A/N: There is a scene of implied attempted sexual assault, so be warned. The song is by John Williams. Enjoy. :D

Finale

It was late evening when she awoke from her nap. She watched her husband dress silently in the dark, wondering where in Circe's great name he was going the night after Christmas. As time passed, he had become even more secretive, spending nearly every spare moment up in the Headmaster's office and closing himself off from everyone. Quite frankly, it scared her.

"Severus?" she softly said, gaining his attention instantly.

"Return to your sleep. Everything is fine," he whispered.

"You'll have to forgive me for not believing you." She caught his frown instantly when he glanced at her, buttoning up the last part of his robes. "Can't you just spend the night with me tonight? Must you go off to that wretched office yet again?"

"Aurora, you must trust me. Everything is fine."

"Then why are you leaving?"

"I need to attend to something."

"Like what?" she asked, crossing her arms in response.

"Aurora," he growled quietly, his patience wearing thin.

"What is so damn important that you have to leave at nine o'clock? And don't you dare tell me that you have paperwork to fill out or a meeting with the board. We both know that isn't true."

"Remain here, Aurora. Do not make me stick you to that bed."

"Have you forgotten that I'm—?" If she hadn't been so irritated with his behavior, she might have laughed at his growl of annoyance.

"Dammit, woman," he snapped, clearly exasperated with her. "I have not forgotten anything, but you are to stay here. If I have to, I'll lock you in here."

"I'd like to see you try," she shot back. When he quickly strode across the room, slamming the door behind him, her mouth dropped. There was no way he had . . . She stood up, walking towards the door before trying to open it. It was firmly locked. "YOU SON OF A BITCH!" she yelled, beating her fists against the door out of pure frustration. They were a team dammit! They were not supposed to be separated ever. She wouldn't be one of those wives. She couldn't be one of those wives. "Open this damn door now, Severus." She heard nothing in response, though.

She then drew in a deep breath, holding it and counting to thirty. She had to calm herself, zero stress and all that crap. Once she was calm again, she clenched her jaw. Magic was clearly out of the question because of her pregnancy. So, that only left two options: following Severus's orders and staying, or having Peeves unlock the door for her. Peeves it was.

"PEEVES!" she yelled, tossing her robes on over her nightgown a moment later.

"Yes, Miss Astronomy Mistress?" the little poltergeist said, appearing out of thin air.

"If you unlock my bedroom door, I'll allow you to terrorize the Carrows as much as you want." She smiled wildly when the door unlocked. Perhaps she shouldn't have promised that. The Carrows likely would take it out on the students. She shook her head at that thought, quickly dispelling it from her mind. She'd find a way to protect the students once she was with Severus again. Right then, though, her main mission was to storm up to the Headmaster's office and ask her husband what the hell was going on. He knew—knew—that she hated it when they were apart, his spending long nights up in that damned office not telling her a thing. They were a team for Circe's sake. "Thank you," she stated to Peeves before throwing the door open and storming towards the Headmaster's office.

Nearly five minutes later, she found herself in front of the stone guardian. She merely raised her eyebrow at it, causing the statue to flinch. She would resort to any means necessary to reach her husband, and the guardian knew that. She spoke the password, laughing harshly when it refused her.

"Severus has locked himself in there again?" she asked, knowing the statue wouldn't respond. "How unpleasant for you," she merely stated, glancing towards a passing by seventh-year. He'd have to do. "Mr. Longbottom," she said, forcing a polite smile to her face. She knew that she had to look half-crazed, but dammit she was not going to let her husband go all lone wolf on her. She wouldn't—couldn't—lose him.

"Professor?" he quietly replied, stopping in mid-step next to Ginny Weasley.

"You learned Blasting Curses, correct?" Her smile widened when he nodded slowly. "Destroy that damn statue, if you please. And no, Mr. Longbottom, I'm not joking." She watched him raise his wand, clearly confused by her behavior. When the statue suddenly slid to the side, she waved off Neville's help. "Five hundred points to Gryffindor for assisting me," she stated, ignoring the Gryffindors' shock. "Now, run along, Mr. Longbottom and Miss Weasley, before either of you are caught by the Carrows." She didn't have to tell them twice. She then quickly ascended up the stairs, knowing full well the risks of her actions. Her palm connected with the door then, opening it widely.

" . . . Forest of Dean," a portrait who sounded a bit like Phineas Nigellus spoke quietly.

"Portraits?" she snarled, gaining her husband's attention instantly. "You've been running up here to talk to the portraits?" She then scoffed, noticing his traveling cloak wrapped firmly around his neck. "What are you doing, Severus? Answer me."

"How did you gain access to this office?" he demanded, however, ignoring her questions.

"It's funny what a threat will do to that damn statue. Now, answer me. What are you doing?" When he didn't respond, she shook her head angrily. "I've stood beside you for years. I've trusted you for even longer, Severus. Answer me. What are you doing?" Her stomach knotted painfully as she stared at him.

"Then continue to place your trust in me and return to our rooms."

"You locked me in there," she growled, the hurt unfortunately seeping into her words.

"Yes, and I clearly underestimated your determination to find me," he replied coolly. "However, I am asking you to trust me once more, Aurora. Please do so."

