So I tweaked with some things and did some things that actually shouldn't be true. For example, yes, Teddy should be out of school already, but he's magically a few years younger. But it has a nice affect so I think you'll forgive me.
"SEVERUS!" She called after him, but he kept walking, his pace angry as he stalked down towards the dungeons. "SEVERUS!" She had to run to catch up, and then grabbed his arm, but he shook her off violently and redoubled his efforts at getting away from her.
She grabbed his arm again and this time, he swung to glare at her though continuing to walk at a slower pace. "What the hell was that back there?" She yelled.
He glared and responded in clipped tones. "I believe you've already voiced your opinions on the matter, as uncalled for and incorrect as they are, and surely, you're smart enough to figure out what happened; you were there."
"But you can't do that to her!"
He snarled. "Of course I can. I'm her headmaster and her father and therefore I do believe I have every right."
"But you embarrassed her! And you hurt her! Severus, she's just 16!" As an afterthought, she added, "And you won't even listen to me!"
"I have little reason to listen to your idiotic ramblings. You, madam, are the one with no right; you're only her professor and step-mother."
"You swore!" She cried. "You swore you'd always at least listen to me when it came to her!"
"An ill-conceived appeasement and no more, I assure you; I've never had any real intention of letting you ruin my only child with your ill-advised experimental parenting."
The comment was laced with so many barbs she didn't know what had hurt the most as her eyes watered. "Well, congratulations- it's your own ill-advised parenting that will ruin your only child, because you've broken her heart, and she'll probably hate you now, and given how little time you have before she comes of age, it's very likely that she'll simply cut you out of her life completely. Are you satisfied, now?"
"Don't be ridiculous: she'll get over it. He's just a Lupin."
"His father happened to be one of my heroes!"
"And so you would compromise her wellbeing on that basis?"
"That's not what I meant and you know it, damn you! Stop being hypocritical!"
"Stop being so foolishly over-dramatic! She's a smart girl, she'll realize the sensibility in the punishment!"
"You spelled the word "whore" to her forehead!" She protested.
"It will wear off!" He spat back.
She paused and tried to keep her voice from trembling. "You're horrible, you know that? Absolutely horrible. You're selfish and bitter and cruel and hypocritical and right now I have absolutely no idea why I married you!"
"Let me assure you that the feeling is mutual! It would have been easier and more pleasant to merely hire a prostitute once or twice a week. I hadn't realized what a nag you are. The sex would have been better too!" He roared in retaliation.
It was ridiculous. The whole thing. Him and her and them and what he thought he knew but didn't really know. And he didn't really mean anything he was saying. But he was still saying it. And he was remarkably stubborn.
She stopped walking after him and reminded herself that it would be silly to cry when he really didn't mean it. "I see. I'll not bother you any longer, then, Professor Snape. I suppose I will see you in the Great Hall for breakfast."
He did not ask where she was going and to her credit, she did not turn around once she had begun to walk to her own quarters. As a professor, she had her own, of course, although she couldn't really remember the last time she had been in them; she usually stayed in his. In theirs. As headmaster, he had larger rooms that they had adapted to suit them well. She only hoped they'd be in the same state when she relented and returned, hopefully after he apologized—the last time they'd fought, he'd gotten very drunk and all but ripped the bed and closet apart. It was easily repaired with some spell work, but still, it was the fact that he had done it in the first place.
He was at breakfast. Of course he was at breakfast. He was at breakfast and glaring at her over the jar of jam. Lovely.
"Professor Granger," he spat in a clipped tone when she sat down. She grimaced; he always referred to her maiden name when he was cross.
"It's Professor Snape, actually" she snapped back.
"That remains to be seen," he sneered. She glared at him but didn't bother to retaliate.
Silently sitting with her toast and coffee, she took inventory of the student body, noticing Caddy at the far end of the hall, alone save a pile of books. Even from this distance, Hermione could see the tiredness, the sadness, in her shoulders. She looked defeated. It was extraordinary how similar they all were, for Hermione knew that she and Severus had each been in the same position before. And remarkable that despite the immense opportunity to feel empathetic, there was no opportunity to express empathy, because that was part of the problem in the first place. Catch-22.
She tried not to dwell on it as she continued to survey the great hall. Albus Potter was in the middle of Gryffindor table with his friends, laughing wildly. She placed a hand against her flat stomach, for the first time in a long time feeling the pang of regret from at one time thinking she'd have children growing up with Harry's. She brushed the thought away. She'd have to write to Harry soon, she supposed, but immediately decided to delay until Severus was speaking to her again. She didn't want to have to put it in words, the unspeakable horror of marriage that had transpired last night, but at the same time, didn't want to pretend everything was fine. Better to wait until everything really was fine.
She continued to survey. Teddy Lupin wasn't in, yet—probably out of concern for his safety, she supposed, and was reluctant to admit that it was probably for the best. Victoire was surrounded by her usual gaggle of girls, and Hermione knew it was wrong to dislike a child, but it was hard when the child was just so much like Fleur. The war had changed Fleur, of course, but not that much. Hermione took a secret pride in the fact that Caddy had pretty much danced circles around Victoire both academically and socially over the last seven years.
A movement caught her attention from the corner of her eye and she noticed Teddy finally arrive and walk directly to Caddy. She smiled but glanced at Severus to see if he had noticed. Based on the white of his knuckles as he gripped his goblet and the way his eyes gleamed a deadly black, she assumed so.
