In spite of the intimacy between them, Severus and Hermione occasionally found it difficult to share their most closely held concerns with one another. This state of affairs contributed greatly to the number of arguments they had. Fortunately for them, their disagreements tended to blow over quickly and often found their resolution in the bedroom, which suited them just fine as they despised public scenes. Unfortunately for them, their penchant for heedless, reconciliatory sex had resulted in an argument that had yet to be resolved in the nearly nine months that they had been having it.
"—a perfectly dreadful name. It's the sort of one that brings frilly dresses and missish habits with it."
"'Violet' is a family name, and 'Sybil Violet' sounds pretty."
"My point, exactly."
"But you like Sybil's character, Severus, I know you do."
"We were speaking of 'Violet'."
"And now we're speaking of 'Sybil'. I think it sounds lovely, 'Sybil Violet Snape'."
Severus muttered something.
"What was that?"
"But she's married to Samuel, I said. That won't do for siblings. Besides, do you want everyone to think that we've named our daughter after Sybill Trelawney?"
Hermione snorted. "No one who knows us could ever believe that."
"'Samuel Sebastian' rolls off the tongue nicely, and everyone will call him 'Sam'. I like that. 'Sam Snape'—a normal, happy name for a normal, happy boy."
"'Sebastian' is pretentious," Hermione retorted.
Severus scowled at her. "Just because your parents felt the need to name you after a Shakespearean Mary Lou—"
"Mary Sue, you mean, and I never should have let Luna tell you about fanfiction," said Hermione, struggling to sit up straighter and using a heel for purchase.
"Mind my bits!" exclaimed Severus, wincing as he took hold of the offending foot and began to rub it.
"That feels good."
"Of course it does. Foot massage is one of my many skills."
Hermione grinned to see Severus trying so very hard not to smirk. "It's how we ended up expecting twins, as I recall."
Pointedly not smiling, still, Severus replied, "I don't want to call him anything else. I like the name Samuel."
"And I like the name Sybil."
They sighed and lapsed into a near-disgruntled silence—true disgruntlement only came when they weren't touching each other—until eventually, Hermione spoke.
"Promise me that, whatever happens, we'll always make time for our children? I don't want—"
Severus stopped rubbing Hermione's foot. "Neither do I."
"You don't even know what I was about to say! Must you always interrupt me?"
"Apparently, and I do know. You were going to say that you don't want to spend more time on the details of planning a family than in the actual having of one, and given how long we've waited . . . ."
"We won't make that mistake."
"Who's interrupting whom, then?"
"But you trailed off."
"I did no such thing."
"You most certainly did! You're just being difficult now for the sake of being—oh, that's heavenly."
Smirking, Severus returned to his podiatric ministrations, the discussion of names momentarily forgotten until Hermione gasped and clapped her hands.
"Well, I've always loved Tolkien, and—"
"We are not naming our daughter 'Galadriel'!"
"Actually, I was thinking of 'Éowyn'."
"Now you're being difficult for difficulty's sa—"
"I don't think that turn of phrase works in quite the same way as mine. 'Being difficult for the sake of being difficult' isn't at all the same thing as—you stopped rubbing."
"Yes, Hermione, I did, because you interrupted me." Severus shook his head. "I see what you mean. It is rather irritating."
Hermione flicked Severus' nearest arm with two fingers and stuck out her tongue at him. Cocking an eyebrow at her, he leant over and sucked it into his mouth before sliding one hand up and under her tight jumper.
She pushed him away. "This isn't getting us anywhere!"
"It would if you'd allow me to continue."
"Up. You're squashing me and my back hurts and we have to come to a decision—the babies are due in less than a fortnight."
"Very well, but no Tolkien-inspired names. That wouldn't be fair to either of them."
"No 'Sebastian', then."
"And definitely no 'Sybil'," said Severus, returning his attention to Hermione's feet.
"Perhaps not, but you won't distract me from my first choice. I like 'Violet'."
"Yes, but which? There are several versions of the name."
"What do you mean? There's only the one spelling."
"But there are at least five meanings for a violet, depending upon its colour." In response to Hermione's quizzical expression, Severus continued, "In general, the floriographical meaning is 'faithfulness' or 'modesty'. A blue violet carries the meaning of 'faithfulness' as well, but also 'watchfulness' and 'I'll always be true'."
"That's sweet, but—"
"And interrupting your interruption of me," Severus interrupted, "a white violet is said to mean 'let's take a chance', or 'let's take a chance on love'. What sort of 'Violet' do you want our daughter to be?"