"No." She watched him flex his wand hand, obviously attempting to control his anger. "I'm not going to be on the sidelines, Severus." She noticed his jaw clenching tightly, but she continued. "I'm not going to be one of those wives who later learned that her husband was killed while she was off thinking that he was home. Wherever you are going, I'm coming with. You know that."

"Absolutely not," he snarled, his face morphing into a horrible sneer.

"Then you're not going anywhere."

"I don't have time for this, Aurora," he growled, glaring at her. He appeared to be quite pressed for time by the way he frequently glanced at a clock and tapped his foot impatiently.

"Take me with you then."

"FINE," he shouted, snatching hold of her arm and Apparating them into a dense forest. He grabbed hold of her the moment they reappeared, keeping her upright. "Do not say a word," he ordered, barely above a whisper. He then turned around, pulling her through the snow with him.

She frowned, but followed. She glanced around as they walked. She hadn't been in these woods before. At least she didn't remember being in them if she had. She then stopped a moment later when her husband did. Her lips pursed as he then reached into his black flowing robes and pulled out a familiar sword, one that she had believed was nearly stolen by Mister Longbottom and Miss Weasley. Without a word, she watched him send the sword underneath the ice magically before he cast his Patronus. Her eyes closed at the sight of the ethereal doe in front of them. Her heart panged slightly in response. Lily, it'd always be her, always Lily. When he snatched her wrist a moment later, her eyes flew open, flashing angrily at him. How dare he—

"Dam—" His pale blue lips instantly covered hers, pressing her against the tree they were hiding behind. She attempted to push him back, all the good that did. He remained ramrod, glaring at her as they appeared to be waiting for something.

Behind her, she then heard snow crunching under someone's feet. She brought her fists up, lightly hitting him in the chest so he'd release her from the lip lock. A moment later, she heard a splash, causing her to glance up at him. Someone was retrieving the sword. He had led someone straight to it. What in the hell was going on? Was it a Death Eater or someone from the Order? Oh, how she prayed that it was an Order member. She then heard someone pounding against the ice. Whoever the person was, he or she seemed to be drowning. She pushed against her husband, thinking the worst for a split second and thinking that her husband had led whoever it was to his or her death. She then heard another splash followed by someone gasping a few moments later. Who was it? Severus gave no hint as he watched her, his black eyes boring holes as he held her against the large tree.

"Hermione . . .?" a voice spoke behind her.

Aurora gasped, muffled by Severus still covering her mouth. That was Harry's voice. He had led Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor. She wasn't wrong. Was she? Oh, Circe, she was so confused now.

"Are you mental?" Ron Weasley's voice echoed around a moment later.

For a brief second, she thought he was asking her that. Until Harry answered that is, stating that a doe had led him to the sword. She stared into her husband's eyes, a smile softly forming against his lips. She wasn't wrong. Oh, she was such an idiot. Of course, he was helping. He was helping them, helping Lily's son. Her mood drastically shifted again as she stared at her husband. Throwing every rational thought out the door yet again, she wrapped her arms around him, deepening their kiss and causing him to step backwards to counter the extra weight. She then felt them Disapparate a moment later, appearing in their rooms once more.

"You're—"

"Doing nothing of the sort," he interjected calmly. He seemed almost, well, unsettled by her thoughts.

"I saw—"

"Nothing, Aurora, you saw nothing," he merely stated, stepping out of her embrace.

"Oh, oh, I understand, Severus." She nodded so he would know. Her smile widened as she stared at him. How could she have—Circe, she was a dunderhead sometimes. This was the man she loved, would always love. How could she ever think the worst of him? She was such an idiot. Things were starting to make sense—not Dumbledore's death, but other things were. "I won't tell a soul, Severus."

"You're right. You won't." In a quick flash, he raised his wand, pressing it against her temple and removing the memory from her without her even having the chance to fight it off. A moment later, she stared at him, clearly dazed by the removal. "I'll return it to you after this is over. For now, rest," he spoke quietly, gently moving Aurora towards their bed. Once she was lying in it, he pulled the covers up, kissing her forehead tenderly. "Sleep well, Aurora," he softly whispered. He placed her memory in a vial that he quickly pocketed in his robes before he whirled around and left.

~DE~

Sitting at her desk while finishing up paperwork, she gently massaged the knots in her shoulders. Severus was back to his secretive ways, but for some reason she didn't want to find out what he was doing anymore. It wasn't that she didn't care because she really did. She just felt that everything was fine and that she didn't need to worry about him. Though, she didn't know why for the life of her. Everything was not fine with the Carrows residing under the same roof as them, however.

More than a few times, she had run across them 'disciplining' a student. She swore that if she saw Amycus or Alecto practicing their Dark Arts on the students again, she was going to find some way to murder them both. At that thought, she winced, rubbing her swollen abdomen, as the baby kicked her hard. She had two more months before she could hex the Death Eaters to hell and back safely without any harm coming to her or the baby.

When the door to her office opened, she glanced at it, smiling softly when Minerva walked in. Her mentor had been visiting her quite frequently the past months. They usually chatted quietly amongst each other, sometimes about the baby while other times about the Carrows.

