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Return to Prince Manor by Snapegirl
Chapter 75 : Changes
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Changes

After Harry's pointed reminder to Severus about cherishing his daughter, the Potions Master did a complete about face, and started spending much of his time with his baby girl. He rocked her, cuddled her, and fed her. He created better lotions and salves for her tender skin, assisted by Harry and Draco. He would stand over her cradle for long moments, just watching her sleep, like a dark guardian angel. He spent hours closeted in the library, reading books about baby-proofing a home, child care, and discussed with Sev Prince the differences between raising a girl and raising boys.

I always felt better prepared when raising my sons, because I knew what to expect, how their minds worked," Sev Prince said candidly. "My girls were a mystery to me from the moment they started talking. With boys, it's different. They make your heart fierce with pride, and while you worry about them getting hurt, it's not the same. With my girls, my heart melted, and the mere thought of them in danger turned me into a raging lunatic. Lydia's first serious suitor almost became a new wall hanging when I caught him stealing a kiss before riding away one afternoon. I contemplated carrying a horse whip to discourage randy young boys when Aurielle came of age, she was a beauty and I felt as if every man's eye was upon her, trying to figure out the best way to compromise her before an hour went by. My wife threatened to lock me in the basement when a suitor came to call.

Severus shuddered. "Please, I don't even want to think about when she's old enough to notice boys. Or boys to notice her. Frankly, I doubt if any boy will ever be good enough for her, and the boy would have to get past not just me and Sarai, but Harry, Draco, and Nesmay as well."

Sev Prince chuckled. I pity the poor bastard! She might as well be surrounded by an army. Whoever tries to get her attention had better be of the stuff legends are made from, because otherwise he might as well start planning his funeral.

Later on that night, as Severus was anointing little Victoria with some baby balm that prevented chafing and was made with lanolin as well as magical bellflowers ground to a fine powder, while Sarai observed indulgently from the rocker in the nursery, he said, "It seems so long ago that I couldn't bear to look upon her, and now . . . now I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I hear her cry and just stand over the cradle watching her sleep." His long fingers gently rubbed the ointment all over his baby's delicate skin. Victoria ate up the attention, waving her small arms and legs and making purring and cooing noises.

"You were grieving, Sev. Grief does strange things to a man—or a woman," Sarai said with a rueful smile. "You just needed to be reminded that there was still a life waiting for you back at home."

"Well, thank God for Harry." Severus said, wiping his hands upon a soft cloth before dressing his daughter. "I was frozen inside, numb like an icicle in the dead of winter, like I was when Lily died. But now . . .now when I look at her, it's like it was spring inside my heart, all the ice has melted and warmth and love have been reborn." He smiled down at Victoria and caressed her cheek with a finger. "I can't even imagine my life without her in it."

"Nor can any of us," Sarai said knowingly.

Severus quickly did up the lavender all-in-one, which had cute embroidered sheep all over it, and the saying 1,2,3 count sheep, now go to sleep winding in and out of the sheep. He thought back to that day, and how, upon his return to the house, he had found Harry sitting and staring at a book in the den, looking very nervous. He had heaved a sigh of relief when he caught sight of them and said, "Dad! You're back. You're not . . . mad at me or anything for what I said, are you?"

Severus had shifted his now sleeping offspring to his shoulder before replying, "No, though I was at first. No parent likes to be lectured by their child, even if the lecture was necessary."

"I'm sorry, but I just couldn't let you keep on going the way you were, Dad."

"I know that, Harry. You were right to do as you did. I was hurting myself more than anyone. Your mother would have been the first one to tell you that. Lily always said my Achilles heel was my unwavering self-control. She used to say I had my emotions wrapped up so tight it was a miracle I didn't explode. She would tell me that it was all right for me to lose control every once in a while, otherwise one day I'd crack from holding everything inside. But I'd been conditioned to suppress my emotions by the time I was six, because of my father. He hated to see boys crying, and would give me the back of his hand if he saw so much as a tear. It was also a defense mechanism, since I detested my father for his loss of control, I had vowed to never become what he was—an angry, greedy, dissatisfied man who blamed all his misfortunes upon others, and never hesitated to unleash his temper on his son and wife. That's why I keep such a tight rein on my emotions, because of him and the work I did as an undercover agent, which required me to not react in any way to the atrocities I was witness to. I'm grateful, Harry, that you were brave enough to snap me out of it."

"I'm sorry I was so . . . mean."

