Chapter 1 : There Goes My Life
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His hands unfolded the parchment and he opened the first letter his daughter ever wrote to him from Hogwarts. This year would be the first time she had ever been away from home, not counting the times she stayed with her grandparents. He hoped she wasn’t too homesick, the way he had been. He pushed his glasses back on his nose and began to read.
Well, I’m finally here! I was so excited I nearly threw up, but lucky Grandpa gave me a Stomach Soother before I left, and I took it. He knows my stomach’s always been funny that way, you know. I can’t believe I’m here, where you and Mum and Grandpa and Gram went to school. It’s so big and I’m afraid I’ll get lost. Gram told me if that happens I can just ask the portraits or the ghosts and they can tell me how to navigate the stairs and stuff.
We had the Sorting first off and guess what???!!
I’m a Slytherin, like Grandpa and you!!
Tell Mum I’m sorry I didn’t get into Ravenclaw like her, but the Hat’s always right. Isn’t it?
It asked me where I thought I belonged and I said, whatever House you think I’ll fit in and it picked Slytherin. My Head of House is our new Defense teacher, Professor Draco Malfoy. Didn’t you used to go to school with him, Dad?
Harry Potter-Snape set down the letter and rubbed his eyes. I must be seeing things! Since when is Malfoy a teacher? Holy Merlin! I can’t believe it. I wonder if Dad knows? He continued reading.
So I’m just unpacking and getting set for class tomorrow and I’m too excited to sleep, even though Professor Malfoy says lights out at ten for firsties. Ugh! And here I thought I’d gotten AWAY from bedtime!
Anyway, just thought I’d write you real quick so I could tell you. Everybody has been asking me questions nonstop about you, the famous Harry Potter-Snape that killed Moldy Voldy when you were just a baby. They all want your autograph and Grandpa’s too, on account of he defeated the Death Eaters by infiltrating them and gathering evidence of harmful curses and got them all locked up forever in Azkaban. And they all want to know if I can cast battle magic and blow things up. I just looked at them like they were crazy. Really, me cast curses? You’d skin me and so would Grandpa.
Sometimes it’s really annoying being related to two heroes. Kids expect stuff from you. I can’t wait till class tomorrow.
Tell Gram I’m eating the oatmeal raisin biscuits she gave me and they’re so-o-o good! I’m gonna need more soon!
I miss you and Mum and Grandpa and Gram lots, that’s why I sent Whisper with a letter already. I hope I make friends here, besides Rose Weasley, I mean, since she’s almost like family. Professor Malfoy has a daughter named Eva here, only she’s in Ravenclaw. Gotta finish, my prefect is telling us to get in bed, since it’s quarter to ten.
Write back soon and tell Mum the next letter I write will be for her.
Love you lots,
Harry found he had to set the letter down and wipe his eyes. Oh, Severina, my precious little girl is growing up! I miss you already and you’ve only been away a day. And to think, once I regretted you even existed. Once I thought you were the worst mistake of my life.
He shut his eyes and allowed himself to remember that fateful afternoon, the day he had learned he had created a new life. It had been a dreadful shock.
All he could think about was
I’m too young for this
Got my whole life ahead
Hell, I’m just a kid myself
How’m I gonna raise one?
He had been sixteen, and planning on a career in either professional Quidditch as a Seeker or as Auror in Special Forces, which was the toughest program in the Department, and required an extra two years of training. The Specials were the elite, the best fighters and battle mages that Britain had, and Harry had always wanted to be one, like his adopted father, Severus Snape. Sev had raised him, adopting him when he was a baby, after he had married his mother, Lily, who also was another who had survived Voldemort’s reign of terror. Voldemort had knocked her out to get to Harry, thinking he’d killed her, he had advanced upon the helpless baby, only to have Harry’s innate magic repulse his curse and destroy him. Special Auror Snape had found both of them moments later and carried them to safety.
Harry had grown up as Snape’s son, Sev was the only father he could remember, James had died two weeks after his birth, killed in a freak flying accident, playing against the Wimbourne Wasps, he had been a professional Chaser playing for the Montrose Magpies.
That was why he had been torn trying to decide on a career.
He wanted to honor both his fathers, but he could only hold one career. It was when he had been trying to decide that he had met dreamy mystical Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood. He had been out walking and bumped into her, she had been visiting the thestrals, she had explained. He had no idea what a thestral was, of course, and she had to explain it to him.
That was the first conversation they had had, but not the last. He was fascinated by her, she seemed to see things others missed, she had eyes that looked into your soul, and they captivated him, ensnared him deeper than any draft of Amortentia. He learned of her sad past, her mother’s suicide, her father’s preoccupation with his paper, The Quibbler, instead of his daughter. He sensed she was lonely, and he had never been able to resist an unhappy girl. Sev called it his “hero-complex” and maintained he got that from James.
Harry found himself falling helplessly in love with the mystical witch. Luna had just laughed and said the stars intended them to be together. Maybe it was true. All Harry knew was that he couldn’t get enough of her. He thought about her all the time, he dreamed of her at night, and woke sweating and dying to kiss her.
Finally he acted upon that longing. They had gone out for his birthday, eating dinner in Hogsmeade, he was just turned sixteen, and it had been one of those perfect evenings, with the stars shimmering down on them, and one thing had led to another . . .and the next morning he had woken up in a room in The Three Broomsticks with Luna beside him and a very hazy memory of how they had gotten there.
We were kind of sloshed by that time, I think. Madam Rosmerta kept bringing us new concoctions to try and, stupid kids that we were, we drank them all. Harry thought ruefully.
Neither of them had thought about repercussions, they were young, they were in love, and it had been just one night.
But that one night had unforeseen consequences.
* * * * * *
“Are you sure, Luna? It’s not . . .just late?” he had stammered.
She shook her head, sniffling. “No. I did a potion, brewed it in the haunted girl’s bathroom. It was a Conception Draft. And it came out positive. Harry, I’m pregnant.”
He almost passed out. “What are we going to do, Luna?” He didn’t need to ask if he was the father. He knew better. “We can’t be parents! We’re sixteen, for Godsake!”
She looked at him. “Well, like or not, that’s what’s we’re going to be in about seven months.”
He buried his face in his hands. “Oh, hell. What am I going to tell my parents? And your father? He’s going to kill me. Or mine will.”
Luna put a hand on his arm. “Don’t be silly, Harry. Dad loves you, he’ll be delighted we’re getting married and everything. You know him. He won’t think anything of it if the baby’s a little early.”
Harry groaned. Mr. Lovegood was not the type to get seriously angry and if Luna told him that she wished to get married before they finished school, he would understand. Luna had been making her own decisions since her mother’s death when she was ten. But his father . . .that was another story. I’m dead. I’m just . . .dead. How can I tell him? How? He’s going to be so disappointed. And then he’s going to kick my arse. How could this happen? Everything was going so perfect . . .
“My dad will know. Nothing gets past Special Auror Snape. How am I going to tell him, Luna?”
“You just open up your mouth and tell him, Harry. It’s not that hard. Really.”
“You don’t understand. He’s going to kill me and then the baby will be left without a father.” Harry said, panicked.
She had given him a pointed look. “Nonsense, Harry. Severus loves you, he’d never hurt you. Not permanently,” she added impishly.
“This isn’t funny!” he snapped. “Just last week I was discussing requirements to get into the Specials and now . . .now I’ve got to go home and tell him that I’m about to become a father. He’s never going to forgive me for being so irresponsible!” He had tears in his eyes. “Or Mum either!”
She hugged him then. “It’ll work out, Harry. Trust me.”
“How do you know, Luna?”
“I just do. The same way I knew that you were meant for me. The same way that I know the baby will be a girl.” She said serenely. She placed his hand upon her stomach. “She’s in there, growing a little more each day. And she’ll be the most beautiful and magical child ever.”
He managed a smile for her, but inside he was shivering. I can’t be a father! I’m just a kid myself! This is the worst mistake of my life.
