A/N- The characters (sigh) are not mine.
Holy hell, it' been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry for that!
Monkeywand rocks my face off with her awesomeness!
Eternal thanks to everyone reading and reviewing!
This chapter is written from Snape's point of view. I hope you enjoy.
Waking with a massive kink in his neck, Severus attempted to alleviate the pain by rolling his head only to be met with a frizzy mass of hazelnut scented hair. Smiling crookedly, he kissed the unruly mane that he had come to admire as well as the witch such chaos was attached to.
Opening his eyes, the wizard gazed down at Hermione who was still swaddled in his arms on his lap. Severus nearly gagged at the Hufflepuffishness of his thoughts but looking down at his sleeping witch he thought she looked so small, fragile and innocent. He knew that all three of those adjectives did not apply to Hermione Granger; now more than ever because he had found out in a relatively short time that she was one of the strongest most determined witches he had ever met. Her physical size held no contest to the gargantuan magnitude of her personality and her feisty attitude laughed the word 'innocent' right out of the room.
Hermione Granger was a true force to be reckoned with and through copious amounts of dumb luck; Severus had the unmitigated privilege to be welcomed around the witch. Not only that, he was granted intimate access to the fiery nymph who was carrying his progeny.
Severus had tried to figure out what exactly he had ever done in his miserable existence to become such a lucky sod but he still was ignorant of the answer.
Brushing her hair away from her face, Severus' dextrose hand moved down to cover Hermione's swollen stomach as he remembered the nearly suffocating mixture of anxiety and concern that filled him the moment he'd heard about the witch's complications last night. Even now, he couldn't fathom what he would have done if Hermione hadn't come back to him last night, the lengths he would have gone to find her or how he could carry on if the problems Hermione faced with the pregnancy were more severe.
Mentally shaking the last thought from his mind, Severus concentrated on feeling any movement from his son. There was nothing for long moments but then there was a light pressure against his index finger followed by a more prominent movement under his thumb.
"There you are…little one? Is that what your mother calls you?" Severus whispered lightly. He couldn't help but smile when a flurry of movement erupted under his hand. Looking up to Hermione's serene appearance of slumber, the wizard wondered how such alien movement did not wake her. He couldn't imagine it being very comfortable. Turning back to his hand that covered his son, he whispered, "I would appreciate it very much if you didn't give your mother any more trouble until you are at the adequate gestational period to be birthed, little one."
There was another series of little kicks and the wizard frowned. "Are…are you able to hear me, little one?"
"I think he can."
Severus quickly looked at Hermione who gave him a sleepy smile as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
"He seems really happy when you speak to him," one of her small hands covered his, "just now, he sent warmth radiating through me when you spoke to him…it was a really strong wave too." Stifling a yawn, the witch's cinnamon eyes smiled up at him, "Don't you ever sleep?"
"Why do you ask?" he purposely answered her question with a question to irk the witch as his thumb absently stroked her stomach.
"Because whenever I'm awake, you are too."
"So your logic is; if you never see me sleeping, then I never sleep?" The wizard raised an eyebrow and drawled, "Are you sure you want to go with that? You do sleep a lot so there is high probability of holes being poked through that theory of yours."
"I do not sleep a lot! You are just an insomniac and haven't a clue what a normal night's sleep is." She lightly elbowed him as she moved out of his arms to stand. She waved her hand and numbers glittered into being as she shuffled to the bathroom. "It's not even nine in the bloody morning, Severus!"
"Oh, you can tell time! I'm so proud."
"Fuck off!" Hermione said; half in jest, half in agitation.
"Touchy," the wizard smirked as the door slammed shut. "I think someone needs another twelve hour nap," He stood and stretched as he deciphered what Hermione was saying through the door.
"You are infuriating, do you know that? I don't need any more sleep, I just need you to shut your gob and I'll be sorted!" The witch opened the door to the loo, "Must I mention that I'm pregnant and severely hormo-"
"Would you relax witch." Severus chuckled minutely at the bedraggled beauty.
With her frown changing from one of aggravation to that of puzzlement, Hermione asked, "Are...are you...joking?"
The wizard grinned smugly at her even as he drawled, "I do not do such rudimentary things as...joke."
A bright smile burst forth on Hermione's lightly freckled face, "You are! You are joking! Severus Snape, intimidating meanie of a wizard, is playfully teasing me!"
"I'd never thought I'd see the day you would be kidding."
He snorted, "Who says 'meanie' anymore?"
"I do," she giggled. "You surprise me Professor Snape."
"Everything we've been through recently and my sense of humor is what surprises you?"
"More like the discovery of you actually having a sense of humor." Her expression was so warm and accepting as she gazed up at him. "No, recently, everything you've done has surprised me."
Snape felt himself being wrapped tighter and tighter around the witch's little finger. He was finding it more difficult to find reasons to care about his sure migration into codependence though.
She didn't have to know such facts.
"Once again," he stated imperiously as he smoothed the wrinkles on his slacks and dress shirt, "I never tease, joke or kid. I am simply putting into question your logic." Straightening his posture, he tsked, "A know-it-all of your stature should know the difference."
Hermione giggled before forcing a serious continence as she crossed her arms. "My logic is sound as always, professor."
He shook his head in feigned disappointment. "That'll be your over-inflated ego talking. I really ought to have something done about that."
"Something done?" she asked as she walked up to him and narrowed her eyes, "You me handle me, don't you? Are you sure such a thing is feasible, what's your plan?"
"I have quite a few ideas." his arms slid around her.
"Are you going to punish me?" She purred as she placed her hands on his shoulders and rose to her tippy-toes.
"Likely." Severus waited with bated breath for Hermione's lips to touch his own. It was sickening and wholly aggravating how she managed to bring out such a pathetic side of him but then again that was another fact he was losing the ability to care about.
The wizard instinctively closed his eyes when the witch closed the distance between them, so it was unexpected when the little minx nipped his ear and whispered, "You really think anything you're thinking at the moment would be considered punishment or that it would do anything to deflate my ego?" She giggled as she pulled away from Severus. "Face it, my brooding little insomniac, I'm right, you're wrong... It's not my fault you just can't handle a little competition."
Snape watched as she effortlessly put an innocent expression onto her features and punctuated her look with a tiny little shrug. "Why you little...now who's teasing?" He snatched her arm and pulled her back to him, "Impudent witch."
"Contemptible wizard," she snaked her arms around his narrow waist.
Welcoming her closeness, Severus encircled her in his arms, "Are you sure you do not need more rest?"
Shaking her head against his chest, Hermione said, "I'm up, might as well get going." She moved to look up at him, "Are we really going to Australia for my parents?"
The wizard nodded, "If that's what you want, then that's what we'll do."
As ridiculous as it was, Severus felt that Hermione's smiles were becoming something of a balm for his tense, angry, paranoid existence. She seemed to be able to calm the rage roiling deep within him with an upward curve of her pouty lips; short time frame be damned.
"How will we get there?"
Moving to frame Hermione's face, Severus confessed, "I…I want this to be as stress free on you as possible but that means it has to be done quickly and that avenue carries the most risk of being caught." He bent down to kiss her lips.
"Then let's not go that route. Honestly, Severus, you can't be caught…you just can't be. So if we have to sail on a muggle ship, fly by plane or broom or your little black cloudy thing… I'll do whatever we have to."
"And you and our son have to stay safe and free from any more complications, Hermione!" Severus said hastily, "Prolonged travel will most assuredly be very hard on the both of you. Muggle travel takes entirely too long and I can almost guarantee that if you have any aversion to flight, you will have the same issues with traveling via ship."
The witch huffed and moved away, "Then what are our options?"
Severus hesitated before saying, "Hermione, I'm the one on the Auror's most wanted list, not you…not yet." He paused, "Maybe it would be best if we travel separately."
"NO!" she looked equal parts angry and hurt. "You said you wouldn't leave! You said we would travel, Severus, together-"
The wizard was quick to speak over the witch's protests as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "Understand me now, witch, I am not leaving you, only introducing another option." Severus saw the unshed tears filling the witch's eyes and hoped she tempered her emotions; he disliked seeing her cry. "The Ministry has no concrete evidence on you and, unless one of your loudmouthed friends speaks out of turn, that is how it will stay for the short-term. Perhaps we can use that to our advantage, you take an international portkey to Sydney and I will apparate in quick succession to the same destination."
Hermione took several deep breaths before she found her voice again. "W-won't that take you ages?"
"It will take longer than your journey but I will give you enough money for food and a place to stay. All you will need to do is find an unsuspecting and very muggle hotel to shut yourself within until I arrive."
