|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: Forbidden Forest, part 17
Pairing: Snape/Hagrid and others, lots of others
Summary: Harry regains a godfather.
Date: 7 October 2002
The summons to come to the Headmaster's office caught me daydreaming. Sitting in the window of our common room, I was thinking about Ger and our walk home. I wasn't afraid of looking like an idiot anymore. Swimming had been fun but the impromptu water volleyball game afterwards had gone a long way towards making me feel more comfortable with him. Hossic and I had even ganged up on him and ducked him.
I could still feel his arm around my waist when he'd come up for air and thrown me across to Royan like I was the volleyball. It was better than flying a broom. I thought about family and what that meant to me. I was kind of a part of the Weasleys but only a visitor like a distant but enjoyable cousin who came to visit now and then. The Hagrids had taken me in and they already were making plans that included me.
Ger had promised me tickets to his next concert. Rhea was going to take me shopping for school robes. Royan was thinking about a job offer from the Headmaster to be the assistant Charms instructor and she asked my opinion. I thought she should say yes since Remus was going to be the new DADA teacher. Classes were going to be really interesting. It was turning out to be the best summer I'd ever had.
Dobby popped in to give me Headmaster Dumbledore's message and I followed him out of the Gryffindor tower. But I didn't need to go all that way because he was waiting for me along with Ger in the courtyard. My eyes lit up, I just know they did when I saw him. His smile was slow and made my stomach jump.
"Harry, we have some good news for you." The Headmaster smiled down at me and Ger nodded. "The dog that saved the Hagrids yesterday was your godfather. He came to himself this morning and we're going to go to him now."
"Sirius?" I almost burst into tears at the news. It had been so long since we'd heard of him that I was afraid he was dead. But Ger was there to hold me and I rested against him for a long moment while he stroked my hair. Then I straightened up again and smiled at them both. "Let's go see him."
We walked through the Forest, meeting Ceyx with his little griff when we were almost there. We all smiled at each other. Someday, I hoped that the Forest would no longer be forbidden, that light and peace might bloom here again. But then we were there and Mum Hagrid was welcoming us into their caravan. Sirius looked awful but his smile was bright and I hugged him so hard that he complained that I was breaking even more ribs.
But he didn't let go of me, stroking his hand over my hair over and over as if to make sure that I was really there. Rhea sat by his bed and smiled on us both when the Headmaster came in and gave Sirius the quick grow that Madame Pomfrey had given him. That reminded me of Severus and I wondered what would happen when the two of them met.
They didn't like each other at all. This could get really sticky, I thought. Maybe I could get them to tolerate each other? Either that or Rubeus was going to turn my godfather over his knee and spank him. I smiled at that thought and kissed Sirius' cheek. "I'm glad that we've found you again, Siri. There's been a few changes that you should know about."
"Hagrid said something about him bonding with Snape." He scrunched up his face in a kind of bewilderment. "But I read that Snape was dead. That he'd gone rogue or something."
"Severus has been spying for Dumbledore for over fifteen years. He was a Death Eater so he could find out what Voldemort was doing. Malfoy betrayed him to his Master and he killed Sev. But Rubeus got to him before it was too late." I settled in and told him the rest of it while he listened with wide eyes. It took a little while and I left out the baby since that wasn't something he needed to know unless he stuck around long enough to find out.
Rhea was still sitting by the bed and I could feel her weighing my version of the story against what she knew. At some point, she sighed, got up and left us with a murmured apology. The moment she was gone, Sirius grabbed my arm. "I know she's Hagrid's sister and her name is Rhea. What else do you know about her?"
"Rhea's a nurse up in a town near Loch Ness. She bakes great crumble cakes and likes the color blue. She writes poetry, little haikus that are really neat." I thought back over the conversations we'd had. "She's serene like the brook that Sev and I go to sometimes to just sit and listen to the silence."
"You're spending time with Snape, on your own?" He looked worried and I laughed at him.
"Yeah, I am, Siri. He's nice even if he does want me to pay more attention to potions. I think you'll like him if you just let yourself." I smiled at his disbelieving face. "You're not the boys that you were seventeen years ago. For fifteen years he's been living a lie. The twelve years in Azkaban were a lie for you. Maybe it's time to let the lies get buried once and for all."
"Snape," he shook his head and laid it back against the pillow. "Anything is possible, I guess. Does Rhea like him?"
I smiled, remembering the way she'd babied him one night when his stomach was too upset to eat anything. "Yeah, she does and so does Royan, the other sister. I don't suppose that Remus said anything to you about her, did he?"
He snickered a little. "Oh, not more than every other sentence, Harry. I take it that she is the strong-minded one?"
"Oh, yeah! Royan has dark hair instead of red but she's got the passionate nature instead of the serenity of Rhea." I thought about them some more. "I think that maybe she and Remus will bond soon. Midsummer's Eve is just five days away and the day after is Remus' birthday so we'll all be here building on to Rubeus' cottage. That's been really fun, Siri, I helped them build on the library and the animal hospital."
He lay there and let me run on, still holding my hand with a big smile on his face. Five minutes later, I saw he'd fallen asleep and I quietly slipped out of the bedroom. Mum Hagrid was sitting in the rocking chair and I gave her a big hug for taking such good care of my godfather. She gives great hugs and before I knew it, I was sitting in her lap and pouring out the story as I knew it about the Marauders and Severus.
She's got the kindest blue eyes to go with her red hair and she informed me that all growing boys needed hugs. I kind of felt like she was making up for all those times when I was little and never got anything but blows. When I grew up and had kids, I was going to hold them all the time and tell them how much I loved them. Thinking about that made me think of Gersey and that made me think of having babies with him.
Could I be like Sev and carry our babies inside of me? "Mum Hagrid, what is it like to have a baby? Do you know what it will be like for Severus?"
"Ah, carryin' babies was always easy for me." She stroked my hair and I felt safe. "Sev will 'ave a 'arder time of it since males aren't exactly made to carry a child. But there are spells to help him deliver the baby safely although there will be pain. The pain is right bad when ya're a pushin' out and the contractions are coming all the time. But the joy when ya hold him or her in your arms is worth every little bit of it."
"Sev's suffered a lot of pain in his life. He'll ride it out all right. I don't know if I could be that brave." I admitted.
