See chapter 1 for notes, disclaimer, and everything…
IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm reposting this because I like things to be clear and clean, but this is the last of Drusilla Dax (congratulations on the silence).
'We keep an eye on her, and we keep her close,' Severus declared.
'Very close,' Harry added.
That was a very good plan, but... Nothing happened.
There was no other attempt against Hermione or the ones who'd protected her. There was even no attack on Umbridge, who had to be convinced to stop saying that she was a witch in order to be allowed to stay in Muggle protective custody (the only place where she was really safe).
Most of the older students were involved in the new Dumbledore's Army. Their additional training made their grades better, but they had nothing, and no one, to fight.
Harry kept an eye on his friends, and he kept on improving as an Auror; sometimes he was working on simple cases, and he also had to deal with a few crimes that were direct consequences of the war.
Draco and Astoria were becoming good friends, and that made Harry happy for them.
Life at Hogwarts was really quiet. Dreadfully quiet.
Minerva had been brought into the confidence about Alienora Ballo, and she was quite angry, but she never gave Alienora any clue that she knew she was a mole and a traitor.
The Snapes were working and getting ready to become parents. Hermione knew that she was protected, she had her husband loving her and taking care of her, she had loving relatives and great friends; all that made up for the fact that she now felt like a beached whale.
There was a major surprise during the Yule break because the new Ginevra was quite different from the young witch she'd been, and she read her mother and Ron the Riot Act for having been deeply unfair to the Snapes. Molly was getting over the fact that Hermione would never be one of her daughters-in-law, and Ron had had time to cool down (it's astounding what being chased by an angry dragon will do to you when it comes to re-assessing your life and your choices and your actions).
For Christmas, Ron sent a huge bouquet to the Snapes; it was a peace offering, a wish for their bonding and a Yule present.
That was how Ron, chaperoned by his little sister, ended up being invited to tea at the Snapes' house between Christmas and New Year. The four Malfoys were there, with Agatha Snape and the Grangers. Nemesis was perched on Harry's shoulder and glaring at the silly red hair.
Ginevra elbowed her brother in a way that had to be painful.
He whined, but looked at Hermione and said, 'I'm sorry, but you know how stupidly I can react. I'd been completely blind, and when I realized that I'd lost you to... to Deputy Headmaster Snape, I blew a massive fuse.'
'You passed info about them to someone,' Harry said coldly.
'No!' Ron protested.
Both Severus and Harry instantly used Legilimency on Ron, and they saw that he wasn't lying.
'How is it possible?' Severus asked Harry.
'He can't lie. I gave him some Veritaserum,' Ginevra pointed out.
'Not again!' Ron sighed.
'We know he's telling the truth, Ginevra,' Harry said.
'If so, it means that Ginevra's been used for much longer than we thought, and she relayed info to someone who pretended to be Ron, or who made her think that,' Hermione pointed out.
'Probably the one who located the Grangers in Australia,' Narcissa added.
'And the Memory-charm on me prevents Harry from ever finding any kind of clue in my head,' Ginevra growled.
'Whoever was twisted enough to do that wouldn't have left anything for Harry, or anyone, to find,' Ron pointed out.
'We all know who's behind this,' Hermione said calmly.
'But we don't know why,' her dad added.
'You know who wants to hurt Hermione?' Ron asked.
'Her family and Harry know. The civilians are in the dark,' Ginevra explained.
'Is there anything I can do to help?' Ron inquired.
'If you stop being a twat, and I don't have to keep an eye on you, that'll help tremendously,' Harry said a bit coldly.
'Oi! I'm sorry, but I really thought my future was with 'Mione, and the next thing I know, she's ready to die for a bloke we'd thought was on the Dark Lord's side until the very end when he showed his face. It was a bit of a shock losing her that way. You should cuff me when I'm that kind of stupid,' Ron said. He paused to take a deep breath, and still under the magic of the potion, he went on, 'You can't imagine what it's like losing the one you love to someone else.'
Silence was instantaneous and quite oppressive. No one knew what to say, and Harry was busy not hexing his friend.
Astoria stood up, walked to Ron and smacked him as hard as she could.
'I said "cuff", not "smack", Mrs Malfoy,' Ron pointed out.
'Be happy that I didn't curse you for being so blind and stupid and such a poor friend,' Astoria spat.
Harry looked at Severus and asked, 'Is it all right if I Disapparate to Tommy and Max for five minutes?'
Severus nodded, and Harry disappeared in the blink of an eye.
'What?!' Ron said.
Hermione sighed, took a deep breath and started a thorough lecture on friendship and paying attention.
The conclusion of that afternoon was that Ron was a clumsy idiot, but he definitely wasn't the one behind the master plan to hurt the Snapes. There might be hope that Ron and the Snapes could eventually build a friendship of some sort one day, but it'd have to be mostly through Owl Post because Ron had decided to move to Romania for good.
In the evening, after Ron, Ginevra and the Malfoys had gone home, Mrs Granger asked her son-in-law why Alienora was trying to hurt him and Hermione.
'I can't understand. I'm sorry,' Severus answered. 'She was in her last year at Hogwarts when I became a pupil there. I don't know her at all.'
'Can't you give her some Veritaserum by accident?' Agatha wondered.
'We've tried,' Harry sighed.
'Each time, she's managed to disappear before anyone could ask her anything,' Hermione explained.
'How frustrating!' Mr Granger sighed.
'What about the Unspeakables?' Mrs Granger and Agatha asked at the same time, which made the two women smile at each other.
'None here with us at the moment? Usually, when we mention them, there's one that appears out of thin air,' Mr Granger said.
'They're outside,' Severus explained.
'They're really nice, and they try not to be too present,' Hermione added.
'And they're just as frustrated as we are,' Harry said with a sigh.
'Is there anything we can do to help you?' Agatha asked.
'Thanks, but either Harry or Sev manages to trap her and we can prove that she's the one behind the latest attacks and Mum and Dad's abduction and hexing, or we need to wait for the next attack,' Hermione declared.
'How can you be so quiet?!' Mrs Granger shouted.
'I trust them and all my friends to keep us safe. It wouldn't be good for the baby if I were to panic. Don't you think?' Hermione stated quietly.
Mrs Granger gulped, but she nodded. Mr Granger and Agatha were beaming at the courageous mother-to-be.
After a very nice and pleasant dinner, Weniers escorted the non-magical guests back to their respective homes, and Harry was about to make sure that everything was safe in the Snapes' house before they all headed back to Hogwarts when the Snapes stopped him.
'What did you tell Tommy to justify your visit?' Severus inquired directly.
'The truth,' Harry answered.
Hermione, who was a bit tired and irritable that evening, growled, 'You mean that Ron's a selfish idiot, who can say the silliest, heartless things?'
'It's good to know that he's not a threat,' Severus said in order to lighten the mood.
'He hasn't always been nice to us,' Hermione pointed out.
'You sound particularly annoyed,' Harry pointed out.
She glared and said, 'Let's say that I'm glad Ginevra made him locate his brain, but I know how he reacted after I saved Sev.'
Harry looked at Severus, who sighed and caved, 'It turns out that Dyann has a complete file on us, and Hermione's read what happened at the hospital the morning after we were abducted.'
'And then I asked Minerva a few more things,' Hermione added.
'I'd have told you, you know,' Harry told her.
Hermione walked to Harry and hugged him. Severus and Harry both knew that she was a bit emotional these days.
'I didn't want to bother you,' she whispered.
'Hermione?' Harry said softly.
'It's nothing,' she lied, obviously suddenly moved almost to tears.
'You can tell him; he's not made of glass,' Severus pointed out.
Hermione shook her head and nearly strangled Harry, who rubbed her back in an attempt to calm her. 'Tell me,' Harry encouraged her softly.
'It's just that...' Hermione began to say, but she really couldn't finish her sentence.
Harry caught the clue Snitch and he exclaimed, 'I was always on your side, Sweetie. When Ron left the moment we located you and Sev, I knew things would never be the same with Ron, even if he came to his senses.' He saw that she mostly felt sorry because of his ex-girlfriend's reaction, and he added, 'You know, the old Ginny isn't someone I'd have wanted in my life, so stop feeling sad. All right?'
Harry looked at his friend, but she still looked sad for him, and he turned to Severus. The latter used a spell to tell Harry that Hermione was really sad that Harry was all alone since Draco rescued Astoria.
'There's got to be someone out there for me,' Harry declared.