She watched as Teddy sat across from Caddy like a man with a purpose. She could tell they were having words, but of course couldn't tell exactly what those words, but then, suddenly, miraculously, the tension seemed to flee Caddy's body and she returned to herself, easy and graceful as always. She and Teddy left in a flurry of movement, together and clutching each other tightly. Good, Hermione thought firmly to herself. She'd had faith in Teddy and he'd pulled through. It was one worry off her list. She glanced at her husband and reminded herself, but only one.
When Caddy walked into breakfast—a dreaded activity she would have avoided had her stomach not emphatically demanded otherwise—she secluded herself from her normal friends by sitting alone at the end of the table, as if her books could shield her from the whispers and stares. Going back to Ravenclaw tower alone the night before had been hard enough, knowing that Teddy would never speak to her again and that her father probably hated her—and worse, thought she was a whore, "like her mother"—and that he and Hermione were probably in the middle of a row when it really wasn't fair, because Hermione didn't deserve it, especially not now.
But now it was probably worse, because all those things were still true. Her father was at the table without Hermione, which meant they were definitely having a row, and Hermione was staying in her old rooms, and Caddy knew from experience that the rows where Hermione left—or her father made her leave—lasted the longest. And she felt horrible because she knew it was mostly her fault.
The glares of her fellow Ravenclaws did nothing to assuage her guilt. Last night, when she had come in, they hadn't known, but now, looking at the great hourglasses, it was obvious that something drastic had happened, and the rumors were flying, angry and spiteful and a little vindictive. She caught snippets of them, even though they weren't spoken in above a whisper.
She pursed her lips and pretended not to hear as they called her a whore, as they speculated that she'd been caught having sex. She bristled. It had only been snogging and it wasn't any of their business anyway, but she didn't say anything. The more time passed the more outrageous the rumors grew. She was considering leaving and maybe never coming back by the time she began to hear the muffled word "pregnancy". Hermione had finally come to breakfast and Caddy had watched and winced at the cold, minced words she had with her father. Her glaring, spiteful, cold father. She thought a moment of what she would give to be, for just a day, just an hour, ten years old again, dancing with her uncles at their wedding, feeling the folds of her new family reach out like a blanket cloaking her in warm after she'd been so cold. Her father had loved her and smiled and Hermione had been so kind and everyone seemed to be so welcoming, a universal family of love. And now she felt quite ostracized, and it hurt more now to be unloved, having been so loved, than it did as a child to have never really been loved in the first place.
But she did not feel self-pity so much as she felt guilt. Self-pity she could have bucked up and overcome, but the shame in her guilt was insurmountable. It seemed ridiculous, rude, even, to approach her friends after what she had done as if expecting them to not care.
Caught in this thought, she did not notice when Teddy stalked across the great hall to sit across from her.
"What are you doing?" His voice, loud and clear with a bit of a clipped tone, startled her.
"Eating breakfast?" She replied, surprised he was even speaking to her, in the Great Hall, much less almost normally.
He glared, unfathomably. "In the corner? Alone?"
"Yes?" She thought it was quite obvious and the whole of the situation was bewildering to her.
"I see. And why?" His words were hard, like stones. Not spears or arrows, just dull, cold stones, unsettling her.
She snapped, confused and unhappy. "Well, Teddy, what did you expect? No one likes me. I lost a hundred points in a single night. Everyone is mad at me," she finally hissed, proud of herself for managing the last sentence without sounding whiny.
"I'm not," he informed her curtly.
"Well, that's good, because if you were, you'd be a total hypocrite," she replied, trying to keep up but only feeling hysterical. She had assumed he wouldn't want to talk to her and now that he was she realized that perhaps she wasn't ready to talk to him.
"Caddy," he said, as if expecting something.
"Teddy," she mimicked sarcastically.
"Cadmium Snape," he persisted.
"Theodore Lupin." She rolled her eyes and stifled an urge to kiss him hard on the mouth.
"I don't regret it," he said.
"Excuse me?" She was taken aback again, and slightly confused as to what, exactly, "it" was.
"Let them be mad at you," he shrugged. "We didn't do anything they don't do regularly as well. We didn't do anything I don't want to do again. I'm not ashamed of any aspect of our relationship and I'm not ashamed of you."
He was looking at her with determination, like he could will his emotions into her so that she would understand exactly what he thought, how he felt, and she felt so guilty that this earnest, wonderful boy loved her when he could have so easily had some other girl whose life would be simple and uncomplicated and whose family would welcome him generously, as he deserved.
"Hermione's pregnant," she finally said. "It was her pregnancy test he found and that's why he was so angry, because he assumed it was me, even though it clearly wasn't, but now they aren't speaking and she hasn't even told him yet and it's all my fault and you are so, so wonderful," she supposed she should have felt foolish for being so hysterical and for crying a bit but he only reached over to plant an emphatic kiss on her forehead and then stood up, grabbing some toast in one hand and pulling on hers with the other, until they were out of the hall in a mess of tightly wound limbs, carelessly close, supporting one another on their way out to the grounds where they could be alone without any worry of her parents or anyone else. Where they could be them. And she realized that although she couldn't imagine him talking to her this morning, there was no one she wanted to talk to more.
By the time Caddy had braved two classes and a free period, however, she was feeling not-so-brave. The stares and whispers swelled and the rumors that she was pregnant with triplets who had different fathers was far less funny without Teddy by her side to laugh. She comforted herself with the fact, though, that the word "whore" was gradually dimming where it shone brightly on her forehead, and her last class was with Hermione.
