A/N: Hey everyone! Sorry for my extended absence, but I took a little time off of writing for a much needed vacation with the family.
This chapter is a bit slow, as things are starting to rev up for later chapters, so hang in there! We will also be meeting a new OC which I have onecelestialbeing and Benkins to thank for helping me create. Hope you like her!
"Darling, come here before you faint of exhaustion," Severus beckoned his wife to their bed, already under the sheets. Nymphadora shook her head resolutely, holding baby Henri in her arms and rocking him back and forth, although he was already fast asleep.
"I can't bring myself to put him down right now Sev, I just…" she was on the verge of tears and he could tell. Henri was a beautiful child, but very fussy and very loud. It was honestly a miracle that he was actually asleep and all Severus wanted was to put his arms around his gorgeous wife and hold her. He couldn't believe he was actually jealous of his son, a little boy that couldn't even say 'daddy' yet.
With an affected sigh, Severus pushed the covers off of his body and walked to where his wife was standing in the middle of the room. Henri's basinet was only a few steps away and he gently extracted the sleeping boy from her arms and laid him down in his own bed before returning to her. He looked down at Dora with a gentleness in his eyes that very few people saw and took both of her small hands in his, drawing them up to his lips and kissing her knuckles.
"I love you," she breathed out, incredibly thankful that he had once again saved her from a small fit of panic. She was in way over her head with Henri and she felt lost. Although her mother was very helpful, it still didn't prevent Dora from rushing to his crib once a night to make sure he was still breathing.
"I love the way that you love him," Severus said in earnest, "But he is in dreamland and there is somewhere else I have in mind for you."
Although Dora was exhausted, physically and mentally, she had never ceased being playful and spontaneous, nor had her attraction for her husband decreased one bit, and with all of the energy she had left and a silly smile, she dragged Severus back to their bed. They paused and cringed, waiting for Henri to wake when they had landed themselves on the bed a bit too fast and it had made a noise, but the child slept on and Severus opened Dora's robe with experienced fingers and a gentle touch. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him down to kiss her, which he willingly obeyed, maneuvering himself on top of his love as quietly as he could manage. When their bed squeaked once more, Dora giggled, "Severus, you stop that right now! I do not want to be up all night with a crying baby!"
He pulled away from her for a second and gave her a patronizing look that always seemed to simultaneously arouse and annoy her, "Sweetheart," he spoke, his voice so low that it went straight to the place between her thighs, "Do you know what I want? More than anything in the world?" he asked, and she squirmed, trying to hide her smile when she felt his erection pressed against her stomach.
"What would that be oh dear husband of mine?" she was desperately trying to hide her laugh now but his hands found her waist and tickled her gently, causing her to squirm more and buck up against him, which he had no problem with. He loved the sight of her face in that innocent, pure happiness and the bell-like sound of her laugh. He didn't care if he had to stay up all night with Henri for a few seconds of that sound piercing the silence of the room.
"What I want, more than anything in the world," Severus continued, with a new sense of seriousness, "Is to fuck you into this mattress so hard that you will finally sleep in tomorrow morning".
Dora's eyes widened in anticipation and she grabbed the back of his head, weaved her fingers through his black hair, and kissed him hard.
Severus lost himself in the kiss for a moment before pulling away once again and looking at his flushed and breathless wife, now hiking up the bottom of her robe herself in need.
"I wasn't finished," his hands found hers and stopped her movements. Once she was looking at him with the rapt attention in her big eyes that he loved so much, he took his hand off of her thigh and pointed to the basinet, "That boy, in there, I love more than anything in the world besides you. You gave me the greatest gift the day he was born, and I want to make another."
He could feel her chest rise from her sharp intake of air, but her face was beautifully flushed and she smiled, "Oh Severus," she kissed his cheek gently, closing her eyes, "I want another too, as much as Henri wears me out and makes me crazy, I love that he is ours. It's never something I ever imagined happening, but always wanted-to carry your child- and I do want to do it again."
All he had to answer with was a small smile and she put her rosy lips to his ear, "But how about we start with the fucking me into the mattress part, and see what comes of it? I could really use the good night's sleep."
"Anything you wish, Mrs. Snape, anything you wish."