"Ya're a brave lad and a canny one, Harry Potter. Once Voldemort is dead and gone, we'll have a little chat, ya and Gersey and me." She dropped a kiss on my head when I froze. "If'n ya want him, 'arry, he'll be waitin'. Ya take yar time and grow up a wee bit more, then we'll see what 'appens."
"It's all right that I like him?" I sat up straight and looked her right in the eyes. "You don't mind that he makes me feel all shivery and good? Does he feel the same way?"
"Aye, he's seen ya together in the future." Her whole face crinkled into a smile. "Lad, ya'll be good for each other. But there'll be nothing between ya until ya're of an age to know yar own mind."
"I'll be sixteen on the 31st of July. Is that old enough?" I asked eagerly.
"Maybe a kiss or two, 'arry but not much more than that." She smoothed my hair back. "Take the time to know each other. Ya've got long lives ahead of ya and there's no need ta rush although I know that sometimes it feels like yar about ready to explode. Ask for a hug and talk to each other. Share what ya like and dislike. Music is a big part of our Gersey's life and will be part of yar's if ya spend yar lives together."
I would have bounced up and down but that would have been childish. "Okay, I can do that, Mum Hagrid." I leaned in and kissed her soft cheek. "I promise that I won't be impatient." She looked at me with a stern look. "Well, not too impatient."
She chuckled and slid me off her lap. "Go find Rhea for me, please. She and I need ta have a little talk before yon wee wizard wakes up again."
I leaned against the arm of the big oak rocking chair. "Siri likes her and he really is a good man, just kind of impetuous some times. He's been best friends with Remus since before I was born. He was falsely accused and tried for the murder of my parents. He escaped Azkaban and has been in hiding ever since. I think surviving that made him a lot steadier and not so quick to take offense over little things."
"Ya've got a good heart, 'arry. We'll no be rushing ta judgment on him. We giants like ta take things slow." She winked at me and got up to put on the kettle. "Off with ya, now."
"Yes, ma'am." I said and dashed out to look for Rhea. She was just coming up from the beach with Gersey and I got that fluttery feeling again when I saw him smiling at her. But then the smile was for me and I barely got out the message for Rhea, I was that nervous.
"Um, Ger, could we talk a little?" I looked up at him and wondered if I'd ever grow any taller or if I'd always have a crick in my neck from looking way up.
"Sure, Harry, where would be a good place?" He tucked a lock of hair behind my ear and I shivered at how good it felt.
"Sev and I go to the brook sometimes when we want to be quiet." I said eagerly.
The testing of my willpower had begun and I let him lead me into the Forest towards a small brook that meandered through the trees. He was talking a mile a minute and I could see that something had happened. Whether it was Mum or his godfather, I couldn't decide. He'd tell me if I asked or maybe even if I didn't. I let my eyes rest on him and gathered in the way he looked so I could pull the pictures out while I was touring.
The black hair was still messy and his green eyes sparkled up at me while his hands talked in the air in front of him. Once he filled out, he was going to be a powerful man. He was already a powerful wizard, the magic crackling around him like static electricity. I was going to stick tighter than glue to him. Voldemort was going to have to go through me to get to this bright soul.
The refrain of the song that I'd rewritten last night came to me and I smiled down at him, only hearing one word in three. He was worth the wait. When I heard him say something about Mum, I tuned completely in again. She'd told him? Why would she do that, I thought in consternation.
The small brook and the grove of ash trees at the bend in the stream were an inviting spot and my musician's mind immediately started storing up pictures to be turned into words another time. Harry sank down to sit cross-legged in front of a tree, leaning back against the white-gray bark and smiling happily. It seemed that we had arrived.
I sat down near him, copying his position so we sat knee to knee. That should keep my hands off him, I thought hopefully. "Now, tell me what Mum said."
Those green eyes were gleeful but also a bit hesitant. "She said that we both wanted each other, that you'd had a vision of us together. But . . ."
"I did have a brief look into a possible future, Harry. Visions can be perilous things if they dictate your actions." I said a bit sternly then relented at his crestfallen look. "But if we both wish it then it will come to pass. You're still so very young, Harry. Take your time and make sure that events aren't driving your emotions."
"Mum said that, too. She wants us not to do anything too soon." He said ruefully. "But I'll be sixteen on July 31st."
I smiled at him and risked taking one of his hands in mine. "I promise you a birthday present of anything you wish."
His eyes lit up and he laughed. "I will hold you to that, Ger. But Mum said that I could ask for a hug while we're talking."
I shook my head but held out my arms for him. He launched himself at me and we fell back onto the soft grass. He was light and love and laughter, I thought, pulling him closer while rolling us to our sides. That was safer right now when our emotions were high. He'd just had his godfather given back to him and he was still feeling that high.
We put our foreheads together and I breathed in his scent. "Tell me what's important to you, Harry."
He thought for a moment, his hands absentmindedly smoothing over my t-shirt while I gritted my teeth and tried not to react. "My friends are important, they help keep me sane when the attacks come. My magic is important to me, it's fun to learn why some things work the way they do. One word different in an incantation and the spell changes from good to bad and back again."
"True," I nodded. "It's the same in song making. Words have power and you have to be careful of what you say and how you say it."
He thought for a moment then he sighed. "There's so much to learn."
"You don't have to learn it all at once, Harry. I'm still learning myself and I'm twice your age." I couldn't seem to stop touching him but I tried to keep it to his hair or arm. It would be so easy to take this too fast and go too far even though my heart was singing that he was the one I'd been waiting for.
"I know." He flattened his hands on my chest. "Do you think I'll grow anymore, Ger? Should I start working out?"
A brief vision flashed across my eyes. "You'll grow another three inches or so, Harry. Your Quidditch play is already helping to tone your muscles. I'd add a little weight training but don't go too fast. I've got a good book on yoga that I've been using for the last five years and I'll give it to you. Toned is not necessarily supple and yoga will help you with that."
"Yoga? I know what it is but you do it?" He asked curiously.
"The concert circuit is hard on a body." I admitted. "Some of the exercises help me keep my center when there's no peace to be found, not to mention, the long hours and energy draining performances."
"Wow, tell me more." He settled in, keeping a hand on my chest and I covered it with my own. I'd been told that I was a good storyteller and he was the most important audience I would ever have.
