AN: As always a huge thank you to everyone who reviewed and to all you readers who have waited so patiently for updates... I had good fun writing this chapter, I hope you have as much fun reading it (even if it is a bit of a behemoth)
Disclaimer: while I can take credit for a lot of things, the things you recognise aren't among them...
"Get up Hermione, it's time to go." Hermione groaned, rolled over and looked at the clock.
"It's 6am, Severus."
"I know, we're already late. Get up."
She rubbed her eyes and sat up. "Why do we need to leave at 6am? I thought you said you'd told them to expect us at about lunch time."
"Exactly. If we leave early we have the added advantage of them not expecting us. It's called the element of surprise." He told her in what she mentally called his first-year-classroom-you're-an-idiot voice.
"Why do we need the element of surprise when we're going to visit you friends?" Hermione asked, suddenly feeling very awake.
Severus just smiled in a way that made Hermione nervous. "Get up. We need to leave."
An hour later Hermione still wasn't sure what exactly was going on. They were currently both wearing disillusionment charms and a few other spells designed to reduce their noise, stop them from being noticed and repel tracking charms. All in all, it made Hermione wonder if Severus was entirely clear on the definition of 'friends'. Severus still had his wand out and was constantly looking around them, alert for the tiniest movement or noise. He was making her jumpy and nervous, which made her keep looking around and listening intently too.
They kept moving, Severus leading her close to the trees, staying in the shadows despite their many layers of enchantments. After maybe half an hour of walking Hermione finally grabbed Severus' arm and demanded to know why they needed all the secrecy. Severus sighed and rolled his eyes, "because, obviously, we don't want to be seen."
"I got that bit, thanks." She told him, biting back her annoyance at being spoken to like an idiot for the second time today, "what I'm not getting is the why. Why don't we want to be seen if these are your friends?"
"How else are we going to get into the house?" He was using his you're-an-idiot voice again
"I don't know, Severus, Maybe knocking on the door?" this time she didn't mange to keep her annoyance to herself.
"You want to knock on the door? Okay, you show me the door and we'll knock." And with that he pulled her against his body and murmured a spell, Hermione bit back a squeal of fear as she felt her feet leave the ground. They floated steadily higher until Severus set them both down on the very top most branches of the tree they had seconds ago been standing under.
"There's the house." He pointed and she looked, the house was an old fashioned manor type building made of some light grey stone. It had huge windows set at intervals all around its three floors. She couldn't see a door. She snapped a small dead twig off the branch they were standing on and transfigured it into a pair of binoculars. After a careful scrutiny of the two visible walls of the house, She still couldn't see any door.
"It's round the back?" she asked with rapidly draining hope. He just raised his eyebrows and shook his head slowly.
"Ready to go now? At this rate we'll miss breakfast." Hermione sighed and nodded, allowing him to get them safely down from the tree. By the time they reached the edge of the wood the sun was fully up and mist was floating around the field before them like fine silvery gauze. Hermione decided not to ask questions when Severus created a bubble around them before they moved through it.
They managed to get to the centre of the field before Severus grabbed her wrist and pulled her to the ground. "Now what?" she whispered, caught between aggravation at being unceremoniously hauled onto her bottom and the edginess created mainly by the sneaking around. He shushed her with a waved hand, tilted his head to the side and listened carefully to something she couldn't hear and then whispered. "Stay here. I'll be back in a moment." Before she could voice the objection that sprung to her lips he was off, moving swiftly through the tall grass at a crouch, leaving Hermione to shake her head and heave an exasperated sigh.
The sound of grass swishing quickly faded, Hermione sat herself down properly, wondering vaguely what was going on and what she'd got herself into. She was brought out of her reverie by the sound of various spells being flung about a short way away. As carefully as she could, she got back onto her feet, staying low. She listened carefully, picking out Severus' voice amongst the shouts. She guessed that including Severus the fight that had broken out was between six or seven people. She thought she heard at least one woman but the rest were men. The pauses between spells were shortening. Hermione took a breathe and, reminding herself that the land they were on belonged to Severus' friends, stood up straight to look around. She couldn't see anything but the flashes of light shimmering through the air from various points.
