A/M: With thanks to my beta, JunoMagic.
'…lack of ready-made contraceptives…irresponsible policy…'
Minister announces one-off bonus for all babies born within nine months of the Relationship Health Act!
The baby boom and you: tips and tricks in household economy…
Two women claiming to be carrying Malfoy heir left penniless. Draco cut off as Narcissa announces birth of second child in February.
A couple of weeks later…
Scanning the headlines for anything that wasn't about the thrice-cursed P-virus and the havoc it continued to wreak in Wizarding society, Severus morosely picked at his toast and tea, wondering when the hype would die down so that he could get on with his life properly.
Though he wasn't outwardly any surlier than he had been before his quarantine, Severus had noticed that he was even more prone to fits of melancholy than formerly. Of course, he knew that he could live in relative contentment with nothing more than what he already had, but he couldn't entirely banish a niggling thought in the back of his mind that life could be so much better…
And it had been just within his grasp.
Severus had spent the first week after his separation from Hermione cursing his stupidity in not fighting for what he had now decided he wanted. However, being a quick learner, he had quickly moved on from there to his current occupation: plotting how to recreate what he had so rashly broken. Owls somehow didn't reach her. He had stopped by her flat more than once only to find it empty and messy again. The Welcomewitch at St Mungo's always said that she was busy, and since he was not particularly keen to comb every ward in search of her, Severus was forced abandon this strategy and think of another.
The problem was that nothing seemed quite good enough. He needed something that said 'I'm sorry,' and 'You are mine,' at the same time. On second thought, given that he had no idea how she really felt, maybe a little less of the 'be mine', but just enough to ensure that she wouldn't be anyone else's. After discarding his more creative ideas, like going to Bulgaria to catch the latest strain of the P-virus in the hope that she might be available to look after him again, he found the direction that he needed one morning while skulking around Diagon Alley.
Deep in thought about whether he really needed more Ashwinder eggs, or whether he might better spend the money on a new whetstone for his favourite knife, Severus didn't see Melinda Parkinson approach him until she tapped him on the shoulder.
Whirling around, cursing himself for such an unforgiveable lapse of attention in a public place, Severus relaxed the slightest fraction when he realised that the woman no longer seemed to harbour any desire to throw herself into his arms. In fact, she had even stopped a decent distance away from him, standing tall as she looked down her nose at him. The relationship to Pansy had never been more obvious.
Before he could even tell her to get out of his airspace, she addressed him haughtily.
'Hello Severus, it might interest you to know that I spoke to your wife today.'
My wife? Oh, yes. That rather elaborate lie Hermione fed the woman.
Putting a look of polite interest on his face, Severus stoically listened to Mrs Parkinson's approximation of Hermione's virtues.
'…she really is a wonderful woman. I went to get the results of my pregnancy test today. She was the one who suggested doing the blood sample rather than the wand scans. Apparently the wand scans aren't really safe on an embryo that might be younger than eight weeks. I'm glad she suggested an alternative. Wouldn't want little Parkinson here to get hurt,' she said, pausing to give her flat belly a rub.
'Congratulations,' Severus said tersely, fighting the urge to ask this woman if Hermione was well.
'When I tried to invite her to tea at the weekend, she mentioned that you'd both be house-hunting. I forgot to mention it at the time because of my excitement over the baby, but tell her that some new cottages have just been constructed on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. If you two were to take one, I'm sure I could persuade Mr Parkinson to buy another. Then our children could grow up together!'
House-hunting. How could I forget?
As the strands of what would become a very cunning plan began to form in Severus' mind, he heard one last part of what Melinda was saying.
'…what do you think happened next? She was fine one minute, telling me that she would have a look if she had time, and then the next, she had fainted dead away!'