I finished setting the table for breakfast. The water was just right for tea since I'd put it on the moment I heard them stir. The small teapot was filled with raspberry leaves in case Master Severus awoke with nausea but the big teapot held the black leaves of the Assam blend that he usually drank. Master Rubeus didn't really care what kind of tea they had so long as there was lots of it.
Smiling, I darted into the bathroom to make sure that everything was ready for them. Since everyone else was using the caravans to sleep and bathe in, the masters had their privacy although they always made a mess big enough for six. When the baby came, that mess would probably double, I thought happily. I loved babies and this one would be so very special that it was an honor to help take care of him.
Master Rubeus thought it was a boy and I had debated whether or not to tell them he was right. Master Severus' aura showed he was carrying a male. Once every one left, I would tell them. Everyone, I thought with a sigh, there were so many everyones. When Dobby had asked me if I wanted to become their house elf, I'd thought it would just be the two of them and the visiting sisters would soon be gone.
I had always liked Master Severus and I'd heard good things about gentle Master Rubeus so I'd said yes. Then several others came, followed by even more and I hardly knew which way was up. But Mother Hagrid had come to me and we had a wonderful chat about what I should be doing. 'Take care of Master Severus and Master Rubeus,' she said. 'The others will take care of themselves.'
She liked my raspberry fool so I gave her the recipe and in return she gave me the recipe for Master Rubeus' favorite persimmon tart. She was a very nice giant and I could see that she loved her son and his bonded with all her heart. It was good to be part of a family who loved each other. My last family - I shivered and concentrated on putting out fresh towels for my masters.
I would not think of them on this beautiful bonding day. I'd gone out earlier and inspected the large pavilion they'd raised. The tables and chairs were from the school and Dobby was coming to help me since he was the only elf who knew that Master Severus was still alive and bonded to Master Rubeus. Together we should be able to handle all the work, I thought with satisfaction.
Mother Hagrid was already awake and she was setting out beautiful flower arrangements on each table. We smiled at each other and I bowed to her before heading back to our house. Tomorrow, the cottage would begin to grow again so the nursery and a hot house could be added. Cyrus and his mate Cyrilla, the hellbenders had decided to live with us permanently so they'd be heating the cottage and the new green house.
Cyrilla had mentioned that she was expecting babies, too. I smiled happily, the more babies the better. I wondered if I should tell Mistress Royan as a bonding gift that she and Master Remus were having a baby, too. Maybe before they left for their trip to Loch Ness? I pondered that while I beat the eggs ready for pouring into the pan. They were going to be together forever; surely they'd want to know.
But humans were odd about things like that and not all families loved their young. I shivered hard and stopped to catch my breath. I would not think about that today. I . . . would . . . not.
Dobby's arrival distracted me, thankfully and I showed him around so he could see how nicely I'd arranged the kitchen. He liked it and praised me for how beautiful things looked before taking the first of the baskets of food out to the pavilion. It had been kind of messy when he moved me in and he'd promised to help if it was too much for me. But I did a little bit every day until things looked much better. Master Severus had complimented me on my hard work and told me 'thank you'.
No one had ever done that before. I'd blushed so hard that he'd taken my hand and stroked it comfortingly until I could whisper 'you're welcome'. He told me that if I so chose, I could stay here forever, safe and protected. If that was my wish, I still thought of that with wonder. Until Headmaster Dumbledore rescued me from . . . I stopped that reminder before it could replay the horrors.
It was nice to have choices, I decided before smiling at a sleepy Master Rubeus. Master Severus didn't follow him so I poured some hot water into the small teapot and put his cup on the silver tray with some of the ginger wafers that seemed to settle his stomach. Carrying it carefully into their bedroom, I set it on the chair that had been pulled up to his side of the bed.
"Master Severus?" I said quietly so I didn't startle him.
"Good morning, Ara, I'm feeling a bit queasy, I'm afraid." He said softly and such a look of misery crossed his face that I just wanted to hug him.
"This will help." I told him and poured a cup of the fragrant tea.
He pulled himself up and accepted it with shaking hands, taking tiny sips until it cooled a bit. "Better, indeed, Ara. Is everything all right elsewhere?"
I told him everything was fine and then I asked him about telling Mistress Royan and Master Remus about their baby. He froze in mid-sip and stared at me with wide-eyes.
"Werewolves are sterile. They can't father children." He said. "At least, they never have before." He thought very hard for a long moment while I handed him a ginger snap and he ate it absentmindedly. "Of course, Royan is a half-giant with a powerful theoretical magician father and a full earth-elemental giant mother. If Royan's desire for a child was strong enough, she could perhaps overcome the barrier of sterility?"
"Sev, what are you talking about?" Master Rubeus came in quietly while Master Severus was thinking out loud.
So we told him about the newest baby and he sat on the bed with his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide with shock. Master Severus smiled at him affectionately and leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Beloved, if you and I can create a child between us then I expect they could, too. Your family's magic is stronger than the petty rules of wizardry. Thank goodness."
Master Rubeus smiled at him and I slipped out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind me so they'd be private. It looked like it would be all right if I told them. Master Remus would be a little frightened, I thought but Mistress Royan would be excited. They loved each other very much and that was the way a child should be conceived. I shivered again and determinedly thought about scrambling the eggs for my masters.
People began to bustle around, in and out of the cottage. The sound of so many voices should have frightened me the way they had at Hogwarts but it didn't. Maybe it was because I knew all the voices, knew that they were family and friends of my masters. Master Harry came in looking very nice in the new outfit that Mother Hagrid had sewn for him. The green of his shirt matched his eyes and the upright collar framed his face.
He looked beautiful and so I told him while he blushed and said thank you. I'd watched him and Master Rubeus' brother while they talked. They were going to be very powerful together and at first that had frightened me. Master Harry was so young that I was afraid for him until I began watching Master Gersey. When he sang to Master Harry, there were so many hopes and dreams in his voice that I began to see that it would be all right.
Master Gersey didn't realize how much magic he used in his singing. Anything can be used magically but music carries it naturally inside the notes. Not all music, of course, but the songs he sang vibrated with it. I thought maybe Master Severus had noticed that, too. Maybe that could be used to keep Master Harry safer. His power was great but he was still so unsure of himself.
The family he'd lived with had been almost as bad as . . . I stopped that thought from going any further and dished up the eggs for my masters. I'd been keeping an ear tuned to them so I knew when they were about to come out. Sometimes they'd fool me by stopping to kiss before they opened the door. But not today, it was going to be too busy.
