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Moon Fire by Snapegirl
Chapter 44 : Epilogue: Midnight Family
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 48


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Harry woke up rather late the next morning, his eyes felt gritty, and he rubbed the sleep out of them and headed in to his bathroom to take a long hot shower. It was somewhere about ten o'clock in the morning, and Harry was surprised that Severus had let him sleep so late, even on a holiday. Then again, Severus hadn't really been himself too much lately, as the due date for Selene's pregnancy approached. Fact was, he'd been a royal grouchy pain-in-the-arse, and Harry had done his best to not annoy him.

After his shower, he felt much more like a human being again. Maybe next time I won't stay up till three in the morning watching Monty Python reruns. But it had been a holiday, and he had enjoyed his alone time with Hermione immensely. It was amazing how a bowl of popcorn and some iced pumpkin juice and a girl snuggled in your lap could make one feel like a million Galleons. He smiled to himself remembering how her hair had tickled his nose, and smelled like melons and how he had stolen kisses at random during the movies, surprising his girlfriend with his spontaneity.

He walked slowly down the stairs, hearing the quiet rattle of pots and pans being rearranged in the cupboard, then smelled the aroma of bacon frying. When he entered the kitchen he found Hermione cooking bacon and making French toast on the griddle in her printed pink and white flowered bathrobe, wearing her new fuzzy pink slippers.

"Ah ha! I knew you would wear them!" Harry exclaimed when he caught sight of the slippers, they had been a Christmas present from him.

She wriggled a foot at him. "Of course! I told you I would." Hermione chuckled. She deftly flipped a slice of French toast.

Harry sniffed appreciatively. "Mmm. That smells so good I think I could eat the whole plate."

Hermione beamed. "The trick is to add lots of cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar."

Suddenly, they heard an odd sound coming from Snape's bedroom.

Hermione cocked her head. "Harry, that almost sounds like . . .a baby."

"Huh? You don't think . . .?"

The wailing increased, and then the door to Severus' room opened and the Potions Master emerged with a tiny bundle swaddled in a pink and lavender blanket. "Good morning. Come and meet your new baby sister."

He walked into the kitchen, Sarissa wailing hungrily on his shoulder. He Summoned a bottle and asked Hermione to pour some goat's milk into it. Then he carefully heated it with a Warming Charm. "All right, all right, enough howling, child!" he chided lovingly, and then offered her the bottle. She took it immediately, sucking greedily.

When she was settled in his arms, he lifted his head and met the eyes of his two wards, both of whom were staring at him as if he had suddenly sported green horns. "This is my daughter, Sarissa. Selene brought her to me last night."

"Oh, Severus, she's gorgeous!" Hermione cooed, gently stroking her finger along one petal-soft cheek. "What a beautiful name. Sarissa."

Harry came and looked down at the small mite. "She has your hair, Severus." He ran his hand along the fuzzy cap.

"Careful, Harry. A baby has a soft spot towards the back of their skull," Severus cautioned.

Harry immediately withdrew his hand. "Sorry. I didn't mean to hurt her."

"You didn't." The new father said calmly. "I just wanted to warn you."

"She has violet eyes," Harry observed, watching the baby drink.

"Like her mother's," Severus said.

"Does she have magic like us?" was Hermione's next question.

"Yes. She will be very strong in magic one day, like her mother. But right now she's just a baby, and her magic is sleeping."

Unsure of how much she should drink at one time, Severus removed the bottle from Sarissa's mouth after she had drunk half of it, then put her on his shoulder to burp her. He patted her back firmly, hoping he remembered what to do correctly. She squirmed and whimpered.

"Why'd you take the bottle away?" Harry asked, puzzled.

"Because she needs to be burped, Harry." Hermione explained. "Otherwise she'll throw up. Her tummy can't handle too much milk."

Just then Sarissa belched loudly.

"There you go." Severus said. Then he felt something wet trickle down his neck. Turning his head, he saw the baby had spit up on his shoulder. "Selene's Grace, I knew I should have gotten a towel."

