Disclaimer: All previous disclaimers apply.
Everybody stopped when they saw the children. Severus motioned for his mum and Rose to stay in back.
The people who the children's wands were pointed at shifted nervously.
"On the count of three we cast an Expelliarmus and get their wands," Severus whispered to Lily, Valerius, and Seneca who nodded.
Avada …" the children started to chant in unison.
The people by Gringotts stated to scream, pushing and shoving others to get out of the way. Some were pushed down and others were trampled in the rush to get away.
"Now!" Severus yelled.
"Expelliarmus!" The children's wands flew out of their hands and into the hands of Severus, Lily and Seneca's.
"Stupe …" James began to yell as he appeared running with Marlene hot on his heels, but suddenly he was hit by a red light and crumpled to the ground.
Severus turned to find Valerius shoving his wand back into the holster her wore on his belt with a look of disgust on his face. He had cast a non-verbal Stupefy at James. "If there's anything I can't stand, it's a careless wandslinger! Wasn't that jerk ever taught you never cast a stunning spell on a child because it could cause serious and or possible permanent damage?"
"James!" Mary screamed rushing over to him. She whipped her wand out and pointed it at Valerius, but Seneca did a non-verbal 'Expelliarmus' and her wand flew out of her hand into his. "My daddy always taught me and my brother that it weren't polite to hex a lady, but since the lady in question is pointing her wand at my brother, all bets are off."
The children were still standing with their arms raised, pointed at the entrance of Gringotts and chanting in unison, "Avada Kadavra." They appeared not to notice they no longer possessed wands.
Severus studied them carefully. They eyes looked absolutely dead.
"I'll summon the Medi-Wizards and we'll get them to St. Mungo's and examine them," Robert said. He cast his fox Patronus with a message to St. Mungo's.
"From the looks of them, they've probably been dosed with a combination of potions that take away your free will and been Imperiused too," Severus speculated. "You may want to have a pediatric mind healer examine them in addition to a pediatric healer."
Aurors suddenly flooded the Alley and a Medi-Wizard and Medi-Witch arrived and with help from Robert, carefully got the children who by now had gone limp, strapped to the stretchers. They opened a portal to St. Mungo's and floated the stretchers through with Robert following.
"I think they've got a hard road the next few months though if they've been on a constant diet of potions and been Imperiused," Eileen said with a shake of her head.
"Well, at least their parents can be notified that they've been found and are safe," Timaeus said coming up to where Severus, Lily and his two sons were standing. "And that's a good thing with Christmas just around the corner."
"What do we do about them?" Seneca pointed at James still out cold and Marlene glaring defiantly at them.
"Potter?" Lily snapped. "As far as I'm concerned he can lay there until he rots!"
Severus shrugged. "Let the Aurors deal with the jerk."
Timaeus walked over to Marlene, tipped his hat to her, and said genially, "If you'll permit me, Mrs. Potter?" He pointed his wand at James and said, "Rennervate."
James lifted his head and then sat up with Marlene's help and asked groggily, "What happened?"
"I'm afraid my son had to stun you to prevent you from attempting to stun the children," Timaeus replied.
James flushed red and blinked, "Who are you?" He demanded.
"I am Timaeus Alaricus Prince."
"So what?" James snarled. "Your son had absolutely no right to stun me and I'm going to sue you for every Galleon you have!"
"You do realize a full stun could have killed those children, Mr. Potter?" Timaeus asked. He was shocked that James was so callous.
"So what? I'm still going to sue you for every Galleon you've got!" James threatened.
"You might have a hard time doing that, Mr. Potter as I live in America and I can assure you that the Potter name is not known where I come from," Timaeus replied walking back to where his sons stood.
"What a thoroughly unpleasant young man," Veronica remarked as Timaeus returned.
"Potter's always been," Eileen said. "He was a late-in-life child and his parents spoiled him rotten."
"Yes, his father tried to betroth his son to Lily and absolutely wouldn't accept no for an answer," Rose added.
Timaeus looked at Rose. "He does seem the type who expects to get whatever he wants."
They continued looking around Diagon Alley until it got dark and all the fairy lights came on and then returned to Severus and Lily's where dinner was just being put on the table by the elves.
Everybody got washed up and returned to the dining room where Tiberius and Audra were waiting in their portrait frames.
"I'm sorry we weren't able to visit you in your home, but apparently we can't go beyond Britain," Tiberius apologized. "Although we can move around freely within the country."
"That is unfortunate," Veronica replied. "I'm sure you'd find Texas much to your pleasure."
"We'd better sit down and eat before Harmony falls asleep," Severus said. "She's had a lot more excitement today than she normally has."
They all sat down, passing the food around and filling their plates. Severus looked at Valerius and Seneca. "You guys are really good with the non-verbal spells," he commented.
"At the Academy of Magical Arts we did non-verbal spells from our first full day of classes. We were told the first night that it was the last time we would ever hear a spell cast aloud and from then on everything had to be cast non-verbally," Valerius explained.