"I don't suppose there's a way that I can talk you into finishing the rest of this for me, is there?"

"It's the one part of the job I don't miss," Minerva replied, smiling. "How's the baby today?"

"A bit anxious, I'd say," Aurora answered, laughing softly. "Either that, or she's attempting to punish me for some reason or another." She dipped her quill into the inkpot, signing her name to yet another form. "How are our students?"

"Steering clear of the Carrows fortunately," the older witch said.

"You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the days when we just had to contend with Umbitch. At least with her, you could always threaten to destroy her cat plates. The Carrows, well, I'm sure you know what I mean."

"Unforgivables handed out like toffee," Minerva stated, shaking her head. "It seems that I made the wrong decision last year when I thought it'd be good to keep Hogwarts open."

"If you hadn't reopened it, then there'd likely be hundreds of more deaths. In a way, a fairly disturbing way mind you, reopening Hogwarts is the best way in keeping the students safe."

"I wish I shared your optimism, Aurora." Minerva then sighed, frowning. "You never did tell me the reason behind you taking the Prince name this year."

"Believe me, Minerva. I wanted to take Severus's surname, but he was absolutely against it. He is so convinced that by my sharing his name, it will dirty me somehow." Aurora shook her head softly. "I wish I could dissuade that notion somehow, but he immediately changes the subject whenever we attempt to speak about it. So, I decided to take the Prince surname instead, just so we'd be tied together."

"I see." Her mentor nodded slowly, sighing a moment later. Her eyes softened and held a somber look now. "Forgive me for asking this, but has he told you yet why he killed Albus?" Her eyes stared at the younger witch. "What his reason was?" She then closed her eyes, inhaling slowly to keep her emotions under control. "I'll admit, Aurora, that you're right. Severus had to have a reason. I'm just hoping that it isn't to serve You-Know-Who."

"He's not His, Minerva. I swear on my Oath that he isn't. I can't tell you exactly how I know because I'm not really sure how I know it. But I know in my heart that Severus doesn't belong to Him."

"I agree," the older witch said, nodding slowly. "I've been watching him these past months, and he seems to be almost protecting the students from the Carrows' abuse. In fact, he's frequently overrode their detentions, sending the students to Rubeus instead when he could." She then shook her head again. "But I can't stop thinking about Albus. He always said that his mistakes were always the most costly ones. In fact, I remember frequent arguments with him over Severus's treatment of Harry. Albus always defended Severus, though, stating to the very end that Severus was not the dark man we all thought he was."

"So trust Albus instead of me then, Minerva," Aurora stated. "Circe knows that you've known him longer."

"Yes, but I know you, Aurora. I know that you'd never marry, let along carry the child of, a true Death Eater." Her face was somber and sullen. "I keep remembering that day when Hagrid brought you to Poppy. I remember our talks and hearing the hatred in your voice towards Death Eaters. I just hope for your sake, Aurora, that he isn't loyal to You-Know-Who."

"He's not, Minerva. I know him."

"You love him, though," she reminded softly. "Love makes us blind at times."

"Yes, but like you said, I wouldn't willingly give myself to a man that was a true Death Eater, not after what they did to me." She sighed, frowning. "He made a mistake when he was sixteen, a mistake that I can forgive him for, Minerva. I know him. I know his heart. I know how long he's been attempting to atone for that mistake, nearly sacrificing himself numerous times as a result." She then closed her eyes, hanging her head. She said nothing when she felt her mentor gently embraced her.

"Oh, how I wish someone or something interfered already and just killed that monster so we could resume our lives. We've lost so much already." She sighed quietly. "And I fear that we're going to lose so much more before it's over." Minerva then kissed Aurora's forehead, as a mother would do to her child, before calmly walking out.

~DE~

Waddling through the halls, Aurora headed towards the dungeons. She knew that a woman in her condition being nine months pregnant likely should have used the Floo, but she felt like a walk to clear her head after reading yet another medical report from Poppy that detailed how a student had been submitted to yet another Unforgivable. It was May for Circe's sake. This had to stop.

Oh how she wished she could do something about the Carrows. But she knew she couldn't. She might have been the deputy headmistress, but Voldemort was still ultimately in charge of everything at Hogwarts. Absentmindedly, she rubbed her abdomen, hoping that it'd be over soon.

She then stopped in mid-step, noticing a sixth-year Ravenclaw in front of her. Her eyes narrowed on the young woman, observing how the young Ravenclaw was walking around completely lost. Inhaling slowly, she walked towards the sixth-year, assuming that the poor girl had been Imperiused. It wouldn't be the first time Aurora had ran across an Imperiused student.

"Miss Berry, are you all right?" Aurora softly asked, noticing the young woman's flinch as she approached. Her eyes then narrowed when the sixteen-year-old wrapped her arms around protectively. A sickening feeling quickly contracted her stomach, recognizing certain signs. "Miss Berry, are you all right?" she repeated, speaking a bit softer.

"Pr-professor?" the young witch replied, her voice trembling.

Standing directly in front of the dazed Ravenclaw, Aurora could see that her fears were not quite correct. While the young woman's robes were torn in numerous spots, as if someone had attempted to rip them off her, the Ravenclaw appeared to have fought off her attacker.