"How long will it take you, how will you find me?"
They were good questions, ones Severus didn't have answers to. He was about to tell the witch as much and work with her keen mind to solve the problem when he felt his wards being breeched. It was the outer ward that gave him about seven seconds to prepare for whatever was approaching. His black eyes turned to the door. "Hermione, barricade yourself within the bathroom! Open it for no one but me!"
His eyes cut to the witch and he spat, "Do it, now!" Just as he spoke there was yelp outside of the door as well as a string of expletives. Severus was almost as fast as lightning as he ran to the door and opened it before wandlessly confronting the people he had already labeled as threats to himself and his family.
Before he registered who was in the hallway, he silently sent a spell to push and pin the three bodies to the wall opposite the door.
"SNAPE, YOU BASTARD, LET US GO!"
In front of him, stuck to the wall like lacewing flies to sticky paper, were Ronald Weasley, Ginevra Weasley and Harry Potter.
Severus ignored the boys completely as he turned to the Weasley girl and let her loose from the wall. "This is a blatant disregard of your oath!"
Ginny stood from the ground, "No it's not! My oath stated that I would never speak of you and Hermione's location, I never said anything about showing anyone."
"That," the wizard paused for a moment, "Is completely Slytherin."
She rolled her eyes, "Or simple common sense."
Severus raised an eyebrow, "Is there a difference," he asked snidely. "Now what are you doing here, Miss Weasley, and why in Merlin's name did you bring them? Who else do you plan on bringing here?"
"No one! Calm down, Snape, I brought Harry and Ron because they wanted to come; I shouldn't have to tell you why." The redhead looked positively pissed as she straightened her clothes and picked up what looked to be The Prophet from the ground. "And this is why we are here!"
The Weasley girl shoved the front page of The Prophet in his face and what he read made his blood boil and run ice cold all at once.
DECIEVED BY A HEROINE: THE DESPERATE ACTIONS OF HERMIONE GRANGER.
BY: RITA SKEETER
"Severus, what in the hell-" Hermione peaked around the wizard to see her redheaded friend. "GINNY!" she jumped up and down before hugging the witch.
"Do you ever listen, witch," Severus asked Hermione as he tore The Prophet out of Weasley's hand before she and Hermione got lost in their greetings; acting as if they haven't seen each other in a millennia.
He read on distractedly.
Hermione Granger, one third of the infamous Golden Trio,
seems to have turned to the dark side. Or, is it simply
that she was never quite as golden as she portrayed. As
many readers may remember, Miss Granger was quite the
practiced heartbreaker some years ago. She was found
many times shamelessly canoodling with 'best friend',
Harry Potter, and Tri-Wizard competitor, Victor Krum. It
seems that Hermione is a one wizard witch these days
seeing that the witch currently has a bun in the oven. My
sources reviled that the father of the baby is none other
than Severus Snape; the Auror's most wanted undesirable.
Hindsight being what it is, was Miss Granger's blatant
cries for attention more than three years ago directed at
one particular wizard? Just how long have the morally
corrupted couple been together anyway?
The Minister has been playing it close to the vest but my
sources let loose the fact that Hermione Granger helped
Snape break out of St. Mungo's and that a warrant has
been drafted and signed for her arrest. All I can say is; oh
how the self-proclaimed mighty have fallen. I hope
Hermione Granger knows that there is no maternity ward
Severus looked up from the parchment in his hands to see the witches finished with their reunion and currently working out how to get the disgruntled wizards unstuck from the wall. "How much of this drivel is true, Miss Weasley?" With a snap of his fingers, Potter and the Weasley boy dropped unceremoniously to the floor.
Hermione turned, "What drivel?"
He handed The Prophet over for her to read.
Ginny helped her boyfriend off of the floor and then kept a firm grip on his arm to hold him back. "As much as I hate to say it, pretty much everything that pretentious cow has written is true."
Severus turned to see his witch crumpling up the sorry excuse for a news provider up and setting it aflame before he turned to Miss Weasley. "Thank you for informing us of this recent development," he nodded towards the wizards, "Now take them and leave before something unfortunate happens to the both of them."
"Fuck you, Snape," Harry hissed. "I'm here to see my friend, not you!"
The dark wizard's tenuous grasp on his building temper snapped as he reached out and took hold of the collar of Potter's shirt and roughly yanked the boy towards him. "Watch your tongue boy or I'll rip it from your conceited little mouth!" The hate and anger he had for the nitwit in his grasp had Severus trying hard to remember why it was not okay to use unforgivables. "I should tear you limb from limb, Potter! How dare you come here and have the audacity to use the term 'friend' when you clearly have no understanding of the concept!"
"Let him go, Snape!" Ron growled at the dark wizard.
Ginny had her wand pointed at Snape. "Let him go, you tosser! Hermione, tell him to let Harry go!"
The pregnant witch looked up from the pile of ash on the ground; her eyes wild with anger. "No, I think I'll let Severus do what he wants with Harry."
Severus turned to her with an expression of shock; which he assumed was present on everyone else's face.
The redheaded witch shook her head, "You can't possibly mean that!"
"And what if I do?" Hermione spat as she turned to glare at her messy-haired friend. "This is your fault!" She pointed to the ash on the floor, "How could you have told anyone MY business?"
Severus turned to the boy and grasped his shirt collar tighter, "Answer her, Potter!" the wizard shook him to punctuate every word.
Harry looked bewildered as he stared dumbly from Snape, to Hermione and then back again. "Y-y…y-you think I did that?" it was his turn to point to the pile of ash on the carpet. He turned to Hermione, "You think I really went to the Aurors?"
Hermione crossed her arms, "Was that not the threat?"
Harry struggled to free himself from the dark wizard's grasp. "I WAS ANGRY, HERMIONE!" he stopped moving and focused solely on his spurned friend. "I had just found out that you were sleeping with Snape!"
Severus noticed both boys cringe at the mention.
"Voldemort's pet and Dumbledore's killer!"
"Gha! We've already been through this, Harry!" Hermione almost whined.
"I know, but that doesn't change how I feel about him!" Harry barked. "Not only that, you also told us you were-are pregnant with his kid! How exactly did you think I'd react?"
Ron stepped up, "Yeah, Mione, yesterday was a shock and we all were emotional wrecks."
Hermione shouted back, "And that's supposed to justify your ugly words towards me?" She glared at the redheaded wizard, "Saying my baby was nothing more than spawn," her angry eyes cut back to Harry, "Threatening to go to the Auror's office." Hermione's voice cracked, "Walking away from me like I was a lost cause and the last seven years meant nothing!"
A new wave of anger hit Severus as he remembered the argument and what happened after. He lifted Potter off the ground by his shirt collar, "Do you know what happened after you left her by that pond…what could have happened had Miss Weasley not had the wherewithal to keep a sensible mind?"
Harry flailed slightly before he shouted, "I KNOW!" he tried to turn to the pregnant witch as best as he could, "I'm sorry, Hermione! I can't apologize enough for the way I acted towards you yesterday. I was the epitome of a horrible friend and I'm ashamed of myself." He struggled against Snape's hold a bit more, "Be mad at me, I want you to be but at least talk to me. Gin told me you were leaving today…"
Ron's voice wavered, "Leaving without saying goodbye."
"Well you didn't exactly give me much of a choice," Hermione huffed.
"Yes, we all know Harry and Ron are arses for what they did and didn't do," Ginny spoke over the boy's affronted protests, "But I think we have bigger things to worry about; like the fact that there are warrants out for both of your arrests now!"
Severus' black eyes glared from Miss Weasley to Potter before he turned to the bushy-haired witch. As much as he wanted to hex the arrogant sod into next year, this was Hermione's call. Whatever she chose, he would abide by but that didn't stop him from hoping for a miracle.
Hermione's cinnamon eyes caught his ink black ones as she sighed, "Severus, let Harry go."
The wizard didn't even extend the courtesy of placing Potter back on the ground first as he purposely took the pregnant witch's words in the most literal context.
Hermione turned and went back into the room; without a word.
Severus reluctantly dropped his wards for Potter and the Weasley brats as he followed his witch inside.
Snape sat at the small table next to the window and was surprised when Hermione moved to perch herself on his knee. Looking up, he saw his shock as well as a fair amount of disgust on Potter and the Weasley boy's face. Though it was rather blatant and childish, the wizard had to admit -if only to himself- that it was quite amusing to make the dolts uncomfortable.
"So," Severus' deep voice caught everyone's attention, "if you weren't the one to open your disrespectful mouth, Potter, who spoke of our business to the authorities and that rag of a news article?"