Severus snorted in amusement. "Harry, sometime being very blunt is the only way to get through to someone who's drowning in their own grief. Rather like a swift punch to the jaw."

Harry had given him a rather mischievous look and said cheekily, "I hope you've learned your lesson, Dad."

Severus had given him a long look and said, "Watch it, Phoenix." Then he clapped his son on the shoulder and told him he would make a very good father someday.

Shaking his head, Severus returned from his stroll down memory lane, and picked up his wide-awake daughter and put her on his shoulder, where she looked about and then stuck her fist in her mouth. He began to walk about the room with her, patting her back, while discussing his new class schedule with Sarai.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

A few days later, Draco and Harry received their Hogwarts letters and lists. Inside each of their envelopes was a prefect's pin, red with a gold P for Harry and green with a silver P for Draco. Both boys were speechless for about twelve seconds.

"Dad, did you know about this?" asked Draco, his gray eyes shining.

Severus nodded. "I knew about yours, because I recommended you. Along with Blaise Zabini."

"What about me?" Harry wanted to know.

"I was not certain, because Minerva has the final selection over her Gryffindors as I do my snakes. But I thought if anyone deserved to be a prefect besides Miss Granger, it would be you, Harry." Severus told him sincerely. "I am proud of both of you. It would seem to be a family tradition, considering I was also a prefect at school. See that you set a good example for your peers next term."

"We will, Dad." Draco said. "Right, Phoenix?" He gave Harry a sharp look.

"Yes. Quite looking at me like that, Dragon."

"Like what?"

"Like you're pure as snow and I'm the one in trouble all the time."

"Can I help it if it's true?"

Harry scowled. "If I remember correctly, it was you who ended up starting the brawl in The Three Broomsticks."

"Me? It was Krum's fault! And you were the one that wouldn't leave off and got us arrested!"

"Boys! Enough!" Severus cut in before the discussion could escalate. "You were both at fault now stop pointing fingers. There's no point in quarreling over the past. Tomorrow the Headmaster will probably send me my class syllabus and then we shall go to Diagon Alley and get your school supplies. In the meantime, go over the supplies you have and let me know what you are running low on, and make sure your assignments are in order. They should be neat, legible, and complete."

The two groaned at the familiar litany. But after breakfast they both rose and did as their father had suggested. A prefect should always be prepared. Nesmay did the dishes while Sarai fed Victoria, who was now up to three ounces of formula and growing rapidly.

Athena and Frost arrived, each bearing letters for Draco and Harry. Both Hermione and Katie expressed their condolences about the family's loss of baby Alex, and they both offered to babysit little Victoria if needed. Hermione informed Draco that she too had been made a prefect and had already pinned the new insignia to her new school robes. Both girls were eager for the new term to begin and couldn't wait to see their boyfriends.

A letter also arrived from Ron via Zephyr, and in it all the Weasleys expressed their deepest sympathies and hoped that the new baby was thriving. Mrs. Weasley sent along a beautiful angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream and chocolate sauce and Ron said he hoped that Harry was having fun with his baby sister and if he ever needed any advice on how to deal with a bratty sibling to just ask.

The final piece of mail came from Mischief, Sirius' owl.

Dear Severus, Sarai, Harry, and Draco,

Petunia insisted I write instead of Floo because it would be easier to express myself through a letter. I don't know if she's right because this was damn awkward to write. I can't count how many drafts I tore up and threw in the fireplace before I finally decided this was the best one.

Harry told me about your loss and I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow you must all be feeling. When I read that letter, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. Tuney started crying, and grew very emotional. She wanted to come over for a visit, to pay her respects, but I said we needed to be invited and maybe you weren't up to receiving visitors just yet. Especially given what happened last time.

Severus, I know we haven't seen eye to eye on a lot of things, but I will say that you have more courage than any Gryffindor, to endure the loss of a child. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and I wish there was something that I could say or do to ease your pain. Just saying "I'm sorry" seems so trite, but it's true. I hope that in time your loss eases.

Tuney, Dudley, and I would like to pay our respects, and meet your wife and daughter, who I hope is doing well. If you wouldn't mind having us, we'd like to come tomorrow. If not, I understand. Tell Harry I said hi, and will see him at school.

Sirius

PS: Remus would like to come also, there's something he needs to discuss with you.

Severus turned to Sarai. "Well, what do you think? Are you up to a visit from my in-laws, beloved? Or would you prefer to wait?"

