“White suits you,” he said to Aurora as she straightened his bow tie.
“Thank you. You as well,” she said, smoothing out his lapels. His robes were more ivory than white, but he let it slide. A compliment was a compliment, regardless of its accuracy. Rory took a step back, looking him over before turning and retrieving her bouquet. “Ready?” she asked, fussing with the short skirt of her dress.
“As ever,” Draco said, offering her his arm before turning them toward the entrance to the Great Hall.
He and Rory walked down the aisle between the guests, many whom he didn’t know and probably wouldn’t remember after tonight. They kept a steady pace as they made their way to where the head table would normally be, where there was a groom nervously waiting for the important part of the ceremony to start.
Draco didn’t need to look at his parents to know his father was trying very, very hard to suppress a sneer, and his mother was busily dotting her eyes, erasing the evidence of happy tears lest anyone believe she could feel that strongly.
They got to the front much more quickly than he expected, and they stopped to face the Ministry officiant as the music ended.
“Who gives away the hand of the bondee?” he asked with a wide grin.
“I do,” Aurora said, placing Draco’s hand in Harry’s before kissing each of their cheeks, then took her place as best witch beside Draco. There was a chuckle from the crowd, and Draco felt a smug bit of satisfaction at getting one final dig at the ridiculous arranged marriage they were supposed to be in. He looked at his father then, who was grinning just the slightest bit, shaking his head, knowing full well what they’d done.
And for the first time in a long time, Draco felt a swell of pride at impressing his father, even if it was in a very unusual way.
He parked his motorcycle outside the Muggle diner just after sunrise. After Harry’s wedding, he’d decided that it was time he saw other parts of the British Isles and made his way to Ireland. It was beautiful, and it helped take his mind off of things.
He missed Kingsley, but he still thought of Remus more often than not. Remus, who was his first proper crush, whom he had managed to kiss for the first time just after Hermione and Severus had confessed to marrying in private, before their public ceremony. Remus, whom he quickly fell into bed with, and whom he remained with until he went to Azkaban. Who was also the first person he was with when he was released.
Leaving him was hard, and the wound stung to this day, so he was nearly certain that Remus was the one. And that’s what made his marriage to Dora after the war that much harder. Sirius supposed that there was a part of him, deep down, that had hoped that once little Teddy was born, Remus would realize what he’d done and come back. Well, he did, Sirius supposed. It was just with conditions, like how Remus had to be with Dora, too. That had been when Sirius walked away for good. They remained friends, but it was strained. Perhaps the time apart would help mend that bridge.
The waitress greeted him with a smile and directed him to a small booth. There wasn’t really anyone else inside, and he had expected as much. There were only what appeared to be a father and daughter having an early breakfast. It was a really small town, probably more village; it was just a place to stop to get something to eat.
He picked up the Muggle newspaper and gave it a skim until he felt eyes on him. He looked up, seeing the little girl had turned around and leaned over her booth, smiling at him.
Sirius smiled back, making her giggle. He then pressed his fingers to his lips, making sure she understood to be quiet. When she nodded, he glanced around, seeing the waitress was in the kitchen, then waved his hand at the salt and pepper pots. The minimal contents in both began to swirl around in little tornadoes, and the little girl giggled. Sirius smiled, but it faltered when the little girl stuck her hand out.
The pepper pot, just the pepper pot, began to float, twirling a bit in the air like the tornado inside it.
Sirius smiled wider.
“Maeve!” her father shouted, more panicked then angered, and the pepper pot crashed down on the table. It didn’t shatter, though it spilled its contents. “Sir.: The man came around, sliding into the bench across from Sirius, partially blocking Maeve from his sight. His eyes were wide, pleading. “I’m sorry, I swear, it’s not something—”
“It’s fine,” Sirius replied as he righted the pot, Vanishing the spilt pepper with a flick of his wrist, smirking as the man’s eyes widened. “You have a very special little girl.”
The man’s eyes darted from the now clean table to Sirius and back again. “Tell me about it.”
“No, seriously,” the man said. “Tell me about it, because you obviously know.”
“Maeve’s mum was a friend.” Alan, Maeve’s father, told him later that night over a pint. Sirius had explained what he could about magic over breakfast. He told them about Hogwarts over lunch in their back garden after Alan invited him when they’d left the diner. Sirius shared his story, or what he was comfortable with, during dinner, and now that the little one had been tucked into bed, Alan felt it was his turn. “One night, we had a few and decided that it might be fun to mess around. Thing was, it wasn’t just messing around for her, and I just didn’t feel that way ‘bout her. Or any woman, really. Think I was just ….”
