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Chapter 66 : Taking the Consequences
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"Sev, might I suggest we continue this discussion inside, so we don't wake the entire neighborhood?" Sarai suggested to her husband.
Severus nodded shortly and said, "Inside, all of you."
All of the kids hustled their behinds into the house. Molly told them all to sit on the couch and then the four parents proceeded to give them the lecture of their lives. They took turns, and Molly was first.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley and Ginevra Molly Weasley! What in Merlin's name were you thinking? Sneaking out in the middle of the night to go riding those flying bicycles of your father's? Ronald, you especially know better, after that stunt you pulled with the flying car when you were twelve! And you do too, Ginny! Do you have any idea how worried we were when we found you all missing? My heart almost jumped straight out of my throat. I thought you'd been kidnapped, especially with what happened to Harry and Draco over the summer! All I could think of was some dark fae had come and stolen all of you away in the dead of night. So I sent my Patronus over to Prince Manor and told Severus and Sarai what happened—I'm so sorry I ruined your honeymoon—" she paused and cast an apologetic glance at them. "—your father went to check outside and found the bikes gone and that was when I knew you foolish young idiots had gone off for a-a moonlight spin! How could you all be so IRRESPONSIBLE?"
The children all winced at Molly's last words, which were practically bellowed in their ears.
Ron and Ginny both looked at their shoes and muttered, "We're sorry, Mum. We didn't mean to make you worry."
"You did more than make us worry, you made us frantic!" Arthur now took over. "After the trouble you caused with my flying Ford Anglia last time, Ronald, one would think you had learned your lesson about touching my experiments without permission. This time you not only involved Harry in your mad scheme—who also should know better—but your sister, Draco, and Nesmay! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, young man. Do you know what could happen if the Ministry ever got wind that another magical artifact of mine has been misused and possibly spotted by Muggles? What if you were seen?"
"I don't think we were, sir," Draco spoke up. "We were careful, and it was the middle of the night, everyone was sleeping. We only flew over the village for a few moments."
"Indeed? And did you personally check each house down there to make certain of that, Draco Michael?" demanded Severus. His glower made them all cringe and shiver right down to their toes. "Did any of you have Concealment Charms about you? Did you even think about what could have happened if you were seen? Or were you all too stupid to remember the Statute of Secrecy?"
"Dad, I . . . I had a Notice-Me-Not Charm on," Harry said, not daring to meet his father's gaze.
"No mortal can see me unless I want them to, I had my glamour on," Nesmay added, though she too avoided his eyes.
The others remained silent, now kicking themselves for not remembering the Concealment Charms. Draco glared at Harry and muttered, "Real nice, why didn't you remind the rest of us?"
"I forgot! What am I, your mum?" Harry snarled back.
"Had you been where you were supposed to be, sleeping in bed, you wouldn't have needed to worry about your brother reminding you to hide in plain sight," Sarai interjected, and her voice was as cold as hoar frost. "After what all of you endured in Jarillion's keep, I would think you should have learned to never wander about at night, nor to leave anywhere without permission, or write a note telling Mr. and Mrs. Weasley where you are going. You scared both me and your father out of ten years of our lives with your recklessness! Just because we are in the mortal realm now does not mean that enemies can't find you and harm you. Both wizard ones and fae. You not only put yourselves in danger, but you broke your word to your father. There is no excuse for that. All of you know better, you're not three-year-olds."
They all squirmed under her censorious gaze, fierce as a falcon, she skewered them with her eyes, that seemed to see right through you.
"We're sorry, Sarai. We didn't think there'd be any harm in it. We only wanted to fly the bikes for a few minutes." Nesmay said, her face heating in shame. According to fae custom, there was no greater shame than breaking one's word.
"It was Ron's idea to fly around the village," Ginny said. "I told him it was a bad idea."
"Aw, shut up, Gin! You still went along with it." Ron snapped.
"Only 'cause you dared me and Nesmay to." She shot back.
