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It was 9pm on Friday Evening and Severus Snape was sat in his home at Spinner's end , drinking tea and reading. It was the same thing he did most every day since the end of the war some 5 years ago.

He was a man of means, independently Wealthy, after the end of the war. 20 Years of teaching at a school where you receive room and board , meant that he'd had very little to spend his money on over the years due to being too occupied serving two masters , teaching the youth of wizarding Britain and trying to prevent harm or death coming to the golden trio.

Conditions which were not conductive to a frivolous and cash spending lifestyle. So years of saving , along with the order of Merlin money and the 'guilt' money left in Dumbledore's will , meant that Severus Snape could officially live out the rest of his life as a man of leisure , and he intended to do exactly that.

An intelligent man such as he could not however be content to sit at home watching daytime television , so to prevent his mind from stagnating he brewed specialist potions when asked for St. Mungos , consulted with the unspeakable about rare or dark magical items and tomes and offered his services as a master legillimens to the Magical Law Enforcement.

It was that last occurrence that had a patronus appearing in front of him, from none other than the Minster of Magic himself , and former head Auror Kingsley Shackle-bolt. Requesting urgently for him to attend him at St. Mungos.

Placing his book down with a sigh and looking forlornly at the cup of tea that he'd just brewed to perfection , he stepped through the floo.

The dark skinned man that greeted him was the palest Severus had ever seen him , and he also looked vaguely nauseous , as did the two aurors that were flanking him. They were stood sentry outside a private room, he also noticed the floor had been cleared of staff which was odd.

"Thank you for attending Severus, I must admit I wish it was under better circumstances"

He inclined his head to the minster.

"Just so. However I am here now , so if you could explain what was so urgent it had to separate a British man from his cup of tea ?"

"A great crime in itself I'm sure" The minister responded with a small smile , and Severus smirked in return.

A moment later, the man's look turned stoic once more.

"Before we begin Severus, I must apologise but I need to ask for your oath , that you shall not speak of this case with anyone I do not first permit you to do so"

His eyebrow raised at the man's solemn tone as he replied. "There is no need for Apologies Kingsley , I've taken such an oath of privacy for every open case that I've worked with the ministry on , you know this it's standard protocol when using consultants outside the ministry "

"I am aware , but it's not that part of the oath that I am apologising for it's this. I must also ask you to swear an oath to refrain from doing anything that would get you thrown in Azkaban once you find out the details of this particular case"

His eyebrow flew to his hairline as he met the Minster's intent gaze. That was a new addendum he'd not had before, and his curiosity peaked at exactly what that meant. However it was the thinly veiled look of anger in the back of the man's eyes that he noticed , as well as the pointed way he met his gaze that made him realise just what a Slytherin way he'd worded that oath... Instead of making Severus swear not to act out, or not to do anything illegal...he'd used the very vague wording of not doing anything that would get him thrown in Azkaban...for example getting caught. A almost imperceptible nod from the Minister and a vague flick of his eyes towards the two aurors showed Severus he was following the mans line of thinking. The man had as much said that he wanted him to act, though as Minister for Magic he needed Plausible Deniability with two aurors in witness to boot, so if anyone asked he could say under veritaserum that he had asked Severus not to do anything that would get him arrested , and the two aurors would also be able to confirm it. Slytherins really did make the best politicians.

Intrigued he wondered just what had got the minster so angry , as to seek out vigilante justice in the form of one ex death eater.

He reached out his wand , and swore to the Minister. "I Severus Snape , swear that I shall not speak of this case with anyone that you do not permit me to do so with , and that I shall not do anything that get me thrown in azkaban"

The two Aurors seemed to relax once he'd stated his oath , though all still looked grim.

"Now , are you going to explain to me what exactly has caused you to drag me here at night and swear urgent oaths of secrecy"

The man looked him in the eye and sighed.

"We need you to perform legillimency on a child"

He inhaled sharply and rose his eyebrow, though spoke calmly. "As a Class One Felony Assualt in most circumstances, that's not something that should be asked lightly Minister, I'm assuming there is extenuating circumstances?"

The Minister inhaled sharply himself , and Severus did not miss his clenched fists , nor the same from the two aurors behind.

" This child is believed to have been assaulted by her father , however the mother is distraught and hasn't yet allowed a mediwitch or wizard to touch her. The mother walked in on them in what appeared to be a compromising situation , we need you to use legillimency on her to ascertain if this was the first instance or if there has been other abuse and to what extent, as the child is too young too speak clearly of it"

He felt a rage burning inside him at the Minister's words. That Fucking Monster, too young to speak clearly , How old is she?

His thoughts were clearly echoed on the faces of the two Aurors. Once more he recognised the wise Slytherin choices the Minister had made.

Green and Block the Aurors. Both Family men , both with young daughters. Both would quite happily look the other way if Severus decided to take matters in his own hands.

"The child is from a well known family, hence the need to try and keep this as quiet as possible while we investigate, the media would have a field day with it and as the father is currently whereabouts unknown, if this shit hits the press he's going to dissapear to the wind so if we want any chance of catching him we need to keep a lid on it"

That explained closing off the floor then.

"You believe the mother then, that he's assaulted the girl ?"

His eyes met Severus's sadly.

"I know the mother well Severus , and her word is enough for me , though by law we must see to due process"

He inclined his head to the Minister and with a nod the man gestured for the auror to open the door.

When he stepped through the door to the private room , his stomach clenched like a vice while his heart lodged in his thoat.

Seated on the bed talking to a nurse , was none other than the tearful figure of Hermione Granger , holding tightly to the child in her arms, 4 year old Rose Weasley.

Chapter Text

They had told him as they entered the room that she'd apparated to St. Mungo's in distress, running on pure instinct. There was a private room set aside just for that purpose. For the golden trio , the minister and other high ranking officials to be able to gain treatment without a media circus.

They'd managed to gather from her tearful ramblings that something had happened with Rose and Ronald, and had sent for the Minister, as was protocol with any surviving order members.

Just as the Minister arrived, the mediwitch and nurse had attempted to take Rose from her to treat her , seeing blood on the pair and fearing the worse.

It had been the wrong thing to do.

As they'd reached for the girl , Hermione had reacted on instinct , throwing up a shield and stunner in quick succession that knocked the mediwitch out of the room.

Kinglsey had been unable to placate her , or get much sense out of her , but what he had heard had made his blood run cold.

It was then he'd summoned Severus.

Though as he looked at the woman now , he knew that legilimency wasn't the only reason he'd called Severus, he'd been hoping that Severus could disarm the ticking time bomb in front of him , before she hurt someone or did something that required she be arrested.

It was rather obvious that the woman was distraught , she was shaking with pent up adrenaline as she held the small girl too tightly to her.

Though she was only one small and clearly upset witch clad in pyjamas, no-one could deny the sheer ferocity and strength she exuded in this moment , that made all the other people take an assessing step backwards from her.

Severus could see that her wand was clutched tightly in her hand , holding back the nurse... the other holding rose tightly to her chest .

The nurse he had first assumed was talking to Hermione , now on second glance appeared to be trying to nervously calm and placate her , if the hex marks on the wall behind her, and the magic buzzing in the air were any indication.

There was blood on Hermione's clothes and a fire in her eyes that belayed her inner strength.

Rose was quiet in her arms , holding just as tightly to her mother as Hermione was holding on to her.

Rose was a small girl and always had been. She was clearly looking like she was going to end up taking after her petite mother, rather than the lumbering ox of her father. In fact, if it wasn't for the slight strawberry hint to her blonde curls, and the bright blue eyes of course, one could have assumed she was Hermione Granger in miniature.

Hermione was breathing heavily , tears in her eyes as she kept her wand focused on the witch.

It was clear to Severus that the woman was running on pure instinct , and would later be mortified when she realised she'd threatened the well meaning nurse.

Severus stepped closer until he was in her line of sight, and she snapped her wand at him, allowing the nurse to back up and exit the room with a relieved look at him.

"D-don't" She snapped, as she focused her wand on him , and pulled Rose even closer.

He didn't take her warning to heart, and wasn't the least bit offended by her actions...he knew it was not personal.

This was a mother, protecting her young. A lioness guarding her cub.
Severus was in awe of it , and a tiny part of him, buried beneath many layers , was jealous.
Jealous of the pure unadulterated maternal love, and fury that Hermione was radiating over her daughter, wondering how different his life would have turned out , would that he'd had a mother like her .


"Miss Granger"

Instead of panicking or running about like a headless chicken, as both the aurors and mungos staff had done, he spoke evenly and clearly, and her eyes snapped to his.

"Hermione , would you be so kind as to lower your wand for me?"

The recognition flared in her eyes and her bottom lip trembled. She lowered her wand , but still held rose close.

"S-severus ?"

She was one of the select few with permission to use his first name , after the war she'd been the first to apologise to him, and actually mean it.

In point of fact she'd actually flung her arms around him in a hug and kissed his cheek.


"I'm so glad you're alive , I'm so sorry for everything sir , but I always knew you were a good man , I always told everyone that I trusted you but no one would take me seriously"

He'd been so shocked to receive a hug for the first time since his childhood , along with her sincere apology, that he'd not even had to think about reciprocating , and had just tightened his arms around her and returned the hug.

When she'd released him , she'd stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek , causing his face to flame.

"Now that the war is over Sir , and you don't have to keep up appearances , I would love for you to keep in touch and to speak to you more freely if ever you have the time or inclination, I've always admired your intellect and there's so much I'd love to speak with you about"

"I daresay that would be acceptable Miss Granger"

She beamed at him.

"Hermione, Please. All my friends call me Hermione"

Friends.

She wanted to be his friend.

Not because she wanted anything from him , or because she was trying to persuade him to join her cause.

Because she trusted him. She thought he was a good man , and admired his intellect.

He refused to allow the tears to build up in his eyes.

Instead he offered her a curt nod.

"Hermione. I will await your owl"

She'd offered him that brilliant smile once more , and he couldn't help but offer a small hesitant smile in return.

They'd spoke frequently for the first year after the war , and even met up on at least weekly occasions to discuss academia or recent publications over tea, sometimes twice weekly.

He was one of the first people she told that she was pregnant.

It had been an accident of course , a bad batch of her contraceptive potion, which led to to her forgoing all apothecaries in favour of going directly to him.

She'd not wanted to be a mother so young, but she also couldn't bare the thought of terminating the pregnancy.

When Rose was born she was besotted, and a caring and doting mother.

Rose had always been a very quiet baby. She'd never really fussed or colicked ,her terrible twos were not so terrible and she was never one for tantrums or meltdowns, though didn't like it when people other than her family held her.

She'd been the first baby he'd held since Draco , and even then he'd done that under duress as the boy had been just as spoilt and temperamental then as he was a young adult.

One day a flustered Hermione had snapped the handle of her bag, whilst they were out having tea , and unable to use her wand in a muggle cafe. She had passed the baby Rose for Severus to hold whilst she retrieved the belongings that had spilled out across the floor.

The small baby had laid serenely in his arms , blue eyes sparkling up at him curiously. He'd raised an eyebrow at the curious look she was giving him , and that had earned him a smile. Chuckling softly he'd raised his other eyebrow to match and the baby had giggled in his arms , reaching for him to pick her up and kicking her legs out playfully.

He'd lifted her gingery into his arms, where the barely mobile baby had rested her arms onto his chest, and leaned back to look at his face. He continued to waggle his eyebrows at the young girl, making funny faces and causing her to laugh out loud at his antics before slinging her hands around his neck, planting a sloppy kiss on his cheek and grabbing a handful of his hair as she began to sleep on his shoulder.

The tears were much harder to hold back than when her mother had kissed his cheek, as he held the innocent girl to him and took in the smell of her, milk and baby powder.

Hermione had raised her eyebrow at him with a smile when she saw his behaviour, it was clear what she was thinking and he answered her unsaid question, quietly so as not to wake the baby.

"Nobody would believe you anyway"

She'd snorted and conceded the point.

From that day on , every time they met for tea, Hermione would always find an excuse for him to hold Rose, and Rose would always end up with a handful of his hair, and asleep with her face pressed into his neck.

"She only does that for you , you know ?" Hermione had said to him one day.

"What do you mean ?"

"She'll laugh and play with other people if they play with her, but that..." She gestured to the chubby hand with a handful of his hair and the way the girl was snuggled into his neck.

"That's all you , you're the only person that she'll sleep on other than Ron and I , and she never holds us like that"

He'd had trouble holding his smirk , and had simply answered that it was clearly because the girl had good taste, which had caused Hermione to snort in laughter and slap his thigh.

However it was not long before Rose was in the terrible twos , and Hermione was itching to be back at work.

Ronald , the ever the supportive father, had encouraged her to do so.

She'd told him over tea, the first they'd had alone since she gave birth to Rose, that Ronald had quit his Auror job and instead taken a part time job at WWW with his brother, in order to be a stay at home father.

"You had the first couple of years , but you make more money that I do anyway 'mione , you want to work and I don't really , it's perfect"

Whenever they met after that , it had been much more infrequent and just the two of them. And Severus had to hide his disappointment, as he'd grown quite attached to the young girl.

Which he would vehemently deny if questioned.

Eventually their tea meetings had fizzled out , and they were corresponding by owl every other day.

Then weekly.

Then monthly.

Then it was the odd owl here and there.

Hermione was working hard at the Ministry , and Ronald encouraged whatever spare time she had to stay at home with them

She worked such long hours, it was only fair that she spent what little spare time she had with her family, besides Ron had never liked her seeing Severus and he especially didn't like it when she took Rose.

They'd hit a rocky patch in their marriage, Severus had known that much , they'd been flung together by circumstance, in a whirlwind of near death experiences and stress and their relationship was built on a friendship that at times had very rocky foundations.

It all boiled down to , they simply weren't compatible, though both had tried to make it work for Rose.

It was nothing personal when she fell out of his life , Severus knew that , she was up and coming in her career with a sinking marriage and a young family to boot , whereas he had 20 years of hard-work behind him and was enjoying his retirement, with no-one but himself for company.

Still he felt the loss of their companionship keenly.


It had been a year or more since he'd seen her last.

"It's me" He spoke softly "You're both safe"

He saw her finally drop her defences, her shoulders drooped and she dropped her wand, where it landed on the floor forgotten with a clatter as she sucked in great lungful of air and wrapped her other arm around Rose , burying her head in the girls hair as her body shook with silent sobs.

Picking up her wand , he took another step closer to her.

"May I sit by you ?" He asked and waited for her to nod in affirmation.

She was still shaking, and holding tightly on to Rose.

Severus's own anger was a seething, writhing thing in the pit of his stomach, it took the full force of his occlumency to hold it back.

He could hear her taking deep breaths and trying to calm herself down.

Kingsley was stood in the doorway, along with the mediwitch both met his gaze as he slowly seated himself beside her.

"Kingsley called me...legillimency"

He said by way of explanation. She nodded , without looking at him.

"But first , are you...either of you, hurt ?"

She tensed then, but didn't answer. Pulling rose closer and the girl whimpered in her mother's arms and he was once more drawn to the blood all over Hermione.

Severus's stomach lurched, and he looked once more to the figures in the door.

"The blood..."

"It's not mine" She answered , but still he was concerned.

"Hermione, would you let the mediwitch run diagnostics over the two of you, please ?"

"Will you stay" She whispered , and he hated the broken tone in her voice.

"Wild thestrals couldn't move me" He answered and he placed a hand on the bottom or her back carefully, in case she reacted.

She did react , but thankfully it was by leaning into his side and allowing him to wrap his hand around her waist.

Rose was still held onto her mother's front, arms and legs wrapped around her, and Severus's heart shattered when he was sure that he saw one teary blue eye sneak a look at him through the curtain of curly hair.

 

Chapter Text

The mediwitch cautiously moved into the room at Severus's prompting.

Hermione was tense beside him , but did not react.

Unlike the usual diagnostic spells, which produced runes in the air for her to read, the mediwitch ran the ones required by law , which printed the results directly onto parchment. She finished with a flick of her wand, thus signing and authenticating the parchment and providing a copy to Kingsley.

"The child is physically alright, some bruising" The mediwitch's jaw clenched at that "-and she has a few stress related problems , heartrate and blood pressure etc , but nothing we'd medicate beyond a mild pain potion and calming draft. I'd be happy to discharge her" The witch spoke softly. Hermione breathed out deeply, some tension leaving her frame.

"Miss Granger, you have a broken hand, a laceration and a couple of fractured fingers, I'd like to see to those if possible"

The witch looked nervously to Severus , when Hermione made no move to provide her hand.

"Hermione ? Give her your hand" He prompted, and the girl reluctantly and hesitantly reached out one hand.

Her hand was bloody. though nowhere near enough to account for the blood covering her , and it was also bruised black and swollen.

No one needed to ask how she'd gotten it, Severus especially, as he remembered having to hold in his laughter as he was fixing a whimpering Draco's nose.

Though the mediwitch spoke anyway as she began to fix the damage.

"Did you hit him?" She asked.

Hermione just nodded.

The mediwitch nodded back. "Good" . It was said loud enough for only Severus and Hermione to hear.

"I pulled a small fragment of tooth from this laceration before I sealed it, it's not severe but due to the nature of it I'm going to recommend a course of antibiotic potion to prevent infection , as there's a lot of bacteria in the human mouth"

"I shall provide it " Severus spoke and the witch nodded.

"Then I'm happy to discharge you both, as you have no pressing physical injuries"

"Thank You Madam" Kingsley stated in his deep voice "If you can please go with this Auror to give your statement, you're free to go"

The mediwitch pressed a card into Severus's hand. "If ever they need someone to talk to" He nodded his thanks.

"If we can take your statement Hermione then Severus can, with your permission of course , use legillimency to corroborate it. We shall then extract the memories from Severus for use in the Wizegamot"

He softened his expression as a soft whimper came from Rose.

"We can perhaps wait until tomorrow to examine Rose's memories"

"I don't think that would be wise Minister" Severus spoke and Hermione turned slightly to look at him.

"Severus ?" Kingsley asked with a questioning tone.

"I believe for the sake of the case , it is best to take memories and statements now..." He turned to meet Hermione's gaze.

"..That way when I take Miss Granger and Miss Rose to stay with me at my home, the testimony cannot be argued to be biased as they were residing with me at the time"

A few tears broke from Hermione's eyes and she buried her face in his shoulder, wearing a look of relief and gratitude as some tension left her body and Kingsley's expression softened.

"A wise choice Severus, the ministry shall of course write up the paperwork for your freelance protection detail " Slytherin Politics, Severus thought once more.

A legal reason to have them in his home , to prevent anyone suggesting misconduct or conflict of interests.

"If you are ready Hermione?"

She took a moment before nodding, and took the preoffered veritaserum.

Severus noticed that she cast a silencing ward around Rose , preventing her from hearing what she was about to say.

The men could only look on in sympathy.

"I got home from work early..." She spoke monotonously , and Severus instantly recognised that she was occluding to keep her emotions under control. At the same time he made a point to himself, not to mention the fact that she knew how to occlude... as it would prevent them using legillimency as evidence in her case.

Kingsley's eyes met his, and he knew the minister had recognised the signs, though a quick glance to the other auror showed that he was none the wiser, simply attributing it to the veritaserum.

"We have a new apprentice in the department, she's eager to please and has been running herself ragged trying to prove herself...so some things I needed doing were done for me, and I got to leave an hour early"

She closed her eyes and began to control her breathing. Severus put his arm around her waist, pulling her closer as the minister held her hand in his.

"In your own time, Hermione, please tell us what happened tonight" Kinglsey spoke as he set up the dictaquill.

"I got home early , and wanted to surprise Ronald and Rose" Her voice broke on Rose's name. "A lot of the time She's already in bed by the time I got home"

"I saw that Rose's bathroom light was on and figured he'd just got her out of the bath, so I went in to clean everything up to save Ronald the job"

Tears were running unchecked down her face, and the only signs of her suppressed emotions were the shaking of her limbs.

"I spelled everything back in place , and went into her bedroom through the bathroom door...maybe that's why he didn't see me , because I didn't' come in through the main door"

"What was he doing when you went into the room" Kingsley asked.

"He was sat on the bed talking and r-rose was on his knee crying"

Severus's arm tightened around her , and he noticed the auror staring resolutely at the wall as he gripped his wand.

"At first I thought he was just talking to her, soothing her, telling her a story...but then I saw his h-hands"

"What was he doing with his hands?" The minister questioned softly , though Severus heard the steel in his tone.

"He had one h-hand in her pyjamas, and with the other he w-was m-making her touch him" She spat out and her hair was crackling.

"Touch him how" Kingsley asked.

"Intimately" She seethed through clenched teeth, unable to verbalise it any further.

"On his genitals ?" Kingsley asked and Severus had to admire the mans control , as his own was only held back by the weight of the woman on his side.

Hermione nodded.

"We need a verbal answer" He said softly.

"Yes." She spat.

"What happened then ?"

"I punched him, and grabbed Rose, then I hexed him and - I - I apparated here" She stuttered over a word, looking to Severus and both he and Kingsley knew there was more to the tale, though didn't question it.

"How did you hex him?" Kingsley asked.

"Sectumsempra" She said and Severus fought the small feeling of pleasure that welled in him at the thought of his hex being used to punish the bastard.

"Where did you hex him?" Kingsley questioned.

She answered clearly as she met his eyes for the first time.

"Intimately"

Chapter Text

AN: If you want to avoid descriptions / triggery material , skip the italics!


"Where did you hex him?" Kingsley questioned.

She answered clearly as she met his eyes for the first time.

"Intimately"

cont.


Severus couldn't hide the grim satisfaction he felt at Hermione's statement.

The bastard deserved to be castrated and more, and he will be when I get my hands on him.

Kingsley was of a similar mind , and Severus could see the auror, although looking vaguely green , was also quiet accepting of her solution.

"And just to confirm it was after you hexed him, that you apparated to Mungos ?"

"Yes , that's correct"

Severus met the minister's eye at his subterfuge.

They both knew from Hermione's earlier pause that something happened , between her hexing Ronald and apparating to Mungos.

So instead of asking her what she did after hexing the boy , which would've made the veritaserum force her to answer exactly what she did... he instead asked if she apparated to Mungos after hexing him...which she did , just not straight away. It wasn't a lie , so the veritaserum allowed it.

"That concludes the witness statement of Miss Hermione Weasley nee Granger , which will now be corroborated by Severus Snape , legillimens."

With a flourish Kingsley signed the parchment and pressed his ring to it , then it popped away to the Ministry.

"Severus, Hermione. When you are ready"

She ducked her head into Rose's hair, placing a kiss on the crown of the girl's head as she took a few shaky breaths.

"Let's get it over with" She whispered to him , as she steeled herself and met his eyes.

He leaned forward , and under the guise of tucking some hair behind her ear he gently whispered. "Don't occlude."

She tensed for a second , but then dropped her shoulders and a gave a small barely perceptible nod.

Taking a deep breath , he focused his eyes on hers and dove into her memories.


She was so thankful for the new girl Anna finishing off for her and letting her get out early for once in a while , Hermione loved her job with the Magical Creature department...or she had done, once upon a time.

All she wanted was to fight for the rights of magical creatures, for them to be acknowledged as beings and not creatures, to educate the general populace.

What she was not prepared for , was the politics.

The greasing of palms to grease wheels, the tit for tat favours and the constant and daily grind of interhouse rivalries between the departments.

Even though the war was over , there was still the overwhelming amount of bias she received simply because of who she was.

Not her blood status , nothing as banal as that.

Because she was a woman. Because she was a gryffindor. because she had no family name , no uncle in management or cousin in finances.

All unforgivable things in the old boys club that was the ministry. she watched and grit her teeth as she was passed over for promotions as other members of the team who did half the work in twice the time , went on to bigger and better things.

Her status as a war hero was the only thing that kept her above being a glorified secretary. Oh she was applauded for her work , and her progress when it happened.

With half the credit going to someone who'd done none of the work of course.

But the truth was ? She was stagnating. She was stuck in one spot with a roof above her head that seemed impenetrable , and if the upper management politics were anywhere near as bad as the ones in her little basement ? She wasn't sure she wanted to break through it anyway.

It was a daily grind.  It was soul crushing work , and it was breaking her, but she refused to give in.

Not after she'd been so adamant to go back to work, this had been her decision and she would stick it through.

She would not give in, not a fter Ronald had been so supportive and given up his job to be a stay at home father to Rose , only picking up the odd shift at WWW, so that she could have the career that she had so emphatically wanted.

She apparated home with a pop , and took her shoes off at the door. Despite Anna finishing off for her , she was exhausted and couldn't wait to collapse into bed with Ronald and a good book. Maybe she'd be able to get a few pages read before she fell asleep.

Walking to the stairs she shucked her coat onto the back of the chair as she made her way up the staircase. 'I'm so glad I fixed that creaky floorboard this morning. Every time Ronald goes to check on Rose it was waking me up'

She magicked herself into her pyjamas when she noticed Rose's bathroom light was still on , and she smiled to herself. 'I hope she's still awake , I would love to read her bedtime story for once instead of Ronald'

She walked into the bathroom, noticing the wet towel still on the floor and with a smile she quickly put the room to rights.

'The least I can do is save Ronald another job'

There was the soft voice of her husband floating in from Rose's bedroom , along with the girl's sniffles and whimpers.

'I hope she didn't have another bad dream, she's been having so many lately since I went back to work, my poor baby, we'd be going so well with her potty training too...'

Hermione hadn't said anything to anyone other than Ronald , but she had been slightly worried about Rose's development. She'd started bedwetting again when Hermione started working , which was strange as the girl was otherwise totally potty trained. She'd also become very quiet and withdrawn , Ronald had waved it off , 'She's a sensitive girl , quiet, there's nothing wrong with that 'mione , and she's just getting used to the change'.

To top it off, she was a 'late talker'. She'd begun to babble quite young as a toddler and seemed to have a very good understanding of a large array of words, she'd had some very interesting 'conversations' babbling away to Severus rather emphatically about something which had caused him to chuckle at her vehemence, but then nod along to the 'conversation' in all seriousness when the girl had pouted at him and threatened crocodile tears with a trembling lip/

Sighing Hermione allowed herself a minute to mourn her friendship with Severus. She knew she was at fault for their friendship falling apart , and she missed him terribly. Rose had aswell, babbling on about him and attempting to say his name...even drawing pictures of very tall people with ridiculously long black hair and rather prominent nose, which had made Ron very angry. But her and Ron had such heated arguments sometimes, and more than once the time she spent with Severus, especially with Rose , was the cause of them. If they were to attempt to salvage their marriage, at the very least until Rose was in school...it was easier for them not to argue.

All Rose's progress had seemingly taken a step back with the upheaval when Hermione went back to work when she was just over 2 and now at almost 4 she'd yet to utter a single word to anyone, though clearly understood when she was being spoken to.

She was also very hands off, she didn't like being touched by anyone else in the family and though she had always been a shy child, she'd become clingy and antisocial, especially when Hermione was home. Ronald had pointed out that she probably missed Hermione , and that she should spend all her free time at home with her daughter, and perhaps he was right. So she did.

Though she daren't tell Ronald, Hermione had added a lot of things up in her head and she was considering taking Rose for some muggle development tests.

She's a very intelligent girl that can read and write above her level , and has a great understanding of words... yet is nonverbal. She hates deviation from routine to the point of it causing meltdowns and shies away from physical contact with people and she's especially nervous around strangers, has poor social skills and makes no effort to interact with other people...could my baby be autistic ?

Hermione would love her daughter no matter what , but she knew that such a 'muggle illness' would be highly misunderstood in the very backwards and misinformed wizarding world.

Sighing to herself she forced herself out of her self imposed melancholy and put a smile on her face , as she went to look forward to spending a bit of time with her daughter.

She stepped into the doorway , leaning on the frame as she smiled indulgently at the pair on the bed, Ronald sat talking to a crying Rose on his lap , he was cupping her face with his hand.

Ronald must be ready for bed, as he was bare chested and just in his sleep pyjamas , and Rose was in her Pyjama shirt but had yet to put her bottoms on.

'Perhaps she had a meltdown over what pyjamas she wanted to wear.' She thought.

Ronald was rubbing her leg trying to sooth her tears , and the girl was holding onto him.

Ronald's hand that had been cupping her cheek , and obscuring Hermione's view , suddenly dropped to Rose's hand that was...

That was..

Her stomach fell to her feet , as suddenly she became aware of every muscle in her body as they tightened one by one until she was a coiled spring.

Rose's hand was on his... And his hand was not rubbing her leg at all it was...

Her vision tunneled , until all she could see was his hands and her daughters tear stained face.

With a roar worthy of her house mascot , she pounced .

The next thing she knew , she was at the other side of the room grasping her daughter as Ronald was cupping his face that was bleeding profusely.

She didn't feel the pain of her broken hand as she quickly magicked her daughter's bottoms on.

When blue eyes met hers, she was vaguely aware of him saying something, pleading with her perhaps.

But all she could focus on was his waist , where his bottoms were still pushed just below his hips. From where Rose had been...where he'd been...

The girl in her arms whimpered and a burning anger unlike any she'd ever felt before rushed through her , and she was firing a hex at him.

She turned away as t he warm blood hit her and her husband screamed. She didn't even stop to look at the damage she'd caused.

Instead she turned and fled with her daughter, her brain stuck on one focus 'somewhere safe'

Flew down the stairs two at a time 'somewhere safe'

Ran through the hall and to the living room 'somewhere safe'

Reached the living room and threw the powder into the floo.

'somewhere safe'

"Severus Snape's House, Spinner's End"

Chapter Text

She turned and fled with her daughter, her brain stuck on one focus 'somewhere safe'

Flew down the stairs two at a time 'somewhere safe'

Ran through the hall and to the living room 'somewhere safe'

Reached the living room and threw the powder into the floo.

'somewhere safe'

"Severus Snape's House, Spinner's End"


Severus released the mental connection with a gasp.

His mind was swirling as Fury and regret were warring within him equally as he took in her once more tear stained eyes.