She made a quick count of the points spells were originating from, five people, including Severus. She was all ready to go to his aid when she realised that he could be at any one of those points. She could try to find him, risking running into the others, which was something he'd obviously been trying to avoid (not that she had any idea why), or she could join in from here and risk hitting him. Second thoughts, better to stay out of it and stay here like he'd told her. She crouched down again, realising that she'd probably just given her own position away. Not a second after this thought had crossed her mind than a hand gripped her elbow from behind and pulled her back up to standing. Hermione shrieked and, without thinking, slammed the back of her fist into the face at her shoulder, followed quickly by the now released elbow hard into the stomach and then a kick to the crotch as she turned. She realised she'd probably over reacted when found herself standing over the crumpled figure of a man who's age she place at around eighty, though he was in no way feeble, she did still feel guilty that she'd clearly broken his nose. She was just about to apologise and help him up when Severus appeared. He looked a little concerned, but when he saw the man on the floor he gave a short laugh.
"Well done, Hermione. One down, three to go. Are you okay, Bert?" He helped the older man up and they embraced like brothers.
"You've certainly picked a good one there, my boy." Bert replied, extending a hand to Hermione, "A pleasure to be assaulted by you, Madame Snape."
"I didn't, I mean, I'm sorry, I just thought –" Hermione stammered, trying to apologise and defend herself at the same time, a dark blush rising up her cheeks.
"It's quite alright, my dear, I should have known that any woman married to Severus would certainly be capable of defending herself, I just imagined you might use your wand a little more." He gave her a smile and used his own to fix his nose and vanish the blood. "Come on, Severus, the others will know that you've got me by now, they won't make it an easy capture."
This said both men disappeared in opposite directions into the tall grass, leaving Hermione staring after them and, definitely not for the first time, wondering what on earth was going on. Moments later the firing of spells resumed along with various shouts. Hermione gave up trying to work out where all the spells were coming from and focused on trying to stay still and quiet and listen out for anyone who might be approaching. Silence fell like a blanket, it seemed the battle, game, what ever it was, was over and Hermione tentatively peeked over the top of the grass. At first she couldn't see anything, but she soon became aware of a group of distant figures standing under a mammoth oak tree on the far side of the meadow, one of whom appeared to be dangling from the lower branches by several ropes.
Feeling a little nervous, she began to make her way over to the group, squinting to try and identify her husband amongst the group. She finally spotted him sitting on a large rock on the edge of the gathering, casually pointing his wand at the figure in the tree. She could also pick out Bert who was standing to Severus' left, between two unknown other figures, and chatting animatedly, possible recounting for them the tale of how the fourth person ended up suspended from the oak, judging by the way he gestured towards the, she decided, young woman, who struggled fruitlessly against her bonds.
It wasn't long before she was close enough to hear what was being said. Bert was indeed giving his two companions a blow by blow account of what had happened.
"-thought she'd got him, you know, wand out of his hand and down on the ground as he was. But just as she was about to mark him, he sort of twitched his foot and sent her sprawling!" he told them gleefully, "and then of course he was doing his flying thing and next thing you know he had his wand back and the tree just sort of grabbed her. Then we found Mike,"
"I was behind the tree waiting to ambush him when he turned to look for you, Joyce," the young man who stood next to Bert interjected.
"Yeah, but you have to get up earlier than that to catch the lad out, eh, Mike?"
"Absolutely, I was exposed, wandless and marked before I even knew I'd been spotted."
"do you concede, Rose?" Severus asked the woman in the tree.
"NEVER!" she shouted, continuing to struggle. It became apparent that she was trying to reach her wand, which hung from another rope in front of her, and as she reached for it, Severus was tauntingly moving it out of her reach.
"Oh Rosalyn," Joyce, who looked to be around the same age as Bert, scolded lightly, "just say it, then we can all go in and get some breakfast. Besides, I do believe this is Severus' young lady coming towards us."