"It was hard at first, but eventually it became second nature," Seneca added.
"We didn't learn non-verbal spells until our sixth year which is really late in the game," Severus said. "I've always thought non-verbal spells should be taught right from first year."
The floo sounded and Robert ducked out of the fireplace after brushing his robes off. He came into the dining room. He was looking grim and sad.
"How are the children, Robert?" Eileen asked a little bit alarmed at his expression.
He shook his head as he pulled out a chair and sat down next to her. "Not good. One of the children attempted to kill himself. Apparently some kind of spell has been cast on them that commanded them if they didn't succeed; they were to kill themselves."
Everybody gasped. "How horrible!" Rose exclaimed.
"Healer Dordt, the curse specialist, had to put them all under a stasis spell to prevent that from happening. He's attempting to discover what curse was used on them to cause this reaction in the meantime."
"It might be helpful to call in a Curse Breaker too," Tiberius suggested from his frame.
"Are their parents there with them?" Lily asked.
"Yes, but none of the children even recognized them."
"That's bad," Severus said. "I don't know what I'd do if that happened to Harmony."
Seeing her daddy's looking so concerned, Harmony offered him a green bean off her plate. Severus smiled, took the bean and popped it into his mouth. "Thank you, Harmony."
"Welcome, Daddy," Harmony replied and giggled.
The next day during breakfast, an owl flew in carrying a small parchment envelope, landed in front of Severus and held out its leg. Severus took the envelope and offered the owl a slice of bacon. It took it, ate it and waited. Severus opened the envelope and pulled out a letter and his Chocolate Frog card. He was pleased by the photo and suspected it was one taken during the dedication ceremony of Nottingham Pines as his Slytherin tie could be clearly identified in the picture.
Lily looked over his shoulder. "Sev, you look so handsome!"
"I always look better when I don't know my picture is being taken. Thank Merlin, they used one that was after I got my conk redone."
"What's it say on the back?" Timaeus asked.
Lily flipped the card over in Severus hand and read aloud, "Severus Tiberius Snape, born January 9, 1960, Slytherin House, Order of Merlin, First Class 1978, Inventor of the Wolfsbane Potion, the Children's Wolfsbane Potion, the Magical Access Potion for Squibs, and inventor of spells such as Langlock, Levicorpus, Muffliato, and the Toenail Hex. Founder of the Romulus Foundation that helps people suffering from Lycanthropy and funded the building of the Werewolf sanctuary, Nottingham Pines." She gave the card back to Severus. "They're going to have to add 'youngest potion master in wizarding Great Britain' before too long."
"It says in the contract that they will update the card when needed," he said and grinned, "Most of the people they have on the cards are dead so they don't have to worry about updating them although I think they did update Merlin's card when 'Moste Ancient Potions' came out."
"Does it say when it will be out, Severus?" Veronica asked.
Severus scanned the letter that had come with the card and replied. "They'll release it as soon as I send back my authorization that everything on the card is correct which I'm going to do right now." He flipped the letter over and wrote in his spidery script that they had his authorization to release the card. He sighed, dated, folded the letter, and gave it back to the owl who took off with it.
Severus' card was released the very next day with the Christmas season's Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Peppermint Frogs. It was the featured treat at Honeydukes and in a new candy shop that had just opened in Diagon Alley called, Yaxley's Yum Yums.
"Are they any relation to the Death Eater Yaxley that graduated with Malfoy and his dad was one of Riddle's earliest Death Eaters?" Lily asked.
"They are probably some relation to that Yaxley, I imagine since it's not a very common name," Severus replied.
"That Yaxley is probably having a fit at the name of the store," Lily laughed.
"Undoubtedly as he always was high brow son-of-a-bitch."
Severus and Lily took Harmony to Diagon Alley. They wanted to see if any special toy caught her attention. She seemed to like the puzzles and picked up a few to look at as they walked around the toy store.
"Maybe she's going to be a Ravenclaw," Severus said, remarking on her interest.
"At least we have an idea of what to get her," Lily remarked.
Severus had already gotten Lily's gifts; he'd done some shopping at Harrods again with Tuney's help and had bought her another gorgeous silk nightgown, a sapphire and diamond pendant, ring and tear-drop earrings set, and a book on ancient charms he'd found in one of the Prince vaults he'd been looking through. He figured with Lily's talent in Charms, she might be able to adapt some of them for modern use.
Before they flooed home, they stopped in Yaxley's Yum Yums and bought a box of Chocolate Frogs to take home with them. Severus gave Harmony a mint chocolate frog. She opened it and immediately bit its head off as Severus had taught her to keep it from jumping away. She pulled out the card and held it up to Severus, giggling. "Daddy card!"
"Yes, that's me," Severus replied smiling.
Lily and Severus decided to go shopping right after breakfast the next morning. Valerius and Seneca decided to go with them. Timaeus and Veronica babysat Harmony for Lily and Severus.
"I hope we don't run into Mr. and Mrs. Pothead," Severus muttered as he got on his coat.