I was nervous. Siri wasn't helping either. He was just full of advice on what to say but I'd pretty much tuned him out while I fussed with my collar and the cuffs of my new shirt. Mum Hagrid had sewn up new shirts for each of us and they were beautiful. I'd never had such a shirt in my life. It was a heavy silk brocade that shimmered when I moved.
The sleeves almost billowed from the dropped shoulders to the cuffs, embroidered in contrasting colors and secured with the wolf-head studs that were all that was left of my family. Mine was green to go with my eyes while Sirius' was blue to go with his. I had a premonition that Royan's was the same as mine, the way that Harry and Gersey's were. Sirius still didn't know that young Harry had lost his heart to Gersey nor that the youngest Hagrid was already heart-bonded to him.
That was going to be a very interesting conversation and I was just coward enough to hope we were still on our bonding trip when it occurred. I checked my buttons again and bloused out the shirt a bit where I'd tucked it into the black leather pants that Harry had given me. He'd whispered that Royan really liked leather and I had noticed that myself so the gift was most appreciated.
Siri had loaned me his emerald stud for my ear and I was wearing another gift from Gersey, a pair of silk blue boxers so I had all the items from the muggle verse - something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I wondered how that came into being but I wished my new found luck to keep on happening so I was willing to be a bit superstitious.
"You're not listening to a word I'm saying, are you?" Siri said affectionately.
"Nope. I already know what I'm going to say." I checked myself again and wondered if throwing up would help the churning in my stomach.
Siri turned me away from the mirror and hugged me carefully. "You're going to be fine, Remie. You're marrying the second most beautiful woman in the Hagrid family which puts you head and shoulders above the rest of the wizards in the world."
"Second best?" I arched an eyebrow and hugged him back. "Royan is the prettiest Hagrid to me. I can't judge any of the others."
His eyes went a little unfocused and a dreamy look came into them that I'd never seen before, although I expect it was the same one I was wearing. "Rhea is so beautiful that she almost scares me. She's everything I'm not, serenity and compassion are just a part of her sweet nature."
I let him go and went back to making sure I looked okay. "She's more woman than any two men could handle, Siri. If you're serious about her then I suggest you tell her about who you are." My eyes met his in the mirror. "All of who you are, Siri, no leaving out the bad bits or the festering sores."
He sighed and rubbed his forehead. He was still recovering from his ordeal of the last two months. Siri was still sleeping almost twelve hours a day and once we'd moved him to Hogwarts, he'd slept for two days straight before surfacing. Dobby had been stuffing food into him every couple of hours so he'd lost that 'lean and hungry look' that Shakespeare wrote about.
"I know, Remie, I know. I have a special bonding gift for you that I'll give you after the ceremony." He tucked an escaping lock of hair behind my ear. "We'd better get going. I don't want Royan thinking that I delayed you. She's too scary for me."
I laughed and agreed. The three mile journey through the woods with Harry, Albus, Minerva and Poppy was spent talking about the coming school year. Albus had offered Siri a job as the assistant DADA instructor, working with me to prepare the kids for what they were going to find in the outside world. Harry thought that was a great idea and he excitedly talked about the coming fall term.
He was looking quite heartbreakingly beautiful in his shirt from Mum with a matching pair of green leather pants and knee-high soft sided boots that Royan had gifted him. I suspect that Gersey had something to do with them but I refrained from asking. Should he ever wear that outfit in school, he was going to be the most popular boy bar none.
I was rather looking forward to that. It was time that he shone for something other than defeating Voldemort, again and again. I was praying that we'd be free of the fear soon. I don't know what Albus had up his bright blue sleeve but I could swear that something was brewing. I just wanted a week of nothing but Royan and me in the little cottage near Loch Ness where her mother and father had spent their honeymoon.
What used to be the clearing of Rubeus' small cottage was a beehive of activity. In short order, Mum Hagrid had us all on the golden beach of the still lake. The air seemed to sparkle all around us but I saw no one but Royan. Her dark hair spilled over a green silk dress that flowed all the way to the ground and matched my shirt. Her dark eyes glowed into mine and I found I was no longer nervous.
"I love you, Royan. Whatever time we have here in this life, I will spend with you." I said clearly.
"I love you, Remus. Where ever you go, I will follow, in this life and beyond." She said softly but so clearly she sounded like a bell ringing.
"Who witnesses this bonding?" Albus asked.
"We do." The beach rang with the voices of our friends and relatives but I was kissing Royan and the rest of the world went away. She tasted of tea and ginger snaps and I savored the odd pairing with joy. It was the sound of laughter that finally broke our kiss.
"Wow, three minutes and thirty seconds, that beats the old record of Aunt Delilah and Uncle Nicholas." Gersey's voice said with a laugh and we joined in.
Holding hands, Royan and I went up the path that we'd made from the lake to Rubeus' cottage. Cutting the famous Triple Fudge Mocha Delight, we feasted on all the tempting dishes that had been baking and brewing for days. But at one point, I looked up and spotted Siri beckoning to me from the door to the cottage. Leaving Royan with a kiss and a promise to return soon, I made my way over to him.
"This won't take but a moment, Remie." He said and ushered me inside to join Rubeus and Severus. I had an inkling at that moment my gift was going to be something I'd always wanted.
"Thanks for letting me have this moment with you all." Siri was sweating slightly, my nose told me. "I told Remus that I had a gift for him but Snape, it's for you as well." He swallowed hard and I saw Rubeus slide his arm around Sev. "I am a fool and a coward, nothing that you didn't already know. Seventeen years ago I did a very stupid thing and I hurt both of you."
Another deep breath and I found myself holding my breath. Those green eyes came up from the floor, first to me and then to Sev. "I was jealous of you, Snape. You were so intelligent and self-contained. I hated your friendship with Remus because I feared that you'd take him away from us. James already had Lily and I only had Remus for a real friend. I was afraid that he'd give me up to be your friend."
He sighed and rubbed his cheek while I gently patted his back. "I'm sorry that I almost got you killed, Severus. And I'm sorry that I used Remus as my weapon. I don't know if we can be friends after all this time but I'd like us to not be enemies any more."