Harry looked as if he was on the verge of a tantrum as he balled his fists, glared at Snape and spoke through gritted teeth, "Haven't the foggiest but it's not like Hermione's...condition is much of a secret if she went to St. Mungo's."
"Are you saying professional conduct is subpar at St. Mungo's?" Hermione asked with an anxious undercurrent.
"Unlikely," Severus fielded the question, "Every member of the medical staff has to take a patient confidentiality oath. They would not be able to speak of a patient's condition unless it's with other employees."
"But surely there are loopholes," Ginny spoke up.
Hermione turned to peer at the dark wizard, "Yeah, look at how easily Gin navigated around her oath."
"Yeah and what about any nosey patient or passersby, they have no oath to adhere to do they." Ron said as he sat down at the foot of the bed only to immediately stand back up and stare warily at the messed up bedding.
Severus smirked wickedly at Weasley discomfort as he sat forward to wrap his right arm around Hermione's waist. "I said it was unlikely the leak came from St. Mungo's staff, I didn't say it was impossible."
Hermione leaned against Snape and draped her left arm over his shoulders.
Potter twitched before voicing his unease, "Ugh, do you two have to do that?" He shook his head and averted his eyes, "I said the way I acted was wrong Mi, I didn't say I was at all at ease with the both of you as a couple!"
Ron nodded, "There are other places to sit, Mione!"
Ginny rolled her eyes, "Can't you both see they're deliberately winding you up?"
Hermione chuckled, "Your expressions are priceless."
Uncaring of anyone's issues with his proximity to Hermione, Severus thought about the matter concerning who could possibly know so much about himself and Hermione, "Could it have been Skeeter? She is an Animagus after all."
"No, she was banned from the hospital the day you left; long unimportant story." The witch was obviously deep in thought before she spoke again, "Did Kingsley seem…I dunno, odd or anything to any of you yesterday?"
Harry still seemed a bit squeamish as he kept his eyes averted and answered, "No."
"He was like he always is," Ron elaborated.
Ginny nodded, "Yeah, until…" the redhead's eyes rounded as she inhaled quickly, "Until he got that Patronus alerting him of an emergency last night!"
Ron snapped his fingers as if a light bulb just lit up in his head, "You're right!" He turned to Hermione and Snape, "He stayed at the Burrow until late last night; most of the Order did. Anyway, he was talking to our father when a gigantic shark came bursting into the sitting room and told Kingsley that there was an emergency that needed his attention. He was up and saying his goodbyes before the Patronus disappeared!"
Ginny nodded, "That was most likely an Auror wanting Shacklebolt's signature on the warrant. But why would he sign off on Hermione's arrest, I would have thought he would have consulted the Order."
"Well, not just anyone can call upon the Minister of Magic." the dark wizard stated, "Whoever called him had to have clout. If that person had damaging evidence against Hermione, Shacklebolt would have no choice but to sign the warrant."
The wizard turned to look questioningly at the witch still perched on his knee.
"I don't know how, but it had to have been Auror Truth," Hermione said as she stood and began to pace. "He has some sort of vendetta against Severus-"
Ron scoffed, "Yeah, who doesn't?"
Hermione huffed in exasperation before continuing. "Truth confronted me yesterday; basically guessing that I was Severus' accomplice and he's gunning for me, Severus and the Head-Auror position!"
"But he had no proof when he confronted you," Severus reminded her, "Kingsley wouldn't sign a warrant to arrest one third of the Golden Trio without significant evidence."
"Then somehow he got significant evidence! It really doesn't matter now because what's done is done, Severus, now we have to concentrate on getting out of here!" Hermione said with an impatient tinge to her voice. "Your plan for travel won't work now so we've got to think of another."
"You had a plan for travel, what was it?" Ginny asked.
Hermione answered, "I was going to take an international portkey to Sidney and Severus was going to Appara-"
Harry turned to stare daggers at Snape as he interrupted his friend, "You were going to let her travel by herself?" He turned to Hermione, "And you actually thought it was a good idea?" he turned back to the dark wizard, "This is all your fault, you wanker! Hermione has to run because of you and you were probably planning on leaving her! That's why you wanted to travel separately!"
Severus felt like backhanding the brat as he stood and spat, "Keep silent about things you know nothing of, Potter!"
"ENOUGH," Hermione shouted as she insinuated herself between Harry and Severus, "Both of you!" She turned to the dark wizard, "I know that's not what you were going to do." She turned to glare at Harry, "And I would run whether my freedom was on the line or not! I do not feel duty-bound or as if I've somehow drawn the short straw here, Harry! Severus isn't making me do a damn thing! I've chosen this path for myself…for him, for my family…to keep my family together."
"But we're your family too!" Harry bit out.
"Yes, you are, and though I will always love all of you like my siblings, you have to understand that…you don't take priority over Severus and my son."
Severus was struck dumb. He'd never come before anyone to anyone, ever. He saw the offended looks on the Weasleys' and Potter's faces and wondered how Hermione would justify this obvious insult to the brats.
"Harry, you've been my main concern for so long, you have to understand that you just can't be that anymore. Situations change as do priorities. I would never want to come before Ginny on your list of priorities and I know that even though Ginny loves her brother, Ron does not come before you on her list."
"Wow, you're really doing loads to make me feel wanted, Mi." Ron mumbled as he crossed his arms and sulked.
The redheaded witch rolled her eyes at her brother, "Ron, this isn't a confidence building exercise for you, alright? We all love you," She gestured to the dark wizard, "Snape excluded. Now shut it so we can get back to the matter at hand." Ginny grasped her boyfriend's arm and pulled him back behind her as she asked Hermione, "Now that you can't go anywhere near the Ministry, how are you two going to get out of the country?"
Hermione shrugged, "I suppose we'll have to travel the muggle way; for some time, anyway."
Ginny huffed, "Well, you obviously didn't read the rest of The Prophet before unleashing your inner pyro. Aurors are monitoring every type of travel; even muggle."
"Why in bloody hell would she read anymore than that headline?" Severus asked snidely. "That waste of parchment gets exponentially shoddier with every issue. It practically robs one of brain cells with every turn of the page," he nodded to Potter and Weasley, "some more precious than others."
Ron frowned before he obviously got the jibe, "HEY!"
Hermione turned and glared at her wizard, "Severus, every second you spend goading Harry and Ron is another second not spent finding a solution to our traveling dilemma. That in itself, Severus, is a problem. Stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution before I hex you!"
Severus scowled as Hermione's attention shifted to the ginger-headed witch again.
"How are they monitoring travel?"
Ron spoke up, "Shacklebolt banned any broom travel and apparition in or out of the country for a week. Aurors are dressed like muggle authorities and set up at every major train station and plane port-"
Harry corrected his friend, "You mean airport, mate."
"Yeah, yeah," Ron turned back to Hermione, "Their even searching fairies, although, I don't know why. No fairy is going to get mixed up in a wizard's business."
Hermione shook her head, "No a ferry, in muggle terms, is a boat that allows muggles to-" she shook her head, "Never mind."
"International floo travel is on hold for a week and international portkeying is being monitored way too closely," Ginny finished in a defeated tone. "I-I just don't see how both of you are going to get out."
"Well, what about polyjuice?" Ron suggested.
"I only have enough for one of us and if you came up with such a suggestion this quickly, Weasley, you can bet The Ministry and, by extension, the Aurors have already put a system in place to search for such a subterfuge." Severus drawled.
"You know what, I'm sick of you, Snape, at least I'm trying to help!" Ron barked.
"Severus," Hermione warned.
Locking his eyes with the pregnant witch, Severus thought for a moment about possible solutions and spoke absently. "What we need…is something similar to polyjuice or a glamour…with no magical signature what so ever."
Harry scoffed, "A glamour is a charm and, by definition, has magical properties and therefore a magical signature."
"And that is why I said 'something similar to', Potter!" Severus was ready to tear into the messy-haired little arse when he felt a small hand on his chest. Looking down, he saw Hermione beaming up at him and was instantly filled with confusion.
"Severus, you're a genius!"
What…in the hell…?
Hermione began to laugh, "Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?"
"Thought of what?" Everyone else in the room asked in unison.
The pregnant witch nibbled her lower lip, "It's so blatantly obvious!" she began giggling again.
"Hermione, would you be so kind as to enlighten all of us." Snape spoke with measured patience.
"We, as a people, rely heavily on sight," Hermione began explaining excitedly, "Regardless of if we should or not, people on the whole, take what they see to be fact."
Ron cleared his throat, "Yeah...muggles maybe, but we're magical, we know seeing can rarely be believing."