Caddy was one of the last to file into Potions, though, hoping that Hermione would have silenced the rumors and she wouldn't have to hear them whisper about her anymore. Her hopes had not been in vain—by the time she stepped into class and inconspicuously took a seat at the back, the room was silent. They all loved Hermione, of course, but she had a well-deserved reputation for being quite stern in the classroom. She had finally found her element in imposing the rules she had tried to force on Ron and Harry on students who actually had to pay attention. She was a bit like Severus, actually, though no one would say it out loud.
Hermione had always done her best to keep her family life and her academic life separate and had never given anyone a reason to question her for nepotism. Today was no different—she barely looked at Caddy. For her part, Caddy knew it was nothing personal, but that didn't stop the stinging ache and she felt so stupid for just wanting Hermione to say something kind and make it better. It was stupid: this was class and Hermione was her professor, not her stepmum.
The lesson passed without a word between the pair and the only comfort Caddy gained from this was in knowing that no one else was speaking to or about her either. By the end of class, Caddy had turned her potion the correct clear cerulean, albeit half-heartedly, and Hermione finally spoke.
"You're all done really well, really. I look forward to your NEWT work. Now, if Ms. Snape will kindly return your essays, and then you are dismissed."
Caddy knew this trick and was expecting it when Hermione handed her the stack of essays and whispered "after class" without moving her lips. Dutifully, Caddy handed them back and as her classmates packed up to leave, and by the time she had reached the bottom of the stack only a few students remained, shoving stubborn books into crammed bags. Caddy pretended to busy herself with the same until she was the last one left. She lifted her head from her bag as the door shut just before Hermione's arms tightened around her in a fierce hug.
"I am so, so sorry, Caddy," Hermione whispered. "Are you alright?"
Caddy nodded but had the sudden urge to cry in the arms of this woman who could be, should be, her mother. "I'm sorry, Hermione, he shouldn't be angry with you, especially not now, especially not because of me."
"Oh, Caddy, it's not your fault. I mean, yes, you and Teddy could have picked a better time to snog, but that's what teenagers are supposed to do; he just overreacted." Hermione placed a gentle hand on her step-daughters head and swept her fringe bangs away with a thumb. "Has it worn off at all?"
Caddy nodded. "A little."
Hermione frowned and pursed her lips. "I'm afraid to try, because I think it might react badly." Slowly she ran her wand over Caddy's forehead, her face stern with concentration, and then she pulled away and transfigured a left-behind book into a mirror for Caddy to see. Her bangs now neatly covered the mark completely, and although everyone knew it was there already anyway, it was a start. "I'm not exactly a hair stylist, but I think that will do," Hermione said, underscoring herself as always.
Caddy flashed her the best smile she could managed. "It's wonderful, Hermione. Thank you."
"It's not bad, is it? Facing the other students?"
Caddy found herself shaking her head. "No. I mean, they're being dumb about it, but I think everyone must know it isn't true because the rumors are too crazy. Teddy helps," she added, smiling in spite of herself. "But I feel so guilty, losing so many points in one go. I don't think we'll make it up and we had been doing so well. And I'm not looking forward to detention with Filch." And I'm terrified of facing my father again.
Hermione smiled. "Harry and Ron and I lost far more in our day, don't you worry. And your father was a fool in other ways. But I thought you knew your detentions were with me?"
Caddy looked at her, puzzled. "But he said Filch. For a week."
Hermione shook her head with a sly smile. "Oh no. There is a clause that permits a potions professor to request a student of NEWT level to serve detention assisting with replenishing the apothecary if needed. Poppy mentioned needing some Pepper Up and maybe a bit more skele-grow and there you have it. Your father will be furious of course, but it's not like he wouldn't be anyway."
"Ah, so my slave labor begins at eight, I presume?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. Slave labor—all detention was slave labor. It's just that well, this task benefitted the school rather a lot from the students unpaid contribution. "You presume correctly. Now go find your boyfriend and I'll see you at dinner."
Caddy gave her a tentative but genuine smile before leaving, and Hermione sighed. She loved him, so bloody much, but he had a nasty habit of making things so bloody complicated.
Loving Severus Snape was not easy. It never had been, even when they weren't in a row. There had always been something. When they had begun dating, it was Lily. A few years later, Caddy had come to stay with them. And then there was his pride. Hermione knew that she was third or fourth in his heart, but she supposed his heart was big enough to accommodate them all. Besides, he couldn't marry Lily or his daughter or his pride, so she supposed that made her first in her category, albeit, only as well.
Even without his baggage, he was a difficult man to love. He was more sensitive than he would ever admit, and had a veritable fort protecting his emotions. He was smart but impatient with incompetence. He did not tolerate foolishness. He was cynical and often pessimistic. He had to be dealt with a certain way without realize he was being "dealt with" or he felt patronized and then then cast iron gates guarding his inner sanctum would be locked.
But somehow, she managed him. Even with only a third or a fourth of his heart, he was wonderful enough, loved her enough, to be worth it. She had fallen in love with him in stages, as friend, and then as a lover, and then as a wife, as he had let her into his life. She had loved as much as him as he was willing to give her. To want more would be to not understand him. She had all of him, she knew, and he had all of her.
