The War was long over. The Golden Trio had long disbanded. Harry was happily married to Pansy Parkinson, a shock if there had ever been one. He had been invited to their wedding and had gone along just to see how it would all work. Strangely, it did work. They had two children now; James Sirius and Daisy Hermione. Ronald Weasley had ended up single for a long time after the War ended but he, too, was now married with a child. He had married Gabrielle Delacour and their child, Amelie Jean, was a strawberry blonde beauty with fair skin, the silver eyes of the Delacour family and the freckles of the Weasleys. But, if he was honest, Severus really did not care about those two members of the Golden Trio. It was the third member that intrigued him.
Hermione Jean Granger, and yes he had noticed the children’s names, had left Britain only a few weeks after the War had ended. Actually, she had left the day after he had woken up in St Mungo’s. She had been there when he awoke, had smiled at him and said the most sincere thank you he had ever heard. Then she had kissed his forehead, blushed prettily and told him she would be back the next day after the Healers had done their tests. She had never returned.
He had, of course, tried to trace her. But she seemed to have vanished off the face of the planet. When he had spoken to Harry, Severus had learned that she had cut ties completely. She no longer contacted him, or Ronald, or in fact, anyone she had been at Hogwarts with. That had been the only clue he had to her whereabouts. That she had not spoken to any of her classmates after the end of the War. With a sigh he had apparated to the last place he wanted to be. Hogwarts itself.
Minerva had taken one look at him and done the unthinkable. She had hugged him. And offered him his job back. Either job he wanted. He was puzzled and asked why in Merlin’s name she would want a teacher like him back at the school. She had scoffed and told him that he was as much of an institution as she was. He had raised his eyebrow and then acquiesced, asking for the Potions job again. It was what he knew and, moreover, what he could never possibly tire of.
Nothing had really changed at Hogwarts, even though the Golden Trio had all opted out of education when he went back. Harry and Ronald were training as Aurors, Hermione was…Merlin only knew where. He did hear that she had taken her NEWTs in absentia and had achieved all O’s, in spite of her frankly miserable education. Who was he kidding? She had taught herself everything from first to sixth years, she might as well have taught herself seventh year work as well.
Now though, he had been back at Hogwarts for ten years. He still had three more years until the first of the Potter-Parkinson spawn came to the school, and two after that until the first Golden Trio Weasley joined them. Of course, there would always be Weasleys in the Halls of Hogwarts. They were rather…prolific breeders after all. There was a knock at his door, signalling the arrival of one dunderhead or another. Or possibly his employer if he was so unlucky.
“Enter.” He rarely worried about niceties. They only established that people would want to spend more time with him. The door creaked open nervously and he rolled his eyes, wondering which dunderhead had decided to take advantage of his office hours. He looked up and his eyes widened. That was definitely not a dunderhead. She was, in fact, the only person he had never even considered bestowing that title on. She looked…perfect.
“Professor Snape.” Her voice was soft and clear, like a bell, and he felt an appreciative twitch from his groin. Her hair was lighter, a honeyed brown that picked up on the highlights in her eyes, softer now than before, but no less curly. There did, however, seem to be less of it now. She was still slim, but her arms and legs were finely muscled, and she was toned and tanned, as if she had been living somewhere abroad, which of course he had already established was the most likely option.
“Miss Granger?” He wanted to tell her it was good to see her. He wanted to tell her she looked wonderful. He wanted to tell her he had missed her. He knew he couldn’t say any of those ridiculous things.
“It’s actually Professor Granger now. I…I’ve been teaching in Australia.” She gave him a smile that finally reached her eyes and he was exceptionally glad he was still sitting down. If he hadn’t been, he may well have swooned.
“Professor of…what? I’m sure you had plenty of options…” He still hadn’t moved and was practically calling across the classroom to her. He gestured she should come closer and was rewarded with another smile as she approached his desk.
“I’m a Floating Professor…they ask me to teach any subject at all, depending on who is ill that day. Or who just doesn’t want to face their particular class of…dunderheads.” He barked out a laugh and she giggled slightly, seeming nervous.
“What brings you to Hogwarts?” He needed to be professional. He wanted to continue to make her smile and giggle at him, but she obviously had a reason to be there.
“I came to see you actually Professor…” She ducked her head and the nerves were obvious, her hand shaking slightly at her side.
“Me? And I am not your Professor anymore. I haven’t been for many years. Call me Severus.” He wondered if that was perhaps too friendly but the smile she gave him made it worthwhile.
“Yes you, Severus. And you must call me Hermione. I wonder…could we perhaps go somewhere more private? I don’t want to start the gossip mill in this place. I remember what it was like.” She smiled at him, her eyes sparkling, and he found it impossible to resist. He nodded and gestured to the back wall of the classroom, the door to his chambers becoming visible. He motioned her through and followed, nervously flicking his gaze down her body and realising that yes, the back view was definitely as nice as the front. She paused on the threshold of his lounge and he watched her square her shoulders and then press on, moving to sit on one of the soft, plush armchairs.
“You were expecting something hard and uncomfortable?” He chuckled slightly and she grinned at him, shaking her head.
“No, just, less floral.” He saw her cheeky wink as, for the first time, he properly looked around the room as it was now. This was his Post-War room. Minerva had given him permission to procure better quality furnishings than Albus had allowed him and he had ignored the plain dark leather she had suggested and picked out garish clashing colours just to get some brightness under the Black Lake. It was only now that she pointed it out that he realised it was, in fact, flowers that covered his soft furnishings. He smirked and, with a swift wave of his wand, changed the patterns to look like a hideously clashing set of Hawaiian shirts. Her laughter rang out and then she waved her wand, adding something to all the patterns that made her snort with laughing so hard. Bats. She had added bats.
“Now, Hermione, what can I do for you?” He sat on the chair nearest her and watched as she sobered completely. She stared at the floor and shifted in her seat.
“Severus, I need…I need you to teach me how to make Wolfsbane Potion…” Her voice was small and she sounded more like a child than she had since she had arrived.
