Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
October 7, 2000
Severus Snape was hurrying through the hallways of St. Mungo's. Poppy Pomfrey was chivying him along. "I don't understand why you thought it would be good to travel to Hogwarts today. The timing was so close."
"She said she wouldn't be early, and I needed to be at that meeting if I could."
"Hmph. I just hope you're not too late."
"Is it going that quickly?"
"See for yourself." Poppy steered him into a room.
He saw his wife sitting in a hospital bed, smiling faintly and resting her hands on her enormous belly. The Healers and her assistants were working in a flurry of action, but Andromeda was serene. "I knew you would get here," she said.
"Are you in much pain?"
She shook her head. "I think I've finally gotten the hang of this. Plus, they gave me a won-der-ful potion." She lay back and reached out a hand for him to take. He kissed it and sat down next to her. A Healer came over to the bed to talk to them and Severus looked up expectantly.
May 20, 2000
Severus watched her over breakfast. Andromeda was sick again for the fourth time this week, and it troubled him to look at her. He knew she was feeling strained and over-tired, but she didn't want to admit it. "You need to see a Healer. There is no telling what the problem could be. At least let's find out."
She looked at him bleakly. "What if it's something truly awful?"
"Then we'll know and we can face it together."
"What about the children?"
"Arabella and Birdie can handle them for the morning. We're going."
He wrapped her into a cloak and walked her over to the fireplace. He tossed in some Floo powder and said, "St. Mungo's," as he pushed her in. A minute later, he spun out of the hospital fireplace and retrieved her hand, guiding her to the front desk to sign in.
"You're kidding," said Andromeda. She felt foolish, sitting in a gown on top of a hospital bed with her husband and the Healer staring at her. Severus wasn't really staring; he was struggling not to smile. Any second his face would break into beaming and his reputation would be blown. "I'm too old," she complained.
"Apparently not, dear," answered the Healer with a cherubic smile.
Andromeda was struck by an urge to grab the clipboard and bang it over the Healer's head. The situation was ghastly, even if it was wonde—check that. Women her age who had two-year-old grandchildren didn't—except she had. She looked at her husband, who had lost the battle with his emotions. Looking into his eyes, she knew.
January 14, 2000
"Are you sure they're going to be all right?" Andromeda looked a bit worried.
Severus smirked indulgently. "Suddenly Molly Weasley isn't capable of caring for your daughter and grandson?"
"It's been so long since she's had babies in the house..."
"Eileen just had her birthday and Teddy is almost two. I think we can safely call them 'toddlers' now."
"Molly's never quite forgiven me..."
"Of course she has, just like Potter grudgingly admitted we could be together. It was so kind of them both to allow us some happiness." He allowed himself some sarcasm.
"I just don't know..."
"Is there some reason you can't stand to spend a couple of days alone with me?"
She looked up at him. "Well, when you put it like that..."
He put out his hand. "Come."
He had found an out-of-the-way inn that didn't seem to mind them appearing out of nowhere. The innkeepers were simple folks who loved the romance of the couples who came to visit and believed in giving those couples privacy. Within minutes Severus and Andromeda were alone together in a room.
Andromeda suddenly didn't know what to do. This wasn't finding love in a stolen moment or collapsing together in a bed when the day's tasks were finally done. Neither was it a desperate need for contact with another lost soul. Their love for each other involved all of those things, but could now move into different areas as well.
"Anna." She looked up and saw his face. As he slid his feet out of his snake-skin boots, she slowly unfastened her robe. He was mesmerized by the movement of her hands and watched as she shrugged the garment to the floor and her hands moved to the fastenings of his robe. His own hands brushed up her arms and found the buttons on her dress. As he did, his head swooped down and his lips captured hers.
Suddenly they couldn't help themselves and their hands moved to only the clothes necessary. They came together in a burst of passion that exploded around them. They lay tangled together for a long minute before sitting up to survey the damage.
The first thing they repaired was a tear in the bed's duvet cover. "I don't know what possessed me to wear such high heeled shoes," she said. She saw the look in his eye as he ran his fingers down the calf of her leg and suddenly remembered why she wore those shoes and the silk stockings. There were also rips and tears in their clothing where fastenings rent the fabric or were torn off. Those things attended to, they proceeded to finish undressing each other.
Andromeda was working Severus's shirt up as she ran her fingertips along his sides. Suddenly he shuddered and lowered his arms protectively. "Stop that." She smiled and ran her fingertips up his sides again. This time he jumped and growled. She giggled.
He went completely still and said, "Do that again." She moved to tickle him again, but he grabbed her wrists and looked into her eyes. "No, I want you to giggle again."
