Disclaimer:- I neither own nor earn anything from this story, and the plot is only partially mine. Everything you recognise is the intellectual property of JK Rowling and associates.
A/N:- So here we are at the last chapter of the story. Thank you to BeccaLister for the story idea; it was a prize I offered for a review milestone. I am happy so many people have enjoyed this story, thank you also to everyone who has read, followed, made it a favourite and especially all you out there who have shared your thoughts on the story with me in the form of reviews. I appreciate you all, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy this last chapter.
Chapter Eight – Becoming Reacquainted
The always anticipated crisis of conscience over leaving England all those years ago happened eight years after they'd left. Minerva related a series of events to Severus and Hermione and they knew the time had come to act.
The triad between Harry, Draco and Luna had broken up rather spectacularly, and the three of them had all gone their separate ways, with the children staying with their mother. It was rumoured, Minerva told Severus and Hermione that the Weasley's had taken Harry Potter back into their family as soon as the split occurred.
Narcissa proved to be no help. After Lucius' death she'd had a mental breakdown and was little more than a shell of her former self now, apparently she had always held out a hope that she would get her husband back. Draco had done the best he could for her and had her comfortably housed within the best sanatorium money could buy, but she was of no support to her son or his child.
After finding out what had happened from Minerva, Severus and Hermione had a very serious discussion about what could be done and then Severus left for Malfoy Manor almost immediately.
Standing outside the imposing serpent adorned gates, Severus' stomach lurched. He hated this place, it brought back such horrific memories for him, but he steeled his resolve and told himself that Draco needed him.
Severus was surprised that the gates still admitted him, but he didn't question it, merely kept walking until he arrived at the imposing entrance. To say Severus was surprised by the countenance of the broken looking wizard who opened the door was an understatement. "Severus," Draco breathed, and tears started down his cheeks.
Severus stepped through the door and led his god-son into the darkened sitting room. "I knew you'd come back some day, Uncle Sev," Draco stated, trying desperately to find his composure.
Once the blond wizard had recovered they sat down and discussed what had happened. It appears that outside forces working on his relationship with Harry and Luna were responsible for finally cracking it. Predictably, over time Harry Potter had gravitated back towards, and become friends with Ron Weasley again, and it was this that had started forcing a wedge between the three of them.
"Just little suggestions in Harry's ear," Draco told his god-father. "Apparently there was always that little niggle of doubt in his mind, because once the damage was done the Weasley's easily swayed him away from Luna and I."
Severus sighed. "Draco, I have to tell you up front, that I do not believe triad relationships are ever successful long term, because this very thing always seems to happen." Severus saw Draco's shocked face, but he went on, "It makes no difference if I would have told you that before you entered it, you wouldn't have believed me. I'm conservative, I always have been, and I will not pretend to understand what the three of you had together, because I'm not capable of it. I love my wife with all my heart, there is not room for another in our relationship, so I can't relate to what you had or lost," at this point Severus reached forward and placed a hand on Draco's arm. "However, both Hermione and I will support you if you wish."
This new and improved Snape was a revelation to Draco, and he's married… wait a minute, Hermione, Draco's addled brain told him. "Severus, are you married to Hermione Granger?"
"Yes… yes I am. We have been together for eight glorious years, and she has given me four beautiful children," Severus stated formally. Then his countenance darkened, "And I will not allow anything to jeopardise that, and it is the one condition I stipulate. My family is sacrosanct and by letting a part of my old life in, I'm risking their happiness, so be warned, you are on probation," he finished, scowling.
Draco could see the love and pride in his mentor's dark eyes when he spoke of his wife and children, then the fierceness of his warning, and it struck him what a precious thing Severus was trusting him with. He knew he would react the same way if something threatened Scorpius or Lily, but did he feel that way about Luna and Harry, had he ever? He was sure he had, but that was a question that he needed to think about. "How do I fix this, Severus?"
Severus' reply was prompt. "We need to work out is what is salvageable, what do you wish to salvage?" Then he looked around the dismal manor, "and I would suggest you do it away from here."
Draco looked so lost and thin, as his lifeless eyes followed Severus' around the room. It was obvious he hadn't been eating, or looking after anything else. He needed support and caring. Suddenly, he spoke, "You know you're right… but where?"
"I'll take you with me for a while, I have a friend who owns the local pub. He's a wizard and he will give you room and board temporarily." Severus rose and straightened his long frame. "As long as you are discreet, Hermione and I do not wish our whereabouts advertised at present."