"Let's get you upstairs, all right?" Aurora softly said, smiling faintly at the young woman. Quietly, the two walked towards the moving staircases, Aurora remaining right beside her. They had just reached the stairs when a terrible shudder racked the young Ravenclaw's slender frame. Aurora glanced up, feeling her blood boil instantly in response at the man staring at them. "Miss Brown," she loudly yelled, causing a seventh-year to stop on the landing in front of them and glance at her. "Please take Miss Berry to the hospital wing." When Lavender went to place a sympathetic arm around the Ravenclaw, Aurora gently grabbed the Gryffindor's arm. "Make sure that you do not touch her, Miss Brown." The seventh-year nodded slowly, clearly confused, but trusting. "Go on." She waited until they disappeared into a corridor before whirling towards Amycus Carrow, the man she so desperately wished to kill.

"Shame to see such a pretty girl cry," Amycus drawled, his lips slightly curling upwards.

"You son of a bitch," she snarled, drawing her wand.

"Now, now, dear, we can't have you getting all worked up," he replied, chuckling darkly. "So put away your wand. You can't use it after all. We both know that."

"You did that to her, didn't you?"

"My, my, that sounds like an accusation." He then leaned in, his smirk widening. "What if I did? What are you going to do about it? Tell your husband?" he mocked, chuckling when she didn't respond. "You, my dear, are his filthy little pureblood whore. I wouldn't be at all surprise if the only reason Snape was with you was because he thought shagging you would make him pure." His chuckle darkened sinisterly. "He can shag you all he wants, but he won't ever be pure like us, will he, Aurora? After all, you've been shagged by—how many of us was it again?" He laughed openly when she smacked him across the face a moment later. "Now, now, dear, there's no need for that," he drawled. "Don't want to hurt you after all and face your dear Snape's wrath, you know?" His hands then seized her upper arms, pulling her closer to him. "You know, I never had a pregnant woman before. I suppose it could be—"

"Leave her alone," growled someone near them suddenly.

"Now, Mr. Malfoy, I suggest you be a good little boy and run off with your tail between your legs like the rest of your family. This doesn't concern you," Amycus said casually.

"I said leave her alone," the seventh-year repeated, his voice lowering dangerously.

"Or what, Malfoy?" the Defense professor asked, glancing at him. "You lost your wand to Potter, and we both know that your wandless magic is even more pathetic than you are." When Draco sent a spell towards Carrow a moment later, it was waved off effortlessly. "See, Malfoy?" Carrow drawled, loosening his grip on Aurora just a bit. "You and your family are truly pathetic." He then laughed loudly. "Though, I will say this. Your mother is rather good in bed."

Aurora's fist instantly slammed against the side of Carrow's face, causing him to step back slightly by the force of the blow. When his eyes flashed dangerously, she took another swing at him, hitting him this time in the throat and forcing him to take a fatal step backwards. She barely reacted when the man fell off the edge, a grunt seemingly underneath her echoing up a moment later. She calmly walked towards the fingers desperately clinging to the edge of the landing then. Reacting on pure adrenaline, she slammed her boot onto the fingers, hearing the resulting yell from Carrow. She then slammed her other boot onto his other hand, sliding her foot forward and feeling his fingers slide backwards. A loud thump a moment later made her sigh, turning around and walking back towards Draco. She could see the pain in his grey eyes at Carrow's earlier words.

"Are you all right, Mr. Malfoy?" she asked casually, brushing off the fact that she had just killed a man in cold blood. Then again, no true Death Eater was a man or woman for that matter. They were monsters in her mind. Only the true Death Eaters enjoyed causing pain and intense suffering through their horrific actions, not the poor souls who never had a chance. She watched the seventh-year nod then, clearly forcing himself to do it.

"You shouldn't have done that," he quietly said.

"You're likely right, Mr. Malfoy," she replied. She knew it was wrong to be gleeful about killing Carrow, but it was the first good news she had in awhile. "Because now, I'm unsure how we're going to get the stain out." She then gently rested a hand on his shoulder, noticing his instant flinch. "Would you accompany me to the Great Hall?" The young man didn't say a word, merely walking beside her. She smiled softly at him after they entered the room, inclining her head before waddling towards the High Table. Her smile became almost predatory when she saw Alecto sitting at the table. Well, this would certainly be interesting.

Her husband's eyes instantly darted to her before he rose to his feet. He glanced briefly at Draco, frowning. He clearly had questions for her, likely in response to the wolfish smile on her face.

She gently brushed against a Gryffindor who had rose the second Severus had. She paused momentarily when she glanced at the student, only to continue moving forward. She had bigger things to worry about than him. However, it had added yet another piece to the puzzle for her.

"Forgive me for interrupting, Severus," she announced, "but I need to speak with you privately."

"Concerning what exactly?" he asked slowly, his black eyes holding hers.

"Our Defense professor," she replied, crossing her arms still smiling.

"Speak," he said, attempting to use his Legilimency to discover the reason for her giddiness.

