Chapter 118: Epilogue
"Darling, Something Has Come Between Us"
Disclaimer: Yeah, last fucking disclaimer! Rowling and various corporate entities own Harry Potter, I don't, I'm just playing with them for your and my non-revenue-generating amusement. There, DONE!
As Hermione sat staring at her mug of tea, she heaved a troubled sigh. Glancing up, she looked at her husband, who sat far away at the other end of the table.
With her mouth pulled into a moue, she said with some great somberness, "Darling, something has come between us." There was a tired look in Hermione's eyes as she cast them down at the gulf between husband and wife.
Severus looked at his wife sitting at the other far end of the table, appearing a bit forlorn. He gladly would have slid right over across the long bench, and held her in his arms, but two of their three children on whom Hermione cast her gaze were sitting between them filling up that vast space, thus keeping them momentarily apart.
It was Hermione's subtle line indicating that though she loved their children, she needed a bit of T.L.C. from her husband all by herself, away from the kids. Last night they were hoping to have a night alone, but alas, their youngest, Albert – named after Hermione's Potions master and friend, who had passed away about a year before his namesake was born – decided that the rooms at the Leaky Cauldron smelled funny, the building creaked and the ghost in the room he was going to share with Kaimi was a bit too scary. So of course, that meant their four-year-old son demanded to sleep with his parents. No amount of assurances that the ghost was friendly or that all old buildings made noises could convince Albert to sleep in the room he was going to share with Kaimi. The youngest Finau child had agreed to come along for the trip to England for a free Portkey ticket, meals, lodging, and all expenses paid while coming out for a job interview at Hogwarts; all she had to do was play nanny to the kids while along for the trip.
It was strange for Albert to be afraid of ghosts, as he had befriended some during the many trips abroad that his parents brought him along, as well as sleeping in many a dusty, drafty and creaky old temples, palaces, and manors. He was a sensitive child who was highly attuned to the emotions of family members, especially his parents. It was probably their apprehension of coming back to England for the first time since Albert Dobmeir's funeral that spurred him to cling so tightly to their sides, sensing his parents' own fears of returning.
Kaimi, who was twenty now, picked up on the subtle exchange between Mr. and Mrs. Snape. "I can always take the kids out sightseeing for the day if need be so you have a chance to rest," she said delicately.
"We may take you up on that." Severus scrubbed his face with his hands, thinking if he and Hermione did have a few hours, instead of making love, they might just drop off to sleep instead. Hermione had to sing Zhubanysh's old lullaby to Albert for nearly half an hour before he dropped off the night before, long after his father had already been lulled to sleep by his wife's sweet voice.
They did take their Portkey Lag Potions when they arrived the night before, but it had been a trying few months for both the Snapes. Hermione was finishing training the new Operations Manager at the Malu Palekaiko facility before her week-long trip away, given that Draco was back in England with his family that week too and would not be there to supervise in her stead. Not to mention, one of their children had had a case of Troll Flu about six weeks prior; it threw everyone's schedule off for a while with her constant need for care until she was over the worst of it.
Severus also had quite the harrowing week. Jerry, who still tutored part-time at his shop when he wasn't teaching at the local academy, was laid up in the clinic. When a Peruvian Vipertooth dragon came to nest in the caldera the previous week, the beast decided to investigate the activity in the town and started climbing down the volcano mountainside towards the town. Jerry, as he had done in the past when a dragon got too curious, has transfigured into a dragon in order to lure the beast away from the town, and – if need be – out to sea to encourage it with its migration towards southern Chile. What he didn't count on was the dragon was male and that a female was approaching the island, intent with mating with the dragon roosting there. The pair were out of their usual mating area, which was normally Easter Island, since breeding pairs met halfway between Chile and Malu Palekaiko on their migration to and from Japan.
The male dragon suddenly decided it wanted to battle for the genetic supremacy of mating with the female, even though Jerry's transfigured form was of a different dragon breed entirely. Jerry, who was not familiar with mating habits of all three dragon breeds that visited the island during migrations, ducked down his head and the leading edge of his wings, exposing the tops of his wings; he was thinking this was an act of submission, and that the other male had won the right to breed with the female. That might have worked with a Japanese Imperial Dragon or a Chinese Fireball, but with a Peruvian Vipertooth, it was a challenge to battle, a posture a Peruvian Vipertooth male would take before launching himself at the challenging male.
It resulted in Jerry taking to wing and flying as fast as his could out on a southwest vector, closer to the normal breeding grounds. And to Jerry's detriment, he learned that though he might transfigure into a dragon, he was not entirely fireproof from other dragons. Mounga had followed on a broom with a Portkey to bring him to the clinic. Mounga was able to catch Jerry before he fell into the ocean, too tired to remain in his transfigured form any longer after flying till his wings ached and his heart nearly burst from exhaustion while suffering from some moderate burns.
Those in the clinic, especially Rainbow, who treated him for burns, were sworn to secrecy of Jerry's particular Animagus form, since they were able to piece together how that third dragon mysteriously appeared on the island to draw the two dragons away.
Severus was drawn away from his own thoughts of his co-worker and friend when Hermione asked Kaimi, "Since Albert didn't sleep with you, you must have had a chance to prepare for your interview for the Herbology opening?"
"Actually, I was too excited to review my notes and latest journals, and so I went downstairs for a couple pints last night." Kaimi poked at her breakfast distractedly. "In fact, some Irish dude was seriously picking up on me. Shawn... no Seamus. Seamus Flaherty... Finnoley–"
"Seamus Finnigan," Hermione corrected her tartly.
"Yeah, that's it. You know him?" Kaimi asked, her smile brightening as she plopped her chin in her hand with her elbow on the table, just like her mother did. She was suddenly energized despite the lack of caffeine after earlier complaining about the quality of the coffee in England, calling it "lamprey quality, because it sucked so badly."
"Yes. Stay away from him," Hermione warned sternly, recalling his rude comments after her divorce from Ron.
"Whoa. You must have gone to school with him for you to dislike him that badly," she replied with an amused chuckle to see her Aunt Hermione take on such a sour disposition so quickly by the mention of a name alone. "Well, don't worry. He had desperation coming off of him in waves, like some sleazy lounge lizard on the prowl."
