AN: Sorry for the long wait, I got slammed with a publishing project. A HUGE thank you to everyone who's been reading the Definition series. This is the last chapter, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I wanted to write a good Snape guardian story, and I'm happy with the result. Thanks for being awesome, and I'll likely be back after a bit of a break. :)
Ch 4 - Family Squared.
June 19th 1998. A young man sits in an uncomfortable chair, surrounded by his peers and dressed in a fancy suit. His hair has been combed into submission, and his glasses switched for wizarding contacts. He waits impatiently for his name to be called, peering up at the front of the courtyard periodically and smiling as he checks the time on a shiny new watch. The impossible achieved. Aka, get a job now, lazy sod.
The courtyard, much like it had been for the headmaster's funeral more than a year earlier, was covered in foldable white chairs littered with family members and friends of students as they chatted and waited for the ceremony to start. At the front of the chairs was a section corded off for the graduates to sit at. Up at the front stage, most of the professors had gathered to take their seats.
A small gong went off that softly echoed to the grounds, and as the spectators rose, the graduates walked in pairs down the centre aisle to take their seats. The men were dressed in simple black suits, their ties the only give away to their house affiliations. They all had crisp white shirts on, and they were a stunning contrast to the guests who were dressed in various colourful wizard robes. The female students wore dresses of varied cuts in the same deep gold colour of the Hogwarts crest, their house colours shown by thin scarves.
Harry waited silently as his other classmates were called one by one up to the platform to receive their diplomas and shake the hands of their professors one last time. He clapped along with the parents as each student, before leaving the stage, was cloaked in a Hogwarts alumni robe. Reminiscent of their first day seven years ago, arriving on the boats across the lake before they'd ever been sorted. Finally his own name was called, and Harry stood with his head held high, ignoring the applause from people who'd gathered just to see the Boy Who Lived graduate.
Walking up to the platform with his shoulders proud, Harry met the gaze of each teacher and felt accomplished when he saw the flicker of pride in Snape's eyes. McGonagall gave him his roll, cancelling her voice enhancement before she spoke to him.
"Mr. Elliot Snape, congratulations. Your hard work has certainly paid off, and you've excelled far beyond what we ever asked of you." She gave him a hug, and Harry heard the clapping raise louder. "Your Dad is very proud of you." She had a warm smile on her face, and Harry was thankful that his head of house had treated him mostly like any other student to enter Hogwarts. It made her praise feel all that much more worthy to him.
Harry made his way down the line, smiling and nodding as he accepted congratulations. He paused when he reached Snape, knowing that most of his peers were waiting to see if he'd pull some sort of joke, and that the journalists were waiting to capture some saccharine family moment. They'd been mightily disappointed in the lack of publicity either Harry or Snape was willing to provide. Instead of doing anything out of the ordinary though, Harry stuck his hand out and shook Snape's hand.
"Thanks for everything, sir."
Snape nodded his head and gave Harry's hand a little squeeze. The night before Snape had invited Harry down to the dungeons for dinner, and gifted him with a brand new watch. This one had not been charmed to alert Snape of any danger Harry found himself in, though Harry had requested that it perhaps be made into a two-way communication device, just in case there was a real emergency.
Snape had agreed with a roll of his eyes, and Harry had shown off the sleek black watch to his friends that morning.
"Congratulations." Snape said softly, never breaking eye contact with Harry.
"Thanks Dad." Harry smiled back, squeezing his hand once before dropping it to go back to his seat, grinning the entire time and ignoring the reporters questioning him.
Once everyone's names were called and the diplomas were given out, Harry walked with his classmates down to the moor that they had arrived at seven years earlier. Standing on the boats this time in pairs, the students waved and cheered as they left, drifting off towards Hogsmeade and the world.
August 21st, 2000. A young man lies on a solid wood workbench in the middle of a darkened shop, hand hanging over the side of the counter and book dropped on the floor under his hand. There is a cloak rolled up under his head, one shoe off and the other just hanging on to the socked foot. A man stands just off to the side, sipping silently from a take-away coffee cup and staring down at his son with fond exasperation. The Shopkeeper's Initiation.
Snape walked through the front door of the shop, shaded by old copies of the Prophet stuck to the windows. There was a small set of four steps that led up to the main floor of the shop, which was meticulously swept clean. Against the walls around the left side were large compartment shelves full of old typesetting blocks from antique printers. There were over a hundred different font types, and large catalogues resting on waist level shelves under the blocks. Snape knew the catalogues held reams of icons and family crests in them for customers to peruse.