She laughed at that. "How can I? You killed the mood by grabbing my hands."
He drank in the sound of her laughter and pulled her into his arms, the shirt still around his neck. "I can't tell you how long I've wanted to make you laugh."
She pulled away and looked at him, then giggled again and helped him the rest of the way out of his shirt. "You're not serious." The look in his eye stopped her and she simply waited for him to explain it.
"That day I looked inside your mind... I shouldn't have; I should have asked you. I saw that you laughed with Ted, and I've envied him that ever since. You were so free and joyful even if you were on the run."
"I was a different person in those last moments I was his wife. You've become so much more to me, though. I need you in ways I never needed another person before. You held my life together when it was falling to pieces."
He brushed her hair back from her face. "You gave me a life when I would have been content to pretend to have one."
"We're good for each other, then," she said with a smile. "I wonder..." She started to tickle him again and this time he curled up protectively and gave a grunt of laughter. She got up on hands and knees and tried touching various places to see what sort of reactions she would get. When he decided he'd had enough, he pulled her down on top of himself.
Some time later, she was draped around him and he patted her back. "I shouldn't let you do that to me. I'm too old for it."
"You're younger than I am."
"Not really. Being a Death Eater ages a person."
"You're no Death Eater."
Not wanting to start a serious discussion, he deliberately changed the subject. "But I am hungry."
She rolled off of him and smiled. "I have no answer for that."
"We'll have to go down to dinner."
"Won't everyone know what we've been doing?"
"I'm sure from the twinkle in everyone's eye that they knew what we planned to do. Let's go down and scandalize them with our wantonness."
"Is it really wanton if we're married?"
In answer he slapped her behind. It earned him a shriek of laughter from her as they started Summoning their clothes from the various places they had landed. "I love that sound," he said against her lips.
"You should try making it more often yourself, then," she responded. "It's good for you."
October 7, 2000
"It's a boy," said the Healer.
Andromeda leaned back in relief as she started to relax and watch the progress of the baby around the room. Her happiness was complete the moment her husband took his son into his arms and kissed the little head. She wasn't sure she had ever seen such contentment in his face. She was resting comfortably when suddenly a new pain started to form in her back and work its way around her belly.
The assistant looked at her and tugged on the sleeve of the Healer. "It's not the afterbirth." The Healer rushed over, swore under her breath and then started reassembling her instruments and tools.
"What's going on?" asked Severus.
The assistant brushed by him on her way to the hallway to call for another assistant. Then she took the baby and sat him back down next to his wife. Andromeda's eyes were enormous as she worked through a pain that was entirely too much like labor.
May 20, 2000
He held her hand as they walked down Diagon Alley for a few minutes to absorb the news. As if by some magnetic force, they found themselves in front of a display at a children's store. Andromeda's eyes looked greedily for any changes to the paraphernalia necessary to raise a tiny wizard or witch.
Severus lifted her hand to his lips. "It must have been that weekend. There was nothing lacking, before, but after that we've had so much more..."
"Yes," she answered absently, "yes."
"You don't mind, do you?"
She shook her head. "Oh, no. Ted and I used to dream of filling the cottage and then having to add on until it looked like the Burrow. Uncle Alphard loved the idea. It just never happened... It's a dream come true, Severus."
"Do you mind that it's with me?"
She put a hand up to his face. "Of course not. It happens when it happens. I'm glad we're at peace now. It's such a lovely time to raise children, and Eileen and this new one couldn't have any father but you."
He smiled at that and kissed her ear. "Not to change the subject, but we have the rest of the day to ourselves. Did you want to spend it here, or..." He used his eyes to finish the thought. Her giggle was the response he looked for.
Andromeda didn't think it was many heartbeats later that he had her undressed in their bed. He explored her body, looking for the signs of this new pregnancy and took his time admiring each one. She writhed in response. "I'm going to find a way to retaliate, you know."
He laughed. "You'll find no signs of pregnancy on me, but you're welcome to try."
Using a quick maneuver she had recently perfected, she rolled them both so that she was over him. She tickled and caressed and then kissed and fondled him until he was forced to protest. "I demand satisfaction."
She stopped what she was doing to kiss his lips. "Are you worried that you won't get it?"
He shook his head. "No, but I want to be gentle with you and you're pushing my limits."
"I'm at your service," she responded with an impish smile.
He took her at her word.
October 7, 2000
By the time their second son was born, Andromeda was ready to close her eyes and sleep for days. Severus was tired enough to wish he could crawl into the hospital bed with her. The part he hated more than anything was rousing his wife to feed the elder twin. Her doze was on the verge of becoming a deep sleep and she looked very peaceful.
"Anna," he said quietly, "Nigel needs to eat."
