I do not own any of the characters that you might recognise from JK Rowling's books. In case there is a story, or more than one story like this one, I do not know it and I do not under any circumstances intend plagiarism.
Every second Saturday of every third month for the past 20 years, the Burrow was full packed with people. Everyone worth knowing was there.
All the Weasleys, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron, Ginny. All their spouses, Fleur, Audrey, Angelina, Hermione, Harry. Their children, Victoire, Dominique, Louis; Molly, Lucy; Fred, Roxanne; Rose, Hugo; James, Albus, Lily, as well as Harry Potter's godson Teddy Lupin.
Luna Scamander, with her husband Rolf and their twins Lorcan and Lysander. Neville Longbottom and his wife Hannah. Kingsley Shacklebolt. Minerva McGonagall. Rubeus Hagrid. Filius Flitwick. Pomona Sprout. Poppy Pomfrey.
And, every second Saturday of every third month for the past 19 years, all of them were surprised to see Severus Snape there. All except Minerva McGonagall. But then again, she was the one to drag him there in the first place. For the first year, he merely occupied an old armchair near the fireplace and barely spoke. He warmed considerably after a while and instead of being silent, he made typically snarky remarks, used sarcasm as his main matter of speaking and was mostly gone by the time the pudding was off the table. Still, it surprised all of the rest that he continued to come at all. And – it was a mystery who said what to made him come when he obviously did not enjoy himself at all.
Actually, it surprised them even more that after about 9 years of coming, ten after the end of the War, he brought someone with him. At age 48, everyone had thought, Severus would live and die a bachelor. But they were wrong. He still came every second Saturday of every third month but ten years after the war had ended, he didn't come alone any more but with a woman.
Molly, in a intimate womanly chat with Minerva during the first night that he brought her, described the woman as smart, busty, blonde, beautiful and a gold digger. Everyone knew Severus Snape had considerable amounts of gold in Gringotts. Everyone knew Severus Snape was a sought-after bachelor; the most eligible Wizarding bachelor in the UK. It was all in the papers.
And the woman, introduced as Aleia Stapelton, seemed just the type to the women of the group. The men, on the other hand, were enchanted by her, and more or less secretly jealous of Severus Snape. Still, neither of them believed that Aleia would be a part of their three-monthly dinners for long. Wagers were made – secretly.
And neither won the pool. Six months later, Aleia Stapelton was Aleia Snape. Not that anyone of them was present at the wedding, but Molly wasn't put off, no matter what Severus said, on giving both of them a big party. And soon, Aleia, 12 years younger than her husband, was the one who made Severus Snape go to the Burrow every second Saturday of every third month. And she still did. For the past ten years, they came together, they went home together and while it seemed not a very demonstrative marriage, or love, they seemed to fit. After every suspicion, even Molly and Minerva had to admit to this particular fact. They never argued, they always talked about Potions or Hogwarts and sometimes, they could be caught holding hands.
Not that Aleia had softened Severus Snape's biting wit and snarky, sarcastic comments but at least, he spared her. Still, it was a favourite pastime of his to make fun of the Weasley brood, especially when one of the Weasley Women were pregnant again. He kept far away from any of the children. And as such, Aleia had never could share good news of a pregnancy with the other women in the kitchen of the Burrow. And Severus Snape always sneered down at the poor fathers who had to wipe more snot from the brats' faces. And of course, there were more. To him, it seemed that every third month, there was another red-head in the Burrow, running, crawling, playing on the floor or another Weasley Woman pregnant. But luckily, only once or twice, one of those red-heads, or maybe it was one of those obnoxious twins of Luna Lovegood, had tried to use him as a climbing pole.
But then again, about half of them now, every second Saturday of every third month, avoided him. Avoided to speak, or even look at their evil Potions Master. And that gave Severus Snape a modicum of happiness it seemed. He did focus on talking to Kingsley Shacklebolt or Arthur Weasley. Or spoke to his wife.