"Exactly, Ron!" Hermione pointed to him and then clapped giddily.
The redhead puffed out his chest at the praise.
"Witches and wizards do not rely as heavily on sight as they do on feeling."
Severus frowned, "You mean touch."
"No, I mean feel," the pregnant witch shook her head. "From the very moment we're born," she motioned between her and Harry, "Or, in our case, from the moment we go to Diagon Alley or pass onto platform nine and three-quarters, we learn how to feel magic... In our surroundings and ourselves, we feel out magic to help us see what our eyes can't." Hermione giggled and held her arms out expectantly towards the dark wizard.
Still very puzzled, Snape bent low for the witch's arms to wrap around his neck. She kissed him; seemingly uncaring of their audience.
"Don't you see?" she whispered only to him.
His obsidian orbs locked with her eyes that were dancing with excitement and wished he could grasp her logic. "No."
Pulling away but still staying within the wizard's arms, Hermione said, "How can anyone feel for magic that isn't there, and thusly, how could we be singled out?"
Clearing his throat, Harry asked, "Am I missing something?"
Severus was glad the whelp asked such a question so he wouldn't have to. He was actually wondering if the witch was more exhausted than she seemed and was now slipping into a state of delirium. He watched closely as she turned to her friends and smiled.
"Misdirection, Harry. Aurors are thinking like Aurors which means they're barely thinking at all and definitely not thinking like a muggle. I bet you ten galleons that they expect us to try and flee by magical means or use magic to change our appearance." She turned back to Snape and smiled, "So isn't it obvious, then, that we don't?"
"Use magic to change our appearance."
Severus looked at her large cinnamon eyes pleading for his approval and sighed. "Hermione, you aren't making any sense."
"No, she's making perfect sense."
The wizard looked over to Miss Weasley and was unsettled with the rather large smile she had forming.
"It's brilliant, Mione!" Ginny started to laugh, "And not one of those daft oafs will think twice!"
"Think twice about what?" Ron shouted.
Ginny cleared her throat and stated with a fair amount of mischief, "A makeover... the muggle way!"
"Think about it, we don't have our wands, therefore, our magic isn't concentrated anywhere which will make it significantly more difficult for anyone to sense!" the words flew out of Hermione's mouth in rapid succession. "And using muggle means to disguise ourselves will only confuse them further!"
Snape watched Hermione as she nibbled her lower lip and sighed. "Just what is needed for this…plan?"
Severus stared unseeingly out the hotel room window; restraining the urge to use the tempus charm once again.
He would be lying if he said he knew exactly what was going on. After the Weasley girl said something about a muggle makeover, she and Hermione erupted in a flurry of high-pitched ramblings that ended with his pregnant witch making a list and sending Ginny out the door with it.
After that, she turned her attentions to the dubious duo and concentrated conversation on Australia and finding her parents. Even with the stress and the heightened urgency of their departure, Severus found himself oddly at ease with just sitting back and listening to the anticipation in Hermione's voice as she spoke about reuniting with her mother and father.
It didn't take long before Miss Weasley came back with multiple bags full of items and in the blink of an eye, she and Hermione shut themselves in the bathroom.
That was more than an hour ago. The wizard almost wanted to guess an hour and a half but he refused using the tempus charm again after the third time garnered amused snorts from Potter and Weasley.
So he stood there, staring out the window, wondering what in the name of Merlin was going on behind that bathroom door as the idiots talked amongst themselves. He didn't much care what Potter and Weasley were talking about so when Potter spoke his name, it pulled him out of his thoughts.
"Snape?" Harry said once more.
The dark wizard turned and glared down his nose at both boys. "What, Potter?"
Harry and Ron looked at each other before Harry took a measured breath and stepped towards Snape. "We…we need to talk."
"Do we, really?" Severus was proud of how much sarcasm he could pack into three words but kept a look of bored annoyance on his features.
"Yeah, we do," Harry spat through clenched teeth before gathering himself once more. His tone was more controlled when he spoke again. "Hermione means the world to me…to us-"
"And that was shown yesterday when you all but called her a moron, my son nothing more than a tool for manipulation and walked away from her like she meant nothing," Severus drawled as he crossed his arms.
"Oi, listen here you slimy bastard," Ron stepped in front of Harry. "For all we know, you couldn't give two shits about Hermione or her baby! You need to tell us your intentions and you need to tell us now!" The redhead pushed the dark wizard.
Severus snatched one of Weasley's wrists and twisted around until the boy had no choice but twist with it. When Weasley was turned towards Potter, Snape grasped a fistful of the boy's red hair and growled lowly in his ear, "I do not answer to anyone now, Weasley, least of all you! If you touch me again, you will lose the offending appendage." The dark wizard shoved the boy away from him.
Harry caught Ron before he fell to the floor. After making sure Ron was steady, Harry glared up at Snape. "I know it's no secret that we can't stand you."
"Feeling is mutual," Severus quipped.
"And we don't trust you."
"I'm not losing sleep over it, I assure you."
"And I don't give a fuck what you lose sleep over!" Harry clenched his jaw several times before saying, "But since you're making assurances, I would like you to swear that…whatever is between you and Hermione… I want you to swear to me, to us, that it's real and you're not just using her."
"You never were one to listen, Potter. Did I not just tell Weasley that I answer to no one? I repeat that statement to you." Severus spat.
"Oh, cut the shit!" Harry stepped to the dark wizard; his green eyes alight with anger and frustration. "Can't you just stop being an arse for two seconds and be the man Hermione somehow sees buried inside? Even a fraction of that man she sees?"
Severus stayed silent and continued to glare at the messy-haired boy.
Sighing, Harry said, "I am not proud of my actions yesterday and I'll admit that my words came from a selfish place. I mean, you're taking her away from us!"
Ron scowled as he spoke. "We were angry! You can't tell us you haven't ever said things you didn't mean out of anger so quit hanging it over our heads, arsehole!" He shook his head, "We love Hermione unconditionally! We will always be there for her and her baby whether or not you stay in the picture. What we want to know is if you can say the same. Do you even feel anything remotely close to caring for her or is she just your way out?"
With his obsidian eyes piercing Weasley's, then Potter's and back to Weasley's again, Severus gritted his teeth and asked, "What exactly are you insinuating?"
"So many things-" Ron started but Harry nudged him to shut him up.
"All we're saying is," Harry spoke up; "If you're looking for a clean escape...you don't need Hermione to do it."
Ron nodded, "If Mione means nothing to you, if you're just taking her along for some sort of...like hostage or something to guarantee no one from the Order or anyone comes after you, you don't have to. We'll help you out of the country."
"We'll keep quiet, we'll take care of Hermione and we'll even give her an excuse for you." Harry urged.
Snape blinked several times; absolutely stunned at what he was hearing. Gryffindors were actually attempting to bribe him; a life-long Slytherin. What was painfully amusing was that they believed they were actually pulling one over on him. He didn't know if he wanted to laugh out-right or snap their necks. Severus decided to go the Slytherin route by sussing out more information. "How exactly do you plan on helping me and what would you tell Hermione?"
Ron jumped in animatedly; seeming to believe that the dark wizard was taking the deal. "Well, we figure we'd use Hermione's muggle made over idea."
"Makeover," Harry corrected.
"And then travel with you out of the UK." Ron continued, "When we're somewhere with a bit more relaxed security, we'll distract Hermione and you can go."
Harry nodded, "Free from prosecution and free from responsibility."
Both fuckwits had the nerve to smirk at the dark wizard. Severus clenched his jaw so hard his teeth hurt but -with a deep breath- he managed to keep his voice steady as his features went blank, "And what of my son?"
Ron and Harry looked at each other and then to Snape again.
"He'll be accepted like family." Harry said.
"I'll raise him like my own," Ron spoke up.
Harry shrugged, "Anyway, what do you care? They won't be your problem anymore."
"Enough," Snape whispered acidly. "Both of you quit right now," He spat with more force; his whole body rigid in an attempt to keep from attacking the brats. Severus focused on the redhead, "I will die a thousand deaths before I allow you or anyone else father MY child!" His angry ink black eyes turned to Potter as he growled, "And it will be a cold day in hell before I'm bribed by a couple of dunderheaded Gryffindors! Bribery and doublespeak is my house's specialty and you'll do good to remember that." He glared at both boys for a long moment before speaking again. "I owe you no explanations whatsoever on my relationship with Hermione and since you have no trust in me, anything I say will not alleviate your doubts...However, I will say this," Snape hissed like a snake, "If I didn't want the responsibility, I would have been nothing but smoke and a memory the moment I was out of that hospital." He took an intimidating step towards the dumbfounded boys. "I have lived my whole life with dark marks of every variation throwing me into the shadows, so believe me when I say I could easily escape prosecution and never be found again if I wanted to but I would sooner dance into the arms of a dementor before I let Hermione believe she or my son mean nothing to me."