Since Narcissa's first birthday party, Hermione and Sirius had found it very hard to keep their hands off each other, both in private and in public, and they mutually decided that they were ready for a bit more time alone, and that it was the right moment to start looking for a caretaker for their beloved baby girl. Fleur, although slightly disappointed at the revelation that some other woman would be spending more time with her precious Cissa, was in part relieved that she could go back to her normal duties once again and promised to help Hermione on the search for someone.
Sirius and Hermione, however, were not seeing eye-to-eye on the subject, and one sunny morning, they made their feelings very clear to the entirety of the manor.
"Let's just put a call for one in the papers and be done with it!" Hermione threw her hands up in the air, which she instantly regretted due to the boning of her corset in her peony colored dress. She groaned and huffed and pulled at the silky material, looking up at her husband with a pout on her face. They had been arguing all the way down the stairs for breakfast and were standing in the middle of the foyer.
"What's wrong then love?" he asked, although he knew the answer, trying to hide the smirk on his face.
"This damned dress and these damned clothes you make me wear…"
"Yes, I do it on purpose to keep you from throwing tantrums like this one," he goaded her but she continued to pout and succeeded at ripping one of the sleeves of the very expensive dress.
"If you want to go around in trousers and a frock coat, by all means Hermione, help yourself to my closet!" Sirius said through bouts of laughter, and she was just getting angrier.
"Maybe…maybe I will!"
"Hermione," Sirius said, stopping and walking towards her to put his hands on her shoulders and keep her from tearing up anymore of her dress, "The dress isn't really the problem. As far as I remember, you like your dresses and I like the way you look in them. So let's not start with all of this just because we have a difference of opinion…"
"When did you become so reasonable?" she asked, a smile spreading on her face at the silliness of it all. Even if one time long ago she wished for a wardrobe like Sirius' to prevent her from being objectified and to give her a shot at an education, those wishes were soon taken off the table when she started to work at the Bergére. She grew to like being dressed up in pretty things, even if they prevented her from making a point to her husband sometimes, but she found that she could still be herself even whilst wearing silk.
"And when did you become such a brat?" he asked with a twinkle in his eye, "Oh wait…"
She slapped him lightly and playfully on the chest, but they soon went back to their heated debate. They were both too intelligent to give it up easily.
"Now, about this advertisement nonsense…" he continued and with a roll of her pretty brown eyes, Hermione walked into the drawing room with Sirius hot on her heels.
"I think it is a perfect idea Sirius, I am sure there are plenty of women looking for work, and we should be doing what we can to give everyone an equal opportunity. I was once one of those women you know…" she said with fiery seriousness, and he had to admit she was right.
"But I do not want some random stranger coming into this house and watching over our child! 'Mione they could lie, or steal from us…" Sirius pleaded with her. He was not eager to lose his fortune again.
"Well, where are we supposed to find someone then? Anyone we hire is going to be a stranger Sirius. You are being ridiculous about this! Besides, governesses with good reputations are very trustworthy!"
"Oh, and now she needs a governess?" Sirius' eyes widened, "Hermione, love, I know she is your child and you are the smartest woman I know, but she can barely form a sentence. She needs a nurse, not a governess. She's only one!"
"Oh my God!" Hermione groaned, running her hands through her hair and only making the curls wilder. When Sirius caught sight of her eyes again, he saw they were leaking tears down her face. Pushing back his stubbornness, he embraced her.
"Narcissa would know what to do. She could have been her…"
"I know, love, I know. But she's not here anymore," Sirius said, mostly to remind himself of the cold and terrible fact that nothing was going to bring the elder Narcissa back from the grave, as much as they needed her.
"We have no mothers around! Dora is new to this as well, and Andromeda gave her up, so there was no need for a caretaker there. Lily…well, and the Weasley's never had a nurse or a governess…" Hermione sighed, exasperated.
"Let me take care of it, alright?" Sirius promised that he would and they finally made their way to the breakfast table where some croissants and tea were laid out for them already. Hermione dabbed her eyes with her napkin and Sirius shot her an apologetic smile before they both dug into their breakfast. Fleur joined them a few moments later, with Narcissa all smiles on her hip.
"She fed from the bottle while you two were deciding her fate, rather loudly I might add," Fleur remarked with the slightly sassy tone that added to the liveliness of the house and handed the bathed baby to her mother.
"Did she take to it alright?" Hermione asked, a little bit saddened that her days of breast-feeding were nearly over, but still happy at the progression.