“I get it,” Sirius agreed, making Alan laugh.
“Yes, well. She got pregnant. Wasn’t able to afford to go where ya had to, to…. Anyway, I wanted her, Maeve. I took her. Didn’t want strangers raising her when I could. Haven’t heard from her mum since she was placed in my arms. She took off.”
“She wasn’t a witch?”
“Nah.” Alan shook his head. “Maeve only just started doing that stuff. Keep telling her it’s going to scare people. Lucky you’re a… a wizard?”
“Yes,” Sirius said. “That I am.”
He didn’t think much about Remus for the rest of his trip, but he did think a lot about Alan. He’d stayed in the village an extra two nights, the last in Alan’s bed. He promised to stay in touch, if only to help him understand his daughter’s gift. But instead of calling, as Alan asked, or even simply writing, Sirius Apparated to Ireland three times a week once he’d returned to England. He was soon bringing Alan and Maeve back to his place, introducing them to Harry and Draco, then to Severus, Hermione, and the kids.
He bonded with Alan a year before Maeve got her Hogwarts letter.
It took some time for him to lick his wounds. He hated Aurora for not telling him that she loved Fred Weasley enough to propose to him, but he hated himself more for not listening to her. He’d fallen into old habits, putting his wants before hers, not considering her feelings. He had always assumed that because she continued to be with him after his gran’s demands of a proper courtship, that Aurora had thought they were going to marry like he had.
But by the time school resumed in June, he was over her. Oh, it still made him a bit heartsick when his eyes fell on her engagement ring, but he swallowed it down.
And when Hannah Abbot asked him out to Hogsmeade, he accepted.
By the time he got the invitation to Aurora’s wedding, he had no trouble attending, not with Hannah on his arm.
He stayed at Hogwarts, first as Professor Sprout’s apprentice, then as her replacement.
Breathe in, breathe out . It was a mantra he’d been repeating to himself since he’d first woken up that morning. He’d tried to treat it like any other day: get up, put his legs on one at a time, get dressed and get going. But this wasn’t any other day, and it was driving him a bit spare.
“I’d ask if you were getting cold feet, but that would require having them,” George said quietly, leaning in so no one could hear him.
“Feet I have are always cold,” Fred retorted, straightening his sleeves unnecessarily. He blew out a breath of air, looking around. “Bet she came to her senses.”
“Oh, stop,” George said, elbowing him. “She didn’t change her mind, run off, or disappear. You’re gettin’ impatient. It’s still early.”
“But everyone’s here.”
“Suppose there’s that,” Fred said, looking at the front row where the Snape family, minus two, were sitting. Hermione had Al sitting on her lap, but the toddler couldn’t care less about anything but the enchanted butterfly hovering over his head. Leo just kept looking around at everything with wide eyes, seeming uncertain how he wanted to judge the white canvas enclosure or the people within it. And then there was Eileen Snape, who seemed to know exactly how she wanted to judge everything and everyone, and it wasn’t a positive opinion. That woman had made him more nervous than he ever remembered being. He was certain she didn’t think too highly of him, and he knew Rory thought the world of her. Maybe she’d convinced her granddaughter that she deserved better than a legless wizard who hadn’t even graduated from Hogwarts.
“Stop it,” George said, and Fred took another deep breath and let it out.
“Never thought it would be him doing this first,” Lee said. “Always thought it’d be you, actually.”
“Free spirit, me,” George said, straightening his tie. Lavender, like the flowers on the seats.
Fred resisted the urge to straighten his own. Red, Aurora’s favorite color.
And he realized later, also the color of her lipstick. A moment later, a melody he didn’t hear began to play, and his eyes were on the witch walking down the aisle with her father.
Her dress was white, no shoulders and lace for sleeves. It wasn’t big and puffy like Fleur’s had been, but more subtle. Her hair was in a braid over her shoulder, and her eyes glistened as they met and held his. Then she became blurry and he had to blink to see her more clearly, completely ignoring how his face felt damp. Or that George was quietly laughing at him.
When the music stopped, she was close, so close, just across from him. He hadn’t seen her for more than a day, which felt like far too long.
When she’d returned to Hogwarts to take her end-of-year testing, and then begin her final year, he was still going to Hogwarts at least once a week to see Madam Pomfrey about his recovery. Learning to walk with fake legs took time, and there was always worry that there was more damage done than they could see. So, his regular checkups meant he could see her more than expected. Also, every weekend was a Hogsmeade weekend for those in sixth and seventh year to make up for the lack of freedom during the Death Eater reign. And it just so happened that he and George were in the process of buying out Zonko’s and opening their own shop.