The silence was electric and I watched Rubeus look anxiously down at his bonded. Sev's eyes were closed and his whole body trembled just a little. "After all this time." He said softly, resting his head against Rubeus' blue silk shirt. The black eyes opened and I knew it would be all right. "I accept your apology, Sirius. The past is just that, the past. We all have a bright future before us, I suggest that we celebrate that."
"Thank you, Severus." Siri sagged a little and I whispered my own thank you into his ear when I hugged him. Sev was right, this was a day for celebration.
The morning after Remus and Royan's bonding, we said goodbye to them and sat down for our breakfast. Ara had told them they were expecting last night and they'd had time to come to terms with their new blessing. Royan glowed and Remus looked like he'd just won the Irish Sweepstakes. It looked like the Hagrid family was going to grow fast.
"Oh," Sev said quietly and hastily closed the paper. "Could I have some more tea, Ara? The chamomile is quite soothing this morning. What are your plans for the day, Ru'? I think I'll spend some time in the new lab rearranging the herbs."
"Nothin' much, Sev, the twins want to start on the green house today." I said slowly, wondering what he didn't want me to worry about. He was always protecting me. I smiled at him and he managed a little one for me before taking the tray from Ara and heading down the stairs to the underground room that had become his lab.
I looked at our house elf but she shrugged and pointed to the paper. "Page sixteen or seventeen," she whispered in her sweet little voice.
So I took up the paper and turned to those pages. It took me a bit but I finally found it. 'Snape Family Heirloom Sale' - On Friday the thirteenth (I checked the calendar and that was today) at two p.m., the household goods of the traitor Severus Snape will be sold at public auction . . ." I couldn't read any more. I was angry and sad, all at the same time. Severus was pretending not to care that he'd been labeled a traitor or that the manor had been confiscated. This had to be the final blow.
Having all your bits and pieces sold in public was a gross invasion of your privacy. And my Sev was a very private man although he had loosened up a bit. A hesitant hand on my knee reminded me that Ara was still there. So I told her what I'd read and she bit her lip, looking worriedly towards the stairs.
"I'll go down and hold him for a bit. He already had most of what he wanted from the Manor but maybe he thought of something he'd forgotten." I said and carefully laid the paper folded to the spot on the table.
Heading down the stairs, I found him sitting on the swiveling high-stool looking at the jars of herbs neatly arranged on the shelves above the work table. He had to know that I was there but he didn't move until I crossed to him and wrapped my arms around him. Then he sighed and turned into my chest, soaking my shirt with his tears. He always cried real quiet like and I rocked him a little.
When he finally stopped, his voice was muffled in the cloth but I could hear every word. "I didn't take the cradle from my mother's family because I knew that I'd never need it. The Snapes would end with me and good riddance to us." He caught his breath with a little sob and I couldn't stand it anymore.
Picking him up, I carried him back upstairs and into our bedroom. He needed me this morning more than the twins needed me to start building. Ara had the newspaper in hand, heading out the door so I knew that reinforcements would be coming soon. I had been a little unsure of her when she first came but she had proven to be a real blessing. I had the impression that she'd come from a really nasty place and that even Hogwarts was too much for her.
But right now, I had a despondent bond mate to cuddle. Sitting on the bed, I swung my feet up and snuggled him into my lap "Sweet Sev, we'll fix it. We'll get it for our little one even if we have ta steal it from the Ministry. What else did ya leave behind that ya thought ya'd never miss?"
He sniffed and burrowed as close to me as he could get. "I had a trunk of toys that Mama had given me in the attic but I didn't think I'd need them either. And there were several trunks full of clothes spelled to keep out the moths." He rubbed his eyes and looked up at me, endearingly sad. "I'd thought of getting them for the students to use in their plays. Albus would be willing to say that they were found in an attic, I thought."
"That it, love?" I kissed him gently and he hummed tunefully.
When we parted, he was smiling again. "They're just things, Ru'. I don't know why I was so upset. Everything I need is right here in my arms."
I just had to kiss him again for that sweet compliment but when I pulled back, I prodded him again. "Anything that the others might like?"
He paused and nodded slowly. "Gersey would like the grand piano, I think. It's a Steinway and in excellent condition. I've got the Stradivarius violin in my hidden rooms. That was easily stored so I didn't leave it behind."
"Ya play the violin?" I asked excitedly. "I love listenin' to violins."
"You do?" This time his smile was bright. "We'll have Albus bring it with him next time he comes and I shall play all your favorites."
I squeezed him until he squeaked. "Great! What else, Sev? Is there anything our newly bonded might like?"
He frowned but it wasn't a sad frown, just a thinking one. "My mother's Wedgwood tea service is packed away. It was too painful to look at so I didn't bring it with me. After all, I had no one to impress with my possessions. Oh, I can have Albus bring my mother's portrait the next time he comes. I'd like to hang it in the new front room, if that's all right with you?"
"I'd love to see a picture of yar Mum, Sev. We'll hang her over the mantle in a place of 'onor." I wondered what she looked like and I surely did hope that where ever she was on the astral plain, she approved of me being with her Sev. "Let's make a list then we can send the whole family to the auction. We can stay here and cuddle without anyone hearing a thing."
He chuckled and kissed me again, this time with tongue. We tasted good together, we always did. He was calmer now and we said our 'I love you's' quietly before going out to the rest of the family. It had turned rainy so we all crowded into our front room while Severus mentioned the items that he'd told to me earlier. Gersey perked right up when he heard about the grand piano.
Rhea looked real wistful when the Wedgwood tea service was mentioned and I saw Black get a real determined look on his face. Mum thought the clothing sounded lovely and Dad questioned Sev on the books in the library that he hadn't taken with him. Sev hadn't been interested in his father's field of neuromancy, the theoretical beginnings of magic and its building blocks. But Dad was excited and I could see that the auction would be fully attended by the Hagrid family.
When Harry arrived to help build the greenhouse, he looked real disappointed at not being able to go, too. Sev and I looked at each other then at Gersey. With a sigh, he smiled at Harry and said that he'd take him if Harry promised to be quiet and self-effacing. Of course, he promised and Sev worked a glamour so the scar didn't show and his hair turned bright red.
He looked like a Weasley and we all teased him about it. He just smiled and hugged Sev real unexpectedly. My bonded was still surprised when someone hugged him but he was learning how to give them right back. Mum speculated on whether or not his mother might have kept his baby clothes in one of those trunks in the attic. Sev blushed and shrugged that he didn't know.