"She was fine, Hermione, stop worrying. We'll try it again later so you can see," Fleur promised and went out to the garden where Neville, Luna, and Minerva were having their breakfast before attending to the flowers. Hermione kissed Narcissa on the forehead and ran her thumb across her incredibly soft, slightly pink cheek. Sirius watched on with a smile on his face as their daughter kissed Hermione back.
It was two weeks later when the conversation was brought up again. Hermione was lying, thoroughly exhausted and in a hazy state of bliss, next to Sirius. He had an arm draped lazily over her stomach and a stupid but contagious smile on his handsome face.
"I am never going to get tired of that," Hermione admitted, stretching out like a cat in his arms, looking adorable to Sirius and he instinctively pulled her closer, burying his face in her mass of hair and inhaling to smell the remnant of the perfume she wore that he loved.
"But you seem awfully tired though," he teased but he didn't see the smile light up her face as she rested her back against his chest with a sound of contentment, "I saw Harry today…"
"Oh?" Hermione prompted him for more sleepily, "How was he? I miss him. He and Ginny have to come over, tomorrow night maybe…"
"He's fine love, and I will make sure it happens, but I had asked him last week if he knew anyone who could be a suitable nurse for Narcissa, and although he didn't, he knew someone that would."
"Who?" Hermione's curiosity was piqued and she turned to look at her husband.
"Apparently Monsieur Dumbledore is adept at finding great help, and Harry asked him for the favor. We have a meeting with this girl tomorrow morning…"
"Tomorrow morning?" Hermione nearly screeched in nervous disbelief, "No, it's far too soon…"
"I thought that was what you wanted?"
"Yes, yes, but…I'm not ready, I don't know what to ask her, I don't know if I will like her…"
"It's just one girl. We can see how we feel about her and if she isn't right, then we will try something else. Harry swears that Dumbledore's butler Cedric is top notch, and his maid Mademoiselle Chang is sweet and very capable. Dumbledore and Harry have formed such an interesting bond that I doubt the old man would lead him in the wrong direction, or me, for that matter," Sirius said soothingly and although it eased some of Hermione's fears, she still had plenty more. She trusted everyone in the house, and although she had wanted to put out an ad in the city paper, she now saw the error of her ways about trusting just anyone to waltz into their life. She loved Luna, Minerva, Fleur, and Neville and they were family. How was this new woman going to fit in? Would she even fit in?
And part of Hermione wasn't ready to give up Narcissa like that, but she knew that was what was fashionable and right in society and she wanted to be able to be with Sirius more, to make appearances in society with him, be with their friends, and let Fleur have a few days off. She also wanted to pursue hobbies that she didn't have time for at the moment. It made her feel guilty that she wanted that, and also wanted her daughter to be with her. She needed to find a middle ground.
But before she could worry herself sick, she was fast asleep in Sirius' protective arms.
"She's here!" Neville's voice rang out loudly when he saw the hansom arrive in front of the manor and everyone went into a flurry. Sirius was pacing anxiously in the drawing room next to where Hermione sat and smoothed out non-existent wrinkles in her dress. Luna and Fleur were hastily setting out tea service for their guest and Minerva stood in the corner of the room, holding Narcissa who was wide-eyed and excited at the activity.
"Can I take your travelling coat?" was the next thing out of Neville's mouth a few moments later and everyone tensed, waiting for the first glimpse of the woman. There was a rustling of fabric, and then footsteps towards the drawing room.
Everyone was shocked at the girl that stood before them.
She was beautiful and young, with a glowing pale face dotted with freckles that reminded Hermione of Ginny. Her smile reached all the way up to her light grey eyes that were large but seemed to balance out her very tall and slim frame. In some ways she almost looked breakable and stood in her neat but simple dress a bit awkwardly, as if her limbs were a bit too long and unwieldy for her. Her hair was a strawberry blonde, long down her back and all tight corkscrew curls, even tighter than Hermione's.
"I'm Claire Beaumont. Monsieur Dumbledore sent for me and said that you were a lovely family," she spoke before anyone else, blushing a bit at the lack of words from her hosts.
"You're English?" Hermione said with surprise, remembering her manners and getting up to shake the girls' hand.
"Yes, I came from London, I hope that is alright. I speak fluent French, so it won't be a problem," Claire said in perfect French to prove her point, but her accent still lingered. Hermione looked her over, trying to not look snotty as she appraised the girl that was a good five inches taller than her.
"It's perfect," Sirius interjected, carrying on the conversation in French, "Narcissa should grow up speaking more than one language."