And once she graduated, Aurora worked out of their shop, using their experiment room to figure out her warding system. Therefore, he saw her every day. Dinner with the Snapes on Saturday, family dinner at the Burrow on Sunday, more and more nights spent together than apart.
He felt lost without her. But now he didn’t have to go through it again.
“Who gives away the hand of the bondee?” Minerva McGonagall asked, and Fred was sure she was smiling.
“I do,” Severus Snape replied, and he placed Aurora’s hand in Fred’s. Fred jumped when the Severus leaned in and said, “Take care of her.”
“She doesn’t need me to do that, sir,” he said, never taking his eyes off his future wife.
He was exhausted. Dancing was hard when it wasn’t your own feet moving. Plus, after they’d bonded, it’d felt like nothing but a non-stop party. Now that the evening was winding down, he didn’t really have the energy to do much more than sleep. That would probably change when Rory took off her dress later, but for now, he was knackered, and the best fantasy he could think of was curling up in bed next to his wife and sleeping.
But first, there was her surprise.
“Fireworks,” she said, leaning her head against him as she looked up at the sky.
“Not just any,” he said. “But Aurora Weasley’s Sky Fire.”
She smiled. “I get a product named after me? And it’s not even marketed as a corny date enhancer. Aww, you truly do love me.”
“Corny date enhancer? I’ll have you know that was the most romantic thing I could think of then.”
“Mmm,” she hummed. “For the best, then, that I didn’t want an overly romantic man.”
He shook his head at her cheek, finding himself falling just a bit more in love with her. He held her cheek as he stole another kiss, the guests distracted by the display in the sky.
“I love you,” he said against her lips.
“I love you, too,” she said, kissing him again and again, melting into him. Waking him up.
He Apparated away from the reception, and if anyone noticed, he never heard about it.
Running an apothecary ended up being far quieter than Severus had expected it to be. Yes, his name and reputation meant he had a steady stream of customers buying ready-made brews and salves, but they were in and out relatively quickly. He brewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, allowing Hermione complete peace and quiet most of the workweek by taking Alastor to the shop with him. Right now, his boy was coloring at a small table Severus had set up for him.
He was pre-measuring ingredients, the rush for Hogwarts supplies still a month away, but he wanted to be prepared.
When the chime charm signaled someone coming in, he leaned away from the worktable behind the counter to crane his neck to see who it was.
“Hi Dad,” Rory said, moving toward him and around the counter to sit on the stool he kept there to rest his leg on occasion.
“Rory,” he greeted with a smile. “How’s business?”
“Steady,” she replied. “Madam Malkin wanted me to work on something for her to ensure no one swaps price tags. Apparently that’s a thing that’s been going on for a while.”
Severus hummed in agreement. While he was always excellent at wards, even he had his daughter’s specialized system in his shop. He may have been a spy, but his senses had been dulled a bit by the venom in his system. It didn’t pose a threat to his life, but he still suffered some effects from it. He now wore reading glasses and found he didn’t hear the softest sounds anymore. It’s how he hadn’t realized that people had been adding ingredients to their pre-measured jars until Aurora’s charm.
“What brings you by this afternoon? Or did you forget the day of the week, and wondered why I hadn’t shown up for lunch?”
“No, I remembered,” she said. She seemed nervous, or perhaps a bit shy. “Actually, I came by to tell you that I wouldn’t be needing my potions.”
He frowned, and then his eyebrows nearly reached his hairline. “Something you wish to tell me, Mrs. Weasley?”
She blushed. “We’re… trying.”
She shrugged. “Lots of my classmates have had trouble. Luna had to take a few potions to conceive Harry and Draco’s twins.”
“Yes, I know,” Severus said. He’d brewed them for Miss Lovegood at Draco’s request. But then, there had already been a few requests for his fertility potion, one that was finally able to be presented and patented properly now that the war was over. “But neither you nor Fred were hit with anything serious, to my knowledge.”
“We don’t know the effects of your spell,” she countered.
“Your mother was pregnant with Alastor months after she was placed under it.”
“Still. It keeps our expectations low. I haven’t taken my contraceptive for a couple of months.”
Severus stepped toward his daughter, understanding now why she was much more apprehensive about saying they were going to start a family. He kissed her forehead, a gesture he hadn’t done since before walking her down the aisle and giving her away. “You’re going to make a wonderful mother,” he promised her, and the slight smile on her quivering lips let him know it was exactly what she needed to hear.
