Chapter Sixty-Four—Nineteen Years
Severus Apparated to the end of the Muggle street, appearing behind a shadowy tree. Fifteen times this holiday he had appeared behind this tree, yet, no one had seen him. The wizard tugged his black collar, sweltering in the sunlight. People gave him odd glances, seeing him in a sweater—but they would outright stare if the scar on his neck was exposed.
The professor's long legs quickly carried him down the street, to Hermione's door. A year ago, he had been trapped in that house, and now he visited of his own accord. Due to Mr. Granger's mustachioed glare of displeasure, Severus often took Hermione out. The clerks of Flourish and Blotts expected to see the couple at least once a week.
Severus rapped his knuckles on the front door. Waiting for someone to answer, he observed the street. Muggles walked their dogs or lounged in their lawns. Severus relished in the shade under the awning.
The door swung open, allowing the smell of a cooling pie to waft out onto the porch. Hermione beamed at him. Without even a word of greeting, she stood on her toes to kiss him.
"I missed you," she said.
"Even though you had seen me not twelve hours ago?" he asked, holding both her hands in his.
"It was a long twelve hours." Hermione shut the door. "What are we going to do today, Severus?"
Something I am dreading, he thought as he locked his hands behind his back. "I thought we might go to my home, for a change." For the past few weeks, Hermione had asked about it, wondering when she would get to see Spinner's End. Severus never took her there because he was embarrassed. The first time Lily had seen his home, she had paled. Lucius and Narcissa acted much the same, but had the gracious tact to not say anything.
Hermione looped her arm through his. "Lead the way."
With every step towards the tree down the street, Severus wondered what Hermione's reaction would be. The town was dilapidated, the house looked likely to fall apart and the inside wasn't much better. He had cleaned it, nervous and jittery the whole time because he was cleaning for Hermione. The sitting room, in his opinion, was the finest room in the house, but it was small due to all the bookshelves.
A decade ago, he had needed to change the doors into bookcases as well. In the basement his mother had added magically (the only magic Tobias Snape ever approved of) Severus had built a Potions lab as soon as he had obtained ownership of the house. He had never thought to work on the kitchen or the bedrooms.
Perhaps Hermione wouldn't want to see the kitchen. But if she did, she certainly wouldn't want to venture up the squeaking stairs to see the bedrooms. Severus hid his nerves behind the coldest face he could muster. Hermione glanced at him, wondering why he was behaving like this.
Neither of them noticed the ambush until it was too late.
A voice, tinged with rudeness, said, "Granger." Violet pulled down her sunglasses, staring at Professor Snape. "And your babysitter." Betty and Dana were equally as confused on either side.
"I don't believe I properly introduced you all before," Hermione said, giving a false, sweetly evil smile. "This is my boyfriend Severus. Severus, this is Violet, Dana, and Betty." The mouths of Violet and the other harpies, usually busy eviscerating, all dropped open. Hermione held Severus's arm tighter, leaving her head on his shoulder.
"Your—boyfriend?" Dana squeaked.
The man quirked an eyebrow at them. "Yes, I remember these girls—the ones with the venereal diseases."
Hermione guffawed as Violet stormed away. Dana gaped until Betty dragged her along, raging about impolite people and their stupid boyfriends.
Severus led his tittering girlfriend to the tree, feeling a little less nervous.
The Sunday dinners at the Granger household had become less awkward over the past year—slightly. Mrs. Granger had grown accustomed to Hermione's older boyfriend, but Mr. Granger was still miffed.
"You said Hermione set you on fire, once?" Dr. Granger barked across the potato salad. The dentist looked as if he would like to set something on fire, preferably Snape's hideously long nose.
Hermione rolled her eyes; Severus gave a dark grin, the one that he wore after sending a particularly well-crafted insult towards a Gryffindor. "Yes, she did. She came to the wrong conclusion," he paused, "and thus, burnt my cloak."
Jean Granger ladled out more gravy, saying, "Children will be children."
Andrew was glaring across the table, his fork and knife stiff in his hands. Hermione's lips thinned; Severus did not break eye contact with Mr. Granger. The Muggle had to look away to cut his ham. The wizard did the same.