Severus nodded, pleased his favorite niece still had more horse sense than her older sister when it came to some wizards. At least Akela had the good sense to hold on to Tristan when he came along in her life, instead of pining her days away for that no-good Ulrich boy who had fathered a few bastards on the island out of wedlock, much to the distress of his wife, Kiki. The Snapes and Kaimi were planning on swinging through Salem on the way back home towards the end of their trip to visit Akela, Tristan, and the new baby.
"So when do you think Draco and Ginny will show up? Today?" Kaimi asked, as they had spent the night at the Leaky Cauldron since the Malfoys were delayed coming back to England for a few days. There was a last-minute rescheduling to meet with the psychologists, counselors, and school officials regarding Libra back in Hawaii. It seems transitioning to a Muggle school for a Squib could be just as difficult as a Muggle-born to a wizarding school during their first year.
"Tomorrow. They assured me they will be back in time to meet Phoenix and Sebastian when they get off the Hogwarts Express when it arrives tomorrow evening, but we'll have to spend one more night here, since Malfoy Manor is closed until the Master and Mistress return," Severus explained.
This news was met with cheers from their daughters Gabrielle and Viola, but only made Albert snuggle against his mother's side in search of comfort, not enjoying the "charming and old-world rustic attributes" of the pub that was over five-hundred years old.
Gabrielle, who had her mother's curious brown eyes and brown hair that was tamed a bit by her father's genes, asked, "So the party at Malfoy Manor will still happen, and I'll be able to ask Phoenix and Sebastian about their first year at Hogwarts then?"
"Yes," Hermione assured their eldest daughter. "The party will happen, and you'll have a chance to ask them. And you can ask Devlin and Michael about taking their N.E.W.T.s as well."
Some months after Hermione was granted sanctuary, Severus began asking her very specific details about the woman who met her on the path towards what they referred to as the Valley of Death. It was with a viewing in a Pensieve that Severus' thoughts were confirmed, identifying the woman as his dead first wife. Three months after their wedding when Hermione discovered she was pregnant, she asked him if it was a girl whether they could name her after Severus' first wife, for it was Gabrielle who pointed her in the right direction so that they could be rejoined.
The whole reason why Hermione and Severus finally decided to return to England was for the fact that Gabrielle was nine, and would soon have the choice of starting wizarding school at the local academy when she turned ten, or attending Hogwarts like her parents did when she turned eleven. This trip was for Gabrielle to weigh the options of going to a school far, far away on the other side of the world with the reputation as being one of the world's best schools, or to stay in Hawaii and go to the local academy where all her friends would be but the education and prestige were not as august. And while she would not be without friends, as Phoenix and Sebastian were three years older, and there was a whole brood of Weasleys infecting the school who would stick up for their "cousin," there was the aspect of being far away from immediate family to think of. Regarding the quality of her education, should she stay in Hawaii, with Severus and Hermione's endless work on the Board of Governors to improve the quality of teaching and the curriculum, she would be well-educated to be sure. The school was rising up through the ranks of notable academic institutions. And then there was the fact she was a Snape, so she would be tutored to excel above and beyond the standard requirements needed to pass her classes, if she was anything like her parents, which she was in that regard.
This trip was not just for Gabrielle to weigh her options, but for Hermione and Severus to see if they could deal with the thought of their daughter being away in England, a country they both fled due to prejudices, injustice, violence, and the deep lingering after-effects of the war. Draco and Ginny had been back to England many times; they themselves were somewhat hesitant to let their children attend Hogwarts, but noticed that as time passed, life did somewhat resume a sense of normalcy. For example, Victory Day was now being celebrated more with sales signs in window shops along Diagon Alley than as a day of somber remembrance of those who perished and those who fought against bigotry and tyranny. Even the numbers who attended Victory Day speeches by the fountain in the Ministry atrium had dwindled over the years to the point that those who regularly attended were those who had fought the hardest and lost the most. It seems Alan Parker was right in the respect that people had moved on to forget dark days of the past, to only wanting to remember better times.
Viola, who had her father's dark locks but blessed with some waves and body from her mother's side, asked, "Kaimi? Why didn't you go to Hogwarts?" The child's ice-blue eyes blinked up at her favorite babysitter curiously; she had the same striking blue eyes Severus' great-grandmother, Septima Snape, once had. Between her wavy raven locks, striking eyes, and delicate features, Severus knew he would be chasing the boys off with a Beater's bat and setting some very stringent wards on his daughter's window when she was older.
"That's because I'm not a British citizen. You, Gabrielle, and Albert are. Your parents never gave up their citizenship, even though they live in Hawaii. So of course since you are British citizens, you'll get a letter with an offer to attend Hogwarts, just like Phoenix and Sebastian did," she informed her charges with great authority, knowing how these things worked.
It was when Libra's letter to Hogwarts never arrived, Draco and Ginny's fears their daughter was a squib were confirmed. They even Portkeyed to Scotland and talked directly to Headmistress Sprout to make sure that the letter was in no way lost, as it would have gone half-way around the world via albatross.
Albert poked at his porridge sullenly. "Mummy, isn't there any fresh fruit or rice for breakfast?"
Severus looked over at his son's breakfast and looked down at his, noticing he’d barely touched his own. "Would you care for my eggs and sausage instead?" he offered Albert.
His son eagerly nodded his head and gladly swapped breakfasts. Severus was in the mood for something lighter than what he'd ordered, not realizing his own stomach would be in knots from the trip and the constant sense of tension. His hand was always at the ready to grab his wand and defend his wife and family at a moment's notice, given Hermione's reason for seeking sanctuary years earlier.
Last night as they checked into the Leaky Cauldron, Severus had been approached by a witch with a frantic look in her eye. It was when she shoved a copy of Severus Snape's Home Brew Tips: Volume Four that he realized she was not a threat bent on eradicating the ex-Death Eater due to some longstanding grudge, but a fan of his newspaper Potions brewing column seeking an autograph on her copy. Severus' column had quickly turned from a weekly column to a daily one with publication in many of the English-language wizarding newspapers around the world within five years. It pleased him that in the latest poll in the United States and Europe he was far more famous than Gilderoy Lockhart, who was still a permanent resident at St. Mungo's.