"I understand, Severus, thank you."
"How about your mother?"
"Mother's quite settled. She contently jabbers away to father's portrait all day. She doesn't recognise me or Scorpius anymore. She is so caught up in her own little world with father."
"What have the Healers told you?" Severus asked, concern lighting his face.
"The healer said, 'the mind is an interesting place, Mr. Malfoy, and sometimes it deludes us into a fantasy world.'"
Hermione was surprised when Severus returned with a very broken Draco as a companion. Draco Malfoy stayed at Albert's pub for six months, and Severus worked with him to help him back onto his feet. The wizard he was now, bore no resemblance to the wizard Hermione had known from school and this had made it much easier for her to accept him.
Eventually a divorce was finalised, and over time Draco and Luna managed to salvage enough love to start again. Hermione and Severus had attended their bonding ceremony just last year.
The whole business though had ignited Hermione's anger over the Harry and Ron thing all over again, and she knew that no matter what happened in life, Harry would always side with Ron and she knew she'd made the right decision to leave with Severus all those years ago.
Severus and Hermione took their time dressing today. Today they were going back to where it all began for them, almost thirteen years ago. Today was Hogwarts orientation for next years, first years, and their daughter Serena and her best friend Amelia Finlay were going to be attending next year.
Along with all the emotions associated with having your eldest child starting at boarding school, there was the uncertainty of finally having to face people you had chosen to exclude from your life. Hermione and Severus had agreed all those years ago after the birth of Serena that they wanted their children to grow up without the prejudices that they had contended with.
They had lived by this all through their marriage, and they had been lucky enough to now include Draco, Luna and their twins into that circle without having to compromise those ideals. Although this had come at a price for Lily, her father wasn't seeing her during this time. He had moved in with Ron and Pansy—although Pansy spent most of her time abroad now, and Billius was in boarding school—so they were acting like a pair of bachelors.
No, taking all this into consideration, no matter how much preparation they had laid down, Severus and Hermione knew that today would be difficult and they hoped for the children's sake that there would not be a scene.
They knew that for the day they would be Severus and Hermione once more, while the name Prince was legal because Severus had been the last of his line and entitled to use it, their choices of personal name were seen more as nicknames. So they had sat the older children down and explained why they had changed them.
They hoped that both Serena and Amelia were grounded enough to be able to deal with anything anyone could throw at them. Both Severus and Albert had taught the girls how to defend themselves with both wizarding and Muggle methods, just like they had with Seamus and were also starting to do with Donovan and Albert Jr.
Although Hermione had admonished Severus after she heard him advising Serena to watch out for a boy called Billius Parkinson-Weasley. "I'm fairly sure he'll be trouble, poppet," she'd heard him telling her.
"But mum said we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt," his eldest daughter told him, with her arms crossed just like her mother, and this mad Hermione smirk.
"Yes, well I'm just telling you to be careful," he said, rather shiftily.
Hermione laughed when she cleared her voice and saw her husband stiffen slightly. "Time for bed, Rena," she said kissing her daughter's head, "and your father's right, you will have to watch yourself with some people," she continued as she put her arms around Severus' waist from behind, "even if we have taught you to try and treat everyone equally."
Hermione smiled at her recollections, and watched Serena and Amelia excitedly waiting for the moment they would floo into Auntie Minnie's office and into a new world. To look at them they were exact opposites, dark and light, but the firmest friends you could ever hope to meet.
Amelia had copious straw-blonde curls and cornflower blue eyes, while Serena was like Severus with the addition of her mother's curls, having raven hair and dark eyes. Severus often commented that he hoped neither of their girls had inherited his nose. Donovan looked like he was developing it, but it was still too early to tell.
Seamus was now a fifth year Gryffindor and he was coping well with life at Hogwarts. Minerva had allowed him to come to her office to greet his parents and siblings, as they were coming with Hermione and Severus, who were arriving straight into her office.
As soon as they arrived, Severus' highly sensitive olfactory senses took in the aroma of school. It was enough to have him almost turning tail then and there. If it hadn't been for the excited three-year-old in his arms, he may just have done that. Little Edward was squirming and writhing trying to get down to greet his auntie. "Daddy, lets me go afore Beccie gets first hugs from Auntie Minnie," he demanded.