“I brew enough for all the students here. I brew enough for the Lupin Estate where the majority of British Werewolves reside. I have no intention of teaching anyone that potion. It is hideously difficult and requires an awful lot of my time…”
“Please…please I need it. Please, Professor Snape, please, I’ll do anything.” A myriad of rather filthy thoughts ran through his head, but he pushed them away as quickly as he could.
“Miss Granger, Hermione, you have to understand, it is the most difficult potion to make and the only people who are qualified to make it have to pass multiple examinations and multiple background checks. I can’t just teach you how to do it. The Ministry would have me in Azkaban before the next full moon. Why do you need to know?” He reached out to her, his hand touching her skin and, with a shudder, she opened her eyes wide and let him in. And he fell, deeper and faster and it was as if she had reached out to him with her mind, as if she had performed Legilimency on him but done it wrong. Except, he realised, it wasn’t wrong. She was doing exactly what she intended.
It’s not her fault. She’s just a baby. It’s not her fault. The words echoed around and around inside her head before he felt her take a breath and images began to form.
It was him, lying in the shack, bleeding profusely, helpless. She swore, used his spell to heal him as best she could and then levitated him and carried him all the way to the Whomping Willow. He spluttered at some point in the tunnel and she told him to shut up. She watched as the wards on the castle fell. She sent her Patronus to McGonnagall, thanking her as she disapparated with him, taking him directly to St Mungo’s. She stayed with him there as long as she could. She left briefly though.
She sat in the bathroom in a house he didn’t recognise. She was on the floor, sobbing, her shoulders shaking, staring at a small white plastic device with two blue lines in a clear window. She buried her hands in her hair and screamed, the scar on her arm splitting and spilling blood on the ground. The tears slowly subsided and she pressed a hand to her stomach as a flashback overwhelmed her.
Malfoy Manor…Greyback…the boys Obliviated…they thought she had been taken straight to Bellatrix, thought they all had but no, Greyback had had his fun first, loving the taste of her, the scars he placed on her pelvis…the wounds he licked and salivated over until he was sure she was infected, then healed with a spell that left only as much of a scar as a simple scratch.
Severus waking up to her sitting in his room again. The smile on her lips as she knew he would be ok. The roll of her stomach as she knew she never would be again. The first signs of her secret were beginning to show. And he was too observant. She had to leave. He would know and then the world would know and no one could know. She left that night, the first plane she could get on taking her to Australia, to her parents, the long way round.
She managed to find them in Australia, of course she did. By then though, she was almost seven months pregnant and they were less than happy but she didn’t care because she was determined to have the baby. The baby was born at home, on the Full Moon, to the sound of dingoes baying outside and a wolf baying inside. A daughter. One she swore to protect.
Wolfsbane potion protected her but the child was too young to take it. It was considered hellishly dangerous for anyone under the age of three. It was a banned substance for anyone that young. Her beautiful little girl, Aleta May, named for Hermione’s other grandmother, was banned from taking the very substance that would keep people safe around her. By the time she was allowed to take it, it was too late.
She didn’t mean to do it. She was only two. She didn’t know what she was doing.
It was a Full Moon. Hermione had taken her potion and was trying to calm her child, playing with her in the basement of the house her parents owned. Her mother had opened the door, just a fraction and…Aleta was too quick, a tiny nip with her tiny wolf teeth and Lynne Granger was turning with her daughter and granddaughter the next month. John Granger followed two months after.
They were Muggles. The Wolfsbane Potion, thankfully, worked but Hermione had to get it on the Black Market in Australia. It was prohibitively expensive. But she had to keep them all safe.
Her father escaped one night, desperate to go running. He didn’t come back in the morning, found on the farm on the outskirts of town around five miles away. Shot with the farmer’s own gun it seemed.
Her mother blamed her for the death of her father. Eventually, her mother left the house under a Full Moon, angry and snapping and refusing to take any potion or anything else magical. She too was found the next morning, but not the way her father was. Dead, yes, but torn limb from limb with various dead animals around her. A larger animal, species and origin unknown but Hermione had her theories that it was magical in nature, had destroyed the last of the family Hermione had. The last except Aleta.
That had been just one year ago. Aleta and she were on the potion but she had been discovered by the Australian Ministry as having been paying for the potion for two muggles that had been turned due to her own negligence. They gave her two options: her child in a facility for abandoned children and her in jail or return to England and have her visa fully revoked. So here she was.
He pulled himself out of her mind and looked at her, his eyes damp with tears, with the emotions she has thrust at him through their link.
“Never do that again. Never ever think you need to justify yourself to anyone, least of all me. I cannot teach you the potion but I can promise I will make it for you. I have another option for your daughter but…I need to meet her and check some things if you are agreeable?” Severus frowned slightly at her as she looked at him curiously. He tried to be completely open with her as he looked at her and was thankful when she nodded tentatively.
“Can you…will you…” She blew out a breath, frustrated with herself and then she took a deep breath and pulled herself upright.
“Will you come now? To meet Aleta? Can you come with me now?” Severus nodded and watched as the relief made her features relax completely.
They apparated as soon as they could, she seemed determined not to give him too much time in case he reverted to his old persona and changed his mind. He wouldn’t. He had seen her daughter and had immediately decided he would help any way that he could. They arrived at a small cottage that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Their crack of Apparation sounded loud in the still air and, as he took a first step forward the door opened. An older lady who reminded him of Pomona Sprout in shape, height and colourful clothing, stepped out of the door.
“Ah Miss Granger, you’re home. Aleta is just eating her dinner and I am going home if you are ok with that?” Hermione nodded and smiled, thanking the lady ‘Mrs Weatherly’ and then walking into the home, calling out to her daughter as she gestured at him to follow her. He smiled at her and entered the small cottage, ducking his head to get through the doorway.
