AN: Well, this is it, the final chapter. Thanks so much for sticking with me through this seven month story! I truly appreciate all of your support, and am so glad to have readers and reviewers such as you! You've all made my day so much brighter! Thank you!
I don't own anything you'd recognize.
Rose stared intently at the chess board, her brow furrowed in concentration. Victor sat in the seat opposite, hoping against hope that she would fail to notice his most recent misstep.
"Would anyone like to play dinner party with me?" their pyjama-clad sister asked as she padded into the sitting room. Not quite four, her hair was straight, silky and black, her eyes a deep shade of brown. Her mischievous grin revealed her mother's prodigious incisors in baby tooth guise.
"Not now, Violet. You're supposed to be in bed, anyway," Rose muttered before finally deciding, "Black queen to B-3."
The queen glided forward and swiftly decapitated a white knight. "Check," Rose announced.
"Ugh," Victor groaned, desperately searching for a way out of his predicament.
"Maybe you should move your king across the board," Violet suggested.
"I'd love to, Violet," Victor replied. "But the king can't move that far."
"Why?" she asked.
"Because he is lazy and can only move one space at a time," Victor answered.
"Hey!" the white king protested. "I resent that."
"Well, it's true!" the black queen snickered.
Victor shook his head in defeat and ordered the king to retreat one space.
"Rook, A-7," Rose responded.
The castle lumbered into place. "Checkmate," Rose announced. The king bowed in submission as the queen and the rook finished him off.
"Nargles," Victor muttered. "I can't believe you beat me again."
Rose shrugged. "I've practiced quite a bit with Dad and with a few of my friends. You'll get better as you play more games."
"Have you ever beaten Dad?" Violet asked.
"No," Rose replied with a twinge of regret. "He outsmarts me every time."
"I bet you'll beat him someday," Victor answered as he stood up to put the chess set away.
"Maybe," Rose replied doubtfully as she returned the pieces she'd captured from him.
"There you are," Hermione called, eying Violet. "You were supposed to be in bed an hour ago."
"I was," Violet responded. "But I needed a drink of water."
"And the sitting room is the logical place to find it, I suppose."
"No," Violet answered, suppressing a fit of giggles. "But I thought maybe Rose and Victor would tuck me in."
"Violet, we have a very busy day tomorrow. You don't want to be sleepy when we put Rose on the Hogwarts Express now, do you?" Hermione asked.
"If I oversleep, can Rose stay home with us?" Violet asked.
"No, falling asleep will just mean you'll miss telling her goodbye," Hermione replied before turning to Victor and Rose. "You two should probably get ready for bed as well."
"Fine," Victor muttered as he put the chess board back in the box. Handing it to Rose, he mumbled, "I suppose this is yours now."
"I'll bring it home with me on holidays," Rose promised.
"I know," Victor replied before giving her a hug.
Violet tried to hug each of them from the outside before giving up and squeezing herself between them. Hermione smiled. If only she had a camera…
"I call dibs on the bathroom!" Victor announced before releasing his sisters and racing down the hallway.
"Come back here, you little weasel!" Rose playfully exclaimed. "I'm older!"
"Come on Violet. It's bedtime."
"'Kay," she yawned. "Good night, Rose."
"'Night," Rose replied as she watched her mother herd her sister back to bed. She stared thoughtfully at the chess box before taking it to her room and setting it in her school trunk.
"Rose?" Severus called quietly, peeking into her room.
She looked up from the trunk and smiled wistfully. "Hello, Dad."
Severus looked deep into Rose's blue eyes and read the conflict there. "What's wrong, love?"
She gulped and said, "I was just thinking… Why do I need to go to Hogwarts? I have plenty of friends here, and you and Mum can teach me everything I need to know."
Severus sighed as he sat on the edge of her bed, gesturing for her to sit beside him. "Don't you want to attend Hogwarts? You know that Headmaster Longbottom will take excellent care of you, and the professors will be stellar."
"But the potions professor can't be as good as you. At best, he might be adequate,"
Severus chuckled. "Professor Daniels is a good man, and from what I hear, the Potions program has grown quite well these past five years under his direction."
"But he's still not you, Daddy. I want to stay here and learn from you and from Mom." Tears trickled down Rose's cheeks as her eyes pleaded with her father. He pulled her into an embrace and she burrowed her head into his chest.
"Rose, we can continue our lessons when you come home on break and during the summer."
"No Daddy, I want to stay," she cried. "Otherwise you'll forget about me."
"Forget about you?" Severus replied in shock. "What on earth would give you an idea like that?"