It would be nice to have some ready made clothing for our little one when he was born. I looked at Sev and thought about holding him while he held our baby. I could hardly wait to make that a true picture. But for now, we were planning how to pay for our buys. The twins told Sev that they'd get the cradle as an early baby present then Black spoke up to claim the tea set and Gersey claimed the piano.
Everything else would get sorted out in time. I knew that Sev would insist on paying some of them back but he'd soon learn that we weren't real particular when it came to the family. We shared what we had with each other and I thought he'd like that when he got used to it. For now, I just wanted them to leave so I could take him back to bed and cuddle him.
I could hardly wait to get to the auction. I was going with Gersey and the family. For the first time, I was really and truly part of a family. But best of all, I was a part of Gersey and I'd get to hear him play the piano. I hoped it was still there. His voice was beautiful, velvety and deep. It made my stomach quiver but in a good way. We all said our goodbyes to Rubeus and Severus then apparated to Hogsmead where we could catch the bus to the Snape estate.
There were lots of people there already when we arrived and I kind of shrank back against Gersey. I'd forgotten how noisy a crowd could be. But with my red hair and no scar, I blended right in with the Hagrids. We all split up to look for the items we wanted to get for Sev and ourselves. Gersey and I headed for the music room where we found the piano gleaming in the candle light of a dozen tapers. There were books of music in the tall bookcases and one was open on the piano.
The others were just standing around looking at it but when Ger sat down and started to play, everyone stopped and listened. He played the Moonlight Sonata and I listened with my heart in my throat. Some where, some how I remembered that song and my mother playing it on another piano a long, long time ago. I sniffed hard and told myself to get a grip. I'd just have Ger play it again when we were alone and I could cry for her.
The crowd was murmuring approvingly and Ger nodded his head to them with a smile before starting another song. Gradually they all left for other rooms and I sat down on the bench with him. "That was nice, Ger. Thank you for playing it. What's this one?"
"An old lullaby that Mum used to sing to us when we were little. It's from the Middle Ages, we think." He shrugged gracefully and wound the song up with a somber chord. "I've always liked it. Someday, we'll play it for the next generation."
And it was my turn to have a vision. For just a moment, I saw myself sitting in a rocker and holding a baby with dark hair while Ger played on this very piano. I blinked when he patted my back and looked up at him. He'd been about three years older and so was I so it wasn't Sev and Rubeus' baby I was holding. Maybe it was ours? I smiled a big smile and reached up to kiss his cheek.
"I'll tell you later, Ger. How about the music books? Do you want them, too?" I asked and he ruffled my hair with a yes. We spent the rest of the hour before the start of the auction going through the books so he could see what was worth buying.
But a bell signaled the start of the auction and we joined the others on the velvet green lawn in front of the huge manor house. I wasn't going to be bidding on anything so I took a good look around and tried to imagine a little boy playing here. It was hard because everything was perfect and pristine even with all the people milling around. While Ger was busy signaling for a lot of books, I slipped away to find the herb garden that Sev had told me about.
The one where he and his mother had enjoyed so many sunny days, I remember the smile in his voice when he talked about it. The gardens were huge and real formal but I knew when I found it that I'd reached the right place. It felt peaceful here, like you could sit down and meditate for an hour or two. Rounding a corner of the privet hedge, I found someone else looking for solitude.
Draco and I stared at each other across a lover's knot of blooming lavender. He'd been crying although he'd tried to hide it. Something in me twisted in pain at his pale features and lackluster blond hair. "Hi, Draco. How are you?"
"Fine," he said tonelessly. "Joined the Weasleys?" It was a poor imitation of his usual sneer. "I'm surprised that they let you out with all the Death Eater attacks going on."
"I'm here with friends." I decided to be frank with him. "You look awful, Draco. Can I help you?"
"Help me?" He said it bitterly with a harsh laugh. "No one can help me now. Snape was my only hope and he's dead. Father plans on taking me to the Dark Lord for my own mark at the full moon tomorrow." Another tear leaked from his eye and he brushed it away impatiently. "So no, Potter, there isn't anything you can do for me."
And in a split second I saw what I had to do. "If I told you that I knew of a place where you'd be safe and people who would love you and help you, would you leave now and go there?"
"Safe doesn't exist anymore, Potter." All the passion was gone from his voice and he looked deathly tired. "No one wants to love me and there never will be anyone now. It's too late for me."
"It isn't too late until that mark goes on your arm. You'd have to leave everything behind. Your money, possessions, maybe even your name. Could you do that, Draco?" I was merciless and for a moment he almost looked interested.
"Draco?" The voice came from behind the hedge and in a moment he'd see me.
"Go, Weasley." Draco straightened up and put his sneer back on.
"The music room in half an hour," I whispered while I ran in the opposite direction. When I was sure that I was safe, I circled back around and made my way to Mum Hagrid's side.
Tugging on her sleeve, I got her to follow me where we couldn't be heard. Then I poured out Draco's story and what was going to happen to him if we didn't save him right here and now. She had an angry look in her eyes when I finished but I knew she wasn't angry with us but with Lucius Malfoy. She agreed to give me the port key for Sev's rooms if I got Ger to help.
That's when she told me that he'd been the successful bidder on the piano and almost all of the song books. It would look totally natural for us to go to the music room and I hugged her hard while she slipped the portkey around my neck and tucked it into my shirt. She said that she'd alert the rest of the family to trouble and I nodded before heading towards Ger.
Funny, but I knew right where he was and I homed in on him as if he was that satellite signal that muggles use to find where they were. I slipped my hand in his while he was talking to the assistant auctioneer and pretended that I was really shy, kind of hiding behind him. That told him that something was wrong but you'd never have known it by his expression.
He just looked resigned and told me that he'd take me for an ice cream waffle in just a minute. Wrapping up the delivery information, he smiled and shook hands with the dealer before letting me lead him away. I told him in urgent whispers what was happening and he got really tense, the way that Mum Hagrid had. I didn't want Ger to get hurt but part of me wanted to see him punch Lucius Malfoy right in the nose.
We got to the music room really fast but it was empty. Ger sat down at the piano and began to play softly while I paced back and forth. He was playing something really pretty when I heard the door creak open. Draco came in like Fang was after him and he ran right to me while Ger jumped up and grabbed us both.