“Aleta, I’ve bought a friend home with me. He is here to talk to you about the potion we have to take every month. His name is Professor Snape.” Hermione stood in front of her daughter, a pretty young girl with golden eyes and hair like her mother’s, brown, fluffy and entirely too big for her petite frame. She blinked at him and he nodded at her, smiling as much as he dared. She sniffed lightly and her eyes flashed at him. He hoped he was able to project confidence, but he knew he had a lot of feelings when it came to Werewolves. How could he not?
“He smells of fear and cut grass…no…not grass…herbs. He smells like…Mom, what does he smell like?” Aleta looked at him, her head tilted to one side, before her eyes cut to her mother. Severus raised an eyebrow as Hermione sniffed lightly and giggled.
“He smells like herbs and parchment and potions and…” she trailed off, a strange sound in her throat as she growled…or was it purring? Aleta looked at her mother, smiling and making a strange growling-trill in her throat. Severus watched as both their eyes flashed and then they both turned back to him, their heads tilted to one side. He noticed how similar they were, the only thing to distinguish the daughter from his memory of the mother the golden flash of her eyes.
“Aleta, I can make the potion for you, but there is another option that is only available for children before they hit puberty. I need to cast a few spells to check if I can use the other option. Will you let me do that?” He held up his wand, showing the inquisitive young girl the blackthorn and dragon heartstring wand he used for most of his foolish wand waving. She slid off her seat and walked towards him, watching him as she moved forward and sniffed at the wand.
“Blackthorn wood. Dragon Heartstring. Strong. Not your only wand but it is your favourite. Yes, Professor Snape, you can use your wand on me.” Aleta put her hands behind her back and stood in front of him, calmer than any other child he had ever known, unblinking. It would have been unnerving if she were not smiling at him. He lowered himself to crouch before her, making himself smaller in the process, as much as he could anyway. He raised his wand and silently cast three diagnostic charms one after another.
“Aleta, when were you born?” His voice was quiet, deep, as soothing as he knew how to make it.
“The ninth of January 1999. I’m a Capricorn, Tiger sign according to the Chinese zodiac.” She smiled at him and he was unsure what to say next.
“She was born at 38 weeks. Is that significant at all, Severus?” Hermione spoke softly and he smiled at her, shaking his head.
“No, not really. It’s just that…that’s my birthday too.” Severus smiled fully at her and Aleta made that strange growling trill again, enough to make him look at her. He quirked an eyebrow in question and she smiled at him and giggled.
“Aleta! It’s rude to giggle at Professor Snape. He doesn’t understand the call of the wolf. You need to talk to him if you have something to tell him.” Severus nodded appreciatively and drew himself back up to his full height.
“Miss Granger, would you prefer me to give you the results now or would you rather we discuss them privately?” He smiled again, trying to reassure both parties that this was all going to be ok either way.
“Aleta will have a say in the conversation anyway, Professor Snape, we might as well discuss this in front of her. Tell us, what do the spells tell you?” Hermione smiled at him, nodding softly.
“Ok, the first thing that these spells tell me is that both of you can call me Severus. Calling me Professor Snape makes me feel very old.” He chuckled, winking at them both as they both giggled again and then nodding. He took a breath and then spoke softly again.
“The second thing they tell me is that Aleta, you were born ten years, nine months and twenty-two days ago. You have not yet hit puberty and therefore are perfect to take the other option, rather than the Wolfsbane Potion. Now, there are side effects to the other option. The main one is that it will delay puberty by up to a year. But other than that, there are also potential spontaneous changes.” He looked to Hermione and shrugged slightly.
“The truth is, it’s a cross between the Wolfsbane Potion and the Animus Animare Potion, the potion that works with transfiguration to help a witch or wizard become an Animagus. It is also very experimental and has not had completely perfect results. There have been fifty test subjects. Forty of the tests have been completely successful. While the subjects still are forced to turn during the full moon, it is not painful, they are in full control and they are no more dangerous than rather mischievous puppies. Five of the test subjects cannot control their transformations outside of the full moon and have found that random occurrences can cause them to transform, painlessly but spontaneously and it can be something as simple as sneezing that sets them off. The final five did not achieve any true measure of control. There is no pain but there is no humanity behind the eyes of the wolf. However, they react incredibly poorly to Wolfsbane thereafter and thus are chained up each night of the full moon.” He sighed. The idea had been his greatest achievement. The five children, his greatest failure. He still saw them, caged and snarling, baying for his blood each night.
“Mom, I want to be a wolf all the time. Wolves are easier. They don’t lie, they don’t know how.” Aleta’s voice piped up from just around his waist and he gave her a soft smile. Hermione smiled indulgently at her daughter.
“It would be easier. And there is precedence for the Animus Animare Potion being effective in our family.” Her eyes twinkled and Severus raised an eyebrow at her as she smirked at him.
“Show him Mom! Show Pro-Mr Severus what you can do!” Aleta hopped from foot to foot and grinned up at him, her golden eyes flashing warmly. Severus looked at Hermione and immediately knew what was coming, without her saying a word. She smiled at him and morphed in front of his eyes into what appeared to be a Maned Wolf. He threw his head back and began to laugh.
“Miss Granger, only you could become a Werewolf and find the time to become the only non-wolf species of werewolf in existence! Miss Granger, you can change back now. Miss Granger?” He stepped back from her as she prowled towards him, stumbling slightly and bumping into the door frame as she sniffed the air before taking a leap at him and pinning him against the wall, licking his face once with a rough tongue that made him splutter and cough. She pulled away and sat heavily on her hind legs, looking for all the world like any other dog, not even a wolf and definitely not like any werewolf he had ever seen. She wagged her tail slowly and flicked her mane before trotting off to lick her daughter’s face. Aleta just laughed and scratched behind her ears, garnering a purring growl from her mother. A moment later, Hermione was stood in the wolf’s place, smiling sheepishly.
“I’m sorry Severus…that was rude of me. The wolf smells something it likes on you. But yes, I become a non-wolf. It’s the hair you know?” She ducked her head and he laughed slightly, shaking his head as he pulled himself up to his full height again.