Sarai eased the bottle away from Victoria and began to try and burp her. Her daughter wailed indignantly. "I think it best if I met them here, at our home. It's polite and proper of them to make the effort to see us, and it's time I met the rest of the family on this side. Write Sirius back, Sev, and tell him all are welcome."

"If you're sure?"

Before Sarai could answer, Victoria let out a loud belch.

"There's your answer," the warrior chuckled, giving the bottle back to her ravenous child.

Severus informed the rest of the children of Sirius' visit over dinner that night. Draco looked less than enthused, but said he wouldn't tease Dudley or make any jokes about snakebite. At Nesmay's puzzled look, he explained how Dudley had attempted to steal one of the runespoor eggs last time he had visited and gotten bitten for his trouble.

"Harry, you'd best tell the runespoors to go hide," she suggested. "Or I can."

"I'm sure Dudley won't go near them," Severus said. "All of you are to be on your best behavior."

They all agreed they would be, though Nesmay thought Dudley sounded like Malchiar and could use taking down a peg or two. But she wouldn't prank him, because she had given her word to Severus and Sarai to behave, and a guest, even an unlikeable one, was to be treated decently according to fae laws of hospitality.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

The Blacks and Lupin arrived on Saturday around midmorning, and Harry accompanied Severus out beyond the Endless Mist to meet them. Severus had informed Harry that it would be good practice for him to part the mist for their guests and unlock the manor gates.

Harry greeted his relatives and Lupin, then he turned and concentrated hard, bringing his arms up above his head, then down in a broad sweeping gesture while ordering the mist, "Part for me!" in Latin.

The mist shifted, hissed, and parted, revealing the large stone gates which were locked until Harry set his Amulet of Inheritance into the niche and it opened.

"Nicely done," Severus said approvingly as he followed Harry onto the grounds.

Harry tucked his wand away and fought to keep from yelping like an excited child.

"Welcome to Prince Manor," said Severus simply. He led the way up to the house.

Once everyone was introduced to Sarai and Nesmay, the two parents led the way to the cemetery and the tiny headstone.

Sirius knelt in the grass and conjured some flowers in a large urn to place beside the headstone, then bowed his head and whispered, "May Merlin keep you company in the lands of the undying, beyond the Veil, Alexander Snape."

Petunia blotted her eyes with a handkerchief and whispered, "God be with you and may you know peace everlasting in the arms of an angel, little one." She removed a small plaster statuette of a cherub and placed it on the opposite side of the headstone.

Remus added a small flowering shrub.

For a few moments, all stood solemnly, their faces pinched with sorrow and loss.

Petunia touched Sarai's shoulder lightly, and murmured, "There is no remedy for the loss of a child, my mother shared the same grief as you. She lost a baby boy after she had Lily and I don't think she ever really recovered from it. His name was Will. But I wish you every joy with your daughter. She will be a great comfort for you."

"Thank you, Petunia. You're very kind." Sarai said.

Petunia smiled sadly. "You may not think so once you've heard the news I bear. I am with child, though it's too early to tell whether or not it's a boy or girl." She bit her lip nervously. "Forgive me, that's probably the last thing you want to hear after suffering so."

But the half-fae warrior shook her head. "Not so. Life and death are opposite sides of the same coin. I am happy that you will have a child. Perhaps you will be lucky and have a girl cousin for Toria to play with. And I have always wanted to be an aunt."

"Congratulations, Sirius," Severus remarked, eyeing the Animagus. "Are you ready to be a father?"

"Hell, no!" the other shook his head. "But by the time the kid's born, I'd better be. I don't really have a choice."

"I can lend you some parenting books to get you started."

"Thanks, Severus. I think I'm going to need them."

"What you'll need most is stamina and an ability to go for days without sleep. As well as the patience to deal with a screeching demon for weeks on end."

"Moony, as the kid's godfather, I'm going to have you sleep over nights," Sirius commented.

Lupin snickered. "Why, Paddy? Afraid you'll lose your beauty sleep?"

"No, I'm afraid I might drop the kid on his head because I'm half-asleep. I'm not as young as I used to be."

Harry cast a glance at Dudley. "So, are you glad to finally have a little brother or sister?"

"I guess so. It'll be weird though, seeing Mum with a baby."

"You know what you have to learn to do now, Dud?" Harry began.

"What? And don't you dare tell me I have to change a nappy."

"Dud, you have to learn to share," Harry said, biting his lip hard to keep from exploding in laughter.

Dudley was scarlet and looked as if he wanted to punch Harry out."Ah, shut it, Harry!"

