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Chapter 19 : Congratulations Mr. Snape
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Snow had fallen in a thick blanket over the lawn the past three nights, and Harry and Hermione had fun making snowmen and snow women as well as a snowy castle. Hermione used her magic to keep the castle walls from melting and caving in, so they could play in and out of the castle. Harry had fun flying on his broom and dive bombing Hermione with a bunch of snowballs.
Lily and I watched from the bay window in the living room at the two friends romping in the snow and smiled. "Do you remember when we were that age?" she asked, rubbing her belly, which was now so round and swollen she looked like an overripe watermelon.
Of course, I knew better than to say so. Lily was very touchy right now and I didn't want to end up with important bits of my anatomy hexed off. "Like fifty years ago?" I teased.
She smacked me lightly in the back of the head. "Look who's talking, old timer."
"Just who are you calling old? I'm only three weeks older than you." I reminded her.
"You're still older," she declared, smirking.
"You're lucky I love you, Evans. Otherwise I'd cast a Wrinkle Charm on you."
"Severus, don't you dare!" she gasped. "I already feel old having this baby and if you ever did such a thing I'd . . .I'd make your penis shrivel up."
I stared at her. "Then you'd be very sorry." I shot back.
"Hmm. Never thought of that." She looked at me and burst out laughing.
After a minute I joined her.
"Oh, Sev, it's a good thing the kids are outside. If they ever heard this conversation, they'd commit us to the crazy ward." Lily giggled, her eyes twinkling with mirth.
"Ah, we're halfway there already, what with all the pranks they pulled on us over the years."
"Uh huh. Remember the time Harry hitched poor Gabe to his sled and made him pull him all over the yard and down the block? And Hermione sold tickets?"
I nodded. That had been one of my son's worst ideas, and it all started because he'd read The Call of the Wild by Jack London. . .
January 20th, 1989:
Harry shut the book he'd been reading for two days and placed it on the table. "Okay, Dad, I'm finished."
"Now you have to write an essay for me on what you learned and then you'll have your project done," I told him.
"Right. The essay." He groaned. "Why do I have to write it? Can't I just tell you what I learned?"
"No. You need the practice writing with a quill and also an essay will help you with your grammar, spelling, and punctuation, all of which could use much improvement." I said firmly.
"Aww, Merlin! Writing essays suck!"
"Whining about it won't get it done faster. All it will get you is an extra assignment."
"Okay. Do I have to do it today? Can't I start tomorrow?"
"Harry . . ." I began. My son was the king of procrastinators, he firmly believed in the saying why do today what you can do tomorrow? I knew if I didn't make him do it now, while the story was still fresh in his mind, he would end up forgetting and turning in some sloppy paper that I'd end up making him do over. "You know you need to start it now."
"Can I do it in my room? It's easier for me to concentrate there."
"Fine, but I'll be coming up to check on you in fifteen minutes."
He hesitated in the doorway, the book still clutched under his arm. "Dad? Can we get another dog?"
"Another dog? What's wrong with Gabe?"
"Nothing, but I just think he could use a playmate. A husky would be a wonderful dog to play with him. They're really cool, Dad. I've been reading about sled dogs and—"
"Save it for your essay. You can tell me all about huskies and everything in it. Go!" I ordered and I watched him race upstairs.
I looked at Gabriel, who was lying beside my feet. "You wouldn't want another dog about the place, would you? Then you might end up getting ignored."
He panted and yawned.
I finished correcting the rest of my tests, my students at the Academy had a test on something every two weeks, or a quiz, to keep them sharp. After that, I decided to read a bit before going to check on Harry. I then fell asleep despite all my attempts to keep my eyes open.
I woke about an hour later, and I was chagrined and furious at myself for falling asleep when I was supposed to be minding Harry. Snape, you bloody imbecile! How could you have done such an asinine thing? My only excuse, and it wasn't much of one, was that I was tired. I Apparated upstairs, hoping that Harry was still working on his essay. Instead his room was empty and I called, but there was no answer.
I raced downstairs, and it was then I noticed Gabriel was gone also.
I checked the backyard, which was full of their footprints, but the two were nowhere to be seen. "Dammit, Harry!" I swore. "You know better than to leave the house without telling me where you're going."
I walked out into the front yard and looked up and down the block. It was then I saw a familiar red-gold dog trotting down the street. "Gabriel!" I called, and whistled sharply.
He barked and began to run, and it was then that I saw he was pulling my son and Hermione on a sled. Somehow Harry had rigged up a harness for my poor collie and he was laughing as Gabriel ran down the street, the sled bouncing and bobbing up and down behind them. Following them were a few children from the neighborhood, all wrapped in mittens and scarves, laughing and calling, "When's it my turn, Harry?"