As soon as Joyce said this, Severus rose to his feet and extended a hand to Hermione. "Are you alright?" he asked softly, she nodded, and he gave her a very small smile before leading her over to the group, "Hermione, this is Michael,"
"Mike," Interrupted the younger man, pushing his blonde hair out of his face.
"and Bert, you've already met, and Joyce, Bert's Sister." Hermione shook hands with each of them in turn.
"Severus, you should have said, we would have skipped all this if we'd known." Joyce exclaimed as she held on to Hermione's outstretched hand. Hermione gave Severus a puzzled look as she had been told that Severus' friends were expecting both of them, not just him. What Joyce said next caused her even more confusion. "you shouldn't be making her go gallivanting all around the country in her condition."
Severus gave a small chuckle and then explained, for Hermione's benefit. "Joyce has a very rare talent: she can sense souls. This makes her invaluable when you're hiding out, because she can tell when someone is trying to sneak up on you as soon as they get within her zone, and it also makes her the worlds most effective pregnancy test."
Hermione smiled uncertainly to cover her surprise. Severus was already moving on. "and this stubborn young woman, "he said, with only fondness in his voice, gesturing towards the woman in the tree "is Rose."
"Pleased to meet you." Rose said cordially, still struggling against the thick robes that wound around her. Hermione turned to offer her hand to the suspended woman and fund herself momentarily stunned. The woman hanging before her had soft, pale skin, long red hair and piercing green eyes, she could have been Lily Potter's long lost sister.
"Had enough yet?" Severus asked her over Hermione's shoulder.
"Why? Is this all you got?" she returned, raising her eyebrows in challenge.
"It always ends like this." Mike told her conspiratorially, "last time he set fire to her before she admitted defeat, oh, don't worry, " he added at Hermione's horrified look, "she was never in an real danger. Severus wouldn't have let it get out of control. Apparently he got the idea from one of his students, who set fire to him at a quidditch match when she thought he was cursing her friend." Hermione felt the sight blush rising to her cheeks.
"I didn't want it to come to this, Rose, but you've asked for it." Severus told her, he shook his head slowly, took a deep breath and then, to Hermione's surprise, fired off a tickling charm at Rose's feet.
It took mere seconds before Rose was squirming for other reasons than attempting to reach her wand, laughing so much tears were gathering in her eyes, "alright," she finally gasped, "alright, you win, I yield!"
Severus cancelled the charm and the tree carefully lowered her down by the ropes. As soon as her feet touched the floor the ropes themselves vanished and Rose came over to hug Severus. Hermione was again surprised by how relaxed and at ease Severus seemed.
The walk back to the house took less time than Hermione had imagined it would, and all the way Severus, Rose, Mike, Bert and Joyce chatted about times gone by, reminiscing fondly off many adventures it seemed they had shared. Hermione listened closely, trying to figure out the connection between this group (it transpired that Rose was Bert and Joyce's niece, and Mike was her husband.) and Severus.
It wasn't until they were sat down around the kitchen table eating a cooked breakfast, which Joyce had whipped up with a few quick flicks of her wand at various kitchen cupboards and equipment., that Hermione finally asked the question, "So how did you all come to meet Severus? You all seem so close, there's obviously a lot of history."
"he hasn't told you? Severus, I am appalled!" Rose swatted playfully at Severus, who dodged gracefully. "it's a very memorable story. We met when Severus saved my life."
Hermione said "how?" in absolute wonder just as Severus chocked on his coffee and protested "I did no such thing!"
"Shut up Severus, you did to." Rose settled back in her chair and proceeded to tell the tale, "so, it was way back during the first rising of the Dark Lord and Severus was what, twenty? Twenty-one maybe, just, 'cause I was only about eighteen myself. I was meant to be running surveillance on a group of death eaters we suspected were involved in plans to take over the ministry. They'd set up their base in this little run down cottage out in the middle of the moors, so there's no cover or anything for miles. Any way, long story short, I had a clutz moment and ended up alerting them to my presence, and managed to snap my wand in the process. So I ran. There were half a dozen of them and only one of me, and I'm running and running, and they're firing all these curses everywhere. Just when I think it's all over I spot this tree, it's all on it's own but it's huge and I think, if I can just climb up there, I'll be home and free, because I've got a portkey in my pocket that's going to activate in about five minutes.