Jean began to chatter, not noticing the frost hanging in the air. "So, the funniest thing happened at the office today…"
The school term had just ended, and Hermione pulled all the books off of Professor Snape's shelves, as well as the jars of pickled mandrakes and squid tentacles. She wrinkled her nose at a jar full of owl talons—little sinews floated in the yellowed liquid, still attached to the stiff claws.
"Why do you have this?"
Severus looked up from his tally of the inventory. "I believe the apothecary in Knockturn Alley was tossing it."
"So, it was free, and you thought it would come in handy?" She was moving towards the rubbish bin.
"Yes," he said cautiously. "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to get rid of it."
Severus caught the jar before it could shatter into the bin.
"Come on, Severus—"
"Waste not, want not, Miss Granger," he said as he rose from his seat. He wrapped the jar in newspaper and put it in one of the cardboard boxes.
"What potion possibly uses owl feet?" she asked, leaning her hip on Snape's desk.
The professor thought about it, then turned around. "Hippogriff feed."
Hermione's face soured—Severus smirked at her. "Aren't you glad I told you?"
"Oh, haha, very funny."
"At least I won't make you eat it afterward," Severus teased, striding closer. His arms were crossed.
"If I remember correctly, you refused to eat the jell-o, even though you promised you would."
"I thought you knew that I was a liar?" The professor was looming over her as they talked. He was a head taller and only a hands' width away.
She tipped up her face. "Would you lie to me?"
The two forgot they were supposed to be organizing the store room so that Severus could give control to the new Potions Master tomorrow. Severus hefted Hermione onto the desk as her tongue teased his lips.
In January, Draco had erroneously been declared the "Most Eligible Bachelor" by the Daily Prophet. The head editor of the Quibbler, Luna Lovegood, had quickly remedied this situation by proposing to Draco the night that horrid article had been printed.
Severus remembered Narcissa's mouth hanging open, Luna's proposal still ringing through the air in the dining room. Lady Malfoy had been appalled that a woman had proposed instead of the man, but allowed the marriage. Lucius always chuckled about it. At the wedding reception, after the most elaborate ceremony Severus had ever seen, he stood with the Malfoys as they discussed their only son.
"We Malfoy men have a weakness for beautiful blondes," Lucius said to his wife.
Narcissa looked at him, equally flirtatious. "And we beautiful blondes can't resist a silver-tongued Malfoy."
Severus recalled looking out onto the veranda of Malfoy Manor, where the maid of honor and the bride talked. The new Mrs. Malfoy was resplendent, jewels in her blonde hair, a white, flowing dress tailored to suit her. But Severus only wanted to marvel at the beautiful brunette at her side.
As Severus walked down the street, he remembered how Hermione's deep blue dress shimmered under the chandelier's light. As they danced, her twirled one of her dangling curls around his finger. She was warm against his chest, the most beautiful woman in the room.
She had danced with Harry, Ron, George, and Draco. But she only rested her head on Severus's shoulder, only let him feel the soft waves of her hair.
Severus told Hermione every day that he loved her. Every one of his colleagues could see that he adored the woman. The only person who was not okay with their courtship was Hermione's father, the man Severus was on his way to see.
The wizard knocked on the door to the Muggle house—just his luck, Mr. Granger was the one to open the door.
Suspicious eyes scanned the street. "Where's Hermione?"
"She is at work."
Jean stuck her head out of the kitchen. "Andrew? Is that Severus?" Mrs. Granger rushed down the hall. "Severus, you don't have to knock—and you certainly don't have to stand outside." She gave her husband a displeased face as she pushed the door open wider. "Come in, come in."
The three sat in the living room, in silence. Severus, in all black, wearing a turtleneck in the summer, as stiff as his ebony wand, looked out of place without Hermione next to him. Andrew glared at his daughter's boyfriend while crossing his arms. Jean sat placid, waiting for someone to speak.
"I have…faced multiple wands, snakes, werewolves…" Severus rubbed his neck and, for once, did not look anyone in the eye. "Yet, I do not believe I have ever been more terrified in my life than I am right now."