Rose looked up and hiccupped. "You'll still have Victor and Violet here, and sometimes I overhear you and Mum talking about having another baby. I know my fears are stupid, Dad, and I know that you love me. I'm just afraid that you'll get so used to not having me around that one day I'll come home and you'll look at me like I'm a stranger."
"Oh Merlin, Rose," Severus whispered before kissing her on the forehead. "Do you think I won't miss you every time I brew downstairs? You've been my laboratory buddy since before you could properly say "potion". How could I just all of a sudden forget you?"
"You'd better not," Rose answered.
"Rose, it will kill me to stay behind while you board that train… but it's time for you to start a new chapter in your life. I promise we'll see each other soon."
"I know," Rose sobbed.
"Rose, you are my firstborn child, the one who taught me how to be a father… the one who taught me how to love, and how to accept love. You are precious to me in your own unique way. Your mother and I will write you every day, and we'll be just a floo call away."
"Can I fly home to see you sometimes?"
"Only if you want to get in trouble with Headmaster Longbottom."
Rose smirked. "I could use the Invisibility Cloak."
"You know that's only for emergencies."
"Well certainly needing a hug from you and Mum would qualify as an emergency sometimes…" Rose replied as she dried her tears.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, love," Severus smiled as he kissed her on the cheek.
"Rose? Severus? What's going on?" Hermione asked.
"We were just talking," Rose answered.
"Are you all right? You look upset."
"Rose is just a little nervous about her first day," Severus answered.
Hermione joined them on the bed and pressed Rose to her chest. "Oh baby, you won't be alone. Scorpius will be going to Hogwarts too, and you already know Headmaster Longbottom quite well."
"Can I still call him Neville?" Rose asked.
"Yes, but not in front of the other students," Hermione answered.
"Will you miss me when I'm gone?"
"Of course I will," Hermione replied. "Rose, you're my baby girl. I'll miss you every day, but that's what floo calls and owls are for."
"I suppose," Rose replied.
"You'll make lots of new friends, and you'll have such a good time learning all those new things that your break will be here before you'll know it."
"Thanks, Mum," Rose replied as she basked in the comfort of her parents' embrace.
"Now you'll remember to write us when you get sorted, right?" Hermione asked as the train crawled into the station.
"Yes, Mum," Rose replied.
"You're going to remember to feed your owl, right?" Victor asked.
"Yes," Rose replied as she rolled her eyes. "You won't have to do it for me anymore."
"Are you going to buy a cat like Mummy did?" Violet asked.
"We'll see," Severus answered. "If she does get a cat it'll have to be a shorthaired cat that does not shed too much or maybe a black cat whose hair won't show on her robes."
"Oh, Severus," Hermione sighed.
"Dad's right, hairy robes are gross," Rose replied.
"Who has hairy robes?" Scorpius asked as he and his parents approached them.
"No one, thankfully," Severus replied.
"Oh," Scorpius answered.
"Now remember Scorpius, be nice to the people on the train, and don't accept any journals from strangers."
Scorpius gave her an odd look. "Why would anyone try to give me a journal?"
"You'd be surprised," Draco replied.
Suddenly a set of brown eyed, tow-headed twins burst on the scene. "Mummy! That mean man won't let us get on the train!" one shouted.
"Maybe he would've if you hadn't tried to take his whistle," the other admonished.
"Antlia, Carina, that's enough," Ginevra gently scolded. "You know you aren't allowed on that train until you're eleven and ready for school."
"But we want to see it now!" Antlia cried.
"Please let us get on!" Carina pleaded.
"All aboard!" The conductor announced.
"In about five more years," Ginevra replied.
"We should go, Rose, before all the good seats are taken," Scorpius suggested.
"Good idea," Rose replied before turning to her family. "Goodbye, everyone."
"Goodbye, Rose," Victor and Violet replied, each giving her a quick hug.
Hermione embraced Rose and pressed her nose into her daughter's hair, breathing in her scent one more time. "Goodbye, baby. I love you. Have fun at Hogwarts."
"I will, Mum. I love you," Rose replied before releasing her mother. She then looked up at Severus. "Goodbye, Dad," she said with a quivering lip.
"Goodbye, Rose," he answered with glistening eyes.
Rose rushed into his arms and held him tightly. Leaning back to take his face in both hands, she kissed each cheek and said, "I love you, Dad."
"I love you too, Rose," Severus replied before releasing her and smoothing an errant lock of hair behind her ear.
She and Scorpius then collected their bags and dashed off to board the train. Severus and Hermione watched with Victor and Violet as the train filled, hissed, and then slowly chugged forward, Rose peeked out one of the windows and waved. They waved in return, until the train was finally out of sight.
Severus sat in his favorite chair with the small parchment in hand. He carefully undid the seal and smiled when he recognized the handwriting.