Fury at the cretin's actions towards his own daughter and regret that he'd been the first place she'd thought of when she wanted 'somewhere safe' and she'd been rebuffed.

Had she sent him a patronus, he would have gladly opened the floo for her no questions asked, but he always kept his floo locked and warded to prevent any unannounced guests, as they may have less than honourable intentions...the wards on him home rivalled Hogwarts.

Also his mind kept swirling around Hermione's thought's. Almost four, she's not even four yet. The sick bastard.

He pulled the memory from his mind , expertly stopping it when she fled the room , with skill born from years of subterfuge.

With a quick glance to Kingsley, who was familiar with Severus's legillimency skills, he handed him the vial whilst looking in the mans eyes pointedly.

Seeing what Severus intended, he dropped his occlumency , weak though it was, to allow Severus to push the remainder of the memory towards him.

A slight incline of his head was Severus's answer. Message received.

There would be no questions about the rest of the memory , as they had a sealed statement that she apparated to Mungos after fleeing her husband.

The minister's deep voice was somewhat softened as he spoke to the shaking woman.

"Now for the difficult part , we need Rose's memory Hermione... it could seriously affect the charges we can press against him , the difference between 10 to 25 years or life, maybe even the kiss"

Hermione had yet to let go of the girl in her arms , and Rose seemed to be under no inclination to part from her mother.

Sniffling Hermione wiped her eyes, feeling guilt and pain eating at her inside as she spoke.

"I-I don't know how...S-she doesn't like men...I always thought she was j-just shy but..." Here her voice broke and she once more wiped her eyes, grateful for the charm still holding around Rose. "...She doesn't like men...I-I don't know how to do this without upsetting her."

Surprisingly it was Block , the Auror stationed at the door that spoke.

"Pardon me Miss Granger , I don't think there's a way we can do this without upsetting the mite at all, but I think there's such a thing in the law as extenuating circumstances for cases such as these , as we don't have a female auror to hand, myself and the Minister could wait in the hall and leave you two in peace with Master Snape, I think it might be better for the little Miss Rose than having two more strange men in the room , I'm pretty sure that as long as we witness Mr. Snape extracting the memory , we don't necessarily have to be here for this part"

Hermione nodded gratefully and Severus inclined his head in thanks to the Auror.

"We will leave you to it , retrieve us when you are ready Severus , take as long as Rose needs, we shall not return to the room without your permission"

Then the three of them were alone.


Hermione exhaled deeply when the two men left , and a little more tension dropped from her frame as she leaned a little further into Severus who was sat by her side.

Rose's arms and legs were still wrapped around Hermione and when she leaned closer to Severus, he could feel the small limb pressing into his ribs.

God's she's so tiny... it was only just over a year since I had her in my arms...a toddler.

He noticed Hermione shivering once more, and realised they were both just sat in their thin pyjamas , so he took off his coat and put it around her shoulders gently , making sure it covered as much of both of them as he could , before replacing his arm around her waist.

He could feel a small foot on his arm.

She offered him a sad smile and dropped her head onto his shoulder.

After a few minutes of quiet she spoke softly.

"I thought she was autistic"

She admitted, knowing that growing up muggle, Severus would understand.

"I didn't tell him but I was going to take her for tests, I was worried because of so many different things...how she is with people, how she won't talk and hates being touched " Her voice broke on the word "...what a fool I was"

Her words were self deprecating, and Severus was to quick to reassure her.

"You weren't to know, he made sure of it. That's what cowardly predators do...cover their tracks"

She nodded but he could see she wasn't convinced.

"He knew damn well what he was doing was wrong on every level, so he did everything he could to make sure you didn't suspect him...people like them are good at hiding what they really are"

There was venom in his words , and there was something in his tone that made her think he wasn't just speaking about Ronald. It made her look at him questioningly , but he dropped his eyes and looked away. She didn't question it any further.

"She doesn't like to meet your eyes, she will with me, but never with any men, not even Arthur...I don't know how we're going to do this"

Hermione admitted.

"We will just have to take things as they come, I shall not push her any more than necessary but we need to get this out of the way, so I can take you both away from here "

Hermione nodded, as she saw the truth in his words, and as she dropped the sound dampening charm around Rose she spoke softly.

"I trust you Severus"


"Rose, baby?"

Hermione brushed a lock of hair behind the girls ear to try and look at her face , but it only caused the girl to whimper and bury her face further into her mothers chest.

Dead. the boy is so dead.

"Rose, I need you to look at me"

Little blue eyes peeked up through a curtain of curly hair.

"We need to talk about what d-daddy did" She stumbled over the word, and he could tell it pained her to use it to describe him, but he had to force himself to remember that was all the girl knew him as.

The little girl shook her head and began to whimper as tears fell down her face.

Hermione looked to him lost.

"Severus...I don't..."

He made a gestured with his head and Hermione gently spoke to the girl.

"Rose , do you remember Severus ? He's mummy's best friend but she hasn't seen him for a while because she's been busy with work..."

Hermione looked at him then with an apologetic look and squeezed his knee. He covered her hand with his own.

"...but he knew you when you were little , do you remember ?"

A small blue eye looked over him then, It creeped up his chest taking in the buttons of his frock coat, before looking at his shoulder length hair and finally to his face , then quickly away when she met his black eyes.

He cocked his head and waited for a moment , and sure enough the eye came back and studied him curiously.

He offered a small smile and raised his eyebrow at her , which caused her to bury her face in her mother's side , but she she didn't stop looking at him curiously.

Severus spoke softly and evenly and there was something like recognition in the girls eyes, even if she steadfastly held onto her mother.

"Rose, my job is to help catch bad people and put them in prison , do you understand ?"

He got a very small nod and smiled at her once more.

"When your mother took you away from your Daddy today... it was because what Daddy was doing was wrong. He was very bad to do that, to touch you there and to make you touch him. It makes him a very bad man , do you understand?"

She shook her head once more starting to cry and Hermione looked to him lost once more. Though he had a sneaking suspicion why Rose was reacting as she was.

"Rose, do you know what a Lie is ?"

A tearful eye met him once more , and after a moment nodded.

"Your Daddy might have said something to you about why he was doing those things, he might have threatened you not to say anything..."

He looked at her before continuing.

"...or he might have said that you were being punished for something...or maybe playing a special game?"

Her eyes met his after his last statement and a sniffle was his answer.

"Rose you need to understand that Daddy was lying when he said those things , he lied so that your mummy wouldn't find out that he was being bad, so he wouldn't go to prison for doing bad things, do you understand what I am saying to you?"

A chubby fist came up and wiped tears from her eye and her runny nose and he reached into a pocket to offer her a handkerchief.

The girl froze for a moment, and so did her mother , but Severus just held quiet and still and then a shaky little hand reached out and took the handkerchief from him.

He heard Hermione's gasp , and guessed that for Rose , it was a very big gesture.

She rubbed her eyes with it and wiped her nose and then offered it back to Severus.

He chuckled at the girl's manners when the soiled hanky was offered back to him , and gently spoke.

"You can keep it"

The little hand pulled it back quickly to her chest and hugged it to her.

She now was resting the side of her face on Hermione's chest, and looking at him fully though had not let go of the death grip on her mother.

It was the first time she'd looked fully at him , and he took in the girl's features.

She really was a miniature Hermione. There was none of the boy in her at all, apart from the colour of his eyes and the tint to her hair.

"Do you understand Rose, that Daddy was lying ?"

A few seconds and then a soft nod.

"Now because Daddy was being bad, he needs to be punished , OK ? "

Severus spoke softly to the girl, then Hermione added to his words.

"Like when you took a cookie from the table when mummy said no , and I had to put you in time away , even grownups need to be punished when they do something bad OK?"

He could see the girl listening and taking in their words.

"But some bad things are worse than others , and what your daddy did was a very bad thing. Prison is like time away for grownups , and because Daddy did something very bad, much worse than stealing a cookie, he needs to go to time away for a very long time , do you understand ?"

He could practically see the wheels turning in the bright little girls head, before she nodded to his statement.

"A lot of what Daddy did , was when it was just the two of you right ?"

There was a long pause this time and the girl had to use the hanky once more before she nodded.

"So I need to see what he did , so that we can decide just how bad Daddy has been, and how long he needs to spend in time-away , this is where I need you to help me alright?"

She looked to her mother in confusion , and Hermione pressed a gentle kiss on her temple.

"Severus can do a special type of magic, that will let him see the bad things. You're going to have a staring contest with him ok? I want you to look into his eyes for as long as you can without blinking, and I want you to think about the times when Daddy was being a bad man, can you do that for me love, I promise you that I'll never ask you to do it again?"

She looked to Severus once more , then looked to her mother and after a short while, decisively nodded.

Hermione let out a deep breath of relief and looked to him , he offered her a small reassuring smile.

"OK little one , we're going to start the starting contest in three seconds ok , then you've got to look into my eyes and think about the times daddy was bad, to help me decide how much time away he needs, ok?"

The girl sniffled and nodded.

"Alright, 1...2...3..."

Chapter Text

Skip italics to skip triggering content

This chapter is going to include Roses's memories , which I am going to try not to be too graphic with , however it will be unpleasant.

I am not going to detail EVERYTHING that Severus sees, so what is written in italics below is just some of what Severus sees in her mind.

The grammar etc may not be correct in those parts, but it's done on purpose , I want it to kind of flow from one thing to the next, the way a childs dreams or thoughts might.

Also it's going to be showing what she's seen and what she and Severus are thinking so just try to go with it.


"OK little one , we're going to start the starting contest in three seconds ok , then you've got to look into my eyes and think about the times daddy was bad, to help me decide how much time away he needs, ok?"

The girl sniffled and nodded.

"Alright, 1...2...3..."


The Weasley boy is holding the girl on his lap, hugging her to him.

The girl doesn't like it. Doesn't like the way he holds her. In her childish mind she doesn't understand why , but she just feels it's wrong.

He's grinning as he hugs her, outwardly appearing the doting father, but his hold is tight and restraining.

Possessive.

Jealous.

Through the girl's eyes , he looks monstrous , eyes sharp and cold as he seems to suck the colour from the room around him.

He smells like grass , broom polish and butterbeer.

She doesn't like it at all.

oOo

Hermione takes the girl from Weasley , and rubs her nose in an eskimo kiss , and suddenly there is light and warmth again.

The girl giggles a little and plants a sloppy kiss on Hermione's cheek , who laughs and it sounds like music to Rose.

She smells of books , and her perfume is vanilla and cinammon.

The girls relates it to baking in the kitchen with her mother, and takes comfort in it.

Hermione misses the jealous scowl from the boy when she takes Rose away from him.

But in Hermione's arms, Looking over her shoulder, Rose doesn't.

And she's afraid for what will happen that night.

oOo

She's broken something of his .

Something quidditch.

It was an accident , she was playing, and he'd not put it away.

The boy is shouting at her , though she only understands every other word, the others sounding foreign and unfamiliar to her.

The girl doesn't want to look at him. Doesn't want to look at his eyes.

But he grabs her face and forces her to look at him while he's shouting.

Ignoring the tears streaming down her face.

Ignoring that she's wet herself because he's frightened her.

Then Hermione walks in, and to the girl she is a hero.

Hermione shouts angrily and puts herself between father and daughter, encouraging the girl to go to her room.

Rosie backs off , but hides behind the doorway.

He hears her telling him that's enough.

Though the rest of the discussion ends with him using his size to intimidate her.

Shouting and pushing her. Belittling her.

He never hits her though. That would be too obvious.

But the way he pushed her back , she's sure to be bruised.

The little girl sees everything , she knows she'll be in trouble later.

oOo

The girl doesn't remember when this started.

It's been a part of her life for as long as she can remember , so she doesn't question it.

The boy is calling her dirty , because she's wet herself, and insists on bathing her.

"To make up"

She cries when she has to have a bath.

She almost throws a tantrum , because she just doesn't want to.

But her mother doesn't understand why she's playing up, and her father insists on taking her anyway.

She doesn't like her father bathing her.

The boy is bathing her, and paying a lot of attention to her.

A lot more that he should be.

The girl doesn't understand why she's crying. Why it upsets her so much.

She didn't cry when her mummy bathed her.

But daddy is rough with his hands.

Sometimes he is too rough when he cleans her, and he makes her hurt.

He cleans places that her mummy doesn't

And she cries .

He tells her to be quiet. Good girl.

Loud girls get punished. it's naughty.

She cries.

But her mother doesn't understand.

oOo

The weasleys frighten her.

Too loud, too frantic.

Too much like her father.

She sees them with her father's eyes and hair.

And she's afraid.

She doesn't want to look at them , doesn't want to talk to them

Doesn't want them to touch her.

Incase their touch hurts like her fathers.

She just wants her mother.

And when she's not there, she just wants to hide, wants everything to be quiet.

Wants to be alone.

oOo

He's shocked when he sees himself through her eyes.

Though the memory is hazy and patchy.

Impossibly tall, almost comically so.

She looks at his eyes, ebony black eyes and jet black hair.

She remembers his smell, parchment, smoke and sandalwood.

She doesn't remember the words he says , but she remembers his face , his expressions.

Remembers how he makes her mother smile, and laugh and she remembers trying to talk to him, wanting to talk to him, but it was before she could form words.

But she'd wanted to.

He'd held her and listened to her , and his hug was open, not stifling.

He feels warm and safe , and she sees him almost as some extension of her mother, a part that comes with her, something that she just accepts without question.

oOo

She doesn't understand why she doesn't go with her mother any more.

Why they don't go to the cafe with the nice buns , and see the man that makes her mother smile.

The man with safe eyes and safe hair , who smells like smoke and gives safe hugs.

She doesn't understand , and she can't ask.

She sees that her mother is sad , and thinks in her mind that she is missing the man that made her happy.

Because she understands that her daddy doesn't make her mummy happy.

She draws a picture of him , wants to remind her mother to go to see the other man. Maybe she's forgotten? The one that makes her happy and smile.

But her daddy doesn't like that.

He punishes mummy for it.

Then punishes Rose when her mother's in bed.

oOo

She sees her father as some two faced monster, almost demonised him in her brain.

From the face he puts on for her mother , to the man that comes into her room on a night.

She's conditioned almost.

He's drilled it into her that this is her fault.

Tells her to be quiet. Not to say anything.

She doesn't want anyone to know how bad she's been does she?

Doesn't want to tell people she's been punished for being bad.

A part of her doesn't understand what he's doing to her , but another part knows this isn't right , but she's too cowed by him, too afraid.

She's starting to feel like she deserves it.

oOo

When Hermione goes back to work , things get worse.

Free from the worry of being caught by her, he increases his attentions on her.

What had been over attentiveness in the bathroom , becomes full blown assault.

He starts to touch her on the inside as well as the outside.

The girl really cries then .

And he's worried he's done something that will get him found out , so he stops.

Next time he gets in the bath with her, and has her touch him.

Tells her that she's helping him wash.

She started wetting the bed again.

He'd get angry and make her have a bath.

And the cycle would repeat.

oOo

She won't look at anyone in the eye but her mother now.

She won't try and talk to them, doesn't even attempt the babbling she had as a toddler.

She won't be touched or hugged by anyone.

However men are the worst.

She fell over at the burrow but screamed when her Grandad Arthur picked her up , and her mother had to come home from work because she cried so much she made herself sick

She won't eat in front of people , and only eats what her parents make, and even then only certain things.

She won't touch anything or pick anything up unless it's from her mother or father.

She just wants to hold her mother when she's home , and cries when she has to go back to work.

Her mother is never happy now, and the don't see her happy man anymore.

Her mother is the only safe place.

oOo

She's hidden by the door.

Watching.

Ronald is shouting at Hermione.

She doesn't understand what the argument is about.

But the boy pushes her into the wall so hard she hits her head and falls to the floor.

He apologises then , but she knows he doesn't mean it.

Her mother's eyes are red and puffy when she kisses her goodnight.

She wonders if daddy punishes her mummy, like she does her.

oOo

With Hermione at work he pushes it more and more.

She's throwing a tantrum and she kicks him , and gets a hard slap on her backside in punishment that makes her scream and cry with the pain of it.

That night he comes into her room.

He tells her that she's hurt him , and he wants her to kiss it better.

Then she'll be forgiven.

She does what he asks, too scared to do otherwise, even though it makes her sick and cry.

She wants her mother , but she's scared her mother will find out that she's been bad and not want her anymore.

It's her being bad that's making mummy sad , that's what her daddy says.

If Rose keeps being bad and mummy keeps being sad , daddy will take her away from mummy.

That's not the last time he makes her kiss him better.

oOo

She doesn't want to be a bad girl.

oOo


Severus breaks free from the girl's mind and his breath is hitching, as he tries not to cry at the same time he tries not to tear from the room like a hound of hell and rip the boy into pocket sized pieces.

"Rose , You're not a bad girl , do you understand ? You have done nothing wrong. Nothing. It is your daddy that is a bad man. "

His voice has a tremor to it , and he notices the girls trembling bottom lip as she sniffles in her mothers arms.

"You're a good girl Rose. You are. Don't listen to your father , listen to your mummy ok?" He says softly

"You're a very good girl Rose, you're mummy's best girl in the whole world , you've never been a bad girl, ever. If daddy told you that, it was a very bad lie. Mummy loves you so much baby"

Hermione had tears down her eyes as she comforted her crying daughter.

Severus stood to retireve the aurors, though froze in place when he heard a soft whimper and a gasp.

The gasp was Herminoe's and the whimper was Rose.

Hermione had gasped in shock at Rose's uncharacteristic actions and he looked down to where Rose's chubby little hand had shot out and grabbed his coat when he'd gone to leave.

Though from the look on her face she was already regretting her action , as she whined as though about to start crying and dropped her eyes to the floor.

"Rose , I'm not mad" He was quick to assure her, after seeing her memories. "Do you want me to stay here with you and your mummy?" he asked softly.

The girl wouldn't meet his eyes. But she also didn't let go of his coat. She nodded, the move almost hidden as her face was once again buried in her mother's chest.

"Alright sweetheart, then I'll stay." He whispered, and returned to his seat near her mother. She let go of his coat once he was safely sat by her mother again.

Sneaking glances at him through the curtain of her hair.

With a lurch in his heart, he remembered clearly a shy young boy who developed the exact same habit. Who kept his hair long for that exact reason.

Unsure he'd be able to conjure a patronus with his current emotional state, he used his wand to flick the door on the room open.

A clear signal for the aurors to enter.


"Do you wish to be here for this ?" He asked Hermione softly , as she put a gentle privacy charm around Rose to shield her from their conversation.

"No. No I don't want anything to do with any of this. But I must" She whispered and he squeezed her shoulder in support.

He extracted the memories once the two men walked back into the room , and then began to explain what he saw.

"What Miss Granger walked in on , was not the only instance of inappropriate behaviour that Mr. Weasley has displayed towards his daughter"

Hermione let out a harsh sob , and buried her face in the girls hair.

"We suspected as much" Kingsley added solemly."The first instance ?"

"I was unable to pinpoint the first instance, though his behaviour escalated when Hermione returned to work , I viewed instances of inappropriate behaviour going back to when Rose was around 2" His voice was shaking , gone was the solid and steady timber he'd relied on throughout his years as a spy.

He could not stop himself from trembling, and forced himself to speak in a monotonous dialogue. Simply rehashing the info whilst trying not to be overwhelmed by it.

"Most of the incidents occured in the bathroom. He was always more attentive to her than he should have been ,when bathing her , though this became more so as she got to around 2 / 2.5 . "

"Have you...I am sorry that there isn't a more tactful way I can ask this Miss Granger... Severus , have you witnessed any penetration"

"Yes...and though I doubt it the word only should ever apply to these circumstances, it was only one instance and only with his hand..."He chanced a look at Hermione who was still crying but had a hand clenched tightly in his.

"He's not forced intercourse?" The Minister asked cautiously.

"No. We have that small mercy at least. He has on numerous nights forced the girl to touch him physically like Miss Granger witnessed tonight , and he also has forced the girl to...to...kiss him in an intimate area. There was the one instance of penetration , there was some bleeding..." The word hurt his mouth on the way out and made Hermione sob "...but that frightened him. He was afraid of being found out so did not repeat the action again"

"I think we have everything we need Severus" Shacklebolt said rising and Hermione released the charm on Rose.

"Be sure. For once this interview is over, I shall be removing Hermione and Rose to my protection , and after this day I shall not be letting Rose go through any of this again, nor will I be letting them out of my sight until that boy is detained."

The Auror and Minister considered him carefully for a moment, then shared a look.

"We are done here Severus, we have everything"

He nodded brusquely at the men as they left, with one last sorrowful look towards Hermione and Rose.


"Let us be off Hermione , you look as though you're dead on your feet , and it's way past Rose's bedtime" He spoke softly and she nodded.

The Adrenalin had well and truly worn off , and she was shaking with the physical and emotional exhaustion, and was deathly pale.

The girl was fussing in her arms, overtired.

She went to stand only to collapse back on the bed behind her , when her legs gave out under her.

He quickly moved to her side.

"Are you ok? Do you think you can walk to the apparition point ? I can't side along you both from here" He asked softly with concern.

"I don't know if I can with Rose" She whispered sadly. "Rosie baby, mummy is very very tired and we need to apparate with Severus , do you think you can hold mummy's hand and walk by my side"

The overtired girl shook her head and buried her face in her mother's robes and Hermione let out an exhausted sigh , and stood carefully on shaking legs.

Severus stood wrongfooted , and wishing there was something he could do.

Hermione stood unmoving for a moment as she tried to gain her balance on shaking legs.

oOo

Soft blue eyes looked up to her mother then , when she felt the arms holding her tremble and shake.

Saw the way she leaned into the tall man's side for support, and he put a hand on the bottom of her back for support.

Saw the trust in her mother's eyes

Concern in the mans.

She didn't want to make her mummy sad or tired.

She didn't want to go on the floor.

She wanted to be held. She wanted be safe.

She sniffed the hanky in her hand.

Parchment, Smoke, Sandalwood.

Looked at midnight black eyes, clothes, hair.

She made her choice

oOo

Two little hands cupped hermione's face, then planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek.

Causing Hermione to give a watery smile.

Then they reached out towards Severus.

A small noise, almost a grunt. It wasn't quite a word, but if it was, it would have been 'up'

Hermione froze.

Severus froze.

And still the girl held out her arms to him.

Slowly and carefully after sharing a look with Hermione, making sure that all his movements were visible , he gently took the girl under her arms and lifted her into his chest.

Hermione was frozen so still , he wasn't sure she was breathing.

But then again he wasn't sure he was either.

When he had her securely against his chest, with her legs around his waist and arms around his neck she paused.

Severus and Hermione both held their breath , awaiting the meltdown.

Rose leant backwards with a hand resting on his chest, looking at his face. at his eyes.

Hermione covered her mouth with both hands, tears flowing freely as she watched her baby girl actually looking at and interacting with someone. a male someone no less.

The other small hand hesitantly , reverently touched his cheek.

Then his eyebrow.

Then traced his nose.

He tried not to, but he scowled a little at that.

There was a little quirk to her lips then. not quite a smile.

He arched his eyebrow and the lips quirked again.

A chuffed breath. Not quite a laugh. Not quite. And yet...

Suddenly he had a sloppy kiss on his cheek, a mirror of Hermione's just a moment ago.

And he stood breathless, as Hermione quietly cried, he was holding the girl in his arms for the first time in over a year.

Then a tiny face was pressed into his neck , and he felt a familiar tugging on his hair.

 

He could tell from the way her breathing evened out she was almost instantly asleep.

Chapter Text

And he stood breathless, as Hermione quietly cried, he was holding the girl in his arms for the first time in over a year.

Then a tiny face was pressed into his neck , and he felt a familiar tugging on his hair.

He could tell from the way her breathing evened out she was almost instantly asleep.


They apparated to his home at Spinner's End, as he supported both of them with his strong arms.

Rose in his grasp and Hermione tucked in his side.

Rose whimpered slightly when they landed, but he'd been sure to make the apparation as smooth as possible, so as not to jostle the small girl into wakefulness.

Hermione was still shaking at his side.

"Where would you like me to put Rose ?" He whispered softly. "You can have the master bedroom , but shall I put her in the spare or do you want to keep her with you?"

It took a moment for Hermione to think about it , and he could hear the sheer exhaustion in her voice when she finally spoke.

"The spare I think" She answered just as quietly. "As much as I want to keep her with me, she doesn't like to be held too much, I think she'd rather have her own bed, but I'll wake her for a moment first to explain, I don't want her to wake up and not know where she is"

Nodding he led her down the hall to the bedrooms, thankfully the doors were opposite from each other.

He opened the door to the master and then the spare room, and gestured them both inside.

Wandlessly he cast a few air freshening and cleansing spells. It wasn't dirty , but the room wasn't really used so was a little dusty and stale.

"Can you banish the boxes up to the attic ? I can't do it wandlessly"

Hermione shook her head sadly.

"I'm sorry...I can't " She whispered but he understood.

She was exhausted.

"It's no concern" his voice was calm "I shall move them to the side and remove them tomorrow"

A flick of his wrist had all the boxes piled in the corner , ready for the next day.

The bed was cleared and Hermione moved to pull the sheets down.

He flicked his wrist once more, aiming another cleaning and freshening charm at the bedding and Hermione smiled at him in thanks.

"I shall purchase some new bedding for Rose, but this will have to do for now"

"I have bedding at home we could pick up, there's no point wasting your money" She whispered softly.

"I understand but...I noticed Rose is very...tactile...she touches, examines, smells everything...Perhaps it's best to start afresh for her, new bedding, new clothes ?"

A look of understanding and grief crossed her features then and he felt awful for putting it there.

"Y-you're right. I didn't think. Gods I'm so.."

"Don't. You are exhausted, and have been through something no mother should ever have to. Do not blame yourself if it was not something that came to mind"

"Do you have anything I can put her in tonight ?" She asked softly.

"An old shirt that could be shrunk perhaps ? If she's alright with it " He said softly and summoned the shirt , hearing the thump of his wardrobe doors opening.

Gratefully Hermione took the old T shirt from him , unable to help smiling at the muggle music band on it.

" Really Severus ? Black Sabbath ? " He offered her a small smile.

"It was that or Iron Maiden , but Eddie might give her nightmares."

She snorted softly, and approached the pair of them with the shirt that she shrunk until it was more of a nightdress size for the small girl.

Rubbing her back she woke Rose gently , who still refused to part with her handful of Severus's hair even when sleepy eyes focused on her mother.

"Hey baby , we're at Severus's house ,we're going to be staying here for a while alright?"

Blue eyes flicked around the room , taking in her surroundings before meeting her mothers eyes and nodding once.

A relieved look appeared on Hermione's face then and she let go of the breath that she didn't know she'd been holding.

"This is going to be your bedroom for tonight, and I will be right across the hall here" She pointed to the master bedroom , where Severus had purposely left the door open so the young girl could see inside.

"Is that OK with you baby?" Another nod but then she seemed to consider something before putting one hand on Severus's cheek and looking between the two of them.

"You want to know where Severus will be ?" Hermione asked surprised , and Severus was shocked too when the girl nodded.

"I will be downstairs Miss Rose" he said softly and carried the girl to the top of the stairs , to show her.

"These are the stairs , I will be down here tonight, then tomorrow I will be making some potions for you that will help you feel better"

Another whimper then and a look to both of them, as she tightened her hands in his frock coat, as Hermione still had his actual coat around her shoulders.

She shook her head, 'no' when he said that.

"No, Rosie what do you mean baby?" Hermione asked the girl.

She whimpered again, arms wrapping tighter around Severus as she once more buried her face in his neck.

"Rosie, Severus has to sleep too" Hermione said softly and came to stroke the girls back.

She whimpered again, but reached for her Mother's embrace.

When Hermione pulled her into her arms and a hug , Severus went to move away but was stopped by a small hand holding onto the front of his coat.

The small hand pulled him back with another whimper , and he gently put his arms around both women , feeling the small form of Rose pressed between himself and Hermione.

"I think you make her feel safe" Hermione spoke softly and they were both surprised once more when Rose nodded.

"Would you like me to stay up here tonight Miss Rose ?" He asked and the girl nodded , shoving one thumb into her mouth and looking at him through sleepy eyes.

"I'll transfigure something into a cot in the master" he said to Hermione quietly and she nodded.

"OK then Rose , Severus will stay in the big bedroom with mummy alright?"

Another nod , and she felt safe enough to let go of his coat.

"Do you think I can borrow that other shirt ?" She asked and he nodded , "of course"

"OK baby, you're going to come have a quick shower with mummy OK and then it's time for bed. I'm going to throw away these pyjamas, but Severus said you can have this shirt of his , would that be OK ?"

Holding up the shirt he watched Rose consider it for a moment, eyes flicking over the garment before taking it shyly from him like she had done the hanky which she still held on to.

She lifted the shirt up to herself , and after a moment looked to him and nodded again.

Then she made a strange gesture, touching her hand to her chin and moving it away quickly.

Hermione sucked in a breath and her watery eyes shot to his .

"Thank You" she whispered, almost in awe "That means, thank you"

He caught on quickly. Sign Language. Hermione must have been trying to teach her ways to communicate when she remained nonverbal.

"Then you're very welcome Miss Rose" He offered her a smirk and a small bow , and received that little chuff back, the not-quite-a-laugh and it warmed his heart.

He pointed them to the bathroom and brought another shirt for Hermione who snorted when she took in the old iron maiden tour shirt.

oOo

He felt useless as he made his way downstairs, and only allowed tears to break free when they would be covered by the sounds of the kettle and the shower.

Sinking to the floor in the kitchen , with his back pressed against the cabinets he sobbed into his hands for what felt like an eternity until the whistling kettle brought him back to his senses.

He hurt.

Hurt for Hermione and hurt for Rose.

She should've been mine.

A traitorous voice whispered inside him.

He'd long stopped attempting to deny his attraction to Hermione, for he could not deny that it was there, however he'd always made sure to hide it from her.

Not wanting to ruin the friendship he'd valued above all others.