They had setbacks. In the days following the anniversary of the Potter's death—every single fucking year—he would look at her like he shouldn't be with her, and that killed her. And then when Caddy's mother overdosed and was shuffled between hospitals and rehab, he'd had Caddy, a tiny emotionally vulnerable child, was shoved between them. He'd had a life before her. She knew that.
But that did not make it any easier to lay in a cold bed alone.
Severus, of course, was annoyed that Caddy was getting out of detention with Filch, and Filch acted as if Hermione had robbed him of family heirlooms. But it didn't matter because there was a very emphatic stipulation enforced by a very emphatic woman and so by eight o'clock that night Hermione and Caddy were alone in the potions classroom beginning on the Pepper-up.
"You know, of course, darling, that none of this is your fault, right? I wouldn't be abusing the rules if I didn't feel the punishment was without merit," Hermione said as the door shut soundly behind them.
Caddy nodded. "I know. But thank you. I don't think I could take a week of Filch. He keeps muttering things like "good for nothing" and 'scarlett lady' under his breath."
Hermione cringed. She really hated Filch sometimes.
"But what about you? He's angry at you too." Caddy pointed out.
Hermione shrugged. "He'll get over it."
"But the baby…" Caddy began.
"He'll find out soon enough." She tried to sound sure for Caddy's sake, but she wasn't sure at all.
"Are you going to keep the baby at school?" She asked.
Hermione shook her head. That, at least, was something she had fully considered and controlled. "No. I've already decided. I love teaching, but I want to be able to spend as much time with the baby as I could with you. I'm going to open the apothecary permanently. I think the apartment above it is finally going to be too small for us, but we still have a little time to figure it out. You can come house-hunting with us this summer."
Caddy was flattered but felt slightly smothered. "I don't know that I'll live at home after graduation. . ." she edged.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Getting a flat?" She smiled teasingly. "Perhaps with a room mate?"
Caddy ducked her head and obstinately did not say that Teddy had mentioned 'maybe perhaps maybe they would like maybe split a flat maybe after graduation maybe to save money maybe'. "Maybe."
Hermione smiled knowingly and started pulling out the ingredients for the potion. The two were quiet after that, silently pondering the future as they prepared the potion. Nearly half an hour passed before Caddy looked up at Hermione again.
"Do you think I could maybe help you in the apothecary? Not permanently. Just until I figure out what to do. And you don't have to let me be a partner, or anything. I could just help out and stuff. I wouldn't botch anything up, or anything."
Hermione ached to see her earnestness, and how desperately Caddy seemed to want this, though she had never mentioned it before. She supposed she was only mentioning it now because she knew Hermione was planning to open it. But she was expecting a no. Hermione knew it was because Caddy expected Severus to refuse, and she hated that their relationship was that way.
"Of course you can," she said gently. "I'd love to have you around. With the baby coming I'll need some help anyway. And it's not forever, you know, but I know figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life is difficult. And you, my darling, could do just about anything you wanted, and I know having limitless opportunity does not make deciding any easier. And the flat above could be yours, if you want. I was thinking I would just make it storage space anyway."
A mix of emotions played across Caddy's face; happiness, gratefulness, hope, excitement, but a little bit of melancholy. "Thank you, Hermione."
Hermione rubbed her hand. "Don't think anything of it. Really."
"You know, my happiest memories from my childhood are in that apothecary."
Hermione looked up suddenly, frowning. "What?"
"I remember, I guess I was about eight, because it was after I came to live with Dad but before you got married, sitting on the floor of the apothecary and just feeling how magical and wonderful everything was. It was the springtime and every day was like, the best day ever. I would wake up every morning and dad and I would share the papers over some oatmeal and then he would take me to the apothecary so you could look after me and some days we would walk down Diagon Alley and go to the joke shop or the ice cream parlor and then every night we would make dinner and all of us would eat together. And I loved the apothecary. I would help you and you would let me do little things that made me feel important and explain to me potions and talk to me like I was a big girl. I thought my life was so cool."
Hermione couldn't explain how much it hurt her that that, just every day life, had been the fondest memory of her childhood. It spoke volumes about what a, frankly, shitty childhood she'd had with her mother.
But she couldn't ask if her mother had really been that awful. So instead she merely said, "I liked having you at the apothecary with me."
Caddy smiled. Somehow, that was enough.
Teddy came to walk Caddy back to Ravenclaw Tower at ten, just before curfew. Hermione cleaned quickly, took Poppy the Pepper Up, and then retired to her rooms alone.
She hadn't told Caddy the truth at all. It wasn't for her to worry about; it was already hard enough for her to be a normal seventeen year old girl. But in her quiet, dark room, she entertained her private worries. She couldn't figure out exactly how to reconcile with him, not when she had nothing to apologize for, and not when he was too proud to apologize. But she needed to reconcile with him. She wanted to tell him about the baby, the miracle baby they weren't supposed to be able to have.
In the twelve years they had been together, married for seven of them, they had never used protection. They had been surprised when nothing had come of it after two years of marriage (and the constant sex that accompanied those years), but merely resolved to have more sex. After three years, they were worried something was wrong.
It was her.
The healers finally deduced that despite everything—all the potions, curses, self-neglect—Severus had suffered, it was her. Or more to the point, it was Bellatrix fucking Lestrange and the goddamn Cruciatus Curse. It had caused irreparable damage to her body. The healers had explained that it had affected non-essential systems because the curse was not designed to kill, only injure but she had barely registered anything after they told her there was a less than two percent chance she would bring a child to full term.