Knowing of his own fame – of the good kind – still did not ease the fear that there were those who remembered him under less respectable circumstances. There were many still roaming about Great Britain who were sympathetic to the Dark Lord, and who might view him as the traitor who turned the tide against the greater good of wizardkind, much like Alan Parker.
Kaimi looked at the breakfast fare on the table, and her own kippers that did not live up to her expectations, and muttered to herself, "I would Crucio or A.K. for a bagel, cream cheese, and lox." It was a popular breakfast item at the Ohana Family Diner upon Jerry's insistence they include the New York breakfast staple on the menu, and it was one of Kaimi's favorites.
Severus glared at Miss Finau, not particularly caring for that particular slang phrase that was popular among the young set of witches and wizards on the island, making light of two of the three Unforgivables. Upon seeing Severus' pointed look, she quickly apologized.
To change the mood that had suddenly grown a bit gloomy, Kaimi brightly asked, "Why don't we let your mom and dad have a chance to take care of boring things today while the four of us go have some fun. What would you guys like to do today?"
"Florean Fortescue's Sybaritic Mountainous Matterhorn Sundae!" Gabrielle shouted, as she was as much if not more of a chocolate fan than her mother.
Hermione's stomach turned at the thought of a rich chocolate dessert so early in the morning. She had ordered toast for breakfast and had barely nibbled at it and sipped at her tea. Her own nerves were somewhat frazzled at the fact she was back in England after leaving the country in haste eleven years ago.
"That's not something to do, but we can put it on the itinerary – after lunch." Kaimi took a swig of her coffee and winced, put off by the bitter and acid taste compared to the Kona coffee she was spoiled on growing up.
"Flourish and Blotts?" Viola suggested.
"That big fat Ferris wheel?" Albert said, now less attached to his mother's side, being swept up in the excitement of sightseeing. "And the Knight Bus?"
Severus gave a short laugh at his son's suggestion that a purple triple-decker bus would be something in which to visit on purpose. The rest of wizarding Britain viewed it as a mode of transportation to be avoided at all costs unless absolutely necessary as a last resort.
Kaimi conjured parchment, quill, and ink with her wand, and began scribbling down suggestions for the day.
"Hogsmeade!" Gabrielle added.
"We'll go to Hogsmeade together as a family later this week. Today I would prefer if you all stick around London," Severus recommended firmly.
Kaimi understood his concerns, replying, "Not a problem." Turning back to the children, she excitedly added, "There is so much to see and do around here, we won't even have to Floo anywhere."
"Ooh! What about London Bridge?" Viola suggested
"The one that fell down?" Albert queried, wondering if it was the same one from the nursery rhyme.
"No, no, the tall one," Viola clarified, not knowing the exact name.
"Oh, you mean Tower Bridge," Hermione corrected her.
"Yeah, that one! I hear you can even walk along the top between the two towers."
Kaimi wrote that one down as well for ideas. "Sure. And the Tower of London is right next to it. Do you want to see that too?"
"No," Gabrielle declined, making a face she was not impressed or inclined to visit that place. "Naomi said the Crown Jewels were pretty tiny actually, and the ghosts are sort of surly."
The mention of more ghosts who were less than friendly sent Albert burrowing into his mother's side once more for security and comfort. He was only four and still very much a little boy who would only be starting at the new kindergarten and elementary school next year.
It had taken a while for the town to accept the idea of letting a formal institution teach children basic reading, writing, and math during formative years before starting wizarding school. However, given how many witches worked at either the busy resort on the west side of the island or at the Lovely Lavender facility and didn't have the time to teach their children themselves, it was welcomed.
"That sounds like a full day." Hermione patted Albert's hip and gave him a buss on the top of his head.
Gabrielle turned her attention to the growing list next to her parents across the table. "Mum, Dad, will you show us where you lived in Diagon Alley before you moved to Hawaii?"
"Sure, it's not that far from H.Q.," Hermione assured her, referring to The Lovely Lavender Company world headquarters, "but not today."
Albert, sensing his mother's fatigue, asked, "Are you both okay, Mummy?"
"Yes, your father and I are fine." She patted her son on his hip again, slightly puzzled by the slightly frustrated look on Albert's face. "We've just had a long week and would like to take a breather before the party commences at Malfoy Manor, celebrating the first of the next generation of Weasleys graduating Hogwarts," Hermione said with a bit of wariness hoping she could avoid speaking or running into her ex-mother-in-law all night long.
Noticing that no more breakfast would be eaten, Kaimi announced in a slightly theatrical tone, "Well, if everyone has their brollies and jackets, in case of rain, let's get going and see if we can beat the crowds at the London Eye. And we need to be back here by four, as your mother has an appointment to take you girls with her to Madam Mandel's."
Since there was going to be a party at Malfoy Manor, Hermione figured it was a good excuse as any to get a few good dresses for the girls for the party and several good new dresses for herself. She no longer fit the dresses she bought years ago; her body changed due to age, a little extra padding Severus was glad she was finally sporting that added to her curves, and three pregnancies.
After making sure that Kaimi had enough Muggle money for fees, lunches, Tube fare and such for everyone, plus souvenirs, Hermione told them to stop before they headed out the door.
Reaching into her blouse, she pulled out her Auror's necklace she promised Harry she would wear any time she came back to England. She had worn it for when she came back for Albert's funeral and alerted Harry she'd wear it for her return this trip.
"Here. Put this on. I will feel better if you have this with you just in case. Just call out in your mind for Harry and he'll come if you need anything, like if Albert wanders off again," Hermione recalled that rather fretful time he toddled off when she took the kids to the mall in Honolulu to go Christmas shopping last December. Albert didn't want to be found since he was busy enjoying himself at the mall toy store, which made locating him much harder.
Kaimi already knew how it worked and didn't exhibit any impatience when having it explained to her again, understanding a mother's concern. "Are you sure, because–"
"I'll have Severus with me. I'll be safe." Hermione squeezed Severus' hand as they stood side-by-side, the parents already having given strict orders to their children to obey Kaimi while they were out and about, and warnings that any mischief would certainly be reported back to them.
