified look. Surely he wouldn't… After all, she'd been given the duty of telling the girls the facts of life, since he didn't want to…
"Well, do you remember that day in the Forbidden Forest?" he said. "About seven months ago?" Aranea nodded. "Well, remember how dishevelled your mother and I were when we returned?" She nodded again, the truth dawning. "Well, your mother is seven months along, so…"
"Ew!" she shrieked, and she ran from the room, regretting having agreed to this special family graduation breakfast.
"That wasn't nice, Severus."
"But it was funny, Hermione. Admit it."
After the graduation feast, people were milling around, and photographic flashes were going off all over the place. Aranea and Fred walked up to Severus and Hermione, who were talking to Minerva. The new headmaster had been announced, and Hermione had kissed her husband—passionately—in front of everyone.
The last, miniscule shred of his reputation as the scary bat of the dungeons had been destroyed. And, to be honest, he cared not one whit.
"Sir?" Fred murmured, suddenly looking nervous. Severus raised an eyebrow at him. "Uh, can I ask you something?"
"You may ask."
"Um…" He looked at Hermione for support. She nodded, smiling at him. "I wanted to ask if I could… could court Aranea," Severus' expression turned stormy, "with a view to m-marrying her one day." Aranea beamed at him, and then looked worriedly at her father.
"Dad? Please?" she said. Hermione judged the situation, raised her hand to signal that they wait, and pulled her fuming husband aside.
"Sev. Sev, dearest. My love, please listen to me." She used her best wheedling tone, touching his cheeks gently to make him look at her. His face softened when he did, but he still looked angry. "Think about how my parents would have felt when you approached them about marrying me. And if I hadn't travelled back in time—if I was four years younger—that'd be about the same age difference. Would it matter to you?"
"He's known her since she was born, not since she was… was Carmen's age!" He was trying to keep his voice low, for his wife's sake. He stroked her face. "Aranea's my little girl. All three of them are. I just worry for her."
"Severus, let me put it like this," she said, resting a hand on his chest. "You used to teach Fred, before that thing with the horcrux on New Year's Eve all those years ago. You're a former Death Eater, and former spy. He knows how dangerous you can be. Do you really suppose that he'd do anything to hurt Aranea? He's far too intelligent to do that. Put yourself in his position." She watched as Severus fought some kind of internal battle, occasionally looking over at the young couple.
"It's noble of you to be so protective, it really is," she said. "But don't you see how this would crush Aranea, if you forbade them to be together? Look at them. Not as a father, nor as a former-professor…"
"I get the picture, woman. For Merlin's sake, you still retain the habit of talking the hind legs off a hippogriff." He ran a hand through his hair. "Fine. But only because you're right. He's too damned smart to risk his life by upsetting my daughter."
"Not to mention she can handle him herself," Hermione added. Severus nodded.
He gave his permission to Fred, who nearly keeled over at the release of tension. He thanked his future father-in-law profusely, almost shaking his hand off, before sweeping Aranea into a dance without music.
On the first day of the holidays, Hermione and Severus went to the museum that had been constructed in a disused wing of the Ministry. The museum told the story of the wars against Voldemort. They stood in front of their favourite case—the one which held the destroyed horcruxes. In the centre was the Slytherin locket. For quite some time, they both gazed at the little extra piece of jewellery fused onto the side.
"If it wasn't for that…" Severus whispered.
"Quite." Hermione sniffed. "Gods, I hope I never wake up to find this was all a dream."
"It's lasted far too long to have been a dream. Don't torture yourself with such thoughts."
"You know, I think everyone wishes for the perfect life," she said. "Well, the perfect life for them. And I think that this… this is the perfect life for me."
"Maybe that's what you actually wished for," he said, bending his head to nuzzle her cheek. "And yet I didn't have a horcrux to wish upon."
"Either way, it seems that wishes really can come true."
"Mmm." He smirked at her when she looked up. "You know what I'm wishing for right now?"
"No… oh. Oh, I see. Really? This far along?"
"Indeed. Want to make another wish come true?" he asked, pulling her towards the museum's exit. His wife was blushing. "You know, I've heard that this can induce labour…"
I won't cry. I won't cry. I won't…
I won't cry. I won't cry. I won't…
Oh, gods above. I'm crying.
It's the END! Gaah! I feel as though I've poured some of my own soul into this story, since it's taken so long. It was a complete breakthrough for me, I do confess. I only hope that I've been able to touch your lives in the same way you've touched mine through all your reviews and continued support.
Now, Her Royal Goddess had some questions, which I shall now answer:
Q: Who has Harry ended up with? A: Ginny, since they got together in his fourth year.
Q: And what does he do? A: Go on to be an Auror, I should imagine. There are still elements of the original series here.
Q: Did Hermione ever make up with Ron? A: Well, they were both on the good side, and fought in the final battle, so I think they'd get on tolerably well, even if they are no longer best friends.
Q: What happened to Draco since the war? A: The same thing as in the original series.
Q: What will Remus do now that he's no longer a werewolf? A: Continue teaching, and having children with Tonks.
Q: Do you plan on a follow-up story following the lives of the next generation of Hogwarts? A: Merlin, if I must. But this went on for how many chapters? Precisely. I might just do a few one-shots, perhaps. I don't know. Sign up for Author Alerts, and you'll see.
Q: Will Neville survive working alongside Severus? A: What, that old softie? How could he not? Severus would probably scare the heck out of him occasionally, to make sure that he hasn't lost his touch. But not by, or after, this chapter.
Q: How is Nancy coping with the magical world? A: She's a terrific person, and loves Sirius something awful. She'll be fine, though I bet having magical kids would give any Muggle mother a bit of a shock. But with her husband to explain things, she'd be okay.
Q: Have I annoyed you with all my questions? A: Nope, because it hasn't taken me long to churn out answers. Not as long as that earlier chapter, when I broke the fourth wall. That took me ages…