Both Harry and Ron were gob smacked.
Relaxing his stance, Severus raised an eyebrow, "Though, I really must thank you for giving me ammunition on the both of you just now. I wonder what Hermione will think of her friends bribing me into leaving her." This time he did chuckle at their panicked looks. "I may be able to let this...moment in time slip from my mind provided I get a few assurances from the both of you."
Ron's mouth resembled that of a fish. "Wh-wait, you just-"
"Turned the tables? I know." Severus stated boredly.
"That's blackmail, Snape," Harry barked.
"How very perceptive of you." the dark wizard watched both boys flounder for a minute before he stated his terms. "Quit with these sad attempts at keeping your little trio together, grow up and-"
"Maybe you should grow up and stop robbing the cradle." Ron interrupted.
Severus rolled his eyes, "Hermione was of age before we were intimate."
"Barely," Harry mumbled.
The redheaded wizard nodded his head vigorously, "Yeah, just how long have you had your creepy little eyes on her, you dungeon dwelling letch?"
"I'm not getting into this with either of you," Snape endeavored not to be pulled into another petty squabble. "Quit being spoiled little twits and assure me you will do what is needed to get the charges against me and Hermione dropped."
"Oh, believe me, we will, but only to get Hermione back where she belongs." Ron sneered.
Harry unclenched his hands and raised his right hand up; open to receive Snape's hand. "Yeah...friends close, enemies closer and all that. If you're going to be in Mione's life, I want you as close as possible so I know you aren't mistreating her in any way."
"How sentimental." the dark wizard eyed Potter's hand.
Harry grunted with frustration and shouted, "Fuck off and shake on it, you prick!"
After a long moment, Severus grasped the green eyed wizard's hand in a rough shake just as giggles could be heard from the bathroom. It was a tell-tale sign that the witches' dropped the silencio they put on the door and were most likely moments away from gracing the wizards with their belated presence. The dark wizard turned and smiled imperiously at both boys, "So glad we could reach an understanding." Snape let Potter's hand go and stepped away from him right as the bathroom door opened.
The sight his eyes landed on took his breath away.
"Ta-da!" Ginny said excitedly as she clapped and urged Hermione to twirl around; obviously proud of her efforts. "Doesn't she look a picture?"
And she did, Hermione truly looked fantastic but entirely different. Her freckles were gone, her eyes were bright blue and her hair was... Hermione's honey curls were gone and replaced by a short, straight, blonde pixie cut. She was wearing a powder blue sundress that accentuated her baby bump and made her look older than she was.
"Blimey, Hermione!" Ron exclaimed.
Harry nodded at his girlfriend before clearing his throat and smiling at his friend, "I suspect you could fool anyone now, you look great."
"And I didn't before?" Hermione asked in mock irritation.
"No...I mean, yes...I mean-"
"Relax, Harry, I know what you meant." The pregnant witch laughed before turning her bright blue eyes to the dark wizard, "W-what do you think, Severus?"
Snape was actually at a loss for words. This witch that was in front of him was beautiful, but she was not his witch.
Stepping towards Hermione, Severus lifted his hand to touch the short blonde spikes. His eyes locked with hers. "H-how is this not magic?"
The Weasley girl snorted, "Didn't you grow up with muggles?"
The dark wizard glared at the witch, "How and where I grew up is none of your business. Those years hold nothing I long to remember." All of his annoyance with the brats Hermione called friends as well as his long caged anger about his adolescent years threatened to bubble over when he felt a soft small hand cup his cheek and urge his attention away from the redheaded witch. When his eyes turned back to Hermione, he was met with the same understanding smile that has been settling all the anger within him as of late.
Hermione said softly as she let her hand drop from Severus' cheek to smooth out his collar. "Some powders, paste, a bit of dye, contacts and a new haircut; the end result is just like a glamour." Hermione nibbled on her lower lip as she continued to look up at Severus. "Y-you still haven't told me what you think. H-how do I look?"
In that moment, Severus didn't care who was looking as he gave his witch a genuine smile and brought his left hand up to feel her hair while his right mimicked her earlier movement and cupped her cheek. "You look beautiful, Hermione. You will always look beautiful." He bent down and touched her lips lightly with his own.
"Really," Hermione asked after their chaste kiss.
"Always," he nodded.
"Okay, okay, time is wasting here," Miss Weasley cut through the semi-private moment. "What are we gonna do with him?"
The dark wizard saw the redheaded witch pointing at him and frowned.
"I'll deal with him. Be out in a moment."
Feeling Hermione's petite hand slip into his, Severus allowed her to pull him into the restroom; shutting the door just as Potter decided to open his mouth.
"Just remember we're out here. No messin' around, yeah?"
Snape said as he leaned against the closed door, "I swear it is a miracle I haven't strangled that dunderhead yet."
Hermione turned to him as she leaned against the counter. "It is and I'm really quite proud."
He rolled his eyes, "I try." He smirked, "So what tortures are you going to put me through now?"
"Such a pessimist," Hermione joked even as she reached behind her back and presented a small box to him. "So, how do you feel about becoming a brunette?" she shook the box for emphasis.
Staring at his reflection as his fingers tunneled through his newly cut and dyed hair, Severus huffed, "How long will it take for these effects to wear off?" his hazel eyes framed by black rectangle frames moved to scowl at Hermione's reflection.
"Not until you're ready to change it back," the witch smiled at him as her right hand moved to play with the hair at the nape of his neck, "Nothing a few potions can't fix."
Snape turned to wrap her in his arms, his slight annoyance at his more permanent change in appearance turning to that of slight concern as he watched his witch stifle a yawn. "How are you feeling?"
There was a brief pause before she shrugged and answered, "Anxious mostly. I just want to get passed this mess and get somewhere where we can relax."
"The time is coming soon enough," he assured before asking, "And the little one?"
"Napping, I'm guessing. He's been fairly inactive since I sat down and let Ginny cut my hair." her hands moved to toy with her sort locks.
Severus moved to do the same.
"Do you really like it?"
His eyes locked with hers and he smiled, "I prefer your curls but it is as you have stated before, nothing a potion can't fix if you are missing your curls as well." Snape watched as Hermione's expression tuned to one of cautious glee.
"You...you miss my curls?"
He struggled for words before reluctantly speaking, "I have...developed a certain...attachment to them, yes."
"Don't 'ah' me woman."
Hermione laughed before stating matter-of-factly, "Well, I miss your long black hair," she reached up and twirled a bit of the dark wizard's short brown hair around her fingers. "And your eyes… It might sound completely crazy but I don't feel like I'm looking into your eyes with those colored contacts in."
"Truer words have never been spoken," Severus said as he kissed her forehead.
"Love the glasses, though."
"They will be the first thing to go, Hermione, I'm serious." His tone left no room for argument.
Snape painted a kiss upon the witch's brow before he reluctantly pulled away from her, "I had better get showered and changed if we are to ever to get somewhere where we can relax."
"I suppose," she nodded. "Wear the clothes that are in that shopping bag, okay?" She pointed to a black plastic bag on the counter next to the sink.
Snape watched Hermione close the bathroom door before he started the shower and shed his clothes.
Severus looked at himself in the mirror again, not really caring much for the khaki trousers or light blue button-down he had found in the black plastic shopping bag next to the sink.
His wardrobe had always been monochromatic with a splash of emerald green making an appearance every once in a while. He also wasn't fond of the yuppier version of himself that he saw in the mirror but wasn't quite sure why this particular transformation bothered him so much more than the others. Severus finally settled with the fact that this transformation -while easy enough to correct with a few potions- was more permanent and slightly alien to him.
Vanishing anything with his or Hermione's DNA on it and cleaning all the surfaces in the loo with a flick of his wrist, the dark wizard took an almost meditative breath before opening the door.
He immediately tensed at the sight of two unknown men in the room before he realized it was just Potter and Weasley disguised. Both dolts had long hair and beards, Weasley looked like one of those dunderheads that partook in activities of the opiate and hallucinogenic nature while Potter had many colorful designs covering every bit of his skin that was showing.
"Severus," Hermione exclaimed happily as she jumped up from the bed and walked to him. "I think we've got a plan." she slipped her hand in his.
"Does this plan involve Potter and Weasley being a source of great amusement for me?" Snape turned to the disguised boys, "because I must tell you that, for once, you've gone above and beyond."