'Yes, but you had found someone,' Hermione protested.
'He's not dead, he's still a friend, and he rescued Astoria, who'll be very nice and loving. I know she'll take good care of him,' Harry said.
Hermione was about to protest that he was still all alone, but Severus said gently, 'I'm sure Auror Potter will find someone as good as the younger Mrs Malfoy.'
Harry hugged Hermione and nodded.
'But when Ron reminded you of Ginny, you looked so sad,' Hermione pointed out.
'Look, my dear Professor Snape, I really thought that I could go back to Ginny after the war, but that turned out to be impossible, and then my friendship with Draco took a turn I'd never have imagined. Life's weird. I still miss the old Ginny I once dated, and I thought Draco and I would stay together, but life is weird. I'm still sad sometimes, but Sev's right, and there's got to be someone nice for me out there,' Harry told her.
'Yes, but I'd hoped that...' her voice trailed off.
'I'll eventually find someone,' Harry said.
'Our dear Harry will just have to start dating again,' Severus said.
Harry didn't even glare at his best friend's husband, but he used magic to project a thought, "Could you please remind me how long it took you to recover from losing Lily Evans?"
Severus almost gaped at that, but he knew that he had to change the topic rather quickly for his own good.
'By the way, Ginevra Weasley shouldn't have access to Veritaserum,' Severus said.
Hermione wasn't exactly her normal self, and she didn't spot the awkwardness between Harry and her husband.
For Hermione's sake, Harry took Severus's bait and said, 'Perhaps she's training to become a Potions mistress.'
'Since her brewing didn't trigger the monitoring that I added to the patent I got last August, then it means that she's brewing at school. I think she really means to try to become a professional Quidditch player; therefore, she's doing something with Veritaserum,' Severus said.
'I'm sure she's not doing anything illegal,' Harry said.
'You know what she's doing, don't you?' Hermione stated.
'Not impossible,' Harry answered.
'I'll take it that there's a link to the fact that the older students' grades have improved in a way that can't be explained only by the fact that we're at peace now,' Severus added.
'Harry?' Hermione said.
'Yea, well, speaking of Hogwarts, we should perhaps head back home,' Harry declared.
The Snapes knew how stubborn Harry could be, and since he was an Occlumens when he wanted, it meant that they'd know the truth about Ginevra and the Veritaserum only when Harry was at liberty to share with them.
Harry and Weniers made sure that the house was safe, and after making sure that the Unspeakables outside would follow, they all Floo'ed back to Hogwarts.
Severus and Hermione had some research to do, and they headed to the Library together. Harry was walking up from the dungeons with them, and he spotted Luna as she walked outside.
'I'll go see if she's all right,' Harry announced, pointing his index finger at the main door that had just closed itself behind Luna.
Severus wondered what was going on, but Hermione just saw her best friend going out to check that a very dear friend was fine.
Severus was beginning to know how to deal with his beloved wife, and he was like a very skilled and talented violinist with her all-over-the-map feelings, which is why he managed to change the topic and made her forget about Harry - and Luna.
While the Snapes talked about lesson plans and names for their daughter, Harry jogged after Luna, and caught up with her rather quickly.
'Hi, Luna!' he said joyfully.
She turned to him, smiled and said, 'Hello, Harry. How are you?'
'I'm fine,' he answered with a wide smile. Luna was always so nice and caring. 'I should be the one asking you that, you've got your NEWTs coming up, and you're the one in charge of the school "club" you know,' he added.
'You're too nice for your own good,' Luna told him.
He tilted his head and asked, 'What do you mean?'
'Compared to the war, school is very quiet, and even if we've got to make sure that Professor Snape is all right and safe at all times, reading here is easy. Right now, I'm on Yule break, and I've done all my assignments, but you... You didn't have time to recover from the war when you became an Auror, and now, you've got your full-time job, plus the protection of the Snapes when you're with them. You don't have time for yourself,' she explained.
Harry was quite surprised, and he blurted, 'I took a short break in the summer, you know. Thanks to Min, in fact.'
Luna nodded and said, 'It makes sense. She really loves you, but it doesn't change the fact that you need to relax, otherwise, you'll be flatter than a Zgorrejim fully dried within two years.'
'I've got work to do,' he protested feebly.
'You'll help no one if you're overworked, but I understand why you're so sad. Work can be a way to heal and forget, but just don't do too much,' she said.
'What do you mean?' he asked her nervously.
'Search my mind, Harry,' Luna told him.
Very gently, Harry visited her thoughts, and he saw that she'd understood that Ron, Ginny and Molly had broken his heart when they didn't side with Hermione and they rejected her because she'd become Mrs Snape. She'd seen his feelings for Draco, and she'd concluded that the two young men's surprise friendship had turned into real love, and even if Draco was getting used to the idea of being Astoria's husband because the young witch was astounding and gentle, Harry was left all alone. Once more. As usual.
Through Luna's thoughts, Harry realized that he did feel quite lonely. He had friends (and very good ones), and he had Minerva, who'd changed his life after the war, but he felt alone.
Luna took Harry's right hand and said, 'Let's go to the room where we can speak freely. I'll summon it in a way to have a quiet place to have supper together.'
'Why? You don't have to spend time with me,' he pointed out.
'You're my friend, Auror Potter,' she declared as if that explained everything in the world.
Right then, Harry needed to be with someone he'd known for a long time, and Luna was an excellent choice. Of course, he could go see Kate, or Lola, or even Jim Nettle (they were his close friends now), but it wasn't the same.
Harry followed Luna.
When they got back inside, a handful of students who'd stayed at school for the break saw them and jumped to conclusions, even if it was obvious that Harry was just being led somewhere. Harry didn't notice, and he wouldn't really have cared because he knew that anything and everything he did or said was over-analysed, and even when he denied the obvious, most people in the Wizarding community didn't believe him (they'd rather believe the gossips, rumours and other silly things that usually ended up being printed in the magical fish-wrappers).
Luna, even if a few of her fellows still bothered her because she hadn't changed one bit and was quite an unusual witch, was quite capable of fending for herself, and she wouldn't have been bothered at all if she'd realized that her holding Harry's hand would make people talk.
When Luna summoned the Room of Requirement, she created a quiet space that seemed to be somehow connected to the Hogwarts kitchen since house-elves they knew came to take their orders.
As they were drinking pumpkin juice and waiting for treats to be served, Harry asked her, 'What's a gorrege... a gorgi...? Well, that thing you compared me to,' he asked.
'A Zgorrejim,' she said.
'Yes! That! What is it?' he inquired.
She started giving him an explanation that was over a mile long, but Harry didn't mind. For the first time, he got to be told more, a lot more, about the weird beliefs in the Lovegood family, and that was very entertaining.
Harry spent a lovely evening with Luna, and after he escorted her to her house, he reflected that, if she'd let him, she'd probably become his new best friend - at least as long as she stayed at Hogwarts, or until she found a boyfriend who'd take up most of her free time.
Harry decided to seize the day, and he'd develop his friendship with Luna for at least a few months. She was quiet, warm, friendly and quite witty; she knew that he needed company and she was there for him.
The students came back in early January.
Severus Snape had the best birthday he'd ever had even though Hermione was annoyed to be still pregnant (she very much wanted to meet their baby, and everything was ready for their little Anna Agatha).
It was a few days after Severus's birthday, and as she was teaching her first class of the day, that Hermione Snape went into labour. She was so surprised and in so much pain that her yell travelled through all the fireplaces inside Hogwarts, and down to the Ministry of Magic that had one Floo channel open to Hogwarts.
Everybody rushed to help Hermione; Severus, Minerva and Poppy, and all the house-elves. Harry was told through the Ministry's grapevine, and he called Dyann before going to the Grangers' and Agatha Snape's.
They all tried to help Hermione, but the delivery was long and rather painful. Severus looked ready to faint (or about to make a vow to not have another baby after this one if it hurt his beloved wife so much); he knew that he had to wait until after the delivery to help Hermione with all sorts of potions.
Everybody was so tense that most of the lessons were spent either talking about the birds and bees (with the older students) or just talking about families, pregnant witches and what it'd be like to have the baby around.
Finally, late in the evening, Hermione Snape delivered a healthy baby. The minute Dyann and Poppy gave him the green light, Severus gave his wife a few potions that made her feel like her old self again.
Then, they could properly welcome their little angel.