And as he thought of the sweet, polite little girl who slept in his arms and tugged on his hair the thought once more echoed in his mind.

He doesn't deserve her. She should've been mine. I should've claimed them both when I knew she was unhappy with Weasley

But hindsight was 20/20 and he could not change the past , even if he'd wanted to , and he refused to make any overtures towards Hermione.

She trusted me. She trusts me. That fierce protective glorious lioness trusts me and not just with herself but with her cub , the daughter she would've killed to protect. She might've killed to protect.

When she was afraid , and panicked with her child cradled in her arms.

It was me that she trusted to protect them both.

I will do nothing to break that , I will protect them here for the rest of their lives if they let me and I shall never break that trust.

Resolve set, he made a tea for Hermione and himself and a warm milk for Rose, with a tiny bit of whipped cream , putting it in the child's sippy cup he'd found and scourgified from the one time he'd had Draco in his home as a child.

Vanishing any mess on his face from crying, he steeled himself and made his way upstairs when he heard them pad from the bathroom to the bedroom.

Chapter Text

I will do nothing to break that , I will protect them here for the rest of their lives if they let me and I shall never break that trust.

Resolve set, he made a tea for Hermione and himself and a warm milk for Rose, with a tiny bit of whipped cream , putting it in the child's sippy cup he'd found and scourgified from the one time he'd had Draco in his home as a child.

Vanishing any mess on his face from crying, he steeled himself and made his way upstairs when he heard them pad from the bathroom to the bedroom.


oOo

Knocking on the door to make sure it was safe to enter, he loomed like an imposing figure in the doorway... unsure of his welcome.

Hermione had donned his dressing gown from the bathroom , and she was tucking Rose into the bed, he cringed a little at the worn bedding even though he knew it was clean, and resolved to purchase better for Rose.

Taking in the slight figure he noted that even shrunk down the shirt still buried the tiny girl.

"I've brought tea. And hot milk for Miss Rose if she wants it."

Hermione shot him a grateful look.

"Thank you Severus" She said as she took the steaming mug from him.

"Don't be offended if she doesn't drink it"

She whispered carefully in his ear, when she took the sippy cup from him, and he simply nodded fully prepared for that eventuality.

"Here baby, Severus made you some warm milk, are you thirsty?"

She held out the cup to Rose who was sat up in the bed, one thumb in her mouth and the other still holding the handkerchief he'd given her.

Rose took the cup from her mother, then glanced between the both of them.

She watched Severus drinking his tea, and her mother drinking hers.

Frowning down at the cup in her hand she stuffed the handkerchief in her shirt, then used her free hand to try and unscrew the lid of the sippy cup.

"Don't spill it honey" Hermione warned gently.

"Don't worry" Severus murmured and flicked his wand, casting an impervious charm on the quilt, and was rewarded with Hermione's relieved look.

Once the lid was off, Rose examined the contents of the cup, before comparing it to her mothers.

"You know you can't have tea baby" Hermione said softly when Rose had frowned at the difference in the cups.

Once more she looked to Severus and back again , before handing the sippy cup and lid back to Hermione who sighed in resignation and gave Severus an apologetic look.

But when she screwed the lid back on the cup to prevent it from spilling, she was taken entirely by surprise when Rose, thumb once more in her mouth, reached out for the cup once more.

Hermione relinquished it and was promptly speechless when Rose brought it to her mouth and began to drink the sweet concoction with heavily lidded eyes.

Hermione eyed the now well used handkerchief in her hand, and went to retrieve it with a grimace. "Let me take that Rose" she said softly and the girl pulled it tighter to her chest.

"Rose baby, you can't walk around with dirty handkerchief"

They could both see the meltdown that was on the horizon, as a tearful Rose refused to hand back the handkerchief she'd been clutching.

"Perhaps, I may provide a solution..." Severus added before flicking his wrist.

There was another thump from the cupboard doors opening in his bedroom and he winced as something fell over and hit the floor with a rather loud Smash.

A bundle of white fluff hit his hand and left a small cloud of dust when it impacted.

"Apologies" He winced as he vanished the dust cloud and used a gentle cleansing spell on the item in his hand.

"Perhaps a trade? This fellow has been sat alone in my cupboard since I was a young boy, and may appreciate the company for the night more than my handkerchief"

Hermione uneasily eyed the metal button in the ear of the old jointed mohair teddy bear in Severus's hand.

"Severus...Isn't he a vintage Steiff? he looks a little expensive for a young child"

Severus arched his eyebrow at the woman beside him.

"I am not that hard-up that I may need to sell my belongings in the future, besides he's a teddy bear, it was the purpose of his creation to bring comfort to children and not to gather dust in a cupboard nor be held onto for profit"

A wide eyed Rose looked from her mother to Severus who held out the bear, and she quickly passed the handkerchief and now empty sippy cup back to her mother and reached out carefully for the old white bear.

She held him to her chest tightly and Severus could see her inhaling his scent as well as running her fingers through his soft hair, assessing the new sensation of the mohair.

The girl offered him a small smile then, half hidden by the bear in her arms and two signs quickly. A movement across her face, then two fingers to her temple and quickly away again.

He turned to Hermione again for a translation, but she was once more dumbstruck by Rose's willingness to communicate with him.

"Hermione?"

"Oh sorry, um "

She copied the first gesture quickly "This means beautiful" And then the second "And this means name"

Rose's meaning was clear. He's beautiful, what's his name?

Suddenly he cleared his throat as his face suffused with colour.

"I'm sure he'd be content with whatever name that Miss Rose would like to call him"

There was a quick shake of the head from the girl on the bed, and she repeated the name sign.

Hermione looked at him with a quirked eyebrow, as he fought the blush he knew had come to his face.

"When I was a boy, he was called Herman"

Hermione snorted but quickly looked away and hid her face in her hand when he scowled at her.

But the soft giggle from the girl on the bed was worth his embarrassment.

Another sign from her then, and this one he remembered from earlier.

"You're very welcome Miss Rose, I am sure he's very grateful to spend a night in the company of such a lovely young lady, instead of sitting in a dusty cupboard"

She nodded then with conviction and he smiled at her.

"Then I shall leave you to your repose, and prepare my bed for the night"

The last of his sentence was aimed at Hermione who gave him a grateful look and squeezed his hand as he left.

oOo

He growled in frustration at the table he'd just transfigured from a coat-hanger. Hissing through his teeth he attempted to transfigure it once more into the camping style bed he'd been aiming for, only for it to turn out like a pool lilo, what's more it was in a wonderful shade of hot pink.

Well at least it was more bed shaped, even if he had no intention of keeping it that way.

Suddenly he heard a chuckle behind him.

"I didn't know you had a thing for pinks"

"You haven't seen my underwear drawer" He responded dryly and she laughed once more, then he looked at her abashed. "My transfiguration skills are not the best to begin with, without the added weariness of the past 6 hours"

If it was anyone else he would be mortified to admit his shortcomings, but for some reason with her it was only mildly uncomfortable.

"Forget it Severus, just share the bed with me it's big enough"

She waved away her hand as if it was inconsequential , turning the coat hanger back to rights as she hung his robe on the back of the door.

He tried his best not to stare at her bare legs and feet as she walked across his room.

Gods she has such nice skin.

She was wearing his iron maiden t shirt , and nothing else other than underwear.

Even that was an assumption though as the shirt came down to her mid thigh.

He was suddenly very aware of the fact as she turned back the covers, that he had an exceptionally beautiful woman climbing into his bed, wearing his shirt and nothing else and inviting him to lay with her.

"Severus... are you coming?" 

Hermione, You have no fucking idea.

Chapter Text

He was suddenly very aware of the fact as she turned back the covers, that he had an exceptionally beautiful woman climbing into his bed, wearing his shirt and nothing else and inviting him to lay with her.

"Severus... are you coming?"

'Hermione, You have no fucking idea'


With a flick of his wand he changed his trousers to the black sweatpants he slept in , then froze.

Usually he would sleep bare-chested, not wanting the tops to irritate the scar on his neck, and any shirts that he could sleep in were now being utilised by his house-guests.

Well done Severus.

"Severus?"

"Apologies. I may have made a slight oversight, could you transfigure this shirt for me?"

"What for?" She asked with a scrunched brow

Once more he found himself fighting the colour in his cheeks.

"I usually go without, but I do not have any more spare T-shirts now"

"Then go without Severus, I don't want to be any more of a disruption to your routine than I already am"

Suddenly Hermione realised it might not be for her sake that Severus was asking, so she flicked her wand and managed to transfigure the dress shirt into a t-shirt.

He inclined his head in responce, then nervously eyed the bed until she lifted the quilt for him.

"Nox" He whispered , as the all but one of the lights in the room shut out as he climbed into the bed.

He had expected her to try and keep her distance from him, the king-size bed was large enough after all, so was surprised when instead he almost instantly found himself with an armful of witch.

She buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around him in a desperately tight hug, and sighed deeply when he hugged her back.

"I feel like a failure" She whispered to him.

"You're not a failure, do not ever blame yourself for his actions." Severus growled as he pulled her tighter to him.

"I feel like I should've known...should've sensed...God how could I have been so clueless?"

Her hands were fisted in the back of his T-shirt and he could feel the tension in her frame.

"How could he be doing that right under my nose, without me noticing?"

Her voice was miserable, and she had her face buried in his chest as his hands ran up and down her back.

"You did notice" He whispered emphatically. "You knew something was wrong, even if you didn't know what, and you were already trying to fix it"

She was still sniffling in his arms when he braced himself for what he was about to say next.

"You knew that boy was no saint, I've seen Rose's memories Hermione, I know about the... arguments you had"

She froze in his arms, but he continued to stroke her back as he spoke, purposely keeping his voice level to hide his anger at the boy.

"You knew he had a temper, and the one time he even began to unleash it on Rose you nipped it in the bud before it could escalate, put him in his place and put yourself between the two of them."

Here he held her at arms length, so he could look into her eyes in the dim light of the room.

"What he was doing was so wrong, so immoral that it didn't even enter your head it was a possibility. There's no shame in that...He's a predator Hermione. People like that know what they are doing is wrong, which is why they take great pains to hide it from you"

Watery cinnamon eyes met his , and she answered in a small voice.

"I still feel like a failure"

"Never. You could never be a failure. You are probably the best mother I've ever seen. Would that all children had a mother like you"

He held her for a short while longer, until she heaved a shaky breath and then planted a kiss on his cheek.

"Thank you Severus, for everything"

She smiled at him, as he simply nodded and turned off the last light.

He didn't know how long it had been when the days events finally caught up with her. The bed was shaking slightly as her small frame shook with sobs. He was still awake, he'd purposely not gone to sleep as he knew this was going to happen eventually, and he pulled her into his arms as she sobbed into his T-shirt. Harsh wracking sobs, as she wept for her daughter. Doing what he could to comfort her, he held her close and made all the appropriate soothing gestures, as she clung to him like a lifeline until she fell into an exhausted sleep in his arms.

oOo

It was early morning, very early morning judging by the broken light coming in through the window. 5:03 read the quick tempus he'd cast. Hermione was still sleeping the sleep of the exhausted. She was physically and emotionally drained after the events of the past day. It took him a moment to wonder what had woken him, when he heard it again. A muffled movement and soft noise, coming from the room across the hallway.

Climbing out of bed carefully, so as not to wake Hermione, he gently padded across the hall. He gently pushed the door open to see that Rose was out of bed, she was sniffling as she was attempting to pull the bedding off the bed, but being too small to do so.

"Miss Rose, what are you doing?" He asked softly, so as not to startle the girl.

The girl whipped round and tearful blue eyes met his. She whimpered in distress, and much to Severus's dismay her soft sniffles became full blown sobs when she saw him.

She immediately dropped her eyes from his, and began shaking her head 'no', as she offered him a sign he was unfamiliar with.

Her hand pressed to her chest in a fist, she kept moving it around in a circular motion.

"Rose. What's the matter, shall I go get your mother?"

The girl only cried louder then, desperately shaking her head 'no' as she kept repeating the sign.

He was at a loss what to do.

"Rose, what's the matter-"

When he knelt down to her level , she cautiously raised her eyes to his , though she was still crying harshly.

He used legillimens on her, very gently and just enough to find what he was looking for.

Sorry.

The sign meant sorry.

He suddenly realised what the problem was when he noticed the large damp patch on the mattress.

The girl had obviously wet the bed, and had been trying to strip the bedclothes off, he remembered from her memories the way Ronald had called her names and shouted at her for doing such things in the past. Before taking her into the bathroom.

A lurch in his chest brought forth a very old memory.

oOo

It was his first night at Hogwarts.

Alone in Slytherin. A half-blood Northern, mill town trash, Manc boy. In the house full of preened and cultured pure-bloods.

A ten year old Severus, thin and pale with dark bruises hidden under his worn pyjamas is desperately trying to hide the damp mark on his trousers, and mattress.

To no avail when another boy sees him.

"Ugh Gross, Snape wet the bed!"

He's crying now, though trying to hide it, but in that way that tears are want to do, they only come harder when he tries to suppress them.

"He's crying like a girl! Snivellus Snape! That should be your name! you don't belong in Slytherin Snivellus"

The boy is mocking him until he reacts like the Manc boy he is. He punches him straight in the face,breaking the pure-blood boy's nose, who would never even consider he could be attacked without magic.

Now that boy is bleeding and crying, and Severus is still crying both from shame and the fear he's going to be expelled as the prefect comes in, brought by the other boys from the dorm.

Prefect, 14 year old Lucius Malfoy assess the situation quickly, seeing the crying boy in damp trousers , and the crying boy with a bloody nose.

"Snivellus wet the bed, then he punched me!" The bloody boy cries out.

A cultured eyebrow raises at Severus and asks

"Is this true?"

Severus juts his jaw, despite his tears, and nods at the prefect, meeting his eyes.

Malfoy looks at his feet and shakes his head.

"You're a disgrace to Slytherin" he says to the floor, and Severus heart falls to his shoes.

Then he's turning to the other boy and hexing him, hard, as the other boy cries out in shock and pain.

"Slytherin lesson the first, Do not start fights you cannot win"

Another hex and the boy is crying harder now, as Severus looks on in awe.

"Lesson the second. Slytherins look after their own. We have enough enemies outside these dorms without fighting amongst ourselves"

Another hex and the boy crying harder as a damp patch appears on his pyjama pants.

"Go to the Hospital wing. If Poppy asks, which is doubtful, you had a nightmare and fell out of bed. Now MOVE"

The last word is snarled and the boy practically falls over his feet as he shoots out of the dorm-room.

A sharp look around the room is all it takes for the other boys to jump into their own beds and draw the curtains round them.

Severus looks at the boy, and doesn't flinch , accepting his fate as the wand is drawn on him.

A motion and his pyjamas are clean and dry.

"The spell is scourgify, and the wand motion is thus" The pure-blood demonstrates the motion for him , as he casts the spell once more over the mattress.

"Practice until you can do it yourself, until then summon a house elf, they shall do any cleaning you require discreetly , scourgify Is fine for clothes but not good for the furniture...understand ?" 

He nodded to the older boy. "Thank You" 

"Don't thank me little snake. Slytherins look after their own"

oOo

He took in the crying little girl in front of him, and gently waved his wand at the bed with a softly spoken 'scourgify'.

They would get a new bed tomorrow, but at least for tonight the bed was dry and somewhat cleaner.

"It's OK Rose, it was an accident you don't have to be sorry, see it's all better"

She looked from the bed to him with wide tearful eyes.

"May I clean your nightshirt Miss Rose?"

She sniffled then, and her eyes flicked to the bathroom down the hall as she once again gave the sorry sign to him with a few tears.

He gently placed his hands over hers, she was signing so emphatically he was worried she'd hurt herself.

"I will never...ever do what he did to you Rose. No matter what you do, I will Never hurt you like that , I promise...do you understand?"

His words were firm , but gentle as he held the little girls hands in his, still crouched on the floor so he was at her level.

She nodded softly , though he wasn't sure if she truly believed him.

"Now...may I clean your nightshirt, with my wand, just like I did that mattress?"

Another nod from the little girl and he flicked his wand, cleaning and drying her.

"There, see, all better ok ? "

She nodded and he gently wiped her tears with his thumbs.

"There is nothing to be ashamed of for having an accident Miss Rose, All children wet the bed, even I did...until I was much older than you in fact. "

She seemed to calm a little at that and he held he pressed her knuckles to his lips impulsively, dropping a small kiss on her hands that made her smile softly.

"Now I think we need to buy you a much prettier bed than this boring old one I have here, and if you have any accidents in the future you can come tell me and I will fix them for you, just like I did tonight Ok, what do you say to that?"

She nodded and he smiled softly at her and he tipped her chin up with his knuckles, which made her smile.

"Do you want me to go get your mother for you?"

Once more she shook her head 'no'.

"You're sure?"

A nod, then with a whimper she threw her arms around him in a hug.

She grabbed his hair, and He could tell she was breathing in his scent.

He had to fight the lump in his throat , as the girl hugged him tightly, as though he was as lifeline.

"Alright, back to bed then Miss Rose, it's still very early and I will see you in the morning"

She nodded and wrapped her legs around him, obviously wanting to be picked up, so he did.

Standing with her in his arms he walked over to the bed, fixing the sheets with a flick of his wrist, and he tucked her back into the bed.

He made sure she had the bear within reach, and as he bent over her to tuck the quilt in, she dropped a kiss on his cheek then stuck her thumb in her mouth.

Trying once more to hold back his tears, he dropped a kiss on her forehead which made her smile up at him again.

"Goodnight Miss Rose"

oOo

When he returned to the bedroom, Hermione was sat on the end of the bed.

She had tears running down her face.

"How much did you see?" He asked with Chagrin

"Everything. You woke me when you got out of bed"

"Hermione I'm sorry...I never wanted to assume but-"

"Rose takes hours to calm down when she's had an accident"

Hermione said softly, the cringed. "I'm sorry I forgot to ward the mattress" 

"It's no consequence, I had already planned on replacing it for Rose"

She nodded at him then looked directly into his eyes, as though truly seeing him.

"Just now, she smiled at you more times than I've seen her smile at Ronald, Ever."

He looked bashfully down at his feet, so was taken completely by surprise when she slung her arms around him and kissed his cheek, just as rose had.

"Severus Snape" She said with a shaking voice "You are the most wonderful man I've ever known, now come back to bed"

Chapter Text

She nodded at him then looked directly into his eyes, as though truly seeing him.

"Just now, she smiled at you more times than I've seen her smile at Ronald, Ever."

He looked bashfully down at his feet, so was taken completely by surprise when she slung her arms around him and kissed his cheek, just as rose had.

"Severus Snape" She said with a shaking voice "You are the most wonderful man I've ever known, now come back to bed"


The rest of the night passed without a hitch, though the same could not be said for the morning.

He awoke before Hermione, thank the gods, with the most stupendous piece of morning wood he'd had in, quite frankly, decades.

Though he felt quite like a pervert for doing so, he crept into the bathroom and relieved himself of it in the shower, taking himself in hand and pleasuring himself.

It was a very long time since he'd gotten so hard, depressingly enough it was before the end of the war in fact, and he wasn't about to waste the rare opportunity, and considering the length of his abstinence he came fairly quickly, the pleasant lassitude that followed easing some of the tension in his frame that he'd been holding for a long time.

Finishing his daily ablutions he checked on both women, still sleeping, and the time, 8am.

He smiled softly at Hermione, her eyes were puffy from where she'd been crying last night and her hair was an absolute birds nest. She most definitely was not a graceful sleeper. Having never slept the night with a woman, he had assumed that women slept quietly, neatly and politely like all the movies show. That was not the case with Hermione. She was laid on her stomach, sprawled out taking at least 2/3rds of the space. Though she wasn't snoring per say, she had her mouth slightly open and was breathing heavily.

As he was watching she let out a soft noise and turned, kicking the covers from her. He fought a groan when the lowered quilt revealed that her tossing and turning had caused the shirt she was wearing to ride up, exposing just the slightest curve of her arse. With disbelief he felt a twinge below the belt once more, but quickly left the room awash with self loathing for having looked at her in such a way.

Rose, like her mother, was sprawled in bed on her stomach. However she had a firm hold of the teddy bear in one arm, and was sucking her thumb. He noticed with a start that there were some fingerprints in the dust on the boxes he'd planned to move upstairs. Judging by their position, it looked like at some point in the night, Rose had attempted to drag them closer to the bed.

He realised she was trying to create a 'safe place' or a wall around her bed, and an idea began to form in his mind, that he mulled over as he went to prepare breakfast.

oOo

He wasn't sure what Hermione or Rose liked to eat, so he decided to fry up an English breakfast and let the pair choose what items they wanted. Before he got a chance to go and wake the girls he heard the stairs creaking as Hermione came down carrying Rose, who was looking around the room with interest, Herman still held tightly in her grasp.

"Good Morning Hermoine, Miss Rose" He said softly. "Are you hungry? I have made breakfast"

"Good Morning, Merlin I'm starved, this looks fabulous Severus, thank you...but you didn't have to go to all this trouble"

Waving her off he gestured for her to sit at the table, and Hermione transfigured one of the chairs higher for Rose to sit in it beside her.

Noticing that Rose was reluctant to let go of Herman, Severus casually flicked his wand, raising the seat besides Rose up as well.

She gave him a little smile then and placed Herman in the seat beside her.

When he turned around with the food, Hermione was once more giving him that look, and he returned it with a smirk. Still, nobody would believe you.

She snorted then chuckled softly and he just smiled as he sat at the table.

He'd placed a large plate in the centre, so they could serve themselves what they wanted, along with a jug of juice.

Rose had eaten some breakfast, not as much as Severus would've liked, but Hermione said it was actually very good for her so he let it go.

They'd washed up the plates together, at Hermione's insistence, and rose had decided that she wanted to help as well so Severus gave her a towel and allowed her to dry any items that were not breakable or sharp, which mostly consisted of the plastic cups they'd used for juice and some spoons. Rose however took her duty very seriously, and showed Severus each item for inspection and approval before she would give it to her mother to put away.

They were just about to plan their day, when Kingsley's patronus shot through the wall, requesting that he be allowed to speak with them. It startled and upset Rose who began to whimper, and Hermione went to take her out of the room but Rose refused to leave Severus on his own, which meant that Hermione had to sit on the arm of Severus's chair, with Rose in her lap.

When Kingsley entered, Hermoine could tell from the look on his face that it was not going to be good news, so she carefully cast the sound dampening spell over Rose so she didn't hear their conversation.

"I am afraid I have to be the bearer of bad news" He said in his calm voice, though his face looked pained.

"Just tell me Kingsley, don't beat around the bush" Hermione said tiredly and Severus raised his eyebrow at the man.

Sighing the minister scrubbed a hand over his face before he began to talk.

"We dispatched Aurors to your home address, they found Mr. Weasley, he was not dead but he was quite injured. However when the Auror's approached him, he reacted aggressively"

"Are they alright ?" Severus asked, mirroring Hermione's look of concern.

"Green lost an eye. Block was crucio-d but thankfully not long enough to do permanent damage...however..."

"Spit it out man" Severus growled, as he took in the worry on Hermione's face.

"When Mr. Weasley fled, he cast a dark hex to distract the aurors and prevent them from tracking and following his apparation"

"What dark hex?" Severus asked, and the minister looked away. 

"What..Dark..Hex..Kingsley?" Hermione spat out.

"Fiendfyre" Kingsley said softly, and apologetically.

Severus sucked a breath in through his teeth, and Hermione closed her eyes as tears escaped.

"Block and Green managed to apparate out without being burned, but they were both injured and-"

"How much?" Hermoine spoke resignedly.

"You must understand that they really had no choice-"

"How..much.." 

"Everything." Kingsley said sadly.

"Everything inside the house was incinerated, and the house itself is only partially left standing...I'm so sorry Hermione"

Chapter Text

"Everything inside the house was incinerated, and the house itself is only partially left standing...I'm so sorry Hermione"


Hermione was doing her best not to break down, though she could not prevent the tears from falling freely down her face, or the tremors that shook her body.

Everything was gone; her home, her possessions, her memories. Gone.

Despite her spell to muffle the noise from the conversation, Rose was not oblivious to her mother's distress and she began to panic.

The precocious 3 year old began to cry when she saw her mother's tears, recoiling fearfully from the man who'd frightened her mother so much.

Still crying, the child turned and grabbed his arm. She was trying to pull him, and the protection he represented, towards her mother and herself, to keep them both safe.

"I think it best that you leave Kingsley, perhaps it is also worth checking on and freezing Miss Granger's account at Gringotts, in case Mr Weasley attempts to access it? Make the Goblins aware of the situation, they will be discreet."

Kingsley could do nothing but offer them a sad nod, and leave the grieving woman.

oOo

As soon as Kingsley had left, instead of going to them, Severus instead pulled Hermione from the arm of the chair into his lap, bringing Rose along with her.

Distraught, Hermione had buried her face in his neck and allowed herself to weep for her losses. Severus held them both closely and cancelled the spell around Rose, when she was not calming despite the man's departure.

"Don't be scared Miss Rose, Kingsley brought some bad news for your mother that made her very sad"

Her tears quietened a little at that, and the fact that the frightening man had gone away, but he knew it would not be enough and made the decision to tell the young girl what had happened. Even at 3 going on 4, She was too precocious to try and keep in the dark about things. He though it better to tell her, and let her grieve the loss rather than coddle her about it.

"Kingsley came to tell your mother about an accident, there was a fire at your old house Miss Rose, I'm afraid everything was destroyed"

He decided not to tell her that her father had been the cause of it.

Rose began to cry in earnest then, She was still on Hermione's lap but she buried her face into his neck, holding tightly to his hair with one hand and Herman with the other.

Sitting back into the chair, a wordless enlarging spell gave the three of them a bit more room.

He had a girl buried in each side of his neck, each arm holding onto one of them as they sought his strength and support.

He wasn't one for mumbled platitudes and other meaningless words, for all they were worth. 'Don't worry, it'll be alright, everything's fine'

So instead he stuck to facts and truths.

"I have you now. You're here with me, you have a home here for as long as you need, I will look after you I promise"

oOo

When they had cried themselves out, they still held onto him tightly and sat in a heavy silence, just absorbing the news they'd received.

Eventually they fell into an exhausted sleep, and Severus allowed them the short respite.

When Hermione woke , still buried in his arms she spoke softly into the skin of his neck, so as not to wake Rose.

"I'm sorry Severus" She whispered "It looks like we may be imposing on you longer than I thought"

"You're not imposing witch, you're more than welcome here for as long as you wish to stay..." He looked at the little girl that still had a steadfast hold on a lock of his hair "...the both of you"

"You're so good with her, really. And you always have been, since she was a baby." The words were spoken softly into his neck, and it gave him goosebumps. "Do you ever think of having children of your own?"

He snorted at that. "I had never considered myself father material. But even if I were fortunate to find a woman both insane and delusional enough to be willing to tie themselves irrevocably to my miserable arse..." He blushed a little and looked away "...I cannot have children"

She looked forlornly up at him, "I'm sorry Severus, I shouldn't have pried, I had no idea"

She placed a soft kiss on his cheek and he cleared his throat. "Yes...well, It is of no concern. And nobody knows. Other than yourself"

She wrapped her arms more around him, so she was pretty much hugging him from the side.

"A woman wouldn't need to be insane to be with you Severus, look at you"

Another snort from him. "I have, that's mostly the problem"

She swatted his chest with her hand and he mock scowled at her.

"Severus, you're probably my best friend so I feel like I can be candid with you. You're a handsome, intelligent and honourable man, and a war hero to boot! Any woman would be lucky to have you"

He wasn't too sure what to say to that, other than quelling the voice that wanted to ask, what about you? until she added wryly.

"Thick skinned...but lucky"

He dug his fingers into her ribs then and it made her laugh out loud.

Rose awoke at that precise moment, and took in her mother laughing and smiling as Severus smirked down at her.

She smiled and buried her head further into his neck, feeling his arm curl around her in support.

All she could think was how pleased she was that her mother had her happy man back.

Hermione stood, taking Rose with her to go shower.

She sent Rose off first to use the bathroom and poked her head around the corner

"Oh and Severus?"

"Hmm?"

She gave him a cheeky smile

"Your arse may be miserable, but it's damn fine"

The last thing he heard was her laughter rounding the corner, as she giggled her way up the stairs at the blush on his face from her words.

Chapter Text

"Oh and Severus?"

"Hmm?"

She gave him a cheeky smile

"Your arse may be miserable, but it's damn fine"

The last thing he heard was her laughter rounding the corner, as she giggled her way up the stairs at the blush on his face from her words.


After a quick floo conversation with an old friend, Severus had made the executive decision to take them shopping in the muggle shops. It would be less busy than Diagon Alley in the middle of the day with most muggles at work, and less chance of Mr. Weasley being able to come upon them and risk adding breaking of the statuette of secrecy onto his already large list of criminal convictions.

Rose was nervous, and held onto her mother's hand tightly. She didn't like people, strangers or crowds. And despite her mother's heritage, she'd grown up purely in the wizarding world, and was unfamiliar with the muggle one. He had to clear his throat and wipe some sweat from his face when she reached to take his hand with her other one. As the small girl walked in the middle of them, with one hand from each of them clasped firmly in her smaller one, Severus was certain that it was definitely Sweat he wiped from his face. He wasn't crying dammit.

They went to one of the big muggle superstores, it would be easier to get a bit of everything they needed in once place, rather than having to overwhelm Rose with multiple superstore would easily provide a few basic clothes for the girls, more food for the house, along with some other necessities like toiletries.

Hermione, like Severus, had money in her muggle account as well as Gringotts so insisted on carrying her own basket (with an extension charm) and paying for her and Rose's clothing that they bought. Severus drew the line however at her paying for their food.

"You are my guests, and I will not have guests in my house paying for their food, it's simply uncouth" He'd stated with finality and she'd hugged him quickly, and placed a kiss on his cheek, which caused his face to flame once more as he cleared his throat and refocused his attention on what they were doing.