"Oi, you're one to talk!" Ron said indignantly.
"Yeah, Snape, have you looked in the mirror lately? You're quite an amusing sight, yourself." Potter said as he and Weasley chuckled.
"I think it's an improvement, actually," Miss Weasley voiced her opinion. "Now he doesn't look like he just came from a crypt."
"Ginny!" Hermione hissed but the redheaded witch was obviously undeterred.
"And look, you both match; I knew it would look cute."
The dark wizard's eyes narrowed before he directed the conversation back on topic. "So what is our plan?" he turned to his witch who smiled at him.
"More misdirection. Everything is too tense here so I think we should take the train to Paris and then take an international Portkey from there; sort of what we had planned earlier only we're all going on the train." Hermione gestured to everyone in the room. "Security to get to that train will likely be the most trying part of our journey so I thought, why not have a few decoys?"
Hermione pointed to the dunderheaded duo and Severus couldn't stop the sneering smirk that moved over his features. "Draw the Aurors' attention to the two actually using a glamour and away from us."
"I figured if the Aurors can detect such a thing; why not manipulate them as much as we can to favor us? If Harry and Ron get stopped, we can just slip passed." Hermione shrugged.
Severus looked down at his pregnant witch. "It's brilliant."
"So, we have a brilliant plan and all of you are disguised quite fantastically if I do say so myself," Ginny made a show of polishing her nails on her shirt before smiling, "I guess the only thing left to do is get on with it."
"Alright," Hermione said on an exhaled breath as she turned and gathered her bag.
"Before we go, Mi," Harry spoke up,
"Uh, Ginny found something when she went shopping that she wanted to give to you." Ron finished.
Severus watched curiously as the redheaded witch stepped up to Hermione.
"I was going to owl it but…" The Weasley girl smiled hesitantly at Hermione. "Actually, I sort of took a detour to Diagon Alley," Ginny smiled before clearing her throat. "Coming here today was completely unplanned, I thought last night was the last time I would see you before you went on your little vacation-"
"And it is a vacation too, Mione. You'll be back here in no time," Ron interrupted.
Harry nodded, "We won't rest until all charges are dropped on both of you."
"The point is," Ginny steered them back on topic, "yesterday was tough. Saying goodbye is complete bolloks, even if it's only for a short time." She sighed, "I spent almost a year without seeing you...and all the uncertainty surrounding every minute of every day... Now…with Fr-" the redhead's voice wobbled before cutting short. She sniffled and cleared her throat, "Well, needless to say, I abhor saying goodbye these days, so I won't." Ginny pulled out a book and presented it to Hermione. "This is a journal, a special journal. This journal has a twin that I intend to keep and when you write in yours, the words show up in mine. Think back to my first year and my unpleasant run in with Riddle, only these journals aren't cursed to turn you into a mindless drone, I promise."
Hermione and Ginny giggled as they both wiped daintily at their glassy eyes.
"So...so now we can talk every day even though we'll be half a world away." The redhead finished.
"Gin," Hermione took the journal from her friend before pulling her into a hug, "I love it...thank you."
"Thank Harry for giving me the idea. He was talking about getting you a muggle phone but-"
"Neither of us knows much about mobile phones." Harry took over, "Plus, you being such a bookworm, we thought you would appreciate this more."
"I do, I do. Thank you...thank you all."
Severus watched Hermione hug her friends.
"I'll write you every day."
"Perhaps you won't need to write Miss Weasley at all if we do not get moving." Snape finally spoke up.
Hermione turned to glare at him but sighed and nodded. "We are pressed for time, aren't we?" She placed her new journal in her beaded bag and led the way out of the hotel room.
After making sure the room looked untouched, Severus followed the small group into the hallway.
Twenty minutes and a series of apparition cracks later, the small group was standing in an alley across the street from the St. Pancras station in central London.
Severus adjusted his clothing moodily as he turned to glare at his pregnant and very insistent witch. "Are you satisfied?"
"Yes, very," She smiled sweetly before rolling her eyes. "Severus, we needed to hurry and taking a train into London would have been another hour and a half wasted."
He continued to glare.
Hermione huffed, "The healer said I could still side-along." She spun around, "I'm still here and I don't feel at all sick."
The dark wizard wanted to refute her words and argue her into submission but now wasn't the time so he settled with hissed words, "We will not be apparating again." with that, he turned around and started making his way out of the alley on his way to the train station; hearing the disbelieving whispers behind him.
"I can't believe he folded." Potter said.
Weasley murmured hastily, "Yeah, how'd you do that? I thought for sure he was going to drag you kicking and screaming onto the train in Ipswich."
"I honestly haven't a clue, but after fifteen minutes of arguing, I'm just as surprised as all of you that he actually let me side-along." the disbelief was apparent in Hermione's voice.
"Wow, Mi, you have the greasy git wrapped around your finger." Miss Weasley stifled a giggle.
"I do not and don't call him that, Gin!" Hermione scolded. "All of you need to quit calling him names."
Ron snorted, "We'll get right on that as soon as he does the same."
Not bloody likely.
"It's a circle, you know? One of you has got to be the bigger person and take initiative." Hermione spoke haughtily.
Severus rolled his eyes as he continued walking in front of the group. He was uncomfortable with his weakness for Hermione being so obvious but he forced himself to seem unaffected and focused on the task at hand.
As soon as they crossed the street and made their way to the entrance of the station, Severus felt the layers upon layers of wards around the building.
"Holy crickets!" Hermione whispered.
The peculiar amount of muggle authorities shuffling about and people dressed horrendously just standing around caught Snape's eye and had him questioning their plan. "We may need to reevaluate this," he whispered lowly as his eyes moved around the crowd. "I count fifteen Aurors just in this area alone."
"And if we turn tail now, they'll all get suspicious!" Harry argued.
Snape felt a small familiar hand slide into his and tighten its hold. He looked down to lock eyes with his witch.
"Harry's right, Severus, I don't like this but we're here now and it's all we had planned."
"I can always find us another way." He whispered.
"Yes, but at what cost and in what length of time? We barely have any as it is." Hermione argued.
"While we're alive, people." Ginny urged them as she looked around the busy crowd.
Severus nodded after a moment and spoke loud enough for the small group to hear. "Then walk with your heads high like you belong here. Confidence is key." With that said, he grasped Hermione's hand and led the group into the station, through the bustling sea of unsuspecting muggles and around all the oddly dressed loiterers that were obviously Aurors.
Once at the ticket stand, Severus glared down his nose at the young female teller. "One round trip ticket to Paris, first class."
The teller smacked her gum loudly as she kept her eyes on the muggle magazine she was flipping through, "What time d'you want?"
"The next train out."
The teller sighed; still smacking her gum. "That'll be a hundred-n-ninety pounds, mate."
As Severus pulled out his wallet from his trouser pocket and turned to Hermione as he fished out the proper currency and discreetly passed it to her; whispering, "Buy yourself a one way ticket."
"Buying tickets slipped my mind!" she said; obviously disappointed in her slip up.
"Then I suppose you should thank me for remembering." He smirked.
"Well, what about Gin, Ron and Harry?"
"Hermione, the whole point of them tagging along is to be unattached decoys. How can we claim not to know them if we can be filmed interacting at the ticket line?" He watched the witch frown before nodding and pulling out her beaded bag.
"For fuck's sake...you're right, of course."
Snape handed the money to the teller as he watched Hermione pull out her wallet.
Hermione dug out all of her money and handed it all unobtrusively over to Ginny. "That's all I have but it should be enough for you to get you at least two round trip tickets.
"Thanks, Mi." Ginny whispered.
Focusing on getting the tickets and directions to the proper platform, Snape cleared his throat loudly before walking away. Moving a decent distance from the ticket line, the dark wizard endeavored to keep Hermione in his sights.
"Excuse me sir."
Severus was standing off to the side of the sea of people for no more than two minutes before he was staring at a woman dressed like a muggle authority; whether she was or not was still up for debate. Even so, Snape wasn't taking any chances as he spoke; deliberately changing his accent. "Yes officer, how can I help you?"
"Ah, American, huh? In London for business or pleasure?" the officer asked with a smile.
Checking Hermione's progress by briefly looking over the officer's shoulder, he saw the witch looking anxious as she walked towards him. He shook his head minutely and moved his eyes to the platform signs; hoping she got the message. Clearing his throat, Severus turned his attention back to the officer. "Uh, pleasure," he smiled, "On vacation and traveling around Europe." He searched for his witch again and saw her walking a few feet behind Potter and Weasley; almost to the platforms.
"Fantastic, where are you headed to next?"
