"I love you Severus, you have nothing to be sorry for." She cut in, even as rotten as she felt, she wouldn't allow him to blame himself.
And then everything else stopped in an instant as with a deafening screech, the house wards were breached.
Severus had thrown Hermione over his shoulder and before she'd even had a chance to react she found herself deposited in Rose's 'magic' bed , with Rose still sleeping peacefully unaware of the deafening catterwauling charm shaking through the house, terrifying her to her bones and signalling the breaching of the wards, thanks to the silencing spell Hermione had placed over her last night.
She barely had time to process what was happening when Severus had sliced open his palm to her shock , before leaving a hasty bloody handprint on the bedroom door and with it a frighteningly strong and borderline dark blood ward in his wake as he disappeared downstairs taking three steps at a time.
Usually she would be indignant at the rough handling, and also insistent that she didn't need a man to protect her, which she most definitely did not. But with how rotten she felt from being ill all morning, her baby in the bed beside her and the abject fear in Severus's eyes when the formidable wards had breached, she was thankful for his honed and quick reflexes, taking drastic action before she'd even had chance to comprehend fully what was happening.
Screeching to a halt and scuffing the carpet in the process, Severus had to hastily diffuse and redirect the hostile spell that was already leaving his lips, destroying a section of his wall with a muted bang and puff off crumbling plaster when instead of the expected formidable intruder in his sitting room there was a dishevelled Lucius Malfoy , holding tightly on to a crying Scorpius.
"For fucks sake Lucius! I could've killed you both! You'd couldn't have waited for me to drop- "
"No time " Lucius cut him off, quickly handing over the bawling Scorpius.
The rudeness of the action from the cultured pureblood was enough of a shock for Severus to furrow his brow and forget his mometary anger in favour of concern.
It was fortunate Severus had blood wards on his home, making them somewhat sentient and linked intimately to him. The Malfoys were of course recognised by his wards as friends and non hostile, so despite the fact Lucius essentially broke in like a battering ram, instead of politely asking for entry as was the norm...the house wards had let them in to a degree. Whereas any unexpected or unwanted intruder that tried anything even remotely similar to what Lucius had done would've tried and painfully failed (with emphasis on the pain) to breach the wards, the house had recognised both Lucius and Scorpius, and the desperation in his attempt and had allowed them entry, but simply bound them in place in his sitting room for Severus to judge the situation.
Before Severus could further ask the reason for his abrupt and dramatic arrival, a crying toddler was pushed into his arms with only one word offered in explanation, before the man apparated away.
Severus was busy making breakfast for four, as he watched a wan Hermione attending to both young children. Scorpius had an accident in all the drama so Hermione had bathed him and changed him and was currently brushing the boys long blonde hair, while a surprisingly intuitive Rose was giving the boy his space, instead of acting like most toddlers would, with prominent jealousy as Scorpius monopolised all of Hermione's maternal attention. Rose once more showed intelligence and empathy beyond her years.
The usually talktative and happy boy was sat quietly tearful in Hermione's lap, as Hermione brushed his long hair, sucking the thumb of one hand, whilst Rose held the other as she sat beside them on the sofa with a picture book, and occasionally pointed out things that she thought the other toddler would like.
Though Scorpius was affectionate with all he knew, and downright besotted with Rose, he had formed a particularly strong attachment to Hermione, gaining from her the maternal affection he had never seen from his own mother. It didn't Surprise Severus, Astoria was a nice enough girl but had a paticularly rough time of it. She'd lost her mother as a child and older sister in the war, both to the same blood curse she was afflicted with. Her father had been a death eater, though focused only on the prominence of his own house, and it was his pressuring that had pushed her to produce an heir so young, Lord Greengrass having only fathered two daughters, both inflicted with the curse of their mother's bloodline had wanted to ensure that Astoria would do her duty before she ultimately was lost to the curse of her family.L Like the dutiful daughter she was, she had gotten pregnant not long out of Hogwarts to appease her father, only for Scorpius to be born a fortnight after her due date, and Lord Grenngrass had died from lingering war injuries before Scorpius was born, he died not knowing whether his grandchild was his sought after male heir, or another daughter to carry on the affliction of her mother's bloodlines.
With the arrival of Scorpius, Astoria was the at last the last female in her line and the curse would finally end with her, Scorpius being male and unable to carry it. It had been at the cost of her health though, and the already frail young woman had done nothing but decline since his birth. Were it not for her affliction, Severus held to the belief she could've been a good mother, given time but health and circumstance had meant she was absent at best and resentful at worse, blaming Scorpius for shortening the already short life expectancy she had, and the fact that he was born later than his due, meaning her father had died before his birth and she had never gained the long sought after approval from her father, for doing her duty and providing a male heir to the Greengrass line.
