Yule Present for you all. I know it's been a while but I hope you enjoy.
Severus sat in his office, his head in his hands. Ten days ago everything seemed so full of life and joy.
The drama had started when Tristan had to go home shortly after Yule for a family funeral. He wasn't happy about spending any time with his family after the events of the summer, and Severus was even less happy about it if possible. Everyday Tristan did not return worried Severus more. He knew he was probably being irrational – the boy's family would send him back on the train for the start of term no doubt. But he worried none the less. He had not informed Harry yet that Tristan had been required to leave the Castle to visit his family. Harry had thoroughly enjoyed his first "proper" Yule, and they had completed the Coming of Age Rite together the following day. He'd had no desire to ruin the boy's good mood.
Harry had drawn a circle on the floor of the living room with chalk. They had chosen the living room for the rite as it was the biggest space in their rooms. Severus had found a small brazier in a store room with Tiggy's help and set it up in the centre of the circle. Together they had marked the four points, North, East, South and West, each with their elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Dressed only in simple white robes and naked beneath, the two wizards entered the circle and closed it behind them. In silence, Harry had knelt and handed Severus the besom he had made. Severus had taken it from him and brushed Harry's hair and shoulders with it, to remove negativity. Severus had handed Harry the oil and Harry proceeded to dab Severus with it: forehead, throat, breastbone, hands and feet. Then he did the same for himself and the two of them moved to stand either side of the brazier facing each other. The ritual technically called for a candle made by Harry himself, but they had improvised with one of the large pillar candles usually used in the Great Hall. Harry had already inscribed their names on it with his freshly consecrated potions knife which was standing in for a bejewelled ritual athame, and now rubbed it with the herb oil and lit it from the brazier between them.
"Father, I have come into the Second Bloom of my magic."
Harry had blown out the candle and then relit it with a wordless, wandless Incendio. It had been a bit of a struggle for him Severus remembered, Harry was older than most children performing the Rite and his magic was too used to being channelled through a wand. Most wizards didn't bother learning wandless magic because after childhood it was very difficult, and most could only do minor things.
Severus had taken the candle from Harry's hands and set it on the floor. Holding Harry's consecrated knife, he carefully pierced the centre of Harry's palm, and then did the same to his own. He removed the signet ring from his little finger and the two Snapes clasped bloody hands holding the ring between them.
"Let it be known that my Son is a Wizard, now in his Second Bloom."
A golden glow formed around the circle, slowly filling the area within it. Once it surrounded them completely, the golden light started to focus on the ring clasped in their joined hands. The ring grew hot and with a final pulse of magic, grew larger and divided.
Severus held out his hand and nestled in his palm were now two signet rings. One gold and a smaller one in silver. The wound from the dagger was healed and there was no sign of the oil or blood. Harry took the smaller ring and they both placed them on their left little finger. They stepped away from each other and bowed.
"The Rite is complete, let any magic bound here be dispersed!" said Harry and erased a portion of the chalk circle with his foot.
They had spent the next few days working in one form or another. Harry's holiday homework was completed to a high standard, and Severus' lesson plans were finished. As he had promised, Severus had also begun teaching Harry the initial stages of self-defence and the art of wielding a blade.
On the day marked as Boxing Day by the Muggles, Tiggy went into labour. She had moved her nest about five times since Yule much to her mate's despair. Every location she chose was carefully decorated with charms and Elven runes, a bed of soft fragrant hay covered with furs lovingly made up and a selection of offerings to the newborn Elfling made. Each time she inspected it and told him she wanted it moved. None of the places she picked felt right despite Dobby's best efforts. The little Elf had lost a fair bit of weight in the panic of trying to get everything ready in time. Even Severus lost track of where Tiggy was as she spent her time preparing for the birth, choosing nest sites and then making Dobby move them.
The first thing Severus knew of Tiggy's labour was a wailing chant seemingly coming from the walls of his kitchen as he sat with a cup of coffee idly flicking through a Potion's Journal as he waited for Harry to wake. They had worked hard the day before and Severus didn't expect to see him much before ten o'clock.
As he stared around the room, the chant was picked up by a chorus of female voices until the very walls seemed to reverberate with it. The chant rose and rose, and Severus was unsurprised to see a bleary-eyed messy-haired Harry stumbling from his room, having been awoken by the noise. The wailing reached a crescendo, a high note held for what seemed like an age before it was silenced by three beats of what sounded like a huge bass drum. In the sudden silence neither Wizard immediately picked up the cries of the Elven newborn, but as their ears became more accustomed to normal noise levels, the tiny cries were clear.
"Is that…? Harry whispered looking stunned.
Severus nodded, looking equally awestruck.
With a pop and sparkle, Tiggy appeared in the kitchen, shortly followed by Dobby holding an awkward looking wriggling bundle.
Tiggy bowed to Severus formally.
"Master, as is my duty, I come to inform you of the birth of my heir," she said.
Severus nodded having expected the announcement, not realising Tiggy had not finished.
"And her brother."
Severus sagged onto a nearby chair.
"But…how…I mean, you…" for the first time possibly in his adult life, Severus was completely lost for words. "Twins?" he finished weakly.
Tiggy nodded smugly. She was rather enjoying her Master's reaction. She waved imperiously behind her for Dobby to come forward. Now that he was not hidden behind her, it was clear that the reason the bundle he held looked awkward was because it was in fact two bundles. Each contained an Elfling, a tiny version of their parents, but smaller, more wrinkled and of indeterminate sex.
Tiggy took one of the bundles from her mate and held it towards Severus.