Andrew sat up straighter; Jean looked anxious.
Severus forced both of his hands to remain still in his lap. "For nearly all of my life I have submitted myself to one master or another." He took a deep breath. "Yet, here I am, submitting myself to you."
The Grangers were listening silently.
"I would like to ask Hermione to marry me. I have come to ask your permission."
Jean turned to Andrew. She was on the edge of the couch, watching her husband remain still and stoic.
"You're going to ask her anyway, even if we say no, aren't you?" Andrew asked tersely.
Severus observed the carpet at Andrew's feet. "If you say no, Hermione will likely say no as well." He looked Mr. Granger in the eye. Severus didn't know if he should be revealing all the power Andrew had in this situation—Severus usually kept some information to himself. "Even if she won't marry me, she knows I will still be with her. But she will not want to go against your wishes."
Dr. Granger leaned his elbows on his knees. His graying mustache bristled. "What makes you think Hermione wants to marry you?"
The wizard's face did not change, but Jean noticed he crossed his legs and clutched his knee. "I suppose it might just be wishful thinking. She hasn't left me, yet."
Jean never realized that Severus could be unsure of himself—she had always thought of him as a dark, confident, powerful wizard. For the first time in the five years of knowing Professor Snape, she realized that he was not textbook Byronic hero, but a human.
"Have you got a ring for her?" Andrew was glaring.
Severus shook his head. "I needed to obtain your permission first."
Mrs. Granger twiddled the wedding rings on her chain. Andrew better not say no. How could he remain this pigheaded for so long? Couldn't he see that Severus worshipped their little girl? Hermione obviously loved him back—her brown eyes always glowed whenever they fell on Severus. It didn't matter if he wore his magic glasses to make himself look younger for the family parties, or if he remained his real age—Hermione beamed whenever he was around.
Professor Snape twitched—he couldn't remember a time that Dr. Granger had used his given name.
"I can't imagine that Hermione would say no."
Jean's hand jumped to her mouth. Severus felt all the blood curdle in his veins. Nothing had ever gone his way before; his body didn't know how to react. So he remained still—he didn't even blink.
Andrew stood up and Severus followed suit. Jean's eyes filled with tears when Andrew offered his hand.
"Oh, Severus!" Jean threw her arms around Severus's torso.
Severus was overwhelmed. Andrew chuckled at Severus's uncomfortable expression.
"Do all of the Granger women have a penchant for hugging?"
"You're going to have to get used to it, now that you're marrying Hermione!"
"I shall…" He patted one of his scarred hands on her back, only twice. "Try."
Herbology professor Neville Longbottom shyly ventured into the staff room. Tonight would be his first round of poker with his fellow colleagues. He sat down between Charms professor Filius Flitwick and Healer Padma Patil. Defense professor Severus Snape shuffled the cards across from him.
"I'm not very good with cards," Neville said as he pulled his chair closer to the table.
"You'll learn," Severus said as he dealt.
Minerva asked, "Where's Hermione? She usually isn't late."
"My dear wife is busy working on a case. She's probably still pouring over the facts in her office."
"Has she bought that land fer t'giants?" Hagrid asked. The slick cards tried to escape his large hands.
"I believe that is what she is working on, currently."
"Is the honeymoon phase over, yet?" Walter joked.
Snape gave him a grin, no less smirk-like since his marriage to Hermione ten months ago. "No. We both remain hopelessly enamored."
"You need to put that ardor to work and produce a grandchild for me," Minerva remarked, peering over her hand of cards.
"Minerva, you're too young to be a grandmother." Severus could tell the headmistress was pleased with his comment by the way she blushed and tittered.
Professor Snape sat on the corner of his couch reading the evening edition of the Prophet before Hermione came home from the Ministry. His wife liked to take the paper apart as she read. Severus thought it unnecessary. Instead of mentioning it, he simply read the news before Hermione could get her hands on it. Her pregnant, hormonal hands. The lock on the front door began to click.
Speak of the devil, Severus thought. He looked up to see Hermione carrying a large plastic crate full of files and scrolls. He scowled. "What is that?"