"I hope he's learned his lesson about jumping into something without knowing the entire story," Lily replied.
"Don't count on it."
Hogwarts was out and Reg had owled Severus that he was flooing home for Christmas. Sirius was going to be coming over on Christmas Eve and staying over for Christmas Day so he was expecting to have a nice Christmas. He was also going to also be spending some of the holidays with the Evans as he considered them his second family.
Paul had owled them, asking if he could visit during the holidays. He reported that his parents and sisters were still practicing flooing to the MeadowView Manor and back once a day. They weren't about to become lax at it, especially after the Death Eater attack on Richmond. Augusta had praised them for their diligence.
Severus, Lily, Valerius, and Seneca flooed to Diagon Alley. Severus opened the passageway into Diagon Alley. It was busy and crowded. They went to the toy store first and bought the toys they'd noticed Harmony was interested in, including three puzzles, one featured Hogwarts at night. While Valerius and Seneca looked around Diagon Alley, Severus and Lily went to a toy store in London to buy Harmony some Muggle toys and storybooks. They wanted her to be aware of both sides of her heritage.
When they met Valerius and Seneca at the Leaky Cauldron, they saw that they had been doing some shopping too. Before flooing home again, Severus and Lily shrank all Harmony's gifts and put them in Lily's purse or Severus' coat pockets.
Severus had two days left of Potion College left before the holidays started and he had end of term finals both days so he spent the rest of the day studying. They were planning to leave for Witches Moon on the 23nd.
Robert and Lily continued to report on the condition of the children kidnapped by Voldemort. Lily was working with Master Pediatric Healer Antoinette Robbins and taking care of the three children under her guidance.
Healer Dordt had finally identified the curse cast on the children that was causing them to try to kill themselves. It was a combination of an Imperious and Compelling curses. The head Curse Breaker from Gringotts was consulted and together with Dordt, worked to break the curse on the children. Once that was over with, Dordt took the children out of the stasis spell and they at once were able to recognize their parents. The children had to stay at St. Mungo's for a least a month more to not only make sure there were no delayed curses cast on them, but to recover physically and emotionally. In the meantime, Christmas gifts had poured into St. Mungo's for them from all over the British Isle. Even Lucius and Narcissa had sent gifts.
Severus came home after his last final after picking up Harmony and Hunter. He and his classmates were glad to be done with their finals and after saying goodbye, most had gone straight to the Ministry to pick up their portkeys for home.
Even though Timaeus and his family were there, Severus and Lily decided that Harmony would continue to attend daycare. She was used to that schedule and they didn't want to upset it.
"How did you do on your exams, Severus?" Timaeus asked.
"They were tough," Severus admitted. "But I think I got a least an Exceeds."
"More like an Outstanding, I'm guessing," Timaeus replied.
"How long will you be attending college?" Valerius asked.
"I'm planning to be done in June of next year and then I'll start my apprenticeship under a Potion Master and after one year, more exams, and a project in which I would need to invent an entirely new potion, I'll be a certified potion master once my thesis potion is accepted. I want to get my Medi-wizard certification after that.
"Inventing a potion shouldn't a problem for you," Timaeus pointed out. "Do you have any ideas for it?"
Severus sat down in a chair and said. "I had the Cruciatus Curse cast on me about three times almost a year ago and it was horrible! I want to invent a potion that heals the nerve damage, but with the Children's Wolfsbane and the Magical Access potions, it kind got pushed to the back burner so I think I'm going to do that for my thesis."
"With all the injuries I've been reading about from the attacks by this Riddle guy and his followers, it sounds like something that's really needed," Seneca said. "It sounds as if they use the Cruciatus on a fairly regular basis."
"It's one of their favorite spells to torture their victims with," Severus said. He was surprised when a Ministry owl flew in and dropped what look like an official document. Severus opened it and was amused to see it was addressed to Mr. Severus Tiberius Snape, Order of Merlin, First Class. Inside there was an invitation to the Ministry's New Year's Eve Ball for he and Lily. He was thankful he'd also had Twilfit & Tattings make Lily a beautiful blue silk gown, figuring they might be invited to the Ministry's New Year's Eve Ball. He had also had Madam Twilfit make a formal velvet cloak for Lily that she could wear to it. Severus noticed the invitation included two guests and wondered if Tuney and Liam would want to go.
Another Ministry owl flew in and dropped something in front of Tiberius. He opened it and was surprised to find an invitation for him and his family to the Ministry's New Year's Eve Ball. "Hmm …it seems we'll all need to go shopping for formal clothes," Tiberius said.
"I recommend Twilfit and Tattings for that," Severus said.
Lily and Remus flooed in slightly before five. Remus picked up Hunter and wished everybody a Happy Christmas as Lily would be off for the next week while they were visiting Witches Moon.
Severus wondered if Tobias would be turning up at Spinner's End as he had the last two years. If he did, he would find the house empty.
Lily changed out of her robe and went into Harmony's bedroom to pack her trunk so they could leave tomorrow morning with a minimum of distraction.