"Quiet, the pair of you!" Severus' voice cut like steel through their quarrel and froze their tongues into stillness. "Every single one of you knew what you were doing was forbidden, by both magical and fae law. Can any of you deny that? No. So therefore all of you are equally guilty, no matter who suggested what first." He put his hands on his hips, his brows drawn down in his trademark scowl. "Harry, Draco, and Nesmayallindra, I am extremely disappointed and angry with all of you. You promised me you would behave for Molly and Arthur as you would me at the Burrow and respect their authority. Is this what you call behaving? Sneaking around to fly untested experimental magical artifacts? What if you had fallen off the bikes? Were any of you prepared to cast Safety Charms? You could have all broken your bloody necks! Not to mention that you are all underage and shouldn't be using magic outside of school."
"But Nesmay doesn't go to school," Ron blurted before he could think better of it.
Snape pinned him with his glare. "Nevertheless, Ronald, she has to obey the same rules you do, for her own safety, and not cast spells without my permission." He turned back to his children. "Harry, what happened to thinking before you acted? Was my lesson at school not enough? Must I tie you to me like a baby?"
Harry felt his face turn as red as the Gryffindor banner. "No, sir."
"You especially should have known better than to pull a stunt like this, considering how you almost got expelled second-year." Severus said grimly. "Then again, Minerva punished you for that infraction, not me. It's clear she didn't make enough of an impression. I intend to remedy that." He drew in a deep breath, then let it out. "Once I have control of my temper, that is." He pulled a wooden spoon from his pocket and handed it to Sarai. "Excuse me, I need five minutes."
Then he turned and stalked from the house.
All five children paled when they saw that dreaded object. Molly was holding one also.
"Mum, I'm fifteen!" Ron argued, he was scarlet.
"Your point, Ronald?" his mother demanded. "You know my rule, if you act like a baby, you're punished like one. Severus has that rule also, right, Sarai?"
The fae warrior nodded. "He does, as Draco and Harry know well." She frowned sternly at Nesmay. "Nesmayallindra knows also that breaking her sworn word will earn her a spanking, for all that we fae dislike physical chastisement."
"Yes, my lady. It is just," the girl whispered, sniffling. Her guardians' disapproval cut her like a whip.
"In addition to that, we have also decided that you and Ginny, Ron, will be restricted to the house for two weeks and not allowed to do anything but chores and no playing Quidditch or visiting your brothers at Zonkos." Arthur lectured.
"In other words, you're grounded." Harry sighed. "Mr. Weasley, what about us?"
"Your father will tell you about your . . . grounding," Arthur answered. "While we agreed to give all of you similar punishments, Severus says he warned all of you about what would happen if you misbehaved here."
"Merlin, we're screwed!" Draco hissed.
"You think?" Harry asked sarcastically. "There goes the rest of our summer."
Then they waited, dread curling in their stomachs, for Snape to return. It was barely five minutes since the professor had left, but to the five miscreants it felt like five years.
Finally they heard the professor's soft tread upon the porch and then the door opened and Severus came back into the den. He still looked stern and forbidding, but temper no longer blazed in his obsidian eyes. He turned to his wife and said, "Sarai, do you think Smidgen would be able to run reconnaissance over the village and make certain that no Muggle saw these five wretches?"
Sarai considered it for a moment. "I don't see why not. You know a shimmerling is the world's greatest creature for coming and going unseen and she can hear the thoughts of any who are awake and see the dreams of the sleeping ones. Shall I ask her?"
"Yes, that would be wise. This way Arthur won't be facing a Board of Inquiry tomorrow morning."
Sarai closed her eyes and concentrated, speaking with the shimmerling silently. Then she opened her eyes and said, "Smidgen has said she shall do what she can. If any mortal were awake at the time, she can convince them it was but a dream, easy enough for a dreamweaver."
"Good. That shall take care of that, then."
"Thank you, Severus. That was very kind of you." Arthur said, looking quite relieved.
"Not at all, considering it was my children who put you in that position in the first place," Severus waved off the other's gratitude.
"Mine went right along with them," Arthur said, looking quite angry.