When Hermione delivered the baby, it was a bit of a surprise for her to realize that their daughter was... their son, in fact. And so, Anna Agatha Snape became Anthony John Snape.
Hermione adapted to the change almost instantly, but Severus looked more than surprised.
After many spells, since Hermione no longer risked anything, the young mother was sent home with Anthony and the happy father.
Once the baby was asleep, and guarded by an army of house-elves, and when Hermione fell asleep, too, Severus went to brood in their parlour, which was were Harry found his friend.
'You look... odd, Sev. Is something wrong?' Harry inquired.
Severus remained silent.
'Hermione?' Harry went on.
Severus shook his head.
'The baby? Is there something wrong with Anthony?' Harry practically gasped.
Severus shook his head again and said, 'No, he's perfectly fine and healthy.'
'Then what, Sev?' Harry wondered.
'Look, it's too bloody late for me to go investigating-Auror on you, and you're blocking your thoughts. Spill the beans so I can help you with whatever's making you look so miserable on what should be one of the happiest days of your life,' Harry said quietly.
'Do you think Hermione noticed something?' Severus asked.
'No, because even with all your potions, she's very, very tired, but if you don't get your act together by tomorrow morning, she'll see through you, and I wouldn't want to be in your shoes then,' Harry told him. He looked at his friend and added, 'Now, don't tell me that you're disappointed that your first child is a boy.'
'Absolutely not!' Severus exclaimed, just before turning guiltily towards the door that led to the room where his wife and son were asleep.
'What, then?' Harry wondered.
Severus waved his hand in an attempt to dismiss Harry's question. Harry sighed deeply, and he moved from his spot and settled on Severus's armrest.
'What the heck is wrong with you?' Harry asked, but Severus remained silent, though Harry's concern was slowly working on him. 'Look, I know you love Hermione, and I saw how proud you were when Dyann handed you Anthony. Don't make me hex you. What's eating you up?'
Severus sighed and cast a spell to make sure that no one could overhear them.
'So?' Harry asked.
'I only care for the fact that our baby is healthy, but I'd got used to the idea of raising a daughter,' Severus said.
'I thought most men preferred having sons,' Harry pointed out when Severus didn't go on.
Severus shrugged, and that was what allowed the penny to drop for Harry.
'Oh, Merlin! Don't tell me you're afraid to turn into a creep like your own dad!' Harry protested.
Severus remained silent.
'Oh, you idiot! You're nothing like your dad, and besides, if you worry that you might not be good enough for your son, it means that you're going to be brilliant. The icing on your cake is that your wife, the one who brought you back from the dead, you know, that little lady who's more stubborn than anyone in this world, well, she'd never let you be a bad dad,' Harry said.
'I'm out of my depth, Harry,' Severus whispered.
Harry knew how much it must have cost him to admit as much, aloud, and to the son of James Potter. Harry hugged his friend and said, 'If you can make sure that your students, including the ones like Neville, don't blow themselves to Kingdom come with cauldrons of dangerous potions, then you'll be fantastic with your own baby! You've got a baby wizard of your own. With you and 'Mione for parents, you'll get a Ravenclaw in eleven years!'
Severus took a deep, calming breath, smiled at Harry and asked, 'Is that a bet, Auror Potter?'
'Just a prediction, my dear Deputy Headmaster,' Harry said warmly. 'Feeling better?'
Severus nodded, and Harry went back to his initial spot.
'When Hermione's magic comes back, that'll help you to settle down in your new life,' Harry said.
Severus's fears about his being good enough for Anthony disappeared for good overnight, but Hermione's magic didn't come back.
By March, even Dyann was beginning to worry that Professor Snape might be a Squib from now on.
By late April, Hermione was almost about to collapse and have a nervous breakdown - in spite of the potions that Severus was brewing for her.
Three things managed to help Hermione: Professor Trelawney, Luna Lovegood and the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest.
Sybil Trelawney had a vision of what was wrong with Hermione, and she was on her way to the dungeons when she was hit by a Disorientation spell. However, since she was about to make a real prediction, she knew that this would happen, and she'd written everything down on a piece of parchment that she handed to the student who came to her rescue.
'Don't mind me, Miss Lovegood. I'll just need a bit of time to head back to my tower. Now, it's your responsibility to deliver this letter. Your friend needs your help,' Sybil said.
Luna took the parchment and gently pushed the professor in the right direction.
'Thank you!' Sybil said before adding in a hiss, 'And don't hesitate to hex that bitch!'
Wand at the ready, Luna walked towards the dungeons, but only after sending a special spell to the members of Dumbledore's Army, who came to help and protect her. However, since Luna was the one bearing the prediction, she was the one targeted by Alienora.
Yet... Alienora underestimated Luna, and the young student didn't hesitate to hex her elder, a teacher. Being Luna, she used some unusual hex that left Alienora incapacitated for long enough to allow Luna to reach the Snapes' quarters.
Severus was brewing some intricate potion in order to try to help Hermione feel better, and she was alone with Anthony.
Luna barged in, spell-locked the door and walked to Hermione, who was crying in silence on the sofa while Anthony slept near her.
'Professor Trelawney turned me into an owl. You've got post,' Luna said, as she gave Hermione the piece of parchment.
Hermione dried her tears and said, 'Sorry about the tears. My hormones are still all over the map. Could you read it for me, please?'
'Of course,' Luna said softly.
She opened the parchment and read what the seer had to reveal. Then, she exclaimed, 'Bitch!'
'Luna!' Hermione protested.
'Ballo has managed to have all the Potions ingredients sent here poisoned. Everything your husband brewed for you had a counter-effect,' Luna said.
'Bitch!' Hermione finally agreed.
'We've got to go to the Forbidden Forest. Trelawney says that you'll be healed there,' Luna added.
'I can't leave my baby!' Hermione protested.
'House-elves!' Luna called.
Weniers, Zarou and Kreacher answered with a dozen other elves.
'Protect the baby at all costs while we head to the forest,' Luna ordered.
'It's in our power to take you there safely,' Kreacher declared.
'Do so, then,' Luna said.
Kreacher took Hermione and Luna's hands and, with elfish magic, took them right into the heart of the forest.
'Go back to the baby,' Luna said.
'I can't leave you; the place's too dangerous!' Kreacher spat.
'Hermione's got me, but you must go alarm the Ministry, the Unspeakables, Harry and Deputy Headmaster Snape. Go!' Luna said.
'And don't forget Minerva!' Hermione added just before Kreacher obeyed (he might be a very old and cunning house-elf who knew how to trick the Wizarding wards of Hogwarts, but there was something about the two ladies that just told him to flee). She looked around and asked, 'What now?'
'We walk and we look for some clues,' Luna said.
They'd barely left the spot where they arrived when they heard hooves.
'The Centaurs will certainly help,' Luna suggested.
Unfortunately, the ones they first met were rather young and not really listening to their instincts. About ten young males surrounded Hermione and Luna.
'Filthy witches! This is our territory!' the leader of the pack shouted at them.
'Quiet boys! You're supposed to help us here,' Luna stated calmly.
The Centaurs were taken aback.
A female Centaur of respectable age joined them and said, 'Can't you hear in the wind who the one without magic is?'
The males shrugged, lost.
'Oh, leave! You annoy me,' the lady Centaur growled.
They obeyed instantly.
'Thank you, Ma'am,' Hermione almost sobbed.
'Ballo almost got you, but she wasn't to succeed. You defeated Death. You're special,' the lady Centaur declared.
'What does she have to do to heal?' Luna asked the Centaur.
She pointed an elegant finger to some point behind the two humans, and right then, they heard a pitiful cry; some creature was in danger, or in pain.
Luna took Hermione's hand and encouraged her to run towards the sound. In a clearing, they saw a strange miracle: a unicorn mare was about to give birth, which, in and of itself, was not so common, but on top of that, the male next to her was a Thestral.
'Beautiful,' Luna said dreamily.
'Er... they don't usually breed together, do they?' Hermione asked.
'It's got to be a first,' Luna said.
The mare whinnied; she looked in great pain.
'I must help her,' Hermione decided as she walked closer.
The Thestral looked ready to trample her, but Luna spoke to him and said, 'She can help your baby.'
The Thestral nervously flapped his wings, but he didn't attack Hermione.
'The hind legs are coming first. Do you think that's normal?' Hermione asked her friend.
'No idea,' Luna admitted.
Hermione walked to face the mare and said, 'May I touch you to help your baby?'
The unusual mother-to-be nodded several times, and Hermione took position.