Viola and Albert demanded hugs and kisses before leaving. Gabrielle was too excited to finally be in England to think of giving her parents a farewell before tromping off into the big city on some grand adventure.
Before they left, Albert decided his mother needed one extra kiss goodbye before he readily clasped his hand in Kaimi's and they were off.
As Hermione dragged herself upstairs back to their rooms, Severus informed Tom the barman they'd need the rooms for one more night. They would have stayed at Lavender and Ron's place, but the house was currently under renovation. Besides, Severus felt odd at the idea boarding at the home of Hermione's ex-husband and his former employer.
Hermione had almost dozed off by the time her husband followed her into the room shortly behind her.
"Albert seemed quite concerned for you. Are you feeling all right?" Severus asked as he toed off his boots, pulled off his long frock coat, and crawled onto the bed to curl up behind his wife, rubbing her back with the flat of his palm along her spine. He had learned to pay attention to his son since he seemed to have a certain sixth sense about things that later proved to bear out.
"Yes, I suppose," she sighed, giving a soft moan of appreciation of his hands caressing her back in a mix of reassurance and therapeutic need. "Weeks of worrying that we'd arrive and find an angry mob to greet us came to nothing, thank goodness."
Severus remembered her nightmares that manifested and woke him with her shouts in the middle of the night once they’d agreed to come back to England. There were a few times he had to sing a song of his love to calm her down and keep the nightmares away, her apprehension about returning growing as the departure date arose.
"I'm just feeling pretty tired as of late. Long nights, training Yvonne, the new Operations Manager. I mean, she proved herself by working her way up through the various divisions, but I'm still a bit nervous. But there is the mirror in Lavender's office if anything arises, so I shouldn't worry. And thank God for hired elves, or we would have been eating Floo take-away every night this week." And then there was the fact they didn't even have the time or energy to go to the hot springs the Wednesday before to soak their aches away.
Severus gave his own sigh of exhaustion and threw an arm over Hermione's ribs to snuggle up closer to her. "It didn't help that Jerry's accident occurred right when Pat took off for two week to go take care of Orin's family as the baby came a few weeks early. But I was able to wrap up and reschedule everything so I could shut the shop down entirely, since Jerry won't be there to tutor."
Smiling to herself, Hermione bumped back against Severus groin playfully. "Think there's enough fire under that cauldron to get in one lazy tussle?"
"Did you pack any Sequoia, because after the long couple weeks we've both had and Albert rabbit-kicking me in the kidneys and ribs for half the night, I don't have the energy unless I get a boost," he ruefully admitted.
Hermione made an exaggerated grunt as if her wand was made of lead as she halfheartedly made an attempt to Summon a vial, but she let her hand and wand flop back down on the bed with a groan of defeat. "How about a nap and then a shag?" she mumbled with her face half smothered in a pillow.
Severus did have just enough energy to cast a spell to undress them both and tuck them under the bedclothes to sleep in the nude. They figured the children would not be back for at least six hours, so hopefully that would give enough time for a rejuvenating nap and a full round of much overdue intimacies, since it had been almost two weeks.
Severus and Hermione mingled as the children ran about, playing with their "cousins." While Hermione was no longer officially a Weasley after divorcing Ron, many in the Weasley family did still consider her part of the clan in a similarly adopted fashion as Severus was with the Finau family. Molly's, Percy's and Charlie's votes on the matter were informally overruled; however, they still ignored the ex-wife of Ron. Hermione and Severus kept their civil distance from the more contentious and unforgiving members of the Weasley family as they milled about.
Devlin and Michael, who were still thick as thieves, were both trying to put the moves on the lovely Miss Kaimi Finau.
The youngest of the Finau daughters had grown into a lovely witch in her own right. She was a mix of Polynesian goddess and Tongan-Amazonian warrior, with a very fit and femininely muscular frame she had built up with her aggressive Quidditch skills as a Seeker on the local amateur adult team back in Malu Palekaiko. She had been approached to play professionally, but after growing up with tales about the life of a Quidditch player from her Aunty Hermione, she decided to pursue Herbology as a career and keep the Quidditch playing as a hobby. For the fact she had been approached to play professionally only intrigued Michael and Devlin; the boys were thinking a witch who played Quidditch that well must be a Chinese Fireball in the sack, having learned the Weasley way of equating Quidditch skills into the bedroom.
Devlin, who stood up on the balls of his feet in order to appear taller while standing next to the six–foot-tall Miss Finau who towered over him, offered her a glass of champagne as Michael scrambled to get one into her hand before his rival.
Kaimi, who was amused to have two wizards vie for her affections, cast an amused glance over at Hermione, who merely shrugged at the droll situation. As Kaimi began dating a few years prior, Aunty Hermione and Aunty Gig-Gin both gave her some rather sage advice regarding young wizards, expectations, experience, and dating. Looking at these two young wizards who were a few years younger than her, she figured if anything, she could teach either of them a few things, though her own experience was rather limited. It was hard to find wizards in the Hawaiian Islands who dared to date the town judge's youngest daughter and the favorite niece of the formidable Potions master, Severus Snape, six-time Pele Festival Dueling Champion. Heaven help the wizard when Severus' god-daughters and own daughters came of age.
After accepting a glass of champagne from Michael, who at least was nearly as tall as her, she thanked him, patting him on the cheek, saying, "Owl me when you've learned to shave, iki kane." Then she glided off to talk with Draco, since he wanted to discuss with her about where he should build the orangery in the gardens.
Ginny, who stood next to Hermione and watched the exchange, laughed. "Maybe we taught her too well. What a man-eater," Mrs. Malfoy noted, watching how Michael and Devlin watched Kaimi with ephebic adoration as she glided away from them without a glance backwards.
"She has the good sense to avoid immature wizards," Severus praised his niece, announcing his presence to the pair of witches as he brought his wife a glass of champagne. He had his own good sense to not make any comment about the fact that both witches had not learned such lessons until they were much older, to their sorrow.
As the Snapes strolled around, they caught sight of Gabrielle in a corner with the Malfoy triplets and Josephine, no doubt exchanging the pros and cons of attending Hogwarts. One of those cons would be the reputation that preceded their names.