“Miss…Hermione, the full moon is only a week away. I will have enough Wolfsbane for you both but…the other potion takes a full moon cycle to prepare. I can prepare it for next month though if you are willing to let me?” Severus smiled at her reassuringly and was gratified when she nodded at him.
“Severus, what are your plans for the full moon? Mom and I like to have a nice big dinner and then we go play in the basement after taking our potion. We used to have Nanna and Poppa with us but…they didn’t take their potions and the wolf inside got out. Sometimes it feels a little lonely just the two of us…two people isn’t a pack…” Aleta smiled shyly and, in that moment, he could not have denied her anything. He looked to Hermione for guidance but she was just looking at him, her head tilted to one side.
“I’m not pack either Aleta. But perhaps I could join you for dinner if that’s ok with your mother.” Hermione smiled at him beautifully and she nodded. He smiled back at her and realised that for the first time he had something to look forward to at the full moon. He was anticipating good things. That’s all he could do now.
On the night of the full moon, he left Hogwarts in a strange mood. Part of him was excited to be spending time with the Granger pack. The other part of him was furious that he had had to deal with some of the most obnoxious and dunderheaded students in the history of his teaching career. At least the Weasley twins had only been a nuisance. He apparated as loudly and as obnoxiously as he possibly could, arriving just outside the wards of the cottage with an explosion of sound. The door to the cottage slammed open and he spotted the wolf before the child. The wolf ran towards him, full pelt, mane flying behind her and he held his hands up placatingly in front of him, cursing as she leapt the gate and slammed him bodily into the ground, her front paws on his chest and her powerful jaw close to his face, growling loudly.
“Accalia! Heel!” Aleta called over from the doorway and the she-wolf, gracefully protecting her cub from the perceived threat, turned and looked over her shoulder. She whined and looked back at Severus, her golden eyes turning to honeyed whiskey and lighting with recognition. She whimpered slightly and pulled away, her tail low, and her ears tilted downwards. He sat up and, without thinking, rubbed between her ears, crooning softly.
“Hey Accalia, it’s ok girl, I’m no threat. I’m sorry I startled you. Your pup is safe, she’s ok, you’re ok.” He knew he was saying streams of nonsense, but he thought it might be reassuring that he was not going to yell at her. The she-wolf sat on her hind legs and he knew what was coming next and did not even try to stop it. She licked his face once before turning and trotting back to the cottage, turning back to him and whining when he wasn’t quick enough coming with her. He stood and dusted himself off, shaking his head with a smirk as he headed into the cottage behind the she-wolf. He smirked at her as she returned to her human form and smiled shyly at him.
“I’m sorry, I’m always a little more twitchy around the Full Moon. No one is supposed to know I am here. No one knows about Aleta or our monthly gift.” She shrugged, a smile tugging at his lips. He did not know how to react and so, he decided that he would do as little as possible to embarrass her.
“Didn’t someone say something about a big meal on the full moon? I’m sure I was invited to dinner.” His eyes sparkled at her and she stuck her tongue out, walking away from him with a sway of her hips that was definitely not present the last time he saw her. Or if it was, he hadn’t noticed and he had definitely looked at her hips last time as well. He turned to speak to Aleta, thinking that perhaps he should apologise to her as well, and noticed that she was watching him watch her mother, one eyebrow raised in a way that was so much like him that he had to chuckle. She grinned at him and walked into the lounge, beckoning him to follow her as she set up the table for three for dinner.
Dinner that night was understandably enormous; they had steak and chips with mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, sweetcorn and fresh crusty bread rolls. He was surprised with the gusto with which Aleta attacked the food and found himself chuckling as he nudged Hermione’s knee under the table. She looked at him enquiringly and he smirked, before opening his mouth to say something that could potentially provoke her ire.
“Are you absolutely certain she isn’t a Weasley?” His gaze flickered to where Aleta had a mouthful of steak and was already cutting another. Hermione’s eyes widened and then she started to giggle.
“Seeing as none of the Weasleys know she exists, I think it is highly unlikely don’t you? Although maybe they do know, and she has been taking lessons in table manners from them.” He chuckled slightly and was thankful he had not offended her. They ate in silence for the rest of the meal and Severus felt the tension in the table as the light outside began to dim and the sun set. She picked up their plates and headed to the kitchen.
“Aleta, do you want a shower before or after?” Hermione’s voice come from the kitchen and Severus turned back to the young girl who was still watching him with a quirked eyebrow.
“After Mom, I’m not dirty tonight. We haven’t done much. And I’m sure if I smell that bad, you’ll just give me a tongue bath anyway.” She giggled and the answering laugh from the kitchen made Severus smile. Hermione came back in the room with two smoking goblets and handed one to her daughter. She stood next to Severus and drank the potion quickly, the long column of her neck making his throat dry as she swallowed. She looked at him and smiled as Aleta placed her goblet on the table, empty but still smoking.
“Ok love, go on down, I need to talk to Severus for a moment. We’ll be down in a minute ok? Just, go get ready Aleta.” Hermione smiled at her daughter and they both watched in silence as Aleta walked to one of the doors he had dismissed previously, opening it and switching on the light before heading down the stairs to the basement below. Severus turned to Hermione and smiled at her, leaving the way for her to talk to him about whatever she felt he needed to hear.
“Severus, there is one thing you need to know about tonight. Tonight is going to be a learning curve for all three of us but I feel like you need to know one of the rules we have.” He gestured for her to continue and she took a shaky breath. She looked him in the eye and explained.