"Paris, off to see the Eiffel Tower and all the other cliché touristy stuff." Snape said with a perfect American accent.
"Jolly good! Did you need any assistance finding your platform?" The officer asked. "It's just that I noticed you standing here looking a bit lost."
The wizard narrowed his eyes but chuckled, "No, I was just...admiring the...architecture of the station. Could you tell me when it was built," Snape asked, "Or a bit of the history behind it?" The officer started to look a bit uneasy, which was what he was counting on.
"I don't really know much about the station."
"Do you know where I can find information about it?"
The officer looked around and spoke with an unsure voice, "A library, I suppose, or the...um, muggle web."
Snape fought to keep a grin off his face as arranged his features into a confused frown. "Muggle? Is that some sort of British slang?"
The officer looked mortified as she stuttered slightly. "Ha...yeah, British-will you excuse me, I think I've spotted someone trying to steal from that trolley over there."
Looking to the space the officer was pointing; Snape didn't see a trolley anywhere but smiled as the disguised Auror practically ran away from him. Turning on his heal, the wizard made his way to the platforms.
It didn't take him long but as soon as he got to the stairs, any ease he felt after pulling one over on the dunderheaded Auror evaporated when he saw Potter and Weasley on their hands and knees; hacking and coughing while Miss Weasley was bent over both of them, shrieking anxiously with tears spilling down her cheeks.
"Baby, breathe! Ron, what's happening! SOMEBODY HELP!"
Severus immediately began searching the crowd for Hermione but his eyes landed on four very determined men pushing their way through the mass of bodies, towards the scene at the foot of the stairs.
"What's going on here?" one of the determined four men demanded. Another moved to the distraught witch.
"Miss, I need you to back away."
As soon as Severus stepped foot onto the platforms, he felt a strong wave of magic envelope him then quickly disperse. It was almost suffocating but it left too quickly for him to react. He suspected that same wave of magic was the reason for Potter and Weasley predicament.
Scanning the crowd, the wizard spotted pixie-blonde hair close to a beam about twenty feet away. He made his way over there and saw his witch leaning against the beam; crying.
"Severus...! What's happening to them?" Hermione asked as she moved to the wizard for comfort.
As much as he didn't want to, Snape stopped the witch from coming too close to him. At her look of confusion, he whispered, "We don't know who might be watching."
That stopped her in her tracks.
"We should move...now."
Severus spoke over her protest, "Start walking towards our train. Now, Hermione." He watched as the pregnant witch warred with her emotions before she turned around and started walking. He fell in step behind her. "I believe what Potter and Weasley are experiencing is some sort of reaction to their glamour charms hitting the wards over this platform. Did you not feel that stifling air settle over you as soon as you left the stairs?" he asked Hermione even as he looked preoccupied with reading the numbers on each platform.
Hermione sniffled, "Yes but...Gods, I didn't think that would have been the reaction. I never would have let them. Do you think they'll be alright?"
He was proud of his witch keeping it together as much as she was and making sure she didn't turn back to look at him but knew that these heightened emotions were wearing her down. Severus forced himself not to get too close to her as he answered, "I believe they will be fine. Four Aurors were on the way to their side when I passed. As soon as their glamours are canceled, they'll be released. Potter's the infallible chosen one and Weasley's his bloody side-"
"Don't, Severus! Just don't...not right now." Hermione wiped her eyes.
The wizard was silent for a moment; debating on what he should say next when he suddenly ran into his pregnant witch. "Her-"
Frowning, he asked, "What?"
"Truth...Truth is here!"
Severus searched the crowd and sure enough, Truth was dressed in a police uniform and walking with purpose in the opposite direction of himself and Hermione. His eyes were focused on the area where Potter and Weasley were making a scene.
"H-why would he be here? H-how could he possibly know," Hermione asked frantically. "Out of all the stations...all the ways to travel...!"
As Truth was about to pass by them, Severus nudged Hermione and hissed hastily, "Silence, woman!" The Auror was almost passed them when he looked away from the scene and locked eyes briefly with Snape. Against every muscle in his body, Severus nodded cordially at Truth; knowing that diverting his eyes too suddenly would raise suspicion.
Truth seemed uninterested as he returned the nod and walked on.
Urging Hermione to start walking again, Severus spoke lowly. "Once we get on the train, we should sit in separate cabs until we are well away from this station."
Taking a deep breath, Hermione kept from looking at Severus as she nodded. "Yeah, okay..."
Severus sighed deeply as his eyes kept darting to the clock on the platform while he paced restlessly inside his first class compartment.
It had been more than ten minutes since he and Hermione went their separate ways and less than two minutes before their train was supposed to depart.
If there was one thing the dark wizard was truly tired of, it was waiting. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. It was driving him mad.
He emitted an audible sigh when he heard the conductor shout last call and final boarding for the train to Paris. He was just about to turn away from the window and sit down when he saw a group of officers making their way to the train; Auror Truth was leading the pack.
"Blasted, fucking, bollocking, shit!" Snape slammed his hand against the metal framing the window. "Alright, keep calm, we may not be made yet." he spoke to himself but did not believe his own words as he already was thinking of a handful of escape routes once the Aurors closed in.
He searched out the clock again and noted that they were five minutes behind schedule. Snape was tempted to abort this plan, find Hermione and get away from the station as quickly as possible when there was a knock on his compartment door.
The door slid opened and standing on the other side was none other than Ceslav Truth with an incredibly fake smile on his face. "Afternoon, sir, how are you today?"
Severus made sure to speak with an American accent as he answered shortly, "Slightly perturbed that the train is being delayed. What's the bloody problem?"
"You're…you're American?" Truth's smile faded before he reigned in his noticeable disappointment and answered, "A wanted criminal is on the run. He's armed and extremely dangerous. We are just taking the necessary precautions to make sure he has not stowed himself away on any of the trains."
Making sure he looked properly surprised, Severus forced himself to stammer. "A-a-armed and dangerous c-criminal? Bloody hell! You...y-you don't think he's on this train, do you? What should I do, should I get off and catch a differ-"
Truth interrupted Snape's feigned frightened ramblings. Severus shut up and nodded. "Yes, of course officer...sorry."
"There is no need to throw yourself into a panic. All I need to see is your ticket and some sort of photo identification and I'll have you on your way."
Pausing briefly, Severus pulled out his wallet and provided the items asked of him but before he turned over the items for inspection, the dark wizard purposely dropped them and made it look like an accident. "Oh, hell...I-I'm so sorry!" he stuttered as he made sure to knock his head against Truth's when they both bent over to pick up the documents.
"Sorry...so sorry," Severus made a show of flailing about as he gathered up his ID and ticket while Truth straightened and rubbed his forehead.
"No it's not...I'm such a klutz," Snape said as he made sure Truth was preoccupied. Seeing that the Auror was, the dark wizard took the opportunity to change his ID to a US driver's license and made his picture match his current appearance.
Truth stiffened and looked confusedly around, "Did you feel that?"
"Uh…nothing," Truth cleared his throat.
Snape stammered some more. "It's nerves, you know? Always been a bit...high strung." he stood and gave Truth the documents with a nervous smile. "This talk of a criminal on the loose...is he a murderer, has he killed anyone?"
"Relax, he fancies himself above everyone and everything, I doubt he'd travel this way but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't check, would I?" Truth seemed equal parts agitated and amused as he glanced at the ID and ticket.
"Absolutely," Snape smiled nervously.
"From Pennsylvania, Mr. Smith?"
Severus nodded, "Born and raised."
"And your wife?"
"Haven't got one."
"Haven't one of those either." Severus tried to keep the suspicion out of his voice as he asked, "Why would you think I had?"
Truth shrugged, "Thought I saw you walking with a woman earlier."
"No, though I did bump into a young woman earlier. She was a mess, crying about how her boyfriend left her or something," he said casually before shrugging as well.
"Did she happen to get on this train, did she?"
Snape shrugged, "Don't know."
Truth nodded as he handed the identification card and ticket back, "I hope this doesn't discourage you from visiting England in the future. Good day."
The nervous smile the dark wizard was maintaining twitched and turned into a sneer as Truth exited the compartment, "Fucking imbecile."
Sitting down, Severus took a soothing breath; hoping Hermione would hold it together through any line of questioning she faced.
It was another five minutes before the jerk of the train coming to life pulled Severus from his thoughts. He did not wait for the train to pull away from the station before he was out of his compartment and started searching for his witch.
Ten compartments and a different car later, Severus saw his witch sitting by herself near the window as her attention seemed unwaveringly glued to the journal she'd received from Miss Weasley only an hour earlier.