During the early part of the school year, Draco and Ginny had to personally Portkey all the way from Hawaii to Hogwarts to speak with Headmistress Sprout after Phoenix had sent Finch-Fletchley Jr. to the Infirmary to have his tongue reattached. Neither Ginny nor Draco saw any reason for their daughter to be censured or given detentions, given the fact the little Hufflepuff upstart said, "It served the Malfoy family right that a Death Eater would give birth to a Squib."
Of course Phoenix had a month's worth of detention that was school policy for such attacks on another student, and Finch-Fletchley Jr. had six weeks of detention for such a cruel and insensitive statement, inciting the incident to begin with. The rest of the Weasley clan backed their little Malfoy cousins, also feeling rather protective of Libra, who could not be there to defend her own name. Needless to say, the few Weasleys who were also sorted into Hufflepuff continued to make life Hell for Finch-Fletchley Jr. the rest of the year with various Treble-W "experiments" going off in the little shit's bed at all hours of the night, without getting caught as any Weasley worth their salt would. Given that there were twenty Weasleys attending Hogwarts at once, the school quickly learned the any attacks on their ickle firstie Malfoy cousins, verbally or by wand, would be dealt with swiftly and with prejudice.
Hermione took a sip of champagne and grimaced, setting it down finding the taste slightly off, before guiding her husband over to the buffet. Her appetite had returned now that it seemed that her presence back in England was a non-event, and no one would be out to get her, Severus, or their children. That still didn't mean she wanted to move back, given the fact she and Severus had fit into the community in Malu Palekaiko quite nicely and loved living there.
As Hermione wolfed down another canape, the twins ambushed the pair. "Got any more interesting books that you've 'translated' into English you'd like to publish?" George asked, as he came around Hermione's right side while Fred came up from behind Severus' left.
"There is no lack of... inspiration of source material; however, time and energy are limited with three young children in the house, something you're familiar with," Severus reminded the brothers.
"Your book..." Fred coughed to correct himself with deliberateness. "Sorry, Taichi Daikon's book of Japanese haiku, Dark Passions, is selling so fast we can barely keep up with demand." The Galleons flowing into the Snapes' vault in Hawaii told them as much.
Of course Fred and George knew that Hermione and Severus wrote that book of erotic haiku, sold under the alluring narrative that it was discovered in a long-forgotten cavern temple built where two lovers secretly met to consummate their forbidden passions, given the war between their clans. The collection of haiku was "supposedly" penned by the lovelorn wizard and his secret witch lover. This collection was eventually “accidentally” discovered centuries later by the Snapes as they searched for rare Potions ingredients while abroad and stumbled into the hidden sanctuary. Then the collection was faithfully translated by the couple.
Smiling up at her husband, she demurely said in Japanese,
"Falling petals twirl
A dance between two lovers
Drifting on a breeze"
Fred and George exchanged glances. "Is that one that can be translated with underage children around?" Fred asked warily.
Severus translated faithfully as he gave a smirk of triumph, knowing he could still inspire his wife since that was a new one he had not heard from her before. Severus and Hermione were not ones to spout poetry to each other, but they did enjoy the economy of contextually rich words of the Japanese language, imparting so much meaning, overt and subtle with a few syllables. It had become a game to them, which is how they eventually compiled their first attempt at publishing poetry under the nom de plume that roughly translated to "big/thick radish."
"Whew," George said prematurely before Severus launched into one he came up with suddenly upon recalling their long tryst in their room at the Leaky Cauldron the other day.
Beckons bees to the flower
Sipping from her bloom"
From the knowing smile Hermione suddenly gave her husband, the twins knew better than to ask for a translation right there and then.
Just then, Lily Potter and Jessica Taylor barreled straight into Fred and George, asking their "uncles" for some trick or joke to give them to get back at their older brothers, James and Auberon.
"It's not fair Auberon has a wand and can give me little shocks, but I have to wait until I'm eleven until I can get a wand to get him back," Jessica whinged loudly as only a nine-year-old girl could. She had already started displaying signs of magic, and knew she'd attend Hogwarts one day.
Upon hearing Jessica's complaint echo across the room, Christine stormed across the ballroom, growling her son's name murderously under her breath, as he'd broken a cardinal rule of their house.
Fred pulled something out of his pocket, insisting, "Don't tell your mum where you got it. Say it fell out of Uncle Ron's pocket if you get caught."
"As her cousin, I did not hear that," Hermione feigned, while trying to stifle a giggle, somewhat pleased that the twins might put her ex in the doghouse with her Aunt.
Hermione had her own urchin suddenly clinging to her side. Albert, who had been circulating among the many blood and adopted cousins at the party, clutched onto her arm possessively, asking, "Are you both okay, Mummy?" Like all the Snape and Malfoy children growing up in Hawaii, they may address their parents with a British accent regarding their names, but the rest of what they said was pure American accent. This had also caused some teasing of Phoenix and Sebastian at Hogwarts from the other children for a while.
"Yes, Albert, I'm fine." She was wondering if she had fretted too much about this trip and caused her son to be overly concerned with his highly attuned senses. "And so is your father," she assured him, but then suddenly felt a bit faint. She asked Fred to take Albert for some dessert to distract him temporarily.
Severus noticed his wife clutching on to his arm a bit harder than usual and the way her eyes momentarily unfocused, a sign she hadn't been eating usually. He guided her to sit over on a richly upholstered antique Rococo récamier set into an alcove. It was unusual, since he had seen her eating well enough so that she did not have low blood sugar.
Ginny, the Healer in the family, spotted Hermione looking a bit unwell and went to investigate. She guided them to a nearby guest room where Hermione could properly lie down on a bed.
"Overdoing it again?" Ginny chastised her friend.
"You know me," Hermione drawled sarcastically. This earned a warning glare from her husband, all too familiar when his wife over committed herself.
Ginny waved her wand over Hermione, since some of the children at the party were getting over a dose of the Troll Flu and still might have been contagious. And with stress, one was naturally less immune, even if Hermione did not catch Viola's sickness that had struck about six weeks prior and caused the child to be bedridden for a whole week.
Hermione did not like the brief frown that tugged at the corner of her friend's lips. Perplexed, Ginny did a few more spells, resulting in her eyebrows rising up in surprise.
"When were you due?" Ginny plainly asked.