"I wanna be next!"
"Hermione promised I was next!"
"No, Harry said I could go next."
"I wanna pet the dog!"
"I only have four pennies, not enough to get a ticket. Can I have a discount?"
"My mum gave me five pence, can I owe you one?"
Great Merlin's ghost! What are they doing? Working my poor dog like he's a draft horse? Scamming the kids in the neighborhood?
Gabriel raced up to me, panting, snow flying from his paws, looking rather pleased with himself. A makeshift harness of leather and rope was tied about his chest and shoulders and then to the sled handlebar. Harry and Hermione were still laughing like little fiends.
"Hi, Dad!" Harry waved at me, he had at least remembered to put on hat, coat, and mittens. "Hermione and Gaby and I are playing Call of the Wild. We're pretending Gaby's a sled dog and taking us to Alaska."
I put my hands on my hips. "Harry, I'm about to ship you off to Alaska if you don't tell me what the blazes is going on here."
"I just did. Why are you all mad?"
"Why am I mad? You tell me. What rule did you break today?"
"Uh . . .I . . .dunno . . ."
"How about the one where you don't leave the house without my permission?"
"Harry, I thought you said you told him!" Hermione cried.
"I was going to but . . .we had trouble with the harness and then I just forgot. Sorry, Dad."
"Sorry isn't enough." I scolded. "Not only did you leave the house without asking but you also made poor Gaby turn into a beast of burden. You could have injured him making him pull you and all those kids down the street. He's not a sled dog." I pointed to the house. "And whose bright idea was it to charge those kids over there to take a ride?"
"That was mine, Mr. Snape," Hermione said softly. "I thought it would be a good idea to sell tickets, like in Call of the Wild when people buy tickets for the dog fights, only we didn't want Gaby to have to fight another dog, so we decided to do a sled ride. I didn't know Gaby might've gotten hurt."
She looked very ashamed. I looked at my collie, who had planted his rump in the snow and looked terribly pleased with himself. "I want you to give back all the money you received, it's not right to charge people for something like this. Understand?"
"Yes, sir." She dug a small pouch out of her pocket.
I turned to Harry. "Get inside and put your nose in a corner. We're going to have a long talk about this, young man."
He looked as if he were about to argue, so I gave him one of my patented glares and he hustled his ass inside. By then some of the other kids had come over, wanting to know when it was their turn to ride on the sled. "The game's over for today," I said. "My dog is tired and you should all collect your money from Hermione and go on home."
"But the dog don't look tired," persisted one stubborn imp.
I glared at him. "He's my dog and I know when he's tired or not." I knelt to unfasten the harness and put the sled inside the garage. I waited until Hermione had returned all the money she had collected before going inside to deal with my son.
Gabriel followed at my heels, seemingly none the worse for wear. Thank Merlin!
Harry had his back to me, standing quietly in the corner of the den.
I sat on the couch and called him over.
"Why'd you have to go and ruin everything, Dad?" he complained, sulking. "We were having fun!"
"You were rooking people out of money, Harry James. There was no reason you had to actually take money from those children, you could have pretended to charge them. Not only that, but you could have made Gabriel pull a muscle or something dragging you all over, he's a collie, not a husky."
"See, that's why I asked you if we could get a husky," Harry said.
"I'm not getting another dog just so you can play Call of the Wild."
"That's why we were charging for tickets, so I could earn the money."
"Harry, do you know how much a dog costs?"
"Umm . . .no. But you said you got Gaby for sixpence and we had a lot more than that."
"Gabriel was different. The breeder was going to drown him so he gave him to me for hardly anything. That wouldn't be the case with a purebred husky. A dog like that would cost you a hundred pounds probably. Besides which, we don't need another dog."
"But huskies are so cool, Dad! Way cooler than silly old Gabriel."
"Now that's enough!" I snapped, incensed that he was willing to throw over my faithful beloved collie for a sled dog. "Gabriel was good enough to watch over you all these years and there's an end to it. You're already in trouble for leaving home, don't make it any worse. I'll bet a Galleon you didn't finish your essay either before going out to play."
He looked down at his feet, biting his lip. "I started it, but then I got bored."
"Too bad. Because now you're grounded for the weekend and can stay up in your room and finish it."
"You're so unfair, Dad! You never let me have any fun!" Harry yelled, stomping up the stairs. "I wish I lived in Alaska!"
Right then I wished he did too, if only to keep me from throttling him. I sighed and looked down at my dog. "Lily isn't going to be too pleased with either of us once she hears what happened today. And what were you thinking, letting them do that to you?"