“There are two rooms in the cellar downstairs. Both rooms are lined with magic dampening fields so there is absolutely no chance of Aleta’s magic going rogue. Or mine for that matter. But it also means there is no way to heal yourself if something…if something happens tonight. We will think no less of you if you choose to go into the second room at any time. But once you enter that basement, you cannot leave the house. The second we close the door, there is no way in or out. Only Aleta or I can open the door from the outside and once it is closed, no one can open it from the inside for at least twelve hours. You will be trapped in the basement with two werewolves. We have both taken our Wolfsbane, you saw us take the last potion tonight. But I know what this could mean to you. I will think nothing less of you if you want to leave. Oh, and, if that isn’t enough of an incentive to leave, you should know that we…that is, Aleta and I, wait for the transformation completely naked. We have lost too many clothes and I cannot afford to buy new clothes every month, so this was the decision we made. If that makes you uncomfortable then I can understand that too and I will just tell Aleta that you were called away back to the school.” Hermione waited as he stood and was ready for the rejection she expected to receive. He could see it in her eyes, read it in the way she held herself. He knew what he had to do. Thankfully, it was exactly what he wanted to do. He dipped his head and brushed his lips across her forehead carefully.
“I’m going nowhere until I find out exactly what Accalia means.” He smirked at her and headed towards the basement door. He heard her laughter behind him and grinned to himself, stepping over the threshold and feeling the security wards washing over him, stronger than the ones at the edge of her property. He walked down the steps and, upon hearing Aleta playing to his right, he moved to wait at the bottom of the stairs for Hermione to join him. He heard the door above snick closed and smiled as he turned to watch her walk down the stairs towards him. She smiled back at him softly, like she was glad to be there, with him, in that precise moment. It was a heady thought. Her hand stroked his arm as she walked into the room where her daughter awaited the nightmare she had been born to.
The night was long, but fun. He watched their transformation, enraptured by the play of muscles under their skin. And if he paid more attention to the mother than to the daughter, well, that was only professional interest. The wolves together were…cute. Not a word he would ever have expected to use when describing werewolves if he were honest with himself. Aleta was a strange looking wolf, quite fox-like in appearance but he had found that to be a trait with a large percentage of the Greyback wolves. No, it was the distinct lack of grey and silver in her pelt that set her apart from the other Greybacks. That, and her temperament. She was the happiest little wolf cub he had ever seen. She frolicked and teased and played with her mother and even pounced on his ankles. The mother, coincidentally, seemed to know when the cub would get excited and when she would calm for sleep. Hermione, Accalia, whatever she called herself when she was in wolf form, seemed to like to cuddle up to him. She put her paws in his lap, her head on top of them, and she relaxed. He stroked her head between her ears and fell asleep, content and comfortable and happy.
He headed back to Hogwarts, more determined than ever to help Hermione and her daughter. He was going to make a batch of the potion that could change her life. He had worked out the potion himself a long time ago, straight after the War. It worked on children. He had needed to do something because there were too many children who had not had a choice when they were turned. Greyback had been a foul cretin and Severus had had more than one run in with him. This was the only way he could think of to wipe the scourge of Greyback from living memory.
The potion was an incredibly difficult combination of magics, potions and transfiguration and charms all played a part. Severus was proud of his ability to combine magics and had never found another witch or wizard who could combine them as well as he could. Although now that Hermione was around perhaps she could… Severus shook his head, laughing at himself. One night with her and he was already planning future endeavours together with her, as if she would want to spend nights and days with him. He shook his head as he continued the brewing process, bending over briefly to scratch his ankle. He wondered when he had received the scratch that decorated his ankle with three thin lines and then swore.
He gave Minerva less than five minutes warning that he was going to be leaving for the evening and Apparated immediately to Hermione’s cottage. He was quieter, knowing that her response this close to the Full Moon could be violent, and stood by the gate waiting for her. The cottage door opened and Accalia trotted out, wagging her tail and sniffing at him. She cocked her head to one side and growled slightly and he wondered if he should take it as a sign that something had changed. She turned around, walking back into the cottage and flicking her ears to get him to follow her. He walked into the cottage and was immediately set upon by a growling Hermione Granger, in her human form but displaying some of the more aggressive traits of the wolf. She stood close and sniffed him.
“You’ve been near a wolf. I can smell it on you.” Her voice was a low growl and he struggled not to find it attractive. There was something in that deep throaty growl that made him feel more than a little protected.
“The only wolves I’ve been near are you and Aleta. I swear to you, Accalia, I swear.” Severus held his hands up placatingly in front of him and she stared at him, sniffing him carefully. He closed his eyes and swallowed, the smell of sunshine and wood smoke and daisies and something else overpoweringly Hermione permeating his thoughts. He could smell the wolf on her. It smelled familiar and comfortable and happy. He growled low and dipped his head, sniffing her hair and nuzzling at it. She stepped back immediately, eyes wide, her hand flying to her mouth in shock. She shook her head numbly and he shrugged, lifting his trouser leg and exposing the scratches on his ankle as if he were a Victorian lady, ready for a scandal.
“Oh no. Oh Merlin no. Oh Severus, Severus I’m so…oh god…Oh Severus I am so sorry. Oh, oh no…oh Severus…!” Hermione was shaking, her eyes filled with tears as she glanced between his eyes and his ankle. He dropped his trouser leg and reached out for her. He carefully slid his arm around her shoulders and tugged her to him. His voice, usually smooth, rich and dark like liquid chocolate, sounded like an almost growl as he spoke into her hair.
“Accalia, hush now. It is not your fault and changes nothing. I am still brewing the potion for Aleta. I came to ask if you would help me understand the change. I suppose you didn’t know that I am already an Animagus?” Severus felt her stiffen in his arms and he waited, hoping that she would speak but not expecting the next voice.
“It’s my fault, isn’t it? I’m the reason Severus smells different.” Aleta poked her head out around the door of the living room and she looked so nervous and sheepish that Severus did the one thing he had never been good at. He offered comfort. He opened his arms to her and motioned her over, to stand in the embrace of his arms with her mother. The child shook her head, beckoning him into the living room, pointing at the sofa. Severus nodded, lifting Hermione into his arms and moving to sit on the sofa with her on his lap. Aleta clambered up next to them and rested her head on his shoulder.