* * * * * *
Severus leaned back in his chair behind his desk. “All right, son. What was so important that you had to come home and tell me about it?”
Harry swallowed hard. He had made certain that his mother and little sister Amanda were out shopping before asking to talk to Severus privately. It had been three months since that night and it was just after Halloween, almost Amanda’s birthday, and Harry had used that excuse to leave school a few days early and go home. Dumbledore had granted it, of course, he had never been able to refuse Harry anything.
I wish I was going to tell you that I’d been accepted into the Specials program, Dad, or got signed to a team. Instead I have to tell you that I got my girlfriend pregnant.
“Harry? What is it?” Severus asked, concerned. The boy was pasty white and looked as if he were going to be sick. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. No . . .everything . . .”
Severus cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. “Which is it?”
“It’s . . .oh Merlin . . .it’s Luna . . .”
“Luna? Has something happened to her?” Severus frowned.
Harry nodded miserably. “Yeah. She’s pregnant. With my baby.”
There was dead silence in the room.
Harry dared to look the other man in the eye.
Severus Snape had been through a war, had been a spy, had killed dark wizards both off and on the field of battle. He had seen the worst and the best life had to offer. He had managed at last to finally marry the love of his life and raise her son and his own daughter to be responsible young adults. Or so he had thought.
He stared at his son, struck dumb. Where did I go wrong, dammit?
“Excuse me?” he said in a deadly soft tone, the same tone he used on a suspect he was interrogating. “Would you mind repeating that?”
His son gulped, but then he gathered his courage and said firmly, “You heard right, sir. Luna’s pregnant with my baby.” Then his courage broke and he was suddenly a scared kid, waiting for his father to punish him. “I’m sorry, Dad! I . . .don’t know how this happened.”
Severus gave a harsh bark of laughter. “What do you mean, you don’t know how it happened?”
“I mean . . .I know how . . .but . . .what am I going to do?” He flashed his father a desperate pleading look.
Severus scowled. “Don’t look at me like that, young man. This isn’t like breaking your mother’s favorite vase, that I can mend with a charm, and that’s it. This is real life. I’m assuming Luna was consenting?”
“Of course! I’d never . . .how could you think that about me?!” Harry cried angrily.
Severus leaned over the desk and said sharply, “How could I ask that? How could you expect me not to when you come home and tell me your girlfriend’s carrying your child and you don’t know how it got that way? Dammit, Harry!” His hand slammed down upon the desk. “What the bloody hell were you thinking?”
Harry hung his head. “I don’t know . . .it was my birthday . . .”
“And you decided to celebrate some other way than just dinner is that it? Merlin help me! And here I thought you were smart.”
“Dad, what can I do? I’m not ready to . . .to be a father . . .”
“You’re not? Well, son, you should have thought about that before you unbuttoned your jeans, now shouldn’t you?” Severus said harshly.
Harry flinched as if Severus had slapped him. “I really screwed up, didn’t I?” Then he flushed when he realized what he had said.
“To put it bluntly, yes, you sure as hell did. And now you’re going to have to do the right thing and own up to the consequences. You’re going to marry Miss Lovegood and be a father to that baby. Understand?”
“But Dad, I’m sixteen, I don’t know the first thing about being a father,” Harry whined. “I was going to apply to the Academy, or talk to that scout for the Magpies. They offered me a contract. I had it all planned out.”
“Plans change. If you’re old enough to sleep with Miss Lovegood, Harry Potter-Snape, then you’re old enough to accept responsibility for what comes from it. I thought I taught you better, but it seems not. But one thing I will make sure of is that you stay and face the consequences of your choice. No son of mine is going to run off and leave a young woman to deal with an unplanned pregnancy alone. Not so long as I have breath in my body. Clear?”
“Yes, sir.” Harry understood. Sev had grown up without a father because Tobias Snape had done just that. He’d been raised by his mother Eileen until he was seventeen and then Eileen had died from a heart ailment, leaving Severus alone. “I’m sorry.”
“A bit late for that,” said his father, then he relented and came around the desk and took his son by the shoulders, shook him gently, and hugged him. Harry buried his head in Sev’s chest and cried.
“It’s all finished, Dad,” he sobbed. “There goes my life. The life I always wanted. It’s all gone.”
Severus sighed and stroked his hair. “We’ll manage, son. Don’t spend your life regretting what was. Just . . .chalk it up and move on.”
All he could see were his dreams
Going up in smoke
So much for ditchin’ this town
And hanging out on the coast
Oh, well those plans are long gone.
And he said, there goes my life
There goes my future, my everything
Might as well kiss it all goodbye
There goes my life.
But Dad was right. There was no use in regretting what was. He always did give the best advice, even if I was too stupid most times to listen to it. But I did then, probably because I had no choice.
He smiled then, recalling the short but sweet ceremony Luna and he had, a small gathering of family and friends, Dumbledore had performed the ceremony, and Adolphus Lovegood had welcomed Harry into his family without a fuss. The Snapes did the same for Luna.
“I really like having a big sister to talk to,” Amanda had told Luna afterwards. “You can tell a sister things you can’t tell a brother, because they’d never understand. Harry’s clueless sometimes.”
“Thanks, brat,” he’s mock-growled, swatting her playfully on the bottom.
Amanda, who looked just like her father, except for her mother’s green eyes, gave him a half-hearted Snape glare. “What was that for?”
“Practice for when I have to discipline my own,” her brother teased.
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Didn’t hurt.” Then she ducked and ran to hide behind Luna, squealing. She was eleven.
“What’s going on in here?” Severus asked, coming into the kitchen.
“She’s being a brat, Dad. So I smacked her bottom,” Harry answered, pointing to Amanda.
“Oh? You must not have done it hard enough, since she’s smirking.”
“Guess not.” Harry agreed. “Maybe you need to show me how it’s done, huh, Dad?”
“Maybe,” Sev drawled, his eyes glittering in amusement.
“No! Please!” yelped his daughter, covering her bottom dramatically.
Harry burst out laughing, unable to help himself. “Mandy, you twit! You really thought we were serious!”
“I . . .I didn’t . . .okay, maybe I did . . .”
Severus rolled his eyes. “Harry, you want to know how to discipline mouthy little girls?”
“You take away their mirrors and then you do this,” Sev declared, and promptly dragged Amanda out from behind Luna and tickled her unmercifully until she begged him to stop. “Are you going to behave, Amanda Eileen Snape?”
“Okay, okay . . .stop it, Dad! I’ll be good!” she pleaded. Tears were rolling down her face.
“See? Works like a charm,” Severus said, then he released his daughter. “Go find your mother, brat.” And he sent her off with a light swat.
Harry smiled. “I’ll have to remember that.”
“You’ll do fine, hon,” Luna reassured him, and then she kissed him.
Severus and Lily had given the new couple enough money to buy a small house in the same neighborhood Luna had grown up in. Harry had promised he would pay it back when he came into his trust fund from James Potter when he turned seventeen.
Severus had looked him up and down and said, “I’m going to hold you to that promise, son.”
“I won’t break it, Dad.” Harry said solemnly. “Thanks for all you and Mum have done.”
Severus clapped him on the shoulder. “You’ve grown up a lot these past months, Harry. I’m proud of you.”
Those words had never meant so much to him as they did right then.
* * * * * *
Luna grew larger and larger, until she resembled the moon she had been named after. Yet she maintained a cheerful demeanor throughout her pregnancy, even when stricken with morning sickness. Lily and Severus brewed her special teas and potions for it and Lily and Amanda went shopping with her for baby clothes and helped decorate the nursery.
It seemed like every time Harry turned around, the women were bringing home something else for the baby, and it hadn’t even been born yet! “Merlin, how many clothes can one kid need?” he exclaimed.
Lily shook her head. “Ask me that question again when the baby’s born, Harry, and you’re changing her five times a day after she spits up on you.”
Harry didn’t know what to say to that, and he retreated to his study to finish the last of the tests that were the equivalent of his last year at Hogwarts.