"Due what?" Hermione asked and then froze, suddenly understanding the question.
Hermione's mind raced back to when Viola had the Troll Flu and suddenly vomited violently all over her bedroom. That stopped Hermione just as she was about to take her contraceptive potion that week. Instead, she had to race to take care of her daughter, cleaning up the mess, bathing her daughter, and getting Severus to brew something while she sat by her daughter's bedside ready with a bucket. And it wasn't until Wednesday she remembered to finally take the contraceptive potion after she and Severus began alternating with the job of constantly tending to their daughter, but she did not think that taking it three days late would result in...
"I'm pregnant," Hermione realized aloud. Well, she had thought she skipped last week because of stress again, but hadn't bothered to check otherwise, given her propensity to skip when stressed. That answered the question of why she was late this month.
"What?" Severus asked. "How?"
Hermione found his question rather amusing, even considering how weak she was currently feeling, suddenly out of breath. "Well dear, you ought to know. You were there. And this isn't your first time at the rodeo," she ribbed him, using a favorite quote of Jerry's.
Severus didn't want to laugh, but allowed a smile to creep through. "What I meant was, despite all our careful planning–" He suddenly remembered Hermione telling him about delaying taking that one vial a few days late, but considering it had always taken three to six months for Hermione to get pregnant after going off contraceptives, neither thought that three days delay of one vial would make much difference, especially as Hermione was thirty-seven.
"So this isn't planned," Ginny realized, seeing the mixed look of surprise and shock on their faces. "I'll leave you two to talk alone."
It was early enough in the pregnancy where Hermione or Severus could brew something and end it. They had originally agreed to try for one of each, stopping at three if they had all boys or girls. Albert had been a bit of a relief, since Hermione did want to give Severus a son.
"What do you want to do," Severus asked, both knowing what the questioned implied.
"I don't know," Hermione admitted, a bit overwrought. "I mean, my Aunt Christine had Jessica when she was forty, Halulu was about my age when she had the twins." The tears suddenly swelled in her eyes, unsure if she could face either decision.
Severus pulled her into his arms and rocked her, unsure himself how he felt, though a bit secretly thrilled. One would never guess it, but Severus loved babies, especially his own. He loved singing to them, teaching them, reading to them, cuddling with them, watching them nurse at their mother's breast, seeing their faces light up with joy upon seeing their father and knowing he was loved so unconditionally, especially when those little arms trembled as they tried to hug him with all their might.
Looking up to gauge her husband's face, she asked seriously, "Can you handle another pregnancy?"
Due to the very deep bond Hermione and Severus shared through the pomegranate juice, Severus experienced a sympathetic pregnancy alongside his wife with each child. There were the mood swings, fatigue – which now explained why he himself was so knackered as of late if Hermione was indeed pregnant, the cravings, the backaches and such. The labor – oh, the labor. And while Hermione may have occasionally vomited from morning sickness, Severus did not, though he did find his stomach frequently unsettled during the first trimesters. Then there was the weight gain. During Hermione's pregnancy with Albert, the connection was so strong between them that Severus grew quite the pot-belly. The joke around the island questioned which between the two were actually pregnant. It had taken to swimming six days a week and some gentle weight-loss potions for Severus to fit back into his clothes after his son was born. As for Hermione's figure, she was still fairly fit, but he liked her with this slightly softer, curvier, lusher, and less hip-bone-clashing figure she sported after children.
Caressing her cheek with his hand, as he said the day they were married, "You don't have to decide today." She wanted his feedback, but ultimately he knew this was her choice. "But whatever you do, I still love you, and more so every day."
Their tender moment was interrupted when Albert burst through the doors, disturbing them from almost kissing.
"Albert," Ginny called out, as she had tried to stop their son from interrupting them, but the child could not be swayed and bolted right past his auntie.
"It's okay, Ginny," she assured her friend, who closed the door behind the child.
"I asked you if you were both okay, Mummy," Albert asked, looking a bit cross as he ran over to his parents.
"Your mother and I are fine," Severus said, trying to sooth his son.
"No, Daddy! Not you. Mummy and my baby brother," Albert corrected his father with a bit too much cheek for a four-year-old to possess.
"What?" his parents asked in unison.
Albert rolled his eyes and sighed with deep exasperation. "I said... are Mummy and the baby fine." He huffed and put his little fists on his hips, tired of being so easily dismissed when he asked a question he wanted answered.
Severus and Hermione looked at each other, stunned. Albert asked yesterday if they were "both" fine before Hermione went upstairs to collapse for a much-needed nap. She now understood his look of frustration when she'd assumed he meant his father as well. This evening he asked just before she felt faint and out of breath. Somehow their son knew of the impending child before even Ginny or themselves.
"How do you know there is a baby? And that it's a boy?" Hermione asked.
"Because I can hear him," Albert said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Hermione and Severus could only stare at each other, confounded how their son heard his baby brother who was probably no more than five or six weeks along, but given Albert's unusual talents, they did not question.
"Yes, the baby and I are fine. I'm just a bit tired, which is normal. I was tired and sometimes had to sit down or take a nap when I was pregnant with you, and the same with your sisters. We'll be okay." She soothed her son with a swipe of his dark hair out of his eyes and a kiss on the forehead. Albert returned the gesture with two kisses: one for his mum and one for the baby. It was something he did prior as well, giving his mother one extra kiss before going out sightseeing for the day.
Severus picked up his son in his arms, suggesting, "How about we let your mum rest for a bit. You and I can go look for some sparkling pumpkin juice," remembering how poorly his own body withstood alcohol during Hermione's previous pregnancies. He gave Albert a peck on the cheek, causing his son to throw his arms about and hug him tightly as they left the room and rejoined the party.
"I mean, I knew Libra was bright, but I never would have imagined," Hermione remarked with amazement. "An I.Q. of 172? I mean, Einstein was only recorded at what? 160? 165? And he was considered one of the greatest minds of the early Twentieth Century."
They ambled along a little further before Severus added his own conjecture. "I had a feeling that the problems she was having at school were not that she could not keep up, but that she was bored to tears and considered the work before her beneath her bothering to finish." Severus had felt similarly when he had some assignments in school regarding basic Potions scrolls his first few years, but Libra was years ahead of her peers in every discipline, even reading and writing.