They had decided to 'not try to not conceive'. For once, his wording had been clumsy, as he expressed his desire to not use protection in the hopes that a two percent chance was enough.
Apparently, it was.
But now she couldn't even tell him. She so desperately wanted to look at baby clothes and name books but didn't want to rob him of the opportunity to do the same after they'd both waited so long and endured the agony of watching their friends achieve what they so desired. He hadn't gotten to participate in Caddy's birth, and so although he had a child already, this would be the first pregnancy he really got to experience. She wanted to wait so they could do it together.
She just didn't want to have to wait very long.
Hermione's rooms as a potions professor were not very large. She had a kitchenette with a breakfast nook, a combination living room/library/study, and her bedroom. It was smaller than her flat over the apothecary where she had lived with Severus and Caddy after they married, but actually a tiny bit bigger than the flat Severus lived in after the war, once he had sold his place on Spinner's End.
She'd never actually stayed in her rooms. At Severus' insistence, she had applied for the position at the end of Caddy's first year and took it when Severus finally told her that he had been asked to serve as Headmaster—again. And so the apothecary—a house in Diagon Alley she'd bought years ago and converted the first floor into a store and lab- was boarded up during the school year and all the Snapes went to live in Hogwarts. Though Hermione would never mention it, she had been lonely, with Caddy at school permanently and Severus only coming home every other night, and she had a suspicion he knew.
They'd moved into his Headmaster's rooms, which had a full kitchen—he had scoffed at her kitchenette and said adding "ette" to the end of a word was just a cute way of saying it was small as shit—and a dining room, library, living room, and two bedrooms. It was a bit larger, actually, than the flat above the apothecary, but it was perfect for them.
It made her rooms feel like a prison. She couldn't sleep but had nothing to do; all her books, all her papers, were in their—his—rooms. When she paced in her rooms, she ended up spending more time turning than pacing because the rooms were so small.
So small that, although she was finally sleeping just before midnight, and was a room and a half away, she heard him stomp down the hallway outside her door. There was no knock, but she got up and crossed the room to open the door anyway. She could have sworn she saw the hem of his cloak swish around the corner just as she opened the door, but he wasn't there and she thought she must have been imagining things along she suspected she wasn't.
If she were a betting sort of woman, she would have wagered that she had come to attempt a reconciliation, now that they were going into their second night apart. The spiteful part of her brain was glad, since she'd attempted a reconciliation but found their wards changed, but mostly, she was upset that he hadn't knocked, that his pride had prevented him. She couldn't do anything with him if he wouldn't knock on the damn door.
Severus' rooms as headmaster were entirely too large. He had a dining room, library, living room, and two bedrooms. It was a bit larger, actually, than the flat above the apothecary, which accommodated the library they spent a great deal of their time in.
He absolutely hated it.
He liked it best during the holidays, when Caddy stayed in her room instead of Ravenclaw tower, and it was the three of them, alone, together. And then in the summer they'd open the apothecary for a few months and live in the flat above. The year before Hermione had begun teaching, he'd been miserable, in his professor's rooms. He tried to divide his time between the castle and the apothecary so he could see both Caddy and Hermione, but when he stayed at the castle, he slept alone, and when he stayed with her, it was conspicuously quiet with Caddy at school. Christmas, when they were all together again, was a welcome relief. She knew she'd been lonely too, not having Caddy home during the day and having him only every other night. He'd considered his options and finally decided that the only way to keep them all together was to bring Hermione to Hogwarts. And so he had insisted and she had agreed, and it was all set.
He'd moved in his headmaster's rooms the next year with her, and it had been wonderful. He'd gotten to see them both every day and slept in a warm bed every night, and she was happy, again, finally. They all were.
Except he fought with her. He knew he could be cruel, and he didn't always love her like she deserved, but he always missed her. He wished he hadn't done many things in his life, and yelling her was one of them. But now it had been too long and he was an ass and he was much about at causing problems than solving them.
"Hermione?" Hermione jumped, dropping her jam on toast, when Harry's head appeared in her fireplace the next morning, and then cringed when she realized that his head in her potion's professor's quarters meant he knew they were quarreling.
"Good morning, Harry," she sighed. "Spot of toast?"
He ignored her offer as he glared. He'd spent entirely too much time with her husband. "I've gotten some very interesting owl post from both Caddy and Teddy."
She winced but made herself sound nonchalant as she said "oh?"
"But the most interesting thing is that you have told me absolutely nothing," he said.
"I'm sorry, Harry I just—" she began.
"You know you can tell me anything, right?" He asked.
"Of course, I know—"
"And you can trust me completely-,"
"I just didn't want there to be anything to tell," she stated firmly.
He broke off his passive aggressive monologue to stare at her. "Hermione," he murmured softly, like she was a child.
She was wringing her hands but suddenly flung them away from herself, feeling stupid. "I just—Harry, I know I can trust you, and I can tell you anything, but I was hoping it would just go away, and so when I mentioned it to you it would just be a passing remark; "The weather's lovely here, Severus and I had a bit of a row but its all patched up and we went to Edinburg the other day and found the most lovely little book shop". But it's been a week now and telling you makes it official and important, and as much as I know its official and important, I'd like very much to deny how official and important it is."
The flames illuminated his conflicted feelings and he was suddenly emerging, full-figured from them, and his arms were around her before she could blink. "I'm sorry, Hermione. If there's anything I can do, just let me know."
