The usual disclaimers apply.

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Chapter 34 (with a happy if vague end)

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She had to have a word with Harry Potter, well, actually, she had to pull Harry Potter into a quiet part of the Ministry – just because she didn't think it wise to have him confront Severus. Or vice versa. She had lost them afterwards but it had been alright. Better to have a chat with Harry than to have Severus and Harry duelling at the Ministry, with the babe and Lightfoot in between.

She had behaved admirably, Minerva thought. Not that anyone had a chance to behave anything but admirably when Severus had begun his little speech. He had been quite impressive. Someone she wanted to have on her side – and yes, she knew that she had said differently not so long ago. She had been wrong. But he knew that she knew. He knew that she felt very sorry for the way she had behaved. At least she hoped he knew.

She would just, she had decided, go back to his house that morning. Talk to him for a bit, see if he had digested going to the Ministry well, see if he had found out more about his Patronus, and maybe, if the situation would arise, talk to him about the vacant Defence against Dark Arts and Potions position at Hogwarts. But only if the situation arose. Otherwise, she would...she had to make it clear to him that she was sorry. That she...she hated doing that kind of thing. She hated stating things explicitly that should be clear. And he should know that she was sorry. He had to know.

Still. There were other things to deal with as well. Hogwarts did not run itself and there were several students who wanted to return to finish their seventh year decently. She would have to coordinate all that as well. But she had to learn to delegate now anyway. And Pomona could do the coordination as well, the larger number of dormitories. And Filius could be trusted with the schedules.

Minerva had Severus to see.

xx

There was black hair. Sparse, scattered black hair. Just in front of her eyes. Just there. And she was naked. And the sparse, scattered black hair was on an equally naked body.

Yes. Ah yes. She smiled, closing her eyes again. She had spent the night and Emma was asleep (as the creature called Erwin had let them now when he had brought them refreshments at...she didn't remember what time) in Severus's old bedroom. She had spent the night. With Severus. Christine smiled gently. She had truly spent the night. He had not let her go, or she hadn't wanted to go and at one time or another, he had just tightened his arms around her, had hugged her viciously and had pulled her half on top of him and had closed his eyes. And she had done the same. Had just closed her eyes after exhausting, excessive bouts of...sex. Had fallen asleep half on him, her head pillowed on his chest and he had slept. With her in his arms.

She felt awfully protected lying there like that, both his arms around her, completely encircled by him. Felt terribly safe. Emma was there in the next room, a babysitter around and she was being in the arms of a man. And not just any man but the man who had seemed so reserved at first, had seemed so weak and so tired and had seemed so...broken. Had seemed so forceful and had seemed so powerful and had seemed to restrained. Had pulled back even when Burgundy (she shouldn't think of her as Emma...her name was still Burgundy) had destroyed his drug. The man who had been able to absolutely sweep her off her feet. Who had paid so much attention to her. Had paid so much attention to her daughter. And his daughter. He had said so. His daughter and her daughter.

And in a way...she was.

"Without you, she wouldn't be here," she whispered softly. "You saved her life." She thought he was still sleeping, his breathing so even and so regular but he suddenly cracked an eyelid and with one eye looked at her.

"Who?" he asked huskily and slowly opened his other eye. The look on his face, however, could only be described as – astonished.

"Em...Burgundy's," she replied. "Good morning."

"I did not save her life," he replied, his hold on her slackening.

"Of course you did," she answered and buried her nose in the hair on his chest. "Without you..."

"I shouldn't have called her my daughter," he replied, his arms now almost completely gone from her, "I..."

"Of course you should have. What are fathers? Fathers are...without fathers, children wouldn't be born. Without you, she wouldn't have been born. Without you, she wouldn't exist. That's the definition of a father. And she loves you and I know that you lo..."

"Don't," he said warningly.

"You know, she sighed, sitting up. "I hate it when nights end like that. You think that you have a shot at a future, at something and in the morning, the bloke is so disgusted by you that he picks a fight about a more or less random topic. Or he just leaves. Thank you for not leaving your own house but I think I want to go. This is not how I..." she was cut off. Suddenly, surprisingly, cut off. He had pulled her back down and before she could even think about protesting, he had sealed her mouth with his, had pressed his lips on hers. He shook his head while kissing her, or at least it seemed that way to Christine and when she pulled back a second or seventy later, bloody dizzy from lack of oxygen, he had the audacity to glare at her. He at her! Not the other way around.

"If you think I'm so..." he started but what he could, she could. In her sleep. She tackled him, landed on top of him, her mouth attacking his in the gentlest of ways, her body stretched out on top of his.

"Christine," he said, muffled around her lips.