“Severus,” Hermione said in a tone of voice that always belied bad news. He lowered the newspaper and turned to Hermione as she stood, chewing her lip and twisting her fingers.
“Hermione,” he said, hoping she would say whatever it was she was afraid to say.
“It turns out I’m not in early menopause after all.”
He frowned, and then groaned, running a hand down his face. “Bloody hell.”
“Well, I always did say I wanted four! And really, it’s not as though Alastor is going to be that much older than his younger sibling.”
“I knew this would happen,” Severus said to himself, though loud enough for her to hear. “I knew. I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but here we are.”
He sighed, put the paper down on the table by his chair, then stood to move toward his wife. He took her hands in his and met her worried gaze.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell you this, she’s going to say something this evening, but Aurora needed a particular potion brewed for her, and the sooner the better.”
“A supplement for pregnant witches,” he said, watching her expectantly.
For one brief moment, Hermione was elated. And then she understood. “Oh Merlin, our grandchild will be the same age as….”
“I knew it was going to happen,” he said, leaving his stunned wife where she stood to fix himself a cup of tea.
It had been ten years since the war, and there were still legends about the Great Dungeon Bat. And as Leonidas stood behind the door, adjusting his collar and his robes, he fully intended to make those legends live again.
He’d done his Potions apprenticeship right out of Hogwarts, but while he enjoyed the work and was good, he realized his only options for work were teaching or working with his father. He had no intentions of opening a rival business, and while he was able to take over his father’s contracts with St. Mungo’s, he didn’t want to be at the hospital all the time, either. So, he’d asked Aunt Min if Horace Slughorn wanted to go back into retirement and found himself with a job when she said she didn’t care if he did or not. After all, Hogwarts prided itself on being the best wizarding school in all of Europe, and in order to maintain the reputation, Potions N.E.W.T.s and O.W.L.s needed to be what they were when a Snape was teaching.
And so, Leo saw no option but to take on his father’s legacy, not that it was a daunting task in the least. He’d already adopted his father’s way of dressing, including the coloring. His hair was a bit longer than his father’s was, and his nose wasn’t hooked in the same way, but he still looked very similar to his dad at the same age.
Enough that Professor Longbottom did a double take and stumbled back a bit.
Yes, he would have to teach his brother and soon-to-be sister, as well as his nephew. And Draco’s children. And yes, they might give away that he wasn’t the original Professor Snape. But for now, while the legends still lived, and some of the oldest students had the tales from elder siblings fresh in their minds, he would take up the mantel once more.
He banged open the door, startling his first batch of first years. “There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class…”
“Oh, bloody hell,” Ginny cursed, looking over the letter from home. Luna looked up from her notebook, ignoring the strange, exotic bird that had taken a liking to her since they entered the jungle a month ago. The cabin, one that also housed one Rolf Scamander, who was also in search of crazy creatures, was just off a river and placed high in the trees.
Ginny hadn’t been sure about leaving the Holy Head Harpies for such an odd venture, but as far as athletes went, she’d been getting up there in age. She’d been injured too much to be fast, and while Ron retired to the shop with the twins, Ginny knew leaving the team would mean constant nagging from her mother to settle down like all her other siblings. Well, except Charlie. Which was what made her pack her bags and leave. If Charlie was in Romania to be free from their mother’s need for them to all be married and procreating, then a tour of South America with Luna was just what she needed.
She found herself writing articles and guides of the things she’d seen and learned about the locals and the sights as she went along. She ended up selling the stories, and the Galleons she earned from it helped fund her end of the expedition.
“What is it?” Luna asked.
“Ron’s going to be a dad, now,” Ginny said, tossing the letter onto the pile.
“But just last week you were excited for Fred and Rory? Why is Ron different?”
“Because now it’s only me left. Me and Charlie, and Mum wrote him off as a lost cause ages ago.”
“You could always just tell her that you don’t want children,” Luna said matter-of-factly, shrugging. “I don’t think it’s ever occurred to her that you wouldn’t.”
“Are you going to be there when I have this conversation with her?” Ginny asked, only a little sarcastically.
Luna took her hand over the table and gave it a squeeze. “I’ll always be there for you Ginny.” She smiled and Ginny felt just a bit better. “Oh, I think I smell cake. It’s nice of Rolf to bake us cake for breakfast,” she said, practically gliding as she skipped into the cabin to investigate the sweet smell in the air. The weird bird followed her inside, and Ginny merely shook her head before sipping her morning coffee and relaxing. Luna was right, she should just tell her mother the truth.
Not wanting children or to settle down was one thing, the things she’d gotten up to on her little tour, well, those were better left unsaid.