Gabriel wagged his tail and licked my hand, as if to say, it's all right, Sev, I still love you.
"Silly beast!" I said affectionately and gave him a rub behind the ears. "You're worth more than any husky and don't you forget it."
Gabe put his head on my knee then, happy to just be near me. And I drew comfort from his presence.
I caught hell from Lily later when she found out I had taken an impromptu nap while I was alone with Harry, but she also agreed with my punishment of the boy, so I wasn't totally in disgrace. "Those kids!" she said when I told her what Harry and Hermione had done. "You never know what scheme they're going to try next."
Was that ever true!
February 13, 1994:
"Sev?" Lily called, breaking into my reverie. "Would you like some cocoa too?"
"What?" I blinked. "Oh. Yes. Why?"
"Because I figured by the time those two get done playing, they'll be chilled to the bone and need a hot drink."
"Very true. Do you want me to—"
"No, I can do it myself." Lily waved off my unspoken offer to help her and rose to go into the kitchen to make the cocoa. I let her because she had been resting all day, as per my mother's instructions.
Lily was now so big that she waddled like a duck when she walked. She was due any day now, and I had made sure she had a bag packed and ready when her contractions came so we could Floo directly to the room Mum had reserved for us in St. Mungos. She would be the midwife, but she wanted to be close to Healers just in case she needed advice or something went wrong.
Soon the intrepid snowball slingers came in to get warmed up, and Harry asked if he could go and see a movie with Hermione. Lily said yes, and Harry went upstairs to shower and change his clothes before dinner. The movie started at seven and wouldn't be over until ten o'clock. Stacy offered to drive them back and forth, since she knew I didn't like to leave Lily for very long this close to her due date.
Sometime around nine o'clock, Lily fell asleep upstairs. An hour later I went upstairs to check on her and found her rubbing her stomach and wincing. "Lil? What's the matter?"
"I've been having contractions for twenty minutes now."
"Are you sure? It's the real thing?" I asked because she'd gone into false labor once before this.
Slowly, she nodded. "Oh yes, it's the real thing." Grimacing, she got to her feet and began walking around.
"Should I call my mother?"
"Not yet, wait a bit. My water hasn't even broken yet. Oops!" She bent double, panting, and her nightshirt was suddenly wet with fluid. "Forget I said that." She gritted her teeth slightly. "Now you can call your mother, Sev."
Ten minutes later we were in the private hospital room Mum had picked out for Lily to give birth in. The room looked like a fancy spa, with a soothing lilac and cream wallpaper with small baby animals on it, playing and nursing from their mothers. It was fully furnished, and besides a cloud soft bed also contained a birthing chair and a cradle to put the baby in once he or she was born. Soothing music was playing in the background and the calming scents of valerian and lavender and honey perfumed the air.
Eileen was waiting for us when we arrived. "So my second grandchild has decided to make an entrance tonight."
Lily looked about at the room, her swollen feet sinking into the acres of soft carpet. "This is such a lovely room, Mum. It's too bad that I'll be too busy to enjoy it." She gasped as another contraction hit.
"Hopefully, you'll stay overnight and then you'll be able to enjoy it," Eileen said, running a diagnostic. She frowned. "How odd. I could swear I detected . . ." she re-cast the spell.
"What is it? Is something wrong ?" Lily got the question out before I did.
"No, not wrong, but . . .I now can hear two heartbeats."
"Two? You mean I'm having . . ."
"Twins," Mum announced calmly.
"Blessed Merlin!" Lily exclaimed.
I was in shock. "Twins? I can't believe it."
"That explains why you were so big, Lil." I said. "Are the babies all right?"
Eileen ran another diagnostic. "Yes, they are doing fine. Both are in position, one behind the other."
Lily looked suddenly uncertain and frightened. "Two of them? Oh, God. I don't know if I can do this, Sev."
I came and put my arm about her shoulders. "You can do anything you put your mind to, Lily Evans. You've captured hardened criminals that no one else could. You can give birth to these babies."
"I don't really have a choice, do I?" She began breathing deeply and we walked about the room. "I'm at the end stage of the brewing process now and the bloody cauldron's boiling over-OWWW!"
"That was a good one, Lily," Mum said encouragingly. "You're doing well, almost dilated ten centimeters now . . ."
I didn't see how my mother could say it was going well when my wife looked like she was in agony. Lily had grabbed my hand and practically crushed my fingers when the next contraction hit. But that was all right, I didn't really need my left hand to stir a cauldron. "I'm sorry," I felt compelled to apologize for putting her through so much pain.
Both women looked at me. "Sorry for what?" Mum asked.
But Lily knew what I meant. "Severus, don't you dare apologize!" she growled. "We both wanted this."