"Shut up," she replied, just as muffled. "We're equals, you and me." She pulled back suddenly, still resting on top of him but looking into his eyes. "If we cannot be equals, tell me now and I will leave. If you cannot treat me like..."

She couldn't finish her sentence. Not because he silenced her with a kiss this time, but because he merely, without saying a word, pulled her down onto his chest, tucked her head under his chin and stroked her back. Just as gently, just as kindly, just as softly has he had done the night before. There were so many things they had to clear up but Severus...he knew what to do. He knew how to tell her things without saying a word. And maybe she just knew how to understand his answers. Just the soothing stroking of her back and then the soft kiss on her head were enough for her to understand that, yes, she was his equal, yes, he would treat her decently. She just knew and when she dared to look up into his face again, she was sure that the widened eyes she saw there were simply the surprise at seeing her own eyes so full of tears.

"I can't help it," she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. "I've..."

He pulled her back down, kissed her forehead and caressed her. There was no need for words just now.

xx

He was usually an eloquent man. Words had, so far, only failed him when he had been under massive bouts of curses, of hexes, when the pain could only be kept inside by keeping utterly silent. Now, it was the...how to describe it...the tenderness of her in his bed. This woman Minerva (not that he wanted to think about Minerva just now) had pegged as completely vulgar was so gentle and kind and soothing and...tender to him. It seemed like she just accepted the fact that he was there. And that she was there. With him. It was...blowing his mind and playing with his sense.

But she was right. They had to talk. Some time in the not too distant future, they would have to talk and he would have to find words. And the right words. The words to tell her that he had only loved once. That with that love he had killed. That he would, if he kept her in his life, would make her, quite possibly, unhappy.

No, he thought. He didn't want to see her unhappy. He didn't want to see her the way she had looked after he had struck, or almost struck, Emma. He didn't ever want to see her like that again. He would not make her unhappy.

His fingers played on her back, mapping the soft skin.

"I may not always find the right words," he said tonelessly and she looked up in surprise but a little smile made her lips twitch.

"I see," she replied and pushed up out of his arms, on her elbows so she could look down at him. "I just...promise me, Severus..."

"What promise?" he asked, looking deeply into her eyes which had seen him at his weakest and strongest. Which had been quite wide open at several points during the night, which had been heavy-lidded at least the same amount of time. She had seen him. Him. Not some version. She had seen the entire picture. Not only the teacher, or the spy, or the useful weapon or the pawn. The poor lad needing atonement. She had seen everything.

And that made all the difference.

"Promise me you will never hit Em..Burgundy," she said in a flat tone while her eyes were burning hotly.

He looked at her, surprised. He had expected...he wasn't sure what he had expected but it wasn't that. He had thought he had made it clear. But...with all his feelings inside, he could understand her. Emma was the most precious thing she had. She would protect her with her life.

He couldn't find fault in that.

"I swear upon my life that I will never raise my hand towards her," he declared solemnly, staring into her eyes. There was something inside, something in their depths that...he felt himself smiling as well. A small smile but nevertheless there. He could feel it. "And I swear upon my life that I will never hit you either."

Her eyes widened again and she pounced upon him, launched herself into his arms, kissed his face, his lips, his cheeks, his chin, his eyes, his forehead, his temples, his eyebrows, his hairline feverishly.

He had said the right thing.

xx

"Erwin," she said, her voice sounding squeaky even to her own ears. The elf sat there, with one of the Hogwarts elves, Lurky, in Severus's kitchen. Having his ears entwined with Lurky's.

There goes another elf, she thought dismayed.

But, that wasn't the strangest thing. He was, sitting next to Lurky (their ears entwined) feeding the child with some kind of...mush. Yes, so she didn't know much about children and this was just...mush. The girl grinned from ear to ear, some of the...mush trickling from her mouth and upon seeing her, the child opened her mouth even wider. "Mogall," she said proudly and Minerva's eyes widened for a second before she could take a hold of herself again.

"Minerva McGonagall," she enunciated.

"Mogall," the girl repeated again and Erwin the elf used the opportunity to put some more...mush into her mouth.

"Mistress Headmistress, ma'am," Lurky jumped up (and it looked quite painful on the other elf's ear). "Lurky are so sorry, Mistress Headmistress, ma'am."

She waved it away, still shocked about her new name (even if it was better than Snep – even though it sounded a bit like Muggle to her ears...) and took a deep breath. "It's quite alright, Lurky. I will speak about this with Severus Snape."

"Thank you, Mistress Headmistress, ma'am," both of the elves said gratefully and in unison and she waved it off again. What was one less elf? Especially considering that Severus had to deal with elvish birth control and the myriad of elflings that would surely follow. Somehow, they always circumvented birth control. At least she wouldn't have to deal with that on top of everything else.