Mrs. Snape looked sheepish as she set the crate down on the coffee table. "We both know I can't be on house arrest—"
"—for the next two months without anything to do or I'll go mad."
"You're supposed to be resting." The man put the paper aside as his wife walked towards him.
"I will be lazing about in bed or on the couch the whole time. I swear." Seven months' worth of pregnancy had swollen her belly and feet. Hermione insisted that she was not over-working herself, but Severus knew she went to bed hours earlier than usual.
"Do I need to ask Molly to stay here during the day?"
Hermione grinned at the professorial voice he was using on her. "No, Severus."
He stroked one of the curls framing her face. "You and the baby…I don't want either of you to be fatigued. Please, do not overtax yourself. You only have two more months."
Mrs. Snape rubbed her thumb over the dark patch of skin on her husband's arm. The Dark Mark had faded over time. "We need to pick some baby names."
"How about…" Hermione snuggled her cheek into Severus's neck, the side not ripped apart by the snake. "Shakespeare?"
"You want to name our daughter 'Shakespeare'?"
"No, Severus," she sighed as he grinned into her hair. "Do you want to pick a name from a Shakespearean play?"
"Hmmm…" His long fingers caressed her jaw and chin as he thought. 'Hermione' was a Shakespearean name. "Yes, another Shakespearean Snape might be a good thing."
Warm lips plumped against his jaw in response.
Severus sat with his legs extending out before him, on either side of the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. With the couch to rest his back upon, and his child finally asleep, Severus felt quite content. Once he had signed his soul over to the Dark Lord, he had stopped his dreams for children. Even before he had gone to Dumbledore, before Lily had sacrificed herself for Harry. He knew that the children of Death Eaters were expected to be raised as Death Eaters.
Before he had become a Death Eater, he wondered if his children would ever regret being born. Now, he would probably wither and die, should his precious Ophelia ever feel that way.
Their baby, as beautiful as her mother, lay asleep on the rug. Mrs. Weasley assured them Ophelia was one of the best-behaved infants she had ever seen, and warned them the next one would be a screaming hellion to make up for it. Severus assured her there would be no next one.
This one was perfect.
Ophelia Marie Snape, born on September fifth, had eyes almost as dark as her father's. Thank God above she didn't have his nose. One of her little hands curled as she jerked her arm up to her ear. Severus rubbed her belly.
Mrs. Lupin had seen it fit to give Ophelia a Weird Sisters onesie, the outfit she was currently sporting. Severus did not let Ophelia leave the house wearing it. Last week, Hermione made it known she was going to visit her parents, Ophelia already in the carrier at her feet. Severus, the doting father he was, made sure to feed her first. Mashed carrots dripped right on the "d" and she had to be changed. Pity.
Hermione came in with two cup of tea. Severus always had a hard time choosing which one of his girls he should look at, the sweet, beautiful love of his life or his precious, fragile daughter.
"Are you ready for classes to start again tomorrow?" Mrs. Snape asked, handing him a mug. She sat down on the couch.
"I don't think I can bear a hundred nasty children when I know I can play with this one instead," he replied softly. Ophelia's fingers twitched. He continued to rub her belly while drinking his tea.
Hermione put her chin on his crown. "She'll be here when you get back."
"I wonder how long Professor Greengrass will complain about her first Christmas as head of Slytherin."
"Was it really all that bad?"
"It could be." The wizard leaned into his wife's knees, resting his head on top of her leg. Hermione stroked his hair as they watched their baby sleep.
Ophelia Snape stared at all of her cousins, aunts, and uncles from her Muggle car-seat. Victoire Weasley shuffled her long, platinum hair over Ophelia's face—the baby cooed.
"I see where she gets her sense of humor from," bachelor Charlie Weasley remarked. "That usually makes every other baby laugh." Fred Weasley bounced in his lap, holding his new stuffed chocolate frog toy. Today was his sixth birthday.
Hermione and Severus Snape lounged at the kitchen table, watching the children fawn over their baby in the other room. Mrs. Weasley sat in the arm chair next to the grandfather clock. The number of hands on the clock had increased three-fold over the years.
James Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy, and Teddy Lupin thought babies were boring, so they were busy skittering around the house. Newborn Sirius Arthur Potter sucked down a bottle in Ginny's arms. Luna Malfoy discussed her newest Quibbler piece on invisibility cloaks with Dora Lupin while Draco, undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, discussed the influx of foreign wizards in Britain with his boss. Minister Potter maintained that new blood would be good for Britain's wizards.
"Besides, there's not much we can do about it," Harry said as he sipped his coffee.
"Do you boys ever stop talking business?" Arthur asked jovially as he came in from feeding the chickens.
"This one just turned five and you've already got another one on the way?" Hermione joked with Angelina.
George flicked his wife's dreadlocks. "What can I say—the Weasleys are a fertile people."
"You two aren't planning on having anymore?" Angelina asked as she rubbed her budding belly.
Severus and Hermione traded glances. Severus did not want any more children. "We'll see how stubborn the first one turns out, then let you know."
Hermione gave a snarky chuckle. "If she's as stubborn as Severus, he'll never even look at me again."
Ron laughed from the kitchen floor. He and Lavender sat on the tiles, their three-year-old, Renee, tottering between them. "The two of you are some of the most stubborn people I've ever met."
Percy Weasley arrived, bringing with him a pumpkin pie, a gift for Freddie, and some news. "Arachne Roberts-Parkinson just left court—said she was Imperiussed."
"So they let her go?" Hermione asked flatly.
"From what I hear she was very…persuasive outside the courtroom," Percy said, mindful of the tiny ears listening.
Freddie shrieked, holding a hunk of Muggle plastic over his head. "Gran-da, look—it's a mobile!"
"I took out the batteries so the mobile won't beep when he pushes the buttons," Percy mentioned to George.
"It's not a real phone, is it?" Angelina asked, somewhat pensive.
"No," Percy chuckled. Arthur was nearly as excited as Freddie was.
Severus and Hermione stood arguing in the kitchen of Spinner's End. "I don't want him anywhere near this house."
He ignored her as he left the kitchen.
Hermione followed Severus down the basement stairs. "Don't—I'm trying to talk to you, Severus!"
"There is nothing to discuss," he snapped, continuing his trek into his lab.
"Well, I think there is! He's her grandfather—"
"Be that as it may, he is nothing to me." Severus crossed his arms. Behind him a cauldron bubbled on his work table.
"This might be a good time for you two to work on your relationship, become a family again. Work on forgiveness." Hermione was imploring. Severus had been hurt all his life, internalizing his own pain so he could dish it out. He needed catharsis—an apology, a father. Tobias Snape had called on the telephone this morning while Severus was at Hogwarts. Hermione hadn't known what to tell him and gave as many vague answers as she could. The man acted surprised that his son had gotten married.
"Good lord." Severus was staring at her, entranced and simultaneously horrified. "You're just like her. She thought she could trust him too."
Hermione was taken aback. But as a barrister, she could think on her feet. "Ophelia's going to want to know why she doesn't have two grandfathers."
"We'll tell her he's dead."
"Do you know how hurt she'll be when she finds out we lied?"
"He will come in here, and find out he has nothing to gain, and then walk right back out of her life forever. He might stay long enough to earn Ophelia's affections—but then he'll leave. I think that might sting just a little bit." Severus turned to his work table. He grabbed the nearest thing he could find and began to chop.
Mrs. Snape could see that he wasn't going to budge. Perhaps he was right. "What should I tell him when he calls back?"
"Don't answer the phone." He continued to cut up the daisy roots.
Hermione gnawed her lip. Severus knew she was there, but he didn't say anything.
"Are you…absolutely certain?" she asked.
Severus set down the knife. "He's a bastard, Hermione." His black eyes had lost the playful sheen they had when he tickled their baby. "Ophelia does not need to know it."
Harry had fixed the drafty halls of Grimmauld Place quite nicely. Perhaps more credit should go to the witches he and Ginny had hired to renovate. Windows were in abundance, even in the basement kitchen. Eleven years after they had been affixed, Hermione still liked to look out at the swishing hay field every time she came over.