"I know, but—"
Sweat dribbled down her cheeks and I blotted it away. "Bit late to feel guilty now . . .Snape." She panted through another contraction. "This is why . . .it's called labor . . ."
I glared at my mother. "Why aren't you giving her something for the pain?"
"Because she needs to dilate some more, Sev. Then I can pain block her."
I ground my teeth together. I wanted to cast the bloody spell on her right now, I hated seeing her like this. But she was a fighter, she might have broken all the bones in my hand, but she never one cursed me out, or said she hated me. Instead, she rode out the cresting pains, with a lot of encouragement from my mother. I wondered if it had been this bad when Harry was born.
"Harry! Bloody hell! He'll be coming home from the movies and no one's home," I realized.
"Go and Floo him, Sev," Mum ordered briskly. "Let him know what's going on."
Lily released her grip on my hand. "Go, dammit!"
I bolted over to the fireplace.
After a brief conversation with my son, where I told him to go and stay with the Grangers, and that I would call him as soon as the babies were born, I returned to Lily's side. It took another hour before she was ready to try and push and by then my mother had performed a very strong pain block spell on her which eased the pain somewhat.
"All right then, Lil. Onto the chair you go."
I helped her onto the birthing chair, which I knew made it easier for a mother to deliver. "This will be over soon, Lil," I murmured. "Keep breathing, you can do this."
She bared her teeth at me. "You can do this too, Severus. You pass out on me and I'll hex you to the moon. . . ."
Half-an-hour later, my daughter was born. She had a full head of dark hair and bluish-green eyes that Mum said would probably turn totally green later on. Ten minutes later, her brother followed, he had reddish hair and dark blue eyes which would later turn brown. Their coloring was different but the shape of their faces was the same.
"Here, Sev. Hold your daughter while I clean up your son," my mother handed me my baby girl, wrapped in an ultra soft pink and white blanket. "Congratulations, Mr. Snape. You're the father of beautiful twins."
I was shocked to discover that the beautiful little one was quite solid and not at all as delicate as she appeared. "Hello, little one," I whispered, and she looked at me with her brilliant eyes and made a soft noise. Her tiny hand reached out and grasped my thumb. "You're going to be a strong little girl, just like your mummy. And I'm going to hex all the boys to keep them away from you, because you are going to be a heartstopper like her too." I walked with her back over to where Lily was now holding our son and cooing to him. "Say hello to your mum, Hallie Eileen."
"Oh, Sev. She has your hair. She's so gorgeous." Lily beamed up at me.
"But she'll have your eyes, I think. Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm exhausted, but I've never felt better." She kissed the top of my son's head. "Gabriel Augustus, take a look at your daddy."
I gently placed Hallie beside Lily and picked up Gabriel. My son gave a soft whimper as I cradled him to me. He was smaller than his twin and his hair was a light auburn. "Hey, little man. Are you going to drive me to drink like your older brother? Or will you be calm and sweet-tempered like your namesake?"
Gabriel blew bubbles at me and I tickled him under the chin. "You have your mum's hair, but I think you've got my eyes. Well, maybe not. I hope you don't mind being named after a dog."
"Why would he?" Lily asked from the bed. "That dog was the best dog ever. And he's also named after an archangel."
Mum finished cleaning up Lily while I sat next to her and held my newborn son. All too soon, Gabe began squalling and I gave him to Lily to nurse. As soon as Gabriel began to cry, Hallie did too. But they soon hushed and began to drink. I looked down at all of them and thought how beautiful they looked together. Only Harry was missing.
"Mum, do you think I should go and get Harry? Or should I wait for morning?"
My mother laughed. "Sev, look out the window. Morning's already here."
I hadn't even realized it. But sure enough, the sun was shining and it was going to be a perfect day. Speaking of days . . ."What day is it?" I had forgotten to check the date on my calendar.
"It's Februrary 14th. Valentines Day," Eileen answered promptly. "Very appropriate, because these two beautiful babies are the result of the greatest love ever." She came to hug and kiss me and Lily. "Thank you for naming my granddaughter after me."
"How could we not? It's tradition." I said. "I'm only sorry that Hallie couldn't be here to see her. And Gabriel."
"She does see them, Sev. Angels see everything in heaven and earth," Lily said. "Now go get Harry so he can meet the twins."
I bent down and kissed her. "I'll be back."
"I'll be here. Always." She answered, cradling the two miracles we had made close to her heart, the same way she had for nine months.
I Apparated away. I couldn't wait to see Harry's reaction to his new brother and sister.
Hope you all liked this!
Were you surprised about the twins? What do you think Harry's reaction will be?
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