" I ran for this tree, and they ran after me. They were gaining on me pretty well and still firing off curses by the bucket load, but some how I managed to reach the tree relatively unscathed. I jump up and try to grab the lowest branch but now they've caught up and one of them shot a hex at this branch to break it off, a few of the others had a similar idea, and they start using their wands to chop at this tree as well as fire on me. I'm thinking, there's no way out now, no way can I manage to stay alive long enough for the portkey to activate with all of them surrounding me. I'd just about given up all hopes when this guy," she waved her arm at Severus, who Hermione noticed was beginning to turn a little pink just around his neck, "launches himself out of the tree above us, where he must have been waiting to ambush them anyway or something, he shoves me out of the way of a curse that was headed straight for me and then casts a shield charm over the both of us. Good timing too because just as the shield goes up a branch hits it, rebounds off and takes out four of the Death Eaters, so they're all on the ground knocked out, and the other two can't seem to figure out what's happened. Before I've even fully realised what's going on, Severus' is back on his feet, he's removed the shield charm and he's managed to use some sort of gluing charm to stick the two remaining death eaters together. In the confusion they both start trying to curse us again and manage to get each other. So that's two dead four knocked out. Severus walks over to the four under the branch and, without waking any of them, uses a bit of what I like to call his 'mental magic' to make them forget us and remember there being some sort of accident to account for the two dead guys. It was fab, but I can see he's a little panicked, maybe he thinks I'm going to attack him for saving my life or something, I don't know that I ever bothered asking. He's also covered in scratches from when he jumped out the tree, so I invited him back here to get cleaned up, Aunt Joyce is a whiz with healing stuff. And the rest as they say is history."
"Not quite history, babe," Michael said. "I seem to recall I didn't meet Severus until many years later when he knocked me out in a bar fight." that caught Hermione's interest as well, and she glanced at Severus, who was now definitely turning red around the ears and seemed to be sinking slightly lower in his chair.
"It wasn't a bar fight." he muttered.
"It was a fight, and it was in a bar, Severus, therefore, it was a bar fight." Mike told him, paying no attention to his friend's growing embarrassment. "that was back after the first fall, and I was working for the Ministry, undercover, you understand, in this dingy little bar out in the middle of nowhere, the place where all the supporters of the Dark Lord used to meet up and have a bit of a gossip, you know, who's been caught, who's been granted a reprieve, rumours about the Dark Lord coming back. I was the year above Severus at Hogwarts, and I knew who he was the second him and Malfoy sauntered in. right pair they were, all dressed in black and whispering amongst themselves, a handful of others following along behind giving anyone who took notice the evil eye. Anyway, my orders were to make friendly with this crowd and try to get them to confess that they had been Death Eaters. I was all rigged up with surveillance charms, you know, trackers and recorders and all that. So I served their drinks and tried to kind of worm my way into their conversation. It didn't work."
"A hippogriff would have been less obvious" Severus commented dryly.
"yes, alright. I was a little inexperienced, and a bit over zealous. Any way long story short, Malfoy cornered me in the stock cellar later on and threatened to do some fairly horrid things to me if I didn't tell him who I was working for, and I, well, I was young and cocky, and I told him where he could shove his questions, at which point, Severus decided to rescue me and punched me 'for my insolence', leaving me out cold in the stock cellar. I don'[t think he realised just how hard he'd hit me, though, coz when I woke up he was standing over me looking really worried. Malfoy was gone home or somewhere and Severus had snook back to give me a few lessons in subtlety. He brought me back here, again so Joyce could practice her fixing up skills. Which, coincidentally, is also how I met Rose." he kissed his wife lightly on the nose, and she giggled and blushed. " so I owe him on two counts."