The baby seemed to have his mother's skin, but the first surprise came when Hermione helped him come out and she saw his wings wrapped around his belly. Then, the baby was born, and his head was a perfect mix between his parents; he was somehow reptile-like and with a small horn.
Hermione tried to help him stay up, but he collapsed on the ground.
Unicorn and Thestral looked terrified, and they both tried to get the baby's wings to unfold in order to have them dry. Luna tried to help the worried parents and Hermione worked to clean the baby's nose with her handkerchief.
Having his wings dried and upwards, thanks to a spell cast by Luna, was good for the baby, but it wasn't enough and he stopped breathing.
The unicorn seemed to cry. Hermione looked at the unicorn and then at the Thestral, and Luna saw that some form of communication went on between Hermione and the parents.
'Massage his heart while I breathe for him,' Hermione told Luna.
The two witches worked together as the parents made sure that their baby's wings stayed upward.
'Levitation spell,' Hermione ordered.
Luna obeyed instantly, and somehow up on his legs, his wings higher than his heart and with his lungs filling with air, the baby coughed and opened his eyes.
With her sleeve, Hermione cleaned her mouth from the contact with the baby, and she said, 'Get him to the ground slowly.'
Luna did just that, and on unsteady legs, the cute hybrid took his first steps. Without the help of two humans, he'd have died, and he nuzzled Hermione and looked at Luna, who just nodded.
'Your son is beautiful,' Hermione told the parents, who, as if they understood human speech, nodded.
The happy family walked into the heart of the forest.
As they walked away, Hermione whispered to her friend, 'You wouldn't have sweets in a pocket, would you?'
'No, why?' Luna asked.
'I think I swallowed a few short hairs from his nose, and they're nastily bitter,' Hermione explained.
Luna took a good look at her friend and declared, 'I think you should try to spit them out. They must have absorbed the nasty things that Ballo managed to make you take.'
Hermione did as suggested. 'That wasn't very elegant. Sorry!' she apologized.
'You look back to normal,' Luna declared.
'Really?!' Hermione said, clearly surprised. 'Mind you, I do feel completely different.'
'How about your magic?' Luna asked.
Hermione tried to cast a spell, but it didn't work.
'Too bad,' Luna said, 'but perhaps you just need a bit of time to reconnect to your inner magic.'
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but instead she gasped and said, 'Anthony's crying!'
Luna, who couldn't hear a single wail, believed her friend and said, 'I can Apparate us to the main gate.'
Hermione nodded, and as soon as they were at the gates, she ran in, with Luna right behind her.
Hermione felt that something was going on in her home, and she ran to the dungeons. In the corridor leading to Severus's and her quarters, there were the older members of the new Dumbledore Army with Aurors, Unspeakables and fellow professors. In her quarters, she found Alienora cornered in the parlour. The DADA teacher was holding Anthony in her left arm as she was aiming her wand at Harry and Minerva. Severus was in the middle, and trying to negotiate with the witch.
'What the heck is going on?!' Hermione barked.
Harry recognized the tone and answered, 'She conspired to come back here in order to seduce Severus. She worked to poison you.'
'What an idiot,' Hermione said calmly. 'Go out, I'm going to deal with her,' she told her husband and friends.
'I won't leave you,' Severus said.
She turned to him and, much to his surprise, she projected a thought at him. Severus's grin didn't bode well for the intruder, and he grabbed Harry and Minerva's hands and led them out.
When he closed the door, Minerva protested, 'But, Severus!'
'My wife's magic is about to explode back to her. She just needs Ballo to anger her,' Severus said.
'Since she's got Anthony, Ballo's toast in five seconds,' Harry said.
'Harry, Anthony is guarded by the house-elves. There's no way Ballo took him,' Luna told her friend.
'She's right. Apparently, Weniers and Kreacher were not alone to protect us,' Severus said.
'I ordered all the house-elves to protect you,' Minerva said.
'Yes, but... Zarou!' Severus called.
The young elf answered instantly and surrendered Anthony, who was now sleeping peacefully, to his dad.
'Bless you!' Severus said.
'I put so much magic in my decoy that the bad lady will never believe it's not really the little angel,' Zarou pointed out.
'This should be interesting. I hope the walls won't need to be washed,' Severus declared as he cuddled his son.
'We wouldn't mind,' Zarou said.
Severus smiled at that.
Anthony gurgled in his sleep, and one of the Aurors took a couple of steps closer. 'That's one cute baby you've got there,' Harry's colleague said.
'Thanks to his mother,' Severus answered.
'Well, looks like you're making some unexpected people fall for you,' Harry pointed out with his right thumb aiming at the Snapes' door.
'If Hermione doesn't reduce her to shreds, Ballo'll need to have her eyes, or perhaps her brain, checked,' Severus said.
'Perhaps she's after your brain. Looks aren't everything, and I think you're disparaging your wife's choice of husband,' Luna said quietly.
Severus blinked once and said, 'Noted, Miss Lovegood.'
Harry smiled at her.
'Oh, I wonder what's going on in there!' Minerva exclaimed, sounding quite frustrated.
'Aren't we all?' said one of the Unspeakables who was posing as an Auror in order to protect her cover.
'I have your son, and I'll kill him if you don't free your husband,' Alienora said the moment the door closed.
Hermione snorted. 'That thing you're holding isn't my baby, and Sev's mine, you bitch! Now, I'm going to make you pay for making my life hell since I delivered Anthony,' she said.
Alienora blinked. 'This is your son, you silly girl,' she protested.
Hermione snorted again and said, 'Look, idiot, you found a way to get to the potions supplies, and I must have been fair game, but my baby's protected by an army of faithful elves.'
Alienora still had a hard time believing that the bundle in her arms was not a baby.
'So, did you have anything to do with Dekoo and Lihar?' Hermione asked.
'Absolutely not. I'd have stopped them if I'd known they'd endanger Severus,' Alienora answered.
'No link with Curby, and no leaking info to Skeeter or Umbridge, then,' Hermione went on.
'Of course not! Nothing that could hurt Severus!' Alienora said. 'He's too precious.'
'But I was fair game,' Hermione growled.
'Of course, and your child is in my way, too,' the other witch said.
'Then why didn't you fight Voldemort and protect Sev? And where were you when he was killed? I fought in the war, and I'm the one who brought him back to life and bonded with him in the process. You were hiding on the continent during both wars, and you'd never talked to Sev until you got your job here,' Hermione spat.
'He should be mine. I'm just slightly older than him, and our minds are so much alike,' Alienora said stubbornly.
'Oh, I get it. You're just completely nuts. Sev bonded with me, he chose me, we've got a wonderful son together, and I'm ready to kill for him... and let's not forget that we've got half the Wizarding population behind the door waiting for me to shred you to pieces,' Hermione said.
'I used the Weasley girl to spy on you. I hexed her, I hexed your parents, and you should have been hit by the Memory charm that Weasley aimed at you. You'd have lost the baby, and Severus would have left you, and then he'd have been mine,' Alienora declared quite foolishly.
'Look, I can get the tricks and everything, but you'd have killed my baby?!' Hermione shouted.
Alienora didn't spot the impending explosion, but then again, she was probably demented or at least seriously unhinged. 'He's in my way,' she answered calmly, coldly dropping the decoy on the stone floor.
Hermione felt a bubble of something boil in her, and she just knew that it was her magic on its way back to her. She extended her right hand and cast a series of spells on Alienora, who, DADA or not, wasn't able to counter any of them.
The instant Hermione's magic came back to her, the spells she'd tried to cast on her husband's hair regularly all activated, and Severus's hair touched the floor.
'Interesting look if you were in a rock band,' Harry said with a merry chuckle.
Severus snapped his fingers to restore his usual haircut and said, 'At least, we're sure that my witch is back.'
They waited for a few minutes, wondering what Hermione was doing to the other witch.
Finally, Hermione opened the door, and they all looked at her.
'Darling?' Severus practically purred.
'My magic's back at last,' she said quietly.
'I know, Hermione. I'm wondering if we need tapestries on the walls to hide the blood,' Severus said.
'No,' she told him, making the vowel very long, 'she'll need to stay in the hospital for a bit, but she'll live to be tried.' She turned to Harry and handed him a scroll of parchment as she said, 'Full confession of the twat.'
While Harry, and the ones near him, took a peak at the text, Hermione summoned her wand.
'Does the Hermione want me to go tell the good news to the rest of the family?' Weniers inquired.