"Just when did you become so well acquainted with the language of flowers?" asked Hermione.
"Potions is my main area of expertise."
"You never taught floriography in class."
"I read. What of it?" he said, flushing.
"Oh. I see."
"I'd rather you didn't. I'm in no mood to discuss my pa—"
Hermione pulled Severus' hands from her feet and shifted so that she was snuggling into his chest, wanting to reassure him that their love was mutual. Severus had never been one to give her flowers—although he had devoted much of their garden to that sort of "useless beauty," as he referred to it, on her behalf—but she knew that he'd once created scores of unsent tussie-mussies for Lily Evans, bouquets that were symbolic of his unspoken feelings for her. Eileen had told her so. In spite of that, it had heretofore not occurred to Hermione that those offerings had been founded in a knowledge of floriography, which of course they would have had to have been, Severus being Severus; he studied everything, never wanting to get anything wrong. It was a trait that they had in common.
Hermione sighed. "I don't like the idea of the 'I'll always be true' meaning for Violet. She shouldn't be defining herself with regard to a man."
"The meaning doesn't necessarily imply that sort of concern, and who's to say she'll even care what her name means?"
"A daughter of ours will care, you know that."
Severus grunted, and then said, "On the other hand, 'faithfulness' is a good name meaning, a good quality, in anyone."
"Yes, but perhaps it might be better," Hermione told him, "to look for a floriographical name for, say, 'mental acuity'."
"That would be 'Kennedia'. It means 'intellectual beauty'."
"You amaze me."
"I don't see what's so astonishing about my knowing—"
"A lost Victorian art?"
"But it hasn't been lost. Names are important."
"Well, of course they are. Otherwise, we wouldn't be arguing about them."
"I am not trying to be difficult about the naming. I just don't want to . . . to fail."
Hermione craned her neck to catch Severus' gaze. "You've read every book on child-rearing ever printed."
"Reading isn't enough, I think," he whispered.
"Of course it isn't, but we'll have more than that. We'll have each other. We won't fail."
"I'm horrible with children, Hermione."
She smiled. "You're certainly expert at getting them."
Severus frowned. "I'm serious. I have no business being a father. I can't think why—"
"Stop being stupid! It's not as though we can give them back, you know." Hermione pushed herself up with a groan. "I need tea."
"I'll get it."
"No. I will," Hermione insisted, only to fall back against the sofa cushions.
"Let me at least help you up," Severus offered, rising and presenting her his hand.
"You might as well get it since you're up," she retorted, batting away his hand when he made to touch her.
Severus crossed his arms. "Fine."
"Oh, what is it? You offered!"
"I'm glad it's only two weeks because—"
"Less than two!"
"—I don't think that I can bear this moodiness of yours much longer!"
"My moodiness? That's rich. How dare you come over all worried and gloomy now? I'm about to burst. I'm so uncomfortable and hot and scared, and all you can do is natter on about the meanings for violets and reject all my suggestions! 'Sybil' is a fantastic name!"
Storming off towards the kitchen, Severus shouted over his shoulder, "I'm making the tea!"
"And about time, too!" Hermione shouted back, before beginning to sob.
Severus didn't make it to the kitchen; instead, he returned to Hermione's side and knelt down to hold her. His touch was cautious, but his voice, aggressive as he told her, "Stop that. Don't you do that. I don't like it when you cry."
"It's n—not always a—about you," she insisted through her tears.
"Nor you, either," he said, more gently, before kissing her abdomen once, then twice. "Think of the twins."
"Don't you do that to me! Don't you dare manipulate me as if I were a child!" shouted Hermione, abruptly scooting away from Severus and drawing the back of one hand over her eyes—only to see his stricken expression more clearly; the effect it had upon her was immediate. "Oh, Severus! I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She reached for him. "I know that you're afraid, too. I'm sor—"
They were both crying as Severus kissed her, not that either of them noticed, of course, and not that either of them would have remarked upon it if they had. The official Snape Household policy on Mr Snape crying was that it did not occur, not even ever, and because of this, his lachrymosity was never an issue which necessitated discussion.
Sometime later, Hermione was wiping Severus' face with gentle fingers as she whispered, "Got my tears on you, didn't I?"
"So you did. Don't make a habit of it."
"We were fighting over something stupid, weren't we?"
"Were we?" he asked. "How odd. We never do that."
They settled back against the cushions and Hermione remarked, "'Samuel' is a good name. I like it."
"And 'Violet' isn't so very dreadful."
"And it is a Granger family name," Severus continued, as if Hermione hadn't just clucked at him.