"As you wish," she drawled, laughing softly. "Our Defense professor had an unfortunate accident just now with the moving staircases. We'll need someone to cover his classes for the remainder of the year." She nearly laughed again when confusion crossed his face.

"Is he . . . well?"

"He's dead," she answered emotionlessly.

"What?" Alecto shrieked beside Aurora's husband.

"As I said, it was an unfortunate accident."

"Like hell it was," the Carrow sister screamed, drawing her wand while attempting to snarl a particularly nasty curse. The next moment, Alecto found herself flown back against the large glass window behind the High Table, shattering the window instantly.

"Lovely, that's two stains we need to clean now, Severus." She said nothing when she caught her husband's bewilderment. She knew that she sounded heartless and no better than Bellatrix Lestrange at that moment, clearly not at all herself. And she was very aware that the deaths—no matter if the two were the devil incarnates—would affect her at some point, but for now, she'd use her dark, albeit very uncalled for, humor. Aurora then glanced from her husband to Minerva who also held her wand firmly in hand, still pointing it where Alecto had been standing. "I suppose I have to be the one to speak to the damn house elves now and explain to them how we'd appreciate if they cleaned it up, yes? Oh, as if I didn't have enough paperwork to fill out already," she drawled.

She watched her husband's eyes narrow even more on her, feeling uneasy under his gaze. She needed to distract him. And she knew the perfect way to do so.

"Now, could you perhaps tell them, Severus?" she asked, as if she knew everything.

"Tell them what exactly?" her husband replied slowly.

"The truth, how you're on our side, etc," she answered, rolling her eyes. "I mean, we have just killed two Death Eaters. I doubt He'd be too happy about that."

"What makes you believe I am on 'our' side?" he asked, ignoring the staff slowly raising their wands and pointing them at him.

"Because if you weren't on our side, you'd have killed Harry the moment you saw him sitting at the Gryffindor table." She then scoffed when he opened his mouth. "Don't even try to say that you didn't see him. If I saw him, then you most definitely saw him, Severus."

"What do you suggest I do then since you know everything?"

"Well, I'd likely explain to Harry why you killed Albus, preferably before his wand slips and a curse hits you."

"And what explanation do you believe I should give him?"

"I haven't figured that one out yet. You see, I'm pretty certain you've Obliviated me a few times. So, my memory is a bit fuzzy." She watched him wince. So, he had been Obliviating her. One more she could now add to the puzzle.

His eyes then darted over to the Gryffindor table, likely onto the green-eyed seventeen-year-old who pointed a wand at him. He sighed a moment later, shaking his head. His black eyes slowly moved back to his wife as he frowned.

"I do not need to explain myself to anyone," he quietly said.

"Severus, you and Minerva killed Alecto. Your Dark Mark likely transmitted your 'I'm going to kill that bitch' to Lord Arsewipe. It's a pretty sure bet that he knows that you aren't loyal to Him now. So, who are you protecting by not telling us the truth?" She frowned when she saw his Slytherin mind attempting to work out an exit strategy for this one. "You killed Alecto because she was going to hurt me. You beat the hell out of Karkoff because he made a comment to me at the Yule Ball. Every single action you do has a reason. What was your reason for killing Albus? And don't you dare feed us that bullshit that Lord Arsewipe wanted you to because he didn't." She had discovered that particular piece while updating student records.

"Lord Arsewipe?" he responded, staring at her oddly, as if he wanted to laugh.

"Yes, well, his name is taboo, Severus, as you know. Arsewipe works better than the majority of other names I'd love to call him. Now, answer me. Why did you kill Albus?" She growled when he pressed his lips tighter. "Severus, considering how Draco was caught sneaking up to the seventh floor several times by the staff last year, it would seem he was the one who was supposed to kill Albus. Now, I'm well aware that he is your godson, and you'd do anything to protect him from making your mistake. But that can't be your only reason." She drew in a breath, knowing that she was going to send him close to the edge. "You told me that he begged before you killed him." She caught his jaw clench in response. "He begged for his life, and you—"

"No," her husband responded coldly. "Not for his life."

She stared at him, hearing the gasps around her. Albus had wanted to die? Why? There were so many questions that she wanted to ask now, but she couldn't get the words out. Of all the reasons she had thought of, that was not the one she was expecting.

"He wanted you to-to kill him?" She closed her eyes, her chest tightening in horror. The puzzle was now complete, and it was not the picture she had hoped it to be. "Of all the stupid, fucking things he asked of you over the years," she snarled, opening her eyes. She whirled around a moment later, heading towards the closed doors.

"Where are you going?" demanded Severus, clearly shocked by her behavior.

"To slash a goddamn portrait," she snapped over her shoulder. She knew she was overreacting because of the hormones, but she needed to vent her anger on someone and unfortunately both Carrows were dead.

"Stop!" shouted Severus. "Aurora, it was my choice."

"Don't make excuses for him," she growled, turning back towards her husband who had, it seemed, jumped over the High Table to reach her. "You never had a choice when it came to him. He had that brilliant card he knew he always, always, could use on you."

"Be as it may—"

"He knew the minute he brought her up that you'd do anything. He was no better than V—" His lips pressed firmly against hers, cutting off her words. She, however, pushed against him, glaring daggers at him. "Dammit, Severus, stop kissing me!"