This somehow centred Severus, knowing that circumstances had changed and he was no longer alone, and when they left, it would be together. Once he'd released Ed, and Hermione had done the same with his sister, she came over to him and threaded her arm through his. "It's very different from last time, isn't it?" she murmured.
"Indeed," replied her husband, just as softly. "Looks nothing like it used to,' but then he leant down and whispered, "but it still smells the same."
"Oh Rusie," she whispered playfully, "you and your Potions master's nose."
Minerva finished fussing over all the children and said, "Well Severus, I hope you like the changes I've made. I think it's a much better experience for all children now, shall we?"
When they arrived in the Great Hall, Minerva ushered them in through the teacher's entrance, and sat them in seats she had reserved for both families, along with the Malfoy family. Severus and Draco sat one end of the row and Albert and Seamus at the other. Hermione, a pregnant Luna and Emma were placed together in the centre with the smaller children.
"Look at them, you'd think they're expecting a war," Emma commented.
"Actually when some of our former acquaintances realise who we are, they might just get one," Hermione whispered back.
Everyone sat quietly and listened to Minerva's presentation. Severus surveyed the teacher's table, Neville Longbottom had replaced Sprout, and he shuddered at that thought. Sinistra and Hooch were still there, along with Flitwick and Vector. Trelawney seemed to be gone, thank the gods for small mercies, and Firenze was standing with Hagrid off to one side.
Severus scanned further along the row—and of all the horrors—he saw a fop that resembled that fool Lockhart. However, when he consulted the program which was complete with waving pictures of the teachers, he found that the Lockhart look-alike was actually Professor McClain Fussbender, and he was the Potions professor. Severus pinned the man with an evil stare, and started assembling questions for him in his mind.
Once the presentation of all the benefits and assets of a Hogwarts education was complete, Minerva asked her staff to take groups on tours of the castle. The headmistress herself took a group, but Severus and Hermione—unsurprisingly, because Severus practically dragged his family—were among the parents and children included in Professor Fussbender's group. Emma and Albert ended up in Professor Longbottom's, much to the disenchantment of Serena and Amelia who wanted to be in the same group.
There was a new tower that neither Hermione nor Severus had seen, this was where all the first years lived. As they weren't sorted initially, Minerva had found that they became a more cohesive group. This was true for Seamus, because even though he was Gryffindor, he had friends from all the houses.
Hermione had to bite her tongue to stop laughing at the lecture her husband was giving his replacement, so much so that when the tour was over the now very weary professor almost ran away.
So far, Hermione and Severus had managed to avoid everyone they hadn't wished to see. The three families were standing in a group together, talking quietly when the morning tea was served, and Hermione suddenly discovered that their reprieve was over. "Don't look now, Mia, but Potter and Weasley are coming this way, and they look like they're about to blow a fuse," Severus whispered in Hermione's ear.
"Oh," and she turned around, a slight grimace on her face.
The smaller children took one look at the scowls on the approaching wizards and each grabbed one of their father's legs each and hid their faces. Knowing the story well, and seeing it wasn't going to be pretty, Emma and Luna gathered the children together and ushered them over to the activities. The first one they came to was charms and they watched this year's first years levitating feathers.
Severus, Draco and Albert stood around Hermione in a semicircle. It would be a very stupid wizard who challenged the aura of power protecting her, but of course this was Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.
"I've spent years trying to find you," Harry said curtly, upon arrival.
"Well, perhaps you should have realised, I didn't wish to be found," Hermione replied coolly.
Severus saw Pansy stalking over now as well. Then he heard Minerva mutter, "Oh good gracious," and she was also hurrying over.
He focused back on what Hermione was saying, "A scene will not solve anything. You have made your choices, I have made mine, and in the light of recent evidence I can see nothing has changed. So let's just leave it at that and keep the peace," Hermione finished.
That was when Severus saw Pansy's wand move, and his was in his hand quicker. The Protego Charm surrounded them in a flash, and Pansy's hex ricocheted to the ceiling. It was Albert who caught and secured the chunk of ceiling that thundered toward the ground.
Minerva arrived on the scene just in time to hear Pansy hiss, "You pathetic Mudblood bitch."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Really Parkinson, is that truly how far your mind has grown." But then she started to laugh as Pansy was suddenly foaming at the mouth and making choking noises.