She shook her head. "He'll get over it. We'll resolve it. I'm just so tired," she murmured. He kissed her forehead and held her a moment before he pulled away.
"I need you to resolve this, because I would feel obliged to fight him, and honestly, I'm afraid he'd win," he joked, and she found herself smiling.
"Harry, I must insist you not fight him. I'd rather not have a dead best friend and a prisoner husband," she teased.
He smiled roguishly. "Oh, ye of little faith."
After spending breakfast with Harry, Hermione found her spirits were considerably lifted. The same could not be said for Severus, who had taken another fifty points from Ravenclaw by lunch and was generally more miserable than usual. Though Hermione was not present, she heard from the Hogwarts rumor mill that Severus and Caddy had another row in the middle of a crowded corridor when he happened upon her walking to class with Teddy, their fingers intertwined. Despite being warned, she did not expect Caddy to storm into her lab for her detention that night.
"Sometimes, I just wish you were my real mother and he was just my step father," Caddy spat without preamble. "What the hell is wrong with you that you would marry someone so horrible?"
Hermione sighed and chose to pay heed to only the first part of that statement. "Oh, Caddy. He loves you so much, you know, even if he can't always show it. In fact, did you know he nearly broke up with me when you came to live with him?" She nodded at her step-daughter's shock. "Mm hm. He was so concerned about you. He said that if you and I didn't get along, he wouldn't be able to stay with me. We had been engaged before that and I gave him back my ring and stopped—well, he had been spending most nights at the apothecary with me, and that stopped. He was so worried that you would walk in on us and be exposed to something—adult. And then when it was decided that you did like me and I absolutely adored you, he asked you if you would be alright with us getting married. He loved me, but you were the center of his whole world."
Hermione leaned over at touched her step-daughter's nose. "As it should be."
Caddy sighed. "I know he loves me. He's just so difficult sometimes."
"You two will get through it. I think it's more shocking to realize that his little girl is growing up and meeting boys and preparing to leave him than anything else. I think he's mad that he can't keep you safe and happy in the corner of the apothecary anymore."
"I liked being kept safe and happy in the corner of the apothecary," Caddy admitted. "But I also like Teddy Lupin. A lot," this admission came with a shy smile.
"I was thinking of naming the baby Saffron if it's a girl," Hermione told Caddy a few nights later. She hadn't read the name books, but that didn't mean she'd been able to resist the urge of imagining.
"Oh? That's pretty," she replied absently.
"I thought so too. And I thought it would match your name; you'd both be colors and potions ingredients. Saffron and Cadmium are even fairly similar colors, too."
Caddy suddenly found herself choked up and it took her a moment to process and consciously recognize what her subconscious knew: Hermione wanted her in this family. Hermione wanted her to fit and be loved. Because Hermione loved her like a daughter, still, even though she would finally have her own daughter now. But she could never acknowledge these facts because she knew Hermione would be upset that Caddy had ever doubted she belonged in their family in the first place.
"Sometimes, you say things like that, and I forget that you're my step-mum," Caddy finally said, which was as close to the truth as she could safely get.
This admission startled Hermione. She couldn't bring herself to say anything but patted her hand where it rested on the table. She wanted to be Caddy's mum. That wretched woman didn't deserve her. And honestly, she had always felt a secret little thrill when Caddy introduced her and Severus as her parents, not just her father and step-mother.
"I will always, always, wish I could be your real mother. I love you and am so proud of you. And I know you're going to be an excellent older sister."
Caddy smiled and turned to the potion, embarrassed.
"Professor Snape?" Hermione called, stepping cautiously into his office.
"I have no time for idle chit chat, Professor Granger," he snarled.
"It's Professor Snape, actually. Or at least, it will be until the end of term," she corrected, however cryptically.
He looked at her coldly. "I see."
"No, I don't think you do. Because I'll still be Mrs. Snape, but I will no longer be a professor here," she informed her.
His glance was unreadable, but it was not a glare anymore, at least. "Are you turning in your resignation?" He finally asked.
"Yes. I plan to finish out the term but I will not return for the next. I understand that it is customary for the leaving professor assist with finding and interviewing applicants for the position and I intend to help as much as I can, of course."
"It is also customary for the leaving professor to give more than a few months notice," he snapped.
"But it is not required to give more than two. There are three before the end of this term alone," she reminded him.
"And why, pray tell, are you leaving, Professor Granger?" He asked, but patronizingly, and she wouldn't tell him, not when he was being like this.
"That's none of your business, actually, Headmaster," she said shortly but politely.
"I see. And have you discussed this with your husband?" He pried, playing along with her silly game.
"My husband's been away on business," she informed him.
"Oh?" He responded, one eyebrow raised questioningly.
"Yes. He has a very demanding job, you see. I think sometimes he forgets himself, but he always comes back to me. And I always wait for him." She told him, holding his gaze.
He stared at her, and she knew he was feeling many things all at once, from annoyance to anger to betrayal to –love, and she held his stare, willing him to realize how sincere she was, how much she loved him.
He broke first.
"I think you should go now, Professor Granger," he murmured.
She nodded. He wasn't ready; she wouldn't push him. She turned and went to the door but then paused. She turned just enough to see him, still sitting at the desk, her letter of resignation still in his hand but very much forgotten. "And it's Snape. Always." And she hoped he understood.