"Ugh! Gross!" Harry wrinkled his nose.

Hermione grabbed a dishcloth and wiped off Severus' shoulder while he resumed feeding his daughter. "There!" She cast Harry an amused glance. "Heavens, Harry, you've cut up dead flobberworms and crabs, what's a little baby vomit?"

"I thought you said if you burped her, she wouldn't throw up."

"Yikes!" Hermione yelped. "My bacon!"

She rushed over to the stove to rescue her bacon and put more French toast on the griddle.

Harry watched as Severus finished feeding the newest member of the household, burping her yet again. Afterwards he looked at his son and asked, "Would you like to hold her, Harry?"

Harry eyed the baby dubiously. "Is she gonna hurl on me?"

"No. Here, hold out your arms, like this."

"I think I need to sit down." Harry said, and sat across from him.

Severus gently placed Sarissa in Harry's arms. "Put her head in the crook of your elbow . . .that's right . . .and the other hand under her bottom. Nicely done!"

Harry gazed down at the violet-eyed baby and smiled. "Hey, little girl. You're kind of cute." He gently tickled her under the chin, and was rewarded with a happy little squeal and Sarissa latching onto his finger and sticking it in her mouth. "You're not going to get anything from that."

The baby smirked up at him, and he laughed. "Just like your dad." At first he had felt strange holding her, but the longer he cradled her, the more at ease he became. Until Hermione placed breakfast on the table. Then he was at a loss. "Uh, what do I do now?"

"Here, Harry." Severus took his daughter and put her into a small bassinet beside his feet, which he had Summoned while Harry held his new sister. Sarissa fussed a little when she was placed into the soft basket-like carrier, but she soon settled and once she discovered her left foot was quiet.

As she ate, Hermione kept stealing glances at the child. "Aww! She's adorable! I can't believe she's finally here."

"Neither can I, sometimes," Severus admitted. He looked down at his precious daughter and smiled. "I hope you two won't mind helping me with Sarissa. This is all new to me and I could use an extra pair of hands."

"Sure we will, Severus." Hermione said eagerly.

"Maybe you could talk with Mrs. Weasley," Harry suggested.

"That is a very good idea." Severus said, and wondered why that had never occurred to him before. Probably because he was used to solving his own problems. "I shall speak with her soon." He finished his breakfast, and noticed the baby was half-asleep in the bassinet. Once again he marveled at the miracle he and Selene had created.

"What are you going to do when we go back to school, Severus?" Hermione asked. "Who will watch Sarissa while you're in class?"

"I shall have to make arrangements with one of the house elves or perhaps Madam Pomfrey might agree to watch her for a few hours in the morning." Severus said.

"We can help in the evenings if you have papers and tests to mark." Harry said.

"Just so long as you don't neglect your own studies and homework." Severus reminded. "If need be, the house elves are always available, though I dislike relying on them for everything."

By the time breakfast was over, Sarissa was sleeping soundly and Severus levitated the bassinet into the nursery and placed the baby in her crib. He set a simple Monitoring Charm over the crib which would send a silent alarm to him if Sarissa woke and was crying.

Then he returned downstairs and told Harry and Hermione he was going to pay a visit to Molly Weasley.

Once Severus had departed, Harry shot Hermione an uneasy look. "What do we do if the baby wakes up before Severus gets back? I don't know anything about taking care of a baby, 'Mione."

"Well, I don't know much myself, except the basics." Hermione admitted.

"What's the basics?"

"You know—feed her if she's hungry, cuddle her if she's crying, and change her if she's wet. It's common sense, Harry."

"Maybe for you. You're a girl."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Harry. Just think about it for a minute. Being a girl has nothing to do with it."

"What if she wakes up and none of those things work? What then?"

"Then we call Severus," Hermione replied. "Don't worry so much, Harry. She's just a baby, she'll probably sleep for quite a few hours. And if she doesn't, well we can deal with it."