"Now Ginny and Draco will be spending the summer looking for a Muggle school for gifted children, preferably along the West Coast, so that Libra can start in the autumn and be with others with whom she can hopefully relate to better. I didn't think she would have such trouble making friends her first year given how well she gets along with her siblings, our kids, and her friends on the island, but I can certainly empathize," Hermione recalled, her own first year making her stand out and remain friendless for the first few months due to her academic excellence.
Libra trouncing Severus at chess at the tender age of seven was one sign she was an exceptionally bright young girl. They played using the new chess set Hermione had bought for him, featuring a pair of younger Severuses that glared at the original human Severus in disgust that someone so young had beat him and almost refused to play a second game.
Since Severus' exoneration and knowledge of his work as a spy for the Order became common knowledge, new chess sets of the 20th century finally featured Severus as Albus Dumbledore's rooks, a symbolic gesture of Severus' spy work, since kings and rooks can both move in the same turn in a move called castling.
"I suppose when she started checking out college-level texts on astronomy from the public library in Hilo, that should have tipped us all off," Severus admitted with a sigh, acknowledging another sign of her keen intelligence.
After their wedding, Severus had built a telescope observation deck above the pergola. Hermione bought him a very nice refracting telescope their first Christmas after they were married. Often after an evening barbecue on the back deck, the Malfoy family would climb up the steps while Severus set up his telescope. He'd align it to view the planets and stars. Draco, Severus, and Hermione took turns telling stories to the children about the constellations, and why they moved across the sky, before letting each of the children look at the celestial bodies through the eyepiece.
Libra began asking questions which none of the adults could answer, and she had to start researching in Muggle books. When Libra asked about what the stars were made of, how did they know what they were made of, how far away they were, how did they measure that distance and why the stars were different colors, even they were slightly out of their depth. And when there was math in some of the higher-level books she read, she started asking for books from which to learn algebra, trigonometry, and the beginnings of calculus. Severus and Hermione were very good at Arithmancy, but some of the calculations she was starting to attempt were quite complex even for them. When Libra came across one old chemistry book in German when she was eventually introduced to the concept of spectronomy, she then asked to learn the language, which she picked up at a speed that even boggled Hermione who had only just learned it herself from Severus.
Ginny and Draco were thankful that Hermione, a Muggle-born who had two parents who were dentists, could give them some guidance on how to better instruct Libra, since she was so taken with the Muggle sciences.
As they approached the Three Broomsticks, they corralled their children inside with a promise to go shopping at Honeydukes before they went up to the castle to meet with Headmistress Sprout. It was kind of the Headmistress to let Gabrielle have a tour of the castle before deciding if she chose to attend Hogwarts or attend the academy close to home. Severus also wanted to talk with the Headmistress since he was on the Board of Governors back home and there was a proposal for the Malu Palekaiko Academy students to study a year abroad, and Hogwarts was a possible school to incorporate into the program.
Severus' eyes scanned the crowded tables for someone, while his wife found a table for the six of them. He did not spot Kaimi among the patrons. Waiting for the last in their party to arrive, Severus turned to his eldest and asked, "So after speaking to your cousins last night, have you come closer to a decision of wanting to attend your mother's and my alma mater?"
Severus and Hermione offered to fill their children in on life at Hogwarts, but it seemed that Gabrielle was more interested in the opinion of her contemporaries rather than the nostalgic ramblings of her parents.
Gabrielle blew air out from between pursed lips and gazed up at the cobweb-strewn ceiling in thought. "Well, Phoenix said some of the kids were pretty snobby towards them, calling them 'Yanks,' and not in a good way. Then there was that whole thing with the tongue she hexed off. And you're not allowed to leave the castles on weekends until your third year? I mean, that's harsh. And then when you can go, it's only one weekend a month, and that's if you don't have detention," she added dramatically with a roll of her eyes. Viola and Albert sat there transfixed, hanging on every word their big sister said, forming opinions in their minds if they wanted to attend Hogwarts some day. "And if you don't mind the lack of fresh fruit selection, I mean seriously, no mangoes, no papaya? No fresh pineapple?"
Viola gasped with disbelief, "No."
"Yeah, I mean they had apples, pears, and oranges, and the pumpkin pasties and cakes. The turkey is pretty awesome, and the sausage and bacon amazing, but they said the coffee was gross," Gabrielle added with some disappointment. "Oh," she added with great dramatic preamble, "and no sushi!"
Viola made a face that said she didn't want to go to a school where she couldn't have sushi and fresh tropical fruits.
Then Gabrielle's eyes alighted, "But the ghosts are awesome and know all sorts of really cool stuff; the library puts Mum and Dad's library to shame. And the castle is, like, over a thousand years old, and huge! Phoenix sleeps in Gryffindor tower, and Sebastian said his room is in a dungeon under the Black Lake!"
"Cool!" Albert piped up.
Even Viola was having her opinion turned from dislike to keen interest.
"Remember, your father was Head of Slytherin House for many years," their mother reminded them of Severus' stories about Hogwarts.
"Oh, that's another thing. Depending on which House you get Sorted into, mentioning Dad can either be a good thing or a bad thing. Seems Phoenix got lip when she mentioned you to her House-mates, Dad, and she said how nice you were. They even gave her a hard time that her brother was sorted into Slytherin. It seems the Gryffindors still hate you, Dad."
Severus gave his wife a cool look. "Gee, Gryffindors, so brave of them to continue embracing their prejudices against other Houses."
"Oh, don't even go there," Hermione warned her husband with her tone and a look.
"It seems Dad deducted more points from Gryffindor House than any other teacher in the history of Hogwarts," Gabrielle clarified.
"Color me surprised," Hermione said with dry sarcasm staring blandly at Severus, which he returned with a triumphant smirk.
Before Hermione and Severus could begin a round of civilized fripping in front of their children, Madam Rosmerta swept by the table, looking just as lovely as ever, if not older from her graying hair. "Bless my soul! Hermione Weasley and Severus Snape."
"Mrs. Hermione Snape," Hermione said, holding up her left hand for inspection.