“Accalia, he’s pack now. We can help him now. He’s pack. One of us…” The little girl was murmuring to her mother and Severus blinked rapidly. She had done this on purpose? But why? What possible reason did she have for wanting him around them?
“Aleta May Granger! Are you telling me that you have cursed someone to become a werewolf every month because you were bored?” Hermione’s voice was an almost screech and he winced.
“No Mom, no Accalia, not because I was bored. And it isn’t a curse. You swore it wasn’t a curse. You swore it was a gift. You promised me it was a gift.”
“I asked you before…what does Accalia mean?” Severus tried to stop the argument that he could see was coming. Aleta was becoming emotional and Hermione was sparking magic, barely in control thanks to the Full Moon still affecting her. He knew that shushing her would only make things worse and instead just rubbed her arms and back as she breathed slowly, pulling her magic back to herself.
“It means She-Wolf. Mr…Severus, sir, I didn’t curse you sir, I didn’t. Honest. You smelt like…something I couldn’t put my finger on. And something was telling me that if I made you pack you wouldn’t smell funny anymore. I’m sorry Mr Severus sir.” Aleta answered him, her voice shaking and tremulous and he smiled at her.
“You smelled it before didn’t you? You said I smelled funny when you first met me. I’m an Animagus. I’ve been one for years. Can you guess what animal I am? I’ll give you a clue. It is black.” He smiled at her, encouraging her to think.
“You didn’t smell like a cat. So, you’re not a panther. You smelled like…Mom? Mom what did he smell like? Mom…what animal do you think he was?” Severus smirked at Hermione and watched her. She tilted her head to one side, sniffing the air, as if the overwhelming smell of wolf on him was not there anymore and she was trying to smell his scent from before.
“You smelled like…like sunshine and fresh air…a bird? No, too obvious. You smelled like herbs and earth…a snake? No, wrong personality altogether. You smelled like…family. Home. I…you…I don’t know…” Hermione looked so confused that he almost laughed. He was sure there had not been many times in her life where she could honestly say that she did not know something.
“I was a Schipperke.” He spoke softly, waiting for the penny to drop. Hermione looked at him in shock and then began to giggle. Aleta still looked confused and so he leaned towards her and whispered in her ear. He soon had her giggling as well as he explained that he had been a small black fluffy dog. The combination of their laughter soon had him chuckling as well.
“So that’s why you smelled like family. The wolf could smell the other form you took. I’m still sorry that we took away the choice Severus.” She sat still in his lap and stared down at one of the buttons on his frock coat. He wondered if there was anything he could do to get her to look at him and to understand that he was ok with it. And then it hit him, like a freight train.
“I think we should see what form I’m taking now don’t you? I supposed I could still be a cute black ball of fluff until my first full moon but…perhaps not.” Hermione’s giggles continued and he gently slid her off his lap, immediately missing the weight of her sitting there. He stood in front of them and breathed deeply. He dropped his Occlumency shields, unable to keep them up during the transformation process, and hoped he didn’t become too emotional when he saw his new form.
His first form, the Schipperke had reminded him of his Mam. She had loved that little fluff ball down the street so much and when his Animagus, and original Patronus, had taken its form he had laughed solidly and shown her a few times, just to watch her smile in those dark, dark days. Then Lily had died and his Patronus had changed. Thankfully, his most recent Patronus had been the Schipperke again, and he no longer felt tied down to the pain and suffering from his broken relationship with Lily. He took a final breath, waiting for the transformation.
“Oh my goodness! Aren’t you a beautiful boy!” Hermione squealed and fell to the floor, stroking and petting his head. His tongue lolled out of his mouth. Oh, that felt good. That felt very good. He couldn’t help himself as he flopped onto his side exposing his belly for her to rub and pet him there too.
“Mom, you should get a mirror, so he can see what he looks like.” Aleta’s voice piped up from the sofa before she edged towards her mother and started to scratch between his ears. Severus was in absolute heaven as the combination of petting, scratching and rubbing felt like the best massage he had ever had. Hermione summoned a large mirror to lean against the wall and then stopped rubbing his stomach. He whined and she laughed at his visceral response.
“Go take a look, handsome boy.” She pointed at the mirror and he trotted over to look at himself in the mirror for the very first time.
His coat was dark grey, not black, with patterns of lighter grey on his back, tail and muzzle. He was definitely a wolf now, much larger than his previous form, and yet he noticed that he was distinctly smaller than Hermione’s Animagus form, a fact he confirmed when she changed in front of him, moving to sit in front of the mirror with him. He sniffed her, recognising her scent immediately, and curled his head onto her shoulder. Aleta moved to stand in front of the mirror, looking for all the world like a girl with her two pet dogs. He sniffed the child and whuffed her hair, making her giggle. He sat staring at the little family unit in the mirror until Aleta had fallen asleep and then he moved away, returning to his human form with no ceremony. Hermione too changed back, picking her daughter up gently and carrying her upstairs after asking him to wait for her on a whispered hush of breath. He sat on the sofa, wondering how long it would take and found his eyes drifting closed as he relaxed completely.
“Severus? I’m still sorry…” Her voice would have startled him if not for years of service as a spy and he opened his eyes slowly, offering her a slightly shy smile.
“I’m not. Though I am sorry to have disturbed your evening with my nonsense.” He stood to leave, and Hermione rushed to stand in front of him.
“It isn’t nonsense Severus. And…and you are always welcome here. For any reason. You’re one of the only visitors we have.” She smiled shyly at him and he smiled back, wishing he could say something more to her but knowing that his words would come out muddled and confused. Instead, he opened his arms to her, offering her comfort and the knowledge he was a solid person that was really, truly with her. She sighed and softened against him, her hand lightly tracing over his frock coat buttons and he smirked into her hair, pressing a light kiss there.
“What, Accalia, is your obsession with my buttons? You like to look at them and now you are playing with them…” He trailed off, his voice a teasing lilt and she shivered against him, looking directly at his chest and refusing to make eye contact as she took a breath to answer him, inhaling the scent of him as if it was a precious perfume.