Luna, Amanda, and Lily went to the nursery to put away their latest acquisitions.
“I think she’s going to be the best dressed baby anywhere,” Luna smiled as she placed the little clothes in the dresser.
“Of course she will. She’s my niece,” Amanda declared. “I know all the latest styles.”
“You certainly do. And frequently plot to give your father a heart attack by wearing them,” Lily commented ruefully.
Her daughter smirked. “Aww, come on, Mum. Most of my clothes aren’t too bad.” Lily raised an eyebrow. “Okay, well, maybe the sequined see-through skirt wasn’t the best choice, but I was wearing leggings over it and a long shirt. Dad acted like I walked out of my room naked.”
Luna giggled. “I can just imagine his expression.”
“Yeah, he nearly passed out.” Amanda said wickedly. “Then he said if I didn’t go upstairs and change right now he was going to lock me in my room till I was twenty. Or send me to a convent. He’s so old fashioned!”
“But he loves you, Mandy. He just wants to protect you.” Lily reminded her rebellious daughter. “That’s a father’s duty, to keep his children safe.”
Luna cupped her hands over her protruding belly and said, “I hope Harry has the same relationship with our daughter as you do with Sev, Amanda.”
“What? The poor kid!” Amanda groaned. “If he sends her to a convent, I’ll bust her outta there and we’ll run away to Paris together.”
Lily frowned at her.
“Only kidding, Mum. I’ll take my drill sergeant dad over anybody else’s father any day of the week.” She bounced up on her toes and touched Luna’s belly very gently. “How do you know it’s a girl, Luna?”
Luna gave her a knowing smile. “I just do. It’s something I can’t explain. Like the way I know how to cast a Sleeping Charm. Or when there’s a wrackspurt nearby.” She cradled her stomach. “I can’t wait for her to be born. Although . . .I am a little nervous about the delivery. I’ve heard so many stories . . .”
“Like what?” Amanda asked curiously.
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, Luna,” Lily said briskly. “Every woman is different and so is every birth. When I had Harry I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. He took about eight hours to get born. When I had Mandy, I was a little nervous, but not much. And she took three.”
“Ha! I knew I was the easy one!”
“Tell that to your father,” Lily said, her green eyes twinkling in amusement. She laid a hand on Luna’s arm. “You’ll do fine, Luna. The Healers at St. Mungos are the best in the business.”
“Will you be there with me, Lily?”
“Of course, dear,” Lily assured her. She was almost like a surrogate mother to her daughter-in-law and the two were very close. “And if the pains get too bad, just crush Harry’s fingers. That’s what I did to both of my husbands.”
“Huh. No wonder Dad’s left hand is crooked,” Amanda teased.
Lily swatted her playfully. “Let’s hope your daughter is more respectful than this one here.”
“Mum! I’m respectful!” Amanda protested. Then she added honestly, “Sometimes.”
“All I want,” Luna said quietly, “Is for my baby to be healthy and happy.”
“She will be,” Lily said serenely. Then she began to fold the tiny rompers and dresses while Mandy arranged the stuffed animals in the crib.
* * * * * *
Severina Maeve Potter-Snape was born at half-past three in the morning on Tuesday April 18th. She was named for her grandfather and her maternal grandmother and she was the spitting image of her mother, save for her smile, which was pure mischief, just like her daddy’s, and her temperament, which was his also.
Harry had remained with his wife through the entire ordeal, allowing Luna to mangle his hand in the name of being a good husband. But the first sight of his baby caused his heart to almost break for joy. He cradled the tiny miracle in his arms, she was so small, so perfect, so everything. And he thought, Here goes my life. Right here and now. She looked up at him, her big blue eyes wide, and he smiled down at her and whispered, “You are just like your mum. So beautiful. And I’m gonna try and be the best dad ever. Promise.” Then he kissed her on the forehead.
Suddenly all his old feelings of apprehension and regret melted away and all he could feel was pure untainted love for the baby in his arms, the best mistake he had ever made. I love you so much, Rina. So very much.
A couple years of up all night
And a few thousand diapers later
“Harry!” Luna elbowed him in the ribs, nudging him none too gently from his slumber. “Harry, it’s your turn to feed her. Wake up!”
“Huh?” he muttered, still lost in dreams of catching the Snitch and scoring the winning goal in the last game he had ever played—Slytherin versus Gryffindor. “I was just about to catch the Snitch, honey.”
“Well, now you can go and catch your daughter,” Luna told him. “She’s hungry.”
He winced as he heard Rina’s screeching. “Kid’s like a bottomless pit,” he groaned, throwing off the covers. “All she does is eat and sleep and give me nappies to change.”
Luna yawned wearily. “She’s a baby, Harry. That’s what babies do.” An instant later she was asleep.
Harry sighed and padded into the nursery and picked up his daughter, who was howling fit to rival a werewolf. “Hey now, sweet thing, no need to carry on like this. I’m not deaf, you know. Least not yet, anyhow. Though if you keep screaming like this, I might be before long.” He patted her on the back and summoned a bottle of warm formula to him.
Rina was all red-faced and howling, but Harry still thought she was perfect. He sat down in the rocker that Lily had given him, it was the same one she had used for both him and Amanda, and started it moving with a quick thrust. He tested the formula on his wrist. “Okay, okay. Simmer down, little teapot.” He ordered. “Your mum’s sleeping. Got a set of lungs on you like your grandfather.”
He popped the bottle in the baby’s open mouth.
Rina settled almost instantly and began to suck.
Harry rocked her back and forth, humming softly.
Those were some of the best of times, at night, just you and me, when all was still and quiet. I’ve always been a night owl, and thank goodness for that. Because you rarely slept for three months, till your Gram hit on a way to make you tired. She had me swaddle you up like a caterpillar in a blanket and you liked it so much you finally slept the whole night through.
That had been a milestone.
It had been quickly followed by others.
Her first tooth.
He had called Severus and Lily in a panic. “Mum, I don’t know what to do, she won’t stop crying!” He held the screaming baby in one arm and spoke into the magic mirror in his other hand.
“Is she running a temperature, Harry?” asked Lily.
“Uh . . .yeah, a little one, and she won’t eat and all she wants to do is suck on her fist. What’s wrong with her? Should I call the Healer?”
“Calm down, son.” Severus ordered. “Sounds like she’s cutting a tooth. Right, Lil?”
Lily had nodded. “Oh, yes. She sounds exactly like you did at that age.”
“Are you sure? She’s screaming bloody murder, like she’s being tortured.” Harry cried.
“From what I understand, getting those first set of teeth is like being under the Cruciatus,” his father said. “We’re just lucky none of us remember it.”
Harry winced. “What do I do about it?”
“For now, take some firewhiskey and rub it on her gums,” Lily said. “Then freeze charm a teething ring and give it to her, that’ll numb her mouth properly. I’ll send your father over with a Teething Draft in half-an-hour.”
“Fifteen minutes,” Severus countered. “It doesn’t take me that long to brew, I’m not in my dotage yet, Lily Snape.”
“You sure about that, Sev?” she teased. “You forgot to pick up Amanda from the train station last week.”
“Ha ha. Very funny. I’m never going to live that one down, am I?”
“No,” Lily said, then she laughed at his indignant expression and kissed the tip of his nose.
A moment later, the mirror went dark, and Harry rushed off to do what Lily had told him.
Don’t know what I would have done without them that first year. They saved my sanity and Luna’s too. Before I knew it, you were crawling and walking and talking. Seems like I blinked and you were starting pre-school.
That mistake he thought he’d made covers up the refrigerator.
Oh yeah, he loves that little girl
“Lookit, Daddy. I maked you a pit-chure,” Rina proudly displayed her latest creation, a parchment full of colored scribbles and blotches of color.
Harry took it and wondered what the hell it was, then decided it didn’t really matter. It kind of looked like something Picasso might have painted. “It’s beautiful, Rina. Let’s put it up on the fridge, okay?”