Harry gave him a Snape smirk.

"I know how to share," Dudley pressed on.

"Sure you do, Dud. You shared all your broken toys and your bullying ways with me."

"That was then. I . . .I didn't know any better. But this time's different, because I want it to be. Do you like your baby sister?"

"Like her? Dudley, I love her. Wait till you see her. She looks very . . . ethereal."

"Like a fae princess," put in Nesmay.

"But she eats like a pig," Draco remarked.

All of the children laughed at his blunt assessment.

"When will your baby be born, Petunia?" Sarai asked, walking beside her.

"I think . . . it was conceived soon after we visited the manor, so perhaps sometime in March. I have my first appointment with my doctor next week, then I'll know for sure."

"May fortune and fate smile upon you."

They continued walking across the lawn, and the song of a meadowlark rose sweet and true in the air, serenading the family as they made their way back to the house, where a simple lunch of salad and sandwiches awaited them upon the kitchen table.

Victoria was still asleep, so they all ate lunch and then Remus asked Severus and Sarai if they had received a letter from the Headmaster.

"Only the usual one, Lupin," Severus said, somewhat stiffly, for he still bore reservations where the werewolf was concerned. "It concerned my curriculum and syllabus for the year." But he kept those negative feelings under wraps, and besides, he was on his home ground here, and stronger than either of the former Marauders.

"As a matter of fact, I did." The warrior replied, pulling an envelope from her pocket. "An owl arrived just before you did, and I put this in my pocket to read later." She quickly slit it open with a knife and began to read. "He expresses his condolences over my loss and then he . . ." she frowned, perplexed. "He wishes to know if I would like to be the next Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, along with you, Remus." She looked up at the werewolf curiously. "I don't understand. Why would he ask me to teach? I'm a half-fae former Blade, and though I do have magic, it's not like a mortal wizard's at all."

"Perhaps that's why," Remus said. "I also got a letter and in it he asked if I wished to resume my former post, I used to teach Defense over a year ago. But he said that even with the Wolfsbane I might wish to have an assistant to cover my classes every month and he wishes the instruction to be of both an academic and practical nature. I'm sure that's where you come in, Sarai."

"Hmm. Do you think he means for me to teach them the sword? Or elements of dueling?"

"I'd say so. And you've more experience in that sort of thing than I do. But I can handle the academic and theoretical side, as well as the spellcasting." Remus said.

Sarai looked thoughtful. "What do you think, Sev?"

"I think you ought to do as you feel best, Sarai. There's no doubt you're a competent instructor, having trained me and the boys to defend ourselves with and without magic. Dumbledore knows that."

"I think you should do it, Mum," Draco urged.

"Me too," added Harry.

"I could watch the baby when you have class," Nesmay offered.

"That's what I'm worried about. I don't want to be away from Victoria for very long. I'm afraid I might miss something," Sarai admitted.

"I can understand that," Remus said. "I could teach the beginning of the year, and you could substitute in for me each month for a week and maybe have a class on the weekends."

"Like the Dueling Club!" exclaimed Harry. "Draco and I started it up again last year, and you could help continue it, Sarai."

"That would be great," agreed Draco enthusiastically.

"You have to do it, Sarai!" Nesmay pleaded. "Think about what all those mortal kids could learn from you. And then you wouldn't have to be apart from Severus and the boys for most of the year."

"She's right," Severus persuaded. "We could all be at Hogwarts as a family, and then I wouldn't miss any of Victoria's milestones either."

"And you could teach more during the second half of the year, because your daughter would be older and more independent." Lupin added.

"True. I will think on it and then send back a reply." Sarai decided.

"I have some other news to share," Sirius announced. "Dumbledore has, don't ask me how, finally persuaded Binns to retire. He's going Beyond the Veil at last and that leaves the History of Magic position to fill. Dumbledore asked me if I would mind taking it."

Severus nearly fell over. "You . . . a professor, Black? Merlin save us all!"

His boys, however, let out whoops of glee. "No more Binns? It's a miracle!"

"Come on, Snape, I'm not that bad."

"I thought you wished to return to the Aurors."

"Well, I did. Until I found out Tuney was expecting. Then I started to re-think my career choice. Being an Auror's a job for the young and single, Severus. It's tough on anyone who wants a family and kids, because you're often away and in danger. I don't want my kid to grow up never knowing his father, or Dudley either. And I don't want a desk job at the Ministry either, too many political currents, and I don't do well with licking the arses of my superiors."