Ginny rifled through the tasteful oak cabinets—"Purely Muggle," Molly and Arthur had said, each with a different tone.
"How's work?" Mrs. Potter asked as she found the tea bags.
"The number of creature-related cases I take has dwindled, so now I can focus more on my human cases," Hermione chuckled.
Sirius and James were listening next to the air-conditioning vent. Grandma said the Muggle oddity was ridiculous, but that didn't stop her from soaking up the cool air whenever she came over. Da wouldn't let Grandpa take the A/C apart—reminded him not to do it every time he visited. On the second floor landing, they could hear everything going on in the kitchen through the vent. On the third floor landing, they could hear talk in the library. If they pressed their ears into the vent on the first floor, they could hear directly into the laundry room on the other side of the wall. Sometimes, Ma would tell baby Lily funny things Uncle George and Uncle Fred had done as children—and sometimes she would sniffle about it. That always made James and Sirius sad.
But most of the time, eavesdropping was fun. Especially when Uncle Sev came over—oh, he hated being called Uncle Sev. But if you called him Uncle Sevvie—well, let's just say that Uncle Ron had lost a few freckles that day.
James and Sirius liked Uncle Sev, even if he made a bored face most of the time. They begged him to teach them to brew Wolfsbane and Veritaserum and poisons, and he always said, "Maybe if you become a noble Slytherin." Aunt Hermione would start railing about how complicated the Wolfsbane was, and that Veritaserum takes a long time to stew, and poisons are not funny, blah blah blah. It was fun to get under her skin. Uncle Sev thought so too.
"I do have this one case that's…" Auntie Hermione sighed. Sirius and James traded furrowed brows. Aunt Hermione always sounded happy (and bossy), but not now.
Momma asked, "That's what?" The boys heard the clinks of two mugs on the table.
"A witch was severely beaten and she almost died. Her boyfriend did it, a wizard. So we can try them both in court. But usually, the boyfriends in the cases are Muggles beating their witch girlfriends." A pause for tea. "I don't often tell Severus about my cases anyway, but I especially…"
"No, of course not!" Auntie 'Mione sounded surprised and kind of mad. "Severus's parents..."
"Oooh, I see." Momma took a loud slurp of her tea.
"I can't help but think…am I going to end up working my own daughter's case?"
"Hermione, if she's as quick as Severus is, and as smart as you are, your daughter will be perfectly fine kicking the dragon dung out of anybody who tries to hurt her."
Sirius clenched his fists. "No one's gonna hurt Ophelia!"
"Or Lily!" James added.
James and Sirius ran down the hall to get to the library. Right where they were expected to be, they found Uncle Sevvie and Da playing Muggle chess. Da held Baby Lily on his lap as he moved his pawn forward. Sunlight danced through Lily's fire colored hair. Uncle Sevvie moved his black queen. Ophelia sat on the couch looking through her favorite pop-up book about Patroni.
The two brothers stood behind Harry's shoulders, to peer at their four-year-old sister. "Lily," James said, "if any man ever makes you cry because he hit you, I will break his broomstick in half."
Severus stared at the black haired boy and had a strange feeling in his gut. Lily Potter being protected by James Potter. Brother and sister. That baby had red hair and green eyes, but she didn't look like Lily. James didn't look like his grandfather and Sirius did not look like his namesake. Harry had forgiven him for leading to his parents' deaths—had said it wasn't really his fault, something about fate. It took a few more years after Harry's apology, and quite a few conversations with Hermione, before Severus had been able to forgive himself.
Harry chuckled, rubbing James's hair with his free hand. "You two are going to have to beat the boys off of my Lily with a stick—she's going to be as pretty as her mother, you know."
Snape and Potter were not bosom friends—Severus never confided in anyone except for Hermione and Minerva—but they could have a conversation that did not devolve into hostilities or insults. They had dropped cold formalities a long time ago (Ron's insistence had finally convinced Harry to do so).
Every Thursday night, Severus and Hermione would stop by Grimmauld Place and they would have dinner. Severus made sure he never had evening patrols on Thursdays, lest he get a stern glare from his wife. Her angry face was cute, but a smile was stunning.