And he stuck it there, next to all the other ones his artistic two-year-old had made.
Rina clapped her hands and grinned. “Yay!”
Harry laughed and swung her around, she shrieked with laughter. He loved to hear her laugh. Her laugh was like sunshine, and her smile pure magic.
“More fly, Dad! More fly!”
He threw her into the air again and laughed as well.
From the doorway, Luna watched, a gentle smile on her face. She had inherited her father’s paper when he had passed away and together she and Harry ran it. She knew it wasn’t the life he had imagined when he was back in school, and she had been afraid he would resent her or their child for taking away his dreams, but he seemed content and he adored his daughter.
“Rina, love, time for bed,” she called.
Harry turned and set his daughter down and she raced for the stairs, the way she did every night since she had learned how to climb. The two wizards had discovered their daughter had inherited the intrepid courage of her father and both grandfathers, and the agility of a thousand monkeys. Rina was a born acrobat, and she climbed gates as well as stairs, so in the interests of keeping her safe, Harry had placed permanent Cushioning Charms at the bottom and the top of the stairs, strong ones that would prevent her from breaking anything.
Luna Apparated to the top of the stairs, watching her daughter with a mixture of pride and love.
Momma’s waiting to tuck her in
As she fumbles up those stairs
She smiles back at him
Rina paused on the fourth stair to grab her favorite teddy bear and then she turned and looked back at Harry, grinning her devil-may-care grin.
Dragging that teddy bear
Sleep tight, blue eyes and bouncing curls
Then she turned and scrambled up the stairs.
Mock-growling, Harry followed, chasing her.
It was an old game they played, called “Bad Werewolf”.
“Grrr! Grrr! The big bad werewolf is coming!” Harry cried, stamping his feet and then climbing up a step.
Severina squealed, giggling. “Momma, the bad woof’s comin’!”
“Climb, baby! Hurry!” Luna called.
And Rina did, her laughter echoing through the hallway. “C’mon, Mr. Hugaboo! The big bad woof’s comin’!”
“Rrrawwrr! I’m going to eat you . . .eat you all up, you bad girl!” Harry climbed another stair.
“No! No! Stay ‘way! I not bad—you is!” shouted the littlest Potter-Snape. Then she scurried quick as a mouse up the remainder of the stairs.
Luna scooped her up and pretended to hex the “big bad woof”.
“Pow!” Rina yelled. “Now you is dead!”
Harry put his head down on the carpet, hiding his face.
After a moment, he felt a hand touch his shoulder. “’Kay, Daddy. You can wake up now,” a little voice declared imperiously.
Harry slowly raised his head. “Hello, imp. Having fun?”
Rina nodded. “Uh-huh.”
He picked her up and tickled her till she howled, then he set her down and said, “It’s bedtime for little girls.”
She grabbed Luna’s hand and dragged the witch down the hall to her small room, which was right across from theirs, “Bedtime, Momma. Story n’then sleep.”
Harry chuckled, thinking wryly, She’s got us well trained, Merlin help me!
He smiles . . .
There goes my life.
There goes my future, my everything.
Three years ago he never would have dreamed he would be where he was now. Then he had thought his future was playing professional Quidditch, and thrilling to the roar of the crowd, or becoming a Special and hunting down the worst criminals in the known world, like his father. Instead here he was, standing in a hallway, watching his wife tuck his daughter into bed, and marveling at how much one baby girl had changed his life. Or rather, had become his life.
He was humbled and awed at the same time. He leaned on the doorframe and listened to Luna read, his wife’s voice was low and soothing. Rina yawned, starting to drift off.
Harry came in and bent down to kiss his daughter on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, princess mine.”
Rina’s eyes opened sleepily. “Luv you, night.”
I love you, Daddy, good night.
There goes my life.
* * * * * *
His daughter was a marvel and a wonder, but she could also be a handful, Harry discovered to his dismay. She had inherited his stubbornness and temper, and he didn’t quite know how to deal with it, for he hated to see her cry.
Mandy was visiting the first time her niece pitched a fit, because Harry wouldn’t give her a lolly, telling her she had to wait till after dinner. Harry watched his adorable angel throw herself on the floor and screech herself blue until finally he gave in and gave her the candy.
His thirteen-year-old sister frowned disapprovingly. “Harry, you shouldn’t have done that.”
He spun on her. “What was I supposed to do, let her scream herself sick?”
Amanda shrugged. “Well, if you keep giving in to her, you’re going to have a spoiled brat on your hands, is all I know. Just ask Dad.”
Harry snorted. “Dad doesn’t know everything, Mandy.” He knelt down to wipe the tears off of his daughter’s cheeks. Rina had stopped bawling, and was sucking happily on her lolly.
“He knows more than you about raising kids, Harry,” Amanda pointed out maddeningly. “And you know he’d never have allowed us to get away with anything like that.”
“Oh, be quiet, you little know-it-all!” Harry snapped, angry because he knew she was right.
“Big brother, you need help.” His sister declared bossily. “But it’s your funeral if you don’t want to take my advice.”
“You think you’re so smart Amanda Eileen, then you take that lolly away from her and listen to her scream.”
“Me? No way. It’s not my job to discipline her, Dad.”
Harry glared at her. “You just like to stick your two Knuts in.”
Mandy smirked insolently. “That’s what little sisters do.”
“Brat! Dad should have spanked you more often.”
“Ha! Says the cauldron to the pot. Mum said you were such a troublemaker that it’s a miracle you can still sit down.”
“She’s exaggerating,” Harry sputtered. Mum, how could you! I wasn’t that bad. Was I?
Amanda snorted. “Like father, like daughter.”
“Got that right,” Harry said proudly.
“You’re hopeless, big brother! Absolutely hopeless!” Amanda threw up her hands, rolling her eyes in a dead on imitation of her father.
Harry doubled over, laughing. His sister could be an annoying pain-in-the-arse sometimes, but he loved her dearly.
* * * * * *
But no one was laughing that weekend, when Harry and Rina came over the Snape house for Sunday dinner. Luna was working on a deadline for the paper and so couldn’t make it, but Harry and Rina were there bright and early in the afternoon. For two hours, Rina amused them all with her antics, showing Severus how well she could curtsy in her new green dress, and dance with Mr. Hugaboo, her bear. But after a time, she grew tired and cranky, and started whining for candy, the way she usually did before supper.
Here she goes again, Amanda thought, groaning inwardly.
“Da-a-ddy, I wanna lolly!”
“Uh . . .wait a minute, Rina,” Harry said, trying to proof an article for the Quibbler.
The little girl’s face turned stormy. “Want my lolly!” she wailed. “Now!” She started to blubber loudly.
Amanda winced and waited for the fireworks to commence.
Severus scowled and began to get to his feet, when Lily grabbed his arm.
“Sev, let Harry handle it,” she whispered.
Her husband shot her an incredulous look, but he sat back down.
Harry got to his feet, but instead of scolding his little troublemaker, he went to fetch her a lolly from his bag.
Severus was appalled.
He pulled away from Lily’s restraining hand and intercepted his son. “What are you doing? You’re not going to give her that, are you?”
Harry blinked. “Yes. It’s the only way she’ll stop crying and be quiet.”
“Do you do that every time she throws a tantrum?” Severus asked.
“Well . . .I . . .umm . . .sometimes . . .”
Severus shook his head. “You’re creating a monster.”
“Rina is not a monster, Dad!” Harry objected.
“Without discipline she will be.”
“I discipline her.”
“How? By giving her what she wants every time she screams?”
“I don’t want her to cry. I hate it when she cries.”
Severus sighed. “Harry, all little kids cry. It’s part of growing up.”
Harry looked down at his hands. “But . . .if I punish her, she’ll hate me.”
Severus stared at him. “Do you hate me?”
“What?” Harry gaped at him. “How could you ask that?”
“Well, son, I seem to remember taking you over my knee quite a few times and grounding you for half your schooldays for getting into trouble with Ron Weasley and Blaise Zabini. Do you hate me for that?”