"And I know Latin, both written and spoken," Claire went on and Hermione was both jealous and impressed.
"So you are a governess?" she asked the girl, aware of Sirius' desire for a nurse.
"Yes, but trained to be a nurse as well. I have plenty of experience and references," she started, beginning to rifle through her purse but Sirius held up his hand to stop her.
"We will look at them later," he smiled warmly, "How old are you?"
"Just a year over twenty sir," she said politely and Hermione grimaced. She liked Claire instantly, the girl was sweet and radiated a warmth that was undeniable, but she was also beautiful, and only a year younger than Hermione.
"And no children of your own?" Sirius inquired.
"Very well, why don't I leave you and my wife alone to chat and get to know one another?" he suggested and Hermione gave him a wan smile, leading Claire into the drawing room. Fleur served up tea and Claire's eyes darted to the giggling Narcissa playing on Minerva's lap.
"Is that her? She's beautiful!"
"Thank you kindly," Hermione said, trying to be as detached as possible before she made up her mind, "Mademoiselle Beaumont, why did you decide to become a governess?"
"Well," Claire began with both her eyes and mouth smiling, "I have three younger brothers and my mother passed when I was very young. It came naturally. I took two jobs, one when I was fifteen, taking care of a two year old girl before she moved to Austria, and another when I was eighteen, educating a six year old girl until a few weeks ago, when I got the letter from Monsieur Dumbledore. My best friend Cho went to work for him a few years ago, and apparently she spoke highly of me and somehow it came to be known that one of his friends needed a governess…and well, to be honest, could pay more than I was making. But as I said, I do come with a good reference."
Hermione listened to her story and believed her, and didn't blame her for trying to advance her lot in life. She was a simple girl, but had obviously been educated enough and was very gifted.
"Everything you know, your languages and anything else, was that self-taught?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, we had a governess for a very short time before my mother died, but I loved learning from the start. Monsieur Dumbledore said the same about you actually, that you wouldn't want anyone at least as smart as yourself being with your darling little girl."
"Well," Hermione smirked a bit at the eccentric old man's thoughts, "He was right about that."
Both girls looked at each other for a few minutes. They were peers in most senses, but Claire had been a bit more privileged growing up, whereas Hermione was more privileged now than before. She understood where Claire came from and couldn't help but like her.
"Why don't we see how Narcissa likes you?" Hermione suggested, snapping out of her observations, and Minerva came over at once, placing the sweet one year old into Claire's able arms.
"Hi there Narcissa, I'm Claire," the girl said sweetly and after a few times of repeating it, 'Claire' came forth on Narcissa's lips and Hermione felt a pang of jealousy and pride at the same time. Hermione excused herself to let them bond under Minerva's watchful eye, knowing full well that she was going to ask Sirius to hire her as Narcissa's nurse and governess.
"Do you like her?" Sirius asked when Hermione retreated into the foyer, where he had been standing anxiously.
"I do, actually…surprisingly…" she added with a bit of disdain in her voice that Sirius caught.
"What is it love?"
"She's…" Hermione looked up at her husband with pleading eyes, "Well, just promise me that you won't be one of those husbands that we all hear whispers about that have an affair with their governess?"
"That's what all this hesitation is about?" Sirius laughed and hugged his wife to him, "Hermione, I swear on my life that you are all I could ever need. Those daft society men are all fools for not realizing what they have at home, to feel the need to run off with a tart for the night!"
"I was once a tart," she blushed at his logic and he rolled his eyes and said, "But I didn't leave anyone for you. And you were much more than a tart. Hardly a tart at all, I'd say. You were and still are the most gorgeous and fascinating creature on this planet, Hermione. Mademoiselle Beaumont is sweet, has a good reputation, comes cheaper than I anticipated, and is going to give us more time alone. And that is all I care about."
"You are a shameless flatterer," Hermione sighed, her eyes telling a different story, however, as she becomingly stared up at him before giving him a lingering kiss, "I guess we should go and welcome her into the family?"
"It's all the truth love, now let's go," he smiled, turning her back towards the drawing room which was emitting happy giggles from Narcissa, and slapped Hermione on the arse discreetly before they joined their new governess.
A/N: Hope you like! There is much more in store for Miss Claire, and don't worry, she won't be taking Sirius away from our beloved Hermione! She's a good girl I'd love a review though! Drop by and tell me what you think!