Severus whirled back around and faced his disobedient children. "Because you have all behaved like five-year-olds tonight instead of your actual ages, your mother and I have agreed to punish you like one. For your disobedience and breaking your promise, all of you shall receive three smacks with my spoon. In addition to that, because I warned you to behave and you failed to do so, you shall also get a month's grounding, double that of Ronald and Ginvera, because I promised you if you misbehaved you would get double the punishment from me."
"A month!" Draco groaned. "But Dad, what if we agree to five swats and three weeks? That's fair, right?"
Severus' mouth tightened. "Draco Michael Malfoy, this is not open to negotiation."
"Draco, shut up!" Harry hissed. "Before he adds more days."
"Now then, you all know what my groundings entail, and I will have a list of chores posted on the wall in the kitchen tomorrow morning. Harry and Draco, come with me outside." He took the spoon back from Sarai.
"Yes, sir," they mumbled and followed.
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Molly Summon two more spoons and hand one to Arthur and the other to Sarai. Merlin, how many does she have? He wondered. Then he thought she probably had as many as she had children. Then he was out on the porch, and he felt his stomach tighten into a hard knot of shame and embarrassment. After what had happened last summer, he had vowed to himself to never be in such a humiliating position again, and yet here he was, about to get his bum spanked.
He shot a look at his brother, who looked equally embarrassed and ashamed.
Harry wanted to protest, but his conscience wouldn't allow it. He knew he deserved this. He lifted his head up and met his father's eyes. "I'm sorry, sir."
"For what?" came the sharp response.
"For disobeying you, and breaking my promise, and scaring everyone," his son said. Then he added, "And for making you spank us."
"You ought to be, Harry Albus Snape. This was not how I envisioned spending the last night of my honeymoon." Severus set his jaw. "Bend over the porch railing, both of you."
The boys obeyed.
Harry gritted his teeth as the first smack landed. Severus didn't hit hard enough to leave marks, but it stung a lot. One good thing was that he didn't lecture during the punishment, and he didn't linger over it either.
Next to him Draco hissed as the spoon smacked him also, but the punishment was swift and soon over. He remained still, however, until he felt Severus' hand on his shoulder, drawing him upright. "Stand up, Dragon. It's over."
Only then did Draco feel the prickle of tears behind his eyes. "Am I forgiven, sir?" he whispered. "I'm really sorry for everything."
"So you should be. Next time behave, dammit!" his father growled, then he gave him a brief hug.
Draco hastily wiped a hand across his eyes when Severus withdrew to comfort Harry and forgive him also. He would not cry like a baby over a mere three whacks, even though he felt guilty enough to bawl like a toddler.
Harry felt an irrational urge to cling to his father and cry on his shoulder, but he squelched it. He was nearly fifteen and it wasn't as if the spanking had hurt that much. His pride stung a hell of a lot more than his behind. As did his conscience. "I'm sorry I disappointed you," he sniffled. "I'll try and do better next time."
"Good. Learn from this, Harry. I mean it. You too, Draco." He handed them two handkerchiefs, then walked back inside, tucking the spoon back in his pocket as his did so.
Harry blotted his eyes with the handkerchief and grimaced, rubbing his behind. "Oww!"
Draco gave him a commiserating look. "For all he hates walloping us, he does a good job of it."
"Mmm . . .Obviously." Harry groused. "Draco . . .?"
"What?" His Slytherin brother answered, also rubbing the sting away.
"After it was over did you feel like . . . crying?"
Draco was silent for a long moment. "Yes. We were so dumb and I felt like a stupid little kid again. Plus we ruined his honeymoon. And if you tell anyone I said that, Phoenix, I'll kill you."
Harry pretended to zip his lips closed. "I won't. Brothers don't tell secrets like that."
Draco smirked. "Took you long enough to figure it out." He dodged Harry's mock punch. "Guess we better get back inside."
"Do you think they'll make us come home tonight?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
They opened the back door and walked back inside the Burrow.
Severus glanced about as he entered the house, and saw Molly hugging a repentant Ginny. The girl was crying quietly into Molly's robe. The witch looked tired and saddened. "Severus, I believe Sarai and Nesmay are in the study." She waved him towards the small hallway.