"'Violet Kennedia'?" she asked.
"Horrible," Severus replied equably, "and almost as bad as 'Éowyn'."
"I suppose I see your point," Hermione agreed. "It's just that I . . . I want her to feel pretty."
Severus issued a sound that someone might have mistaken for a light chuckle had he or she not known any better. "Now that is an admission."
"Don't mock! It was very difficult for me, not being pretty. Intelligence is all very well, but the teasing—"
"You know perfectly well that you're beautiful—besides, I've already told you that she won't have my nose. That's what that potion was for."
"And I told you that I don't care if she does have your nose. I like your—"
"A little girl shouldn't be burdened with one like mine—and if any student should be so thoughtless as to tease our Violet, he'll regret it in a detention that will last until he leaves Hogwarts!"
So vehement was Severus that Hermione couldn't help but laugh.
"Now stop fishing for compliments and let's return to the issue at hand, bella donna."
"Oh, I do like you."
"I can't think why," Severus replied, smirking.
"Because you know your floriography, you're an excellent masseur, and you have a marvellous grasp of Italian."
"Don't say 'grasp'. It turns me on."
"I can think of worse things, Mr Nose."
Severus' response came by fingertip, one teasing fingertip that soon had Hermione moaning happily.
"Bedroom?" she asked.
"Do you feel like moving that far?"
"Grasp," murmured Hermione, and her cheek was rewarded by Severus' bending his head to nibble on her throat, no doubt to hide the smile that she could feel against her heated skin.
He made short work of her jumper and every other article of clothing into which she'd squeezed herself that day, and soon, she was massaging his prick in the familiar rhythmic undulation of hers that was, of course, the real reason that they'd found themselves pregnant with twins.
They were shagging rather more vigorously than either of them had expected to be able to do when one of the babies kicked.
"Fuck—should we stop?" asked Severus.
"Don't you . . . dare! Exercise is . . . good . . . for—oh, ungh!"
Severus didn't stop until Hermione had come again, this time, with him.
It was after they'd awoken from their exertions and righted themselves enough to rise from the cushions so as to repair to the bath that Hermione whispered, splashing water lightly in Severus' direction as she did so, "'Belladonna' is pretty, too."
"Oh, indeed," Severus said wryly. "Atropa belladonna has so many poisonous applications that it would come as no surprise to anyone that a Death Eater had named his daughter after it." He shook his head and splashed back. "No."
"Well, you did tell me that 'Violet' brought with it the curse of 'frilly dresses and missish habits'. I was just trying to provide an alternative."
"We won't allow her to be missish, but I suppose that pretty dresses wouldn't be so bad for a little girl. I'm resigned to 'Violet'."
Hermione smiled. "'Violet Eileen'?"
"That would please Mam," Severus replied, his expression smoothing into blankness—except for the developing smile lines about his eyes.
"Oh, you! Don't do that to me. Do you really like it?"
"I do, but what of our Samuel?"
"Ha! Have we agreed on that? Oh, of course we have," said Hermione, as Severus' expression began to sadden, "and he will be happy. I just don't want him to have a poncy second name, is all."
"Tell me you're not thinking of 'Ronald'," Severus said.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake!" Hermione exclaimed. "I only suggested it the once!"
"Which was once too many."
"Samuel's second name—have you any ideas for it?"
Severus had, of course, but it seemed that Hermione was not to be moved on the subject of 'Sebastian', which he thought was a perfectly suitable name; the sibilance of it was pleasant, and it was a Prince family name. With no other real option in mind, however, he decided to tease her.
"Perhaps 'Samuel Victor'?"
His punishment for the suggestion was a thorough drenching as Hermione sent a huge wave of water in his direction. "Don't be a prick!"
"I was only being difficult for difficulty's sake."
Hermione glared at him; Severus tried to glare back but was betrayed by those growing smile lines about his eyes.
Hermione rolled hers. "You're teasing. I should have known."
His smirk once again firmly in place, Severus said, "Yes, you should have."
It was then that a hot rush of water warmed the bath, water that had not issued from the faucet.
"That was you," he said, in something akin to dazed surprise, as Hermione clutched her abdomen.
"They're coming. Oh, Severus. Oh, no."
"It's just your water breaking," he told her, rising from the water to help her out of it.
"I know, but they can't come, yet! We don't have Samuel's name sorted!"
Severus wrapped her in a large towel and swept her up into his arms, successfully suppressing a groan of exertion so as not to upset Hermione, who had become increasingly prone to bemoaning her state of "beached whale-ness."