The girl suddenly, quite unexpectedly, reached out her little chubby arms, squealed that idiotic new name 'Mogall' and Erwin in what must have been a fit of superior elf stupidity, handed her the child. She was terrified and petrified. What did she know about children? Holding them? Absolutely nothing. Nothing.

And the girl snuggled up to her! Pushed her mush-invested face against Minerva's neck. Wrapped her little arms around her neck as well.

"Mogall," she whispered and...

She understood Severus.

She had had the chance to hold plenty of children before. Nieces, nephews, their children and she had always declined. But now, with that little girl who had even wrapped her tiny, chubby legs around her, she didn't know why she had always declined. It was a marvellous feeling.

"Mogall," the girl said a moment later, looking at her with her mush-face and her little eyebrows drawn together. "Snep. Mummy. Kiss."

"What?" Minerva asked, and it came out louder than she had expected.

"Snep. Mummy. Kiss. Mogall," the girl explained again.

"Erwin? Lurky?" she asked, shooting the elves a glare.

"You see, Mistress Headmistress Minerva, ma'am..." Erwin began.

"Master Severus and Miss Lightfoot ma'am have entwined their ears," Lurky finished, smiling proudly.

"Excuse me?" she asked again.

xx

"Was that Em...oh fuck it, Burgundy? We need to speak about the name," she said, sighing.

"She looks like an Emma," he replied with a shrug, his bare, strong shoulders...very beautiful. So beautiful she wanted to touch them again. And again. And again.

"We will talk about it," she said, her mouth getting dry. "But not now."

The way he stood there...it was everything she ever dreamed a man should look like the morning after. Proud, erect, strong. And, maybe for the first time, she knew he was sure of himself. It was the second time she launched herself at him. Rocketed into his body but was held up by his arms. Gentle arms, strong arms. She pressed herself against him, just as he pressed himself against her, her breasts, even cupped in the bra, feeling wonderful against his bare chest. She couldn't get enough, it seemed. And even if it had only been one night, so far, she wouldn't mind repeating it. Over and over again. And then repeating it over and over again.

And he kissed the top of her head.

Unceremoniously. Just kissed the top of her head and held her tight.

"Mogall!" she heard all of a sudden coming from downstairs and she frowned.

"Now we know that she's up," Severus remarked drily.

"And it's not a word that she would normally use," remarked Christine, still frowning but still feeling too good in Severus's arms to let go immediately.

"Oh Merlin's hairy balls," he said with a gasp.

"What?"

"Mogall," he said. "McGonagall."

"Oh fuck me," she gasped. "But it's not like..."

"Snep. Mummy. Kiss," she heard and banged her head against his wonderfully male chest.

"Fuck it," she sighed. "Well, I guess now the cat's out of the bag..."

He nodded and looked into her eyes before he slowly kissed her. "She said," he said between nibbles on her lip.

Christine laughed and thumped him on the back. "So it's okay?"

He looked quite intently at her before he answered.

xx

"So it's okay?" asked Christine, her eyes more expressive than any Legilimency could be. She was hoping he'd say yes. She was counting on him saying yes. She wanted him to say yes.

His eyes softened and he smiled. "Yes," he nodded.

"So we put in an appearance?"

"Of course we do. Otherwise I'd miss the opportunity to see Minerva utterly dumbstruck," he smirked and she smirked back at him. She was so very beautiful. And looking quite mischievous smirking like that. He loved it. Every minute of it.

He had never felt this sort of contentment.

He pulled a shirt over his head, handed her one of his and transfigured a pillow into a long skirt for her and grasped her hand in his. It felt so soft, so small, so lovely.

"You won't change my entire wardrobe, will you?" she smirked.

"Only the short skirts and the deeply cut shirt-things," he said earnestly and she laughed.

"I won't let you," she said argumentatively. "I will just save up to get new short skirts."

"I'm faster in transfiguring than you'll be in buying them," he argued, a smirk playing on both their faces. He would make her stop swearing when Emma was around and he would make her stop wearing those vulgar clothes. Instead, he pulled her towards the door and then down the stairs.

Together, hand in hand, they walked into the kitchen, and Severus was slightly startled at seeing Emma so cosy on Minerva's arm but the quick bout of...jealousy was fast pushed away when he saw her truly dumbstruck face.

"So that's the way of it?" she asked after a moment of staring at their entwined hands.

"That's the way of it," he replied.

"So you won't come back to Hogwarts to teach?" she asked voicelessly.

He met her eye and shrugged one shoulder. "We haven't decided."

"We still have a lot of things to talk about," said Christine.

Severus smiled.

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Fin