"Then listen to me. I chose to do it. He didn't force me. I chose."

"Because of—"

"Dammit, Aurora! It was not because of Lily! I swear on my Oath it wasn't."

"He used that damn card on you so many times before. So, don't say he didn't."

"It wouldn't have worked if he had used it that time, Aurora."

"Oh? And why is that, Severus?" she snapped back, glaring at him.

"Because I love you, not her!" he shouted back, his eyes flashing dangerously. "Merlin, she made her choice, and it wasn't me, Aurora. So I made mine and moved on." He then grabbed her hands. "I love you, Aurora, not Lily. That's why it wouldn't have worked."

"Um . . . wait . . . did you just say . . .?" a voice to their left interrupted.

"Shut up, Potter," they both snapped, staring at each other.

"So, you killed Albus because . . .?"

"He would have died at the end of the year anyway," Severus quietly admitted. "I couldn't stop the curse from spreading, so he asked so that Draco would not end up like me. I saved them both from terrible suffering, Aurora. I saved them."

~DE~

Around midnight, they felt the first volley hit the shields around the castle. Aurora glanced towards Severus, watching him inhale slowly. He seemed uneasy, but then again, they all knew Lord Overcompensating-for-something was on his way there. She shuddered at the image of Severus still being beside that monster, still playing the dangerous double agent. Her mind filled with all sorts of horror scenes, each ending with him lying in a pool of blood.

"You should go, Aurora." It was his mantra for the last two hours.

"And leave you to play hero all by yourself? I think not," she replied, inhaling slowly.

"I don't want you getting hurt."

"And I don't want to find out later that I'm a war widow. So, I'm staying."

The castle shook as another stream of spells hit the shields. The two stared straight ahead with the rest of the staff on either side of them, wands pointed towards the doors. A loud boom rattled the windows, shaking a few of the goblets off the table. The majority of the students had been sent to Hogsmeade to wait out the battle. All but four of the older students, however, left, the remaining ones standing with their wands drawn as they stood side by side with their professors and other adults.

"You can't use your magic, Aurora, so how are you going to fight?"

"Leave that to me."

"That's what I'm afraid of doing," he replied, sighing.

"We're all going to die," a student mumbled behind them. A few of the staff glanced at the Hufflepuff before the young man glanced down. "Sorry," he whispered.

"You know, I've been thinking of something, Severus," Aurora said, glancing back from the Hufflepuff student.

"What?"

"Well, I think I know why there hasn't been a Slytherin as headmaster for a long while." She smiled when he glanced at her. "We tend to destroy things, it seems."

"Yes, well, I'm tendering my resignation as soon as this is over."

"Yes, but is there going to be a castle left?" she deadpanned, a soft smile on her face.

"Aurora," he quietly warned.

"Yes, yes, I know. There will always be the dungeons, the cold creepy dungeons." A few students snickered behind them, along with some of the staff.

"Must you continue to act like an idiot?"

"Well, I suppose we can go back to listening to the castle crumbling around us." She then inhaled. At the feel of the castle shifting slightly, she frowned. "I swear, if those bastards destroy my tower, I'm fucking slaughtering them."

Her husband glanced at her, scoffing and shaking his head. "Always so territorial," he mumbled.

"I'm not joking, Severus. If they destroy my tower, I'm killing every last one of them. If they think Bellatrix Lestrange is crazy, then they have not seen anything yet. It's bad enough that I've had to contend with students snogging and being deflowered up there all these years, but I draw the line at it being destroyed."

"Aurora, please," he said, biting the inside of his cheek.

"Fine," she said, sighing. She then glanced towards Draco, smiling at the blond. He seemed just as unsettled as Severus was. Then again, they both were traitors in the Dark Lord's eyes. She then turned back, stumbling a moment later as the castle lurched forward under the stress of the last round of spells. Severus grabbed a hold of her, though, keeping her upright and frowning.

"What's wrong?" he asked, catching her grimace.

"Nothing, nothing, the baby just kicked." At least she hoped that was just the baby kicking.

A deep rumbling then filtered in through the doors, followed by sounds of the castle breaking apart outside. She drew in a deep breath, groaning a second later and rubbing her belly. She waved off her husband's look.

"I'm fine. She's just probably feeling my anxiousness and responding to it." She could tell that Severus was not convinced. Then again, she wasn't either.

"You'd inform me if you were in labor, correct?" he asked, staring her straight in the eye.

"Of coURSE!" she screamed out the last letters, clutching her abdomen.

"Minerva, take her now!" he snapped, holding her upright with his back to the door.

"NO! I'm—dammit, baby, not now—leaving you."

"This not up for deba—" He ducked when a spell suddenly shot his way. "You're not supposed to use your magic! What part of that did you not understand?" When another spell zoomed past him, this time from behind him, he glanced up at her. "You—TAKE HER!" he snarled, whirling around with his wand drawn. He shot curses off expertly, his heart beating wildly as he cursed himself to hell and back for not hearing the doors bursting open.