And on that Saturday, December 8th, 2018, Severus Snape counted fifteen children, the same number as ever, even though both Ted Lupin and Victoire Weasley, 20 and 19, could not be called children any more, and were both not under his care any more, and only one pregnant woman, Hermione Weasley. She waddled already, Severus Snape thought with a half-sneer and was happy that he had spared his wife this sort of inconvenience. And she did not even look that far advanced in her pregnancy. He could have just asked his wife who would have gladly told him that Hermione was in her 18th week, or even Arthur who still beamed madly, proudly whenever one of his innumerable grandchildren walked, toddled, crawled or somehow moved forward on their stomachs and elbows and knees the way he had seen many children in that house do, but truth be told, he did not want to know.
He was glad that he had been careful enough to avoid becoming a father.
Hermione Weasley on the other hand, could not be happier about hers and Ron's third child. They had tried for a while, two years, three, three and a half, maybe. And now, it was there. It had just worked. They had just fallen pregnant again. She smiled at Ron, her love, as she stood in the kitchen of the Burrow, helping Molly preparing dinner and he suddenly came over, spread his hand possessively over her stomach, kissed her cheek and took off with Harry and George.
Marriage was good. It was the life she had wanted. With him. They made their working schedule match when they could. He as an Auror, and she, a prosecutor working for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She would take a break when the little one was born but she knew Ron would help her. As he had done previously. He was very happy about the new baby. Very excited.
Her mother-in-law smiled at her and Minerva smirked catlike. Despite her age, she couldn't help but blush.
The long and short of it was that she was just very very happy in her life.
Yes, she was worried when Ron was called to an emergency and had to deal with wicked witches or wizards but she knew that he was careful. Careful for her and for Rose and for Hugo. He always was and she was proud of him. She knew that he wasn't far from being made of the Head of the Auror's Office. Or at the very least, Co-Head with Harry. And that made her proud. He was her Ron. They fought, yes, but they always made up nicely after that. And when she had been a little sad to let Rose go to Hogwarts, to let her daughter out into the world, he had helped, had stood by her. Loyal, unfaltering.
Actually, Hermione enjoyed those second Saturdays of every third month. She liked seeing how people had changed in the past twenty years. It seemed so long ago – and then again, not long at all. Snape, for instance, he was still the same, albeit with wife now. He still made fun of all of them but she knew deep down, that he was there because he cared. They had all of them, sooner or later, apologised to him and he had, snarkily, sneeringly accepted. And by now, Aleia was one of her best friends. If not her best female friend. She was bright and witty and smart. Never lost a bad word about anyone. She was as loyal to Snape as she to Ronald and she never talked about their life at home, at Hogwarts. She was the librarian, he the Potions Master. Minerva and Molly could not be nosier but even the Headmistress did not know whether they were truly happy behind closed doors. But why shouldn't they? Snape could be nice, definitely. And Aleia was one of the nicest persons she knew. A bit of a temper, a bit of arrogance, strong-willed, stubborn. Not quite the stereotype of a quiet, mousy librarian. Liked her robes with a slit to the thigh and liked low-cut necks.
No, she didn't understand the Snape's marriage but he was definitely kind to her. And treated her differently than he treated the rest of them, despite the respect he had for Molly, Arthur, Minerva and maybe even a little for the rest of them (apart from Neville. Poor Neville. Almost forty and still afraid of his former teacher). There was an intimacy between them that showed they trusted one another, held affection for one another. But Hermione wasn't sure if love looked like that. Maybe it did. Aleia never said anything.
She was just stirring the gravy, when Ron and Harry came back storming into the kitchen. Sometimes, they still behaved like little boys, but maybe men never grew up. She turned to them with a smile but when she saw the enchanted medallions in their hands, the smile vanished and she groaned.
Ronald nodded and hugged her tightly. "We'll be back for dinner."
She nodded, sighing, hating these emergencies. It was always those two of them. Never any junior Aurors. But well, those two, Harry and Ron, did their best work together.
"Be careful, okay?"
"I always am," he whispered in her ear and kissed her on the mouth briefly, and waving to Minerva, Molly, Aleia, Luna and Poppy, he disappeared through the back door.
Please review and let me know what you think.
And nope, couldn't stay away for long, could I? Anyway, for those of you who also read Innocence Lost, I will post alternately. I promise!