The day went quickly for Hermione, and soon she found herself back at home, sitting on the bed just as she had at 6 o'clock this morning. Reviewing the day she realised that she had learned much about her husband today. She had learned that he was a truly loyal friend, and that with people he trusted he could relax and joke around just like herself, Harry and Ron so frequently did. She realised that she truly wanted him to be that comfortable with her friends, and that she wanted to spend more time with his. There was just one thing that niggled at the back of her mind. When she lay down and closed her eyes a familiar face swam before her eyes, a familiar face with long curling red hair, and bright, pretty green eyes. With it came a box of photos that had emerged from Severus most private domain not so long ago. She had to ask, a part of her had to know, though she dreaded the answer.
"Severus?" she questioned curiously.
"Hmm?" Half asleep, Severus pulled her a little closer.
"Can I ask you something? Something about Rose?"
Severus' whole body stiffened, and Hermione's dread came to the for front of her mind. Why did he tense up if not because he didn't want to talk about it, and why would he not want to talk if he had nothing to hide? "It's no true." he whispered, sounding very awake now.
That threw her a little, "what's not?"
"What she said earlier. It's not true. I didn't save her life. Well, I suppose I sort of did, but what I'm saying is, it wasn't the huge act of heroism she makes out it was."
"I think saving someone's life is pretty heroic however it happens." She responded, rolling over to face him.
"No, you don't understand. The whole thing was an accident. I was saving my own skin as usual. And she just-" He broke off, making a slightly exasperated sound in the back of his throat.
"Do you want to tell me what actually happened?" She asked after a moment of silence.
The silence grew longer, and Hermione thought perhaps he had gone back to sleep, but then he said softly. "it was just after I turned spy. I was on my way to report to Dumbledore, so I'd broken off from the main group to find somewhere inconspicuous to apparate to the meeting point. I never told Rose, there weren't just a few Death Eaters gathering there, it was all of them, if they'd caught her, they'd have brought her straight before The Dark Lord and... it doesn't bear thinking about now. Any way, I was walking along and I heard a group running behind me, firing off curses. I thought they'd seen me leave, convinced they knew where I was going. So I hid. I apparated into the only tree for miles. I thought they'd think I'd already gone, that they'd just go back. You don't raise suspicions of treachery with the Dark Lord unless you can back up those claims and hand him the traitor, not unless you want to take the punishment yourself, or you're Bella Lestrange. Then Rose ran up, she didn't see me, and neither did the group that was chasing her. It was stupid now, but I only saw her from above and I," he sighed and then admitted quietly, "I thought it was Lily. I leant forward to get an aim at the best shot of the Death Eater group, but I lost my footing. I managed to grab the branch with my arms, stop myself from falling, but by then I couldn't aim with my wand, because if I'd let go to do it, I'd land right in the middle of them." he paused, determinedly not looking at her.
"It wasn't long before one of their stray curses broke the branch I was hanging from. I put up the shield charm to stop the branch hitting me, just a reflex action. It was pure coincidence that I'd landed pretty much on top of Rose so it covered her as well. Then I shot the first spell that came into mind at the two Death Eaters the branch hadn't taken out, that didn't work either. It was supposed to bind them with ropes and gag them so I could make them forget they'd seen me. As Rose said, they both panicked, and managed to eliminate each other. But then I had to come up with a reason they were dead. I altered the memories of the ones under the branch, made them think there was a storm, got them thinking they'd been chasing a muggle or something."
"and then she took you back to Joyce, because you saved her life." Hermione added.
"yes, but I didn't mean to"
"no, but you did save her life, Severus, and whether it was intended or not, whether you thought she was someone else or not, whether you were also trying to save yourself or not, that's still pretty heroic in my book. Besides, you can't tell me that punching Mike was an accident as well."
"No. I punched Mike because he was an egotistical imbecile with a death wish."