Hermione's confident tone made Harry quit fretting. Sarissa was asleep and he had to hope she remained that way. He just wished he felt better prepared for the new baby. He supposed they would all have to learn as they went along.

Severus returned some two hours later, having discussed with Molly everything she could possibly think of about raising a baby. She had given him several books on baby care, such as Your New Magical Baby—a Wizarding Parent's Handbook, Simple Spells to Help You With Your Newborn, Calm and Contented—Making Baby Happy. Apparently, there were spells to help calm a cranky baby, soothe a teething one, help a baby sleep through the night, potions for a baby's sensitive skin, to cure diaper rash, prevent sunburn, and many others.

He took Your New Magical Baby and handed Harry and Hermione the other books to read while he studied the main one that Molly had recommended. He had about an hour to absorb some of the contents before Sarissa woke up, bawling her little head off.

Severus was on his feet before the chiming warning of the Monitoring Charm had faded, Apparating immediately into the nursery. "Here now, Little Moonbeam, what's the matter?"

He came over to the crib. Sarissa's porcelain face was beet red and she was crying lustily. Severus bent and lifted her into his arms. "Hush, I'm here. Come, stop your crying." He brought her to the small changing table and laid her on it. She was wet and smelly. He grimaced only a little as he cleaned her, he had dealt with far worse things as potion maker and spy. But the nappy baffled him.

"Blast, I didn't get that far in my reading," he muttered. "Hmm. Okay, Snape. You can figure this out, you're a professor." Sarissa looked at him quizzically. "What? What are you looking at me like that for? Your daddy's not crazy, just thinking out loud." He tickled her tummy and she made a gurgling noise.

Then he turned his attention back to the nappy dilemma. He tried folding it and then tying the ends in front, but it fell off as soon as he picked up Sarissa. Next he tried pinning it, but the pins slipped out. "Great! Now what?"

Then it came to him. "Sarissa, your father's an idiot." He pointed his wand and Stuck the nappy together on her, then dressed her in a new all-in-one and wrapped her in the blanket again. Sarissa's violet eyes tracked him as he moved about, discarding the soiled nappy into the magical diaper pail that would vanish the contents in fifteen minutes. When he returned to pick her up, the baby gave him a gummy smile.

"Severus? Is everything all right?" Hermione came in.

"Yes. Why?"

"Well, I thought you might need some help with her."

"I just changed her and had a small problem with the nappy, but I've figured it out."

"Oh, well, the charm for that's in chapter two of Simple Spells," his elder daughter informed him.

"I'll have to take a look at it." Severus said. Sarissa had started to fuss and he rocked her. "Calm down, Little Moonbeam. I'll have your bottle ready in a few minutes."

"Little Moonbeam?" Hermione repeated. "What a cute nickname! How sweet!"

Severus blushed. The last thing he wanted was to be thought of as "sweet", but where his baby girl was concerned, he lost any shred of dignity he possessed. Sarissa had utterly conquered his heart and he had no defenses against her. "I thought it was appropriate."

"I love it!" Hermione approved. She shared a smile with her new baby sister. "You're the luckiest baby ever, Rissa love." She cooed. "Why don't you have Harry feed her this time?"

Severus smirked. "All right. Time he got his feet wet."

Harry's first impulse when Severus said it was his turn to feed Sarissa was to refuse. "But Severus, I've never fed a baby before."

"Then it's about time you learned." Clearly, the professor wasn't taking any lame excuses.

Harry soon found himself holding his little sister, propping her up on his arm and holding the bottle so she could drink. When it was time to burp her, he prayed to Selene that she wouldn't puke on him. The first time he burped her, she didn't. He breathed a sigh of relief. The second time however, she spit up all over him.

He glanced down at himself ruefully. "Real nice, Sarissa. Just what I needed."

Hermione started sniggering. "You could start a new fashion trend, Harry."

He pointed his wand and vanished the mess. Sarissa looked at him innocently.