Dear Dad and Mum,
I've made it to Hogwarts safe and sound, and am writing this to you after the sorting and welcoming feast. The train ride was much longer than I expected, but Hogwarts was even more beautiful than I imagined! I can see why you two were so impressed with the sorting feast; I've never seen such amazing floating candles in my life!
You probably care more about the sorting though than the actual feast. I was one of the first sorted, and I can now safely say that I do not like the sorting hat. When it touched my head it told me that I had many Gryffindor traits. I told it that my mother was Gryffindor but my father was Slytherin and I'd wanted to be in Slytherin since I was three years old. It then said, "You have more Gryffindor in you than you realize."
I will admit to becoming a bit testy and replying, "My father was sorted into Slytherin, and it was the right house for him. Dumbledore lied when he told him he'd been sorted too early. I want to be in Slytherin, just like my dad!"
The hat grew silent before finally saying, "You're right, there is more of Severus Snape in you than I initially thought." He then announced, "Slytherin!"
I was so happy that I almost cried as I got off the chair. Scorpius was next, and he was instantly sorted into Slytherin. He says he actually would've preferred Ravenclaw since both sides of his family would then have been equally disappointed, but Slytherin was his second choice.
I'm currently in the girls' dorm. My roommates seem to be fine. At least they aren't as gossipy as you said Lavender Brown was, Mum. I have potions tomorrow, and I hope the professor asks questions like Dad did! I can't wait to see the look on his face when I answer them correctly! I also have flying lessons tomorrow. I can't wait to see the look on Professor Vane's face when she sees me levitating two meters in the air without a broom.
I love you and miss you very much! I can't wait to see you all again! Tell Victor that I've bought some chocolate frogs on the train, and I'll be sending them his way soon!
Severus exhaled. Aside from wanting to burn the sorting hat for its insinuations regarding Rose's paternity, he felt at peace and happy for his daughter.
Hermione entered the sitting room and looked over his shoulder. "Are you finished with Rose's letter?"
"Yes, I am," he replied.
"Is she well?"
"You can read for yourself," Severus replied as he handed her the letter.
Hermione scanned the page until tears came to her eyes. "I'm glad she was sorted into the house she wanted."
"I am as well, although this only solidifies my hatred for that hat," Severus replied.
"Rose handled it well, even if she didn't know exactly what the hat meant."
"Do you think we should've told her about Ron?" Severus asked.
"Why? She knows who her true father is. That's all that matters."
"Perhaps," Severus replied as Hermione settled onto his lap.
Severus smiled as he pulled his wife into his arms. "If anyone had told me twelve years ago that I'd have a daughter who would be sorted into Slytherin, I would have thought that individual was insane. I never even thought I'd marry. I was perfectly content to live the life of a hermit in my tiny run-down shack. Now… Merlin, Hermione. I had no idea what happiness could be until you and the children came into my life."
"It's all because of Rose," Hermione answered. "When Ron left me, I thought my life was over. She didn't stand a chance in the Wizarding World with the label 'bastard' hanging over her head. I couldn't have asked for a better father for her, Severus. You took us in when no one else would and you did more than provide for us. You chose to give yourself to us… and we're so much better for it."
"Rose taught me to love. She accepted me unconditionally when I thought it impossible. And you… you looked beyond who I was to who I could become. You loved me when most people would've given up on me. I would never have known love if it weren't for you and Rose. Thank you, Hermione. Thank you for choosing to be with me."
She placed a tender kiss on his lips. "I love you, Severus Snape."
"I love you too, Hermione Snape."
They snuggled in the warmth of the fire and marveled at the turn their lives had taken. They had started out alone… abandoned… but had finally found love thanks to the interference of a meddling estranged grandmother… and a kiss from a rose.
Well, that's it for now! I'm actually working on a new story, but I won't post it until October. The reason for the delay is that I'm moving to Chicago for graduate school around the first weekend in September. It's going to be so hectic trying to go to a new state, getting registered, and ultimately starting classes. To add even more pressure, this Masters Program is only a year long, hence I'll really need to focus on it. As I said I have a few chapters written, but I want to write a few more before I start posting. If it makes anyone feel better, these chapters are longer than the ones in this fic.
Last of all, thank you to all of those who have stayed with me through this story! Thanks also to those who have followed me from my previous stories. Some of you have even read me as far back as Court and Spark. You all are amazing. A special thank you to Heartmom88 who has encouraged me and helped edit some of these chapters. You're awesome! Also, very special thank you to Eilynn, who is translating this story into French. You're the best!
Thanks again to everyone who's stayed with me! Hope the rest of the summer is great, and thanks again for making my half year of writing this story on very enjoyable!