Hermione snorted with laughter the seriousness of the situation almost forgotten. They settled down once again, and it was only then that Hermione realised she hadn't actually asked her question.
"You know you said that you thought Rose was Lily? When you were up in the tree?"
"You want to know if I loved her like I loved Lily, don't you?" he all but sighed.
"yes, but at the same time no." She confessed.
"when I first met Rose, Lily was still alive, not speaking to me, nor even wanting to look at me if we crossed in the street. By the time Lily was gone, I had learned that Rose and Lily, while they are alike in many ways are two very different people."
"So you've never... you know?"
Severus gave a short laugh. "We did, once, shortly after Lily's death. But never again after that, and now, well, it would be like sleeping with my sister."
Hermione smiled, she didn't really have anything to worry about after all. The past was the past, and she felt silly for even bringing it up. Had she not already likened Severus and Rose's relationship to her own with Harry and Ron? A comfortable silence stretched between them, until finally Hermione pushed herself up onto one elbow to kiss Severus on the lips gently. "thank you." she whispered, settling back down against him.
"For what?" he sounded bemused in a half asleep kind of way.
"For being open and honest with me."
Monday morning found Hermione pushing porridge around her bowl, staring in a preocupied way straight through Severus, who sat opposite her.
"sorry, what did you say?" she blinked out of her reverie.
"I asked what time your appointment is?"
"oh, ten. But we'll need to leave in a moment, because the buses are only once an hour and the next one wont get us there in time.
"Just remind me, why do we need to get the bus?"
"You make it sound like I've suggested we ride all the way on giant slugs."
"I just don't see why we can't apparate. It would be quicker, safer and cleaner."
"I told you, I want to go to the muggle ultrasound appointment in the muggle way. It's not good to be completely dependent on magic for everything. Besides, I want this baby to grow up knowing the muggle way of life as well as the wizarding way."
"Fine, I'll teach him or her to ride a bike, and play football, and wash up without a wand. Can we just apparate to the appointment?"
"No. Come on, time to go."
Five minutes later they stood at the bus stop with a little old woman with her shopping bag on wheels and a young man with a nose ring and a green Mohawk, who was eyeing Severus' long black coat, black trousers and shirt and longish hair as if wondering if they'd met at some rock concert. Hermione just smiled politely at him and took Severus' hand. When the bus finally came, Severus politely allowed the elderly woman to go on ahead of them, offering to lift her trolley for her. They took their seats (after Severus had surveyed the black marker pen scrawls and muddy splotches with obvious mingled disgust and disdain), and Hermione commented that the bus was only a few minutes late so they should make it in plenty of time.
A few stops later the youth that had been at the bus stop made his way back past them to get off, tossing at Severus as he did so "don't you think you're a bit old to be a Emo, mate?"
"What did he just call me?" Severus asked when the youth was off the bus, causing Hermione to giggle quietly, telling him not to worry about it.
After what seemed an eternity to Severus, it was their turn to get off. Hermione pressed the bell (which Severus refused to touch), and they stepped out onto the pavement. The Hospital was clearly visible at the end of the road, and they had plenty of time, So Hermione suggested that perhaps they could have a cup of tea in the small café across the street.
They sat down at a table with their cups, Hermione glancing about at the pictures on the walls, Severus sat resolutely looking at him coffee. After a few moments of quiet Hermione asked, "Can you play football?"
"You do think of some random things." Severus sipped his coffee.
"you said earlier that you would teach him or her to play football. Can you play football?"
"Supposing they haven't changed the rules since I was eight or nine, I don't see why not."
Hermione sipped her tea, smiling slightly. "I never would have put you down as the footballing type."
"hmm. I imagine there are many things about me that would surprise you." He responded cryptically.
"Like what?" She asked, immediately curious.
"Come on, it's almost time for your appointment." He got up and held out her jacket for her.
"Like what?" she asked again as she shrugged her jacket on and they left the café. Severus just led her down the road towards the hospital.