Severus found the room without a problem. As soon as he opened the door, he saw Nesmay standing there, looking utterly wretched. "S-Severus, I ask your pardon for my behavior," she said formally, but the tears upon her face belied her poise and turned her back into the child she was. "I was wrong."
"You were. But I forgive you, child. Come here." He held out his arms.
Nesmay hesitated. Whenever her tutor had punished her, there had been no hugs after, because she did not deserve it.
Seeing the hesitation, Severus moved and took her into his arms. "Nesmay, once you're punished, you're also forgiven. Understand?"
"But . . . it's not over. Not for a month." She sniffled into his shirt.
"Even so, I still forgive you."
She started to cry quietly. "I broke my promise. I have shamed my House and yours. I'm sorry!"
"Shhh. I accept your apology, child. Now don't ever do something like this again." He held her until she stopped crying, which wasn't very long. Then he handed her a handkerchief and told her to go and wash her face.
"Sarai, are you all right? I know you feel as I do about punishing her like that." Severus began.
The warrior sighed. "Sometimes we all do things we don't like, Sev. This isn't the first time I've taken an apprentice over my knee. It was deserved. There is nothing so dishonorable as a broken promise among my people. You know that."
"Yes. But I'm sorry you had to do that." Her husband said, coming forward to hug her. To a fae, the broken promise was worse than the deed itself.
"Same here, beloved." She kissed him gently. "Hopefully they will have learned their lesson by the time they have served their grounding. Perhaps I shall give them some instruction in swordplay during that time? It also teaches discipline and forethought."
"Yes, if you wish. I can help."
"That would be wise. I have tutored three at once, but Draco is more of a height with you and might find it easier to counter your attacks." She smiled softly to herself, pondering something. "Then too, it may be best to lighten my training sessions all things considered."
Severus looked down at her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, the Healers always say not to overdo the exercise if you're expecting."
"Expecting . . .?" he repeated, his mind drawing a blank for a split second. Then comprehension filled his eyes. "You're pregnant? Already? Blessed Merlin!"
She laughed at his dumbfounded expression. "Sev, we haven't exactly been celibate. Before or after the wedding. I think I' m about . . . three months, give or take a week. I waited to be sure, as my cycles are rarely regular."
"Now you're sure?"
"Quite sure. I wanted to surprise you tomorrow, but . . . I figured you could use some cheering up after walloping your sons. Are you happy, Sev?"
He cupped her face in his hands and whispered tenderly, "By all that's holy, Sarai, I am. So much that I cannot say. I never thought I would become a father again so soon."
"Nor did I. Most times it takes months before a fae woman, even a half-blood like me, catches. This is like a miracle."
Severus kissed her again, his hands pulling her close. "Sarai . . .love . . .you are my miracle . . . you and my . . .our . . .children." He felt elated, as if he had drunk a Euphoria Draft. He knew as well as she how rare it was for a fae-blood to quicken so soon. Then again, she was half-human and he hadn't been taking Contraceptix at all the last handful of times they had made love. "Are you sure your count is right?"
"Yes. This occurred while we were within the Faerie Realm, Sev. Time runs differently there. But I shall be seeing Healer Auriane to confirm it tomorrow."
"Bloody hell!" he swore. "You fought a frost giant while you were pregnant!"
"True. Why so shocked, sorcerer? Plenty of women before me have done so. The little one was perfectly safe in here." She stroked her still flat stomach. "Besides, I had no choice. Now that I am reasonably sure I am carrying, I shall take precautions not to overexert myself. But I am no helpless maid in a tower, Severus Snape, so do not expect me to lock myself away and behave like one. My mother ran an estate almost up to the month she delivered me. I see no reason why I cannot do the same."
"As long as the Healer says it's all right," Severus agreed, a stubborn look coming into his eyes.
"It will be. Trust me." She withdrew from his embrace. "Shall we go and tell our wayward children the good news?"
But before either could leave the study, Smidgen blinked into view.
:Wizard Severus, Lady Sarai, I have done as you requested and only found a single family who had witnessed the flying bicycles tonight. They . . . seemed to think it was . . .something called an ET. I do not know what sort of creature that is . . .:
"ET stands for Extra Terrestrial, in other words, an alien life form. Something that comes from out of this world." Severus clarified, struggling not to chuckle. "What did you do to them, Smidgen?"