“I like your buttons. They hide a world of secrets that I would like to uncover. I…well, I have always rather liked your buttons. At least since…” Hermione trailed off, mumbling to herself and he chose not to let her trail off completely. He slid his fingers under her jawline and lifted her chin gently.
“Since when, Miss Granger?” He raised an eyebrow imperiously at her and she smiled slightly at him.
“Since second year Duelling Club. Your power, your precision, your magnetism…it…well, like I say, I wanted to know more about your buttons then.” She blushed prettily and tried to tilt her head down but his fingers under her chin stopped her. He looked at her carefully, weighing up his options before slowly lowering his head to hers, his lips brushing against hers as more of a breath, a caress, almost unformed and ghostly in its nature. She whined softly and he pulled away, a dark laugh on his lips as he spoke to her quietly.
“That’s something that would not have happened while you were still my student. Perhaps if you had become my Apprentice but…” He trailed off, his eyes glittering as she whimpered again, standing on tiptoe to try to brush her lips against his, to try to sear him with a delicious kiss. He pulled away from her slightly and smiled softly.
“May I come back again for my first transformation on the full moon? I’ll have Aleta’s potion ready by then too, and you and I can take our Wolfsbane together while she takes the Lupus Placatus Potion.” Severus smiled at her again as she nodded. Her lips parted as if she was going to say something and he knew that he had to remain strong. If she asked him to stay, he would say yes in an instant. But tonight, it wasn’t right for them to be together. Tonight, it was too much. He left her alone that night and hated himself for it. He fancied that as he apparated away he could hear a wolf, his wolf, her wolf, who knew, crying out its melancholy to the moon.
He returned three times before the next full moon. Each time he waited until he knew Aleta would be in bed. She would open the door, beckon him into the house and kiss him like her life depended on it. She would stroke her tongue over his, growling as he would pull away each time. She used all her feminine wiles on him, as well as a few he had never even considered sampling before, but he would not be swayed. He needed her to know this was not just the call of the wolf, the cry of nature, the plea of the beast. This was about him, them, the man and the woman, not just the wolves.
The night of the full moon was soon upon them and he arrived earlier than intended, having explained to Minerva that he would be performing another of his tests of the Lupus Placatus Potion. Officially, in order for the potion to be licensed and used as a standard treatment, he had to perform tests on one hundred subjects. Aleta would be subject number 91. He hoped the potion would be successful for her. He had come to like her, and her mother, very much. He stepped straight through the gate into the cottage garden and the door opened but no maned wolf masquerading as a dog entered the garden. He walked towards the door, a sense of unease and foreboding crawling through him. A shiver ran down his spine and he palmed his wand, knowing something was wrong.
He spotted Aleta first. The girl was curled up as small as she could get in the corner of the hallway, shivering and naked, flecks of red on her body. He knew it was blood and his heart began to pound. He raised a finger to his lips as Aleta spotted him. Her eyes widened and he cast a quick shielding spell around her, after a diagnostic charm had confirmed that she was not injured, just blood spattered. He would check on her in a moment. He needed to find out where the blood had come from. He stepped slowly through the hallway and entered the living room. There was no light on at all and he cast his eyes about in search of some indication of what had happened. A dark lump, larger and bulkier than Hermione, even in her wolf form, was lying motionless in the centre of the broken coffee table. He could hear someone panting in the corner of the room but could not determine if the person was a threat or not. In one quick move, he lit his wand and turned to look into the corner. Hermione was shaking, shivering but ok. Her face was covered in blood and he panicked. He moved towards her slowly, sending the light to hover above her, a warm glowing white that would not be too harsh. He conjured a warm, wet cloth and gently started to wipe her face clean.
“Not mine. The blood’s not mine. It’s his.” Her lips were split and bleeding and she had a bruise coming under her eye. He silently cast Episkey and healed her lip, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. He pulled out the flasks of Wolfsbane and handed her one, making her drink it while he watched. He drank the second and promised to be back with her in a moment. He stood, sparing a glance for the poor sod who was obviously dead on the table before he walked back to the hall to check on Aleta. The girl was still shivering, and he removed his cloak, wrapping it around her shoulders and picking her up to carry her to her mother. He deposited Aleta next to Hermione and hastily removed his frock coat to lay it over the two of them, casting a shield over them as he thrust the Lupus Placatus Potion at Hermione.
“Make sure she drinks every drop and then make your way down to the cellar. I will sort this out.” He stood between his girls and the interloper and made sure to block their view. He heard Aleta drinking and heard them shuffle to their feet. They moved together to the basement door and he watched as Hermione turned back to look at him.
“Go ahead love. I’ll be with you in a moment. Cast a few warming charms if you need to. Or just wrap yourself in the clothes. I’ll be down soon, before the moon rises fully. I promise.” Severus turned back to the body and took a deep breath, thankful to hear two sets of footsteps on the stairs to the basement. He turned on a light and looked down at the broken body. Male, late twenties to early thirties, greyish brown hair…and the scent of wolf on him. Definitely a werewolf, definitely a Greyback werewolf. Severus had some inclination as to what had happened, and he looked at the body with distaste. Somehow, someone had found out about Aleta. Someone from the Greyback pack. They had come to take her away and Hermione, bless her, Hermione had fought against him and killed him in the most brutal way she could. Never come between a Mama and her cub.
He levitated the body, a slight flash of recognition crossing his features as he realised that this was the father of one of the werewolves who had not been so lucky with the potion he had created. Severus moved him to one side, covering him with a handkerchief transfigured into a large white sheet, repaired the coffee table as best he could, noticing that it had a fine crack that he could not repair, and ran to the basement door. He fired off a last minute Patronus, hoping that the body would be gone and disposed of by the time the sun rose the next morning.