"You did that on purpose, you little imp!" Harry scolded, waving a finger playfully at her. "Don't give me that innocent look!"

The baby drooled all over his hand.

"Yuck!" He wiped his hand on his jeans.

Sarissa yawned and her eyes closed. Harry looked at her in astonishment. "She just fell asleep!"

"She'll do that for quite some time. Sleep helps a baby grow," Severus said. "I'll take her." He held out his arms for the baby.

To his surprise, Harry said, "No, that's okay, Severus. I . . .I can hold her a little longer." The young wizard discovered that the armful of baby was not so unpleasant after all, and in fact he enjoyed holding her. Asleep, she looked like an angel, though Harry had the feeling that when she was older, she would be a mischief-maker extraordinaire. Don't worry, little sister. I'll protect you if you get into trouble, even from your dad. Because that's what big brothers are for.

A few days later, Sirius paid a visit to his godson, ensuring himself that Harry was content and happy as a member of Snape's household, and having a rather long talk with him about his misspent youth. While he was there, Sirius also met Sarissa, and declared her a pretty young thing. "She'll be a heartbreaker when she's older, Snape. You're going to have to beat the boys off her with a stick."

"No, he won't." Harry corrected. "All he'll need to do is glare at them."

"Very true," Sirius admitted.

"How's the new house, Sirius?" Hermione wanted to know. Sirius had recently purchased a house with Severus' help, close to Sherwood Forest, so he could spend time with Danae.

"It's working out fine. I like it much better than Grimmauld Place. You can come and see it, if you like." Then he added belatedly, "If that's all right with you, Snape?"

"Fine, just don't keep them out all night, Black."

"What time would you like them home?" Sirius asked.

Severus checked the clock. "In time for supper, about six o'clock."

"All right." Then Sirius took Harry's hand and Hermione's hand and Apparated away to his new home with them.

Sirius' house was a ranch style, meaning it was all on one floor, and built of red brick. Two stately black oaks flanked the drive and poplars were on either side of the walk. Someone had planted some flowers in a small bed near the front of the house and repainted the shutters to a bright white color. The roof was slate tiles and pitched slightly, so the rain could run off it. A chimney smoked lightly, Sirius had left the fireplace on.

The house was set way back from the road, so there was no chance of the three wizards being seen by any passing Muggles as the reappeared on the front lawn.

"Well, here we are, home sweet home," Sirius announced. "What would you like to see first? The backyard or the inside? There's a garage out back too, with two old cars inside. I think I might be able to fix 'em up and make them run again."

"Like you did your motorcycle?" asked Harry.

"Yes, like that. Should be fun. Though I'll have to make sure after I'm squeaky clean. Danae hates the smell of iron and oil. Claims they stink of death."

"Dryads have very sensitive noses," Harry remarked, chuckling.

"They sure do." Sirius agreed. "Come on, let's take a look at the inside. I bought it fully furnished."

The house was a three-bedroom affair, complete with den, kitchen, study, and laundry room, and two bathrooms. The den was done in a warm honey tone with a large area rug of an Arabian design. The furniture was tasteful casual style, no frills or fussy Victorian gewgaws. Sirius had taken very little from Grimmauld Place, he wanted to start fresh.

"This is a great house!" Harry praised. "I like it."

"Me too. And it's good for kids too. There's no stairs for them to fall down or climb up and it has lots of room. Danae and I want at least two kids, maybe more."

"Has Danae seen the house?" Hermione queried.

"Yes, and she likes it. Especially the backyard with the orchard. There are peach trees, apple trees, and pear trees. She talked to them and now they're blooming like crazy."

They trooped out the back door to see the rest of the grounds and the orchard. Like the Snape's farm, the property bordered Sherwood and you could walk right into the forest through the hedge gate, which was a small wooden gate built into the hedgerow that surrounded the yard.

The orchard had a small stone bench next to a stone birdbath, and after the trees had been duly admired, Hermione became Imara and took herself off for a run, leaving Sirius and Harry to talk in private.