That was all Severus needed to hear. As soon as he had registered that Hermione was unwell, Severus Apparated straight to St Mungo's, leaving a very put out Melinda Parkinson standing in the middle of Diagon Alley talking to no one. When he arrived in the waiting room, he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, frightening the Welcomewitch until she was a gibbering mess. He considered that a job well done. After all, he had made sure that she would still be coherent enough to tell him the room number.
Striding to Hermione's room as fast he could without breaking into a run, Severus was a bit breathless when he rounded the corner into the ward, and immediately demanded to know more. The Healer in the room was the same motherly woman that he had met in Hermione's house.
'Well? What's wrong with her?'
'She overworked herself, fainted and hit her head awkwardly when she fell,' the Healer stated in a disapproving tone. 'What exactly does that mean to you, Mr Snape?'
Trying desperately to think of a plausible justification for his needing to be with Hermione at this time, Severus grasped the only lifeline he had. 'I think my wife's health concerns me very closely, Mary, so I would very much appreciate it if you would not take that tone with me,' he sneered.
Thank Merlin I remembered her name…
'Hermione has never mentioned a husband, and I've worked with her for several years.'
'Until-recently estranged husband,' Severus supplied, 'but I'm here now, so you'd do better to keep your questions to yourself.'
Hermione was awake.
As she struggled to rise from her bed, Severus glared at Healer Payne, daring her to say anything, before he moved to Hermione's side and took her hand.
'Don't strain yourself, love.'
Lowering his voice, Severus asked Healer Payne slightly more politely, 'How much longer will she need to stay here?'
The Healer sniffed. 'Given that we have to check her for a few things and make sure that there has been no lasting damage to her skull, two days at least.'
After he gave Hermione a quick kiss on the cheek, Severus promised that he would be back for her in two days time. That same day, Severus went straight to Hogwarts to beg Minerva and Filius' help with the perfect gesture to win her back. He knew when to ask for help. There was no point even pretending that his Charms and Transfiguration work was up to task. He had to get this right the first time.
Freshly discharged, Hermione wouldn't hear of going home, but instead elected to work half a shift in the newly-chaotic St Mungo's maternity ward. When her time had finished, she still didn't want to go home, but Healer Payne had been completely unyielding. Hermione had collapsed once due to exhaustion; it was time for her to take some time off.
Sometimes, she thought that Severus had come and visited her while she had been at St Mungo's as a patient, but her memories from that day were vague. Too many painkillers tended to play havoc on her system. It had probably just been some sort of dream.
Being busy had dulled the initial shock and pain of abruptly being cut off from Severus, but going home to an empty apartment, especially one in which she had made so many wonderful memories only added to Hermione's keen desire to be anywhere else. At the same time, a sort of desire not to part with one of the last things she had to remember her time with Severus made Hermione incredibly reluctant to decide on a new home. She hadn't really done much house-hunting since going back to work, and was beginning to think that she might well be obliged to take Molly and Arthur up on their kind offer of a place to stay until she found something.
However, when she Apparated home that evening, Hermione's was shocked beyond belief to find it empty. All the books, furniture, even her paintings were gone. Fortunately, before she could so much as Floo Harry to get himself and his Aurors to her flat now, a Patronus that she didn't recognise soared into the room and spoke with Severus' voice.
'You weren't supposed to leave St Mungo's without me. You have two minutes to be sentimental before I'll be there to take you to our home.'
Though the message was hardly romantic, Hermione couldn't help but feel elated and start to hope. He was being bossy, high-handed, and she positively fumed at the thought that he hadn't even discussed the idea of living together with her before moving all her things. However, despite his fairly unconventional method of showing that he cared, Hermione knew that she was going to grasp his offer with both hands and never let it go.
Taking one last look around the apartment, butterflies in her stomach, Hermione whirled around in surprised glee when a pop of Apparation sounded right by the door.
All her fears and doubts were pushed aside when she saw how uncertain he looked. There was none of his normal confidence about him; his clothes looked dirty and even a bit worn, not to mention the fact that he seemed to find his boots intensely interesting.