He felt for Draco too, the boy had grown more pale and stressed as the years went on, and despite being an arranged match from birth, he and Astoria did hold affection for one another, a romance that had built on a shared school camaraderie, which had itself been built upon having very similar death eater upbringings and family expectations to produce an heir for a great family. As it was, though it was clear Draco loved his son, there had always been a wall there. Draco's time often spent caring for Astoria, and working himself to the bone to drag his family name out of the dirt for the future benefit of his young son, meant more days than not Scorpius was left with Hermione and Severus for a 'play date' with Rose and Draco's own upbringing meant he found it difficult to be emotionally available, Narcissa and Lucius clearly loved their son, but they had raised him as they themselves had been raised, with very victorian pureblood manners and etiquette and not the the open affection and warmth Hermione displayed with Rose. Narcissa loved her son just as dearly as Draco loved his own, the woman had defied Voldemort for him... she just didn't know how to show it, and neither did Draco.
Lucius and Narcissa also loved their grandson Scorpius, but Lucius's time in Azkaban and the time they both spent with Voldemort in their home had aged them prematurely, they were tired and it showed, and more and more often spoke wistfully of an extended stay at their home in France. Though they showered Scorpius with gifts and praise, it was 'Uncle Severus' that had hugged him, and played with him and encouraged him, long before Hermione and Rose had entered the picture at home.
The day turned into a sleepover, and it was the middle of the next day before they heard anything else. They had settled the children for an afternoon nap in a makeshift 'fort' in the living room, made from throw blankets and kitchen chairs and both Severus and Hermione were siting comfortably on the sofa with a cup of tea, when a more polite request for entry rippled along the wards, followed by a subdued knock at the door.
Sharing a worried glance, they left a few wards around the children for silence and privacy and made the journey to the door together.
Lucius was stood solemnly, still wearing the clothes he was wearing when he had dropped Scorpius off on the morning of the day before, only more rumpled as though he had slept in them, and the lank hair and stubble showed the usually flawlessly attired man hadn't showered or shaved since they last saw him either.
The haunted look and bags under his eyes took Severus back to when they'd broken him from Azkaban and it threw him so much, that it was Hermione who spoke first. "Lucius, what's happened? You look so tired, have you slept at all? You should come in and sit down, I can make tea?" She'd placed a comforting hand on his arm and another on his shoulder until she was almost half hugging him and was looking at him worriedly.
Once more Severus was warmed to his core by the beautiful woman beside him. Yes Hermione had long since made peace with the Malfoy's but it was not many years gone that she was insulted and spoken of so derogatorily by this man and his family, yet today she saw his distress and sought to comfort him as a friend without a moment's hesitation.
The slight warmth in Lucius's eyes and sad smile as he placed his own hand atop hers, showed his thoughts had travelled exactly where Severus's had.
"I thank you for your kindness Hermione, but I cannot stay, there is too much to be done yet and not much time to do it"
"Astoria?" Severus asked softly and there was a moments pause before Lucius shook his head in the negative.
Hermione sucked in a breath and tightened the half hug on the man, making him smile sadly once more.
"I am sorry there was not more I could do" Severus spoke sadly, and it was true. He had tried potion upon potion for many years to cure the affliction of the Greengrass girls, but it was an old magic curse, tied to their very blood and magic with no way of separating it from them, without turning them into a vegetable at best. He'd hated himself for it for a long time, before he'd allowed himself to stop blaming himself for all the problems in the world. It was not his job to cure everyone, as much as he would've liked to.
"At least it ends here, no others shall have to suffer so" He spoke and Hermione gave up the pretence of holding back and hugged the man properly.
"I'm sorry for your loss Lucius, are you sure you won't come in?" Her softy spoken question had the man shaking himself off and clearing his throat in an attempt to regain some decorum. Hermione reading the situation accurately stepped back to Severus's side, her hand resting on the small of his back.
"No. Thank You, but No. There's too much to be done, funeral arrangements and such. I hate to impose of you further, but Draco is..."
Reading the situation accurately Severus spoke quietly "Scorpius will be welcome here as long as is required, have no worries on that account old friend"
"Thank You, old friend. I have no idea how to break it to the boy and Draco is in no fit state..."
"We'll tell him Lucius, go do what you need to do, we can shoulder this burden for you"
It was Severus who's hand settled on Lucius's shoulder this time and the man clasped his arm in silent thanks before turning and walking slowly down the street before apparating away.
"Poor Draco, Poor Scorpius" Hermione said softly and Severus could do naught but pull her into a hug right there in the doorway.