Snape ignored the young man that was currently sprawled out on the workbench at the back of the store and admired instead the meticulously arranged tools hanging on the far wall. They seemed to be sorted by size and material type, and were all labeled. The work area was roped off, protected partially by the antique cash register. Backwards lettering on the shop window, which Snape could barely read, must have been the late night work of either Harry or Ronald.
The Quill's Impression.
Harry had bought the shop from an old boot maker that had retired, and Snape had helped with the paperwork. Harry had done most of the work setting it up, taking his time to choose the perfect paint colour for the walls, placing his work area just right, choosing the fonts and icons he could do for the customer book. He set up a system for orders and pickups, and with Snape worked out a price list and schedule. Snape was quite proud of the shop that Harry had made for himself. If only the little twit would be conscious for the opening.
Snape stepped across the shop and stood beside the workbench, wand in hand and a bag of hot cinnamon rolls in the other. Two paper cups of coffee had been placed on the cash counter a moment earlier. It technically wasn't Harry's fault that he'd stayed up so late – Snape knew that the idiot Weasley twins had taken it upon themselves to initiate Harry to the Diagon Alley marketer's association with a rather vigorous round of drinking the night before. Nonetheless, it was seven am and customers would be arriving at nine to check out the new shop. Even though things had calmed down three years after Voldemort's defeat, and a good chunk of the wizarding population regularly forgot that Elliot Snape was actually Harry Potter, Snape figured that the turn out today would be rather large.
Putting the bag of rolls down, and noting with amusement that Harry's nose was twitching at the smell, he leaned forwards and put on a scowl.
"Potter! How dare you sleep through my class!"
Snape managed not to smirk at the panicked expression on Harry's face as he bolted upright and nearly fell off the table.
"Uh! Lacewing! One pinch hellebore." Harry blinked and looked around, seeming to recognize where he was. "Oh, really funny, Dad." Harry scowled.
Snape twitched his lips and withdrew a shrunken bundle of clothes.
"Go to the back and wash up, Mr. Shopkeeper." Snape ordered, resizing the clothing.
Harry hopped off the table and stretched, wincing a little when his back cracked. He swiped the clothes and his hand got smacked as he tried to sample some of the icing on a cinnamon roll.
Harry stuck his tongue out at Snape's back and walked to the door of the employee part of the shop, where there was a small washroom. Harry had spent three months setting up his store, and was almost certain he was ready for his customers. He had some generic alphabet wax insignia stamps already carved for immediate purchase, as well as some of the more popular wizarding symbols. He wasn't sure if it was enough, but in two hours he'd find out.
"Dad?" Harry paused at the door, distractedly running his hand up the doorframe.
Snape looked up from his perch on the cashier's stool, coffee cup in hand. He'd been perusing the order catalogue Harry had stacked there just the night before.
"You will be a success." Snape answered, seemingly knowing the question without needing to ask.
"Yeah, but… I mean thanks." Harry said, scratching the side of his head. "But if it doesn't…if I don't…"
"I will not be disappointed, Elliot."
Harry's grin lit up the back of the little shop.
"Neither will I then."
December 24th 2007. The wind smacks little flurries of snow against the kitchen window, where a man in black dress trousers and a warm jumper stands and stares out into the cold winter night. It is Christmas Eve, and in his arms he holds a small baby who is drinking from a bottle and staring at him as if there is nothing else in the room. Her little fingers attempt to grasp at the curled end of his long hair, but he avoids the grip neatly, and she's got his undivided attention regardless. He hums along with the radio, to a song his mother used to sing to him on Christmas. Christmas is here / Bringing good cheer / To young and old / Meek and the bold.
"Poppa! Popp-achoo!" A blur of energy bounded into the sitting room, wearing a bright red Santa hat with a plastic spider on it. It was flopped over a spattering of messy black hair, and the familiar shade of bright green eyes that Snape had first seen more than thirty-five years earlier. An identical blur burst into the room not a moment later.
"I believe I told you to sneeze into your sleeve, Jack." Snape said calmly, putting his tumbler down on a side table and out of the way of the four year old. Wizard architects had been hired to extend the bottom floor of Snape's house for the holiday: his office has been doubled in size, couches placed tastefully against the walls and a very large Christmas tree sat in between the front two windows. It twinkled madly, and since arriving the twins had been attempting to check out the presents underneath.