"Unless you're in dog form," Severus said slyly.

It took Sirius and Remus a moment to get Snape's wickedly dry wit, then Remus began roaring with laughter. After a moment, Sirius joined him.

"Yeah, well, what can I say? It's a dog thing." Sirius shrugged. "Teaching is better. It's stable and won't leave me facing down a wand every other week. Dumbledore pretty much told me to go and revise the old curriculum and make my own, so that's what I'm going to do. Tuney can help, she used to teach primary school before she had Dudley."

"You did?" both Dudley and Harry asked at the same time. Neither of them had ever known that.

"Yes. I enjoyed it too, but once I was expecting, Vernon wanted me to stay home, and after you were born, Dudley, I wasn't up to teaching and trying to raise a baby at the same time, Vernon refused to hire a nanny, said a woman's place was in the home and that was that. But I haven't forgotten all I learnt back then."

Severus scowled. Two former Marauders at Hogwarts again. He sighed. This would be a year of changes indeed. He wasn't sure he liked all of them, but there was little he could do, short of resigning, and the fact was that he enjoyed teaching his more mature and dedicated students. So long as Sarai and the children were there, he could endure anything—even two Marauders on staff.

"You had better learn how to discipline, Black. Otherwise your classroom will be chaos and no one will learn anything."

"I know, I know, Mr. Detention-Every-Day," Sirius said. "Now I just have to figure out how to make History of Magic interesting and not drop-dead boring and I'll be set."

Before Severus could interject any more pithy comments, Victoria woke up and began howling. The Potions Master sprang to his feet as if he had been prodded with a poker and hurried down to the nursery to get his daughter.

He found Smidgen hovering over the cradle, trying to get the baby to stop crying by making her one wing shimmer in the sunlight, and she was purring. Victoria was gasping and her sobs had begun to quiet as she tried to grab the black shimmerling, her eyes wide and small hands reaching for the elusive feline.

"Hello, Smidgen. Thank you for keeping her occupied." Severus greeted the fae cat.

:It was no problem, Sev. But I think she's hungry and wet also.: With that, Smidgen blinked away to sit atop the dresser and groom her fur.

Severus picked up Victoria, asking softly, "Are you hungry, sweetling?" The baby screwed her face into a grimace. "No, don't cry. Just be patient," he ordered, quickly changing her and then conjuring a bottle of formula. He heated it with a spell and fed her some of it, enough so she was in a better mood when he brought her to meet her relatives and Lupin.

All the adults made a fuss when he showed her off to them.

"She's got your hair, Severus," observed Sirius, gently tickling the baby under the chin.

"But Sarai's eyes," Petunia remarked, gazing at the little mite with longing. "She's beautiful."

"Would you like to hold her?" Severus asked.

"May I?" She gently cradled Victoria in her arms. "Hello, precious. Aren't you the sweetest little thing? Such a pretty baby!" She smiled at her niece. "Oh, I do hope we have a girl! Dudley, come and say hello to your cousin."

Dudley came and peered over her shoulder at Victoria's round cheeked face and plump arms and tiny feet. "Wow! She sure is little."

"But she's getting bigger every day," Sarai said proudly.

"I bet she'll be a heartbreaker when she's older, like her mum," Sirius said.

"Flatterer," Sarai rolled her eyes at him.

"What? It's true." Sirius said.

"Black, are you ogling my wife?" Severus mock-growled.

"Ogling, no. Admiring, yes. I'm not stupid enough to try anything remotely like what you're thinking, Snape. I want to be around when my baby gets born, not sharing space with the worms in a pine box."

He tickled Victoria, making her giggle. "To think, this is going to be ours in a few months."

"What do you want, Sirius? Boy or girl?" Harry queried.

"Ah . . . that's a tough one. Part of me would like a son, then I could teach him all my old tricks and stuff. But a baby girl would be nice too, and then Tuney could have company. I guess it really doesn't matter, so long as my wife and baby are healthy."

"That's what's important," said Severus firmly, but his eyes were haunted.

Petunia then passed Victoria to Lupin, who held her as if she were a precious glass and crystal vial. Victoria looked up and burbled at him, making him smile.

While the adults were making goo goo eyes over the baby, the older children went to play outside by the lake and the orchard.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

Later on that night, in the privacy of their bedroom, Sarai lay drowsing in Severus' arms, curled like a kitten in the hollow between his ribs and arm, her head on his chest. "Sev? You awake?"