Madam Rosmerta's eyes scanned and registered the resemblance of the children sitting at the table to their parents in conjunction with the ring on Hermione's finger. "Well, considering the tripe that fish wrap called the Daily Prophet publishes, I wasn't sure if the rumors of you two getting hitched were true or not."
"Oh! Finally made it!" Kaimi huffed as she slipped into the sixth seat. "Man, what a haul from the castle all the way down here! Sorry, the interview went longer than anticipated."
"Madam Rosmerta," Hermione said with an indication of her hand, "this is Kaimi Finau, family friend, here with us to help watch the children while we visit England, and interviewing at Hogwarts for the open Herbology professor position."
"Muggle Studies," Kaimi said under her breath as she picked up a menu and glanced over the choices, looking for something not so grease- or butter-laden. "I'll have the chicken salad and a cold beer," Kaimi announced, ignoring the surprised looks from the Snapes.
Madam Rosmerta took orders for the rest of the table, getting introduced to each of the Snape children in the process.
As the pub owner walked away in a swish of her many skirts, Severus turned to their traveling companion and asked in a slightly confused tone, "And what is this about Muggle Studies?"
Kaimi drew a deep breath before exhaling and sitting up as straight as possible. "It seems," she began, indicating it was going to be a long story, "that Headmistress Sprout is reluctant to relinquish her precious greenhouses to someone who only just finished their apprenticeship, despite my years of experience before even starting my apprenticeship. And while my work breeding orchids impressed her, she wanted me to have more years experience before letting someone of my youth take over the very important position of teaching Herbology and maintaining her plants in the greenhouses." She let her breath finally out and took one more steadying breath before launching into the second part of her tale.
"However, it seems the Muggle Studies professor tendered his resignation yesterday in order to take a Ministry grant to study Muggle radio." Kaimi rolled her eyes, thinking that was a pretty Mickey Mouse subject to study given the plethora of other Muggle modes of communication available. "So when the Headmistress asked what I knew of Muggle studies, of course I launched into my experience. It seems not even the previous Muggle studies professor knew what a cellular phone – sorry, mobile – was," she said, accentuating the British word equivalent, "or had a driver's license, much less drove, and for the fact I have both, have driven before, have used computers, knew what the Internet was and have my own email account sealed the deal. So you are looking at the new Muggle Studies professor starting in the fall – sorry, autumn. And while I'm at Hogwarts, Sprout will let me continue on with my Herbology experience, and if the professor she has decided to pick chooses to leave after a few years, she will put me at the top of her list for his replacement."
"Who did she hire, as it seems she picked him or her instead of you, before you arrived," Hermione asked, somewhat aggrieved.
"Oh, I was a contender, but upon talking with me and gauging my experience, she decided by the end to go with the other guy, Longbottom, I think his name was," Kaimi said offhandedly.
Had Severus been sipping his drink, he surely would have choked on it.
Hermione suddenly went a little pale.
Kaimi, noting their reactions, asked, "You know this wizard?"
Hermione exchanged a brief look with her husband, who crossed his arms over his chest and sat back, allowing his wife to explain.
"Neville Longbottom was a classmate of mine, same year and House, and often my partner in Potions, when Severus taught. Neville was terrified off him, and let's say he melted more cauldrons than a dragon in a lead foundry." There was the issue of Hermione sleeping with Neville once, which was the source of the hostility coming from Severus regarding the subject of his former pupil and bane of his teaching career, but that would be discussed when the children weren't around to prepare Kaimi so that she understood the delicate history between them. "Severus is not too fond of him, and Neville and I parted on awkward terms."
Kaimi's brows shot up, picking up on the slight inference, but let it drop.
To the relief of all the adults, food and drink arrived so they could change the topic to something more pleasant and less contentious, like the twenty-year reunion tour of the Weird Sisters who were playing in the amphitheater under the Three Broomsticks later that night. This was to be their first concert after breaking up during the war in 1996.
Kaimi was dismayed to learn right then that the English version of chicken salad on the menu meant chicken mixed up with an ungodly amount of mayonnaise, onion, and celery served on a single leaf of iceberg lettuce, not the copious amount of mixed greens with fresh fruit, chopped vegetables, grilled chicken, and light vinaigrette she was used to. It seems Kaimi and the Malfoy children were not the only ones spoiled on Hawaii's bountiful produce; Albert poked his fork at his tinned peach half sitting on his plate in a puddle of syrup, giving it a sneer that made him look like a miniature version of his father.
Hermione and Severus walked arm-in-arm up towards castle as the children ran ahead, dragging Kaimi with them. Since she had accepted the position, she figured she'd get the ten-Sickle tour with the Snape children, as she was going to be moving to Hogwarts at the end of August anyway. During lunch, Gabrielle had stated that if Kaimi was going to be on the staff at Hogwarts, then she wanted to go to Hogwarts too.
"I wonder if all four of our children will want to go to Hogwarts," Hermione asked, wondering aloud.
Severus stopped and looked at his wife. "You've decided? You're sure?"
Hermione smiled up at him and patted his arm as she began walking up towards the front doors. "Albert seems to have already established a connection with his brother. As much as I would not have chosen to get pregnant, it seems we've been given this opportunity. Since the saying goes that Aller guten Dinge sind drei, we'll have to see if it holds true for four as well."
Severus stopped once more and cupped his wife's face in his hands, smiling down at her. "Have I told you how happy you make me and how much I love you?"
"Not since this morning," she reminded him.
Severus kissed his wife sweetly. He could have swept her up into one of those dizzying kisses that made time stop, but it had been a while since he gave her one of those kisses, and the children were hounding them to catch up. There would be time tonight for Hermione and Severus to show how much they loved each other, if they weren't too tired at the end of the day.
"You know, it's a good thing you forgot to pack the Polyjuice Potion, I would not want to be the fourth wizard in recorded history to go through a male-pregnancy," Severus mused, eliciting a chuckle from his wife. The third one had recently been recorded just a year prior in Argentina.
"Just be prepared for the jokes that you are the fourth one from Mounga and Jerry if your sympathetic pregnancy is as bad as the last time," Hermione warned him, patting his mostly flat stomach lightly.
Arm-in-arm they strolled, walking up to the front doors of Hogwarts castle. And they did live happily ever after.