Hermione after tallying up her purchases grabbed some children's books to keep Rose entertained, and he saw Rose eyeing some muggle art supplies, though when she noticed that she'd been caught she deftly buried her face in her mother's side and peeked at him through her hair.

When Hermione was looking away at the books he deftly reached over and placed the art supplies in his basket, aiming a conspiratorial wink at the small girl, Rose smiled at him from her position tucked into her mothers side.

Shopping went as well as it could've been, even if it took them a rather long time. With all the things they needed, it was a good four hours before they'd finished in the shop. Rose managed to do most of the shop without issue, but by the time they got to the checkouts she was overtired and sniffling as she got more and more upset.

As they began to wait in line for the checkouts, Rose was getting more agitated by how close the people were to her and the unfamiliarity of the checkout tills and electronic beeping, having never been in such a store before. She started tugging on her mother's arm because she wanted Hermione to pick her up. Hermione was carrying her own basket, which was rather full and though the extension charm was holding, it was sapping her strength to maintain it on the basket temporarily. Unlike her bag, she couldn't leave the basket charmed for a muggle to find, so instead of anchoring the spell, she had to use her own magical strength to power it, so she could cancel the charm when they left. "Rosie, let's just pay for our things, then I can carry you alright sweetheart?"

She shook her head no and whimpered as a cashier called out over the tannoys, frightening the young girl. Fat tears built up in her eyes and she turned to Severus, holding out her hands desperately. At the sight of her distressed tears, and the way she so trustingly reached out to him, even though he was carrying his own charmed basket, he found that without hesitation he had quickly dropped to one knee allowing the small girl to wrap her arms around his neck. He stood, lifting her into his arms. One arm holding his basket and the other cradling the girl to his side, as her legs came around his hip.

Rose settled as some as she was safely in his arms. She stuck her thumb in her mouth and closed her eyes, burying her face into Severus's neck. The other hand coming up for her usual handful of hair, which she twirled around her small fingers.

Hermione rubbed the girls back softly, and thanked Severus, to which he simply inclined his head.

oOo

When they finally got back to Severus's home, he felt the thrumming of the wards that told him there'd been a visitor earlier, but they'd now left.

Leaving Hermione to unpack the groceries, after settling a sleeping Rose on the sofa he went upstairs to use the bathroom and then went to check on the spare room. Nodding in satisfaction, he rejoined the women downstairs. When he came down Hermione had already finished dishing up the takeaway they'd bought for the night.

"You didn't need to do that Hermione, I would've been happy to sort out the food, you already put all the shopping away" He chastised as he came to grab a couple of plates and take them to the table.

"It was no bother Severus, but if you don't mind taking the rest of the plates to the table and I'm going to go get Rose"

He nodded his acquiescence, and continued preparing the table as Hermione went to retrieve the slumbering Rose.

They ate dinner together amicably, Severus and Hermione made polite conversation and Rose would occasionally nod or shake her head at something when asked.

It was all so domestic. The conversation flowed between them as if it was something they'd been doing for years, which in a way he supposed they had. It once more reminded him of how much he'd missed her...and Rose as well.

When they were finished, they moved over to the living room where Severus despite his muggle upbringing didn't in fact have a television.

Hermione went up to the bathroom and gave Rose a quick bath, and when she returned with the girl now wearing clean pyjamas she grabbed a book to read to Rose, and took a seat on the sofa, with Rose upon her lap. Severus was Sat in his chair reading his own book, when he heard Hermione clear her throat.

He looked up to see an embarrassed Hermione looking at him, and a small girl gesturing to him. Raising his eyebrow at Rose he watched her for a second before realising what she was wanting.

"It's story time Severus" Hermione said with a joking lilt to her tone, as Rose continued to emphatically gesture to the stern man.

With a put upon sigh, Severus made his way over to the Sofa, placing himself on the other side as he continued to read his book.

Rose climbed off her mother's lap so she was sat in the middle of the two of them, holding her book open on her lap, as Hermione turned towards her and began to read it over the girl's shoulder.

It was only a few sentences into the children's story when suddenly a small hand appeared on his own that was holding his book, pushing it down and making him notice her other hand that had emphatically landed on the book in her lap, making a loud noise and her slightly frowning face.

"Rose!" Hermione scolded the girl at her actions, but Severus just chuckled.

"I apologise Miss Rose, it was rather rude of me to continue to ignore the both of you in favour of my own book, when I can now clearly see that this story time is in fact a group activity"

The girl nodded emphatically to his words, one hand still on his much larger one, but now the other was at her face with her thumb jammed in her mouth.

'Sorry' Hermione mouthed at him with an apologetic look, but he just shook his head and smirked at her in good humour.

He sat with the two of them, listening to Hermione's soft tones as she read the story aloud to the small girl. Severus could not help himself watching Hermione from the corner of his eye, as the firelight danced across her face. She was enchanting. By the time the story was finished, Rose was half asleep.

Picking the tired girl up, Hermione stood and Severus followed.

"I'm going to take her up to bed, say good night to Severus, Rose." She said softly.

"Do not say your good-nights just yet, I will come with you for I have something to show you"

Hermione and Rose both looked at him curiously, but he just smirked and led the way upstairs.

When they reached the landing, Hermione put Rose down and they took in the closed door of the spare bedroom.

Severus knelt on the floor so he was closer to the small girl.

"I have a gift for you Miss Rose, I hope it is to your liking" He said softly, and the girl watched him attentively as he pushed the spare room door open.

Hermoine gasped in shock and covered her mouth, as Rose wide eyed dashed into the room.

He chuckled as the young girl quickly examined the new room.

"Severus" Hermione said with a waver to her voice.

Gone were all the storage boxes and old furniture.

In their place was a new plush carpet, and freshly painted walls in neutral calming creams. There was a set of expensive looking wooden drawers, children's sized along with a matching desk, bookcase and toy chest at the foot of the bed, upon which sat Herman.

The bed was the centre piece though. It was a four poster with soft pink curtains and intricately carved mythical beasts, that matched the other furniture in the room.

Rose quickly grabbed Herman and proceeded to carry him around the room 'showing' him all the contents, much to Severus's amusement.

Though both he and Hermione were shocked when Rose jumped on the new bed and giggled, smiling at both of them.

"Do you like it then Miss Rose?" He asked with a chuckle, and he was rewarded with a winning smile as she signed 'thank you' to him three times.

"There's something else special about this bed though Miss Rose, come Hermione let me show you"

Rose moved to the headboard where Severus was gesturing, and Hermione followed him.

In the centre of the headboard was a crystal, and there were a few runes surrounding it, when the three of them sat on the bed and drew the curtains they saw that the runes were also hidden into the design of the curtains.

"This is a magic bed Miss Rose. Once you put your hand on this crystal here, and I say a spell. Only people that you want to will be able to get in."

Roses eyes widened at the implication.

"Here, let me show you."

He gestured for Hermione to get off the bed with him, which she did.

"Put your hand on this crystal" he pointed and Rose did what she was told, with wide eyed fascination.

He spoke the enchantment and they felt a low thrum go through the room.

"Now, you want to make sure your mother can get in too, so grab her hand and place yours on the crystal again"

Rose did as she was told grabbing her mother's hand and placing hers on the crystal, there was another thrum and Hermione went to sit on the bed.

"Now nobody other than you two can get in...see?"

He pushed both his hands forward, palms outwards, and was violently pushed backwards from the bed, but was unable to enter"

Rose whimpered but he quietly reassured her.

"I'm fine Miss Rose, but see? Nobody can get in here unless you want them too, and here..."

He passed her a small wooden bracelet, it had a unicorn carved onto it in the likeness of the bed.

She smiled and put it on straight away.

"You'll never lose this, it's charmed for safety...but If ever there's an emergency, if you're scared, or lost. Press this unicorn here, and think of your bed and it will take you straight there"

Rose looked wide eyed at him, and Hermione met his gaze.

"It's a portkey?" She asked, a little sharper than she intended.

"A conditional portkey " he answered "She cannot accidentally set it off, it's fuelled by intent, give me some credit witch"

She had the decency to look abashed. "Sorry Severus"

He waved it off. "You're a mother, it's your job"

Rose was busy looking between them, her bed and her bracelet.

She placed her hand forwards in the air, but was surprised when she nearly fell out, obviously expecting to come across resistance as he had.

He placed his hand forwards again to show her once more.

"It won't keep you in Miss Rose, just keep others out" 

She nodded, once more looked straight into his eyes and then grabbed his hand, tugging him towards the bed.

He tensed a little in shock, and stilled her with hand on her arm.

"Miss Rose, this bed is a safe place for you, you don't need to give me permission" 

Suddenly she gave him three quick signs, and pressed her hand against the crystal once more and he felt the thrum of magic accept him into her safe space.

"What did she say?" He quickly asked Hermione, still shocked at the small girl's actions.

Hermione offered him a watery smile, as tears streaked down her face.

"You are safe"

Chapter Text

"Miss Rose, this bed is a safe place for you, you don't need to give me permission"

Suddenly she gave him three quick signs, and pressed her hand against the crystal once more and he felt the thrum of magic accept him into her safe space.

"What did she say?" He quickly asked Hermione, still shocked at the small girl's actions.

Hermione offered him a watery smile, as tears streaked down her face.

"You are safe"


You are safe.

You are safe.

The words kept running in circuits around his head, and he couldn't quite grasp them. Coming from the small girl, they seemed far too enormous for him to comprehend.

He'd apologised and said his good-nights, and fled the room as quickly as he could without upsetting the child.

Now he was sat on his bed, for his legs seemed uncooperative or had suddenly developed an inability to hold his weight.

His coat seemed heavy, as though it was weighing him down and his shirt was too tight.

Memories of his own childhood swam in his head. She was so trusting, had the tables been reversed and he been her age, he'd have been petrified, and would've latched onto the idea of a safe place like a lamprey. He probably wouldn't have allowed his mother to enter either.

She feels safe with me. I make her feel safe. I am safe.

As it was, he couldn't stop his limbs from shaking. He wanted to take off his coat, he felt light he couldn't breathe with it on, but his arms were too heavy to respond, and lay useless by his side. He could feel cold and clammy sweat on his skin.

So distracted was he, that he barely noticed Hermione enter the room.

"Severus?"

He didn't know if he answered her, or merely grunted, but something in his demeanour must have alerted her.

His head was suddenly pressed lower, towards his legs and he felt relief as his coat was peeled from him, followed by the top few buttons of his shirt being undone to allow cool air to hit his clammy skin.

She encouraged him to breathe, and that sounded like a splendid idea, so he commenced with doing just that, only now that he could actually get air his body seemed determined to take it in as quickly as possible, and he felt his heartbeat roaring in his ears.

Severus didn't know how long he sat there, hyperventilating and shaking like a leaf, until he started to pull away from the panic and towards this wonderful and unfamiliar warmth that surrounded him. As he became more cognisant he was aware of a pressure behind him, a solidity, and an arm wrapped around his waist that was preventing him from keeling forward from his seat on the edge of the bed, and landing face first on the floor. There was also a warm breath on the back of his neck, Hermione was hugging him with one arm around his waist, keeping him upright.

Her head was resting on the back of his neck, and he felt the soft puffs of her breath as she gently hummed and shushed him, her other hand rubbing soothing circles on his back. Her legs were spread wide, and from he seat behind his she had one either side of his own. There was slight motion to her as she held him tight, and he realised with a choked sob that she was rocking him, humming nonsensical words of affection and comfort.

"I'm here Severus love, it's alright, you're safe with me sweetheart, I've got you baby it's ok."

Love. Sweetheart. Baby. All these terms of endearment.

He'd never been any of those things to anyone, not even his own mother.

And as he felt the warmth and comfort that Hermione offered him freely and honestly...he broke.

"Safe?" He whispered, emotions overwhelming him, and then he was sobbing.

Sobbing like he hadn't done in years.

She pulled him back onto the bed and he held onto her tightly, head buried in her chest as she soothed and held him while he cried like a broken man.

God knows how long he was bawling on her, though he was grateful for her forethought to put up a silencing charm so he wouldn't upset Rose.

He must have cried for an hour, holding onto her tightly the entire time.

When his sobs finally abated, his eyes were swollen and his nose stuffy. He'd got tears and snot all over her shirt, but she didn't seem to care.

Quietly, he just laid with her, even after his tears were spent. He selfishly held onto her, basking in the warmth and affection that she freely offered him.

It took a while for him to gain the courage to look to her face, but when he did she just smiled sadly and placed a soft kiss on his heated and sweaty forehead and took his hand, leading him to the bathroom.

Following her silently without question,his hand in hers like a child, sitting on the toilet seat when she told him to.

He inhaled a shuddering breath, as she wet a washcloth and began to gently cleanse his face of tears and snot.

"T-there are spells for that" he said softly and quietly, his voice still thick from crying.

She tucked his hair gently and tenderly behind his ear, before she spoke.

"I'd prefer to care for you myself...but do you want me to use a spell?" He shook his head no, as he looked at her with wide eyes, almost childlike in their wonder.

She want's to care for me herself. She cares for me. She does.

He watched her with wide innocent eyes, and she smiled softly and sadly as she gently cleaned his face, with a tenderness born from her maternal nature.

It took him a long time to realise she was only using one hand, because he was still holding her other one in his own. He didn't let go though.

When his face was cleaned she cast a gentle cleansing charm over his body, then began to unbutton his shirt, and he made no move to stop her. Once it was unbuttoned all the way, she transfigured him a clean sleep shirt, and passed it to him.

"Ok sweetie, put this on and you need to get some sleep alright?"

He nodded at her, clutching the shirt in one hand, then frowning down at her other when he realised that he'd have to let go of her to change his shirt.

"I'm going to be right her love, it's alright" To emphasise she leaned back against the sink, and crossed her arms.

He nodded, still not quite with it, but trusting she would not abandon him. This new source of warmth and comfort that he was reluctant to ever again let go of.

Standing he took his old now sweaty shirt off, and put it on the floor, turning to her for approval.

Her eyes flicked from his body to her face, and there were tears in her eyes when she looked at him but she still smiled at him when she saw the openess of his expression as he waited for her confirmation.

She reached out and rubbed his arm soothingly.

"That's good baby, put the clean shirt on now ok?" He smiled, softly at her praise. He did good. and then did as she told him, putting the clean shirt on, turning to her once more for affirmation."Perfect honey" She smiled softly to him, eyes still watery. Then transfigured his trousers into sweats. "Now it's time for you to get some sleep Severus alright? Come on" She held out her hand and he took it, and she led him back to his room.

She sat him on the edge of the bed and then grabbed her hairbrush.

"Come here hun" She cast a quick cleansing spell, then began gently running it through his hair a few times, as it had become a bit of a mess with his crying.

When she began to brush his hair, the sound he made was like a wounded animal as he keened and fell forward and buried his face in her chest, wrapping his arms around her tightly holding on.

Hermione for her part was trying not to cry, and failing miserably.

As he held onto her, her heart broke for him. How bad did his childhood have to be, for him to be this touch starved for maternal care and affection? That the most basic and simple acts of soothing him when he was afraid, washing his face, changing his clothes and brushing his hair, made him weep for it.

She refused to give in to her own urge to cry, and instead held onto him and continued to brush his hair gently, for far longer than she needed to, as he keened and wept and held tightly onto her.

When a long time had passed, she grabbed one of her spare hair ties and pulled his hair back from his face and tied it.

He continued to look at her in wide eyed wonder.

"There now, no hiding that lovely face ok?" She smiled in encouragement, and he blushed. The sweet, darling man actually blushed, and nodded shly in confirmation.

"OK, it's been a long few days for all of us, so you get some sleep ok and we can talk more in the morning"

She urged him back into bed and went to leave, planning on setting something up on the sofa when his hand shot out and grabbed her.

"Stay...please?"

She would've said no, she felt like he was in too vulnerable a state of mind but it was the slight edge to his voice, that signalled the return of her Severus, that made her nod her head and climb in with him.

When she laid down he moved to hug her, and instead she pulled his head down to her, allowing him to use her chest as a pillow as she stroked his hair gently.

He let out a shuddering breath, and collapsed bonelessly against her, surrendering himself to her and she felt the dampness of a few fallen tears.

"I'm s-sorry Hermione...I-"

"Shhh, don't be sorry Severus, You've done such a good job of looking after me and Rose the past few days, I'm here for you love. Let me look after you now. we'll look after each other, you're safe with me"

She began to hum gently to him as she ran her hand through his hair, and rocked him slightly as she'd done before. He allowed himself to sleep. to trust her.

And he knew that when he awoke, for the first time ever, he would tell someone. He would tell her everything.

Because he was safe.

Chapter Text

She began to hum gently to him as she ran her hand through his hair, and rocked him slightly as she'd done before. He allowed himself to sleep. to trust her.

And he knew that when he awoke, for the first time ever, he would tell someone. He would tell her everything.

Because he was safe.


When he awoke, he realised a few things.

He realised from the way her hand was gently running through his hair that had slipped from the tie, she was already awake, which was bizarre as it was always him to awake first.

The second thing he noticed was judging by the colour of the daylight streaming through the window, it was much later than he usually woke up, and well into the actual morning, and not his usual waking time of before daybreak.

Finally he realised with some shock that he was still pillowed on her soft chest, and even more shocking that from her relaxed position it seemed that she didn't mind.

A huge part of him was screaming to jump away from her, put his shields up and pretend none of the previous night ever happened.

However another part of him, that had been locked away for so many years, was basking in the warmth and comfort she was offering him, and entreated him to stay in her warm embrace for as long as she was willing to offer it, as it was highly unlikely to happen again.

With that in mind he shifted slightly so that she would not be able to feel the morning stirrings of his body, which had become a bit of a habit for him to have around her, and wrapped his arms around her a little tighter, holding her closer to him.

The hand stroking his hair paused for a second, then carried on as though nothing had changed. She spoke softly to him "Good Morning Severus".

And he answered softly "morning" and it was muffled into her chest.

He had prepared himself to tell her, decided that he was going to tell her...but had an irrational fear that she would ask him before he got the chance to tell her, and therefore throw him completely off balance if she pressured him for information. It would be well within her rights to ask the cause of his behaviour, especially after his actions last night. But bless her soul she didn't ask him, simply carried on stroking his hair and spoke softly to him as though he hadn't spectacularly fallen to bits in her arms the night before.

"I checked on Rose already with the monitoring charm, she's sound asleep. I'm so relieved, I hope this is a sign of things to come as she's always been a light sleeper until now, Thank You Severus."

He nodded to show that he'd heard her and understood, but he said nothing else, and she seemed in no rush to move.

When she began humming gently once more he shuddered and a few tears broke from his eyes, to wet her shirt.

"I suppose that you have...gathered why I...last night" He finally spoke, still not looking at her.

Her hands paused again for a second, before continuing through his hair.

"I have an idea" She said softly, without stopping her ministrations.

He nodded and said nothing, for all his plans he just couldn't find the words.

"Are you wanting to talk about it?" Her words were softly spoken, and there was no pressure or insistence to them, he instinctively knew that if he said no, she would accept that and never push him for more, it was just a simple question, do you want to?

"I have never talked about ...with anyone...but I want to...with you, I just don't know how"

She nodded at that, he felt the movement of it and her other hand came up to wrap around his shoulders slightly so that she was half hugging him.

"Do you want to tell me, or would you prefer if I ask you questions and you can answer the ones you want to?"

That sounded much easier to him, it was so familiar to have her asking him questions, much better than him volunteering to speak. He could do that. He wanted to do that.

"Ask" His words were quiet, but firm.

"If you change your mind, you have my permission to obliviate me if you decide that you don't want me to know anymore. It's entirely your choice Severus, I shan't push you for anything"

He nodded again, a feeling of relief, he could trust her...he knew he could. He repeated once more. "Ask"

"When you were talking to me about Ronald, you said "People like them are good about hiding what they are" not "People like him"...who was your "them" Severus?"

He tensed, expecting the question but not yet prepared for how to answer it, how to form the words.

He was silent for a moment, contemplating when he decided to just to hell with it, he could obliviate her if she couldn't handle it.

Bless her heart though, because thankfully she seemed to understand, and she spoke again.

"Was it your father?"

Pleased for the reprieve from speaking the words out loud, he nodded to her.

"He hurt you, like Ronald hurt Rosie?"

Again he nodded.

She sucked in a breath, and he closed his eyes. He thought she was repulsed and would push him away but instead she held him tighter. Her arms holding his head cradled to her breast, as though she could protect him from his past.

"Did he...was it worse than what Rosie went through?"

He could tell she was trying to find a diplomatic and non triggering way of wording that, and he was thankful for it. Though he knew he could not answer with a simple nod.

"Rose is perfect and beautiful and innocent, nothing that happened to me can be worse that hurting her, she didn't deserve-"

Hermione cut him off right there, going as far as to grab his chin and force him to look at her angry face

"Don't you dare Severus Snape!"

She must have seen his wide frightened eyes, because her gaze softened and became tearful and she gently cupped his face where she'd grabbed it.

"Don't belittle your own trauma. You are entitled to be mad, to grieve, to be afraid or hurt or upset, or any other emotion. You did not deserve any abuse that you received, do not think any less of yourself because of it, I know I don't think any less of you."

His eyes filled with tears, and he buried his face once more in her breasts so that she would not see it.

"Ok..." Her breath was shaky, as she fought to control her own emotions. "Do you want to keep going?"

He nodded and she once more brought her arms around him.

"Did it go further that what Ronald did?"

"Yes" His voice was shaky as he answered.

"How far?" Her voice was as warm and soft as the arms she had wrapped around him, and the chest he was buried in, and he felt protected by it.

"As far as it can go I suppose" Was the muffled reply.

"He raped you?" The words were soft and cautious, as though she was unsure she had the right to ask him. His hands squeezed around her in reassurance that yes, he trusted her, and she could speak freely to him.

"Y-yes" The word came out stuttered, and not as strong as he wanted it to. But it was the first time he'd ever admitted that, even to himself refusing to use that word and it threw him.

He felt some something break in him at saying the word, some weight off his shoulders even if his chest felt tight and his eyes itched with tears, and he found that he answered her questions more freely, almost trancelike.

"More than once?"

"Y-yes"

"How old were you, the first time?"

"I d-don't remember"

"Were you Rose's age?"

"Younger, maybe"

"How long did it go on for?"

"Years."

"When did it stop?"

"When I came of age"

When I became a death eater, when I could practice magic outside of school. Was the unsaid answer. She didn't push it any further.

"Did you ever get any help? Healing or therapy?"

"No...not directly"

She waited for him to embellish on that answer.

"When I was at St Mungos, after the war...doing diagnostics they found old healed injuries from...well from..."

She nodded to show that she understood.

"She assumed it was from being a death eater, I didn't correct her. She healed me as much as she could, then I obliviated her. That's also when I found out I can't have children, because of...repercussions of what he did...It seems I wasn't the only one he hurt."

She gave him a sad look, and stroked his face.

"But you're alright now? Physically?"

"I'm not contagious anymore if that's what you mean" He said with an embarrassed flush to his face.

"That's not what I meant, do you need any more healing? Do we need to get you to see a mediwitch or healer?"

"No... even magic has its limits and it's been too long since...it...happened, I am as healed as I can be"

"And your mother? Was she in the picture?"

"She was" He confirmed.

"Did she know? "

"Yes. She didn't care, looking back now I think she was willing to ignore it because whilever he was hurting me, he wasn't hurting her. She never wanted children, it was him that wanted a son, though he was furious when I turned out to be a 'freak' like my mother. He thought he could beat it out of me"

Her hands ghosted over his back unconsciously when he said that, where he was all too aware of the scars that lingered there as tears filled his eyes once more.

"I'm sorry Severus, for what you had to endure, for everything that they took from you" She leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on his forehead as the tears dripped from his face.

It was at that moment they quickly turned to the door when they heard a whimper, and saw the wide eyed form of Rose staring at the two adults entwined on the bed, eyes focused on Severus.

Chapter Text

"I'm sorry Severus, for what you had to endure, for everything that they took from you" She leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on his forehead as the tears dripped from his face.

It was at that moment they quickly turned to the door when they heard a whimper, and saw the wide eyed form of Rose staring at the two adults entwined on the bed, eyes focused on Severus.


Rose's eyes were locked on Severus, and both adults were frozen in place, totally unprepared for Rose's intrusion.

There was distress in her eyes, and Hermione and Severus's eyes locked as they both quickly thought the same thing.

Why was she upset? Was it their closeness? How long had she been stood there? What did she hear? Of what she did hear, how much did she understand?

It was Rose that broke the stillness of the moment as she moved forward and climbed onto the foot of the bed, quickly situating herself between the two adults, who had hastily parted to make room for her.

The last thing either of them expected her to do, was to lean forward and wipe Severus's tears with the sleeve of her nightclothes, and look at him with a such a look of concern it made his heart clench in his chest.

It was then they realised that her distress hadn't been from seeing them lain so close together, or hearing what Severus said, but simply seeing the man crying.

Hermione leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her daughters head.

"It's alright Rosie, Severus just had a bad dream, he didn't get much sleep and he's tired, that's all" Hermione spoke, rather than having to try and explain exactly what they'd just been talking about, as a small child Rose would often cry when she was overtired so she would understand this explanation.

It was then that Rose looked at him with such fierce determination, he couldn't help but be reminded of Hermione when she was younger.

She crawled out of the bed, holding onto Severus's hand and gave him a sharp tug. Even as he followed the small girl, he looked at Hermione with a quirked eyebrow but she lifted her shoulders in an 'I don't know' shrug and made to follow them.

Rose dragged Severus into her bedroom and pulled him to sit down on her bed, not stopping pushing him until he'd lifted his legs up and laid fully on it. It was a very sturdy made bed, so it had no trouble taking his weight, but he was a rather tall man and the bed was a short single, so his legs hung off the end a bit.

Hermione watched from the door way as he daughter gestured with 'grabby hands' for her to come closer. She was also brought onto the bed, though Severus had to put an arm around her to hold on, lest she fall off the edge.

When the three of them were on the bed, Rose pulled the curtains around the canopy and situated herself in between the two of them.

She repeated the sign from last night, Safe. which he remembered, then kissed him gently on the cheek before laying down in the middle of them.

He struggled to hold back the tears, when he realised what she'd done. Hermione wasn't having as much luck.

She'd brought him to her bed, her safe place. So he could sleep, and be safe from his bad dreams.

With a shuddering breath he pulled them both closer to him and shut his eyes.

oOo

Days turned into weeks, and soon it had been a month that Hermione and Rose had been living with Severus.

They had the routine down as though they had always been this perfect little unit, and Severus could not remember a time when he'd been more content. Though every day his chest ached with the thought of their departure growing ever closer, for there was no way they would choose to remain here forever, despite his desire for them to do so.

Though still nervous with others, Rose was becoming very quickly attached to Severus, and likewise Severus was besotted with her. Hermione was certain that if Rose asked Severus for the moon, he would find a way to give it to her.

After a long thought out discussion a week previous, Hermione had decided that instead of returning to work once she'd used up her sick and holiday days that she was currently making use that, that she was going to hand in her notice at the Ministry. She felt that she'd done as much as she could in the department, and she wanted to leave with her drive and her sanity still intact.

Though she wanted to spend more time closer to Rose, she didn't want to stop working altogether and was broadening her horizons, and considering other lines of work that would be more flexible.

For their sake, Severus had increased his already formidable wards and they had basically spent the last few weeks as shut ins, apart from the various trips to shops to restock, always muggle.

Severus had lowered the wards enough to allow owls access, so that Hermione could send and receive mail from her work among others.

Hermione and Rose were sat at the breakfast table, drinking juice whilst Severus made breakfast, when one such owl arrived. Giving the owl a treat and sending it on it's way, Hermione opened the Ministry stamped seal as she bit into her toast, ready to read the responce from her boss.

It was the sound of her laboured breathing, that had Severus quickly turn around and take in her stricken face. A quick scan to Rose saw that the girl had yet to notice her mother's distress, so he quickly put a notice me not charm around her, before going to her side. 

"Hermione?" He asked carefully "Your boss?..."

"It's not my boss." She managed to get out, carefully.

"Then what?-"

"They're my divorce papers" She said quietly. 

She'd applied for divorce in absentia, and had also applied to change Her own and  Rose's name back to Granger, so neither would carry the Weasley name. 

"And?" He questioned , watching her reactions carefully. 

"They approved it. I'm now legally and officially divorced. And we're both Grangers again" Her face was worried though and the parchment was gripped tightly in her hands. 

"There's something else?"  He could tell from the anxiety in her frame that there was something terribly wrong, as he could practically see the tension rolling through her. 

"It's a court date, for a hearing"

"A hearing?" 

She nodded but couldn't get out the words, instead handing him the parchment, which he quickly scanned, the words etching into his brain and making his blood both boil and run cold. 

 

Ms Hermione Granger

This is an official summons for your (Mandatory) appearance at the Wizegamot Hearing

Dated 30th June this year. 

For the case of 

Hermione Jean Granger versus Molly Weasley (nee Prewett)

For the sole custody of Rose Granger. 

For the reasons mentioned below

- Neglect

- Unreasonably  Withholding visitation from direct family

- Lacking the means to adequately provide for a minor.

- Lacking a suitable dwelling in which to raise a minor 

- Mental Instability

Yours Sincerely

Hector Hobblethwaite. 

Head Chair

Wizegamot

Chapter Text

Ms Hermione Granger

This is an official summons for your (Mandatory) appearance at the Wizegamot Hearing

Dated 30th June this year.

For the case of

Hermione Jean Granger versus Molly Weasley (nee Prewett)

For the sole custody of Rose Granger...


Despite Severus's assurances that they had another month to sort this whole mess out before the court date, Hermione had panicked so much on receipt of the summons, that Severus had to send her to bed with a calming draught. He'd managed to explain to Rose that Hermione was feeling poorly, and had tasked her with the extremely important job of drawing a picture to make her feel better. Rose was attacking this task with the single minded determination that her mother was famous for, and Severus couldn't help but smile at her small form laid out on the rug with her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth, so focused was she on her important work.