"Five times." Benjamin replied, standing next to Jack with an impish look on his face. Of all traits to possess, Harry Potter had to have twins with photographic memories.
"Yes, well. Unlike your father, I don't tell you things just to hear myself speak." Snape huffed. Beside him sat an older man in a ridiculous yellow night robe, who Snape was finding very hard to ignore. He did, however, allow a smug half smile to befall his face at the remembrance that the twins liked him much better than their other grandfather.
"Leave off little Jackie, boys will be boys." Gabe Wendohlson commented airily with a wave of his hand. Snape could not understand how his son could end up marrying someone with a father who could be the twin of Sybil Trelawney. Even his scowls garnered absolutely no response from the man, though his wife had certainly noticed over dinner.
"And dogs will be dogs, what is your point? They're still trainable." Snape answered.
"Is it time for the story yet?" Benjamin asked, kneeling close to the tree.
"Snape One and Snape Two!" Harry's voice carried down the small hall as he moved closer, and Snape watched as the twins instantly straightened up. He had to admit, Harry had done a very good job in not spoiling them, and it was easy to see that they adored their father.
"You must be in pajamas for the story to start." Snape said gruffly, tapping his wand against a worn leather bound book on the table beside him.
"Jack? Benjamin? Where the dev- Oh hey Dad." Harry's messy hair was the first thing that appeared in the doorframe, followed by the glasses, a grin, and a bundle in his arms wrapped in pale green. Snape gave a tiny smile to the last.
"Apparently it is approaching story time." Snape answered, nodding to the two boys beside him.
"Elliot? Where's the baby? She'll need to be fed soon." Chase, Harry's wife, called at him from the kitchen.
"I've got her, she's asleep!" Harry called back.
"Not for long, if you keep carrying on that loudly." Snape pointed out. A muggle radio played from the stereo shelf next to Snape, and the boys were singing in rather off key tones to the Christmas song.
"You know, you tolerate them more than you ever did any other child." Harry grinned as he looked down on his four year old sons.
"I never strangled you when you were younger." Snape countered, holding out his arms. Harry walked into the room and towards Snape, carefully lowering the sleeping baby in his arms.
"D'you mind watching her?" Harry asked, even though the baby had already been handed over. Next to Snape Gabe was humming along with the radio, his mind on another planet.
"Daddy says if we're extra good Santa might leave us something for being good big brothers." Benjamin announced.
"Ah, but have you been good brothers?" Snape asked, one calloused hand of his smoothing out a dark curl on the little girl's forehead. "How will your sister learn the proper Christmas ritual if you're not dressed properly for it?"
"We'll go!" Both boys shouted, flashing a bright smile at Snape. They were staying in Harry's old room, and Snape winced as he heard them clambering up the stairs.
"Bollocks." Harry muttered, flashing a quick glance towards the kitchen.
"My, my." Snape murmured, clearly amused. The baby seemed to be drooling as she hummed in her sleep. "You've really pissed her off if she's using your hero name."
"It's a good night for starlight." Gabe mused. The windows were obscured by bit of the Christmas tree, the reflections from the twinkling tree lights, and the ugly orange glow from the streetlamp on the corner. Both Snape and Harry stared at him.
"She's just mad that I bought the boys bicycles for Christmas. Thinks they're too dangerous, or some daft thing like that." Harry explained.
"Well, they do say that muggle toys are constructed without a care for safety. Far too dangerous." Gabe cut in, actually paying attention.
"Who are they?" Snape demanded. "You've been going on about they all damn night."
In his arms the baby fussed.
"You know, they." Gabe answered vaguely.
"You bought them training brooms when they were two." Harry said, pointing a finger at his father in law with a smirk. "How is that any safer?"
"Well, it's magic, you see."
From Snape's arms came a surprisingly loud belch from such a small baby.
"Elliot, your daughter is disgusting." Snape said with a small grimace.
"Disgusting? Oh, did she burp again?" A female voice asked, entering the room. She had a glass of eggnog in her hand that had a telltale wisp of firewhiskey steam rising from it. "I wonder if she's got a sensitive stomach like Elliot sometimes does."
Snape glared at his daughter in law and summoned a washcloth from the baby bag in the corner.
"I shall prepare myself for the inevitable vomit."
"Dad!" Harry huffed, leaning against the couch arm. "I only threw up on you once."