“No, of course not! I deserved those punishments.”
“I rest my case.”
Harry groaned. “But it’s so hard.”
“I know. Being a father is never easy, Harry. It’s harder than being a Special Auror, harder than anything. And I’ve been where you are now.”
Severus chuckled. “Don’t look so surprised. I wasn’t born knowing how to discipline, that was something I learned by trial and error. Mostly error, since I had no father to give me advice. But I guess you turned out all right. I’m not too sure about Mandy yet. She still gives me gray hairs on occasion.”
Behind them, Rina started screaming louder.
“Does it ever get easier?”
“Not really. But you stop hesitating,” Severus said honestly. “Just remember, be consistent, and always do what you say. Children need boundaries and consequences. You should have a consequence every time she misbehaves, thought out beforehand. And never punish when you’re angry. You need to discuss this with Luna too. So you both have a system you can live with.”
“What about now? What should I do?”
“What did I used to do with you when you acted up like this? Do you remember?”
“Uh . . .you used to count to three and then put me in time out. Or give me a good swat.” Harry recalled.
“Right. Now go and do it.”
“Me? But, Dad . . .can’t you? Just this once?”
Severus shook his head firmly. “This is your child, Harry. It needs to start with you. She’ll never respect you else. Later on, I can reinforce you, but this time, son, you need to exercise your authority. The first time’s always the hardest. Go on.”
Harry squared his shoulders, then he marched over to his demonic angel and put his hands on his hips and said in his best imitation of Severus Snape, “Severina Maeve Potter-Snape, quit that screeching immediately! You can have candy after dinner and not before. And none at all if you keep screaming. Don’t make me count to three, young lady.”
Rina coughed and howled angrily. “No! NO! Want my lolly!”
Harry started counting, praying he was doing the right thing.
Two minutes later, a certain naughty child was facing a corner, while her father stood behind her, hands resting on her shoulders, saying sternly, “Stay still and don’t move. Three minutes.”
“No! Don’ like it!”
“You’re in trouble, you’re not supposed to like it.” Harry told her. “You were very naughty, screaming at me like that. Little girls who scream and act like brats don’t get candy. All they get is time out. Understand?”
Sniffling, Rina nodded. “Daddy mad?”
“Right now I am.”
Her face crinkled in woe. “No! Don’ be mad, Daddy!”
“I won’t if you behave.” Harry told her, longing to scoop her up and hug her. Please don’t hate me. It’s for your own good.
“I be good.”
“Say you’re sorry.”
He checked his watch. “All right. Time’s up. Come here.”
She hesitated for about two seconds before throwing herself into his arms.
He hugged her and whispered the same thing Severus always had to him. “You’re forgiven, scamp. Now quit crying, you’re making a flood. I love you, now behave.”
Over his daughter’s shoulder, he saw his father give him a nod of approval. And he was filled with a newfound respect for the man who had raised him. How in God’s name did you do it all those years, Dad? With me and Mandy? I can barely manage it once.
Lily came over to stand beside her husband, her green eyes wide with astonishment. “What did you say to him, Sev?”
“I gave him the same advice your dad gave me.”
“Looks like he took it.”
“And without an argument too. First time that’s ever happened.” Severus remarked. “He’ll be a good father with practice.”
Lily smiled up at him. “Of course. He has you for an example.”
“Poor kid!” Amanda said impudently.
Her father glared at her. “Shut up, brat!”
“Sir, yes, sir!” she mimed a salute at him.
“Where did I go wrong with this one?” Severus asked Lily.
“You didn’t, Sev. She’s just like you,” Lily pointed out, laughing.
* * * * * *
Over the years, Harry found himself reflecting on Severus’s words often, though by and large his relationship with Rina was one of laughter more than tears. He was not quite as strict as Severus, but the little girl soon learned not to test him, or if she did, to take the consequences.
When she was five, she had her first bout of accidental magic. She made Mr. Hugaboo fly through the air to her. Harry was so proud he wrote an article about it and Luna put it in the Family section of the paper. It included an adorable snapshot of Rina and her teddy.
He showed it to Severus on the weekend and the Auror raised an eyebrow and said, “She’s a chip off the old block, the little minx. But don’t you think you’re bragging a little bit, Harry?”
“So what if I am?”
Before Severus could say anything, Lily cut in. “Don’t mind him, Harry. He’s just annoyed you beat him to the punch. He wanted to be the one to send in a picture of his brilliant granddaughter.”
“Lily, I . . .”
Severus looked embarrassed. Then he smiled sheepishly. “Fine, I admit it. My granddaughter is a brilliant talented witch. Takes after her father.”
Harry blushed. “Thanks, Dad. And here I thought you were ashamed of me.”
“Harry, why would you ever think that?” Lily asked, staring at him in astonishment.
“You know why, Mum. Because I never really finished school and I got Luna pregnant and well . . .I made the worst mistake anybody ever made. I know this wasn’t the life you intended for me.”
“Harry, your life is your own, to live as you choose,” Lily told him sincerely. “And we’ll love you no matter what.”
“Your mother’s right, son. Yes, you made a mistake, but you did the right thing and admitted it and tried to fix it. That’s all anyone could ever ask.” His father said quietly. “That’s what counts. Sometimes the best things come out of the shame of what came before. Like Severina there. She’s your future, Harry. Cherish her.”
“I will, Dad. Guess it’s true what Luna says. You’re never too old to learn something new.”
“You’ve got a wise wife, son,” said Lily, hugging him.
“Now go grab your talented child before she sets the curtains on fire with your wand.” Severus told him.
* * * * *
Severina continued to amaze him. Though not always in a good way. When she was seven, she received her first spanking for deliberately setting the drapes on fire with Luna’s wand. She had gotten angry at her mother because Luna wouldn’t bring her to Diagon Alley to have ice cream with Rose Weasley, her best friend, Ron and Lavender’s daughter. Luna had been busy editing the final edition of the Quibbler and had told her to wait, or perhaps they could go another day.
“It’s no fair, Mum!”
Luna looked up from her copy, frowning. “Don’t take that tome with me, young lady. Now go and amuse yourself. Why don’t you play with your new potions kit Grandpa gave you?”
“I already made all the potions I could without him,” her daughter sulked. “I’m bored.”
“Read a book then.”
“Don’t feel like it. Can’t you do your editing later, Mum? Please?”
“No. I need to get this done now, Severina. Now quit wheedling and just . . .leave me be.”
“Fine!” and she stomped off to her room.
Bored, she came out some five minutes later and looked about for something to do.
It was then she spotted Luna’s wand, sticking out of the pocket of her robe, which she had hung over the back of her chair.
* * * * * *
“You spanked her?” Harry exclaimed after arriving home from work that evening.
Luna nodded miserably. “I didn’t want to, but . . .she stole my wand, Harry! And then she cast Incendio and caught curtains on fire. She could have burned the whole house down and killed us. I was going to just send her to her room and wait for you to punish her, but then I decided I just couldn’t. That since she took my wand, I had to be the one to punish her.”
“You did the right thing, love. I would have done the same.” He reassured her.
“I know that here,” Luna tapped her forehead. “But here . . .I feel awful, even though I know it was deserved.” She covered her heart with her hand. “I cried almost as much as she did, but she doesn’t know that.” She gave him a lopsided smile. “I’m such a goose, aren’t I?”
“No. You’re just a good mother,” Harry said, then he hugged and kissed her. “Where’s our little firestarter? I think I need to have a talk with her.”
“Upstairs, in her room.”
Harry took the stairs two at a time.
He found a repentant child curled up on her bed, holding her old playmate, Mr. Hugaboo.
“What’s this I hear, miss, about you pinching wands?” Harry began, putting on his disappointed face.
“Daddy!” she cried, running over to him. “It was an accident, I didn’t mean to set the curtains on fire. Not really. Mum was really mad. She spanked me,” Rina sniffled, looking like a mistreated puppy.