Severus made a few important floo calls and sent a number of owls, and it was well into the afternoon before Hermione re-appeared, still looking sick but less like she was about to have a heart attack. Rose had immediately jumped onto the sofa when Hermione sat down, presenting her the picture which made her smile a watery smile. "Miss Rose has done me the great favour of providing some artwork for you, upon my request, for I assured her it would make you feel much better."

"Thank you baby, this has definitely cheered me up" She whispered and placed a kiss on her forehead, Rose smiled at her and hugged her back and Severus watched her with a pain in his chest as she held tightly to the young girl, and buried her face in the wild mane of curls so alike her own.

He brought Hermione a cup of tea, and some juice for Rose, who took it and began to drink. They'd both been so pleased with her progress. Rose was sleeping better, eating more and being more and more open to interacting with them. It pained them both to even consider what would happen should Molly prevail. Rose had put on weight and Hermione swore she'd grown half an inch in the past month as well, though was still small for her age.

Severus knew that if Hermione chose to leave with Rose, it would break his heart, but he would accept it as her decision.

Though without a doubt one thing was certain.

He would not allow anyone to take either of them from him.

oOo

Rose was drawing on the rug as Severus and Hermione spoke softly behind a muffliato to conceal their words.

"Kingsley is Furious" Severus said with a sneer. "The whole point was to keep everything quiet so they could lay the net and try and grab the cretin when he became too complacent, Kingsley's keeping a lid on it for now but if this hearing goes ahead it will be allover the prophet" He took an angry sip of his tea, before vanishing the cup back to the kitchen with a grimace when he discovered it had gone cold. "He's a trained auror, he knows how to go to ground but he's a fool and a cocky one at that. Enough time goes by and he starts to think he's going to get away with it, he gets too complacent and then he gets caught." His nostrils flared as he breathed out angrily. "The second he gets wind of this court hearing, he'll vanish for good."

"Severus...what if Molly doesn't know?" She asked quietly, and he turned askance to look at her.

"What do you mean?"

She turned to regard him quietly.

"I certainly haven't spoke to any of them, other than to let them know we were safe, and Kingsley's been making sure everything was kept private for our sakes... They know that we fought, and that he attacked the aurors...but what if she doesn't know exactly what Ronald has done? I don't think this would've happened if she did"

"Because of course from what you've told me, she's always been so rational about Rose's care before?" Was his sneered answer.

Hermione winced, conceding the point. There had been little success in persuading Molly before that the bustling atmosphere of the Burrow was not he best place for Rose to visit, the Weasley matriarch always insisting on frequent visits to the homestead, despite Hermione's protests that it upset Rose.

"Fair point, but Arthur...I don't think he'd let her do this if he knew. Rose is terrified of him, and that's always hurt him I know, but he's always done whatever I asked. Always been so careful of her needs, He wouldn't push for this If he knew everything".

Severus ran his finger over his lips as he contemplated her words, when a thought struck him.

"And the other Weasleys?" He asked.

"What of them?" She responded with a puzzled glance.

"Would they respect your wishes, if they knew the truth?"

For a moment Hermione contemplated his words.

"Well Ginny would side with her mother for sure if she was here, but it's very doubtful she would leave America to do so. Her and Harry are settled over there, especially now he's made Chief Auror at Macusa. Pluse she's got one young boy and another on the way"

"And the men?"

"George would believe me, without a doubt, He's like a brother to me. Percy I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw him, and Charlie I can't be sure as I've only seen him a handful of times and he's still in Romania, though I doubt he'd stand against his mother with me, I don't think he'd stand against me either, He's the most likely to play Switzerland, and Bill..."

"Bill?"

"Bill's a father twice over"

Severus nodded carefully, there was no doubt the man would know what was best for the child.

"Another bastion of red headed Weasley boys to grace Hogwarts in a few years no doubt, Gryffindor shall be overrun." He said with a grimace.

She snorted a little in laughter.

"Hardly. Victoire is probably the first blonde haired Weasley to ever exist, though that's likely the Veela from Fleur's side of the family, and I'd peg her as a Ravenclaw."

"William has a daughter?" Severus asked.

"Two, Victoire is a couple of years older than Rose and Dominique is coming up 2"

Severus's thoughts were interrupted, and the wind knocked out of him, by an exuberant 3 year old climbing over his lap, knee precariously close to rather delicate parts of his anatomy, to reach her mother and show them the pictures she'd drawn, as Hermione smiled at the pair of them in amusement.

oOo

Later that night, Hermione was still quiet and withdrawn. Severus had gone to his lab to make a few private floo calls, and for the most part of the day Hermione had sat upon the sofa, watching Rose fondly, whilst attempting at least to read.

After dinner she was sat upon the sofa, whilst Rose played and Severus took his usual seat in his chair. After the first night it had become their routine, that when it came for "Story time" Rose would always retrieve Severus from his chair, and the three of them would sit upon the sofa together whilst Hermione read the story. Then they would kiss each other on the cheek, give the sign for goodnight and Hermione would take Rose to bed.
She wasn't sure she was ready to read a cheerful children's story about happy families, be they ducklings or not, and quite frankly she was that emotionally exhausted that she could just go to bed and sleep for a week.

Something of it must have shown in her expression, for Unbeknown to her, Rose had watched her mother, seen that she was tired and upset and when she went to retrieve her book for story time, instead of seating herself next to her mother on the sofa as was their custom, she hugged her and kissed her cheek, giving her the sign for goodnight, Then to the surprise of all of them, pulled herself onto Severus's lap.

There was no-one more surprised than Severus. As his wide eyes quickly met hers. Though Rose allowed Severus to pick her up once in the supermarket, and would sit between them on the sofa. This was the first time she'd initiated anything with him, and had taken herself to him of her own accord and sat in his lap. Something she'd never done with Ronald, or any man for that matter. Ronald often held Rose on his knee, but she had always disliked it. She would squirm to get down when she was younger, but as she got older she just sat there stoically.  Hermione watched as Rose passed the book to Severus and he took it from her almost reverently, as he gazed in wonder at the 3 year old purchased on his knee. 

Hermione wanted to watch them, wanted to see this interaction between her daughter and the man that was quickly becoming more than just a friend. But there was something special about this, something sacred, and it made her not want to intrude. This was their time. She kissed her daughter goodnight, and followed with a kiss to Severus's cheek that lingered longer than it had any right to do, and she left them to their story.

For his part, Severus struggled to hold himself together, and he felt the burning of his eyes as tears threatened to fall. A nudge from the girl in his lap had his attention focused once more. 

"Apologies Miss Rose" He cleared his throat and began to read, not doing anything to stop the few tears that slipped from his eyes. 

He would not allow anyone to take either of them from him.

Chapter Text

Hermione wanted to watch them, wanted to see this interaction between her daughter and the man that was quickly becoming more than just a friend. But there was something special about this, something sacred, and it made her not want to intrude. This was their time. She kissed her daughter goodnight, and followed with a kiss to Severus's cheek that lingered longer than it had any right to do, and she left them to their story.

For his part, Severus struggled to hold himself together, and he felt the burning of his eyes as tears threatened to fall. A nudge from the girl in his lap had his attention focused once more.

"Apologies Miss Rose" He cleared his throat and began to read, not doing anything to stop the few tears that slipped from his eyes.

He would not allow anyone to take either of them from him.


Hermione was waiting at the top of the stairs when Severus and Rose made their way up. Usually Rose would be half asleep when her story was finished, so Hermione would carry her up to bed and she'd be out like a light the moment her head touched the pillow. Severus had decided not to carry her it seemed, and she was certain she knew why, but he was holding her hand as she made her way up stairs, and she smiled at the taciturn man holding the small girls hand in his own. Rose had been taught from a very young age not to go anywhere near stairs unless you were holding a grown ups hand, and Severus was so damn overprotective she was pretty sure he'd bubble-wrap the girl if she let him.

When they made it to the top of the stairs, she briefly hugged Severus's leg before signing 'Thank You, Good Night' to him, and holding her arms out for her mother to pick her up. Hermione quickly did so, and tucked the tired girl into bed, where as per her norm she was out the second her head hit the pillow, once Herman was safely in her arms.

Severus looked somewhat nervous when she entered their room, She could tell he'd been pacing and likewise she could tell that he was about to apologise for what had just transpired downstairs, no doubt worrying she'd think he planned it, or was angry for taking such liberties with her daughter. He really was quite predictable at times, especially when it came to his self worth / self esteem and his interactions with Rose.

So before he could begin to apologise and beg forgiveness, she waved him off with a smile and gestured for him to sit on the bed, as she went to her dresser to retrieve her hairbrush. She could practically see the tension drop from his shoulders, and she fought a smile at the pink that tinged his cheeks as he sat.

It had been weeks since the night he'd broken down and cried about his childhood, and admitted the abuse he'd suffered, and Hermione had made a point of brushing his hair for him every night since before they went to bed. It was a simple act, and it seemed to mean so much for the both of them, feeding both Severus's long neglected desire to be genuinely cared for, and Hermione's constant desire to care for others. He would still blush in embarrassment every night though, something Hermione found simultaneously adorable and endearing, And he'd always insist that she didn't need to do it... though always accepted her offer and then shyly thanked her afterwards.

They created the perfect balance between them. In what had simply become 'their room', Hermione cared for Severus, gave him affection and attention and made him feel both safe and wanted, and everywhere else Severus was very much the stalwart defender of both Hermione and Rose.

Each night they slept close by each other, as close as two people could be.

Bar one thing, that was left unsaid. 

They were not a couple. 

They were not together.

Though Hermione knew, with all of her heart, that she was desperately falling for this man. 

And she was terrified of ruining everything.

oOo

The next day, there was an incident. An old picture frame fell from the wall in the living room. There was nothing sinister about it, simply an old frame that had been hung for a number of years, and the aged string had worn away and snapped.

The frame had fallen with a loud crash, as the glass smashed upon the floor mere feet from where Rose was sat playing. Hermione was in the kitchen, and Severus in his chair, but in a heartbeat Severus had flung himself on his knees between Rose and the frame before it had even finished fully falling, throwing a frighteningly strong shield around Rose and putting himself bodily between her and the frame.

When Hermione dashed out of the kitchen to see what the commotion was, Severus was scowling at the picture frame on the floor and the room practically hummed with the strength of the wards he'd thrown up, wandlessly and wordlessly. Hermione approached and vanished the glass, as she picked the frame up carefully, and turned it around. 

"The string snapped, it was just an accident-" She spoke , but was interrupted by Rose. "Ouch". Only from her mouth, it sounded more like 'Oww-chuh' though the meaning was clear.

"Rose!" Severus had whipped round so quickly she feared whiplash, as he quickly picked her up from her seat on the floor, sanding her up and desperately runnign his hands over the small girl trying to find the cause of her pain. She was now standing, and Severus on his knees so she was not much lower than him. "Rose, where...?" but the girl interrupted him by shaking her head and grabbing his hand and leading him to sit on the chair, climbing onto his lap as she did the night before for her story "Ouch"

Severus was about to question her once more when he saw the way she was grasping his hand, palm upwards. His palm was bleeding, he must have cut it on the glass when he threw himself on the floor. Hermione made to retrieve her wand so she could heal the superficial cut, when to her shock Rose leaned forward and kissed his hand. 

You could've knocked Hermione and Severus over with a feather at that point, when Rose pulled back and all signs of the cut were gone. Rose simply offered him a proud smile as she brandished his hand as if to show him, "A kiss to make it better" Hermione told him softly, though Severus was too busy staring at his hand, held in Rose's smaller ones. Healed by her first ever accidental magic. 

Rose seemed to realise Severus was disconcerted, and as he looked from his palm to her face a few tears broke free down his pale cheeks. Rose flung her arms around his neck and placed a soft kiss on his cheek, where the tears ran. "Owwch." 

Severus wrapped his arms around her and held the small girl tightly to his chest in a strong hug. "Thank you for making it better Rose" he whispered tremulously and Hermione saw her daughter smile into the hug. A real honest to goodness smile. 

It was then as she took in the broken picture frame, and Severus's actions that she fully understood. 

Severus would die to protect Rose. 

He put himself between her and a perceived danger without a moment's hesitation, or consideration for his own well-being.

And Hermione knew then, as she watched her daughter and the stern man hugging and smiling, that without a doubt...she loved him. 

Chapter Text

AN: Sorry guys, once more that pesky thing 'real life' cropped up and smacked me with the proverbial baseball bat.

I'm afraid it's a short one, but just wanted to make sure you all knew I hadn't abandoned you!


It was then as she took in the broken picture frame, and Severus's actions that she fully understood.

Severus would die to protect Rose.

He put himself between her and a perceived danger without a moment's hesitation, or consideration for his own well-being.

And Hermione knew then, as she watched her daughter and the stern man hugging and smiling, that without a doubt...she loved him.


After that night, a new routine was born. Though Rose adored her mother, story time became Rose and Severus's time. A lesser woman might be jealous, but Hermione knew he daughter needed this, and she couldn't help but believe Severus needed it too. So it came to be that every night hence, Rose would promptly deposit herself in Severus's lap, regardless of what he was doing, much to his faux consternation, armed with her book and more often than not Herman. Hermione couldn't get enough of listening to Severus's 'reading voice', as she fondly watched the stern man cuddling the pyjama clad girl, along with subtly doing the 'voices' of the various characters in her book, as he feigned a put upon sigh. Though Hermione knew, he was secretly thrilled. And she wasn't imagining it, when many more children's books began to fill the lower shelves of his bookcase.

The first time Rose fell asleep in Severus's arms when he was reading to her, Hermione fell in love with him a little more. She watched him cradle the small girl to his chest, like she was the most precious thing in the world as he carefully carried her up to bed. She watched as he gently removed her slippers and dressing gown, before tucking her into her bed and making sure Herman was within her reach. As she watched his gentle actions, the thought struck her that this was what a true father did, and what Rose had never experienced. That she had never seen any hint of true paternal affection with Ronald and his overtly jealous, overbearing actions. Ron had treated her like a possession, something he jealously owned and guarded. Severus cherished her, like a real father should. And relished in her happiness. And in that moment she thought to herself, the fact that Severus would never have children of his own, seemed unfathomably cruel.

oOo

The deep voice of Severus Snape rumbled in the room as he read to Rose. Hermione smiled as she watched her daughter, totally engrossed in Severus and the story he was reading to her. Her own book in front of her, more often that not, a forgotten pretence as she listened to Severus read to her daughter.

'You're not my real mum'

T he little girl laughed at the goat,

Who was wearing mummy's coat.

'Mummies make you happy when you feel sad,

And mummies make you feel better when you feel bad'.

'Mummies are cookies, and kisses, and hugs,

You're just a goat who's covered in bugs!'.

'That's what real mummies are made of!'.

Severus's voice hitched, and Hermione looked up at him nervously, for a moment she thought he would stop the story right there, for it did not take a genius to know what the next section would entail, and she had thought's of removing the book in favour of another, but Rose had chosen this book and her small hand pressing on the page had him starting up once more, even if his voice was shakier than it started. Her heart twanged painfully in her chest, as she thought of all the other unforeseen hurdles they would come across as Rose grew, if something as simple as choosing a book at story time could be so complicated and shadowed by Ron's actions.

'You're not my real dad'

The little girl laughed at the rat

Who was wearing daddy's hat.

'Daddies keep you safe when you're scared,

And you can count on daddy, he's always there'.

'Daddies are playtime, stories and laughs,

and you're just a rat,  you silly riffraff!'

'That's what real daddies are made of!'

As Hermione watched the stoic man place a gentle kiss on the girl's curly hair, Hermione couldn't help but think to herself, that it was indeed what daddies were made of.

oOo

A couple of nights later, a sleepy Rose was wearing her fluffy onesie pyjamas as she sucked her thumb, while seated on Severus's lap. She'd taken to reclining against Severus's chest, utterly at ease with him and Severus was part way through reading the storybook, when after giving him such a determined and discerning look she pointed to something in the book. "Atch Aboo"
Hermione's eyes quickly snapped from her own book to Severus. His own black eyes were intensely wide and unbelieving, as he gazed upon the girl in his lap with open astonishment.
"Aboo ra"
There were no discernible words, but Hermione didn't care and nor did Severus when their watery eyes met. Rose leaned back into Severus once more and grabbed a handful of his long hair that she twirled in her hand, as the other hand continued to switch between sucking her thumb and pointing out certain parts of the book, along with the continuing litany of vowel sounds and noises. Both Hermione and Severus could barely contain their emotion. Hermione had to get up and retreat to the kitchen, falling back on the traditional British cure for all ailments as she set the kettle to boiling and got the tea cups out, overwhelmed with emotion. Severus cleared his throat and subtly wiped the dampness from his eyes as he continued to read and the formerly silent Rose, began babbling to him.

Chapter Text

Hermione had to get up and retreat to the kitchen, falling back on the traditional British cure for all ailments as she set the kettle to boiling and got the tea cups out, overwhelmed with emotion. Severus cleared his throat and subtly wiped the dampness from his eyes as he continued to read and the formerly silent Rose, began babbling to him.

It was a few days to the hearing, and something had to give. Hermione was being strong, exceptionally so, and had been since she arrived, though Severus knew she would not be able to remain so forever. Severus was also having mixed emotions in regards to the bond he was developing with Rose. He adored Rose, was besotted with her. She was every bit the replica of her mother; kind, generous and caring. But he couldn't help but feel that he was being selfish, by spending so much time with her. Hermione for her part seemed content to allow them to do as they wish, but he couldn't help feeling like he was almost alienating her from her own daughter, though what concerned him more was that she was letting him.

It all came to a head when they were making plans for the day of the hearing, and of all things were planning what to wear. Rose was already in bed, and Severus and Hermione were planning out their formal outfits for the day when he heard her hitching breaths. Turning, he saw he flipping through the clothes, in an excessively forceful manner. One of the first things he'd been taught as a young man about women, was to never come between women and clothes, so though her distress bothered him, he did not intervene. However when a few minutes later a pair of robes were thrown and the wall and promptly incinerated, he decided it was time to step in.

Hermione had collapsed to the floor and was crying, wracking sobs as he hands covered her face. Carefully he approached her, kneeling in front of her small form and reaching out to run his hands down her arms in a soothing manner. When she didn't protest that, he pulled her into his embrace. She went willingly, and pressed her head into his chest, arms wrapping around him like devils snare.

"Talk to me, Hermione. Allow me to be there for you, share your burden" The dam had finally burst, her control that she'd held onto so tightly, had finally broke as she tearfully spilled all of her previously guarded thoughts and fears.

She told him everything, and Severus got to see first hand the utterly complex and contradictory thought process of guilt in the female mind.

She spoke of her anger with her career, for the sheer political shit show she'd dealt with and her anger at herself for not quitting sooner and allowing herself to put up with it for so long, but also she was equally angry with herself that she had quit, and hadn't stuck it out as she'd felt was her duty as she'd wanted a career so much.

She was furious at Ronald, of course that went without saying, but then she was feeling guilty for the small part of her that missed him, and wept for the man now lost to her, who'd been the boy who'd been a huge part of her life since she was 11 years old. Her first kiss, her first love, her first, her husband, the father of her child.

She was horrified at what had happened to Rose, and a small part of her was angry that the girl had not told her anything, and then she was both ashamed and furious with herself for feeling that way.

She was bittersweet about Rose's relationship with Severus. A part of her wished that Rose had that relationship with her real father, and then she felt guilty for feeling that way. She loved the fact Rose was opening up to Severus, but was also slightly jealous of it, and guilty for feeling jealous when she should just be happy for Rose. But was also jealous of the attention Rose got from Severus, wishing that she could be closer to the man herself.

But most of all, she was saddened by the distance she felt from the pair of them, which she freely admitted was self imposed, because she felt like a failure as a mother and did not deserve to be that close to her daughter.

And finally she admitted the thing that frightened her most of all, her romantic feelings for Severus, her shame that she'd hidden it from him but also that she'd now burdened him with it, and the feeling of utter selfishness she felt for feeling that way about him and potentially putting him in a difficult position, but being unable to deny it any longer.

Stuttering to a hiccuping finish, she ended with "And I can't find any robes that don't make my arse look big."

He couldn't help it, he snickered. Her watery eyes met his and he actually chuckled. She attempted to glare at him, but couldn't maintain it, and he face broke into a grin even as she still hiccuped a sob, as she lent her head against his chest.

"My sweet girl, you are a good mother, and there is no reason to feel guilty for the inner workings of your mind. It was an unfathomable situation and you did the very best that anyone could've expected of you, this isolation will stop now, do you hear me?"

She nodded against his chest, and he found himself holding back a smile when he realised she was playing with a lock of his hair, the same way that Rose often did.

"And as for the last thing...to quote a rather knowledgeable source, I would not worry about your arse in those robes, because it's damn fine"

Chapter Text

"My sweet girl, you are a good mother, and there is no reason to feel guilty for the inner workings of your mind. It was an unfathomable situation and you did the very best that anyone could've expected of you, this isolation will stop now, do you hear me?"

She nodded against his chest, and he found himself holding back a smile when he realised she was playing with a lock of his hair, the same way that Rose often did.

"And as for the last thing...to quote a rather knowledgeable source, I would not worry about your arse in those robes, because it's damn fine"


It was the day after Hermione's meltdown, and subsequent confession and the two of them were dancing around each other. Nothing more had been said about how Hermione had admitted her feelings about Severus, nor of his flirtatious complement of her derriere.

So what if her hand brushed his when she passed him something, and her fingers trailed softly along the back of his hand?
Or if her hair fell in front of her face when she was reading, and he tucked it behind her ear for her?
So what if she kissed his cheek when she passed him a cup of tea?
And it was only natural when he passed her in the kitchen that his hand stroked her lower back.

They each shot each other hungry looks when they thought the other wasn't looking, but though these casual touches were becoming more and more frequent, and welcomed by both parties, there seemed to be a line that both of them were afraid to cross and were holding back because of it.

For Hermione she was afraid to upset the status quo. Her and Rose were settled with Severus, and Rose especially was becoming so comfortable and coming out of her shell, she didn't want to do anything to disturb that. But also she worried that it was too soon, she'd only just divorced Ronald, and she was not the kind of person to enter into something lightly, was she ready for another long term relationship? She had Rose to think about as well, for Rose clearly loved Severus as much as he loved her, if they were to date and things went sour, how would that impact Rose?

Severus was likewise conflicted. He too was afraid to upset the balance. He didn't want to be seen as coming on too strong, for he was intent that he wanted her, wanted them both to keep. He didn't want to date her, he wanted to court her. For once he had her, he had no intentions of letting them go. Though adamant as he was for the love he bore them both, he had an internal dichotomy that pressed at his mind. He wanted them, but he did not deserve them. They deserved better than him, they had both been through hell and he did not want her to make a decision she would most likely regret, because she was not in the right frame of mind to make it.

So as much as they both plainly wanted each other, and made small casual innocent touches, they also skirted around each other just as often. Apologising if they got too close, and blushing fiercely at time when they caught each other looking, or backing up when the other passed to avoid accidental contact. It got to the point where it became so obvious that even Rose noticed, and was babbling at them in admonishment with a frown creasing her forehead that was so similar to Severus's Hermione was convinced she'd learned it from the man.

oOo

It was Hermione who broke first. "Severus, what are we doing, can we please talk about the pink erumpent in the room?" He'd looked at her askance, before swallowing cautiously "What do you mean?" Sighing, she rubbed her hands over her eyes. "What I mean is, things haven't been this awkward with us since I was breastfeeding Rose and accidentally flashed you my tit." He blushed almost scarlet at the memory and she just chuckled wryly.

"Please can we talk this out? Because tomorrow is the hearing, and in a few hours we have to go to bed, and before that I would really like to know where we stand...or lay should that be the case"

"What exactly is it that you want?" He asked carefully. "Full disclosure. All cards on the table. I need to know what this - " She gestured between the two of them. "...Is, or if there even is a this, or if I'm crazy for wanting there to be a this and I'm the only 'the' in this and -" Whatever she was going to say was cut short when Severus had carefully dragged her into a seat in his lap, and very gently pressed a kiss to her lips.

Hermione looked at him dazed when she opened her eyes. "Hermione. I have to admit that I hold great affection for you, though I have many concerns that your affection for me may be somewhat influenced by the events that are pressing on your mind, as such I wish to wait until the hearing is over and done with before making any firm decisions. Know that no matter what happens, I shall always consider you a treasured friend though let me make this plain for you. Once the hearing is over, should you be willing and receptive to my advances, it is my intent to officially court you."

She was still for a moment, and then a beautiful smile broke across her face. "I would like that very much Severus" and she returned his soft and gentle kiss on the lips, before pulling away for a moment. 

"There's another thing though...Rose...Rose loves you Severus, you know that right?" 

He inclined his head and spoke carefully, not meeting her eyes. "Just so. And I have to admit, her affections are returned, which is why I..." He cut himself off and looked away, but she encouraged him to speak. "Why you what?" 

Clearing his throat he took a parchment from the side table and handed it to her. "I apologise, I had not intended to do this now."  He looked away once he passed it to her . "Is this the one that came from Gringotts the day before yesterday?" She asked as she began unrolling it. "Indeed" He confirmed.

She began to read and her breath caught in her throat.

"Severus...is this?" 

"Indeed" 

"Severus I don't know what to say, I..."

"There's nothing to say, on this I am immovable" 

Tears dripped freely down her face as she studied the parchment in her hands. 

Severus Snape had officially made Rose his heir. 

Chapter Text

"Severus I don't know what to say, I..."

"There's nothing to say, on this I am immovable"

Tears dripped freely down her face as she studied the parchment in her hands.

Severus Snape had officially made Rose his heir.


"This came the day before yesterday" She reiterated softly through her tears.

"Faw" came the echoed word from Rose. She was often mimicking partial word sounds now, in addition to babbling.

After offering an indulgent smile to Rose "Yes." He confirmed once more, though there was a slight questioning lilt to his tones.

"A whole day before we admitted..before we discussed...just before." She finished lamely.

"Indeed, Firstly I shall not take offence at the very subtle insinuation, " He offered wryly with narrowed eyes, and she had the good grace to blush in embarrassment, resting a hand on his as she kissed his cheek in apology. "But this has no bearing whatsoever on what we spoke of about us yesterday, or indeed it has no bearing on us at all. Which is why I am immovable on this subject. I have been arranging this for a while and this is between myself and Rose, when she is old enough to fully understand...unless of course, as her mother and guardian you wish to contest it?"

The last few words were spoken cautiously, and he looked at her shyly through the curtain of his hair.

"Tess" Came Rose's echo.

"You sweet, sweet man" She whispered, before dropping a gentle kiss on his lips. "Of course I won't challenge it. I think it's a beautiful, wonderful thing you've done Severus, and Rose is ever so lucky to have you in her life. We both are."

He actually breathed a sigh of relief, and leaned into her. He was sitting in his chair, and she was sat across his lap. He rested his forehead on her chest and she leaned her cheek on his head, wrapping her arms around him, as he did the same. They held each other close for a few moments until Severus felt a tug on his arm.

Turning his head from the comfortable position upon Hermione's breast, he found Rose at his side, colouring abandoned on the floor and arms outstretched.

"uu"

Chuckling he helped her up, where she promptly deposited herself on the other side of his lap,after kissing his cheek. Smiling Hermione wrapped her arms around the girl, cradling her to Severus's side, and Rose smiled widely at her mother. After Severus dropped a kiss on Rose's head, she dropped her head onto his chest and began sucking her thumb, the other hand coming to twirl in his hair.

Feeling warmer and more content than he could ever remember being, he chuckled and pulled on one of Rose's curls, making it spring back, before repeating the action on Hermione. "Carry on twirling my hair like that Rose, and at this rate it shall end up as curly as yours and your mother's" Rose giggled "urr lee" but pointedly didn't stop playing with his hair, and both girls smiled at the feel of the deep laugh that rumbled in his chest.

Hermione summoned a blanket to cover them and dimmed the lights, as Severus wrapped his arms around both of them, holding them securely into his sides. Rose already had heavy eyes, and Hermione pillowed her head on the other side of his chest. "You are the death of all productivity woman, I had work to do today and now I find myself trapped in place by two spider monkeys" Eyes shut and a smile fixed upon her mouth, Hermione replied from her position pillowed on his broad chest. "Shut up Severus, you love cuddling, but I won't tell anyone, now go to sleep." He didn't reply, simply chuckled, a smirk affixed on his own mouth. He couldn't deny her words, as asinine as they were, because frankly...he really did love the cuddling. Closing his eyes, he slept.


The next morning, he wished for nothing more than the quiet peace they'd had the day before, as they all napped together in his armchair. Hermione was fretting, and had bitten her nails down to the quick as she worried at them. Rose had been stressed and fussy, sensing her mother's disquiet. Hermione was like a live wire, fretting from one thing to the next, alternating between holding back tears, and snapping harshly at Severus. So Rose was clinging to Severus's legs and the stability he offered.

Unbeknown to Rose, Severus's inner turmoil was just as turbulent as Hermione's, if not even more so. In fact he had more than once entertained the thought of withdrawing all his money from Gringotts, throwing both of them over his shoulders and apparating to some foreign country where the ministry would never find them. Though he doubted that Hermione would approve of his plan... however as she packed and repacked her handbag for the third time, he thought at this moment in time she might actually go with it. Fortunately however, years of subterfuge meant he carefully concealed his true feelings so Rose was gravitating to the calm demeanour that he was outwardly showing, the opposite of Hermione's frazzled actions.

The chime for the floo activated, and Severus dropped the wards to allow them entry, lifting Rose onto his hip and carrying her down the stairs with him, to allow Hermione to get her meltdown out of her system in peace.

Three familiar blonde heads quickly came into sight, as they walked into the living room. He turned to regard the small girl on his hip. "Do you want to go say hello to Scorpius?" He asked and the girl nodded very seriously, which made him smile.