Sliding the door open, he smiled as she jumped.
"Gods Severus, you scared me!" Hermione said as she steadied her breath.
"Not my intention," he moved to sit next to her and found ease and comfort in her acceptance of him as she pecked his cheek and cuddled into his side.
"Harry and Ron are alright," the witch said with excitement.
"Goody," he deadpanned.
"Ginny wrote me. She said that Aurors pulled them back up the stairs and Ron and Harry started breathing normally again. Then they continued to pull them along until they were in a small room." Hermione spoke a mile a minute. "There, Ginny said the Aurors pulled out their wands and canceled the charms. The idiots about fell over themselves when they finally recognized Ron and Harry," the pregnant witch giggled.
"What were their excuses for using glamour charms?"
"Downtime," Hermione answered, "they said they were overwhelmed with all the attention they were receiving after the war and wanted to get away for a bit."
Severus raised a disbelieving eyebrow, "And those dimwitted Aurors bought it?"
"Must have because they let Gin, Ron and Harry go." She shrugged, "too late to get on the train though. Oh well," her blue eyes sought his hazel ones as she smiled. "Mission accomplished, yeah?"
"Nearly, all we need is to successfully catch an international portkey in Paris and get through customs," the dark wizard nodded before placing his left arm over Hermione's shoulders and pulled her closer. "I know I probably don't have to say this but please be extraordinarily careful with what you write in that journal, you don't know who will be reading it at any given time."
Hermione was looking at the wizard's hand that was draped over her shoulders when she spoke. "I hardly believe Gin would let just anyone read it but I understand your concerns. I won't write too freely, alright?"
"That's all I ask." Snape watched as his witch turned her curious eyes up at him. "What?"
"Do you know that this used to really annoy me?" she gestured to his arm around her.
He attempted to remove his arm but Hermione stopped him.
"It always used to aggravate me that people would use me as a arm rest just because of my height. Ron was the worst; I always fought the urge to hex him whenever he weighed me down with his bulky arm."
"So why won't you let me remove mine?"
She looked up at him and smiled, "Because with you, I don't feel weighed down...I feel safe and secure."
That smile was going to be the death of him.
He watched as she rested her head on his arm and gazed out the window. "Were you questioned by an Auror?"
"Dressed like a muggle officer? Yes, he was actually quite convincing but I caught a glimpse of his wand tucked under his sleeve," the witch answered nonchalantly as she kept her eyes on the scenery. "What did you do when the Auror that questioned you asked for your ID?"
"Truth questioned me. I distracted him enough so he wouldn't notice that I used magic to change my ID. What did you do?"
Hermione chuckled, "I think I had a rookie, he was a bit…out of his depth. I was still worked up over Harry and Ron; I just used my emotions to my advantage. I blubbered about my grandmother dying and I was on my way to her funeral. Poor sod looked at me like I had a second head growing from my neck; didn't even remember that he didn't see my ID."
Severus looked down at his witch with a new level of awe and respect as he asked seriously, "Are you sure you were placed in the right house?"
She laughed outright at that. "Sometimes I wonder but I'm fiercely loyal and proud of my house all the same." Stifling a yawn, "All this anxiety makes me tired."
"So sleep, this will be about a two hour trip."
"You know, I think I'll take you up on that offer," Hermione said through another yawn.
Severus watched as she opened her bag and ruffled around in there until she pulled out that ruddy patchwork blanket he had given her. He allowed her to use his body for a pillow and chuckled when she practically took over his lap.
"You're so comfortable."
"I'll take your word for it." His arms wrapped around her.
Hermione was already being swept away to dream world when she mumbled, "Don't let me sleep more than an hour."
Snape smiled before he painted a kiss on her cheek and whispering, "Anything you say, love."
It was massively disorienting to feel the world spinning and swirling in and out of focus.
Snape hated portkeying. It always felt as if he was just coming off of an all night drinking binge. The ground slipped from underneath his feet and he felt disoriented and that was another effect of portkeying that the dark wizard found unsavory; he didn't feel at all in control.
When it was time to let go of the dingy surfboard that served as their portkey, Severus couldn't be more relieved.
As his feet touched solid ground in the Australian Ministry of Magic building, Snape breathed a sigh of liberation then turned to search for Hermione. He watched her as she touched down looking slightly frazzled but very excited.
"Welcome to zee Australian Ministry of Magic, located in downtown Sydney." the ridiculously cheery French international portkey steward-witch spoke to the group. "Zee local time iz twelve-twenty-seven, Monday morning, May the 11th. If you all would be so kind az to make your way to customs down zee 'all and to zee left, our Aurors will work to 'ave you on your way to your 'omes, 'otels or wherever your final destination may be. Thank you for traveling with uz and 'ave a wonderful morning."
While the steward-witch was rambling on, Severus made his way to his pregnant witch and was welcomed by a tight hug and a peck on his chin. It was so strange to be welcomed by anyone but he knew he didn't want the odd warm feeling to ever lose its novelty.
"We did it, we did it! Severus, we're actually here!"
Hugging her back, Snape spoke lowly, "Yes but let us not get ahead of ourselves, we still have to get through customs."
She laughed and sighed at the same time as her eyes locked with his, "We have got to do something about your perpetual pessimism, babe."
The dark wizard was stunned at Hermione's nonchalant term of endearment and he was rather sure his face showed it but his witch was too busy looking at their unfamiliar surroundings to notice.
He had never cared much for nicknames or silly terms of endearments but he supposed the reason for that was because -with the exception of Lily- no one ever gave him a nickname; a pleasant one at least. He always thought he would cut down anyone who called him such things as silly as 'babe' but coming from Hermione and only Hermione, Severus believed it could be tolerable.
Shaking himself from his stunned pause, Severus caught up with Hermione and put his arm around her. "Now remember that our last name is Stivers and we've been married six months," he reminded. "You mucked it up at the ticket stand in France."
With her arm around his waist, the witch pinched his side, "I did not!"
"Hermione, you said our last name was Ciphers and we've been married for one-nine-seven months."
"Well it's not my fault you decided to whisper all of our made up history into my ear two seconds before we reached the ticket counter."
Severus chuckled as they walked amongst the rest of the portkeyers to the customs counter. "And we're here for our belated honeymoon, not-"
"I've got it, Severus!" she hissed; clearly miffed.
Deciding it would be best if he did not wind up his witch too much, Severus busied himself with observing the layout of the Ministry building while thinking up answers to a variety of questions they might be asked by the Aurors.
It turned out that preparation for further interrogation was unneeded for the group of Aurors they dealt with only asked the bare minimum. Severus was glad they got in so late because the idiot Aurors were obviously tired and as anxious to get out of there as much as he was.
Now, as he stepped out of the Ministry building into the breezy clear Australian night, the dark wizard finally let himself think of the day as an extraordinary success.
He was alive, more-or-less unharmed and standing in public without anyone wanting to hex him to oblivion.
He wasn't free, he knew he would always have to be cautious but this was so much more than he could have ever imagined he'd be able to have.
What made in infinitely better was the fact that he didn't have to go through this second chance at life alone. Gripping his right hand tightly was a fiery saint of a witch that he would have never in a million years thought he would end up with but would fight with every ounce of his being to keep happy and by his side.
"Holy crickets, Severus," Hermione giggled as her eyes scaled the skyscrapers. "I never doubted...but to finally be here..."
Watching her excitement and awe shine readily on her features as she looked around at the unfamiliar city, the magnitude of the situation he found himself in as well as the depth of his emotions struck him hard.
He had a family and he belonged with them. They were safe and he, well, he was happier than he'd ever been in his entire life and he was in love.
Yes, absurdly Hufflepuff but he really couldn't give a niffler's arse. He wasn't going to squander this second chance or take for granted what the gods set before him.
Hermione began to pull him down the street. "Come on, Severus!"
"Where are we going?"
"Anywhere," she laughed, "Everywhere! We can do that now and it's so beautiful here…"
The dark wizard let his witch pull him along and watched with amusement as she tried to take in every bit of the sights and sounds around them.
As they crossed a rather busy street, the light from the moon seemed to fight through all the city lights to shine down squarely on Hermione.
The sight was transcending for the wizard and forced him to reevaluate his earlier thought.
He wasn't going to squander this second chance or take for granted what a goddess set before him.
Now, he wasn't a religious man by any means but he had devout faith in Hermione Granger; his goddess. She was the reason why he was alive and the reason he wanted to live.
THE END…FOR NOW.
I know what you're thinking. How could I possibly end it there? There are so many unanswered questions…
Rest assured that a sequel is on the way.
Thank you heaps for reading!