He needed to think to concentrate, which was rather hard when somebody was screaming at the top of her lungs behind him. He sent two more of his former comrades flying backwards, resulting in a few more to fall down. To his left was Remus Lupin, and to his right was Kingsley Shacklebolt. He could feel Filius and Horace's magic as it whizzed past him.

"Trai—" the witch's words were cut off by a Blasting Curse that sent Bellatrix slamming against the wall and into a pointy flag pole.

Severus glanced towards Tonks and Molly, inclining his head respectfully towards them. He hadn't seen them earlier. He then felt someone grab him, yanking him aside as a spell zoomed past him. He yelled out, feeling a curse slash from the corner of his lips to his neck.

"Can't be having you get your throat slashed," said George Weasley, smiling faintly as his brother Fred sent the closest attackers far from them. "Otherwise, Professor Sinistra will murder all of us." He then sent another series of spells towards the approaching Death Eaters, Severus soon joining him cursing and hexing beside the young man he had accidently cursed during the summer.

Noticing several dark robed wizards converging near Fred's position, Severus pointed his wand at the ceiling, sending the stone crashing onto Death Eaters. He didn't have time to see if the young man was pulled back in time, but he guessed since Molly Weasley hadn't killed him yet he was fine. He then caught the Dark Lord's robes in the sea of black. The dark wizard appeared to be waiting for something. When the massive snake suddenly flew up into the air, Severus sent his specialized curse at it, ducking when a familiar green jet of light headed his way.

"Severus!" yelled the Dark Lord. "Who was always there for you? Who gave you the right to punish your Muggle father? I did!"

"And who killed you?" a voice suddenly shouted.

Severus's head snapped towards the door instantly. He had to have heard that wrong. Well, on second thought, maybe he didn't. He stared at the bloody sight of the Sword of Gryffindor protruding out of the Dark Lord's chest. Though, he wasn't the only one. Almost all of the Order and Death Eaters were staring at the Dark Lord. What in Merlin's name?

"I did," Harry Potter stated, withdrawing the sword and pushing the dark wizard onto the floor.

"But, no, he, you, how?" cried a few of the Death Eaters. "You died!" They never received their answers as the Order quickly stunned them.

"Thanks, Snape," Harry quietly said, the only one left standing in the sea of Death Eaters.

"For what?" he replied, staring at Lily's son. "I didn't do anything." He was so— Confused was not the right word, but he was that. What had he done? He hadn't even known Harry was still in the Great Hall. In fact, last he had seen of the young man, Harry was headed with his girlfriend to Hogsmeade.

"I think there are a few Death Eaters who would refute that, if they could," the young man responded, smiling softly as he motioned at the slashed dead bodies. He then was enveloped in a series of embraces from the Weasleys among others.

Severus quietly walked away. This wasn't the way it was supposed to end, was it? He then felt Tonks grab his hand, which made him glance at her. He thought about yanking his hand back, but he didn't for some reason. For some reason, it felt as if it was all a dream. It couldn't have been that easy, could it? It couldn't have ended with Harry just driving the damn sword into the Dark Lord. Hell, if that's all it took, Severus could have done that long ago and saved them all the pain. He barely even noticed that they had walked through an opened door.

"One Prince for you," Tonks teased a moment later, speaking to someone.

His eyes darted to the bubble-gum pink haired witch before following her outstretched arm to where she was pointing. His stomach contracted instantly as he stared. He didn't notice the people gathered around. When someone, likely Tonks, kissed his good cheek, he turned slightly, watching the Auror walk over to her husband, who appeared to be only dirtied and a bit bloodied.

"Ouch," a soft voice said.

He glanced back down at his wife, kneeling beside her a moment later. If he wasn't in shock before, he was clearly now. It was as if it was only them now. No one else in fact registered anymore. When her hand gently reached up to touch his uninjured cheek, his eyes darted towards hers. He could feel her so this couldn't be a dream. Could it? He then scoffed, his lips curving upwards. It was over? He was free? Finally, after so long, he was truly and undoubtedly free, was that right? He could feel something, likely happiness that he had for years called indigestion, rise up into his throat.

"Severus?" she quietly spoke, readjusting the little bundle in her arms as her eyes remained on her husband. "Are you all right?"

"My face hurts," he responded, clearly still dazed. He watched her laugh softly in response. He sounded like a complete and utter dunderhead. Why couldn't he think properly? He then noticed her tear off a piece of her robes before she pressed it against his cheek. He winced instantly, jerking back involuntarily from the sharp pain. However, he moved back and leaned into her touch a moment later. His dark eyes then lowered, glancing at the infant in his wife's arms. He stared at their beautiful baby girl in her arms.

"Severus?" she quietly spoke. When he glanced up at her again, she laughed before waving her hand at him, not casting anything. He flinched in response. "Now, why do you think I'm going to hex you?"

"Every new mother wishes that," he replied quietly, glancing back down at their daughter. She was his.

"Yes, well, I'm not going to hex you." She then paused, adding a moment later, "yet. Not until I see the state of my Astronomy Tower, since it seems I missed out on all the fun." Her smile widened, reaching her eyes, when he stared at her. "I'm teasing, Severus. I'm not going to—"

"She's beautiful," he quietly interjected. He then gently rubbed his finger against their daughter's chubby cheek. He chuckled when his little girl turned towards him in efforts to reach the expected milk.