They sat on the stone bench and Sirius said quietly, "You know you can come over here whenever you want, right? My door's always open for you, Harry. If Snape ever gets on your arse too much and you want some breathing room, or you get sick of sharing the house with two girls and whatnot . . .feel free to come on over. Anytime, day or night."

"That's real nice of you, Sirius," Harry said quietly. He was touched by the offer, but at the same time it made him uneasy, because it showed him that Sirius didn't really trust Snape, and Harry didn't want his godfather to get the wrong idea about his guardian. "If I ever need to, I'll come over. But Severus is going to need me to stick close to home right now, what with Sarissa coming home and all."

"Let him hire a nanny," Sirius said dismissively. "Why should he make you babysit?"

"Because I'm his family and it's only fair that I help with my baby sister." Harry said, astonished. "I want to help, Sirius. I love Sarissa, she's cute and funny, and Hermione and I enjoy being around her. Why should Severus hire a stranger when he has family?"

Sirius realized he had overstepped with that comment and quickly held up a hand. "Whoa! Sorry, don't get all riled, Harry. I just thought that maybe you were being ordered to take care of the baby all the time, so . . ."

"No. Severus takes care of her mostly, we just help during the afternoon, so he can get some brewing time in or a nap. He's the one who wakes up in the middle of the night with her and early in the morning." Harry reassured him. "Severus treats me decently, Sirius. And if he didn't, you'd be the first to know, because I'd pack up and leave. Because I'll never be at the mercy of anyone who mistreats me again. But Severus promised when I signed the guardianship papers that he would treat me like his own son and he has. He . . .he loves me, Sirius. And I love him. Like he was my dad. I know you probably don't want to hear that, but it's the truth. I respect him like he was my father."

"But you don't call him that."

"No. Out of respect for James. He understands why. But names aren't important. How I feel is."

Sirius was silent for several long moments. He had not really known just how deep the bond between Snape and Harry ran until now. He had assumed Harry had accepted Snape as an authority figure because he'd had little choice, but hearing Harry talk about the sorcerer now shot that theory all to hell. It seemed as though Harry had wanted Snape to be his guardian as much as Snape had wanted Harry as his ward.

"Sirius? Are you . . .upset with me?" Harry asked cautiously.

"Huh? No, not at all, Harry. I was just thinking that maybe you didn't have a choice in the matter before, when your relatives were killed."

"I did. I always had a choice." Harry stated. "Severus made that very clear. He would have never forced me into anything. He saved me from the hell that was my life, Sirius. I'll never forget that. He gave me back a home and a family."

"I could have given you that too," Sirius said, feeling a mixture of jealousy and hurt. "Well, not right away, but now . . ."

"You still can, Sirius. I'm not . . .blaming you or anything for not being there for me . . .when I left school, I was scared to death and yet I was afraid to admit it to anybody. I never would have told you what happened with the Dursleys. Severus only knew because . . .he'd lived through something like it. He read the signs and understood what was wrong . . .and then he made me understand that he could help me. But that doesn't mean that you can't be a part of my family as well. You're my godfather, and I . . .love both of you."

Sirius put his arm about Harry and hugged him. "I love you too, Little Mischief."

Harry blinked, "Little Mischief?"

"That's what we used to call you when you were little, Moony and Prongs and me. Because you were always in trouble of one kind or another. Lily was forever telling you "No!" and "Behave yourself, young man!" So I called you Little Mischief. And your dad was Captain Mischief, because Lily said he had never outgrown his tendency towards rule-breaking."

Harry smiled. He could just picture James being that way. "Thanks for understanding, Sirius." Then he rose and transformed into the black unicorn, whinnying to Imara.

A second later, Sirius had also transformed into Padfoot, and he raced after the fleetfooted equines, barking joyfully. The trio ran all over the yard and then into the forest, until they tired themselves out and visited Danae's tree. The dryad was delighted to see her mate and the two children who were Selene's Chosen, and offered them refreshments, a cup of mint water and some roasted chestnuts and sweet glazed apples.