Sirius shyly walked over to Ophelia. He was intimidated by Uncle Severus—he wasn't easy-going like Uncle Ron, and he certainly didn't own a joke store like Uncle George. Ophelia had long curls like Auntie 'Mione, except they were almost black, like Uncle Sev's. And her eyes—black. She reminded him of Uncle Severus, even though she smiled like Auntie 'Mione all the time. Not to mention, she was prettier than Uncle Sev.
"Ophelia," Sirius said. She looked up at him. She was a very quiet girl, when she was busy reading or coloring a picture. "I won't let any boy hurt you, when we go to Hogwarts."
Severus slowly turned his head towards Harry. Harry was taken aback by Sirius's chivalry. Was he…hitting on Professor Snape's daughter? Severus did not glare at Harry, but continued to silently stare, which was just as bad as glaring sometimes.
"Thank you, Sirius," Ophelia replied, unsure of what started this conversation. "I won't let any boys hurt you, either."
Severus ducked his head. Black hair shielded his wide smirk from Sirius's rapidly bruising ego. Sirius ran out of the room, as red as Uncle Charlie's hair. James followed, laughing. Lily tried to take Harry's glasses off his nose and Ophelia continued to stare after those two weird Potter boys in consternation. Professor Snape covered his mouth with his hand.
"The first Sirius wouldn't have been shot down so succinctly," Severus chuckled. Watching the new Sirius grow up had not eased the pain of a bullied childhood, but Severus knew it did not reflect on the child. James, Sr. should not have colored his opinion on Harry, but it had. So, Severus had bullied him in turn. He now knew that was wrong, and made sure he never allowed his past to impact his interactions with these small children.
Harry prodded his rook forward. "When my son starts channeling my godfather, that's when I'll worry for the witches of Hogwarts," he joked.
Ophelia clung to her father's arm, more nervous than she would care to admit. Her mother appeared with a pop next to her. Steam rolled over the platform. Hundreds of feet pounded, owls hooted, and cats yowled as parents bade their children teary good-byes. It was just as Ophelia remembered it from last year.
A mass of red hair caught Hermione's eye. She led the way, trusting Severus to follow. Perhaps she should have let him lead—students, current and past, parted for Severus. A few younger ones said hello. He nodded to them, his hand firmly over Ophelia's. Her long pony tail sometimes swung into his back as they were jostled in the crowd.
Hermione ruffled James's hair, knowing he hated it. He grumbled and hopped onto the train to join his fellow second years.
Harry knelt with Sirius a bit away from everyone else. "Your Uncle Severus was a Slytherin," Hermione heard him say.
Ophelia traced the buttons on her father's cuff links, standing between Mummy and Daddy. She would get to see her daddy every day, but she couldn't go home with him. And she wouldn't be able to see Mummy.
Scorpius Malfoy, a sly fifth-year, ambled over. He mentioned, "Teddy is snogging Victoire over there, just so you know."
Dora slapped a hand to her forehead. Bill whipped around, glaring. Fleur put her hand on Bill's arm, rolling her eyes. Their daughter Dominique and her cousin Renee, both thirteen, giggled.
Ron made his son Lorne get off the trunk so Renee could carry it to the train. The group of war veterans had a child in every house, and in every year, between them. Renee Weasley was the only Hufflepuff, and Scorpius Malfoy was the only Slytherin. Fred Weasley (who happened to enjoy Filius Flitwick's class the most) and Ophelia Snape were Ravenclaws. Victoire, Dominique, and James were Gryffindors, as Teddy Lupin had been.
George and Angelina were sure that next year, Roxanne would be sorted into Gryffindor as well. Ginny readjusted Lily's headband, wondering if it would feel odd with only one child at home with her. In a few years, she would have no children to snuggle with after dinner during the school term.
Lavender had tears in her eyes as she rubbed a spot of dirt from Renee's freckled nose. "Do you have everything?" she choked. Ron rubbed her shoulder, trying not to laugh.
Renee looked mortified. "Mum, don't do that in public!" she groaned, rubbing the spit off her nose.