He placed her on the ground and she ran over to meet her friend. The widely grinning Scorpius upon spotting her quickly waved a chubby arm in greeting, the exuberance of youth meaning he was unaware of the gravitas of their situation. He was a very affectionate child, who usually was hugging or kissing whatever adult was within his grasp, but the bright young boy had soon learned not to be too 'forward' with Rose, unless she made the first move. Rose smiled shyly at the little blonde boy and hugged him cautiously. Permission granted, and the grin the boy was sporting turned megawatt as he returned her hug enthusiastically, whilst greeting her. "Hullo Wose, lub you" which was returned with a very quiet "Peeyus". Rose's limited verbosity aside, Scorpius was not the easiest name for a child to pronounce.

Nodding in greeting to a smiling Draco and Lucius, he fondly recalled the first meeting between the two young toddlers a couple of weeks ago.


He'd warned Hermione that they were having guests and she had of course told Rose, but that didn't stop them both worrying about how the young girl would react.

They were waiting in the living room when the chime sounded, Hermione sat on the sofa with Rose upon her knee, and after a nodded confirmation from Hermione, Severus lifted the wards to allow their guests entry.

Two impeccably dressed blonde Slytherins stepped out of the floo and were joined by a very brightly smiling toddler balancing on Draco's hip. "Hullo Unca" he waved with a smile as he saw Severus, and Severus smiled indulgently. "Welcome to my home, young master Scorpius" and the boy giggled at his formality.

He heard both Lucius and Draco greeting Hermione, but was completely overtaken by the wondrous look of happiness that had overtaken Scorpius's face. He struggled to get down, and Draco conceded after giving him a quick warning. "Rose is shy Scorpius, remember your manners"

The boy rushed over to the sofa, quickly finding a seat next to Hermione. Rose was shyly watching him through her hair.

"hullo am skor-pee-us, was you name" Rose buried her head a bit further into her mother's chest, but shyly smiled at him. "Hello Scorpius, it's lovely to meet such a polite young man, I'm Hermione and this is Rose. Say Hello Rose" Rose waved with a small smile and Scorpius beamed at them. Standing on his tiptoes he kissed Hermione on the cheek, and then Rose, who smiled and giggled at the grey eyed boy. "nice meet you" he said as he fell back onto sitting on his bum, the smile yet to leave his face as he stared at them in wonder. "You hair prettee" he said to Rose and she smiled and signed to him. He looked confused for a moment until Hermione spoke. "Rose is very shy Scorpius, she finds it easier to talk with her hands" She copied the three signs that Rose had used, speaking slowly as she did so the toddler could follow. "Your. Eyes. are Pretty"

The boys megawatt smile returned then and he quickly copied the sign for "pretty" that Hermione had shown him. It was actually the sign for 'beautiful', but pretty was easier for the children to understand.

"YOU eyes prettee." He said pointing to her and doing the 'beautiful' sign. "You hair prettee. You evree think prettee. You my friend?"

Rose smiled to him, really smiled at the affectionate young boy who was doing his best to communicate with her. She nodded and Hermione smiled to Severus.

Scorpius's keen eyes hadn't missed the art supplies that had been left out.

"We play?" He pointed to them and to the amusement of the adults he pointed to her and then to himself. "Me You Play?" He really was an astute young boy. Much to Hermoine's Surprise Rose nodded, and both she and Severus were gobsmacked when a grinning Scorpius grabbed her hand, and Rose went willingly with him over to the art supplies, without a second look at her mother.

Hermione just smiled indulgently at them before smiling brightly to Severus and the other two Slytherin men.

"Draco, how exactly did you raise a little darling like that?" She asked wryly.  Ice broken between them, Draco just snorted and smirked at her. "Just because you're immune to the Malfoy charm, doesn't mean everyone is" He said and Hermione laughed.

"Look at the poor boy, he's besotted" Lucius drawled, and the adults watched as the small boy exuberantly played with Rose. It seemed that upon learning Rose didn't speak, Scorpius had decided to speak enough for the both of them. He was waxing lyrical about Rose's art work, and every now and again he would point at something on Rose and give the 'beautiful' sign. Everything from her nose, to her hands to her shoes.

"He's a sweetheart" Hermione said as she came to stand with the other adults. "This will do him good as well I think" Draco admitted to her. "He just wants to be friends with everybody, and doesn't understand why people won't let their children play with him" She didn't miss the way he stroked his hand down his left arm, or the look of guilt on Lucius's face and sympathy on Severus's.

"Well if there's one thing Rose is, it's loyal, I think he's got a friend for life" Severus admitted and Hermione nodded. They took some time to watch the children, before they sat down to discuss the trial.

When they were ready to leave Scorpius started to cry, which set off Rose, and they had two tearful toddlers on their hands. Scorpius wouldn't let go of Rose until Hermione taught him the signs for 'love' and 'friend' and Scorpius spent five minutes telling Rose how much he 'loved' his 'friend' , and the adults had to promise them they could meet again that week, so upset were the pair of them. 


And so began their 'playdates'. Twice a week for the past for past fortnight, either Lucius or Draco would turn up with an overly excited Scorpius, who always insisted on bringing something for Rose and Hermione. Usually sweets or flowers, or once a pack of crayons for Rose.

"So, are you ready old friend?" Lucius asked him. 

"As ready as we can be, I think, given what we're about to endure"  He responded, as Hermione finally approached from upstairs. 

"Well then, let's go" 

And with a deep breath, they made their way to the ministry. 

Chapter Text

"So, are you ready old friend?" Lucius asked him.

"As ready as we can be, I think, given what we're about to endure" He responded, as Hermione finally approached from upstairs.

"Well then, let's go"

And with a deep breath, they made their way to the ministry.


Rose did not like the ministry atrium. It was far too busy and hectic, mulling with people. Even with a promptly placed 'notice me not' charm so that nobody paid attention to the group as they made their way through the crowds to towards the private courtrooms, they were still surrounded by hastily moving witches and wizards.

"muh muh up plees" Rose was quickly begging Hermione to be carried, which she did straight away. Over the past couple of days as Rose had been mimicking more and more noises, she'd started to speak to her mother, frequently addressing her as muh (mum), muh muh (mumma) or muh mee (mummy). Hermione of course was thrilled for Rose to finally be addressing her in any form, but at the same time Rose couldn't understand why sometimes her mother was tearing up when she spoke to her, though Severus knew that for Hermione, having her daughter finally speaking and to call her mummy, just as she was about to go to court to possibly have her parental rights snatched away from her, was almost too much to bare.

Hermione held onto Rose tightly as they walked through the ministry's halls, and Severus walked beside her, his hand resting on the small of her back. Nothing of his inner gut wrenching turmoil showed on his face, as he fought to occlude his true emotions and give a brave front for the women beside him. They needed him to be strong right now.

Scorpius, though usually exuberant, was also quiet in Draco's arms. Sensing the tension in all the adults, even if he didn't understand the reason behind it.

They reached the waiting area for the private rooms and Hermione exhaled a shaky breath, as she held Rose tighter to her.

"With any luck, this nonsense will all end here" Draco spoke to her, but Hermione snorted. "Because we've had so much of that so far" and even Lucius's eyes softened in sympathy.

With the Slytherin connections behind them, Lucius had managed to get Molly to agree to a private pre-trial hearing. With any luck they would be able to settle this between them without it having to go to a public wizegamot.

Severus was practically shaking, and only the sheer force of his occlumency was keeping his facade from crumbling. Though it was an atrocious act that brought them to him, having them back in his lives the last few months had made him happier than he had ever been, and the mere thought of Rose being dragged away from Hermione and himself to live in abject fear with the Weasleys was tearing him apart.

On entering the room they were met with Molly, Arthur and Percy all seated together on one side of the long table. Percy sniffed haughtily and looked on disdainfully, as Molly sent a tight lipped glare towards the Slytherin contingent that surrounded her. Arthur just offered a soft smile to Hermione and waved softly to Rose, he looked older than the last time she'd seen him. Scorpius, being the boy he was also waved to Arthur with a smile, Arthur smiled softly and waved to him too, until an elbow in the ribs and a vicious scowl from Molly stopped him.

There was silence for a while, as the judge asked if all who were attending had arrived, and they were informed by Molly (who had yet to acknowledge Hermione in any way) that they were still waiting for more 'character witnesses'. Just as she finished speaking, the door banged open and in walked George Weasley sporting technicolor hair and surprisingly enough Charlie.

"Sorry we're late your honour but there was a niffler and goblin outside Gringotts and..."

"Oh just sit down will you George!" Molly snapped.

"Righto" He said with a salute, and promptly deposited himself in a seat.

On Hermione's side of the table.

Charlie swiftly followed.

"Boys, you're supposed to sit with the people you side with!" Molly snapped gesturing to the empty chairs beside her, and it was Charlie who answered, calmly and levelly.

"We are."

Molly looked apoplectic, while Arthur just nodded in greeting to his sons.

The judge wasn't going to wait any longer, and so they began.

oOo

It was bad. In fact it was awful.

She twisted all the facts to suit her needs, about how Hermione had heartlessly insisted on abandoning Rose and leaving to work, leaving her poor Ronald sole carer for the girl, which she would neglect upon her return.

Molly was on the warpath, and damningly enough she'd managed somehow to get hold of the fact that Hermione had hexed a nurse at St Mungos. She continued to bolster at full steam ahead, about Hermione's many flaws, even bringing out old copies of the prophet from the time of the triwizard tournament when Rita Skeeter was posting damning stories about her as though she was some bed hopping harlot. 

When she finally ran out of steam, Severus was at last able to offer their side of the argument. Under veritaserum, he swore to what he'd seen in Rose's mind and they had the medical records from St. Mungo's. 

"These are filthy lies!" She'd spewed, though was interrupted by the entrance of another Weasley. Bill.

"Stop this Mother, this needs to end" Bill spoke in the calm and commanding tone of voice he was known for. The cursebreaker was a formidable wizard.

"William, she's spreading filthy lies about our Ronald and trying to take Rose away from me!"

"They're not lies Mother, I believe Hermione and so should you." 

Molly's face turned red with anger as she snapped back at her eldest.

"You can't possibly know that, Ronald wouldn't do that, these are all lies to cover up the fact that she's a no good-"

"I do know it mother, and this ridiculous farce ends here now, Hermione doesn't deserve this and you're upsetting Rose!"

"There's no way you could know that William, how could you possibly-"

But Bill cut her off before she could finish protesting, and her face turned ashen at his words.

"Because he tried it with Victoire too."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"I do know it mother, and this ridiculous farce ends here now, Hermione doesn't deserve this and you're upsetting Rose!"

"There's no way you could know that William, how could you possibly-"

But Bill cut her off before she could finish protesting, and her face turned ashen at his words.

"Because he tried it with Victoire too."


The whole sordid tale came out then, and Molly simply sat ashen as she took in everything that Bill told her.

About a year ago Ron had stayed at Shell cottage for a night to babysit Victoire and Dominique whilst Fleur and Bill had a date night. Ron had attempted to assault Victoire in the bath, the same way that he had with Rose, under the guise of cleaning her. Though due to her Veela heritage gained from her mother, Fleur had made sure to teach victoire from a young age about sex, and the young girl had called her uncle out on his actions. Telling him that he was trying to touch her in a 'bad place' and she was going to tell her mother if he did. The boy had of course panicked, and stopped, and tried to talk it off. Victoire had carried on bathing herself, and allowed her uncle Ron to dress her, but had stalwartly refused to leave her younger sister Dominique with the man, despite his protestations. She'd insisted on helping him bath her, and had insisted on the girl sleeping in the bed with her, much to his annoyance.

Bill, not wanting to believe what his daughter was saying, had hoped that it was just a misunderstanding on the young girls part, and that her uncle really was just being thorough when he bathed her, and that he only wanted to get Dominique alone in case the other child was getting in the way, after all he was a doting father to his own young daughter.

Bill had spent a lot of time living in egypt, and it was a lot easier for him to carrying on swimming in that well known Egyptian river, than accept what might've happened in his own home.

Regardless of the fact that they had both agreed to push this to the back of their mind and convince themselves of his innocence, Bill and Fleur had not invited him back since.

When the news had reached them of Hermione's trial, and subsequently what Ron had been accused of, they had finally realised the truth of his attempted actions that day, unable to deny it any further, and were only thankful that it had stopped where it had, that their precocious young girl had known enough to call him out and not allow him to be alone with her younger sister, for Bill with the wolf-like effects of greyback's attack, and Fleur with her veela heritage... neither would have hesitated to kill the boy if he had touched either of their children.

oOo

Molly's case began to unravel after the declaration from Bill, and when he repeated his testimony under veritaserum she sat back in her chair and barely spoke, though kept casting forlorn glances at Rose, muttering to herself and shaking her head.

Even Percy had grown nervous, and had left to floo call his wife, for Percy himself had a young daughter.

When an ashen faced Percy returned half an hour later, it was with a similar story to Bill and a new seat filled on Hermione's side of the table.

Like Victoire, Ronald had also been inappropriate to Percy's daughter. He had not done anything untoward...yet, but it was clear to all assembled that he had been grooming her. It had started shortly after his failed attempt with Victoire. He'd seemingly realised that he could not push his luck with other children like he did his own, and instead of going to straight to assaulting her, as he had attempted with Victoire, he had instead spent a lot of time grooming her. Talking to her, touching her under the guise of familial affection, stroking her hair and such. All things that under duress could be explained away, but had made the girl uncomfortable enough to tell her parents when asked that she didn't like spending time with her uncle, something that was could be easily written off simply as childhood dramatics. Though when added together with what was already known about him, it created a damning picture. Furthermore while Percy was speaking to his wife and daughter through the ministry floo, his young son had chimed in with the fact that he didn't like how his uncle was always making him sit on his lap, even when he didn't want to.

It was with the realisation that Ronald didn't reserve his affections just for the girls, that Hermione began to wonder if there might have been another reason why Harry and Ginny had both been suddenly so adamant on leaving to relocate to the states last year, with their sons in tow.

oOo

The case began to unravel at the seams then, and finally ended with the appearance and testimony from the mediwitch that was 'hexed' by Hermione. The same mediwitch who'd thankfully handed the card to Severus. She stalwartly refused to press charges against Hermione, testifying to the state of mind of the woman when she arrived at Mungos, along with the state of injury of herself and her daughter.

When all was said and done, there was only one argument left to Molly, which she attempted to push through despite the only Weasley being sat at her side was Arthur. And even he seemed as though he was not actively taking her side, but simply so shell-shocked that he was no longer taking in the proceedings at all.

Molly argued that Hermione had no means to care for the girl and no suitable home to raise her in, or provide for her, though those were quickly squashed when Severus spoke up.

Hermione sat in stunned silence when Severus claimed them both in the courts.

"They are under my protection" He had said simply, and that had garnered a few sharp looks from the people in the courts. Arthur, Bill, Even Draco and Lucius seemed a little taken aback.

Molly froze for a moment before speaking "You cannot! You have no authority-"

"As Lord Prince, I have claimed them both, do you wish to challenge me?" He'd asked coolly and Molly had stopped, mouth agape mid tirade.

"You finally accepted the title?" Lucius asked almost breathlessly, and he looked as shocked as Hermione had ever seen the man, but Severus cool as ever simply inclined his head in affirmation.

There was a tense moment where they waited for a Molly's response. All the Weasley children looked immensely worried, though none spoke. Having finally laid claim to the title that was his by birthrate, Severus had automatically, being the last heir of the prince line, become Lord Prince and gained all the titles, wealth and prestige that went along with it.

As Lord of an extremely highborn family, Severus was well within his right to 'claim' both Hermione and her daughter under his protection. To challenge his claim, in old pureblood terms was to insinuate he was unfit or unable to care for them, and was grounds for at the best a blood feud, and at the worst a duel of honor to the death.

As Matriach of the Weasley Family, Molly could make such a challenge.

After a moment her eyes narrowed, and her lips moved but before she could speak, Arthur cut in.

"No Lord Prince. We make no such challenge. As Head of my family I accept your claim, and would continue to call you friend despite it."

Severus inclined his head to Arthur, as Molly sat down in a huff. Arthur was the only person who technically outranked her, browbeaten or not.

Hermione offered a sad smile to Arthur, which was returned and once again she couldn't help but think how old he looked.

"Then it is settled, we move to close this case. Hermione Granger has proven beyond all reasonable doubt she is of sound mind and a fit guardian for her daughter, and as Lord Prince has claimed them under his protection, she is not without means to support her so-"

A triumphant gleam hit Molly's eye, and she quickly leant over and whispered something to the judge, before wiping her tears on her handkerchief.

The judge considered for a moment, before he nodded to himself.

"Hermione Granger, I find no reason to call you an unfit guardian, therefore all charges of neglect and instability are hereby dismissed." There was a collective sigh of relief from Hermione's side, and a whoop from George before the judge continued.

"-However. I can find no legal reason to deny the child's grandparents reasonable access to her. They have done no wrong, and as such I deem it unreasonable for you to continue to isolate your child from her other family and hinder them access as you have done to this point. The child grandparents are head of their house, and have proven themselves to be good and trustworthy people. You will not unreasonably withdraw visitation privileges, and starting from today the child's grandparents will be permitted sole guardianship of her on weekends to allow them to make up time with the child they have until now been denied. As today is Saturday, the child will return home with the Weasleys to be returned to yours and Lord Prince's care on Monday. This hearing is closed and my decision final"

"No! You can't!" Hermione stood and made to back away from the room, holding tightly to Rose as Molly moved forward to take her.

There was uproar from the others, until the judge forcibly silenced anyone who was not directly involved in the case. It left a number of seething onlookers, with only Arthur and Molly, Hermione, Severus and Lucius still with the ability to speak.

"You can't ! You can't do that to her, you-" Hermione was crying and desperately backing away as Molly still moved to take Rose. Arthur was stood, looking conflicted between Rose, Hermione and his wife and Severus was seething.

"ORDER. Miss Granger control yourself before I begin to question my decision on your state of mind!" The judge growled.

"Please! Please your honor, Rose will be terrified she's rarely been to the burrow she doesn't like it, doesn't know it she -"

"A problem of your own making Miss Granger, for isolating her this long, challenge me again and I will hold you in contempt of court!"

Hermione was sobbing as Severus was fighting the urge to hex when Lucius quickly stepped up an spoke, putting a hand on both their shoulders as he spoke in a harsh whisper to them both.

"Heed my warning friends. The hardest part of politics is knowing when to stop fighting. Do not sacrifice the war you have just won for this single battle. I can get this overturned in time, but for now I would agree to this short compromise or see the war lost and her taken forever."

Hermione sobbed as she held onto Rose tightly, but after a moment nodded gingerly as Severus shook with repressed emotion.

Rose was hanging tightly to her mother when Molly came to take her, despite the vicious glares she was getting from the rest of the people in the room. Including the aurors at the door, and the secretaries who had been noting the minutes of the case.

"Come here Poppett, come to Nana Molly"

Hermione was sobbing as Molly took hold of Rose. And Severus was occluding so dangerously heavily, that his body felt like concrete, his blood pumped round his heart like battery acid, and his stomach was taking a vacation in his shoes, yet his face remained expressionless.

Rose immediately began to cry as Molly held her and she desperately held on to her mother. But molly un-threaded the small girls arms and finally took her from her grasp.

Immediately rose began sobbing and crying harshly, reached back for her mother and shouting. "muh-mee. Muh-mee no" her face was red and tears and snot ran down her face as she desperately fought to get out of Molly's grip, arms outstretched towards her mother.

When she called for her and reached her arms out, sobbing all the while, Hermione, sobbing herself made to move forward and grab the girl back but their hands barely brushed before she was held back by each arm, by the stoic forms of Lucius and Draco.

Blood rushing in his ears, Severus felt like he was underwater as he watched the scene unfold from behind his occlumency. The dangerously high walls were all that were keeping him in place. Rose was sobbing so hard she was hiccoughing, on the verge of being sick. Hermione was sobbing so hard she had fallen to her knees and only Lucius's arms were supporting her.

Scorpius was screaming, sobbing and crying for rose, and Draco had to grab him and pull him back as the boy had barrelled through them all and made to run towards her. The toddler was kicking and screaming in Dracos arms shouting her name over and over again. "wose. wose. lub you. wose wose" 

The sounds all bled into one constant hum around him, almost indistinguishable, yet so loud he could practically feel the vibrations of it on his skin. 

Until Rose turned and met his eyes.

She was hiccouping, her face pale yet her cheeks flushed. Her eyes sparkled with tears, that were running freely down her face and she was fighting Molly so much that she was sure to have bruises from how hard molly had to hold on to her. 

Tearful blue eyes met his ebony ones, and the cacaphony of noise around him dimmed into utter silence, his occlumency walls crumbled into so much dust, and the acid that was pumping around his blood stream set alight...when two shaky arms reached out imploringly and called to him.  "Daddy" 

Chapter Text

AUTHORS NOTE: I want to apologise for the long delay in updating Father Mine and many of my other stories. I've been in a very dark place over the past few weeks, and it's made it difficult for me to find the energy or the will to write. I hold all of my reviewers and readers in such high esteem that I felt it would be better to wait until I felt more human and give you a shorter chapter, than give you a longer chapter that was sub par when you've waited so long for it.

At times I've been that low over the past few weeks that I was considering things that I haven't in a long time, and it was only the fact that I had promised you all I would leave nothing unfinished, that got me out of bed these past few mornings and stopped me from doing something drastic.

So here's the next instalment of Father Mine for you all, and I'm sorry again for the delay. But I also want to thank you all for the constant support you give me, it really does mean more than you know.


Tearful blue eyes met his ebony ones, and the cacophony of noise around him dimmed into utter silence, his occlumency walls crumbled into so much dust, and the acid that was pumping around his blood stream set alight...when two shaky arms reached out imploringly and called to him. "Daddy"


If anyone would've asked him what happened next, he would have in all honesty been unable to tell them. For the next thing he recalled after Rose's tearful exclamation to him, was the sight of Arthur helping Molly up from the floor, some 20ft away from where he last remembered her being and the aurors looking frantically from him to the judge, who was apopletic with anger and barking instructions.

Rose was a heavy presence in his arms firmly tucked into his side, face pressed into his neck and she continued to hiccup, and hands holding tightly onto his hair. Hermione was tucked under his other arm, her arms wrapped around his chest holding onto both him and Rose as she too sobbed into his chest.

He couldn't even recall how his wand came to be in his hand, but sure enough the arm he had around Hermione ended with the ebony wood clasped tightly in his grip, pointed towards Molly.

The area around them practically hummed with magical energy that he was exuding, that snapped and crackled as it danced on his skin and those around him.

His nostrils flared as he breathed heavily, chest rising and falling as his whole body was on live wires with the adrenaline coursing through his system. The judge barked an order at the aurors, who reluctantly moved forward, though it only took a look from Severus and a almost imperceptible tightening of the grip on his wand for them all to stop in their tracks.

The judge was shouting at the aurors to arrest him, but they were all torn between the choice of doing what was right and siding with Severus, and potentially losing their job for doing so.

Just as the judge went to reach for his wand, and Severus straightened his back prepared to do whatever it takes, the firm voice of Arthur Weasley cut in.

"As Head of My House, I herby vow that I relinquish my claim of custody over Rose"

"Arthur NO!" Molly screeched, but it was done. The magic recognised his claim, as did the law and despite desperately wanting to hex him to oblivion, the Judge left the room with a disgusted sigh and one last angry look at Severus.

"What have you done? How could you?" The woman sobbed and cried but Arthur remained firm.

"It's over Molly. It's Over." The emphasis on his words was not missed, especially by the weasley children and there was a sharp collective inhale from the gathered red heads. Hermione felt that Arthur was talking about more than just the custody battle.

Ever the gentleman, Arthur helped Molly regain her footing, before turning his back on her and approaching Severus. Severus sheathed his wand out of respect, though did not let go of the handle.

Arthur just offered him a sad smile and an apology. "I'm sorry about all of this old friend. Take care of them would you?" Severus inclined his head in responce, and Hermione just offered a watery smile to the kindly old man.

They were only mildly surprised when Arthur offered nods of acknowledgement to both Draco and Lucius as well, and once more with a chuckle indulged Scorpius in a small wave. Having Rose back in Severus's arms had calmed the toddler, and he was halfway back to his usual happy self already.

And without further ceremony, Arthur left the room with the rest of the weasleys following suit. Lucius and Draco subtly said their goodbyes too, and then It was only Molly who remained stood alone and crying, and Percy who loitered in the doorway, no doubt waiting to escort his mother.

Looking upon the broken woman in front of him, Severus felt something stir in his chest as he passed Rose into Hermiones arms. "Wait outside the door, I shall be with you momentarily"

Hermione just looked at Molly wearily, but kissed him on the cheek and did as he asked, for she trusted him implicitly.

Looking at the weeping woman in front of him, it was not hard to dip into her mind. Molly was not a bad woman, deep down, she'd just got a little...lost.

She was hurting from the loss of Fred, hurting from Ron's actions and the subsequent loss of him, hurting at the lack of Rose in her life...and suffering from the biggest case of 'empty nest' syndrome he'd ever witnessed.

"Did you know that after the war, a number of children from Slytherin families were left orphaned" He said casually and Molly met his eyes with her own tearful ones.

"What's your point?" She asked through her tears. As she collapsed into a chair, all the fight having left her.

"Despite many being babies or young children during the war, and still now being many years away being old enough for Hogwarts, they remain in a Ministry orphanage off Diagon Alley, do you know why?" Molly said nothing, but met his eyes, so he continued.

"Because nobody cares about the children of Death Eaters. The majority are under 6. Few have decent clothes that fit them, they have little in the way of toys and resources, many have probably never had a proper home cooked meal in living memory.I help where I can, though they have a strict policy about the children not having influence from families with known ties to the dark, so what I can do is limited"

Meeting her eyes, he watched as she cowed away from the venom in his gaze.

"Rose is lost to you. She is not yours anymore, in fact she never was. She is and always has been Hermione's. And as of today, she is also mine. Until she is old enough to make her own decisions, you will stay away from her"

At that he turned and left the room, with his hand on the door handle he stopped and looked at her over his shoulder.

"Some of those children can't even read" And he heard her sharp intake of breath. "Those children. They need a mother"

With that, he left her alone in the empty courtroom.

Chapter Text

"Rose is lost to you. She is not yours anymore, in fact she never was. She is and always has been Hermione's. And as of today, she is also mine. Until she is old enough to make her own decisions, you will stay away from her"

At that he turned and left the room, with his hand on the door handle he stopped and looked at her over his shoulder.

"Some of those children can't even read" And he heard her sharp intake of breath. "Those children. They need a mother"

With that, he left her alone in the empty courtroom.


They apparated home together, Hermione was of course capable of apparating herself but Severus wanted to do it. No, he needed to do it. The second he had left Molly and the courts behind, he had taken Rose back into his arms and with the young girl balanced on his hip, he tucked Hermione under his other arm, and they made their way out of the private courts and towards the atrium and a vacant apparition point.

The Weasleys were consumed with their own drama after Arthur's declaration, but Severus made sure to acknowledge and return the nods he received from both Lucius and Draco. A part of him felt almost guilty for walking out without at the very least saying goodbye to them, but as he considered the precious burden in his arms, he knew they would both understand and hold no malcontent towards him.

A light flashed as he walked through the atrium, and he snarled in the direction of where it came from but the opportunistic photographer, no doubt well aware of Severus's well-earned reputation, had already disappeared into the throng of people. Hissing angrily through his teeth, he continued steering both of them towards the apparition point. There was a que, but that didn't stop him. The young ministry workers, not many years out of school themselves, were so conditioned to avoiding him in the halls at Hogwarts, that they parted like the red sea to allow the scowling man access, and he turned them into the apparition point and was gone without a moments hesitation.

oOo

Severus had spent years perfecting his apparition until it was quiet, stealthy and almost undetectable. When they arrived in the living room at Spinner's End it was with a large boom reminiscent of a thunderclap and the books shook in their places on their shelves. Something fell and smashed somewhere, but frankly he didn't care. He didn't realise how long he just stood there, in the exact same spot that he arrived in, breathing heavily through his nose and heart racing in his chest fast enough for him to feel it. But it was long enough for Hermione to press a hand to his face in slight concern to get his attention. He turned to her, but didn't move or speak, breath still coming in deep inhales. She just offered him a shaky smile. "I'll put the kettle on, ok?" He managed to nod his ascent, and she gingerly made her way out of his arms. He'd been holding onto her tightly, his fingers white from the strength of his grip. He could see from the last parting look she gave him that she was worried about him, though he noted with a warm feeling in his chest that despite that, she trusted him with Rose. 100%. For she had no trouble leaving him in the room, with the small girl still in his arms. Which was good, because he had no intention of letting go any time soon.

Hermione returned levitating their drinks, and she managed to usher him over to his seat. She fussed over him until she managed to get his shoes and coat off, and he settled in his seat, retaining his grip on Rose, and likewise her own vice grip around his waist and on his hair never faltered. Once Severus was comfortable, he raised his other arm expectantly, and without a word needed, Hermione tucked herself into his other side. It would have of course made more sense for the three of them to sit together on the sofa, but Severus's chair had become their go-to snuggle spot, when the three of them needed to be close.

Now was one of those times.

Hermione rested her head on Severus's chest and he buried his face in her hair, closing his eyes and inhaling her scent. Their cups forgotten on the table beside them. Rose's breath was still hitching on occasion, the stress of the past few hours weighing heavy on the toddler, not allowing her to fully relax. She shuffled in Severus's arms and a strand of hair fell into her face, with a gentle hand Severus tucked it back behind her ear, and cupped her cheek reverently, She moved a bit to be closer to his hand and Severus noticed for the first time the cold dampness where he held her against him and It was the final thing that tipped her over the edge. Her lip trembled and the quiet bubble of calm before the storm burst and she buried her face into Severus's neck and began sobbing. "It's alright Rose" He whispered as the young girl cried in his arms and Hermione asked him what was wrong. "She's wet, she must have had an accident earlier" He murmured softly to Hermione and she gave him a sad smile in understanding. It was no wonder she'd wet herself, she'd been terrified when Molly had pulled her from her mothers arms. The girl now in his arms began hiccoughing. "It's not your fault sweet girl, its alright" He whispered into her hair and she held tightly onto him.

