Severus and Sibs
(For Amanda. Hope you like it.)
Tobias maneuvered the ramshackle car alongside the curb at the end of the row of houses, put it in park, and sat there with it idling as he studied his home. Ugly, run down, needing paint, needing repairs he had no clue how to make and no proper tools to attempt if he had the mind. In a word: dump. He sighed, turned off the ignition, and heaved himself out of the car.
Outside on the step, just inside the gate, eight-year-old Severus squatted watching his father. One hand covered his left eye; his hair fell into the other, effectively covering it as well. As the man walked round to open the gate, he stood up.
"What happened to you?" asked the man. He pulled his son's hand away from the eye and grimaced.
"Got in a fight," Severus mumbled, vainly trying to pull away.
"Did ya win?"
Severus shrugged one shoulder in reply.
"You usin' that magicky crap on the whelps?" Tobias demanded.
"I didn't do nothin', they started it," protested the boy. He neglected to mention he had used a tiny bit of 'that magicky crap' on the bullies in order to free himself and flee. Dad didn't like magic…didn't like much of anything anymore.
"You'd best watch your step, boy. I'm tired of the teachers tellin' me you're causin' trouble in school." He opened the front door, letting go of the lad in the process.
Severus cringed as if expecting to be slapped, but Tobias simply shifted his lunch pail to the other hand.
A prolonged wail sounded from inside the house, and immediately Tobias forgot about Severus. He rushed in, with Severus on his heels, all the way to his downstairs bedroom next to the kitchen. His wife lay in bed, covered in sweat, groaning in agony.
"Tobias!" she moaned as loudly as she could. "The babies are coming."
The man knelt on the floor beside her, taking her hand in his. He stroked her slick brow. "What can I do?"
"Severus, I told you to stay out of here," she said, looking at her son.
"I couldn't, Mum. I wanted to make sure you were okay," said the child. "Now that Dad is here, we can take you to the hospital."
"The boy is right, Eileen," said Tobias, ignoring the fact that Severus hadn't moved from the spot where he stood gaping at his mother. "Let me take you."
"No!" Her fists clenched the sheet. "Prince women always have their children at home. Help me, Tobias. Call the midwife."
"How? Isn't she one of your witch friends?" The bitterness in his tone set her teeth on edge.
"Use the floo." She fell back, exhausted, and let out another horrific cry.
Tobias scurried from the room, dragging Severus with him. He approached the fireplace as if he'd never seen it before, took down the small jar of ashy material setting on the mantle, and merely gawped at it. "What do I do?" he finally asked.
Severus wiggled up round him and pointed at it. "Take a pinch and throw it into the fire while tellin' where you want to go. You can stick your head in and talk, or go through."
"I'm not stickin' my head in a bloody fire," muttered Tobias. He grasped hold of Severus and thrust him up to the fireplace. "You do it. Go get her."
"I don't know her name," Severus objected. "Or where she is."
"That hospital with the weird name—St. Mudhole," Tobias said, nodding to himself. It was hard to think with the cries in the other room. "Um…her name is Cecilia…something."
With a worried glance back at his mother's room, Severus took a pinch of the floo powder, stepped into the fireplace while tossing it into the flames, and pronounced clearly, "St. Mungo's."
It whisked him off, and he landed in a dirty heap, rolling out of the fireplace into the foyer of the hospital. A few people loitering about stared at him, yet he took no notice. He got up, not bothering to dust himself off, shoved his hair out of his face, and purposefully strode up to the help desk. The woman seated there leaned forward to peer over the desk at him.
"May I help you?"
"My mum is havin' her babies and she needs her midwife. Cecilia."
"Your mother's name?"
"Eileen Snape." He fidgeted from one foot to the other, wishing they'd hurry.
The woman wrote something down, tossed the parchment into the air, and aimed her wand. A pink spell struck the paper, it folded itself into a crude model of an airplane, and zoomed off. She smiled down at the lad. "She'll receive the notice straightaway and be right here."
"'kay," he answered, staring after the airplane.
True enough, not two minutes had gone by when a portly woman in long yellow robes, her dark hair in a knot on her head, came bustling down the corridor carrying a satchel. She looked to Severus like a large lemon, though her expression was anything but sour.
"Severus!" she exclaimed, clasping his shoulder. "It's been some time since I saw you. So your mum is ready, is she?"
