Beautiful Bird
by sshg316

Chapter Four

Hermione entered the upstairs bedroom with a relieved yet heavy heart. Evelyn lay bundled in her cradle, her dear little face free of care as she peacefully slumbered. Her gaze then slid to where Snape stood by the small, dingy window, his head bowed, a worn bit of parchment clutched in one hand.

On silent feet, she cautiously approached the mercurial wizard, unsure of her welcome after the evening's events. As if he sensed her presence—and her reticence—he turned, his eyes glittering in the candlelight. Without a word, he opened his arms, and she fell into his embrace.

Lying side by side, he had held her tightly, whispering words of contrition and regret, until his exhaustion had overcome him. Gently, so as not to wake him, Hermione loosened his grip on the parchment, pulling it free of his fisted hand; then she read again the terrible words that had struck terror into Snape's heart.

Congratulations, my traitorous friend. I've heard rumours that you are to be married, and to such a tasty morsel, too. I cannot wait until the day you have a child. You know how I like kids—yours would be my favourite, I promise you…

Hermione shuddered, burrowing closer to Snape's side. Of their own accord, her fingers lovingly reached out to ease the deep, ever present furrow between his brows.

He had thought only to protect her and their unborn child, but even so, she had been terribly hurt by his decision to cancel their wedding and pretend that the baby was Ron's. She had borne the pain, however, believing that the situation would be resolved prior to their child's birth.

She had been wrong.

The terrible deception had continued, his fear for his daughter—his only flesh and blood—outweighing all other considerations.

The house was abuzz with activity; Dumbledore's Army had arrived. Assignments were being given for patrolling the neighbourhood, as well as guarding the house and its inhabitants.

Snape sat in a high-backed chair, watching soberly.

Sensing his distress, she went to him, placing a hand upon his shoulder.


After a long moment, he replied, "I am her father. It is my family who is threatened, and yet I have chosen to hide, like the snake that I am."

She opened her mouth to deny his words, when he rose to his feet.

"No more. It is time to strike."

She waited in the sitting room, a fussing Evelyn held to her breast. She feared for her lover's safety and that of her friends. Snape, Ron, and Harry had spent weeks perfecting the plan that would put a final end to the threat to her child.

Now, it had begun.

After glancing out the window at the full moon, she closed her eyes and offered a prayer for her loved ones.

Her beautiful bird squirmed in her arms. "Shh, your papa will come soon."

And through her tears, she sang:

Oh, hush thee, my baby,
Thy sire was a knight…

He returned with the others the following morning, bloodied, battered, and with new battle scars—but these, she knew, he would bear proudly. Wrapped in her embrace, he told her how the bait had been taken, how he'd been surprised by how haggard, how old the animal who had driven such fear into their hearts had appeared. Even so, when cornered, the beast had attacked, and none had escaped unscathed.

"Any bitten?" she asked, fearing his reply.

"A few scratches—nothing more."

Overcome with relief, she wept in his arms as he whispered over and over again, "She's finally safe."

Snape stood before the fireplace, relishing its warmth. From his pocket, he removed the bit of parchment that had been his constant companion since the moment it had been delivered, a reminder of all that he'd stood to lose. For too long, he'd let his fear overrule his judgement, and his family had suffered for it.

Never again.

Without a thought, he tossed the parchment into the fire, watching until all that remained were ashes. Fenrir Greyback would never threaten another child.

Hearing the sounds of mother and child in the room above, he smiled and then joined his family.

A/N: And that's the end! I hope you enjoyed the conclusion. If you're still confused (hopefully you're not), then feel free to ask questions. :)

According to the name dictionary I used, Eileen is the Irish equivalent of Evelyn, and both names, of course, mean "beautiful bird." (According to some other dictionaries, they mean "life" or "living", but obviously I went with this version!)

In the letter to Snape, I took from a line in chapter 27 of HBP, where Greyback says, "But you know how much I like kids, Dumbledore." Snape had a very real fear of werewolves—thanks to his experience as a teenager—and Greyback was known for contaminating children. He would have been aware of Greyback's proclivity to infect children, and I can only imagine the terror he would have felt at the threat to his own child.