"Do you want to hold her?" Aurora asked quietly. "It's actually rather easy." He shook his head towards her, though. "You're not going to hurt her, Severus."

"That's not why."

"Well, she's your daughter, and I'm ordering you to hold her." She barely held back her smile when he glanced at her. "Severus, hold her . . . now."

He cleared his throat a moment later, gently picking the infant up out of his wife's arms. Their daughter was beautiful. He couldn't get past that fact. She was utterly gorgeous. He then rubbed his finger against her cheek some more, smiling when she lifted her tiny arms up and gave a little yawn. He then saw her eyes, which made him nearly drop her. His eyes stared back at him. However, his daughter's eyes were a bit lighter and definitely full of life. She gurgled quietly in his arms, turning her head and grabbing his sleeve that had fallen slightly on her. When she started to suck on the black sleeve, he chuckled, wondering why he wasn't grimacing at the fact that he had an infant sucking on his robes.

"She seems to like your robes, Severus," Aurora joked, pulling back the blood-soaked cloth and folding it over before she reapplied it to his cheek.

"A trait she has in common with her mother," he replied quietly.

"Ah, how cute," drawled Septima Vector as she glanced at mum and baby. "Bet you're thanking your lucky stars that she doesn't have—"

"Septima, shut up," Aurora said, rolling her eyes. She then laughed softly, glancing back to her husband. "You did finish the nursery, right?" She nearly laughed when he glanced at her.

"And just when was I supposed to have time for that? I was after all attempting to keep the students alive while helping Harry at the same time in secret." He caught her eye roll, feeling himself smile genuinely in response.

It was over. It was truly over. This wasn't a dream. This wouldn't end with him waking up or even dying alone. He had feared that occurring since he had said those hurtful words to Lily all those years back that resulted in the dissolution of his friendship with his one and only friend at the time. He had kept his promise to Lily, though. Harry was alive and well, and from what he could see appeared to be snogging the hell out of Miss Weasley or vice versa.

He then inhaled sharply, wincing when Aurora moved her hand and aggravating his wound even more. He glanced at her and noticed her eyes sparkling.

"Shut up and kiss me, Severus" she softly said, smiling against him when he gently did. "And to think, you wanted to do this all on your own? It's too bad that you'll never be alone again."

He chuckled softly, glancing down at their daughter before looking back up at his wife. Sometimes he was such an idiot.

"It's a good thing then that you hardly take no for an answer," he replied quietly.

"Isn't it?" she responded, laughing. "Now, how about we heal your cheek?"

~DE~

A few days later, Severus slowly walked towards the castle, wincing when he saw the ruins that once were the Astronomy Tower. The house elves had informed him that it'd be at least four more months before they'd finish their repairs. Thankfully, his new daughter provided the necessary distraction.

"Welcome back, Headmaster," announced the small Charms professor, as he walked beside Pomona Sprout. "Did everything go well at the Ministry?"

"Considering that I've been allowed to return without the need of Auror escorts, I would say so," he replied, hearing his snarky remark echo back. He then inclined his head towards her before he briskly strode across the courtyard. He just wanted to go to his rooms and sit with his wife and child forever. He grimaced when he saw the golden statue of the castle's architect. Its torso had been separated from the rest of the statue. He, however, turned, walking towards the dungeons.

"Ah, good day to you, Headmaster Snape," said Salazar Slytherin the moment he stopped in front of the Founder's portrait.

"Indeed," Severus responded, walking into his rooms when the portrait swung open a moment later. He smiled softly when he saw Aurora sitting in his chair with their daughter happily suckling on her breast. Now there was a sight he could get used to seeing.

"You're not allowed to undress me with your eyes for at least five years, old man," his wife teased, glancing up at him with a soft smirk.

"I see," he drawled, removing his robes and placing them on the hook beside the door. "And how long must I wait to undress you without my eyes?"

"It depends."

"On . . .?"

"If you don't know, then why should I tell you?"

"Little minx," he quietly muttered, walking towards his family. He gently cupped his daughter's head in his hand, minding her soft spot. "Hello there, my Angel," he quietly said. He was slightly disappointed when his daughter didn't make any indication that she heard him. He had seen her react to Aurora's voice before.

"So, what'd the Ministry say?"

"Our new Minister has decided that since everything I did was to ensure Harry's success and that it was ordered by Albus that I should be celebrated rather than punished for my involvement." He then frowned. "In fact, he wishes to award me the Order of Merlin, first class."

"You don't sound too thrilled about it, Severus. It's something you've always wanted."

"I don't deserve it, though." He sighed when she shook her head. "I don't, Aurora."

"You're wrong. You do deserve it. You risked your life for us for so long, Severus. If He had ever learned that you weren't His, He'd have killed you and made an example of you." She rested a hand on him. "Severus, I know you'll take this as an insult, but your actions were heroic, brave, and at times downright stupid to me. You deserve this, though." She then kissed his lips. "And you know it, my secret Gryffindor."

"Aurora," he hissed, extremely outraged by her words. Her laughter, however, filled the room. He was not a Gryffindor.

A/N: Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. :D