"Need any help?" Severus asked sticking his head in the door.
"No, I've got it under control, but thanks, Sev."
Valerius and Seneca were excited about visiting Witches Moon. They had heard so much about it from their dad over the years.
Over dinner, Lily explained about the success the healers had in taking off the curse on the children. "Healer Dordt was able to discover what curse was used to make the children want to kill themselves and he called in the head Curse Breaker at Gringotts to help him remove it. As soon as they removed the curse and took the children out of stasis, they woke up and recognized their parents," Lily explained. "But they will have to stay in the hospital for at least another month, possibly longer."
"It's too bad they have to stay in the hospital over Christmas," Rose said.
"The staff at St. Mungo's has a big Christmas tree in their room and they have tons of presents that have been set to them from all over Britain, Ireland, and Scotland."
"That's good," Petunia said, nodding. "Mum sent a box of her cookies and fudge to St. Mungo's."
"It was the least I could do after what those poor children have been through."
"She also owled a box to Headmaster Dumbledore including a couple of bags of lemon drops," Hal added.
"I can't understand what Bellatrix's and Riddle's's idea was in kidnapping those children," Liam remarked.
"Riddle hates Muggles and Muggleborns," Severus replied. "I think he thought he could prove that Muggleborns are untrustworthy and don't deserve to use magic because they're easily corrupted."
"One of Riddle's loonier claims is that Muggleborns stole their magic. I don't know how he figures that one," Lily said.
"Magic isn't something that can be taken away though. You can decide not to use it, but it's still going to be there," Valerius said puzzled.
Severus grinned. "And it's like a friend of ours who's studying to be an Auror said that he's never heard of anybody going to MLE and reporting their magic was stolen."
"I don't quite understand how he sought to prove his theory anyway when the children had obviously been put under potions and spells that removed their free will," Hal said.
"Well, no one ever said Riddles's reasoning abilities were intact," Eileen pointed out. "And Bellatrix is known to be completely psychotic."
"Besides that," Seneca said. "Children that age would not have strong enough magic to kill anyone. You have to have a strong intent to use any of the Unforgivables."
"He may not have cared whether the children actually killed anyone. He may have just been trying to show the minority of wizarding society that thinks as he does that Muggleborn cannot control their magic and therefore shouldn't have it." Robert said.
"While America has some who feel that way, it's a very small minority of the wizarding population," Veronica said. "We generally refer to them as the moronic minority."
"Yeah, Mom hates them!" Seneca chuckled. "She goes out and pickets them every time they're appearing somewhere nearby."
Veronica blushed. "Well, some things are wrong and when you see it; you ought to speak out on it."
"I don't disagree, Mom," Seneca assured her.
Severus and Lily spent the evening wrapping some of Harmony's Christmas presents after she had gone to bed. After wrapping them they shrank them and put them in their trunk which had an Undetectable Extension Charm cast on it so they could both pack their clothes into one trunk plus anything else they might need. They decided to finish wrapping presents when they got to Witches Moon. Severus shrank Harmony's Big Wheel and put it in his coat pocket as he knew from experience she would want it right away.
Hal, Rose, Petunia and Liam were staying overnight so they could all floo to the Dragon's Tale after breakfast.
The next morning dawned cold and rainy. After breakfast was done, the three elves went ahead to their former home to help out there. Lily and Severus bundled Harmony up and got their coats on. "I'll apparate Lily and Harmony first so I can open the gate and the house," Severus explained before they stepped into the floo. He had a toddler anti-nausea potion tucked into his coat pocket for Harmony in case she needed it. They came out of the floo at the Dragon's Tale and George walked out from behind the front desk to greet them. "Good day, Mr. and Mrs. Snape."
"Hello, George," Severus said, returning his greeting. "The rest of our family will be flooing over directly. I'm going to apparate Lily and Harmony over to Witches Moon and open the gate and the house."
George nodded. "I'll watch for the rest of your families. Happy Christmas to you."
"And to you, George," Severus said. They stepped outside the inn. It was a grey and gloomy with a cold wind blowing. Severus glanced upwards. "It looks as if it could snow."
"I would love to have snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas," Lily said with a smile.
"Me too," Severus replied. "Ready?"
Lily nodded. "Hang on tight, Harmony," she instructed. "Daddy's going to apparate us."
Severus took Lily's arm and turned on his heel. In a second they were at the gates of Witches Moon. Severus turned to Harmony. "Are you feeling okay, Harmony? I have a potion if you're feeling sick."
Harmony shook her head and giggled. "It was fun, Daddy."
Severus chuckled as he unlocked the gate. "Only a little kid would think being squeezed through a tight tube is fun." He walked Lily across the courtyard and unlocked and opened the front door. "Okay, I'll be back in a few minutes."
Severus and Eileen took turns apparating the rest of the family to the manor. Timaeus, Valerian and Seneca could all see the gate and the manor house because they were Prince's. When Severus came back with Liam who had volunteered to wait until last; he was more than happy to be able to close and lock the gate and then go inside.