"Yes. She's screamin' a lot," he said, and his black eyes teared up a little. "Hurry."
Taking the youngster by the hand, she marched to the floo, cast in a pinch of powder, and soon the two were in the Snape living room. Without waiting to be told where to go, Cecilia headed for the bedroom, leaving Severus in the living room with his father. He inched over and sat on one of the threadbare armchairs.
"Good job, Severus," Tobias said softly.
"Thanks." He kicked his legs as they dangled over the edge of the chair, and bit the inside of his lip nervously. "Is she gonna be alright?"
"Yes, I suspect so," he answered, looking over his shoulder at a particularly vehement shout of pain. "The midwife will see to it." Then he added, as if it had just occurred to him, "Why didn't she call Cecilia when she first felt the pain?"
Severus shrugged again. "I guess she thought it was too soon, and when she laid down, she couldn't get back up. She told me to leave so I wouldn't hear her, but…"
Tobias nodded. They sat together, each deep in his own thoughts as the time wore on. At length they heard a new sound, a beautiful sound: an infant crying. Severus jumped up, but Tobias reached over to hold him fast.
"Not yet. There's still another," he reminded the boy.
A few minutes later, a new squall entered the fray, and Tobias let loose a long, hard breath of relief. He got up and motioned to Severus, and the two of them entered the room together. The midwife had washed the first baby, and was in the process of cleaning the other. She glanced at them and smiled.
"Congratulations, Tobias. You have a son and a daughter." At 'daughter', she held up the baby in her arms. "Eileen is doing fine."
Tobias crept forward to his wife, bent over, and hugged her as gently as he could without crushing the boy on her chest. "I love you, Eileen."
"I love you, Tobias. See your son?" She moved the blanket away from his face to show a shock of black hair, deep black eyes, and a rather small, straight nose.
"Beautiful like you," Tobias whispered. When Severus had come out looking like himself, he'd felt a pang of sadness, though he had to admit the kid was clever beyond words. Sometimes too clever for his own good.
Cecilia handed the other child to Tobias, and he accepted it in trembling arms. "My little girl. I never thought I'd have a girl." He peered at her, entranced. She peered back, thrashing her fists at him.
Severus managed by now to wriggle into the middle of them, where he stared down at his baby brother, then looked up at the baby in Tobias' arms. They were finally here. For what seemed like forever, Mum had been telling him his baby siblings were on the way, but no one knew whether they'd be boys or girls. He tugged at his mother's sleeve.
"Can I hold them?"
Eileen hesitated, then nodded. She lifted the bundle to him, careful to position the boy's head in the crook of Severus' arm. "Now don't move about or shake him. He's not a toy."
Smiling so broadly his face felt like it would crack, Severus moved his face down till his nose pressed on the baby's nose. The child thrashed and grunted, but didn't seem to mind. "Hi. I'm Severus, your big brother. Mum, what's his name?"
"Julius," she answered.
"Julius. Like Caesar." It made him snicker. "I can teach you loads of stuff, you and—Mum, what's the girl's name?"
"You and Justina. Can I call her Tina?"
"Whatever you want," responded Eileen tiredly. "Give him back now. Tobias, let Severus say hello to his sister."
She accepted Julius, and Tobias handed Justina to his son. While the midwife used her wand to clean up the blood and mess in the room, and to tidy up, Severus stared at the baby girl in the same adoring way he had at the baby boy. Tobias frowned at the use of magic, though in truth he was glad he didn't have to clean it up himself. He hooked an arm round Severus, drawing him in close, and giving in to a sudden impulse he kissed Severus on top of the head.
"What was that for?" asked Severus, confused. Dad rarely even hugged him anymore, and he couldn't recall the last time he'd kissed him.
"You're my kid. I don't need no reason," said Tobias, feigning irritation.
Eileen smiled, storing away this memory in her mind. She already had plenty of memories of Tobias shouting at Severus or slapping him or whipping him with his belt. It was nice to have a sweet memory to store away; they didn't come very often anymore. She only hoped there'd be many more in the years to come, with all three of their children.
Severus settled onto the bed beside Eileen, the little girl still clutched protectively to his chest. With his mother stroking his back, his sister and brother right here, and his dad acting nice for a change, he thought that surely he'd never be any happier. Life didn't get much better than that.