'Yes, Dear!' Hermione said, and the house-elf went to see Agatha Snape and the Grangers.
Harry, his colleagues and the Unspeakables went to arrest Alienora Ballo (right before shipping her to goal hospital because she didn't have a single bone in her body that wasn't broken).
Luna turned to her soldiers and said, 'Dismissed!'
They all obeyed her and the house-elves followed suit.
'We'll have to divide the Defence lessons between us,' Minerva pointing out.
'If you're still planning to give me that job next year, I could start right away,' Hermione declared.
'No way in hell! You need to rest for two months. You've been through too much,' Luna exclaimed.
Hermione blinked, but she knew that her friend had a point.
'If we can get someone from the Ministry to declare that Miss Lovegood can teach the course until the end of the year, that'd settle our problem,' Severus told Minerva.
'Can she really teach her classmates?' Minerva inquired.
'She seems to be the head of a new DA, Headmistress,' Severus explained.
'Really?' Minerva said, rather impressed and quite delighted.
'She's allowed me to see as much in her thoughts,' Severus declared.
'My, my! Excellent. Will you help us for a few weeks, Miss Lovegood?' Minerva asked her unusual student.
'Of course,' Luna answered as if taking over the Defence classroom was as easy as brewing tea.
Minerva turned to the Snapes and asked, 'Will you be all right if I Floo to the Ministry?'
'Of course!' both answered in harmony.
'I'll ask Kingsley to make Miss Lovegood a temporary professor by officially registering her Defence grades and her courageous actions during the war. I'll have him prepare the papers to have Professor Snape become the next DADA teacher,' Minerva said. She turned to Hermione and said, 'And you'd better keep that position until I retire! After that, the school shall be your husband's problem, not mine.'
'Yes, Headmistress,' Hermione said with a merry chuckle.
'Right, and I'll ask John to coax Miss Mann into becoming our next Muggle Studies teacher,' Minerva added.
'Oh, good luck with that one!' Hermione said.
Minerva nodded and asked, 'Do you think I can borrow your fireplace?'
'Let's go check if the various officers have cleaned our parlour,' Hermione said.
The room was blissfully empty, but for one Unspeakable.
'Ballo's on her way to the Ministry. We'll be able to start the trials very soon,' he declared.
'What else?' Hermione inquired.
The Unspeakable smiled widely and answered, 'Your family shall remain under protection for a full month after the court verdict. Don't be surprised if you spot our teams around sometimes.'
'I'll go to the Ministry then,' Minerva announced.
'I'll travel with you,' the Unspeakable said.
In a bright flash of green flames, the Snapes found themselves alone with Luna.
'I'd better go prepare something for Defence,' Luna announced. 'Odd weekend.'
'Do you want me to help you?' Hermione inquired.
'You've got better things to do, and I'll just do for all the students what I did with the soldiers,' Luna explained.
'Excellent plan,' Severus said gently.
Luna smiled and said, 'Thank you, Deputy Headmaster.'
'What happened in the forest, by the way?' Severus asked his wife and Luna.
The two witches traded looks, and Hermione said, 'It's so strange I'm sure most people would think it was some kind of hallucination.'
'I'll let you tell the story, and I'll go back with apples and carrots for the baby,' Luna said, already retreating.
'What baby?' Severus wondered.
'Call for some tea, and I'll tell you,' Hermione told him. She looked at Luna and added loudly, 'And don't catch a cold, or Minerva would hex you. She'll need you until the end of the year,' Hermione said.
Luna nodded and left.
Hermione started explaining how she'd helped the most unusual family in the forest. Severus was absolutely fascinated, but he was mostly delighted that his lovely witch had her magic back.
When Harry Floo'ed back to Hogwarts, he was absolutely convinced that his friends would be fine now. As well, the trials would start in a month, which meant that the Snapes would probably have all their attackers jailed, and then, with both Snapes able to protect themselves with magic, the future looked rather peaceful for them.
Harry was absolutely delighted for his friends, and not only because Kingsley had just told him that he could ease his surveillance now that Ballo was caught.
He was planning to spend a quiet evening in his room, but Kreacher went to see him.
'Professor Snape is worried about Professor Lovegood,' the house-elf said.
Harry was forced to smile at Luna's momentary title. 'Where is she?' he inquired.
'She hasn't come back from the forest, and Professor Snape is afraid that your friend has met unfriendly Centaurs or that she might need help with the baby,' Kreacher answered.
'What baby?' Harry asked.
Kreacher explained how Hermione helped in the delivery of the hybrid baby.
'I'll go look for Luna,' Harry declared.
He took his Invisibility Cloak with him and went looking for Luna with Nemesis's help. The owl located the witch quite easily, and Harry found Luna singing a lullaby to the baby, who was shivering between his parents under his father's right wing.
'He's cold,' Harry stated as he walked closer.
'They don't want to let me use magic near him now,' Luna explained. 'They didn't even let me put my robes on him.'
'That's because they know that you'd stay with them, and you'd freeze to death,' Harry pointed out.
Harry took his cloak off and the Thestral closed his wing long enough for Harry to wrap the baby in the precious cloak. He turned to Luna and said, 'Now we can spell a weather bubble that'll stop the wind and once they're used to it, we'll light a fire for us, Professor Lovegood.'
'All right, Auror Potter,' she answered.
A bit later, Zarou, who no longer had to be a spy all the time, brought them dinner and bedcovers to keep warm.
It had been a cold night, but Harry and Luna had instinctively used spells and charms to stay relatively warn.
At dawn, the unicorn took Harry's cloak off her child, and she brought it back to Harry, who opened one eye.
'Thanks,' he whispered.
The unicorn looked at Harry in such a strange way that he understood that she wanted to tell him something. Luna, still deeply asleep, moved closer to him, and the unicorn nodded several times.
'Luna?' Harry said barely above a whisper.
The unicorn nodded again and went back to her family. The baby had a curious glow about him that showed how precious and magical he was. The family left the protection of the spells cast by Harry and Luna, and they walked away. They no longer belonged with the unicorns or the Thestrals, but they had one another.
Harry looked at Luna. He realized that she was becoming a very close friend, and he quite liked spending time with her; perhaps it meant that he somehow wished that she'd be more than just a friend, and if a unicorn seemed to think that she belonged in his arms, maybe there was something worth investigating there.
Harry called a house-elf, and he asked him to gather everything Zarou had brought and take it back to the castle.
Harry picked up the sleeping Luna and was about to carry her back when the elf grabbed the side of his robes and transported them to the main gate of the school.
'Thank you,' Harry whispered.
'You're welcome, Auror Potter. It'll be better for Professor Lovegood to finish the night in her own bed. One of us will help you get her into her nightclothes once you reach her dorm,' the elf said.
'I'll come by the kitchen later today; I'd really like to learn more about your form of magic,' Harry said, as he walked inside after the elf.
'I'm not sure humans can understand, but I'm sure the oldest among us will be happy to tell you more. Wizards aren't usually interested in us,' the elf declared.
'I'm not surprised, but I'm not like them,' Harry added as he reached the stairs.
'Understatement, Auror Potter,' the elf said with a warm smile.
Harry smiled back and started to go upstairs.
The people in the paintings on the wall smiled when they saw Harry and Luna. The whole place would probably be gossiping about them before the end of breakfast, but both were used to it.
Harry reached Luna's house, and since he was wearing his Auror badge, he was allowed in Luna's dorm.
There, Harry saw a house-elf banging her head on the side of the only unoccupied bed.
Harry deposited Luna on her bed, wrapped her in her bedcover and turned to the elf. 'What's wrong?' he inquired gently.
The elf, who was dizzy by then, said, 'I not find Professor Lovegood's clothes.'
Harry was ready to think that the house-elf didn't know where to look, but then he heard one of Luna's dorm mates giggle; he remembered the time when Luna had been looking for her belongings all over the castle because her mates had stolen and hidden them.
Harry saw red.
He knelt next to the house-elf and asked her in a very soft whisper to transport Luna to his room. The house-elf obeyed instantly, and in complete silence.
Then, Harry cast a spell in order to assess where Luna's clothes were, and it turned out, as he'd feared, that it wasn't in her chest of drawer.
He heard the giggle again and barked, 'Okay, that's enough! What stupidity have you done?!'
The next sound coming from Luna's dorm mates' beds sounded a lot more like a frightened squeak.