"Daddy threw up on you, Poppa?" Benjamin slipped back into the room, wearing a long red nightshirt overtop of his pajama pants. Snape had trained the twins to sleep in nightshirts, and much to Harry's chagrin, they refused to sleep in anything else.
"Seven times." Snape informed Benjamin gravely.
Chase moved a blanket off the couch and sat down across from Snape and the baby. Jack climbed into her lap a few seconds later and she played with his hair and smiled.
"Well, I know three of those times was when he got food poisoning, when else did he get you?"
Harry was sat on the other side of Snape and reached over to tickle his daughter's toes.
"You're supposed to be retelling The Night Before Christmas. Not embarrassing things from my childhood."
"We all already know the Christmas story." Snape said, waving his hand. He shifted the bundle in his lap and held up the baby, making eye contact with the sleepy hazel eyes.
"What say you, Girl Who Should Be Named By Now?"
"She has a name. Chase just doesn't agree with it." Harry pointed out. Benjamin had settled himself into Harry's lap, and was watching Gabe flick his wand at the Christmas tree.
"Jane is too boring." Chase objected. "She needs something original, something that stands out. You got Jack and Benjamin, I want something big for her."
"Something like Aurelia Anastasia." Chase's mother Adeline said, joining them at last. She'd just finished tidying up from dinner and had a steaming mug of something in her hands.
"Pay your grandmother no mind." Snape told the little one, wiping some drool from her chin. "She's obviously addled."
"Well, I never!" Adeline huffed. She took a seat on the couch next to Gabe and looked mildly affronted. "What's wrong with the names I chose?"
"Chase is a verb, not a name." Snape answered, turning to look at Chase herself. "My only objection regarding you so far."
"Thank you." Chase replied, rolling her eyes. The baby started to fuss, but neither Harry nor Chase made any move to take her from Snape.
"So, do you think Santa brought what you asked for this year?" Harry asked, smiling at his sons. Both Benjamin and Jack had been on their best behaviours all day, even agreeing to sit still long enough for a family portrait to be taken. They'd been very excited upon visiting the Hogwarts' headmistress office to see the portrait of Grandpa James and Grandma Lily, and had spent an hour telling the portrait all about what they were doing for Christmas this year.
The baby started to cry in frustration, and Snape stood swiftly. It was past suppertime, and Chase told him that there was a warm bottle in the kitchen. Just as he was headed out the office door, fireworks sounded in the street and the boys popped up to stare out the window.
Snape carried the fussy little princess through the library and into the kitchen, which still smelled quite good from the dinner leftovers. The baby bottle was sitting next to the stove and Snape found the temperature of the formula satisfactory. So did his granddaughter, who eagerly started to eat.
"This is why you have gas, you know." Snape told her, looking down at the tiny thing in his arms. She was already four months old, but to Snape she was ridiculously small. The twins had seemed even smaller. He'd only held Harry as a fourteen month old at his youngest, and while Snape had actually enjoyed having such a young toddler around, he still felt a bit cheated that he missed out on more of Harry's childhood. Beggars can't be choosers, Snape thought as he looked out the kitchen window to the garden. The snow fort Benjamin and Jack had built earlier was still standing strong, though the wind had weathered some of the snow walls. He had grandchildren now, as odd as that concept still was to him.
A drawn out sigh caught his attention and the baby scowled at him as he shifted her in his arms.
"You look like a real Snape when you do that, Lorelei." Snape informed her, his lips twitching into a smile. Snape wondered if he could teach a baby how to glare properly. She had dark hair like Harry's, but it was much straighter and didn't stick up at random. She didn't have Harry's eyes either, instead of a brilliant green like her brothers, she had ended up with a grayish hazel colour.
Snape rocked slowly back and forth on his feet as the baby snuggled close in his arms, still sucking away at dinner. He held her rapt attention as he stared out the window, her gaze from his face never broken even as he looked down to speak to her.
"Happy Christmas, Lorelei."
Standing in the kitchen doorway under a notice-me-not spell, Harry and Chase watched as Snape hummed along to one of the old Christmas tunes on the radio. With practiced hand he managed to both feed their daughter and avoid her curious fingers from grabbing his long hair.
"Lorelei Snape." Chase said with approval. "We just need a middle name."
"Ela." Harry immediately offered. "There's Eileen, Lily, and Adeline. She can be Lorelei Ela Snape."
Chase leaned back against Harry, and he draped his arms loosely around her.
"Your dad will never let us live this down, will he?"
"That he named our child when we couldn't? Not a chance." Harry smiled.