Minerva cackled, and turned to the parents whose attention had been gathered by everything that was going on. "There are several words that are no longer tolerated here at Hogwarts, and that is one of them. The mouth-washing jinx is automatically activated when someone uses one of the banned words." She turned back to Pansy, "And it doesn't cease until the witch or wizard apologises to the person they used the word on."
Once calm had been restored, Hermione and her three protectors ignored the Parkinson Wealseys and wandered over to Emma, Luna and the children. Pansy never did apologise, and they heard her yelling through the soap at Ron as they were leaving, "Do something you pathetic loser."
Harry watched all this and knew he'd been sucked in again. He'd not only been party to hurting Hermione again, but he'd allowed Ron to ruin his own marriage. As he watched the Prince family starting to head for the doors later that afternoon, he came back over. "I'm sorry, 'Mione."
Hermione looked him up and down. "I doubt it, but it's a start," she said composedly. "You need to learn the difference between good advice and manipulation, Harry."
Harry ran his fingers through his, still after these years, always messy hair, and nodded. "Yes, I do." He looked at her for a moment, "But it's good to see you, and it's good to see you happy, 'Mione." He nodded to Severus, "Sir."
"Mr. Potter," Severus replied, and continued to usher his family out the huge doors. Just before they left, Severus whispered something to Hermione and she nodded then sighed. Turning back to Harry, he made an offer. "We promised the children we'd show them the Kraken, would you care to accompany us?"
As olive branches go, this was a huge one, and offered by a wizard Harry would never have thought capable of the act, and especially thoughtful considering that Harry's children were in the group.
So, the entourage of the three families and their added extra, headed towards the lake with Seamus proudly showing his family and friends the way. Hermione and Severus let him, even when they knew a shorter way.
That night, when they were all safely back in Ireland, and had come home from Jean and Charles' house. The children being all eager to tell their grandparents about their adventure. With the children all in bed, Hermione and Severus were sitting in his favourite chair, snuggled up together talking.
Their current topic was Wealsey's comb-over. It appeared that like Arthur, Ron had gone bald prematurely, and he had the mother of all comb-overs, complete with the squishy paunch to accompany it.
Their giggling had just started to turn into kissing when the floo chimed. Severus tsked and said, "Yes?"
"May I come through a moment?" Minerva's voice said.
Severus looked at his unbuttoned self and Hermione's bare feet, and he shrugged. "Yes," They were used to being casual around Minerva.
"I won't keep you long," Minerva said, as she arrived. "I just wanted you to know that Billius Parkinson-Weasley has been transferred to Durmstrang Institute. His mother would not apologise for her outburst, or for throwing hexes around children, and the board of Governors have decided to rescind the boy's enrolment."
Severus' eyebrow shot up. "Good Merlin's eyebrows, sending such a child to Durmstrang might result in the rise of the next dark lord."
Hermione laughed, "What with parents like that," she scoffed. "He's more likely to end up being Bo-Bo the clown in the Moscow Circus."
They all laughed, "Well, I just thought it might put your mind more at ease, good night my dear friends," Minerva said, and disappeared back to her office, with their thanks and good nights following her.
Severus lifted his wand and locked the floo. "Now, where were we?"
Hermione giggled, "Around about here," she indicated with her lips on his throat.
Four months later, and Hermione and Severus were in the same position, doing the same thing. They were just deepening their kiss when a wispy blue fox slid under the door. "It's a girl," Draco's excited voice told them.
Without thinking both Hermione and Severus drew their wands. "Congratulations," was Severus' message via his otter Patronus.
"What he said, and love to all," was Hermione's via her raven.
Giving up on trying to get some privacy in their sitting room, they were heading across the entrance hall, when a misty stag cantered in. "Thank you for giving me a chance, I won't let either of you down this time," was the message, he sounded like he was very emotionally charged.
"See that you don't, Mr Potter," Severus sent back.
"We'll catch up when we visit the new baby," Hermione sent.
The results of that one invitation to join them that afternoon at the Hogwarts orientation had gotten Harry, Draco and Luna talking again, and the three of them had then left together with the twins.
This had led, just before Luna and Draco's baby was born, to them all setting up house together again as a family.
Severus sighed and caught Hermione, sweeping her into his arms. "Family, Madam Prince. Who would have thought when we left everything, it would all chase us until it caught up and joined us again?"
"Who, would have," Hermione agreed. "We are very blessed." She kissed him.
"Indeed we are, my love, indeed we are."
All that could be heard after that was giggling and the sound of the bedroom door being shut.