"Come on sweetheart, come have a shower with Mummy" Hermione said gently. Severus reverently and reluctantly handed the girl over to her mother as they both stood at the same time and Severus replied softly, "I shall likewise avail myself of the downstairs bathroom" he gestured to the previously unnoticed damp patch on his own clothes, where the girl had been pressed against his hip. Hermione mouthed sorry with a wince but he waived it off as inconsequential. Leaning forward he placed a kiss on Rose's forehead and followed with one on Hermione's, that lingered much longer. "I shall meet you back in here" he said to Hermione who nodded her ascent. He was about to leave when Rose grabbed his shirt, and the stoic man allowed himself to be pulled forward as the still sniffling girl, repeated his actions back to him and kissed him on his cheek. Smiling he brought her hands from their grip on his chest, to his lips and kissed the backs of them, before wiping away her tears with his thumbs. "What say we get out of these and into our comfies hmm?" He asked her and she smiled back to him. 

In the shower Severus allowed his tears to flow, he sobbed like a broken man with his head pressed against the tile. He sobbed until he couldn't anymore and his tears turned to manic and victorious laughter, even as tears still flooded from his eyes. He had won, they were his. Truly his.

When he had finally got himself under control and clean, he padded softly into the living room, only to find it empty. Though he could still hear the shower running upstairs, so sat down unconcerned.  He must have closed his eyes for a minute, because he opened them when he felt the weight of Hermione settling on his lap, with Rose in her arms. With a flick of his hand Severus summoned a blanket from the cupboard, which Hermione tucked around them. There was something to be said for Mothers, Severus thought, as there was no one that could quite tuck you in like a mother could. When the blanket was surrounding them to Hermione's exacting preference he flicked his hand once more and the lights dimmed in the room, until they were only emitting a muted glow. And unble to do anything else, the three of them gave in to the exhaustion of the day, and slept.

Hours later they awoke in that traditional groggy way one does from a unplanned nap. Blearily, reluctantly, not knowing who they were or what time it was. It turned out to be 6pm, so Hermione suggested they have a light dinner and go to bed for real, which Severus wholeheartedly agreed with.

They had some simple sandwiches, and then Rose insisted on Severus carrying her upstairs which he did without hesitation when small arms reached up towards him in that universal toddler language.

Both Hermione and Severus were worried about a meltdown when getting Rose to bed, but she settled into her 'magic' bed without a fuss, especially once Herman was in her arms, promptly shoving her thumb into her mouth as her eyes were already at half mast. Hermione sat on the end of her bed and sang a lullaby, as Severus stood guard in the doorway. A veritable living shield for anything that may wish to disturb this little piece of heaven he now held here in his grasp. 

When Rose was finally asleep, Hermione walked across to their bedroom, and Severus followed. Her eyes met his and her hand stroked across his chest as she passed him in the hall and he met her gaze with a heated look.

She walked through the bedroom door and a moment later he followed her, the door shutting behind him with a resounding click, concealed by a hastily placed silencing charm as Severus reached for her the second the door closed.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Rose was finally asleep, Hermione walked across to their bedroom, and Severus followed. Her eyes met his and her hand stroked across his chest as she passed him in the hall and he met her gaze with a heated look.

She walked through the bedroom door and a moment later he followed her, the door shutting behind him with a resounding click, concealed by a hastily placed silencing charm as Severus reached for her the second the door closed.


The kiss they shared was pure passion. Not a second was lost in the moments between Severus grasping her, and their lips meeting properly for the first time. The kiss burned and consumed, it was fire and passion and promise all rolled into one. The second they broke apart for air, they looked into each others eyes and Hermione broke for real.

The sobs came forth uncontrollably and as her knees gave way she would have ended up a boneless pile on the floor if it weren't for Severus's strong arms around her. Thankfully he had been prepared for it, for he knew something like this was due to happen. She had been so strong for so long, there was only so much one person could take before they buckled. The whole day had been a mass of stress, anxiety and fear.

He allowed her to cry for a while, and when her tears had finally abated to the point of hiccoughs, not unlike Rose herself earlier he picked her up in his arms effortlessly and carried her into the bathroom. As he sat her on the toilet seat, he noticed for the first time the pyjamas she was wearing and just how small she actually was. It seemed impossible for so much strength to come in such a little package.

Kneeling before her, he used a damp cloth to wipe her face. Her eyes were puffy and swollen from crying, and her nose was running, her face red and blotchy. She offered him a watery smile as he gently cleaned her face with the cloth.

"There are spells for that" She said softly, and he smiled at her in response as he answered, acknowledging the memory between them. "I'd prefer to care for you myself".

He wiped her face as best as he could and then stood, pulling her into his embrace. She sank into him, as though wishing she could bury herself into his very skin. He knew that he would happily let her if he could. When she no longer seemed like she was going to fall apart he picked her up once more, only this time instead of carrying her bridal style she had her arms around his neck, and at his encouragement wrapped her legs around his waist, and he carried her to the bed, their bed, without ever breaking the hug. He sat down on the edge, with her on his lap and just held her for a while rubbing her back, as her face buried in his neck and he tucked her head under his chin.

After a while she pulled back with a sniffle and reached for the hairbrush, looking at him expectantly. His eyes flicked to her riotous curls then to the brush with trepidation. "I don't think I..." but she snorted a laugh, interrupting him.

"It's not for me Severus, switch places with me" Colour rose in his cheeks as it always did when she did this for him. "You don't have to-" he began but she interrupted him once more. "Please? It makes me feel better"

He nodded and settled on the floor in front of her, while she sat on the bed and ran the brush through his hair. It was so soothing that it often had him almost asleep, though he always fought it, not wanting to miss a moment of the sensation. She was humming gently, and he realised that it was the first time he'd heard her do so. Just as it was the first time he'd heard her sing to Rose earlier and it added an entire new dimension of comfort to the experience whilst at the same time it made him happy that she was in herself at least feeling better enough for the music to return to her life.

When she had finished brushing his hair she ran her fingers through his scalp for a moment which practically made his eyes cross, then with a hand under his chin tipped his face up to look at her. He did as she requested and was treated to a sweet, if clumsy upside down kiss. When she parted she left another peck on his nose and then laughed at the look on his face. He grumbled but it was all for show, and he could not hide the smirk at her actions. Anyway, he was infinitely pleased that she was now laughing instead of crying.

He stood at her prompting and she settled back into bed, getting under the covers. For a moment he paused before he got in. Things had changed between them now, their whole dynamic was different and for a short while he wondered if now things were no longer strictly platonic between them, would it be proper for him to assume he would be sharing a bed with her. His doubts were assuaged though when she pulled back the covers for him with a smile so that he could get in beside her, which he promptly did.

Things were different though because though he was used to waking up with her in his arms, they always started on opposite sides of the bed. But not tonight. Tonight as soon as he was in the bed, she was promptly wrapped around him like devils snare as her head tucked into the nook under his chin where they had discovered earlier that she fit as though it had been made for her. He carefully wrapped his arms around her, giving her plenty of time to back away but she didn't instead she went boneless and relaxed further into him with a sigh. "Severus...this is nice" she said softly, her voice already thick with sleep. Pressing a kiss to her the crown of her head, he heard her sigh once more as her breathing evened out. "Yes, it is" he answered as he closed his eyes and allowed sleep to take him.


He was woken by his wards prickling at his skin, moments before a small hand started tugging on his shirt. Turning carefully, so as not to wake Hermione who he was spooning, he came face to face with a tearful Rose. He thought for a moment that she intended to climb into their bed, so he went to lift her only for her to pull his shirt again encouraging him to follow her. He did, moving carefully once more and walked hand in hand to her bedroom. She stood by her bed tearfully and he noticed the familiar damp patch on it, along with the matching one on her pyjamas. Without raising a fuss he flicked his wand over the bed, quickly cleaning it, and then went to do the same to her. She stopped him with a "No Daddy" and brought him over to her drawers, even as his heart lurched in his chest at her simply spoken words. He'd thought it was perhaps a fluke earlier and that would be the one and only time she addressed him as such in her desperation, but clearly that was not the case.

She brought him to her drawers and proceeded to pull out a clean (mismatching) set of pyjamas. But who was he to comment if she wanted to wear the pink top with the canary yellow bottoms and polka dot pants.

She managed to get the top off herself, and then held her arms up expectantly which was the point when he realised that he was expected to take an active part in this. He'd never dressed a child before, and for a moment he had to think about what was the best way to do it. Swallowing his nerves he went ahead and put the shirt over her head, making sure to get her arms in the holes. Between them they sorted out her hair and she smiled at him. She sat down then an began pulling on her wet bottoms and with dawning horror he realised she needed those changing too, obvioussly. In a panic he stood ready to retrieve Hermione to take over this activity, when she spoke again. "No Daddy". What would Hermione think if she walked in? He thought in a panic. "Let me get your mother to help you Rose" He said softly, but she was adamant against it. "No. No. Daddy". His nerves frazzled and he looked longingly at the doorway to his bedroom where Hermione was, though with the light on in Rose's room, he could see nothing in his own darkened room.

Sighing deeply and squaring his shoulders for whatever fate awaited him, he resolved himself to complete this task. He couldn't deny her any more, not when she sat there so trustingly, calling him daddy. If she needed him to be her daddy, then by Merlin that was what he was going to be, so he returned to his knees on the floor beside her.

She smiled and carried on none the wiser to his inner turmoil. She wriggled out the trousers and underwear, and he purposely kept his eyes away to give her privacy.

When she'd thrown the soiled clothes on top of the others, he held out the clean knickers, still without looking at her. "Can you do the pants yourself?" He asked her and she answered with a "yes yes" much to his relief. She took the knickers from his hand, but held onto his arm to help her stand up while she got her legs in.

He likewise went to pass her the bottoms, but she pushed them back to him "Daddy help". Right then, so this is your sworn duty now Severus, lets just get this over with. He turned to face her where she stood wearing her pink top, polka dot pants and a smile and he couldn't help the small chuckle that escaped him. He couldn't tell which way round the bottoms went just by looking at them as to him they resembled tights but in the end he found a label on the inside and assumed that would be the back.

Attempting to think logically he rolled the legs up and held the bottoms out in front of him. She rested her hands on his upper arms for support as she stepped into the legs one at a time, then he gently pulled them up until they were in place and tied the little ribbon into a bow at the front.

When she was done he offered her a smile and she returned it, throwing her arms around his neck and planting a slopping toddler kiss on his cheek. He returned the embrace and the kiss, holding her tightly to him. All the fears of the day washed over him anew and he tightened his grip. It seemed unreal that she could have been taken from them today. Rose was just as disinclined to let go, even when he eased his grip. When she still didn't let go, he chuckled and stood up, feeling her legs come to wrap around him as he held her close to his side.

"It's time to go to bed sweetheart" He whispered into her hair, but she just shook her head no an buried her face in his neck. "Biskits". Chuckling he made his way quietly to the stairs, still holding her to his side. "Do not tell your mother I gave you a chocolate biscuit at 2am Rose or I shall be in the dog house" He gave her a conspiratorial smirk and she laughed, she probably didn't understand the term fully but it amused her anyway.

They had a late night picnic in the kitchen, Severus had a cup of tea and they shared a couple of Chocolate Biscuits. Rose had half a cup of warm milk, he didn't want to give her any more in case she had an accident. Severus sat in the chair with Rose on his knee. As he drank his tea he found himself rubbing her back gently, quite without realising. He went to stop only to find that she grunted around her sippy cup and nudged him to carry on. He chuckled and resumed rubbing her back for her, his other hand holding his tea. 

It didn't take long before she was dozing gently on his chest. He carefully took the sippy cup from her, and wiped any evidence of chocolate off her face. When he'd done that, she slung her arms around his neck once more and he carried her back upstairs. 

She was practically asleep when he tucked her back into bed, making sure everything was set to rights and she had Herman in her grasp. He placed a kiss on her head, when he soft and muzzy voice came through the teddy bears fur. 

"night daddy"

His chest tightened and tears burned at his eyes, which he fought with all his will to hold back.

"Good Night Princess" He whispered back as he turned off the lights. 

He had to stand in the hall for a few moments and compose himself before he could go back into their bedroom.

Cautiously tiptoeing so as not to wake her, Severus slipped back under the covers. He'd thought he'd gotten away clear as he carefully settled back into bed. Hermione was laid in her favourite position, which was the one Severus referred to in his head as 'Dropped from a large height onto concrete'. Face down in the pillow and limbs akimbo, taking up 3/4 of the space.

Her voice when it came was muffled by the pillow and made him freeze in his tracks.

"Severus Snape, you better not have given that girl chocolate" 

 

Chapter Text

Authors Note: So sorry to all my readers, I am still struggling with my health, I'm in a lot of pain and in a terrible place because of it, it's hard to find the motivation to do much these days. But I wanted to provide you with something even if it was abysmally short. I promise I shall not abandon you, even if I have to just give you pathetic little 500 or 1000 word teaser chapters, I promise that I shall complete all my stories and update them as regularly as I am able to, and hopefully you shan't be too disappointed, My apologies.

All my love, Ems x


Hermione was laid in her favourite position, which was the one Severus referred to in his head as 'Dropped from a large height onto concrete'. Face down in the pillow and limbs akimbo, taking up 3/4 of the space.

Her voice when it came was muffled by the pillow and made him freeze in his tracks.

"Severus Snape, you better not have given that girl chocolate"


He'd felt very real fear when the diminutive witch had called him out on his midnight indiscretion, however beyond a venomous glare that made him audibly gulp, especially when it was combined with the medusa-like experience that was her 'bed hair', the woman looked like wrath incarnate. She was, thankfully, too tired to do anything else and therefore he was let off the hook. This Time, was the unspoken footnote though and Severus made sure to heed the warning. Well, he was a Slytherin after all, so really he just promised himself that next time (For he was quickly coming to realise he could deny Rose nothing that was in his power to give), next time he just wouldn't get caught.

The morning seemed to have broken whatever spell or stress and shock-induced stupor they had been in, for while Hermione and Severus were both unspeakably pleased, Hermione was also shaken to the very core and prone to bursting into tears, yells or laughter at the slightest inclination.

Rose had also levelled out somewhat, she no longer seemed as overwrought but was being very clingy to both Severus and Hermione. Especially Hermione. It seemed the incident with Molly Weasley had left a far fiercer impact on her than either of them had initially realised, as she frantically clung to her mother throughout the day like a spider-monkey, when she wasn't following her around like a shadow. In the few instances where it was not appropriate for her to do such, such as when Hermione was using the kettle or the oven, she was similarly attached to Severus. Not wanting to part with either of them, for any time longer than it took her to use the potty.

Unfortunately the same did not translate for their bathroom breaks, with a weary Hermione having Rose seated on her lap even when she used the toilet, which made Severus chuckle to himself as he passed the open door, snorting back more laughter at her glare that promised vengeance. He should have known better than to provoke the lioness though, for as the day went on he found her sweetly imbibing him with cups of her perfectly brewed tea, until the inevitable call of nature sang its tune, only to find that exact moment Hermione was conveniently dealing with a number of boiling pans for their dinner. So that was how a red faced Severus came to be stood relieving his bladder with a clingy not-quite-four year old behind him, still holding onto his trouser clad leg, only this time with her eyes squeezed shut at his embarrassed insistence."Touche" he conceded, still red faced, as she raised her eyebrow at him on his return. "Nothing's sacred with a toddler Severus, get used to it" She'd smiled and he had smiled back at her, and stolen a kiss on her cheek when Rose wasn't looking.


For the first time that night, she fussed over bed time. She'd not wanted to leave her mother all day, though had still approached Severus for her obligatory bedtime story. However this time she had insisted on her mothers continued presence at her side, instead of it being a time for just the two of them. Though had vehemently protested Hermione's attempts to take a turn in reading from the book. Insisting that Severus retained those owners. Despite the fact that Rose was clearly upset, and out of sorts, he'd had to hide his chuckle at the put out look on Hermione's face when Rose had ever-so-tactfully covered her mouth with a small hand as she tried to speak, and simply said "Daddy". It seemed there was a limit to how much Rose was willing to concede her bedtime ritual, even if it was the self-same contrary girl who had insisted on Hermione's inclusion in it in the first place.

She'd picked up another book after the first, and with an arched eyebrow to Hermione, he'd waited for her nod of approval before beginning it. When Rose was drifting off in his arms and against his chest, he went to rise, only for her to sleepily protest and insist on the rest of the story. Severus obligingly continued, and the pattern repeated twice more before he reached the end of the book. Whereupon Rose made to retrieve another.

He looked beseechingly at Hermione, but she was speaking before he'd had the chance to ask her just what in Merlin's name he was supposed to do.

"No Rose, you've had two stories tonight, its time for bed now"

She cried then, and it broke Severus's heart. He'd never seen her have a true meltdown before, and as Hermione peeled the reluctant toddler from his arms and into hers, he fretted around her as Rose continued to scream and cry in her mothers arms.

"If she's not tired I don't mind..." He interjected helplessly, the distressed girl cleaving at his chest.

"She is tired Severus, Overtired even, she's just being..." Her voice trailed off and she shrugged with a sad smile as she continued to walk and rock the girl in her arms in an attempt to soothe her.

"Just being what? Was it something I did? Have I upset her in some way?" He was almost frantic with worry, as he followed them up the stairs, haplessly like some clueless firstie.

"She's just being a child Severus. Sometimes children, toddlers...they cry. Because they're too tired or not tired enough, because they have a headache or a stomach ache or for no other reason than they don't know exactly how they're feeling. How could a 3 year old even begin to verbalise the emotional turmoil of the past few months, when I struggle to fathom it myself? Crying, shouting even screaming is an emotional release, and sometimes you just have to let them breakdown to allow them to come up again"

Cautiously he nodded to her words, as she continued to sooth the girl in her arms, and he nodded to her wearily. "I believe I understand, though the knowlege that I I know the reason, or lack thereof, brings me no comfort, I still feel...useless, does it always feel like this?" His words were cautious, but the level of emotion in them weighed heavy in the room, as she saw him watch the girl in her arms longingly.

"In time, you'll learn to tell the difference. A sad cry, a confused cry, a tired cry or one simply just because. But no, it doesn't get any easier. No matter how many times, each time I feel as though my heart is breaking in two and all I want is to take away whatever is causing her tears".

He sniffed, and tried to retain control of his emotions. "I think I can understand some semblance of what you feel. I could never begin to even assume my feeling are even comparable to your own, you who have carried her, raised her, nurtured her with your own body, but the second I sense her pain, whatever the cause, I feel a frighteningly violent urge to destroy anything that might have hurt her and shield her in my own skin from anything that might bring her harm"

Passing the weeping girl into his arms, where she fiercely clung to Severus and continued crying, though buried her face in his neck and grasped a hand full of his hair, Hermione smiled warmly at him when he closed his eyes and began to humm quietly and comfortingly into the girls soft hair, as she continued to hiccough out sobs.

"Welcome to Fatherhood Severus"

Chapter Text

Passing the weeping girl into his arms, where she fiercely clung to Severus and continued crying, though buried her face in his neck and grasped a hand full of his hair, Hermione smiled warmly at him when he closed his eyes and began to humm quietly and comfortingly into the girls soft hair, as she continued to hiccough out sobs.

"Welcome to Fatherhood Severus"


A couple of weeks after the trial saw the arrival of am unexpected guest at their door. The wards had not signalled, so they knew it was not a dangerous presence yet Severus still went alone to answer, leaving Hermione with Rose and Scorpius. As Astoria became increasingly unwell, it was becoming a more and more frequent habit for an increasingly exhausted looking Draco to drop Scorpius off for hours at a time, not that anyone minded. Though Hermione and Severus would continue to look upon Draco with concern, he would shrug off their concerns with his signature smirk and assure them that everything was fine. Neither believed him, but short of slipping him veritaserum, neither of them could force him to talk and it was no hardship to spend hours with the unfaltering happy small boy.

Hermione remained watching the two children, until moments later Severus called for Hermione to come to the door and the sight that met her stopped her in her tracks.

Arthur Weasley stood at their door. Quite literally with his cap in his hand. He was holding an old fashioned wizards hat, that looked quite similar in style to a muggle farmers flat cap, and he was wringing it in his grasp. Though it was not the hat that shook Hermione, but the shortly cropped silver-grey hair the wizard was sporting. Not a red hair in sight. And suddenly she was reminded that Ronald was the second youngest of 7, with 5 older siblings. Severus had 18 years on her, and Arthur had another 15 years on him. They already had a child in Hogwarts before she was even born. She had suddenly realised with startling clarity just how old Arthur was. And he looked...tired.

She'd tried not to stare at his hair, but it was hard. Especially when staring at the patriarch of a large family that was famous for their notoriously red hair. Seeing it absent on the man in front of her was, for want of a better term, a total mindfuck.

"I used to dye it. With a potion" He said with the small smile that was so familiar and a finger pointed in the direction of his head "It's been on its way for a good few years, but after I read...I read the case file and I just...stopped...dying it that is and just... let it go" She wasn't sure what to say to that and Severus seemed likewise stumped, and Arthur being Arthur could not stand the silence and had to fill it.

"I brought a hat though, if the hair isn't...isn't enough" And as if to demonstrate he plonked the hat on his head, rather lopsidedly. And offered her a smile that was so familiar it made her chest hurt.

But what hurt even more was the sudden realisation of what he'd done. He said he'd read the case file. Their court case file. It included what Severus found in legillimency, and he'd read about Rose being afraid of the Weasleys because they looked so much like Ronald, because of their red hair. He'd let himself go grey, and brought a hat as well to cover his hair up in case that wasn't enough, all so that he didn't upset Rose.

A glance at the softening features on Severus's face so that he had just as quickly come to the same conclusion. Though either of them had yet to say anything out loud, so Arthur looked between them nervously.

"I'd very much like to... if you would allow it...I...I wouldn't dream of taking her away from you, either of you, and I'd swear an oath to that affect, but I had hoped you might find it in your hearts to allow me to...to have some small part in her life, which is why I came to you"

"Arthur..." She began and he actually swallowed nervously before speaking again quickly.

"If this isn't enough I can change it, or glamour it, heck I'd shave it off If I thought it would help...just...just tell me what I need to do, to be a part of her life. Please"

Then Hermione, who's emotions were still not yet under control after all the upheval, sniffed loudly and threw her arms around the trembling man.

"Just be you Arthur. Just be You"

Hermione pulled back and looked to Severus, as did Arthur. For a moment Arthur looked unsure whether he thought Severus would allow him through the door, until the man reached out his hand and Arthur met it with his.

"Wouldn't dream of keeping you away old man"

The relief in his eyes was palpable as he quickly wiped his eyes with the ratty old hat and Hermione held back a smile.

"I can't promise you how this will go" She said softly as they led the nervous man into the house. "We will have to take it a day at a time, and go from there, if she gets too upset you'll have to come back another time"

"I brought biscuits" He said, gesturing to the rather battered tin he had with him. "If that's alright? I made them myself"

"Of course it is" Hermione smiled, while Severus nodded in acceptance.

"I Shall put the kettle on" he said diplomatically, leaving the two of them to speak and departing with a kiss on her cheek. It had become such an unconscious gesture of affection between the two of them, that for a moment she didn't even consider how it may look to others, though that was the first thought that shot through her on seeing the strange look on Arthur's face. But before she could even form an explanation, the look had disappeared and been replaced with a soft, sad smile.

"I hope you're happy Hermione. Truly. You and Rose, and I'm not just saying that because..." He flicked his eyes to the living room, where Scorpius could be heard playing with Rose.

A weary sigh broke from him, before he met his gaze with that sad smile once more. "You always deserved better than him. I love Ronald, Merlin help me but even now I can't help but love him, because he's my boy and a part of me will always love him... But I'm not blind to who or what he is. I'm not like M-Molly. I see his flaws for what they are." Another weary sigh, that made Hermione's heart ache for the man and all his worries. "He was stubborn, angry and at times downright cruel. I wish I could blame it on the war, but even as a boy he was hot-headed, possessive and jealous...he was just so jealous of you Hermione, I love him but he could never have been your equal"

Another look though this time towards the kitchen where the whistling kettle signified tea was almost ready. "You and him, you're well matched. I can see it working, the two of you just fit. Whenever I pictured you and Ronald, it was always so chalk and cheese. But you and Severus, you're like two sides of the same coin, and you're both so damn brilliant its frightening"

"Arthur..." Hermione began, a heated blush on her face, but he stopped her.

"I just wanted you to know, no matter what he said, no matter what M-molly said or did... I never stopped believing in you Hermione. And I'm sorry it took me so long to stand up and say that out loud."

It was at that moment Severus returned with the tea service and the three adults made their way into the living room.

"Rose, your Grandad Arthur has come to see you, are you going to say hello?"

Rose's eyes had snapped up at that, wide and fearful, but they watched as the fear was slowly replaced with confusion and a small amount of intrigue.

Especially when a smiling Scorpius had ran over to introduce himself.

Especially a moment later when a beaming Scorpius shouted back to her "Wose! Gwandad Arfur fetched biskits!"

An hour later, Arthur was sat on the floor doodling with muggle crayons on paper. A very happy Scorpius sat on his knee, munching on a biscuit and also doodling. And a quiet Rose sat by his side, drawing right along with him, occasionally stopping to show him her work. She hadn't spoken to him, but she had offered him a few signs which Hermione and Severus had dutifully translated for him, and he had beamed back at the girl as he answered her.

When he looked up to meet Hermione's eyes, he gave her such a warm smile that it made Hermione's heart ache so much that she had to leave the room.

She'd always said that Rose had Ron's smile, and a part of her that was filled with self-loathing, had wished it wasn't so, not wanting to spend the rest of her life being reminded of him.

But now she was filled with an undeniable sense of relief, because Rose didn't have Ron's smile at all.

She had Arthur's.

And locked away in the downstairs bathroom, Hermione wept at the relief that brought her.

Chapter Text

She'd always said that Rose had Ron's smile, and a part of her that was filled with self-loathing, had wished it wasn't so, not wanting to spend the rest of her life being reminded of him.

But now she was filled with an undeniable sense of relief, because Rose didn't have Ron's smile at all.

She had Arthur's.

And locked away in the downstairs bathroom, Hermione wept at the relief that brought her.


There was only so long it could go on he supposed, this tentative happiness while waiting for the other shoe to drop. The home they had built, for it was not a home he alone had built, but one the three of them had created together... had become more a sanctuary, more of a safe space, more of a honest to gods home than it had ever been in his entire life.

Memories of dark days and darker nights, were covered with warmth and laughter. There was the cellar he would frequently hide himself in as a child, that had become the potions lab he would...frequently hide himself in as an adult...but now, there was light in there, better furniture thanks to Hermione's decorating skills and absolute refusal to leave him with the old stool that made his back hurt. Thanks to Rose it now had pictures on the wall. Pictures of the three of them, together... even if Hermione had admitted whilst giggling that the way Rose drew his nose and robes made him look like the count from sesame street. But she'd drawn it for him. Presented it to him with a smile, and smiled even more when he'd fixed it to the wall of his lab.

His days were full of warmth and love and Severus Snape was happy.

And then there were the nights, those sweet torturous nights as the dance between them continued.

Oh, how he wanted her. And it was clear she wanted him as well. But still, they danced this dance around each other, still afraid to upset the status quo. Though Severus knew where his heart lay. And when he pulled his great grandmother's rings from his vault at Gringotts, he knew for certain what he wanted. Even as he cursed himself a fool for wanting it. He should put the rings back. Forget that the notion ever entered his head and be grateful for what he already had. But he didn't, with a disgusted sigh he put it in his pocket and brought it home with him.

They had shared more passionate kisses, and he had continued to be utterly floored at how often she left him hard and aching. It was a state he hadn't been in for quite literally years until she entered his life and his bed. In fact he'd thought the response permanently parted from his life, after the amount of torture, stress and crucio he'd endured throughout his years, he thought to spend the rest of his miserable life celibate due to the dysfunction likely caused by the nerve damage from extended crucio.

But he supposed if there was anyway to prove that theory wrong, it was to spend the night in bed with a hot little witch, half his age, wrapped in his embrace.

Gods did he prove himself wrong.

He wanted her. He despised himself for wanting her, but he wanted her. He knew that if she could hear his thoughts she'd hex him for a being a self-doubting fool and logically he knew that she wanted him in equal measure, he even knew that she was waiting for him to move things along, would look at him expectantly with heat and passion but shame and self doubt meant he just couldn't seem to make that next step. After each passionate kissing session she would look at him with so much heat in her eyes, but he would just pull her into his embrace, and she would sigh deeply but settle there in his arms anyway.

How could he marry her and subject her to a life of being his wife...in every sense of the word? Was he even capable of even loving her, pleasing her, in that way?

Much to his surprised delight he had already discovered he was physically capable of becoming hard unlike he had previously believed, that much was abundantly clear the more time he spent with her in his arms, but he had never tested the limitations of that physical aspect with her. Never gone farther than heated kisses, though she was sure to have felt his responses to her. In the privacy of his shower though, he had done just want any man did and knew that depending on where his mind led him he was just as likely to come quickly and explosively with all the pent up frustration of a man who had not experienced release in many years, as he was to worry his erection away, or be left stiff and unsatisfied, unable to relax enough to reach climax. Severus had heard it said that sex was only 20% physical and 80% mental and as he felt himself soften despite the woman in his arms, he believed that much to be true.

And yet still the ring selfishly burned a hole in his pocket.

He had always felt like half a man, his whole life convinced there was something about him that was just...lacking. Yet she made him feel whole and Rose filled another long hidden part of him too.

He had wondered how long they could go around in this circle, when finally he pulled his head out of his arse enough to realise...for all his careful restraint, he was hurting her. She had taken to wearing sinful shorts with vests or camisole tops to bed, and the flesh on show had made him ache, especially when she was in his embrace. But tonight she just offered him a sad smile and donned one of his old t shirts once more, covering all of her upper body. When he skimmed the surface of her thoughts nervously, he got his answer. He'd made her self-conscious. She had wrongly assumed that as they became more intimate and he'd seen more of her body...including her scars and how her body had changed from her pregnancy, along with the weight she'd recently started to gain (Which Severus actually adored, as he watched her fill out) Instead, she believed that it had put him off her in a physical way, which was why he was not progressing into further intimacy with her.