Snacks, hot tea and wassail were waiting in the living room. Severus took off his coat, sank onto the couch next to Lily, pulled off his boots and gave a sigh of relief as the warmth surrounded him. Lily handed him a plate containing sandwiches and cookies and a cup of the wassail. He looked around for Harmony and noticed that she was sitting between Valerius and Seneca on the opposite couch. She was eating a sandwich and a cookie.
"This is certainly a beautiful manor," Liam remarked, taking a sip of his tea.
"Thank you, Liam," Tiberius said from his picture frame in the living room. "And Audra and I are happy to see it once again filled with guests."
Harmony struggled to get off the couch and Valerius lifted her and set her down on the floor. She walked across to Severus. "Daddy, can Harmony have her bike?"
"May I have my bike," Severus said. They had been trying to teach Harmony not to talk in the third person. "And yes, you may." He reached in back of him for his coat and took her Big Wheels out of his pocket. He set it on the floor and enlarged it with his wand. He picked it up and set it down in the large entrance hall. "Okay you can ride around in here and up and down the hall there, but you can't go into any of those rooms without Mummy or I, okay?"
"Kay, Daddy," Harmony agreed and climbed onto her Big Wheels. Severus watched her for few minutes as she pedaled vigorously around the entrance hall and then returned to the living room.
"She sure does love that bike," Hal said. "I saw a beginner's two-wheeled bike at a toy store in Manchester and I wondered if you thought Harmony might be big enough to ride it by next September. Rose and I were considering giving it as a gift to her for her adoption day celebration."
"I'm sure she will be," Lily replied. "She's grown two inches and gained 5 pounds in a year."
"It has training wheels too, so there's no danger of it falling over and injuring her," Rose added.
"I'm sure she'll have grown enough that her legs will be able to reach the pedals by then," Severus said.
"She is such a little sweetie," Audra said.
After lunch, Severus and Lily put Harmony down for her nap. The elves had created a bedroom off the master suite just for Harmony. Severus unpacked some of her favorite toys and placed them around the room while Lily tucked Harmony in. After she had fallen asleep and Lily cast a monitoring charm over her so they would be alerted when she woke, they went back down to the living room. It had started to snow again and had gotten quite dim so Liam had lit some of the lamps with his wand.
"It sure does snow a lot here," Valerius remarked.
"It never snows where we live," Seneca added.
"We get mostly icy rain in London," Severus said. "Very rarely snow."
"The same goes for Manchester," Hal added. "It gets cold, rainy and icy, but hardly snows."
"We had a lot of snow at Hogwarts," Lily commented. "It would start snowing in the middle of November and didn't stop until the middle of March practically."
"I can testify to that," Timaeus chuckled.
"Yes, our school in upper state New York was the same way. We used to go skiing for fun," Seneca laughed.
"Skiing?" Robert asked.
"It's a Muggle sport where you have these two thin slats of some kind of hardened fiber created by the Muggles strapped on your feet and you have a thin pole in each hand for balance as you go down these big hills on them," Valerius explained.
"Sounds dangerous," Robert remarked.
"It can be. There were always a few students that ended up in the Infirmary with broken bones of some sort every winter," Seneca said.
Valerius grinned. "We used to challenge the cadets at West Point to race with us." He grinned. "They usually won, but sometimes we did."
"The Muggle branches of the military each have an academy," Timaeus explained. "And West Point is the army's. It's been around for a long time, since the early 1800's, I believe and has a long, honorable tradition."
At dinner that night, Harmony announced that she wanted to build a snowman like in the story Severus had read to her recently. Severus smiled and said, "I expect we can do it tomorrow after breakfast."
Severus was tired from side-apparating so many people that he went to bed shortly after he and Lily put Harmony to bed. Lily checked on Harmony to find she was sound asleep. She closed the door to her room. The monitoring charm remained so they would be alerted instantly if Harmony woke during the night.
Lily climbed into bed beside Severus and turned over on her side, propping her arm under her head. "Sev, I was wondering what happens when we have children. Does it matter whether we have a boy or a girl first?"
"No, because purebloods don't seem to have a lot of children. Mum was an only child and she was the inheritor until she was disowned when she married Tobias."
"What if we for whatever reason, we're unable to have children. What would happen then?"
"I would blood adopt Harmony. As long as she had the Prince blood, she would be accepted by the wards and would be the inheritor after me."
"And then her first child would inherit?"
"Yes, and if whenever we do have a child, they would inherit Witches Moon, but Harmony would receive part of the Prince trust so she would never need to worry about Galleons."
"I wondered how it would work so I'm glad to know it would be covered either way."
Severus grinned. "Yeah, if Potter thinks he's going to get his hands on the Prince fortune; he's got another thing coming."
"You mean there's a possibility he could inherit?" Lily asked in amazement.
"All the Pureblood families are distantly related. I think I'm a fourth or fifth cousin to Arthur Weasley and he's related to the Malfoy's too. I think somewhere along the line Potters married Princes and also Princes married Blacks so I'm related distantly to Potter, Sirius and Reg, but I don't know the details. My grandparents would know better than me."