Sitting in the waiting room of the ultrasound department, Severus picked up an ancient gardening magazine, determinedly ignoring Hermione's repeated questions. Eventually she fell silent. Hermione looked around at the other couples, each pair whispering in a happy, excited way with each other, all holding hands. She glanced at Severus, hidden behind the magazine, sitting so still he might have been a statue. One by one the couples were called and as they departed, new couples began to arrive. Hermione gave a small sigh. Whether it was the movement of her shoulders brushing against his or the tiniest noise, Severus lowered the publication. He too looked around at the other couples. After a second or two, he inclined his head towards hers and asked, "do you wish we were more like them?"
"what do you mean?"
"Do you wish me to be more... demonstrative?"
"I don't know." She told her hands. "Sometimes." she admitted quietly.
"it doesn't come naturally to me." he told her honestly, but he took her hand in his. "what do you imagine they are talking about?"
"Ginny and Harry used to talk incessantly about what they thought the baby would look like, which gender they thought it was going to be and what they were going to call it."
Severus was saved from answering by the ultrasound technician calling Hermione's name. Severus released her hand to allow her to stand up. Hermione took a few steps then turned back, "don't you want to come in?"
"I didn't imagine I'd be allowed.." He told her.
"Why ever not? I didn't make this baby on my own, did I?" She blushed as soon as the words were out of her mouth, aware of the technician grinning at her.
Severus smiled, though, and said, "no, you didn't."
"just lay on the table and roll your top up a little." The technician Instructed once the door was closed. Once Hermione had complied, she added apologetically, "this may be a little cold. She squeezed a little clear gel onto Hermione's belly, then spread it around with the hand held part of the ultrasound equipment. "Right, so I'm just going to have a quick look at baby, do some quick measuring so I can work out how far along you are, check everything's okay, and then I'll turn the screen round so you can have a look." Hermione nodded that this was fine by her, and Severus resumed holding her hand.
The little hand held transducer was rolled all over Hermione's stomach, and it only took a few moments before the technician turned the monitor screen around so they could see the fuzzy image in various shades of grey.
"So, here is your baby's heartbeat," the technician pointed to a small fluttering f grey and white in the rough centre of the image, "and the head here, "she circled the head, "spine" she followed the delicate white line, "and you can see two feet here, and an arm under here." she pointed each out. "baby is laying on it's side facing your back, Mrs Snape, the other arm is tucked out the way in front of baby. It's almost sucking it's thumb." she smiled, "I'd say you're about 16 weeks and 3 days, which puts you're due date at 22nd June. Do you have any questions?"
"Can you tell what gender the baby is?" Hermione asked before she could stop herself.
"Not at this stage, but we will be able to at your next scan. Mr Snape?" Severus shook his head, still looking intently at the image on the screen. "in that case, I'll just print an copy of this image off for you, and then your free to go." she tapped a button on her keyboard and then handed Hermione a few pieces of tissue to wipe the gel off with. The printer wired into life, and she collected the print out, put it into an envelope and handed it, with her pregnancy notes, to Hermione. "good luck, congratulations, and I'll see you in about four weeks." She smiled as they left the room.
Later that evening, Hermione came down the stairs from a long soak in the bath to find Severus sitting on the sofa looking at the print out image from the scan.
"It makes it all so real, doesn't it?" She said quietly.
He nodded, "It looks so tiny, just like a little tiny person."
"That's because it is a little tiny person. Our little tiny person." She sank down on the sofa beside him, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her in to his side.
"22nd of June doesn't seem like very long."
"No, it doesn't, and there's so much to do."
"What if we're not ready?"
"We will be. We'll have to be."
They sat in comfortable silence after that, both contemplating their own thoughts, both looking at the image of their child, and trying to imagine what it would be like to be a parent.
AN: Just a warning, July is a very busy month in my little bubble of the world, and it is unfortunately followed up by six weeks of no school or nursery, therefore updates are unlikely until approximately 17th September. I will do my best to get some writing done, but I can't make any promises, so I once again beg your forgiveness and your patience...Hugs and cookies, ForeverPandora.