'Get out of bed and tell me what you've done to your fellow's things,' Harry ordered.
Two girls obeyed.
'It's just our usual joke, Harry,' one of them said.
'Usual?' Harry growled.
Both girls nodded, and the other said, 'She's used to it.'
'All right. It's Auror Potter from now on, and get dressed and go to the Great Hall,' Harry ordered.
Then, Harry remembered a detail that Minerva had mentioned during one of their quiet evening chats; like in any (Muggle) school, there was an alarm installed. Of course, at Hogwarts, it was a charm - and something that was never used since teachers or students could cast spells to counter whatever might be justifying to ask the students and staff to evacuate the building. Harry activated the charm, and the whole school walked, bleary-eyed, to the Great Hall, where a special spell could protect them from almost anything.
Minerva was demanding to know what was going on when Harry walked in with Luna's dorm mates.
'I apologize, Headmistress, I summoned the whole school because of a breach of the law that I must address right now,' Harry declared coldly.
Minerva squeaked, but nodded.
Harry walked to the High table and cast the Sonorus charm on himself.
'A few of you may have noticed that the only residents of Hogwarts who are missing our little chat are Professor Lovegood, Professor Snape and Deputy Headmaster Snape. The Snapes have been through enough, and I'd rather lecture you lot while Professor Lovegood's away from your pettiness. She's been training most of you as the head of the new DA, and she's being thanked by having her belongings scattered all around the castle. It's petty. It's low. It's unworthy of you, and most of all, it's illegal, and it's high time bullying is tackled in this school,' Harry said.
There were murmurs throughout the hall.
The head of Ravenclaw was the first to speak. 'I can punish the culprits,' he said.
'Not enough,' Harry said. 'For too long, bullies have been allowed to get away with their pettiness, but we're not beasts. We're supposed to be civilized.'
'Quite right!' Danny Nettle exclaimed louder than he'd planned.
Harry smiled at the son of his Muggle police trainer, and he went on, 'A very good man told me that, as an Auror, I am the Law, and he was right, and as such, I now have the power to take action and set things to right. First, I must punish the ones who hid Professor Lovegood's possessions because it's very unkind, and then I'll cast a spell to assess what kind of bullying has been going on within these walls, and house points will be lost.'
'Not fair!' a fifth-year Gryffindor exclaimed.
Harry turned to him and hissed, 'Be happy that I can't go back to the founding of the school! I can only go back to the time I was made an Auror.'
'Auror Potter is right, and I'm so disappointed in you for being so unkind to Professor Lovegood,' Minerva declared sternly.
The students were either on Harry's side from the start, or they were embarrassed, but a few were angry that their little games, their pranks, would be stopped now.
The next to help Harry was the Bloody Baron. The respectable ghost floated next to Harry and said, 'You're given a chance to have a better future. Something better for you and for the children you'll have someday. You shouldn't start spying on one another and report each and every breach of the rules, but if some of you keep being blatantly unkind, then you'll have to face another Dark Lord before you know it. In fact, you're awfully lucky that Professor Lovegood is so incredibly, profoundly good, because she'd be justified to hate the lot of you for your pettiness. She fought in the war, taught you how to be better wizards and witches in the new Dumbledore's Army, and she's about to help you all in Defence classes, and you thank her by hiding her belongings.' The ghost paused theatrically and went on, 'When you harass people who are not profoundly good, you brew yourself the next Voldemort.'
'Auror Potter is right.'
Everybody turned towards Mrs Malfoy, who looked positively furious.
'We must change, or we'll have another war in our lives before we can heal from this one. I'm not saying that we've got to all turn into brainless, happy idiots, but we must be kinder to one another,' Astoria declared.
'Coming from a Slytherin!' someone said.
Astoria turned towards the voice and hissed back, 'A Slytherin who was betrayed by her own family, and who was rescued by complete kindness. Do you know what you get when you're unkind? If you're lucky, you're dealing with someone as kind and impassive as Luna and your victim doesn't care, but if you're not, you're dealing with someone who ends up wanting to die or wanting to kill. We can be better than that!'
Harry looked at Draco, who looked so proud of his wife, and that fuelled Harry's anger; he'd always be proud of what Draco had done and happy that Astoria hadn't thrown herself into the Thames, but the fact that he'd lost a companion because of some bigotry and family bullying would stay with him forever. He was angry on Luna's behalf, but Severus and the way he'd been treated for years was in the back of his mind, as well.
There was nothing that Harry could do for Severus now, but he could protect Luna, and he would. Harry realized that he wanted to protect her for as long as she'd let him, and since he feared that she'd never let him, that fanned the flames of his fury.
Harry cast a spell that catalogued all forms of bullying at Hogwarts since he'd been made an Auror, and he took twenty points off for each incident. In the end, all the houses had negative points.
'Let this be a lesson for you all. The deficit shall be kept, and the four houses will have to work next year in order to stop being in the red,' Minerva declared coldly. She looked at her students and added, 'I'll have the wards modified, and each act of bullying will be automatically registered. Serious offenders shall be expelled, and in grave cases, they'll be prosecuted.'
Zarou arrived next to Harry and tugged at his robes. She looked so tiny, in spite of her huge ears, and cute that Harry had to smile as he crouched. 'What, Miss Zarou?' he inquired.
She whispered in his ear, 'Mistress Luna's things are back where they should be, and she's waiting for you to have breakfast. I'll take you to her.'
Harry nodded and got up. He looked at the students and said, 'Don't make me ashamed to have been your schoolmate, and don't think that I wouldn't put you in jail. I would.'
Once Zarou had taken Harry away, Minerva, Filius and Pomona started reading the Riot Act to the entire hall.
Harry was quite surprised to find Luna with Hermione and Severus in Minerva's parlour.
'It was very kind of you to be on my side,' Luna said softly.
Harry forgot about the charm he'd cast on his voice, and he shouted, 'Always.'
While the Snapes chuckled discreetly, Harry put an end to that magic. He was so busy focussing on doing that, that Luna took him by surprise when she hugged him.
He was surprised, but he hugged her back, and he realized that it felt right to hold her.
'Luna was telling us about a fascinating dream she's had last night,' Severus said.
Had he not been under Luna's spell, Harry would have noticed the Snapes' smiles. 'What was it?' he inquired, looking only at Luna.
'She said that she'd give you an important message before leaving,' Luna answered.
Harry remembered the unicorn's nod towards Luna as she was sleeping in his arms, and he blushed furiously.
'So?' Severus asked.
'What was it?' Hermione added.
Harry ignored the gentle teasing of the Snapes and focussed on Luna. 'Do you think she told me the truth?' he asked her.
Luna gave him one of her special smiles and said, 'Of course, Harry! She's a unicorn. She knows.'
'Then...' Harry had to pause. He gathered all his courage and went on, 'Then I think I should invite you to dinner in Muggle London.'
Luna was observing Harry, looking for something in him.
'The unicorn hinted that you could be together?' Hermione inquired.
Harry nodded, but he never took his eyes off Luna.
'A perfectly good match,' Severus commented warmly.
Harry, waiting for an answer, ignored his friend. Luna made up her mind and said, 'All right. If the unicorn said so.'
Harry felt as if he were flying.
'Excellent,' Severus said.
'Now, breakfast you two. You can plot dinner as you eat something,' Hermione declared.
Luna and Harry obeyed, but they weren't paying attention fully.
Severus chuckled warmly, which made Hermione smile and ask, 'What?'
'You sound like a mother,' Severus commented, still chuckling.
Hermione wanted to growl, but now that her magic was back, her bond with her husband allowed her to experience the echo of his glee, and she couldn't bring herself to be angry with him.
'I am a mother, Sev,' Hermione declared.
'I know,' he answered fondly.
'Where's my godson by the way?' Harry inquired.
'Asleep in his bed, guarded by a dozen house-elves,' Hermione said.
'How many Protection spells around him?' Luna asked as she buttered a piece of toast.
'A few dozens,' Severus admitted good-naturedly.
Harry and Luna nodded their approval.
'I'll have to check if I can learn some of the elves' magic,' Harry declared.
'If anyone can do it, it's you,' Severus told him.
'Thanks!' Harry said, rather moved by this vote of confidence.
'Well, you're the one who found ways to use Muggle appliances with spells. If there's a way, you'll find it,' Hermione added.
'Besides, when our dear Minister finds a moment to tell you to stop protecting us, you can have a more normal life. You can research whatever you want,' Severus pointed out.