Over the meal she told her mate that she was expecting. Sirius nearly choked upon his apple. "You're what?"

"I shall be having a child soon." Danae repeated patiently. "Two, actually."

"Twins!" Hermione cried.

"Yes. And if my earth sense is correct . . .I am carrying both a dryad daughter and an earth mage son." Danae announced happily. She was grinning from ear to ear.

"A son and a daughter?" sputtered the expectant father. "Merlin's holy staff!" Then he leaned over and kissed his wife. "I can hardly believe it! I'm going to be a dad!"

"Congratulations!" Harry said.

"When will they be born?" asked Hermione curiously.

"In seven months," replied Danae matter-of-factly.

"Seven months? What happened to nine?" Sirius asked.

"Nine is for humans. I am a dryad," Danae said simply.

"Oh. Okay." Sirius felt a bit loopy. But he was deliriously happy. He picked up Danae and spun her about. "You are the most wonderful woman in the world! Have I told you lately how much I love you?"

Danae wrapped her small body around Sirius' large one and giggled like a schoolgirl, her evergreen eyes dancing. "Many times, my darling wizard, but I never tire of hearing it. Say it again, Siri."

"I love you. I love you. I love you, Danae." Sirius chanted. He was over the moon.

Harry exchanged glances with Hermione. Their little family was growing in leaps and bounds.

When they returned home that night, Severus was just finishing giving Sarissa a bath in the sink. The baby was splashing her father and cooing. Severus' front was soaking wet and there was soap in his hair, a thing which would have once annoyed him to no end. But he permitted Sarissa liberties he did no one else. The baby splashed him right in the eye, and he splashed her back. Since the soap was a tearless formula, neither of them minded when it got in their eyes.

Sarissa had learned to blow bubbles, courtesy of her big sister, and she was doing that now.

Severus was chuckling and trying to rinse her off. "Okay, Moonbeam, enough with the water, your daddy's not a fish."

Sarissa looked him right in the eye. Then she splashed him.

"Impudent minx!" he mock-scolded. "If you were five years older you'd be in terrible trouble. Do you know that?" Then he tickled her till she giggled. "There! That ought to teach you, little miss!"

Hermione and Harry just stared. They had never seen the reserved Potions Master smile and play like this. It was both astonishing and wonderful.

"Need some help, Severus?" asked Hermione. "Looks like you're all washed up."

Severus turned about quickly, slipped upon a wet patch of linoleum and almost fell on his backside. "Hermione! I didn't hear you come in."

"Having fun, Severus?" Harry smirked.

"As a matter of fact, Harry . . .I am. But Sarissa needs to come out before she catches a chill." He conjured a large fluffy towel and wrapped up his daughter in it. Then he took her off to her room, where he spent ten minutes anointing her baby skin with various magical creams and lotions to protect from chafing and make her smell like a bouquet of moonflowers and lavender. He had made most of those creams himself, from recipes in the parenting books. He could have bought them from the apothecary but preferred to make his own, convinced that no one made them quite as good as he did. After Sarissa was snug in her Sweet Pea nightie, Severus dried himself with a flick of his wand and picked the baby up for her evening bottle.

While sitting in the old rocker he'd found in the attic, feeding his daughter, Harry and Hermione told him about Sirius and Danae's good news.

"Twins! That's . . .a miracle right there. A twin birth with a dryad is very rare. Almost as rare as the fact that she's carrying a son."

"And the fact that you still have soap in your hair, Severus," Harry pointed out gleefully.

Severus took a baby towel and wiped it off. "Quit smirking at me, Harry. Or else you'll be on nappy duty for tomorrow morning."

"But . . .but Severus . . .you looked so . . .cute . . .like an Afghan hound who got attacked by a cream puff!" Harry gasped, practically rolling on the floor.