She was covering herself because she thought Severus found her body distasteful. He had made her doubt herself and he hated himself for it. Pushing his own concerns about intimacy behind his occlumency shields, he knew the time had come to play his hand and it was now, lest he lose her forever.

"Hermione, there's something I wish to speak with you about" Her eyes met his then, wide and open and he saw her fight a tremble in her lip before steeling herself.
She thought he was going to break up with her. And that would never do.

"I apologise if I have been distant but there has been something that has taken a hold of my thoughts and refused to let them go, and I realise now that I may have been neglecting your emotional needs as I have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts."

She had frozen where she stood, not quite in the bed yet as though afraid he was about to evict her from their very bedroom.

"I have been considering our circumstances our...relationship, if you wish to call it that and I have come to a decision that I believe...that I hope will be mutually agreeable, though it is not one I have considered lightly"

Her lip was between her teeth and he could practically hear her heart racing as he approached her. "Do not ever doubt that I want you, Witch" He whispered as he pulled her into his arms and she sank gratefully into his embrace. The tension leaving her frame left her lax in his grip.

For long minutes he held her to reassure her, before pulling slightly away and reaching into his pocket. "I am unsure how familiar you are with pure-blood traditions and etiquette, so forgive me if I do not yet get down on one knee, for this is not yet a proposal, but a promise of one". He opened the ring box to show two rings inside, one smaller simple silver ring that bore runes and the prince family crest and a wedding band with a small cluster of white diamonds and another enviable and impressive black diamond.

He didn't miss her soft inhale, as her hand came to alight on his that held the ring box. "It is my intention, Hermione Jean Granger, to pay court to you if you would have me? Should you accept my court, it would become known to all that I cherish you alone, and exclusively and you would wear the sigil ring of my house to signify to any others the court I am paying to you and that I fully intend to claim your hand for my own, and that you are under the protection of my house. When a suitable time has passed should you have approved of my court, I would then ask for your hand, and replace my family's crest ring with my family's diamond ring, Will you accept my suit Hermione? Will you allow me to court you?"

The entire time he spoke into their entwined hands, only chancing a sly look through his eyelashes when a tear fell onto their entwined hands. They dripped freely from her eyes, and when he met her gaze she smiled at him and he released the air he hadn't realised his lungs were holding captive.

"Yes Severus, of course I accept you, Yes."

Swallowing thickly, he looked at her dumbly.

She said yes

"Yes?" He questioned almost hating the hopeful tone in his voice.

"Yes" She answered again with a smile.

He smiled so wide it made his cheeks hurt as she smiled just as widely back to him, though after a moment she chuckled.

"Severus?" She questioned him.

He looked at her questioningly and with an amused smile, her eyes flicked down to the ring box in his hands.

Cursing his own ineptitude, he got out the promised sigil ring and placed it on her offered hand, putting the diamond ring in its box and back in his pocket.

The kiss they shared then was full of passion and relief and tenderness, as tears of emotional relief tracked down her cheeks. When they broke apart, both gasping for breath, she rested her forehead on his as they simply stared into each others eyes, until she uttered those words that made him both panic and rejoice in equal measure. 

"Take me to your bed Severus" 

 

Chapter Text

The kiss they shared then was full of passion and relief and tenderness, as tears of emotional relief tracked down her cheeks. When they broke apart, both gasping for breath, she rested her forehead on his as they simply stared into each others eyes, until she uttered those words that made him both panic and rejoice in equal measure.

"Take me to your bed Severus"


His heart which was already racing, ramped up a notch when she uttered those sinful words against his lips. Once more his fears of inadequacy reared up, and had him pulling slightly away from her.

Hermione looked at his face in confusion and he wasn't at all surprised. For any normal red blooded male the reaction to a tasty little slice like her, asking you to take her to your bed would be to more along the lines of "yes mam, right away" and commence thoroughly debauching her. It wasn't to pull away like a shy little virgin Hufflepuff, being offered his first bit of trim.

"Severus?" The questioning tone came, and before he could answer her she had grasped his hand and spoke softly. "Am I going too fast for you? Are you not ready? Because I would rather you tell me if that's true?"

Looking into those amber eyes he felt himself falling deeper than he ever had before, and he found himself...trusting...for perhaps the first time in his life. Enough to tell her something that resembled the full truth.

"I want you Witch, Gods but do I want you, however I fear that I may not live up to your expectations. It has been...a long time for me, and you may find me...inadequate, as your lover-"

Before he could finish getting the words out, she was there again, in his arms. Her lips alighted on his and she kissed him. It was the slowest, softest, sweetest kiss he had ever tasted and yet still it left him gasping for breath as though she had just ravaged him. She looked at him then through kiss-swollen lips and hooded eyes as she spoke.

"Of all the words I could use to describe you Severus, Inadequate will never be one of them. You are most certainly the very definition of more than adequate...you're perfect as you are"

He may have actually blushed then, as he practically fell back from her praise. Perfect? She thought he was perfect?

It was only then that he realised in his stammering bashfulness that she had led him to the bed and they were now both laid in it. She in her large T shirt, and he simply in a pair of sleeping trousers. His eyes met hers in the half light and they shared another tender kiss, and another, then somehow she was under him as he proceeded to kiss the life out of her, with all the pent up emotion he had hidden for so long. But when she boldly pressed herself into him, arching up under him with a gasp, he once more shirked back from her in self-disgust, and laid beside her with eyes closed against tears of humiliation as he already felt the throbbing at his groin at the press of her soft body against his hardness.

"Severus? Are you alright?" He then made his next mistake. He turned to look at her in order to answer, and groaned at the sight. Her lips were kiss swollen and her pupils dilated as she breathed heavily beside him, she was laid on her side facing him and it had caused her shirt to ride up and expose her soft thighs, but where it was pulled taught over her chest, he could clearly see her pebbled nipples pressing against the fabric. Groaning in desolation he quickly jammed his hand into his trousers and grasped the base of his cock to stave off his imminent release, and threw his other arm over his eyes. Both to block the tempting sight of her, and to block her the sight of his frustrated tears.

A part of him thought she would leave, but instead she pressed herself closer until she was tucked into his side. One hand pressed gently on his chest and her forehead resting on his arm.

"I'm sorry, did I hurt you?"

That caused him to bark out a choked laugh, though he could do nothing to hold back the strangled tone when he spoke, a clear sign that his voice was thick with the effort to hold back tears.

"No... I can safely say you did not hurt me witch, the only thing hurting right now is my pride"

Her hand moved to his belly and stroked softly in soothing circles. It was such an affectionate and soothing gesture he couldn't help but relax a little under her ministrations, even as he flinched slightly at the painful pulsing from his cock, which he was damn near strangling in an attempt to keep him from falling over the edge already.

"Severus, please talk to me? Whatever it is, we can work through it, You're the only person in my life that is always honest with me, no matter what, so please don't start holding back now."

At the earnestness in her tone, he couldn't not answer her. Though he refused to take his arm off his face. He didn't want her to see him whilst he told her.

"My control is somewhat...lacking around you. Until I had you in my bed witch, I had thought my body's responses dead and gone, for I had not experienced them for a number of years, I had thought the function lost to me, after the amount of spell damage I had taken over the years, and it is still somewhat unreliable"

"Nerve Damage?" She asked cautiously "From the Cruciatus?"

"It was what I believed, when many years had past without any physical...reactions"

"But you can? I mean right now you are... so it obviously isn't nerve damage, what's the problem?"

Throughout their discussion her hand hadn't stopped moving in soothing circles and he used the repetitive motion to bring himself back from the brink

"The problem is, I've spent the best part of the last 7 years or more without the ability to...well..."

"Get an erection?" She asked him gently, but straight to the point and he snorted through his nose as he answered."Quite"

"But like I said Severus, you can get hard, you're hard right now, so what's holding you back? I asked you if you weren't ready but maybe you don't want me like I want you..."

She had begun to pull back her hand from his stomach but he quickly held her wrist, she was still for a moment but when he didn't let go she took the hint and carried on with the soothing circles.

"The problem isn't wanting you, witch, its wanting you too much. I have less control than a spotty teenager"

"Ah" She said simply , then pressed a kiss to his pectoral "So the engine starts, but you don't think you can finish the Journey?"

Another self deprecating snort came from him.

"More like the engine starts, half the time if you give it a decent kick, but then it either gives up halfway down the track or alternatively I've already crossed the finish line before you get a chance to turn the keys in your ignition"

"Hmmm" She said in a curious tone, but he still wouldn't look at her.

Until she had pushed his hand away and moved to straddle him.

A choked noise escaped him when she'd managed to sneakily pull him into a sitting position, whilst simultaneously quite literally getting her leg over.

"What are you- " His words broke off in an undignified yelp as she rocked against him. She only had on a pair of skimpy knickers under the shirt, and he could feel the warmth of her through his trousers and once more his cock was on the verge of eruption.

"You're not a selfish lover Severus, or you wouldn't care so much about me crossing the finish line -" He reached to grab his cock but she intercepted him "Don't, you'll hurt yourself" Instead she pulled her shirt off and then she was there bare chested in front of him, pulling his hand to her breast instead of his cock.

"I know for a fact there's nothing wrong with those gorgeous hands or that wicked tongue, so I am certain that I'll be finishing the race with you one way or another"

She was rocking against him gently as she spoke and he couldn't help but groan and allow his lips to wrap around her exposed nipple. She was right though, there was no way he'd be turning her down if she wanting him to taste her, he almost came at the thought.

"So with that in mind..." She pulled him into a wicked kiss and then he groaned into her mouth in surprised pleasure. She'd vanished her knickers, and promptly seated herself on his erect cock, her tongue traced his ear before nibbling it slightly as she spoke in a sinful whisper.

"Gentleman, Start your engine"

Chapter Text

AN: Hello everyone, If you'd like to keep updated or keep in touch, I have started a facebook page for my work! Look for Emmaficready Fanfiction on Facebook!


"So with that in mind..." She pulled him into a wicked kiss and then he groaned into her mouth in surprised pleasure. She'd vanished her knickers, and promptly seated herself on his erect cock, her tongue traced his ear before nibbling it slightly as she spoke in a sinful whisper.

"Gentleman, Start your engine"


It was the most pleasant torture he'd ever experienced. He'd wanted beyond anything to impress her with his skill, because Merlin knows but he'd studied the theory, devouring books like 'the joy of sex and 'the female orgasm' in his ever voracious hunt for knowledge. He knew how to make her moan, where to find her clitoris, her G-spot and how to stimulate her cervix with the head of his cock, though knew that deep stimulation was something a woman either loved or hated. He knew how to read her body language to see when she wasn't enjoying something, and likewise knew all the tell tale signs that she was enjoying his attentions and approaching orgasm. He could tell from the pitch of her cries, the flush on her skin, the dilation of her pupils that she was approaching her release. He knew which sexual positions would give her the most pleasure, and which would allow her to orgasm quickest. He even knew all of the hidden erogenous zones on a woman, that were often overlooked, that would drive her into a sensual frenzy until she screamed out, hopefully his name.

He knew all of that , but for all his great plans, it couldn't stop him gasping his tortured release less than a minute after he entered her. Clenching his arse, gritting his teeth and holding onto her hips hard enough to bruise, did nothing to stop the inevitable and he was quickly crying out desperately into her neck as his body betrayed him and his traitorous cock lurched in rapture as he emptied himself within her.

Panting as though he'd run a marathon, he pressed his head to her chest in a desperate need to hide his face from her, hide his shame, but not being so dense as to push the woman off of him and run after he'd just received his own selfish release, while she was still wanting.

"I'm sorry, so sorry I-" But before he could fall down that familiar hole of self loathing, she'd pulled his head from her chest until his lips met hers. "Don't be sorry Severus, be here." She said and he instantly understood. So pushing back that easy and familiar urge to cloak himself with self hatred, he instead brought his focus to her. He knew how to please her, he knew how to work her body, and he didn't need his cock to do it.

Deepening the kisses she initiated, he continued to cradle her hip with one hand, as the other slipped between them. He was thankful that he was as one would say a 'show-er' and not a 'grow-er' as even flaccid his cock remained a decent enough length and girth to not slip out of her when he was spent, It wouldn't compare to the stiff thickness of his erect cock, he knew, but it would add to the sensations for her at least.

He got a buzz at feeling the wetness between her legs, knowing she was indeed aroused at their interactions even if his performance had been less than stellar so far. They were kissing deeply but he pulled back to light teasing touches as he found her clit with unerring accuracy. She gasped into his mouth and groaned in desire, when her next words were a breathless "Oh Severus". She rocked against him, making a little moue of displeasure when his hand held her hip firmly, restricting her movement. She was lost to the pleasure he knew, as he continued his assault on her little clit, but he refused to rush this, he knew every instinct she had was likely telling her to chase her release, but he knew that if he took his time it would be so much sweeter for her. So he held onto her hip, his superior strength and size meaning that even the one handed grip was too much for her to overpower, until he felt the moment she surrendered to him, and went lax in his arms allowing him to control her pleasure.

Once he was certain she would not attempt to gain control again, he widened his legs, as she was straddling him this widened hers too and it gave him much better access to her clit. His other hand, now free from her hip traced sensuous paths up her body, following the twitches and shudders from her neck, down her spine, up her ribs until he was caressing her breast and thumbing the nipple that was already a rouged hard peak.

With another gasped exclamation she threw her head back in pleasure, breaking their kiss but giving him access to her neck. His hand slipped from her breast to grab a handful of her arse as he felt her gently rocking her hips. She wasn't working against him anymore though, but working with his rhythm so he allowed it, pushing her back slightly with a hand on her shoulder, he broke his kiss on her neck, inordinately pleased with the mark he had left and encouraged her to lean away from him, placing her hands on his knees for support she leaned back as he bade her to and a pleased hum slipped from her lips as the thick base of his almost semi hard cock rubbed against her g spot. She was close now, nearing the precipice of her release and her hips tensed and twitched under his hand with the need to move and so he held her firmly once more, his other hand maintaining his devastating rhythm on her clit, no matter how much she begged and urged with her body language for more speed.

Her body was flushed and there was a fine sheen of sweat on her skin as her breaths came in deep gasps and high pitched moans. He could practically feel her pulse racing through her needy little button and as he looked at her, she was nothing short of perfection.

"You're so beautiful" Her eyes snapped opened at his words and met his , hers were so dilated they were no longer the golden amber he adored, but almost as black as his own. "A goddess...perfect" his words were deep and sensuous and her breathing quickened, one hand grasping onto his that held her hip.

"So amazing, beautiful...I love you"

"SEVERUS!" Her body bowed, and were his cock hard he would have worried about it's well-being in this position, with how much she seemed to arch from his touch, but even flaccid as he was he couldn't help but gasp at the feeling of her rippling cunt gripping his member, until the movement eventually unseated him. Her little button was as hard as a pearl under his ministrations and he continued to lightly tease her until he saw the signs that she was over-sensitised, then he pulled her closer into his arms as she had been perilously close to falling off his lap and onto the floor.

She was shivering in his grasp so he stood on slightly shaky legs and effortlessly carried her into the bed and under the covers, where she promptly wrapped around his like devils snare.

"That was amazing" She whispered into a gentle kiss, and he felt a little frisson of pleasure in his chest at her praise, even as he stamped it down.

"It was no less than you deserved, after my abysmal performance, I apologi-" But she was shutting him up with her mouth once more and kissing him as though her he had gifted her some great miracle.

"That was the most amazing...the best...I have never orgasmed so hard in my life Severus, thank you, you amazing man"

It was his turn to flush, the naturally pale pallor of his skin doing nothing to hide the slight pink tinge it had gained.

"There's something else though" She whispered, and her eyes were half lidded as she snuggled into his embrace. He said nothing but arched an eyebrow questioningly.

She pulled him down into a slow sweet and sensual kiss, it was delicious and utterly decadent and it made him think of the richest honeydukes chocolate, but when she broke the kiss, she pressed her lips against his and whispered gently "I love you too Severus" and with a cry that was part anguish part adoration he pulled her into a tight armed grip, and buried his face into her chest.

For a moment it shocked her, as she rocked and soothed and held him, he continued to whisper tearful adorations into her skin as his face remained cradled into her chest and she pressed kisses to his hair.

Though for all the great love he'd harboured for others in his life, she realised with startling and tearful clarity, as he continued to weep and worship her in equal measure, that this was the first time someone had offered it to him in return.

oOo

Over the next week they continued to explore this new level in their relationship, with varying repetitions of their first time. Severus still struggled with his body's responses, the next couple of times they engaged his release was premature like the first time and after that the nerves and self loathing meant he either couldn't get hard, or quickly lost it during their coupling without reaching release.
Hermione was nothing if not supportive and understanding, insisting that she didn't care how he pleased her, as long as he was attentive to her needs, which he always was. His touch was electric and they never finished an evening anymore without her coming at least once on his fingers, and once around them, when he'd been unable to get hard at all and had to resort to penetrating her with his long and talented digits. But when he once more was unable to rise to the occasion, he pushed her away for the first time and left her in the bedroom as he shut himself in the potions lab in the basement to "break something" as he'd choked out. Though when she ventured to the top of the stairs, she heard the basement door slam and realised in his emotional state he'd neglected to put up a silencing ward, and instead of the expected smashes, her heart clenched to hear him sink against the door and begin weeping in shame.
She wanted more than anything to go after him, to soothe and reassure him, but she allowed him his space. It must be so difficult for him, she understood that much, though she was honest that his struggles to perform did not bother her in the least, because as she had correctly assumed he was nothing if not a generous and attentive lover, she knew that in his mind it must feel like another heavy blow to his masculinity, and as much as she wanted to be there for him, show him how much she didn't care and loved him regardless, she would not follow him and add another to dent to his pride, if he was to be found weeping in the shame of his inability in front of her. She knew more than anyone, how cathartic it was to have a good cry, so with tears in her own eyes she silenced the hall so Rose wouldn't stir, ad went to wait for him in bed.

oOo

He wept himself to an exhausted sleep and when he returned in the morning she wasn't in the bed, but there was retching sounds coming from the bathroom. He quickly came by her side and pulled her hair out of her face, resting a damp cloth against the back of her neck until her retching stopped. When she finally turned round, he was shocked at her gray pallor and the bags under her eyes.

"Did you sleep at all?" He asked, and she shook her head no.

"I was so worried, I wanted to go to you so much, but I wanted to respect your space. But I was tossing and turning all night, I don't think I can sleep anymore without being by your side" she whispered tiredly and another pang of guilt hit him, She had worried herself sick over him.

"Try to rest now, I shall see to Rose and make us a light breakfast. What say the three of us have toast in bed?"

She smiled at him and nodded and he kissed her sweat damp forehead. "I love you witch, I am sorry-"

"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.


Yay for awkward sex! Who else is a big fan of 'awkward' or 'imperfect' or 'bad' sex scenes?
To me it's just that bit hotter because it's so much more real!
Feel free to shoot me some reading suggestions for awkward sex scenes between our favourite duo!
And what about that Cliffie? Sorry guys, you'll have to wait and see!
Love - Ems

Chapter Text

"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.

"Astoria"


oOo


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.


oOo


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.

Chapter Text

"Poor Draco, Poor Scorpius" Hermione said softly and Severus could do naught but pull her into a hug right there in the doorway.


It was not an easy task, explaining death to a toddler. Especially when the first instance of death he'd had to deal with was that of his own mother. Hermione had said that Rose already understood, after the loss of Hermione's familiar Crookshanks the previous year, but Scorpius hadn't a pet to learn from, and the boy had cried when he'd finally understood that he wouldn't be seeing his mother again, though thankfully he was not as distraught as they'd expected, the distance between mother and son showing clearly, in how soon his tears had dried and how he had only asked for his father.

Draco had eventually appeared that evening, when Scorpius and Rose were already asleep, and as he looked worse than Lucius had as he eyed the two children sleeping in Rose's 'magic' bed, Hermione had wondered briefly if that has been his attention all along.

"Shall I wake him? He's been asking for you." Hermione asked him gently but Draco was quiet for a while as he looked the sleeping children over, his appearance rough but his face a blank mask, eerily reminiscent to when Severus occluded and she wondered briefly if Draco was employing the same technique to keep his emotions in check. She wasn't surprised when he answered in the negative.

"No. No don't wake him" The words were said with such a firm finality to them she almost raised an eyebrow as they all made their way back downstairs.

They were in the living room when he finally spoke once more, he was staring at his feet. "I don't want to impose but-"

Severus put a firm hand on his shoulder as he spoke. "He is welcome as long as is needed Draco, His presence is no burden" Severus briefly looked to Hermione for confirmation as he spoke and she nodded, adding in a gentle tone. "We'll take care of him Draco, you do what you need to do"

As he spoke Severus hadn't removed his hand from the trembling man's shoulder, and after a moment of tense silence he let out a choked noise of grief and threw himself into Severus's embrace, as he wrapped his arms around him in a rib-crushingly tight hug, which Severus returned without hesitation.

Instinctively she knew that this was something he would never have been able to share with his own father, no matter how sympathetic Lucius was to his son's pain.

He needed this, she knew and she backed away graciously allowing the men their space, only hearing the broken sobs start when she closed the living room door, making sure to set the kettle to boiling so the noise of the bubbling water covered anything else in the small kitchen , including her own tears of sympathy for the two hurting blonde haired boys in her home.

oOo

Draco left looking more haggard than when he arrived, it was with no small amount of worry they let him go, but they hoped that he would have some comfort knowing Scorpius was safe and cared for. When Severus sat down on the sofa with the cup of tea she offered him, he pulled her into a seat in his lap, with her own cup held in one hand, she made sure to wrap her spare arm around him in a half hug, encouraging him to rest his head upon her chest as she placed a gentling kiss in his hair.

"Did he say anything?" She questioned him gently and he simply shook his head looking somewhat weary himself. "Not a word, just cried until he had nothing left."

She tsked sadly and pressed her face against him. "I feel so bad for him Severus, he looks so broken, was he occluding?" Encouraging him to keep his head resting on her chest as he talked, his own free arm wrapped around her waist, she stroked his hair with one hand as she nursed her tea with the other.

"He was. He has no skill at subterfuge, he can't misdirect or create false memories like myself, but he can put up mental walls that are almost as impenetrable as my own, he lacks the subtlety but can keep you out by sheer force of will, it would take some effort on my part to break his shields if I deigned to, which I do not."

"We shouldn't tell Scorpius he came, he'll be more upset that we didn't wake him, we'll tell him he sent an owl or something, so he knows that his father hasn't forgotten him and is thinking of him, but is still busy"

Putting both their cups on the table, he kissed her softly. "You're amazing witch, do you know that?" Blushing she ducked her head shyly into his neck, dropping a kiss on the scar there that made him grunt in unexpected pleasure. "Give over Severus."

"No, I mean it Hermione. You're a wonderful person, and a wonderful mother, you always know just what to do" Chuckling softly she returned the kiss gently upon his lips and he smiled into the kiss.

"You may lack the experience of being a toddler mediator but you're just as good with them as I am Severus. Rose adores you and it's quite obvious that Scorpius does also."

Fighting a blush at her praise he shrugged her off, and Hermione sensing that he was becoming uncomfortable allowed it to drop for now.

When their tea was finished they mutually decided it was time for them both to retire also, retrieving their current books and making their way upstairs.

The T shirt he slept in, clung to his slightly damp body when he returned from the shower, enough to highlight some of the lean muscles on his frame, and it made her mouth water, though when he shyly reached for the hairbrush she made sure to temper her amorous intentions...for now, as she took the brush from him. It was still something that he never asked her to do, but she always took the brush from him when he reached for it, it brought her almost as much comfort as it did him. It grounded her. It was also something that had never been said, by either of them, but she had decided never to initiate any form of sexual intimacy during this time. Not unless he chose to. Even as she had to hold back a groan at the fresh clean male scent of him, combined with his presence as he sat on the floor in front of her, effectively between her thighs that made her currently already aroused body shudder in delight. But she had long decided that she wanted this to forever be a source of comfort for him, un-associated with any other worries or issues. She wanted him to always have this if he needed it. And she would always give it, no matter what.

oOo

It wasn't much longer that night that she was writhing in the same bed with him between her thighs once more. Though this time she was on her back, with her legs over his shoulders and her hands fisted in the bedclothes, thankful for the silencing charms in place.

He had his issues with sex and intimacy she knew, but she was determined that they could work through them together, and so she'd done the most Hermione thing she could do...and research.

For example after some reading, it was that night she had discovered it was an intrinsic part of his nature, that he was more comfortable following a direct command from her than he was being forced to make a decision by himself. She supposed it wasn't just a life spent following orders, but there was a somewhat Slytherin aspect to it also, always wondering if questions posed were subterfuge or a double edged sword,with no right answer. Yet a simple statement , was a straightforward and Gryffindor way of speaking.

So it was with some delight that, rather than posing him the question "Would you mind going down on me?" at which point in the past he'd become immediately bashful and nervous, due in part she imagined to his self-doubt wondering if this was a trick question or some test he would fail at, instead she simply told him "Severus, I want you to lick my cunt" which as it turned out, was the quickest way to find herself thrown naked into a bed, with 6ft3 of aroused male going to town between her thighs and she made a mental note to herself to memorize that.

And that was where she found herself now , writhing under the sharp tongue of Severus Snape.

"Oh fucking hell , oh Christ , oh God, oh Merlin...Severus!"

Her hips arched from the bed in a desperate attempt to get closer to him, as his rapier tongue buried inside her cunt, the bridge of his nose pressing against her clit.

She felt dirty, wanton and utterly debauched, practically grinding herself against his face as she was, but the dark chuckle from him vibrated through her and she shuddered in the hedonistic delight of it.

"Are you sure my name is fitting among all those deities Witch?" There was dark chocolate, whiskey and sex in that voice, but also an undercurrent of need, of self-doubt and that was another thing she'd discovered already about Severus Snape. He longed to be needed. To be wanted.

But she also knew he was a damn good legillimens, and a natural one at that , so it was often he could pick up on stray thoughts and emotions without any outward intent to do so. So she made sure that all she ever allowed him to see , or hear was the utter truth.

"Severus... right now you're my deity. Don't fucking stop, I need you"

His groan of delight had her fisting the bedding so tightly she was certain she'd put her fingers through it, but couldn't bring herself to care. And as she felt herself climbing that pinnacle , she decided to put the next part of her plan into action.

A quick glance down proved he was indeed hard, she knew he was most definitely a giver, and that nothing aroused him more than giving her pleasure and she noted with delight that nothing was hidden by the tented thin boxers he was wearing.

"I'm going to cum. I'm right there Severus, I want to cum around your cock, put your cock inside me right now!"

It was a breathless command and after a moment's hesitation on his part , she gasped out again. "I'm right there, in me now please!"

He quickly shrugged out of his boxers, excitement outweighing hesitation and sank into her depths.

He gasped but she gasped louder.

"FUCK! You feel so good inside me , I'm going to come around your cock Severus, touch my clit right now and I'm going to come on your cock"

Mouth hanging open slightly and eyes as dark as coal he did as she bade her, following her commands to the letter and rubbing her clit just so.

His hips were pumping into her, the fast erratic beat that she'd come to know meant he had seconds before he was going to lose himself , but she knew she was going to get there first.

She grasped his shoulder , nails scorching a path in his skin as she cried out her orgasm into his neck.

"I'm coming! I'm coming on your cock Severus, oh god...your cock feels...so...good, SEVERUS!"

He hissed as her nails broke the skin of his shoulder, but it ended in a choked moan as her cunt clenched around his cock in her orgasm and he buried his face into her neck, his hips jerking against her, pure instinct having him driving his cock as deep into her as he could and as he gasped out his own orgasm as she moaned at the delicious sensation of him bumping against her cervix, causing a pleasant ache to travel through her followed by the warmth of his release as it filled her.

When he could breathe again he rolled off her so as not to squash her and she arched her back in languid pleasure, smiling as she stretched noticing his appreciative wide eyed gaze upon her breasts and smiling at his open admiration.

The happiness in his gaze made her giddy, he looked like a teenager who'd gotten his first bit of tail, and she grinned.

"Merlin Severus... you wore me out, would you get me a drink of water ?" It was a question she knew, but she refused to order him about in all aspects of his life.

With another smile that made her almost ache to see it on his face, he practically leapt out of bed naked to fetch her a glass from the bathroom and she smiled at his pleasure, it fed into her own good mood until she was almost drunk on the sensation.

When he returned with the glass , she reached for it but he held it back from her with a cheeky smile, holding the glass for ransom in exchange for a kiss which she deftly delivered.

From her reading she knew not to make a big fuss of this , not to praise him too much for his accomplishments as it would only draw association in his mind for his past failures.

"Tease" she whispered against his lips before kissing him , and then taking the proffered glass.

He bounced into the bed beside her with the exuberance of a man half his age, then he winced and reached over his shoulder , finding the cat like scratches she'd left behind.

"Gods, I'm sorry Severus , would you like me to heal you?"

She knew what his answer would be before she said it.

"No" He was quick to reply, almost too quick and she had to hide her smile. "No it's nothing, let's get some sleep it's been a long day" It took everything in her not to snort at his attempted misdirection, it was a very poor showing for Severus but he was a post-coital male so she'd allow him this laxness.

Settling into his embrace she made sure to sigh deeply as she relaxed into his arms, and she was certain she felt his chest puff out under her.

As sleep encroached on her , she heard his gentle words "Thank You" and responded fuzzily in kind. "Thank You"

Then as it always seemed to do so in her life, things went to hell as she was awoken in the night by piercing screaming and Severus's panicked eyes met hers as he clutched his hand at his heart and gasped for breath, and her own heart sank to her stomach at his choked words.

"Something's wrong"