He closed the door behind him and took a breath, walking swiftly down to look after his girls. Accalia, for it was she that greeted him, whined pathetically and lifted her head from her paws. Aleta was curled up in his frock coat, lying against her mother and still shaking, though she gave him a half smile as she snuggled deeper into the burrito she had made of the frock coat. He looked at them silently for a moment before using a spell of his own creation to remove his clothes, down to his underwear, and then banished the clothes to the other room. He moved to the low futon they sat on and sat next to them. He soon found himself with a young girl pressing herself to his chest as she sobbed and a very affectionate and slightly scared Mama wolf pressed into his side with her hand on the little girl’s lap.
Their transformation was subdued that night and he nuzzled and stroked and curled around his girls, holding Hermione close as Aleta curled between them both, sleeping the sleep of the truly exhausted. The three wolves remained in their complimentary Animagus forms long into the morning, neither of the females waking up when the Aurors that Severus had called the night before arrived to check on the victim. They came, they repaired all the damage that Severus had missed, they removed the body and then they left. And only one of the three wolves was aware of it happening.
Severus walked up the stairs first, urging Hermione and Aleta to stay downstairs and dress before they started the day. He had clothed himself as soon as he was in his human form and so was happily able to cover the reaction he had had to Hermione’s proximity so that Aleta and Hermione were both unaware of the reaction, at least as much as possible.
The body was, thankfully, gone. The smell was…easily siphoned away, though he realised that the smell would only be obvious because of his wolf-enhanced senses. He heard the footsteps of his pack behind him and turned to encourage them to enter the room.
“It’s ok…I…I sorted it out before I came down last night. I told you I would love.” Severus smiled and held out his hand to Hermione. She reached back, encouraging Aleta to follow and closing the door behind them.
“Do you…do you know who…?” The words, she knew, were inappropriate but she obviously could not hold them in.
“It doesn’t matter who he was. He was a wolf, choosing to attack. There will be no charges filed. And no one knows who you are. Do you trust me?” Severus spoke softly and Hermione whined at him, snuggling close to him.
“Of course I trust you Severus. We’re pack.” She leaned up and kissed his neck, directly on the scars he had from the snake. He groaned softly, turning it into a growl as she giggled at him.
“Food I think. And then we need to talk about Aleta and check how the potion worked.” Severus smiled, brushing her lips with his own before heading to her kitchen to see what there was to eat. A grey cat Patronus entered the kitchen and he rolled his eyes. The cat opened its mouth and Minerva’s voice echoed around him softly.
“Severus, I hope I am not disturbing you. I have had two Aurors arrive today needing to talk to you. They have been here since nine. If you are not here by one, they have threatened to use a tracking spell. I think perhaps you do not want this particular pair to know where you are.” He groaned loudly, glancing at the clock on her wall and smiled. He had two hours. He would arrive early, but he needed food first.
Returning to Hogwarts, his stomach and his heart full, he spotted the Aurors he really did not want to see. Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley were waiting for him at the gates, neither thankfully in full Auror regalia, but still obviously there in an official capacity.
“Potter, Weasley, what is this all about then?” He glared at them and they smiled nervously. The ginger haired menace rubbed the back of his neck nervously and Potter squared his shoulders.
“Professor Snape, do you recall that after the War you registered your status as an Animagus in accordance with the law?” Ah, so it was to be an interrogation. Why then was this being done in public?
“I do recall.” Severus decided now was not the time to embellish. If they had questions of him, he would respond as concisely as possible.
“And could you please confirm the form you take when you transform? Verbally is fine.” Potter’s eyes widened slightly, and Severus realised he was trying to help him somehow.
“My Animagus form is that of a Schipperke, a small, black, fluffy dog.” He grimaced as Ronald Weasley snorted with laughter softly.
“And, Professor Snape, did you also register with the Werewolf Commission as required under the 2002 High Commissioner’s Lupine Act as someone who works with or for Werewolves?” Potter quirked a smile at him and Severus nodded before realising he would have to answer verbally, in case this was somehow being recorded.
“Yes, I did, when I started working with them and the Lupus Placatus Potion in 2003.” Well, perhaps he would attempt to give them a little extra information.
“And are you aware Professor Snape that the form you filled in is periodically checked, namely on the morning after the full moon?” Potter looked bashful and uncomfortable and Severus frowned. No, he had not been made aware of that fact, but he could acknowledge that it made sense.
“I was not aware.” Severus was unsure where this line of questioning was going until Potter opened his mouth to ask one last question.
“Just one last thing, your Sire is now noted as an unregistered Werewolf, so we must ask… Who is Aleta May Granger?” Severus froze, unable to come up with an answer on the fly and internally screaming and howling with rage. How could he have been so foolish? How could he have made such a mistake? What the hell did he do now?
A crack of Apparition shook the ground and he turned, wand in hand. Hermione stood with Aleta, getting her bearings before rushing to him and wrapping her arms around him. He caught her, holding her and Aleta close and stroking her hair. Tears streamed down his face as he realised that she was there because of him.
“I felt your distress through the pack bond, Severus. What’s wrong love?” Her words were soft and soothing, a balm to his soul.
“They asked about Aleta. She’s not registered. They need to know…I…” He whispered to her and she sighed sadly. It wasn’t his fault. Now it was time to face the music. She kissed him lightly on the cheek and brushed the tears from his eyes with her thumbs. She stepped out from behind him and heard her old friends gasp as they looked at her for the first time in ten years.
“Aleta May Granger, Sire to Professor Severus Snape, is my daughter. Both she and I are not yet registered as we have only come to England in the last six weeks. We wanted to have an actual address to register ourselves.” Hermione gave a shaky smile and lifted her hand in a half-wave. Potter and Weasley’s jaws dropped and they stared at her as if they had never seen her before. She reached for Aleta’s hand but found that it was not where she had expected. She looked behind her and saw that Severus had turned back to face the Aurors, Aleta in his arms, looking for all the world like she belonged there. Hermione couldn’t help herself and stepped closer, aligning herself with Severus so that they could appear as she meant them to. As one. As family. As pack.