Draco didn't know about Ger so he started to struggle but I just fished out the portkey and twisted it really fast. My stomach jumped and twisted the way I remembered from before at the Tri-Wizard Games. But before I could get too sick, we were in Sev's private rooms. Ger let go of Draco right away and I hugged him close instead.
"W-w-we're in Severus' private rooms." Draco stuttered right before he passed out, which I wasn't expecting so I almost dropped him.
Ger picked him up and laid him on the bed before dropping a kiss on my head and telling me that he was going to get his brother and Sev. I lit a candle and went out to the kitchen to put the tea kettle on. But then I went back to sit with Draco. We'd done it.
When Ger rushed in, we were snuggled together in my nook with Ty, the Nemean Lion, planning where the guest bedroom should be. He gave us the salient point, which was Draco's escape. In a heartbeat, we'd apparated to the edge of the Forest where the school wards began and were hurrying across the manicured lawn. I was praying that he was truly all right while I could feel Ru' worrying about who might see us.
Fortunately, Poppy was the only one who saw us from the infirmary window. She met us in the back hall and followed along in case she was needed. Ger filled her in on the day's happening and I could hear the sorrow in her voice. We'd all been worried about young Draco. We burst through the door of my former bedroom and found Harry on his feet with his wand pointed towards us.
Good boy, I thought, detouring around him to sit on the bed by the small body of my favorite Slytherin. He looked dreadful, skin tightly stretched over bones far too close to the surface. Even his hair was limp and lackluster. Poppy was doing a wand scan on him, whispering her findings.
"Broken arm, just healed . . . nasty bruise on his back . . . wrenched knee . . . oh dear." She said weakly and I shot her a questioning glance. She shook her head slightly and spoke to the others. "Gentlemen, if you'd leave the room for a moment while we get him more comfortable?"
They left reluctantly and shut the door behind them. She sighed. "Severus, he's been raped."
Dear Goddess, I closed my eyes and cradled his limp hand to my chest. "In preparation for receiving his Death Mark, he would be . . . relieved of his innocence."
"Damn them all," she said intensely and I could see the energy she sent from her wand into his healing. It sparkled like green snow and started flowing through his body from head to foot.
He moaned and opened dazed eyes. We looked at each other for a long moment while she finished her initial healing and quietly left the room. Not until she left did he speak my name softly. "Severus."
And I gathered him into my arms the way that Ru' had done this morning for me, rocking him slowly while he cried for all the things he'd just lost. I'd come such a long way since my death that I found myself murmuring all the little things that Ru' had told me.
"Safe . . . you're safe . . . my dear Draco . . . no more pain . . . no more fear . . . no more expectations that you can't fulfill . . . you're safe here . . . never again such pain . . . I promise."
He hiccupped once and slowly released his strangle hold on me. "I thought you were dead. I gave up then. No one else cared."
"I did die, Draco but Hagrid brought me back and Dumbledore fixed the majority of what was wrong." I smoothed back a lock of hair from his forehead. "I spent the better part of a month just sleeping and healing. Would you like to do that now?"
Tears welled again and he nodded slowly. "Please, can I stay here?"
"Yes," I promised without hesitation. "There are a few things that you need to know first. They may affect your decision."
But first, I laid him back down and went to get a damp washcloth to clean his face. He'd blown his nose by the time I came back. I wiped his face and helped him undress. Most of the bruises were already fading but he moved as if every joint hurt. I recognized the Crucio curse that had been very recently endured and cursed Lucius heartily but silently. Draco had enough to endure just now.
Once he was dressed in a flannel nightshirt that I pulled from my dresser, I got him snuggled down between the sheets after quickly warming them with a heat spell. His eyes were drooping from the release of tension so I told him to sleep. We could talk later. He nodded and fell to sleep in a heartbeat, still holding onto the sleeve of my shirt as if afraid that I'd leave.
I thought very hard at Ru' to see if our connection really was growing and he poked his head in right on cue. I beckoned him over and he knelt by me while I whispered that I wanted to send Draco into a healing trance while he was sleeping. He nodded and took my left hand while I laid my right onto Draco's forehead. Summoning the words, I spoke them softly and felt Rubeus' energy flow through me, picking up some of my energy and flowing into Draco.
And for one brief moment, I could have sworn that a third energy joined to ours. Our child was growing so quickly in power. His fingers unclenched and I tucked him in carefully, saying a charm to tell us when he awoke. Then Rubeus and I quietly left for the outer room. Poppy was still there but now Dumbledore was also. Ger was sitting on the loveseat with Harry curled into his side as close as he could get.
"Albus, I'm putting in a claim for Draco." I said abruptly. "His mother is an empty-headed fool but she is my second cousin. Poppy can testify to the abuse he's taken. If you read us under wizard's oath, our names don't have to be given."
"Rubeus, is this your wish also?" Albus asked my lover courteously.
"Whatever Sev wants is all right with me." He said calmly and hugged me tight.
I truly was the luckiest wizard on earth. Albus sat us across from him and a spell wrote down the necessary legal words that would prove just how ill a steward Lucius Malfoy had been of his only son. Albus was greatly saddened by the medical disclosures, especially the rape which we wrote but didn't say out loud and he put that under his seal to keep it private. Using Unforgivable curses would suffice to sever his guardianship.
Especially since Draco had already turned 16. We were enjoying a cup of tea while Poppy and I talked about what would be needed to help him heal when the charm went off and I quickly rejoined Draco. His eyes blinked open and closed several times before he recognized me. He was calmer now but the lost look in his eyes was one I recognized from my own mirror.
"Draco, would you like to see Dumbledore now? He has a very important question for you." I asked him gently and he nodded after a long moment. I called Albus in and he pulled up a chair so he didn't tower over the boy.
"Draco, I'm very sorry that you've been hurt. Severus and Rubeus have asked to become your guardians until you reach your majority. Would you like that or is there someone else with whom you'd feel more comfortable?"
Those big blue eyes came to me and I smiled at him. "Rubeus and I bonded almost a month ago, Draco. That's one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. If you say yes, you'll become part of the Snape-Hagrid family."
"Goodness," he said faintly. He thought for a long moment. "F-f-father can't get to me here, right?"
"Exactly, my boy, you're safe here." Albus said quietly but firmly.
"Yes, please, I'd like to become a S-s-snape-Hagrid." He said, his eyes drooping again.