Harry picked her up and sat down on the bed with her. “Setting the curtains on fire might have been an accident, but stealing your mum’s wand wasn’t, Severina. Was it?” He frowned hard at her.
She squirmed and looked down at the floor. “No, sir.” She said in a very soft, very ashamed voice.
“Why did you touch your mother’s wand when you know it’s forbidden?”
“Look at me.” He tipped her head up so she looked into his eyes. “Let’s try that again.” He repeated the question.
She sucked in a breath. “’Cause I was mad at her.”
“I see. And why were you mad?”
She told him, hanging her head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“Good. You ought to be. I’m very disappointed in you.”
She began to cry. He hugged her. “Never ever do that again, understand? Wands aren’t toys and just because you’re mad and sulky is no excuse to go looking for trouble.” Merlin, but I sound just like my father!
She wriggled and rubbed her bottom. “My bottom hurts a little still.” She said pitifully.
He winced. “Better a stinging bottom than you and your mum being burnt up,” he told her. “Maybe next time you won’t take what doesn’t belong to you, huh?”
She nodded then she said, pouting, “But Mum was mean to do that.”
He chuckled. “You know, I said the same thing once, after your grandpa spanked me.”
Her eyes grew wide. “You were bad like me? Really?”
“I’m afraid so. I played with wands too when I was around your age.”
“Did you set curtains on fire?”
“No, I knocked down the wall in the kitchen,” Harry admitted.
Her mouth hung open in an “O”. “Honest?”
“I was a terrible brat back then. Till your grandpa taught me better. He walloped me good that time. But I deserved every smack. Stealing a wizard’s wand is among the worst things you can do, Severina.”
“I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again!”
“Good. Then we won’t need to have this discussion again.” He kissed her forehead and said, “Now, why don’t we go down to supper? I think your mum’s made Cornish pasties.”
“Yum! My favorite!” she cried, and in that instant she forgave her mother for punishing her. But she never forgot and she never touched a wand without permission again.
* * * * * *
By age eight she had learned to fly a broom, and like Harry, was broom crazy, and flew every chance she got.
“Watch me, Dad! Watch me do this!” she would call, then show him how well she could glide and double back and fly zigzags and loops.
Harry was delighted. “She’s a natural, just like me!” he told Severus proudly one day, as they watched the little girl fly about the backyard.
“She is indeed. And a daredevil just like you too,” stated the older wizard.
“Not really, Dad. She’s a girl. Girls aren’t crazy like boys at that age.”
“No? Then pray tell why is your daughter standing on her broomstick?” Severus cried, aghast.
Harry whipped his head around. “What?!!”
“Watch me, Daddy!” Rina called, waving, as she balanced upright on the hovering broom, her golden hair blowing in the wind, her blue eyes sparkling.
Harry nearly died. “Bloody hell, Severina!” He grabbed his broom and shot up into the air.
He slowed as he neared her, his heart pounding crazily in his chest. Careful, don’t want to make her fall, Harry. Is she CRAZY? How could she do something so insane? Merlin help me, is there no end to this kid’s daring? He took a deep breath and said, as calmly as he could manage, “Rina, honey, can you get down now?”
“But why? This is fun!” his intrepid flyer laughed.
Fun? Not for me it isn’t! Oh dear sweet God! “Yes, and you’re a really good flyer, but I want you to sit down now, okay?” His heart was in his throat.
Rina looked disappointed. “But Daddy, wanna see me do a flip?”
“NO!” he yelled. “Just sit down, Severina! Before you give me a heart attack.”
She obeyed then. “Wanna race?”
“No.” I want a gallon of firewhiskey. “You’re finished for today. It’s time for lunch.”
“Aww, but I wanna fly some more.”
“Now, Severina. Don’t make me count to three.”
She huffed, then landed her broom.
Harry was torn between hugging her and spanking her. “Severina Maeve, don’t ever scare me like that again! You do not stand up like that on your broom.”
“Why not? Gwenog Jones of the Holyfield Harpies did it once during a game.”
“You aren’t Gwenog Jones, young lady!” he snapped. “You’re my daughter and you fly safely or not at all, am I understood?”
She pouted, her lower lip sticking out adorably.
But he didn’t relent, for once. “Well?”
“Okay!” Then she added sulkily. “You’re no fun, Dad.”
“Tough. Deal with it,” he answered.
Severus, who had been prepared to help Harry if he needed it, quickly turned away to hide his laughter. It was like watching a Pensieve of himself and Harry, only reversed. He hadn’t realized how much his son had patterned himself after him until he listened to the way Harry was scolding Rina. He’s more like me than he knows. And she’s her father all over again, Merlin help us all!
“If Mum were here, she’d let me fly that way.”
“She would not! Don’t lie to me. Now go get washed up for lunch.” Harry ordered, giving her a gentle shove towards the house. His heart had finally quit racing.
He turned to his father, and caught the older wizard smirking like a Cheshire cat. “What’s so funny, Dad?”
“You. Yelling at her for doing tricks on her broom. It’s ironic, considering you did the very same thing as a child. Several times.”
“I never did!”
“No? Was there another boy who jumped off the roof onto his broom and crashed into your mother’s rosebush? Or who slingshot around the Whomping Willow and ended up getting knocked halfway across the lawn at Hogwarts? You ended up with a broken arm, if I remember correctly.”
“That was different. It was a dare. Malfoy dared me to.”
“And the final piece of idiocy was when you flew the Firebolt your idiotic godfather Sirius Black gave you through the castle and right through the Astronomy Tower window. Remember that one? Or did the resulting blow to the head give you retrograde amnesia?”
“I didn’t know how to make it stop, I was only twelve and had never handled a professional racing broom before,” Harry protested.
“You nearly gave me a coronary several times, Harry James Potter-Snape. I’m surprised I’m still breathing with what you put me through.” Severus chuckled wickedly. “But now I have my revenge.”
“What revenge? What are you talking about?”
“The revenge that every parent wishes upon their reckless children. That they have kids just like them.” Snape said, then he turned and headed into the house, still wearing that smug Slytherin grin.
Harry put his head in his hands and groaned. Damn you, Dad! How am I going to survive until she’s seventeen?
* * * * * *
When he related that incident to Luna later on, when Rina was sleeping, and probably dreaming of new ways to make him crazy, his wife just smiled. “She’s just like you, Harry. Full of high spirits. Your dad’s right.”
Harry scowled. “Big surprise there. The man invented the expression “I told you so”. I swear, he’s laughing up his sleeve at me.”
“Oh, Harry!” Luna chuckled. “If he is, it’s only a little. Because it probably brings back memories of your childhood. When Rina’s grown, you’ll look back on this and laugh too. At least, that’s what my father always said to me.”
“Maybe. I think I need to stock up on some Calming Draughts now. Why couldn’t she be more like you, Luna my love?”
His wife burst out laughing. “Like me? The girl who talked to fairies under mushrooms and fell down a rabbit hole and got lost in the fae realm? That girl? The one who traded her whole allowance for a cheap tin whistle that summoned up bunches of doxies? That girl, do you mean? Who went swimming on holiday in a lake infested with grindylows because she had read somewhere that Excalibur had been thrown into it by the Lady of the Lake?”
“You . . .you did all that?”
“I did. What, did you think I just hung around eating bonbons and daydreaming?”
“I . . .err . . .well . . .”
“Oh, Harry! I read all the time and then I tried to go and live what I read. I was always in one scrape or another. My poor father! I put him through the wringer. How do you think I came by the courage to date a Slytherin Seeker? I was always trying to do the impossible. Our daughter is no different.”
“Wonderful! I’m locking her in her room until she learns sense.”
Luna snickered. “That might take years, and you don’t want to be an ogre, now do you?”
“No. But . . .what do I do? She nearly gave me a heart attack today.”
Luna considered. “Maybe she’s bored. Maybe she needs a playmate.”
“She’s got Rose.”