She was awake instantly, reaching her arms to take the baby, who was fussing and rooting. She set him to nurse and then looked over at her husband, who was sprawled in the chair. "We don't have a name for the other one."
"I'm too tired right now."
"I was wondering..." He looked up to see what she would say. "I always thought there should be one named for my uncle."
"Orion is out of the question."
"I meant my other uncle... Alphard. We're going to give them his room."
"Isn't that an old-fashioned name?"
"I suppose he'll hold his own among the Harrys and Rons that are likely to be born over the next few years... Not to mention all the Severuses..."
He snorted. "Don't remind me." He smiled tiredly. "If you like Alphard, that's what he'll be named."
A cry was heard as young Alphard complained about the empty state of his tummy.
Severus stood and got him. "You'll just have to wait your turn."
"Hold on," said Andromeda. "It's supposed to be possible to feed both at once. Perhaps with enough pillows..."
They managed to wedge both babies into place, but it wasn't very comfortable for any of the three people involved. Fortunately Nigel was almost full and after a few minutes was happy enough for his father to take him.
"This is going to be exhausting," said Severus.
"Maybe it will," answered his wife, "but when it's over, it will seem like the blink of an eye."
September 1, 2012
Once again, Severus Snape was walking quickly. He was at Kings Cross Station, pushing a luggage cart toward the barrier between platforms nine and ten. His wife had just gone ahead of him to Platform nine and three quarters, and the children had gone ahead of her.
For his entire life, whenever he came through this train station he had always closed his eyes at the critical moment. When he opened them he beheld a world of vapor poured out of the shiny red steam train. He found his family by listening rather than looking. "Stick close to me, please." Teddy Lupin was trying to guide his young aunt and uncles toward the train.
"Listen to him go on," said Eileen. "Doesn't he put on airs?"
"You'd almost think he was the uncle," said Nigel.
"Or a Prefect. Next he'll be telling us which house to join, again," said Alphard.
Teddy let out a huff. "If you lot don't shut it, I won't take you to see him."
"We saw them all just last week at the park, Teddy. You just want to see Victoire again!" Eileen was more right than Teddy wanted to admit, so he turned his back on her.
"And who have we here?" The head of the Aurors materialized next to the young Snapes, wearing his official robes.
"Mr. Potter!" Eileen looked up with shining eyes.
Harry looked at the boys, who were making faces at their nephew's back. "Is there a problem?"
Alphard looked up. "Well, sir, Teddy says Gryffindor is the best house, but Mum and Dad were both Slytherin. Eileen went Ravenclaw—"
"Which was a bit of a disappointment to everyone," finished Nigel.
"Except me," answered the Ravenclaw herself.
"Quite right, Miss Snape. I think you have the correct answer."
The twins looked up in question.
Harry looked at all three children. "Listen to the Sorting Hat, and if it gives you a choice, tell it. Gryffindor was the right house for me, but the man who spied for Dumbledore and saved everything needed to come from Slytherin." Dad was frowning at Mr. Potter. He hated to have that story told. Mr. Potter grinned. He loved to annoy Dad. "Your sister has it right. There are four best houses, and there will be one that is the best house for each of you."
The train's whistle came through the mist and there was a flurry of kisses and last messages. All of a sudden Nigel couldn't seem to let go of Mum. "It's all right, dear, you can go," she said.
He looked up at Dad and said, "You will take care of her, won't you?"
Dad and Mum smiled at each other, and then he looked solemnly down at him and said, "On my wand, Nigel. It's my job now, since your job is to do your best at Hogwarts. Whatever house you're in, and whatever you attempt, as long as you work hard and do your best, we'll be proud of you."
Mum gave him one last kiss and whispered, "I love you," and it was time to go.
Looking out the window, Nigel saw that Mum was waving to him, while Mr. Potter was shaking Dad's hand. They all waved for just a moment as the train started. Nigel watched his mother get smaller until she disappeared entirely.
Andromeda finally stopped waving and turned to her husband, giving him a watery smile. "They're all gone, now."
"You were right," he answered gently, as he put his arm around her. "It wasn't long at all."
"You must be glad to have them all out of the house," said Harry. "I think Ginny has already made a calendar counting down the weeks until James goes."
"No, it's been a precious time for us," said Andromeda. "We'll enjoy our time with just us, of course, but we've loved having the kids in the house, too."
Her husband agreed. "Bad and good, it's all been golden."
A/N: I started this story as a sort of lark. I've been working on another story that involves these characters when I came across the prompt that started this. I'm glad so many people have enjoyed it. Thanks to Alabastor Princess for being such an avid reader and reviewer, and especially to Mark Darcy, for beta reading!