"And by extension the McKinnon's," Lily stated. "Lovely."
"Well, we don't have to make any of that public. I'm sure the Potter's won't. Sirius and Reg probably know because I remember Reg telling me their mum made them study wizard genealogy as they were growing up."
Lily got up once last time to check on Harmony before going to bed. She peeked in and saw Harmony was sound asleep. She closed the door and threw a silencing spell over the door that would allow them to hear Harmony if she woke, but she could not hear anything from their room.
"Hmm …I see you have something in mind," Severus teased.
"Indeed I do, Mr. Snape, indeed I do."
The next morning after breakfast, Severus and Lily took Harmony outside to build the snowman she wanted. Valerius and Seneca came outside to help.
Severus made a small snowball and set it on the ground. "You start out with a small snowball and you keep packing snow around it like this …" He explained as he demonstrated it. "The more snow you pack on, the bigger it gets."
They constructed the bottom, middle and then the head. They made facial features using small rocks and larger rock for his front buttons. Valerius transfigured a black cowboy hat for him while Lily transfigured a partial Gryffindor and Slytherin scarf for around his neck. "Now he's a Slytherdor," she laughed. Seneca transfigured a holster for around his waist and stuck a thick branch in it for a wand. "He looks like Val now," he chuckled.
Severus lifted Harmony up to add the finishing touch – a short, fat carrot for his nose. He laughed. "It looks like my former conk."
"Your nose never looked like that, Sev," Lily scolded him.
The days leading up to Christmas were busy and filled with fun. Severus and Lily pulled Harmony around the grounds on the sled Hal had given her for Christmas the previous year and he chased her around in the snow pretending to be a monster trying to catch her while she giggled and ran ahead of him. He also spent time in the library doing research and copying books for the Anti-Cruciatus potion he was planning to invent for his mastery. He had explained to Tiberius what he was planning to do and Tiberius suggested books that would be useful to Severus' research.
Christmas Eve finally arrived. Severus had previously contacted George at the Dragon's Tale to request a private room and a special meal for Christmas Eve so he and Lily could celebrate their second anniversary. Lily dressed Harmony in a pale blue ruffled dress with lace edged white socks and her black Mary Jane patent leather shoes, brushed and did her hair with small pale blue bows. She and Severus carried Harmony downstairs and gave her to Eileen. They donned their cloaks and kissed Harmony goodbye. "We'll see you in a bit, sweetie," Lily said, stroking her hair.
Harmony smiled and waved. "Bye, Mummy and Daddy."
Severus blew her a kiss before he and Lily stepped outside and apparated to the Dragon's Tale.
George came out to greet them. "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Snape. If you will please follow me; everything is ready."
They followed George into a small room containing a table and two chairs. A white linen tablecloth covered the table and two setting of china plates, crystal stem glasses with elegant silverware sat on the table. Two candles sat on the table also. A fireplace with a roaring fire in it warmed the room.
"Thank you, George," Severus said as he helped Lily off with her cloak and hung it up along with his own.
"I'll send Caesar in directly with your meal," George replied nodding.
Severus seated Lily and then sat down across from her. He lit the candles with a wave of his wand. There was a pop and a small elf carrying a tray appeared in the room. He carefully set the bowls of potato and leek soup in front of Severus and Lily and a plate of hot, freshly baked rolls. It was soon followed by Beef Wellington, Chestnut Bourguignon pie, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy and more rolls. For dessert they had the traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
"The meal was excellent, Caesar," Severus said as he came to clear the last of the plates. "Please give my compliments to the chef."
"I will extend your compliments to my mate, Pompeia," he replied with a bow and popped out again.
Severus grinned, doused the lights, leaving only the candles on the table lit. He leaned back in his chair and took out a small package from his pocket. "Engorgio," he whispered and the gift returned to its normal size. He pushed them over to Lily and sat back. "Happy second anniversary."
Oh, Sev!" Lily exclaimed. She tore open the first present to reveal a gold charm bracelet with two runes on it. One was Algiz which Lily knew was a very strong protective rune and the other was Eihwaz which meant strength, endurance, defense, and protection. "It's beautiful!" She exclaimed and held out her arm for him to put it on. The moment he fastened the clasp, Lily felt a tingle go through her entire body and knew it was from the rune magic working. She smiled and took a small wrapped box out of her purse and gave it to Severus.
"Hmm …I wonder what this could be," he said as he turned the box around in his hands and then put it to his ear and shook it. He tore off the paper to find a black velvet box. He opened it and found the Heir's Ring for Prince Family. He looked at it closely. On it was a shield that was half blue which stood for truth and loyalty and the other half was purple which stood for royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice. On the blue side of the crest there was an open book which stood for manifestation and on the purple side was a lightning bolt that stood for swiftness and power. Over the top of the shield was an eagle with it wings outstretched which signified protection. Over it was a ribbon with the family's motto on it, Eruditio Decerno Libertas which translated as Knowledge is Freedom. Severus took it out and slipped it on his right ring finger. "Wherever did you find this? Grandfather told me it had been lost centuries ago."