"Yes," he muttered, though he sounded as if he had been dozing off after their recent activity between the sheets.

Victoria was sleeping soundly beside the bed, the cradle rocking to and fro with a charm Severus had cast.

"I've been thinking."

"About what?"

"About taking the Defense position. It would make sense. Like Remus said, it would allow me to be beside you, instead of by myself with just our daughters at the manor. After so many years of being separated because of our careers, I really don't want to endure nine months of you being away. Plus, while I do love raising Toria and Nesmay, I need something else to occupy me. I never was one to be a stay-at-home wife. Teaching will give me that challenge and we can all be a family together, like you said."

Severus turned his head and gave her a sleepy smile. "Good. Then you'll be sending Dumbledore a reply tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"That's fine. I'm glad you settled everything." He yawned. "Now, I'm going back to sleep, wildcat."

She chuckled wickedly. "Have I worn you out then, sorcerer mine?"

The only answer she got was a soft grunt and then Severus curled up about her and fell asleep.

A moment later, so did she.

Page~*~*~*~*~*~Break

Hogwarts

Sept. 1st, 1995:

"Before we all dig into the wonderful feast that's been prepared for us, I have a few important announcements to make," Dumbledore stood once again at the podium in the Great Hall, arms lifted for silence. The hall quieted. "As I welcome you all back for a new year, I would like you to note the many changes that have occurred in our staff this year. It is my pleasure to introduce Professor Sirius Black, our new History of Magic teacher. Many of you know Mr. Black by reputation, he was once falsely accused of murder and put in Azkaban. However, he has since been cleared of all charges and is now an upstanding citizen."

Severus, sitting beside his wife and Professor McGonagall, snorted at that statement.

The room went wild as all the students erupted in cheers. They could hardly believe that Binn's reign as the most boring teacher and subject was finally ended.

When the tumult had died down somewhat, Dumbledore then cleared his throat again. "I would also like you to welcome back two familiar faces. Remus Lupin, and Lady Sarai Valinek, who is also Professor Snape's wife. They will be sharing the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher jointly. Please welcome Professors Lupin and Valinek to our staff. You will be seeing them repeatedly, as the curse over the Defense position is now removed."

Everyone stood and clapped for the new teachers, clearly they were very glad to not have to worry about clueless incompetents or megalomaniacs teaching Defense any longer.

When the applause finally died down, Dumbledore returned to his position at the staff table and tapped his wine glass with a spoon. "Let's eat!" was all he said, before digging into his broiled leg of mutton with new potatoes.

Nesmay was seated with Harry and the rest of his Gryffindor friends, fielding questions from curious students as to why she was not Sorted.

Finally, Ginny snapped, "For Merlin's sake, she's a fae princess and Professor Snape's ward, now quit badgering her and leave her be! There's no law that says you can't learn magic from your parents or guardian instead of going to school, now is there?"

That effectively halted the questions and enabled Nesmay to eat in peace.

Victoria was asleep in the infirmary, watched over by Madam Pomfrey, who was quite content to be one of the little girl's honorary aunts, along with Auntie Min, Auntie Mona, Aunt Sybill, Charity, Septima, Aurora, and the rest of the staff. In addition to the plethora of surrogate aunts and uncles, Albus insisted upon being her honorary grandfather, which almost caused Severus to choke to death on his salmon.

When he could speak again, he admonished the sly old codger, "Don't think that means you can spoil her rotten, old man, and go behind my back and give her tons of sweets and lemon drops."

"But Severus, children love sweets. You're being unreasonable. I'd never hurt Victoria."

"Not intentionally, but overindulging a child is not good for them. She may have one or two sweets and that is all. Or else I shall forbid her to come to your office."

"Very well, Severus. You're her father, you know best. I shall have to abide by your rules." Dumbledore acquiesced, his blue eyes twinkling.

Severus nodded and settled back in his chair, satisfied that he had made the Headmaster dance to his tune for once. Little did he know that there was a conspiracy afoot to indulge his baby girl in secret, perpetrated by a very sneaky old Headmaster and the rest of the staff and some of the students. What her daddy didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

So began the Snapes' fifth year at Hogwarts.

Next: See how the Hogwarts staff and students help the Snapes raise Victoria. Also, Sirius' baby will be born. What will it be? Boy or girl? Anyone want to guess?

Thanks to everyone who has read, reviewed, and favorited this story. I am very appreciative of your responses. There will be 1 more chapter to go and an epilogue.
 
 
 
 
 


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