'I don't know what you mean about Kingsley,' Harry lied.
Severus and Hermione had no way to know if Harry was telling them the truth or not, but Luna seemed to have a gift of some sort, and she said, 'Now that you've arrested all the ones who wanted to hurt the Snapes, there's no need to lie, Harry.'
Instead of saying that she had a point, or not, Harry decided to drop the topic entirely (after all, the Minister for Magic had told him to keep his secret mission secret), and he focussed on another detail, 'We can't be sure that there aren't other idiots who are going to try something against them. I know that even Ron's been sending some half-decent posts, but there are idiots out there.'
'Yes, but Professor Trelawney would have said something if they were still in danger,' Luna pointed out. 'She made a true prediction and she knew that Ballo would attack Hermione, but that I'd come to her rescue,' she added.
'Let's face it; we might well experience peace now. Well, except the Auror at this table,' Severus joked.
Harry chuckled at that.
The door opened and Minerva walked in.
'Joining us for breakfast, Min?' Harry inquired.
'No, and in fact, I came to borrow my Deputy Headmaster. I'm plotting with the heads of houses, too, and I'd like Professor Snape to join us as well,' she said.
'Why?' Harry wondered.
'Drink some more tea, Harry. Our dear Headmistress would like Hermione to be the next head of Gryffindor,' Luna declared.
Harry looked at his friends; the Snapes looked deeply surprised, but happy, and Minerva was grinning. To his friends' surprise, Harry started laughing heartily.
'Harry?' Hermione asked.
When he calmed down he said, 'The head of Slytherin married to the head of Gryffindor! I'll ask to be invited for the House Cup ceremony each year.'
'We'll be delighted to have you with us then, even when you've moved out,' Hermione said as she got up.
'But, of course, it'll have to stop when your own children come to Hogwarts,' Severus deadpanned.
The Snapes and Minerva left Harry, who was blinking furiously.
Luna made him blush, as well, when she said, 'Where do you want us to go on a date?'
'Is there a place where you'd like us to go?' he asked.
'I didn't accept for the scenery. It's to be with you,' she told him.
'I'll find a nice place. A quiet restaurant, where the quill-pushers won't bother us,' he promised.
'Well, there are always journalists, and I think you shouldn't forget my dad,' Luna pointed out.
Harry froze a bit. Truth be told, he'd completely forgotten to add Xenophilius Lovegood in the picture. He observed Luna and said, 'He won't blab about my life in The Quibbler.'
Luna looked at him, and after a few seconds, she said, 'Because that would put me in the frame as well.'
Harry nodded and said, 'If there's one thing I know about your dad, it's that he loves you and he'd do anything to protect you.'
She smiled, and they went on eating breakfast in companionable silence for a moment.
'There's one thing I need to know, Harry,' she said.
'Have you recovered from losing Draco? I couldn't stand being just a transition,' she declared.
Harry paled and gulped quite audibly. 'Do you want to hear the truth?' he offered.
'Yes, if you please,' she told him.
'When I saw the Malfoys in the Great Hall this morning, I felt sadness, because, yes, I was about to propose to Draco when Greengrass disowned Astoria, but I felt friendship for both Malfoys, as well. You don't have to fear that I'm inviting you just to get over Draco. I like you, Luna. I've come to realize that I love spending time with you, and I want to spend even more time with you. I know it's mad, but when the unicorn made me understand that she thought there could be some link between us, I immediately liked the idea,' he explained.
She nodded and said, 'Thank you for being honest.'
'Always,' he promised. 'In my life, I've kissed Cho, dated Ginny before she blew a fuse right after the war, and I was involved with Draco for about a couple of months. That's all.'
'There's never been anyone, really,' she admitted.
Harry shook his head and said, 'The students in this school are complete idiots. I'm glad you're a professor for the moment because I won't have to wait for you to leave school, and we can even go out to have dinner without worrying about the curfew.'
'Technically, yes, but I'll still have to work for my non-Defence NEWTs ,' she reminded him.
'Would you prefer a lunch date next weekend, then?' he suggested.
'And pass the opportunity of making the others jealous? Have you knocked your head, Harry?' she asked with a wide grin.
Harry laughed heartily and took her hand. When she squeezed his fingers, he felt completely under her spell. Right then, Auror Potter vowed to be a model boyfriend.
Their first dates were quiet; they were getting to know each other.
When school ended, Luna stayed at Hogwarts to be close to Harry, and she went to work with Ollivander in London each day.
The first days Harry and Luna Apparated together in Diagon Alley, a few people started talking and talks turned into gossips (Luna even had to hex Rita Skeeter a bit, and strangely, no Auror was free to register Skeeter's complaint).
When the summer started, the trials of all the Snapes' attackers were over. The guilty parties were sentenced to fines and some various jail sentences; the Snapes were free to spend their first real break together since the end of the war, and they took the Grangers and Agatha Snape to Italy for a week.
The next time the Snapes saw Luna, she was wearing the ring with the Resurrection stone. Obviously, Luna would very soon become the next Mrs Potter.
Over the summer, Kingsley and John decided to stop hiding, and when people saw that the Minister was dating his secretary, well... no one blinked or said anything.
As well, John managed to convince Kate to leave her Muggle job for good and work full time for the Ministry - as the IT teacher while a few departments were being equipped with computers, and from that September on, as the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts.
Kate was planning to teach her students to use Muggle appliances, and when he heard that, Harry remembered to go attach an addendum to the patents allowing the use of spells on Muggle items, and it made the use of his spells free for schools and students in all the Wizarding communities. Once more, Harry received owls from all over the world thanking him for his kindness.
One house-elf was to be attached to Kate's service at all times in order to help and protect her, and it was Zarou who got that assignment. Within a week, Kate and Zarou were friends, and they could be found in either Hogsmeade or London, having fun together when Kate wasn't teaching.
It was in part thanks to Zarou that Kate met Neville Longbottom and started dating him.
While Zarou was befriending and taking care of her new mistress, the other Hogwarts elves were all making sure that Tommy and Max were all right. They were so thorough that the Snapes and Harry had a hard time finding gifts that Tommy would accept; Max always loved each and every toy he was given.
It was by chance that Hermione discovered that Tommy loved spy novels and that Harry realized that their friend under the bridge liked to read newspapers.
The Snapes made sure to send Tommy Muggle (and Wizarding) spy novels every fortnight, and since Muggle newspapers didn't want to deliver to a tent under a bridge, Harry asked Luna to have her dad owl a copy of The Quibbler there. It turned out that Tommy was extremely good at Wizarding crosswords, and he even won a competition and became friends with Xenophilius, who came to visit him regularly and even stayed with him and Max sometimes (in fact, when Luna didn't find her dad, she Apparated straight to Tommy's).
Most of Harry's work was related to ordinary crimes, but there were still a few Wizarding people who regretted the war and tried a few odd things. Harry was quite good as an Auror, and he was a bit of a magnet for odd situations and weird magic in general. Nine out of ten strange cases were for Harry.
His colleagues took him seriously and treated him as an equal, even the silly ones who'd been awkward and cold in the beginning.
One day, in early November, Annabelle called Harry to her office.
Once he closed the door, his boss activated a strong Secrecy spell, which was quite unusual.
'Come and sit down, Harry,' she said. 'Tea?'
'Why not. Thanks, Boss. What's wrong?' he asked as he obeyed her and sat in front of her.
She chuckled and said, 'There's something about your arrest in Knockturn Alley that puzzles me.'
'Which case? I've had four there in a past fortnight,' he pointed out.
'The Xitan case,' she said.
'What about it?' Harry inquired as he pseudo-nonchalantly picked up the cup of tea that had appeared in front of him.
'Harry,' Annabelle mock-scolded him. 'I taught you things to be a better Auror and things that could make you a good Unspeakable. I know how powerful you are, and yet... there's something more in this case. Something I can't pinpoint. I'm not about to lecture you; I'm being curious,' she explained.
'You'll have to swear that you'll never mention to anyone what I'm about to tell you,' Harry said.
She nodded fervently and said, 'On my wand, and on my brother.'
'The Hogwarts house-elves have been explaining to me how their magic works, and I've been able to D.I.Y. a form of it from our own magic,' he explained.
Annabelle had been expecting something big, but not such a bomb. She gaped, recovered, gulped and then said, 'Show me.'
Harry put his cup down and gave a quick demonstration.
'And you didn't patent this,' she said.