“Ah, but Rose isn’t here all the time. What if we gave her a brother or sister? That seemed to tame you down some.”
Harry choked. “Another one? Blazes, Luna! Not yet. Please, not yet. You aren’t expecting are you?”
She gazed at him in astonishment. “She really frightened you, didn’t she?”
He nodded. “Are you?”
He breathed a sigh of relief and flopped down on the bed. “Good. Because Rina’s all I can handle right now.” Then he drew his wife to him and kissed her soundly. “I love you, Luna.”
“I know, my dearest. And I love you. But someday, I want a son. When you’re ready.”
“Okay.” Harry agreed. Then he snuggled down next to his wife. In that case, he wouldn’t have to worry about having another kid until Rina was finished with Hogwarts.
* * * * * *
“Dad, can I go over Rose’s house?” ten-year-old Rina asked as she came into the house. “I want to play Quidditch with her and Amelie.” Amelie was their other good friend, Blaise Zabini’s daughter.
He put out a hand to halt her rush upstairs. “Hold it a minute. First let me see your grades.”
“Grades? What grades?”
“The ones Mr. Cleaver handed out today,” Harry reminded her, giving her a Look.
Her face fell. “But . . .can’t I show you them after I come home from Rose’s?”
“No. I’ll see them now, please.”
“Quit giving me those eyes, Severina. It won’t work,” he lied. Actually those eyes always worked on him, he had just learned to never admit it.
“Um . . .I forgot them at school.”
Harry took out his wand. “Accio Severina’s grades!”
Her bookbag unfolded and out zoomed a sheet of parchment.
“Nice try. Very Slytherin of you.”
She made a face. “How’d you know to do that?”
“Because I’m your father, that’s how.” He caught the parchment neatly. And because I tried the very same thing on Severus once. And got my arse grounded for it too.
He opened the parchment.
Rina bit her nails and wished she had dared fiddle with the term results.
He wasn’t going to be happy with one of her grades. Not at all. She attended a wizarding primary school and was taught many of the same subjects as those at Hogwarts.
“O in Charms, O in Herbology, E in History of Magical Creatures, O in Basic Transfiguration, O in Flying . . .Very good!” Then he scowled. “What is this? A D in potions? Severina, how did you manage that? You’ve been brewing potions with your grandfather, me, and your gram since you could hold a stirrer. What happened?”
“Nothing as in you don’t know? Or nothing as in you didn’t do anything in class?”
“Just . . .nothing.”
“Rina, nothing isn’t helping. You’re a good potions student. Now how did you earn a D?”
“I fell asleep in class.”
“You fell asleep in class?”
“Yes. It was so boring, Dad! All we did was make elementary drafts and elixirs and I already knew them and I just couldn’t concentrate. Everyone else was so slow.”
“Why didn’t you tell Master Thorin you wanted to brew something more advanced?”
“I did. But he said I was too young and I wouldn’t be able to handle it and I should just do what he said,” she replied indignantly. “And I told him I’d been brewing since I was five with Grandpa and he laughed and told me to stop lying. Then he gave me detention next class, the dumb git! So I stopped handing in my homework.”
“Why didn’t you come to me when you were having problems, Rina?” Harry asked gently. “I could have gone and explained things to Master Thorin.”
She lifted her chin proudly. “I wanted to handle it myself. I’m not a baby, to go running to you for every little thing.”
“Getting a D in potions isn’t a little thing.”
“It shouldn’t count! He’s a lousy teacher.”
“Severina, he can’t grade what he doesn’t have. Namely your work. Why didn’t you prove him wrong and brew all his drafts perfectly? That would have shown him better than anything that you could do what you said. Instead, you showed him just the opposite.”
“Who cares?” she shouted.
“I do. Now quit shouting at me,” he ordered.
“Why are you taking his side then?” she cried, still raising her voice.
“I am not taking his side. Now mind that tone!”
“You are,” she said, hurt.
“Listen to me, you stubborn thing! I am going to have a talk with Thorin tomorrow, but in the meantime you are going to have remedial lessons with your grandfather, and re-brew every potion on your syllabus.”
She stared at him, aghast. “Why? Dad, I don’t need remedial lessons!”
“Yes, you do. Because you can’t manage to follow your teacher’s directions. And because by doing so you’ll prove to Thorin you are a good potion maker. Actions speak louder than words.”
“That’s so not fair! You got in trouble lots of times at school with your teachers. Aunt Mandy said so.”
“Aunt Mandy ought to have her mouth Silenced,” Harry muttered. Figures Mandy would go blabbing that secret to her. “And I always got in trouble when Grandpa found out, believe me. But that’s neither here nor there. I don’t want you to follow in my footsteps, Rina. Not like that. Understand?”
“Yes, sir. Are you gonna ground me?”
“I’m afraid so. Which means no going over Rose’s and no flying. For two weeks.”
“That sucks!” she cried.
“So does this potions grade.”
“Rose wanted to take me to see the Quidditch match this Friday. It’s the Cannons vs. the Wasps.”
“Sorry, you’ll have to miss it.”
“You never want me to have any fun! You’re a prison warden.”
“Not by half. Go upstairs and change and you can start on your chores while I talk to your grandfather. And mind that attitude.”
“You’re mean and nasty!”
“I know. Upstairs. Keep arguing and I’ll extend your grounding.”
“You want a spanking too? You’re not too old for one,” he warned.
She retreated then, recognizing she had pushed him as far as she dared. She whirled and stomped up the stairs.
Harry set down the parchment and summoned a Headache Remedy from the potions cabinet. Then he Flooed his father.
* * * * * *
Two days later, Rina was brewing potions with Severus, sulking because she was still grounded and though her technique was flawless, her attitude was beginning to grate on Severus’s nerves. She kept moping and sighing like lost soul.
Finally, Severus couldn’t take it any longer.
“Rina, what on earth is wrong? Your face could make a sea hag weep.”
Normally she smiled at his unusual expressions, but today she simply turned away and bottled her potion. “Here. I’m finished.”
Severus took the potion. “Come and sit down.” He led her over to the chairs he had off to the side of the cauldrons. “Now, suppose you tell me why you’re so upset?”
“It’s all Dad’s fault!” she burst out.
“I’ve heard that before. Go on. What did he do?”
She told him. “And he knows I’ve been looking forward to it all year, Grandpa! And now all he cares about is my stupid grades.”
“Rina, that’s what he’s supposed to care about. Schoolwork is important.”
“You’re just saying that.”
Severus eyes flashed. “Severina Potter-Snape, have I ever lied to you?”
“Then don’t assume I am just because you don’t like what I’m saying. Your father cares very much about you, child. He wants what’s best for you always. And right now he wants to make sure you’re prepared for Hogwarts next year. Not just knowing material either, but knowing what not to do. Not doing your homework only made things worse. What you should have done was come to me or your father first. Then all of this could have been avoided. Instead you took matters into your own hands, just the way your father used to, and look where it got you.”
“Because Dad’s a jerk!”
“Severina, that’s enough! Would you like to write an essay for me on respecting your elders and pickle twenty jars of rat spleens?”
“You have no one to blame but yourself,” Severus went on. “You made a bad choice and now you have to live with it. As we all do. Next time think before you act, all right?”
She nodded. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I was really looking forward to this game, you know? Sometimes I think he forgets what it’s like to be a kid.”
For some reason that made her grandfather start laughing. “Oh, Rina! I doubt that! I think your dad remembers all too well what it’s like. He loves you very much, you’re his life. Everything he’s done, he’s done for you.” Severus said seriously.
“Yes. Now, don’t you think it’s time to pay some of that back and concentrate on bringing this grade up of yours? He argued with that dolt Thorin a long time to get him to agree to this, so don’t let it be for nothing. Besides, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
“Huh? What’s that mean?”
“It means that if you show your father that you’ve learned your lesson and can work hard and not be a sulky little brat, then maybe, just maybe mind you, he might think about letting you go to that match as a reward.”
Hope shone from her blue eyes. “Really? He might?”