"I had another one made because I thought you should have one as the Prince heir," Lily said. "Your grandfather also told me it had been lost and when I decided I was going to have another one made; he helped me find a print of it that I copied to take to the goblin jeweler."
Severus grinned and joked, "I hope you gave Gretkon more than a week to create it." They had found out the owner's name of the goblin jewelry store they always patronized was Gretkon and he was a cousin to the goblin who was in charge of the Prince vaults.
"I ordered it three months ago actually. He was pleased to have the challenge of re-creating the Prince Heir's Ring."
After they exchanged gifts, Severus paid the bill and after thanking George for accommodating them; they returned to Witches Moon.
Harmony was sitting on Veronica's lap when she heard the front door open. Veronica helped her get down and she ran and stood in the doorway of the entrance hall.
Tita popped in to take Severus' and Lily's cloaks. Lily spotted Harmony and swept her up into her arms. Harmony giggled as Lily carried her into the living room with Severus following her. They sat down in the living room with the rest of the family.
Severus showed everyone his Heir Ring Lily had given him. He was obviously thrilled to have it.
"Gretkon has always done an excellent job on whatever commission I gave him," Tiberius announced. "It was his ancestor who created the engagement, wedding ring set, and pendant that Lily is wearing."
Harmony interrupted things by giving a big yawn and leaning back against Lily, blinking her eyes sleepily.
"I think a certain little girl needs to be in bed so Santa Claus can come," Severus said.
"We'll put Harmony to bed and then come back down," Lily said as she got up. They took Harmony upstairs and put her to bed, making sure she was warm enough. Lily tucked her dolly and her plush heart into bed beside her and kissed her goodnight. Severus sat down on the bed and read her 'Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump.' After Harmony had fallen asleep, they left the room, leaving a nightlight on for her.
As they were coming back down the stairs and had just reached the entrance to the living room, they heard Hal's familiar call, "Who wants presents?"
"We do, Daddy," both Petunia and Lily called back.
"Well, you'd better come and get them before they all disappear."
Severus noticed first thing that there were loads of presents under the tree. Everyone had obviously added their presents while they were up with Harmony. Severus and Lily added their presents to the pile.
Everybody had decided to open one gift each and then open the rest of the gifts with Harmony the next morning.
Lily gasped as she opened the package containing the formal dress. It was in the same Grecian style that her gown for their final Christmas Ball had been, but it was an ice blue. "Sev, this is simply beautiful!"
"Well, I remember how beautiful you looked in that dress you wore to the Christmas Ball a year ago," Severus replied. "And since we did receive an invitation to the Ministry's New Year's Eve Ball; I thought it would be perfect for it."
"Thank you," she said, kissing his cheek. "Now open yours."
Severus opened his chosen present to find a new pair of black leather gloves that were fully lined.
"I noticed yours were getting kind of shabby," Lily said.
"That they were," Severus replied, pulling on the gloves. They felt very warm. "These will be great in whatever the coldest weather we have is."
Valerius and Seneca each opened a joke gift that was apparently tradition with them while all the other adults opened one of their gifts. Severus and Lily had purchased Hal and Eileen another food and wine hampers from Harrods and a tea hamper for Robert from Fortnum and Masons, but they had replaced the wine in both hampers with bottles of wine from Tiberius' co-owned vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. He had gone into business with an Italian wizard by the name of Gaius De Luca in his early twenties. Now the De Luca-Prince wines were known all over the wizarding world and had won many awards for excellence.
Lily had given Petunia a gold wand for her charm bracelet in honor of Petunia's success with the Magical Access Potion.
Petunia had given Severus a set of crystal vials and containers to store his potions and potion ingredients in. "Thank you, Tuney. These will be great for when I start working on my Anti-Cruciatus potion."
After everybody had opened one gift, they decided to turn in since they knew Harmony would be up at the crack of dawn. Severus, Valerius, Seneca, and Lily helped clear the wrapping paper up and vanish it. Severus didn't agree with leaving messes they'd made for the elves to clean up even though they felt it was their job.
Harmony as predicted, did wake at five-thirty and want to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought her. She gave a squeal as she saw all the presents under the tree. Severus sat down on the floor near the tree and handed the smaller packages to Harmony to take to its recipient and floated the bigger ones over to them. At last everyone had a pile of presents in front of them and commenced to opening them.
Lily was thrilled when she opened the box containing her velvet cloak that was lined and had a hood. "Sev, this is so beautiful and warm," she said wrapping the cloak around her. "I'll wear my new dress and this to the Ministry Ball next week," she decided.
"It looks really nice on you, Lily," Petunia said.
"Speaking of the Ministry Ball," Severus said. "The invitation is for two guests also. Would you and Liam like to go with us?"
Liam after a brief consultation with Tuney, nodded. "We'd love to. Thank you for asking us."
"We can go shopping for a gown for you when we get back home." Lily said to Petunia.