"I'm sorry!" Lavender squeaked, holding the handkerchief to her twisting mouth instead of her daughter's face.
Severus rolled his eyes at the scene, silently stroking Ophelia's hair. Ophelia let him, despite being almost twelve-years-old.
Luna Malfoy and Charlie Weasley discussed dragon hide briefcases and whether or not they attracted the attention of Crumple-Horned Snorcaks if banged against a brick wall. The train's whistle began to trill. Victoire and Teddy, hand in hand, joined their group. Dora slapped her son on the back of the head. Victoire blushed as Teddy gave a sheepish grin.
"Don't let Freddie get in any trouble," George said to Ophelia as she and Severus walked to the train.
"I won't," she replied as Freddie stuck his tongue at her.
"What are you gonna do, you little second-year?" Freddie asked, poking Ophelia's cheek.
"Aunt Ginny taught me the Bat Bogey Hex and I won't hesitate to use it on you," she replied, sticking out her tongue as well.
"Now, now, children, I would hate to take off points from Ravenclaw so early in the year," Professor Snape drawled. Freddie gave him a devious smirk and hopped onto the train. Severus looked at Ophelia—she was biting her bottom lip, a habit she no doubt inherited from her mother.
"I'll see you at school," she said.
"You will indeed."
"Ophelia!" Sirius called. He rushed up to her and Severus. "Is it a long train ride, Uncle Severus?"
"I'm sure, the intrepid group of children that you are, will find a suitable way to pass the time."
The train whistle blew again. Hermione waved at Ophelia, smiling. Ophelia ran to her mother and gave her a quick hug before sprinting back to the train. Sirius hopped on after her. Charlie let Scorpius, Renee, and Dominique get on before him.
"See you at dinner," Charlie said to Severus.
Professor Snape stood next to his wife, watching his only child walk down the length of the train, talking with Sirius Potter. They joined the Weasley compartment.
Harry stuck his hands in his pockets. The train rolled away, full of happy, smiling children. "Do you know what Sirius just asked me?" Harry queried as the crimson train grew smaller.
"What?" Hermione asked.
"He asked me if it would be okay if he wasn't a Gryffindor." The Boy Who Lived Twice grinned at his best friend, Hermione Snape. "I think he wants to be a Ravenclaw."
"You better watch out, Severus," Ron laughed.
Draco snickered, "That boy has been making eyes at your dear daughter."
"James has him thinking he'll be sorted into Slytherin," Ginny added, swinging Lily's hand.
"I can't think of a better house," Severus remarked.
Nineteen years after the death of Voldemort, Hermione wrapped her arms around her husband's waist. With Harry and Ron at her side, Severus in her arms, and family all around, the witch had never been happier. "Let's go to lunch," Hermione said, stretching her neck back so she could look at Severus.
Harry and Draco returned to their office while Luna went to her father's house to work on the magazine. Angelina, Lavender and Ginny took Roxanne, Lorne, and Lily to the Burrow. Dora took Teddy shopping for a suit—he had a job interview tomorrow, with Flourish and Blotts. Ron and George Apparated to the joke shop. Bill and Fleur had to return to Shell Cottage to finish packing for their trip to France—Louis had been squawking about the trip for the last half hour.
Severus led Hermione to the Apparation point. "How about I make lunch instead?"
"That sounds acceptable," Hermione teased.
Miles away, the crimson train sped down the tracks to Hogsmeade, where Hagrid would be waiting with his lantern. Minerva would give a well-crafted speech, after the portrait of Albus Dumbledore had attempted to help her write it. Neville Longbottom would lead the Sorting tonight. And Severus Snape would applaud as Sirius Potter joined his brother James at the Gryffindor table. In Hermione's opinion, all was well.
A/N: Since Severus did not die professing his love for Lily Potter, it wouldn't make sense for Harry to name one of his sons after him. And I also thought it was pretty bunk that Ginny didn't seem to have input regarding her children's names. So I made up a new one. Thank you for reading my first ever fanfiction! And thanks to J.K. Rowling for crafting such interesting characters.—Rachel