“Now don’t count your dragons before they hatch, child.” Severus cautioned. “First you need to show an attitude adjustment. Think you can do that?”
“Yes! Thanks, Grandpa.” She jumped off the chair and onto his lap. “You always make me feel better!”
He winced. “Rina, you’re getting a bit too old for me to hold this way. My old bones can’t take it.”
She grinned at him. “You’re not old, Grandpa. You’re only forty-seven!”
He tweaked her nose. “Minx! You think you’re so clever.”
“I am. Just like you and dad.” She hugged him. “I love you.”
“I love you too, imp. Now go clean up your workstation.”
She bounced to her feet and rushed over to do what he said.
I’ll have to speak to Harry later on, the Potions Master thought.
* * * * * *
Because of her improved attitude, and a bit of persuasion on Severus’s part, Harry did allow Rina to go to the Quidditch match. She was over the moon. I spoil her, I know. But then, that’s a dad’s prerogative.
She had managed to finish all the potions on the syllabus within a week and a half and also brew one other advanced one as well. She presented all of them to Master Thorin, along with a signed letter from Severus, who was a certified Potions Master in addition to being a Special Auror. Thorin, a pinch-faced sallow wizard with a permanent frown affixed onto his face, grudgingly accepted the results and said he would now give her an E. “But only this once, mind! I won’t have it said that I allow students to fall asleep and then make up grades whenever they feel like it, I don’t care who you’re related to.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Rina said sincerely.
“Humph!” was all he said, but when her back was turned, he found his mouth forming a half-smile. Dratted girl! She has her father’s charm, all right.
* * * * * *
That night, Severina rushed home to show Harry and Luna her new improved grade.
“That’s wonderful, dear.” Luna said, hugging her. “I knew you could do it.”
“Thanks, Mum.” Then she turned to Harry. “And thanks, Dad, for everything.”
He hugged her close. “You’re welcome, Rina. Anything for my little girl.”
They stayed that way for a long time, until Rina stirred and asked, “Dad? I was just thinking, how come you’re a columnist and an editor instead of a Special like Grandpa?”
Harry cleared his throat. “Well, Rina, I could have been that, but . . .I found something better that I wanted to do with my life.”
“Be a father,” he replied sincerely.
“Oh. That’s good, I guess.” It would be years later before she understood and appreciated what those words meant. “You’re a good one.”
He laughed. “Thanks.”
Then she changed the subject, her quick mind flitting from one idea to the next like a hummingbird. “I can’t wait to get my Hogwarts letter. I wonder what House I’ll be in? And if I’ll make friends with anyone besides Rose, not that I don’t like Rose, but I want to meet other people . . .”
Harry listened with half an ear to her chatter. I can wait for her to get her letter. She’s growing up too fast for me. What happened to the little girl I used to play tea party with? And Bad Werewolf? Where did the time go?
* * * * * *
She had that Honda loaded down
With Abercrombie clothes and
Fifteen pairs of shoes and
His American Express
“Severina! Aren’t you done packing yet? We’re going to be late for the train!” Harry bellowed from the bottom of the stairs.
“Coming, Dad. I just have to fit one more thing in my trunk.”
“You said that an hour ago!” He sighed. “Girls! I knew I shouldn’t have let Amanda and Luna take her shopping for school. They probably bought out half of Diagon Alley. Maybe I’d better check out the vault and make sure there’s something left in it.”
“Ha ha. Very funny, dear,” Luna said, coming up and hugging him. “Why don’t you go and make sure the car still works?”
“I just checked that.”
“Go do it again,” Luna urged, knowing that her daughter needed time to say goodbye to her childhood home.
“All right. But tell Rina to hurry, it’s almost nine-thirty.”
He checked the oil and slammed the hood
Said you’re good to go
She hugged them both and headed off to the West coast
Luna went upstairs and found her daughter stuffing Mr. Hugaboo into the trunk and slamming down the lid, which almost didn’t fit. “All set?”
“Yeah. I think.” Rina replied, biting her lip. “Where’s Dad?”
“Outside, waiting for you. If you forgot anything, honey, all you have to do is Floo us. Or use the mirror. Or send Whisper.”
“I know. It’s just . . .I’m going to miss it here. Miss you and Daddy.”
Luna came and hugged her. “We’ll miss you too. But you’ll have a great time at school. Study hard and stay out of trouble and have a good time. And Christmas will be here before you know it.”
Rina buried her fair head into Luna’s shoulder. “I really want to go, Mum, but . . .at the same time, I don’t. Am I being stupid?”
“No. You’re feeling what every other kid does when they go away from home. Confused and sad and excited. Just like I did.” She stroked her daughter’s flyaway blond hair that was so like her own. “You’ll be fine.”
“Rina! Luna! Come on!”
“Better get moving, Mum. Before Dad passes out in the driveway,” Rina said, and then she levitated her trunk with a soft word. Wandless magic had always come easily to her.
“My God, what were you doing, trying to take your whole wardrobe?” Harry asked, tapping his foot impatiently.
“Chill, Dad. I mean, it’s not everyday your only daughter goes way for nine months.” Rina said, hugging him.
“Don’t remind me,” he grumbled, hugging her back.
Then they hopped in the car and drove off to King’s Cross Station.
* * * * * *
The platform was crowded with all manner of trunks, bags, owl cages, and parents and children all saying last minute goodbyes. Severus and Lily had met them at the station to see their granddaughter off on her next big adventure.
By then, Rina was so excited she was bouncing up and down. She hugged and kissed all of her relatives over and over.
“Bye, Mum! Bye, Dad!”
“Don’t forget to write,” Harry admonished. “And if you need anything, just . . .tell me. I’ll send you more money or whatever.” He blinked hard. “I love you, princess.”
“Love you too, Dad.” She kissed his cheek.
Then she moved on to hug her grandmother.
“I’ll miss you, Gram.”
“I’ll miss you too, Bright Eyes. Now don’t forget to eat the oatmeal biscuits I sent. And write in the journal if you need to.” Lily told her, wiping away tears from her eyes.
“I won’t. I love you.”
It was Severus’s turn next. “Bye, Grandpa.”
“Goodbye, imp. Behave yourself now and don’t get into any arguments with your potions professor. Even if he is an idiot who can’t brew to save his life.”
“Okay, I’ll be good. Or at least I’ll try,” she amended.
She smiled as he slipped a vial into her pocket. “For later. Just in case.”
“Thanks, Grandpa. I love you.” She kissed and hugged him too.
“Love you too.”
The train whistle blew.
Rina pulled away from him and darted towards the train. “Gotta run! Bye everybody!”
They all waved, and Harry watched, his face filled with longing and wistfulness, as she boarded the train. It pulled away from the station with a hiss and a lurch, taking his baby with it. He sniffed sharply. “I’m really going to miss her.” He scrubbed frantically at his face.
“You’ll get over it,” Severus said. “I did.”
“Severus!” Lily scolded, and swatted him on the back of the head. “You’re such a liar. When Harry left, you kept inventing excuses to go and see him the first night he was away. Said you didn’t trust his Head of House to take care of him properly. And when Mandy left, you practically threatened Dumbledore with dismemberment if anything happened to her over there, and then you said the house was too quiet and visited her every other weekend the first month until she complained it was just like being home, and why couldn’t you be glad she was gone like other fathers?”
“You never forget anything, do you, Lily?” he grumbled. He put an arm about his son. “She’ll be home before you know it, and causing havoc.”
Harry didn’t answer. He was still staring off into the distance, into the horizon.
And he cried
there goes my life
there goes my future, my everything
I love you
there goes my life
there goes my life.
“Maybe this will cheer you up, hon,” Luna said brightly.
Harry looked at her. All he could think of was how much he missed Severina.
Until Luna smiled and announced, “We’re going to have another baby.”
She waited for her husband’s reaction.
“Harry,” Lily prompted. “Don’t you have anything to say?”
Her son blinked. Then he said, “There goes my life. Again."
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