Once all the gifts were opened, everyone went upstairs, got dressed and then adjourned to the dining room for a full English breakfast. Harmony cleaned her plate and then held it out for more.
The rest of the day was spent outside in the snow having snowball fights, lounging around in the living room, eating snacks, or drinking Wassail.
Severus and Lily helped Harmony put together one of her puzzles. She did pretty well on her own as the pieces were fairly large, but occasionally got stuck and needed help.
The elves went all out for dinner with meat, fish and fowl, vegetables, three different kinds of potatoes and freshly baked bread placed on the table. A Christmas cake with a buttery brandy sauce ended the meal.
Reg arrived on Boxing Day and stayed until they left Witches Moon and went home with Hal and Rose. Severus and Lily returned home on the 28th. Severus was anxious to start researching his Anti-Cruciatus Potion and Lily had to start back at St. Mungo's the day after.
Lily and Tuney decided to go to Twilfit and Tattings that morning to buy a gown for Petunia for the New Year's Eve Ball while Severus watched Harmony. Timaeus and his family went with Lily and Petunia to purchase their formal clothes for the ball. He played with her and helped her with another one of her puzzles. She really seemed to enjoy putting them together and was getting really good at it.
Lily was back home by lunchtime. "You should see the gown Madam Twilfit designed for Tuney, Sev. She's going to look beautiful!"
"I'm sure she will," Severus replied. "I hope the Potters aren't going to be there, but they probably will be."
"I'm sure they will be too. I imagine the Malfoy's will be attending also."
"Yes, I'm sure most of the old Pureblood families received an invitation."
"How many older families are there?"
"Well, the older ones are the Princes, Longbottom's, Malfoy's, Potters, Blacks, the Avery's, Mulciber's, and the Lestrange family. Some of the younger ones are the Downing's, Lupin's and the LeClair's. I'm sure none of the supporters of Riddle will be there as their sons are still wanted by the Aurors after invading Hogwarts last year."
On New Year's Eve, Hal and Rose flooed over to stay with Harmony while everybody else attended the Ministry Ball. Reg came with them. He was dressed in a dark green dress robe with decorative silver scrolling on the bottom of his sleeves. He wore is Order of Merlin, First class around his neck.
Severus was dressed in navy blue dress robes and his Order of Merlin, First Class also hung around his neck. He helped Lily on with her new cloak and then drew his black wool coat on and the new gloves Lily had given him. They were meeting Tuney and Liam at the Ministry.
"We should be back a little before midnight," Lily told her parents.
"Take your time and don't worry about us," Hal said. "We'll be fine."
"Be good for grandpa and grandma, okay?" Severus said.
"Kay, Daddy," Harmony said.
After giving Harmony a kiss; they along with Reg, Timaeus and his family flooed to the Ministry. Petunia and Liam were waiting as they stepped out of the fireplace into the Atrium where the Ball was being held. Petunia wore a strapless flowing gown of pale champagne with a short train which accentuated her height and her long neck. She had her hair up in curls on the top of her head and wore elbow length white gloves and carries a small, ivory, clutch purse with matching ivory heels. Liam wore a black velvet dress robe. They greeted the Princes warmly
As soon as Lily and Severus stepped out of the Floo, an elf popped in to take their cloaks and then popped out again. The Atrium was crowded with people and tables loaded with all manner of food. Severus gave his invitation to the wizard standing by the Floo who announced, "Mr. Severus Snape, Order of Merlin First Class, Mrs. Lily Snape, and Mr. and Mrs. Liam Hollywell."
Severus flushed in embarrassment, but held his head high and offered Lily his arm.
"Sev!" He heard his mum call his name and saw Eileen and Robert coming over in his direction. Eileen was dressed in a sea mist green dress robe while Robert was dressed in expensive black linen and wearing his pin that indicated he was a master healer. Severus knew that Lily had turned it into a portal to the Dragon's Tale for him. Eileen greeted her uncle, aunt, and two cousins.
"Hi Mum," Severus said giving her a kiss on her cheek.
"You three look so lovely tonight," Eileen said to Lily, Petunia, and Veronica who was wearing a rose colored dress robe that set off her blond hair.
"Thank you, Eileen," Petunia said modestly. "You do also."
Reg excused himself to find his family.
Severus spotted a familiar short, squat witch making her way toward him. She was dressed in a shocking pink dress robe and wore a small tiara in her short brown curls. She looked like nothing more than a large, pink toad.
"Mr. Snape, I'm surprised to find you here," she said sweetly. "I want you to know I and Cornelius were both opposed to awarding you that Order of Merlin for inventing a potion to help hideous, dangerous beasts that cannot be changed no matter how many potions you give them and then to make matters worse, building them a place near a village and a school so they'll have plenty of victims to attack!"
Miss Umbridge …" Severus began, attempting to hold on to his temper.
"And now you invent another potion that gives magic to people who don't deserve to have magic and never should …" She stopped talking abruptly as Petunia's fist plowed into her face.