:I modified their memories a bit, encouraged their subconscious to present what they had seen as a dream. A very vivid dream, but that is all. I even implanted a suggestion that they all shared the same dream because they are a close-knit family and odd things like that do occur from time to time. I do not think you will have any trouble with them speaking about it to other mortals. Adults rarely discuss their dreams and no one will believe a child who speaks about dreams that seemed real.:
"We are in your debt, Smidgen. Thank you."
:There are no debts between friends, Severus. It was my pleasure to assist you.: the black shimmerling dipped her head in a slight bow. :Now, I am going back home. There is still some night left, enough for me to get in another nap before dawn. Farewell, my friends.: Then Smidgen blinked away.
When Draco and Harry came inside, they found Ron, Ginny, and Nesmay in the den, commiserating about their sore backsides and their upcoming groundings. Arthur and Molly were speaking quietly in the corner of the kitchen, Draco caught the words "Ministry of Magic" and immediately felt guilty for doing something that could cost Mr. Weasley his job, he knew the family couldn't afford to have the wizard out of work.
He quickly followed the others into the den, hoping that no one had spotted them.
"This is going to suck, not being able to fly my broom!" Ginny groaned. "I hate not being able to practice. I wanted to try out for the team next year. I'd have taken another five with Mum's spoon over this."
"Now you know what it's like to have my dad for a father," Harry said. "And we're also stuck doing the bloody laundry by hand."
"Why is that bad?" Ron asked, puzzled.
"Because it takes forever and the wringer washer gives us blisters on our hands," Draco told them. "Dad will heal us, of course, but it still sucks."
"Well, we did deserve it." Nesmay sighed. "But I agree, it sucks."
"And we're grounded for a month besides," Draco scowled. "Damn it all, now I have to get up early again!"
"Parents! They're all alike," Ron grumbled. "Except the professor is stricter than my mum and dad, I think."
"I'd have to agree," Harry said. "Did your dad give you the same as mine did?"
"Yeah, I guess they all discussed it, because usually we get more than that. So I'm . . .sort of grateful to him." Ron coughed.
"Grateful? I'll bet you won't be saying that next week," Draco snorted. "Dad's groundings are a real pain in the arse. I wonder what rooms we'll be scrubbing in the manor?"
Harry shrugged. "Whatever ones are the filthiest and have the most trash."
Nesmay made a face. "Ugh! How boring!"
"Do you think they'll take you home tonight?" wondered Ron.
"I don't know. I guess," Nesmay frowned. She had been hoping they wouldn't, as she felt she owed an apology to the Weasleys and wished to help Molly with breakfast as part of her recompense.
"You may stay here, Nesmayallindra, for the rest of the night," Severus said from behind them, making them jump. "I trust you are all too tired and sore to make any more trouble for the Weasleys?"
"Yes, sir," his children chorused.
"Tomorrow is soon enough to begin your punishment. However, Sarai and I would like to share some good news with all of you before we return home."
Sarai came to stand next to her husband, smiling. "Harry, Draco, and Nesmay, what would you say to having a new addition to the family?"
"Huh? A new addition? Like a cat?" Draco asked, puzzled.
"No, it's not a pet," laughed the warrior.
Nesmay was staring at the older woman, her amber eyes wide. "No . . . it can't be . . ."
"What can't be?" Harry was confused.
"Sarai . . . you're going to have a baby!" Nesmay cried.
"Yes, I am."
Her brothers remained with their mouths open, too shocked to say anything. They looked from Sarai to Severus to Nesmay and back, their mouths opening and shutting like landed fish. Clearly, Nesmay's announcement had thrown them for a loop. Then again, in the Snape family, almost anything could happen, and often did.
A/N: Hope you all liked this one! I won't be able to update again for several days, as I have a lot of parties and things to do thise weekend, so please be patient. Thanks everyone who had reviewed and read and favorited this story. Pleas continue to do so! I really appreciate it though I don't always have time to respond to all the reviews. Who wants to take a guess at what Sarai's having? Boy, girl, twins?
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