Harry snorted and said, 'Of course I did, but I put a limitation on it. I want to keep my advantage in the field, and it'll be shared with the Auror trainers only once I'm no longer in active duty.'
'You're good,' she praised him.
'I caught strategy from the Snapes, and I had two fantastic instructors,' he told her.
'About your future...' her voice trailed off.
'Yes?' he said, making the vowel sound longer than necessary.
'When I retire, I want you to be the next Head of the Auror Department,' she declared.
Harry took to blinking.
'This is not a joke,' she added.
'I know, but... Why?' he wondered.
'You're really good. I like your work, and I know you'll be a good replacement. As well, you'll be young, and I'm convinced that it'll be a good thing for your colleagues-turned-subordinates,' she said.
'Young? When are you planning to retire?' he inquired.
'Oh, before your first born boards the Hogwarts Express for the first time,' she answered saucily.
Since Harry and Luna wanted to have their friends from Hogwarts at their wedding, they'd planned a ceremony during the Yule break. However, since Harry and Luna were very sure of their feelings, they hadn't taken any precaution, and the next generation was already being brewed.
Harry blushed, thinking about Luna, about their wedding in a few weeks, about his huge promotion in about ten years (or maybe less if Annabelle trained him the way she wanted).
Annabelle winked, and there was so much warmth in her eyes that Harry grinned and winked back.
In Minerva's office, Albus Dumbledore was pacing in his frame. The portrait was eager to have a word with his old friend; he didn't dare leave the office to go look for her because that was the best way to miss her, but he'd have been leaving tracks on the carpet had he been pacing on the real thing.
Finally, the door opened, and Minerva walked in.
'Is there something wrong?' Albus inquired.
Minerva swirled towards him and said, 'Albus?'
'All the paintings have noticed that something odd is going on, and so I'm wondering if there's something wrong,' he explained.
'You do realize that we're planning a Yule ball, with all the students coming back for that evening, and that we've got Harry and Luna's wedding scheduled just three days later, don't you?' she pointed out.
Albus nodded and said, 'Yes, but there's something in the air.'
Minerva knew that even in painted form, Albus could pester her from frame to frame until he got a satisfactory answer.
'Well, I have things to ask Luna,' Minerva said.
'What things?' he asked.
Minerva sighed and said, 'Will you be able to hold your tongue if I tell you?'
Albus glared at his old friend.
'Look, Albus, if you tell the other portraits, it could well ruin my plan, and I'm going to need Luna's help,' she pointed out.
'Is there a problem with the school?' he inquired worriedly.
'There might be something that'll demand a bit of organization in a few months,' Minerva said.
'Nothing bad, I hope,' he declared.
Minerva was forced to smile. 'Absolutely not. It's just that Hermione has discovered, through her unusual bond with her husband, that Severus would very much like to have a daughter, too. If she gets pregnant again soon, we might need someone to teach her class for a few weeks,' she explained.
Albus smiled widely. 'You're planning to ask the future Mrs Potter to come back to teach Defence,' he said.
'Mrs Lovegood. She's keeping her name, and their children will have both surnames,' Minerva corrected him.
'Shocked, Albus? Harry and Luna want to share everything,' she said. She was beginning to find Albus's reactions deeply amusing.
'I... I can understand, but they've got time before they start a family,' he said, completely at sea.
Minerva turned towards her desk as she whispered, 'About six months if I am not blind.'
'I just hope Luna will be able to help us when Hermione decides to have her second child. I'm ready to bet that they want just two children, but they've probably come to the conclusion, in spite of Severus's earlier conviction, that having a second child not too long after Anthony's birth might be the best plan,' she told him.
'They're two charming couples, and I hope Luna can help you when the time comes,' he said.
Minerva nodded; she really hoped that the two pregnancies wouldn't clash and that Luna would be free to come back and well enough to do so. Truth be told, if she couldn't do it, she'd beg Severus or Harry for help because she didn't fancy having to hunt for a temp teacher.
Minerva managed to have a chat with the two couples, and Luna agreed to help, as long as no one objected to her harvesting cores for wands in her free time while she taught, and no one objected.
Minerva was delighted as well because her Harry would come back to live at Hogwarts, at least for a few weeks; he didn't want to stay alone in the Grimmauld Place mansion.
The Yule ball was a beautiful success, and then, it was time for Luna and Harry to tie the knot.
When Luna had asked Harry where he wanted to get married, his very first idea was Hogwarts, because the school was his first real home; Luna went to see Minerva and the headmistress said that she'd tickle Kingsley to death if he didn't sign the papers to allow her ward and his fiancée to get married in the Great Hall (incidentally, the Minister for Magic had no reason to object to the wedding location, but he made sure that he'd be invited... plus one).
All the teachers were invited, and Harry and Luna's friends as well. The Weasleys made a happy bunch; Ginevra volunteered to help Luna and Ron promised to behave - the twins didn't, but a visit from Mrs Snape warranted that there would be no surprises à la Weasley.
The Grangers and Agatha Snape were invited, too. Tommy had to be convinced, but by then everybody in Harry's circle knew that the kind Muggle could never say "no" to Mrs Snape, who managed to convince him when she said that Max would love the grounds.
The Nettle family was included, and Danny was very proud to be invited.
There was Mr Ollivander, Healer Fille (with Hadrian in a huge basket) and many Aurors were to be there, too.
Harry was becoming friends with many of his Ministry colleagues, and they were added to the list: Lola Slacer came with her mum, Paddy Hoodie was asked to attend with his family, as were Alex Cairo and Adelaide Groops. Even the odd Mr Oof was invited.
Before Harry and Luna had their engagement announced in The Quibbler, they invited the four Malfoys to Grimmauld Place. Luna knew how important Draco had been to Harry, and she wanted to make sure that the Malfoys would come to the wedding. As well, both Luna and Harry wanted to catch up with Astoria and make sure that she was recovering from her father's betrayal and adapting to her new life. While Luna was talking with the younger Malfoys and Lucius, Narcissa managed to have a quiet word with Harry.
Harry learnt that Astoria was recovering and that she and Draco were excellent friends now. Narcissa was convinced that her son and daughter-in-law would become closer once Astoria had passed her NEWTs by the end of the school year, but she wanted to make sure that Harry was fine, too, which deeply touched Harry.
The Malfoys were delighted to be invited to the Lovegood-Potter wedding. Lucius and Narcissa were quite surprised, but delighted, that Luna understood how trapped they'd been by the end of the war and that she wanted them to come as much as Harry wanted it. Lucius made amends by finding a collection of very rare books about magical lore that the young couple would enjoy (and that made Professor Snape drool with envy when she saw the volumes).
There was a single bump in the ceremony planning because Minerva should have been the one to perform the ceremony as the highest Hogwarts authority, but she wanted to stand by her ward. Severus was Harry's best-man, and the other professors couldn't do it. The Minister wanted to be only a guest, and he asked John to find someone who could legally officiate. In the end, it was Annabelle Godson who'd do it.
The house-elves were planning a banquet that'd put to shame all the other banquets. As well, they'd made the Great Hall explode with flowers (Professor Sprout wondered if they'd used the greenhouses without telling her because their work was really impressive).
Minerva and Severus stood by Harry as Xenophilius walked in with Luna. Her dress was made of fairy silk that looked light pearl grey or eggshell or bright white, and it made her look like a princess from a Muggle fairy tale.
By the end of the ceremony, there wasn't a dry eye in the Great Hall.
When Harry and Luna were declared husband and wife, and after Annabelle sent the contract to the Family Archives, thanks to a spell, the house-elves transformed everything in the room and tables and chairs appeared.
Once everybody was seated, the banquet started.
The real end of the war had started during a wedding, and now the wedding of the man who'd defeated Voldemort was heralding a golden period of peace (all the more since Harry was an astounding Auror).
Anthony Snape was in his father's arms. Hermione thought that her husband was a worse mother-hen than Molly Weasley, but she was just delighted to see the love of her life so besotted with their little miracle.
Severus didn't care what anybody said about the way he was with their son, and he nuzzled the baby, who giggled and grinned at his dad.
Severus spotted Hermione's look, and he observed his wife. He looked around and whispered very, very softly, 'We could have something like this someday if you'd like.'
She shook her head, her eyes strangely misty.
He leant closer to her and whispered in her ear, 'So, you wouldn't change the unusual magic that bound us together.'
She looked at him and simply said, 'Never. Not in a million years.'