"My heir, she will be named Salva."
She gave Salva back to Dobby and picked the other Elfling.
"This is my son, he will be named Sal."
She returned the baby to her mate, who nodded and disappeared with both babies. He would care for the Elflings for the next three days.
Harry, who didn't really understand the fuss over the fact that Tiggy had given birth to two babies, stepped forward to offer his congratulations.
Tiggy grinned at him as he offered his hand. She took his hand and turned his arm so the veins were visible in his wrist.
"Eager aren't we Master Harry?" she chuckled.
"Tiggy!" said Severus sharply, interrupting her. "I have not told him, he doesn't understand."
"Not told me what?" asked Harry indignantly.
"That my children were chosen to guard you. Both of you. Their bloodlines were carefully selected to give you both the best possible protection against what may come."
Harry gaped at her in a most unattractive way.
"Huh?" he said, unable to even formulate the question.
Tiggy laughed and set about making tea as Severus gave Harry a brief explanation of House Elf mating traditions and the significance of the union between Tiggy and Dobby. The three sat round the kitchen table with their mugs.
"Their names were chosen long before they were born Master Harry. Salva means "wise" and Sal means "saviour". My heir will guard my Master as is right and proper, and my miracle son, my heir's younger twin will guard the Saviour of the Wizarding world. Once old enough, about a week old, they will be ready to be bonded," Tiggy paused, glancing over to Severus. "It will require the full Blood Bonding Master, as Dobby's oath to Harry is unofficial."
"What does that mean?" asked Harry.
Severus rolled up his right sleeve to the elbow. About halfway up his arm were a series of marks, that on closer inspection appeared to be tooth marks.
"The full Blood Bonding requires the Elfling to be unfed for two days. A simple rite is performed asking for, and receiving an oath of loyalty and then the Bond is sealed by the Elfling biting their Wizard. The blood from the wound imprints the magical signature of the Wizard on the Elfling."
Harry looked slightly green at the thought as Severus rolled his sleeve down again, covering the marks once more.
Tiggy just grinned toothily and put down her cup. "You shall have another set to decorate that arm Master," she said happily and popped away.
"What will it mean, that Sal is my Elf?" asked Harry. He didn't like the idea of a sentient being bound to him. Whilst he knew on an intellectual level that Tiggy was bound to Severus, to have an Elf of his own, a being he could order to stand in the way of an Avada Kedavra, or who would leap in front of it to save him if necessary was more than a little frightening.
"He will be able to know where you are at all times and will know if you are in danger. As an Elf he can Apparate, or whatever Elves call it, within Hogwarts boundaries, and can get through most wards in the same fashion. Given his ancestry, he knows antidotes and counters to anything I have knowledge of, and has innate knowledge of Dark magic and Dark artefacts and how to defend against them. In short he will be the best possible protection you could hope for."
Harry nodded seriously but inside he felt like someone had turned his insides to jelly. The thought of Tiggy's son potentially dying for him was terrifying.
Severus could see the thoughts whirring in Harry's head and decided to distract him with a little more knife practice.
The days following passed in what was now normal fashion for the Snape household. Harry and Severus practised duelling, knife fighting and potion making. They played chess and read in front of the fire.
Two days before the train was due to bring the returning students back after the holidays; Tiggy brought her two Elflings to be bonded. The Elflings had grown considerably since the Snapes had last seen them. Severus and Salva knelt down facing each other.
"Do you offer your oath of loyalty?" asked Severus.
"I do. To my death if need be," replied the Elf.
Severus rolled up his sleeve and the small Elf carefully bit his arm just below the tooth marks her mother had made so many years before. The wound healed almost instantly.
"That's it?" asked Harry, more than a little relieved.
"That's it. That's all there is to it," replied Severus.
Harry then completed the ritual with Sal, and the Snape family officially grew by two.
Severus removed his head from his hands and re-read the letter that had arrived via owl that morning. Somehow, after all the joy over the holidays, Severus had to try and explain this to Harry. But how would one go about that? The boy had enough to deal with without adding to it. Harry was currently in the Great Hall enjoying dinner with his returning classmates exchanging stories of gifts received and fun had over the festive period. The holiday had put a sparkle back in the emerald eyes, a sparkle that had been absent for far too long. How did one explain that a family member had gone completely round the twist? It had been clear from his behaviour previously that he wasn't stable, but this was madness on a scale unknown. Paranoid delusion wasn't unknown in the Wizarding world, but most of the afflicted ended up safely in one of the appropriate Healing establishments.
He knew the information was accurate. He'd trusted the supplier of it with his life on more than one occasion, and he had the proof on his arm. The Dark Mark was darkening slowly on his skin, the evidence of his former Master's return. There was no way he could return to His side as a spy now, with the adoption of Harry. It wasn't a secret and there was no way He wouldn't know. The Mark would darken from the pale grey it had been for over a decade to the fresh black it had been when he had been freshly branded. Then the Dark Lord would punish him using it. The pain would drive him mad if he didn't kill himself first. The first time he stepped outside the safety of Hogwarts' wards the Dark Lord would be able to locate him and be able to send Death Eaters after him if He didn't come Himself. The Dark Lord did not take desertion lightly. The example he had made of Regulus Black was indelibly painted in his memories. The lengths He had gone to in order to punish the young man had made even a couple of the seasoned sadists within the ranks of the Inner circle sick, Severus had only held onto his lunch by employing the full use of his Occlumency.
All of that notwithstanding, how could he possibly explain the Harry that Sirius Black, his own Godfather, had brought Lord Voldemort back to corporeal form?