He could not sleep. He could not sleep but he could not stay in their quarters either. He didn't particularly feeling like staying in his own skin either, but he couldn't change that, so he settled for pacing the silent castle late at night.
Nearly a week after their separation, he heard a second pair of footsteps in the darkened halls and quickened his pace, expecting a delinquent student—perhaps his daughter. Instead, he found her. "Hermione?" He greeted, forgetting himself in his surprise.
"Hello, Severus," she responded quietly, looking like she'd been crying recently.
"What are you doing up at this hour?" He asked.
"I couldn't sleep," she replied simply.
"Nor could I," he told her.
They didn't say what they really meant, though, that they couldn't sleep alone. That they couldn't sleep without each other. But the way he was looking at her, without anger or stringency, she knew he knew. And so neither made the first move, but they were suddenly moving together, with her falling into him, and him pulling her closer.
"I'm sorry, I know I was horrible to her, and to you," he apologized very quickly, urgently, as if he were afraid to live another moment with his guilt. "I just don't want her to. . ."
"Sh, sh," she whispered. "I know, I know. You don't want her to grow up and you don't want him to hurt her. And you know I love her, but you feel responsible for her and you think that you bear that responsibility alone because of biology. And I know you're afraid that you are doing something wrong, and so you can't take me undermining you because it confirms your fears. And I know," her voice faltered. "And I know you love me, completely, and I love you."
He breathed a broken sob into her neck as he held her. "You didn't come home," he finally said. And she knew didn't say it accusingly or out of bitterness but because it was the closest he could come to saying exactly what he meant, that he had been afraid she wouldn't come home. That she didn't want to come home. That she didn't want to come home to him.
"I tried," she whispered. "The next night. You had changed the wards."
He stiffened. He had forgotten he'd done so in a fit of rage. "I'm sorry," he finally admitted. "I had forgotten."
She sighed. "Caddy is so much like you, you know. Neither of you trusts anyone to love you. After every argument, every fight, you both assume its over, that you're going to be left behind, and I hate that you always feel that way because I know why you feel that way, because I know Lily and her mother were horrible to you both, respectively. But I love you, both of you. And I know you love her and me. And I know she loves you and me. And no one is going anywhere, ever." After a beat, she added "And I don't think Teddy Lupin will either." She was trying to be funny but couldn't laugh. He pulled her close again because she had begun to cry softly. "I love you, Severus Snape, even when you make it difficult," she breathed, but he heard her.
He didn't know what he should say. He didn't know what he could say, to this wonderful woman who knew and understood his feelings even when he was so poor at expressing them.
Finally, he said all he could think to say. "Let's go home, now, love."
And she knew that he meant everything in those five words.
After, much later, she moved to face him in their bed. "Can I ask you something?" She finally asked, because she was too happy to be sleepy now.
He cracked an eye open. She knew he hadn't really been asleep yet. "You always do," he drawled.
"Why were you ever with. . . Jaci?" Gods, she hated saying that
He inwardly groaned. Gods, her questions were never easy. "Because she didn't remind me of Lily, in any way, at all," he finally said
Good god, she was looking at him and he knew he was expected to keep talking. He sighed. "Every woman I have ever met since Lily was either like Lily in some way or didn't matter to me enough to register. When I met Jaci in that coffee shop, and we had what you romantics would call a "meet cute", I was shocked and . . .happy that she did not remind me of Lily. It was refreshing. I was . . . intrigued. . . and wanted to know her better."
He looked at her, hesitant. "It helped that she was easy."
"What did you see in me, then, initially?" She asked, and he knew she was merely curious, like the Gryffindor she was, and not trying to trick him or bait him, but that didn't make him want to talk about it any more.
"Jaci did not remind of Lily, and I liked that. Lily reminds me of you, and I like that more. She is compared to you; you are not compared to her. When I realized that for the first time, she was not my measuring stick, I knew you were special to me, even though I hadn't realized it fully yet." He paused when he felt her tears on his chest. "Hermione?"
"I just always thought she was first still," she whispered.
"You have been first since the moment I realized I loved you."
"But you said 'always'." She murmured, and he knew she meant the memory Harry had seen in pensieve, of him talking to Dumbledore about Lily, and he cringed. He'd meant it when he said it then, but his patronus had not been a doe for many years now.
"But you changed everything," he told her sincerely.
"I love you," she said because it was all she could say.
He held her close as her tears subsided and eventually asked a question of his own. "Are you still leaving?"
She kissed his cheek affectionately but nodded. "I can be your colleague or your wife, Severus. And so I chose to be your wife."
"I promise. . ." He began, his voice laced with desperation and apology, but she cut him off.
"There is another reason."
"Oh?" His eyebrow raised as he looked at her in surprise. This, she figured, was a good a time as any.
"Do you remember what you said to me, after you found the pregnancy test and then caught Caddy and Teddy snogging?" She began.
"Hermione, I am truly sorry about that—"
"That's very sweet, darling, but not what I was getting at. Remember that you told me I couldn't ruin your only child, or something like that?" She continued.
"I'm sorry, Hermione-"
"You didn't know how to read that pregnancy test, did you?"
He looked at her, confused and unsure what this had to do with anything, but answered her anyway. "No, I couldn't find the directions. I didn't know if pink was positive or negative. I only knew that some student had needed a pregnancy test."
She smiled. "Well, pink was positive, and it wasn't a student. . ."