"Then so be it." Albus said, whipping a silver cord from the air and wrapping it around our wrists then tapping it with his wand. "The Snape-Hagrids have a new son. May you all be very happy together, happy and safe."
And just like that, our family grew by one more. I couldn't have been happier and I hugged our new son before sending him back to sleep for the time being.
I watched Sev watching Draco and wondered just what we'd gotten ourselves into. Well, I knew what we'd done, it was the consequences I was concerned about. But Sev looked so happy and Draco finally looked peaceful so I knew that we'd muddle through somehow. I did just wonder though, if the pure-blood dislike of half-breeds was going to raise a barrier between us and him.
I really didn't know much about Draco except for his public face. That had been pretty snippy but the poor boy had surely had a nasty set of parents. I wondered what had made Albus look so mad when they were writing down the medical part but if it was important then Sev would tell me. I guess I wasn't going to have to wait another eight months for a son, we'd just received our first.
Sev left off staring and came to me where I was waiting in the doorway. He came right into my arms and I hugged him tight. He was thinking hard about something and suddenly I got a picture of what had upset the Headmaster so. I gasped and he looked up with sad eyes, nodding to me shakily. I wanted to find Lucius Malfoy and strangle him. How dare he treat his own son like that?
Sev urged me into the outer room where Ger and Harry were waiting, with Dumbledore right behind. "Ru', I know you're upset but for now we just need to be calm for Draco, calm and loving and supportive, just like you were for me when you took me in. That's a trauma that only time can heal."
"Gr-r-r," I managed to keep it to a growl but it had been a long time since I'd been this angry. Ger and Harry were looking back and forth at us with worried looks on their faces. I took a deep breath, then another and slowly let it out. That little boy would be safe with us. Sev was right, our love and a lot of time would take away the anger and fear of the rape.
"I need to get back upstairs and file this with the Ministry, Gentlemen." The Headmaster said calmly. "I think you'd probably all better stay here tonight. Poppy will be close by in case you need her. Tomorrow will be soon enough for you to think about moving back to the cottage."
"Oh, here's the portkey, Rubeus. You might need it." Harry took off the chain and held it out to me. "I'll stay here so he sees a familiar face if he wakes up. I'll get my potion textbook and study awhile."
"Thanks, 'arry, that would be great." I said and put it in my pocket for the moment.
"Ru', why don't you and Ger go back to the cottage and tell the others what has happened." Sev looked a little tired. "I'm going to curl up beside Draco and take a nap. Harry will be right here in case we need anything. Will you come back here for dinner and stay with us tonight?"
"Course I will, Sev." I kissed him gently and he smiled. When we parted, our eyes said all the things we didn't want to say out loud. "Be back before ya know it. Come on, Ger."
We pretended not to notice when he whispered something to Harry and hugged him hard before letting go. The Headmaster looked on with a smile and I just knew that he'd picked up on the two of them. He followed us out into the dungeon hall and fixed Ger with a penetrating look.
"You and I shall have a little chat tomorrow, Gersey. I stand in loco parentis to young Harry and before the bond I see grows any further, I'd like to get to know you." He said kind of sternly.
Ger just smiled at him. "I'd be glad to, Headmaster. Talking about Harry has become my very favorite thing."
Dumbledore blinked once and smiled delightedly. "What a relief. I'm getting too old to chase after that boy. I gladly hand over that job to you."
He went on his way and we left the school by the back door, crossing the fields to the Forest and heading towards home. "We're definitely going to need that other bedroom before we build the greenhouse or nursery, Ger."
"Not to worry, big brother, we'll get it all done before we leave." He grinned at me and I hugged him close.
"I miss ya, Ger, when ya're gone so long tourin'." I hadn't had any time at all with him this visit.
"I miss you, too." He hugged me back and we just stood for a moment enjoying being close again. But things needed doing so we broke apart and walked on. "Can you say what made you so angry, Rube?"
Sighing, I rubbed my chin and thought about it. I was pretty sure that Harry would eventually find out and tell him but if Ger knew first then he'd have a better answer ready to help the youngster through it. "His father 'ad him raped as a prelude to him gettin' 'is Death Mark."
"Son of a bitch!" Ger stopped dead and swelled with anger. "I wish I'd stayed and punched him out. Slimy, no good . . ."
I nodded while listening to him swear. It was better that he get it out of his system before Mum and Dad heard him. Mum was still capable of washing out his mouth with soap.
"I want to kill him for torturing that little one." He finally started walking again and I nodded again. "What if it had been Harry?"
I threw an arm around his shoulders. "I know, Ger, I felt the same way. Worse yet, I know that Sev had the same thing done to him."
Ger got a real stricken look on his face. "Damn, I never even thought about Sev, Rube. I'm so sorry. This just gets worse and worse."
"Could have been a lot worse, I s'pect." I walked a little faster. The sooner we got home and sorted out, the sooner I'd get back to Sev. "What if Harry hadn't found him and we found out later that he'd been taken by Voldemort? That would have half-killed Sev and he'd be grievin' while trying to get through this pregnancy."
"You're right, it could have been worse, Rube, but not by much." He sighed real heavy. "I just want to wrap Harry up and keep him safe. Take him with me on the road and protect him from everything. Maybe even from me. I'm going to be taking a lot of cold showers in the next few days."
I chuckled, something I hadn't thought I'd be doing anytime soon again. "Just jump in the lake, Ger, that'll take care of any little problems that . . . come up."
"Ha-ha, very funny." He stuck out his tongue at me and I made a fast grab for it. That was an old game that still made us laugh.
Once we got home, we were grabbed by our very worried family and we all sat down in the outside pavilion where we'd celebrated our bondings the day before. I explained what had happened and why. And that Sev and I were now the parents of Draco Malfoy. Anger was high and it looked like Black was going to blow up but Rhea calmed him down enough so Mum didn't have to get out the soap.
The men of the family would get started on the building while Mum and Dad took care of putting all the auction items in safe storage for now. Rhea would help Sev with nursing Draco and since Harry would want to help out, we'd leave it up to him to choose what he wanted to do. I thought Black was going to pass out when I mentioned Sev's pregnancy. Rhea promised to explain it to him and we went onto the next challenge.
There were going to be a lot of them. But thinking of Sev and the small lad with the shocking white blond hair, I somehow knew that we'd meet them all. The Hagrid family was growing and while not all of it was planned, it was all for the best. Someday we'd look back on this and laugh.