She decided that it didn't matter. He was here and he had more or less said that he wanted to be with her. In a very dictatorial, yet roundabout way.
Taking the initiative she wished that she had taken a month ago, Hermione tried not to scare the poor man by flinging herself in his arms and crying. Deciding a less exciting route would be best, she simply walked up to him with a smile.
That at least got him to look up at her. Seeing how tired he looked, Hermione immediately looked concerned, and flung herself at him just like she told herself she wouldn't. Knowing that he would not appreciate the outburst, she kept a firm rein on the tears of happiness that pricked in the corner of her eyes, settling instead for a rather loud sniff.
She could feel the tension in his body drain away as she gripped him tightly. He was returning the embrace with equal fervour.
Eyes brighter than they had been in weeks, she teased, 'You look absolutely awful.'
Hermione felt more than heard him speak as he rested his chin on her hair and muttered, 'It took me a lot of time and effort to integrate your books into my library. I hope you'll be suitably grateful.'
'Maybe later. I'm still a bit shocked by how sudden this all is.'
'But you aren't angry?' he enquired warily.
'Only a little.' Hermione qualified her statement by giving him a quick kiss. A kiss that turned into a much longer, more passionate one once Severus realised that she was not simply distracting him so that she could hex him unawares.
When they broke it, Hermione looked at Severus reproachfully.
Not what I was intending…
'Do I have my own room?' she asked, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
'Do you want one?' he floundered, wondering whether he had completely misunderstood her, after all.
'No.' She smiled, leaning in so that her head was once more against his chest. 'I'd like to share everything with you.'
Just before Severus Apparated Hermione away, to show her every day for as long as she would let him how much he wanted that too, he hesitated for a moment. There had been something important that he had been meaning to ask…
'I was reading the Prophet this morning. You were on some sort of contraception when I was ill, weren't you?' he suddenly blurted out.
'Of course I was!'
Severus sagged with relief. Not that a baby would have been the end of the world, but he really did want a chance to stabilise things with Hermione before messing it all up again.
'But I realised after my shift today that I forgot to factor in your idiocy with the impotence potions. If my theory is correct, there is a small chance that my efforts were pointless. I know Mary tested me just in case. Results come back in two days.'
Active ingredients similar to stamina potions, base very similar to fertility, combined result... hmm… but usually impotence potions would preclude any engagement in sexual intercourse…
Oh, bloody fuck…
Even as he cursed his own incompetence, a part of Severus' mind sat and purred contentedly, not really caring. After all, with Hermione in his arms, he felt much more sanguine about his ability to take whatever else life could throw at him.
He might even enjoy it.
Arriving two weeks before her due date, Rosalind Emily Snape holds the honour of being the youngest child to be eligible for the Ministry bonus, surprising her proud parents, Mr Severus and Mrs Hermione Snape, by entering the world a mere five minutes before midnight yesterday.
Married secretly at the end of the war, Mr and Mrs Snape were both instrumental to ending the reign of You-Know-Who. Although the Prophet is unable to reproduce Mr Snape's exact words from when our reporter caught up with him yesterday, we can confirm that they did contain a warning to the effect that the family house elf was under orders to incapacitate any would-be intruders into his family's privacy. Fellow 'Golden Trio' members, Messrs Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, were both seen entering St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries this morning, but they declined to comment.
However, another close friend of the family, Mrs M. Parkinson told reporters, 'Of course, the Snapes expected a son, but I knew they would have a daughter. I have a two-month old son, you see, and as soon as practicably possible, I will ask my husband to begin negotiations with Severus about a betrothal while they're still in their cradles.'
If Mrs Parkinson's hopes come to fruition, it sounds like young James Sirius Potter will have competition!
Best of luck to the happy parents and little Rosalind.
Have your say – owl the Editor, p. 23.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, favourited and otherwise been involved with this story. I hope you liked it.