He sat up suddenly, propping himself up on an elbow. He opened his mouth but it was dry, and words failed him. She smiled demurely and waited, patiently, until finally, stumbling over his words clumsily, he managed. "What are you saying, Hermione?"
She kissed him softly. "That I'm pregnant, Severus."
His expression was suddenly unreadable and she knew it was because he didn't want to get his hopes up, didn't want to get hurt again, but she hated it. "It wasn't possible," she said.
"It wasn't probable," she corrected.
"Are you sure?" He nearly stuttered.
She only smiled. "Positive. I took the test—which you found—and then confirmed with Poppy. I'm about three months along."
He kissed her, suddenly, hard, on the mouth before she had time to react as his hand slid to her belly to caress the faintest of bumps where their child grew.
"We'll have the happiest of families," he promised.
"We always have," she reminded.
"Professor Snape," Caddy greeted as she made her way into his office. She didn't exactly want to be there, but given that he was the headmaster, she'd had no choice but to respond to his summons.
"I think dad will do, for now," he corrected softly.
She sneered. "That remains to be seen."
He laughed suddenly, in his barking way, and she was both alarmed and annoyed.
"What? What's so funny?" She snapped.
"Hermione told me just this morning that you and I were alike, but I had never realized how right she was until just now," he explained. It had never clicked until he heard her reiterate his own lines with his own sneer right before his eyes.
"You talked to Hermione this morning?" Caddy asked, losing the sneer instantly.
He smiled. "Yes."
"So you two are alright then?" She pressed, hopefully.
"Yes. And I'd like to make things alright between you and I as well. I am sorry, Caddy," he told her sincerely.
But she wasn't ready to forgive him yet. Caddy lifted her bangs suddenly. "Normal dads don't do this to their daughters."
He pulled her close and brushed his thumb over the tattoo carefully. It was no longer as bright, but it was still undeniably there. She felt the warm glow of magic tickle her skin and knew the ink was disappearing. He leaned forward to kiss her forehead before releasing her.
"I'm sorry," he said finally. "I reacted poorly."
"You're not following formula," she informed him matter-of-factly.
"Excuse me?" He replied, baffled as to what exactly she meant.
"Remember when I was little and if I did something bad and you made me apologize? There was a formula. You have to say you're sorry, and what you're sorry for, what will you do to prevent yourself from doing it again, and how you will fix it. For example, when I was playing catch with myself in the apothecary and broke a bunch of vials of polyjuice, you told me the formula, and I had to tell Hermione that I was sorry for breaking it, and that I would be more careful in the future, and I would help her brew more. Your turn."
"Fine," he huffed. "I'm sorry for hurting and embarrassing you by reacting poorly. In the future, I will try to remember that you're growing up and accept your actions as an adult. I have already removed the stain and will now give you a very big hug."
She laughed as he pulled her in for a tight hug.
"You owe Teddy an apology too," she told him.
"Don't push it," he growled, but kissed her forehead nonetheless, and she laughed.
Caddy graduated just a few months later. It would have been difficult for Severus to watch her graduate and leave him, knowing that Hermione would not be returning either, except that he had also turned in his resignation.
He had decided, almost as soon as she had told him she was pregnant, that there was really no reason to remain at the castle. He had never loved teaching. He had only begun out of obligation, stayed because there was nothing else he could do, and once that was not enough, Caddy had been enough reason to stay. Now that she and Hermione were both leaving, there was nothing to keep him there. So he did the only reasonable thing and left.
They had found a house not far from the Potter's in Godric's Hollow. It had the perfect room for a nursery and a library and the basement was easy enough to make into a potion's lab. Moreover, they would not ever lack for a babysitter, between Caddy and the Potter's growing baby fever. They also had a room for Caddy, though she was going to live above the apothecary.
It was strange for them—especially for her—to move out of the place that had been their home for so long. It was stranger for Caddy to be living alone in the house where she had grown up, and moreover, to be sleeping in her parents' old bedroom. She felt like she was a child playing pretend, like her father would come in at any moment, raise an eyebrow, and ask her what exactly she thought she was doing.
But now they only came over to work in the apothecary, and it was starting to hit her that she was all grown up. She opened the apothecary by herself every morning, and then her parents would show up around ten, and leave around six, and she would close up by herself at eight. It was a small, quiet business that was nonetheless doing well. Teddy was not-so-secretly living with her when he wasn't at auror training, and she supposed that the timing of the baby worked out for the best, because her father was too busy worried about the baby to properly realize that she was living with her boyfriend. It made her feel a little extra sibling bonding with the yet unborn baby, because that's what sisters were supposed to do—distract parents and get away with things they weren't supposed to do.
Things had, in all, very much turned around since that horrible night. Severus and Hermione were not fighting, Severus and Caddy were not fighting, Severus and Teddy were not fighting, and in addition to not fighting anyone any longer, Severus seemed to have become an exponentially happier person.
She knew they were an odd family. A man who had loved a dead woman for decades, a woman who had been his student-turned-wife who wasn't supposed to be able to have children but was, a girl who had grown up with a mother who used art as an excuse for doing drugs. But to reduce each of them to such terms was to misrepresent them each horribly. And to try to reduce their family, however odd it was, to the components of each of its three members was to do a great injustice to what they really more. As odd of a family as they were, they were a family nonetheless, with as much love and dysfunctionality as the word implied. They were them. And they were happy. And they planned to stay that way.