"An Afghan hound? Are you implying I look like a dog, Mr. Potter? A silly cute dog?" Severus mock-growled. "Wretch!" He gestured and a magazine levitated itself through the air, rolled itself up and swatted Harry across the back of the head. "Behave yourself, young man! You're giving your little sister ideas."

"Now you . . .sound like my mum!" Harry whooped, falling on the couch and putting a pillow over his head to avoid the swatting magazine. The magazine promptly swatted him on the backside. Twice. "Hey!" Harry cried indignantly. "I'm a little old to get spanked, sir."

"Then act your age," smirked Snape.

The magazine tapped him playfully once more before unrolling and settling back down on the table.

Hermione looked at both males and sighed. "Sarissa, I'm so happy you're a girl!"

"Having second thoughts about living with this crazy family, Miss Granger?" teased her guardian.

Hermione shook her head. "No, sir. You might be crazy, but that's normal for a wizarding household who has four geniuses living in it."

Harry sat up. "Got that right, 'Mione. There really is no place like home. Or a family quite like ours."

Then he summoned the tea tray and some scones with a silent wave of a hand—he had finally mastered wandless silent magic, just as Severus had promised he would one day.

Two days later it was almost time to return to school, and as the Snape household made ready for the new term, an unfamiliar gray horned owl delivered a letter stamped with the Hogwarts crest to Severus. Upon opening it, he discovered it was a letter from Minerva.

To Severus Snape, Potions Master:

I am writing this to inform you of the sudden and unexpected passing of Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge from this world early this morning. As of yet, cause of death is unknown, and because it was so sudden, he had no time to appoint a Proviso Minister until we can elect a new one. So far, we have managed to keep the news from the press, but it won't be long now before someone finds out and the government will be in a state of pandemonium.

Start of term is delayed for a few days, the Board of Governors insisted we observe a period of mourning, and there was a new bill voted upon as well, something concerning mixed blood ancestry. Term will resume upon January 6th. Hopefully all will be somewhat sorted out by then. By the way, there has been talk of foul play, but so far nothing has been proven. Fudge's undersecretary, a witch named Dolores Umbridge, is convinced that Fudge died from a fatal dose of a potion.

It's a great shock, and once it gets out, there could be a panic.

The morning issue of the Prophet tomorrow should tell you more.

I look forward to seeing you next term, and meeting your lovely daughter as well.

Sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts

"What did the Headmistress have to say?" asked Hermione upon seeing Severus' face go ashen.

Severus told them, saying quietly, "This is a terrible tragedy, especially if it is proven that Fudge was murdered. No one has ever assassinated a Minister of Magic before. I fear an ill wind is blowing once more."

"What's going to happen with the school?" Harry asked.

"Term will resume for everyone on January 6th. Anything else that happens, we can deal with together, as a family." Severus told them all firmly. "May Selene watch over us all."

He felt then the warm presence and love of his goddess, who was also his immortal wife, and he knew then he was not alone. Selene was with him always. He looked at Harry and Hermione, who was holding Sarissa, and saw that they too felt the love of the Moon Lady. Thrice loved and thrice blessed. Nothing could break the bond formed that long ago midnight, when a black stallion and a depressed boy had found solace and kinship in the most unexpected place of all. Theirs was a most unusual family, but the ties that bound them were strong. The future might be uncertain, but the love and devotion of family would see them through whatever lay ahead, come fire, flood, or dark magic.


The End.



Chapter End Notes:


And so we come to the end of the midnight ride.

I hope everyone found it exciting and dramatic and as surprising as I did.

Will there be a sequel-yes there will.

Will the Snapes survive what is to come? Find out when the sequel is posted! For those of you who wish to know the exact time I post the new story, please put me on your author alert and you'll get a notice when I post up the sequel.

When will that be? I'm not sure yet . . .but the more people who display interest in a sequel the more eager I am to write one.

Thanks everyone for all your reviews and insights and may you be thrice blessed.



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