"Stop it! Make the labour stop! We can't . . . I can't do this! I don't want to—"
It was incredibly difficult for Severus to stand there on the slippery floor while holding his heavily pregnant, agitated wife and kiss her, but stand there and kiss her he did until he felt much of the tension in her body ease. "It's going to be fine. You've read every book on childbirth ever printed. You're strong, Hermione. You can do this, I promise you. Now let's," he continued, carrying her to their bed and laying her down upon it, "call for Luna."
"Wh—what day is it?"
"Sunday," Severus said, pulling on his dressing gown and turning towards the hearth, only to stop and turn back towards her. "Sunday, Hermione. You know what that means, don't you?"
"She'll . . . she'll be insufferable."
Severus snorted. "She will be. She did tell us that the twins would be born on a Sunday, but that's not what I meant."
"Well, what did you mean?"
"Sunday's child, from the Muggle poem," Severus began to explain, feeling incredibly happy—until Hermione gasped in what he considered to be an alarming manner and he returned to her side. "I'm calling Luna."
"N—no! No, wait. What poem? Oh! Oh, fuck. Oh, I mean yes, I know the poem—'bonny and blithe, and good and gay'—is that what you mean?" Hermione asked, grabbing Severus' hand.
"Yes, now let me go. I know that you're stalling."
"I can stall if I like!"
"And I can send my Patronus for Luna," Severus said, not thinking about the consequences of his doing so as he Summoned his wand.
They both stared as a lioness sprang from its tip, but their astonished silence was short-lived.
"Don't sit there gaping, Severus, I'm in labour."
Shaking himself, Severus sent his message.
"Did you know?" Hermione asked him, after the lioness had gone. "Did you know it had changed?"
"I didn't, no."
"You're wonderful," Hermione half-sobbed, "and it's not poncy! It's not a poncy name at all!"
He bent to kiss her forehead, murmuring, "You don't have to—"
"I want to."
"Then 'Samuel Sebastian' it is."
"You don't have to smirk like that."
Severus sat up without removing his hand from Hermione's. "I rather think that I do."
"Keep it up and your face will freeze that way, and then everyone will know that you're a smirker. Headmasters shouldn't be smirkers, you know."
Severus snorted. "You might want a flannel. I'd hate for you to get tears on anyone."
Hermione sniffled through a mock glare and accepted the flannel that had come floating towards her. "Don't tell Luna—that we fought over the names, I mean—I don't want anyone to know."
"And when have I ever been so forthcoming, I ask?"
"Never. You're terribly closed off. Everyone knows that." Hermione smiled.
"Of course they do," Severus said fondly, as a great fwoosh! sounded in the room.
"Are you patronising me?"
"Of course he isn't," Luna said serenely, brushing the soot off of her lime green robes. "Healthy husbands don't do that."
Starting, Hermione scrubbed at her face with the flannel and passed it to Severus, who stuffed it into his dressing gown in full view of Luna, who made a point of not noticing that he'd done so.
"Now then, isn't this a lovely Sunday?" she asked, beaming. "How have the two of you been spending it?"
Severus and Hermione looked at each other, fighting to further compose themselves, and Hermione said, "Oh, well, we've just been . . . been . . . ."
Squeezing her hand, Severus finished Hermione's sentence for her. "Discussing violets and belladonna."
"Excellent!" Luna replied, as she began preparing the room for delivery. "Did you know that there are three perfectly practical potions that one can brew using those ingredients as a base?"
Much to Hermione's irritation, Severus and Luna fell into an animated discussion of same, although he never left her side, and a day's worth of labour later, the twins were born, healthy and sound, and both of them, or so asserted Severus, with his nose.
"Don't be ridiculous," Hermione told him. "Violet and Samuel's noses are barely buttons. We won't know what their noses will look like until they deve—"
"You never took the potion!" Severus accused.
Hermione smirked. "I never did—midwife's orders, you know."
"Perhaps I'll have to make use of Atropa belladonna, after all."
"You try it, and I'll tell Luna about the Doctor Who fanfiction you keep in your office desk."
"How do you know about—those were confiscated!"
"They were dog-earred, and at all the racy bits, too. Sarah Jane would never have . . . ."
Outside the bedroom door, Luna giggled into her hand. It was good to hear that her patients were bearing up so well in spite of their exhaustion. Hermione and Severus, she'd discovered over the course of Hermione's pregnancy, were never so happy as when they felt free enough to argue. With this in mind, she returned to the grandparents, who were already busily spoiling "Vi" and "Sammy" as well as any newborns could be.