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Chapter 78 : Accolade
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"What did she have?" asked Nesmay.
"You'll find out when you see them," Sarais smiled. "Where are your brothers?"
"Studying in the library with their girlfriends." Nesmay answered. "Or so they say. I'll go get them."
She dashed out the door.
Toria gazed after her. "Neyney bye?" she called forlornly, waving.
"She'll be back soon," Severus reassured her, picking her up from her quilt.
"Yes, we will all go bye in a few minutes," he told her. She squirmed and held her arms out to Sarai.
Sarai lifted her baby from Severus' arms. "You have a new baby cousin to play with, Toria."
Her daughter gave her a huge smile.
When the rest of the Snape brood arrived, they all headed to the Hospital Wing.
They entered to find Petunia sitting up in bed, cradling a tiny green and yellow wrapped bundle in her arms. Seated next to her was Sirius, beaming proudly. On Petunia's other side was Dudley and Remus.
Harry approached shyly, noting that his aunt looked tired, but otherwise all right. Her arms cradled a tiny red-faced infant. "Hi, Aunt Petunia."
"Hello, Harry. Come and meet your new cousin, Lyra Delphinia Black."
"That's a pretty name," Harry said, leaning over to see the little girl. "Guess you got your wish, huh?"
"She's a fine healthy girl," Sirius said proudly. "We named her after both our families. Lyra is the constellation of the lyre, and Delphinia after the delphinium flower."
"That fits, because she's a Black and an Evans," Draco said, knowing about the tradition of naming a Black child after a star or heavenly body and the Evans custom of naming a girl after a flower.
"She's beautiful!" Nesmay said, smiling down at the baby.
"Yes, she is," agreed Severus, leaning over to stroke the baby's cheek. "Welcome to the family, little Lyra."
Victoria stared at her small cousin, her green eyes wide. Lyra opened her blue eyes and looked back at her. It seemed as though a kind of understanding passed between them.
Remus whistled. "Better watch out, because those two are going to be mischief incarnate." He poked Sirius playfully in the ribs. "You'd better not faint when you're watching them, Padfoot."
"Aw, hush your mouth, Moony!"
Severus eyed Sirius. "Did I hear correctly? You fainted, Sirius?"
Sirius clamped his mouth shut, looking at the floor.
"He passed out cold on the floor just after the head was crowning," Poppy said. "Typical new father."
Severus smirked. "Then it's a good thing you weren't delivering the baby, Black." He looked over at Remus. So much for the famed Gryffindor courage. "I believe you owe me five Galleons, Lupin."
Remus handed over the money.
"Moony, you bet that sneaky snake five Galleons?" cried Sirius, dismayed.
Remus spread his hands out. "I didn't think you'd pass out until she was born."
Sirius lifted his head and glared sourly at Severus. "Ah, quit smirking, Snape! Next time I'll do better."
"Next time?" Petunia said. "And what makes you think there'll be a next time, Sirius? I was almost too old to have this baby, and if you think I'm having another just so you can prove your manhood in some ridiculous contest, think again!"
"Yes, dear," Sirius said meekly, knowing this was one argument he couldn't win. Then he leaned over and kissed his wife. "This little lady is enough for me." He grinned ridiculously at his new baby, utterly besotted with her, like many a father before him.
All the adults cast knowing glances at each other. Severus tucked his newly won Galleons away and smirked evilly.
Two months later, most of the students were preparing for finals. Draco had spent the better part of Friday morning after his Care of Magical Creatures studying for his OWLS along with his brother, Hermione, and Ron. When he had arrived back at the Slytherin common room, he found Astoria and Daphne Greengrass and Millie Bulstrode watching Victoria. The girls were playing dress up again with eight month old, having produced a princess gown from Merlin knew where, and a tiny plastic tiara and a scepter. All of them had Transfigured their robes into medieval court gowns as well, and were having tea and cakes, a royal picnic, on the floor. Astoria was playing a clapping game with his sister, singing about baking a cake.
"What's all this, a party? How come you didn't invite me?" he asked, chuckling.
His sister looked up. "'Raco! Pwetty!" She grinned and clapped her hands.
Draco knelt beside her. "Toria, how many times do I have to tell you? Boys aren't pretty, they're handsome."
She shook her little head with its wealth of dark curls firmly. "Pwetty!" She pointed to herself.
"Oh. You mean you're pretty," he corrected himself. "You're the prettiest girl here, baby doll."
"That's why she's the princess," Astoria said.
Draco smirked. "Has she been behaving for you?"
"Of course," Millie replied. "Tea? A chocolate cake?" she indicated the tray on the table.
Draco helped himself to both and sat down on the sofa. He began to discuss his upcoming OWLS with the girls. Both Millie and Astoria were taking them this year and Daphne had them next year. None of them were paying attention to Victoria, who wanted another cake.
Not minded to wait, the independent little minx crawled to the table and pulled herself up to a standing position. She had been doing that for a month now, taking small steps holding on. She reached the tray and grabbed a cake, then turned about, ready to return to her spot on the floor. Only she couldn't crawl with the cake in her hand. Frowning in concentration, she took two steps towards Astoria without holding onto anything. Then she lost her balance and plopped down on her bottom.
" . . .never been my best subject . . ." Draco was saying when he saw his baby sister walking. "Holy Merlin, Victoria! You're . . . walking!"
The girls all stared at the baby, who was sitting down, eating the cake.
"Huh? She's not walking, Draco. She's eating and making a mess," Millie said.
"She was. For about two steps." Draco argued.
The girls teased him, saying he was seeing things.
There came a loud knock on the door and Harry called, "Hey, Draco! Want to play Quidditch with me and Katie?"
"And me!" Nesmay called.
Draco quickly ran to the portrait hole and opened it. "Get in here, hurry! Victoria's walking!"
"What?" Harry looked stunned.
"Let me see!" Nesmay squealed, and pushed past them.
"When did that happen?" Katie asked.
"Just now. She took two steps and sat down." Draco said.
All of them hurried over to where Toria was sitting, getting frosting all over herself. Nesmay withdrew a handkerchief from her pocket and began wiping Victoria' face. "Goodness, you're a mess! Stay still!"
"Aw, leave off, Ness. She's all right. I want to see if she'll walk again," Draco said. He grabbed another frosted cake and crouched a few feet away. "Toria! Want some more?"
"More!" Toria squeaked, then tried to stand.
Harry took her hands and helped her. "Go on. Walk to Draco. Go get him!" he urged her.
The baby took one step as he held her hands, then another.
He let go.
"Come here, Toria!" Draco called. He held out the cake.
She took three steps before tripping and falling.
"Whoops!" Harry grabbed her before she could hit the floor. "That was great! You walked! All by yourself!"
Everyone clapped, and Victoria smiled.
"Put her down, Harry. Let her do it again." Katie said.
This time she reached Draco and got a big hug and the cake for a reward.
"I can't believe she's walking already!" Katie said.
"That's 'cause she's a Snape," cheered Harry.
"We have to show Dad and Mum," Draco said enthusiastically.
"But Draco, Severus is teaching. You know he doesn't like to be interrupted and the fumes are dangerous for a baby," Nesmay reminded him. "And Sarai's practicing kin-sa-dor in the Room of Requirement."
Draco's face fell.
"Don't worry, that just means we can practice with her some more." Harry said. "And surprise them at supper tonight."
Everyone agreed that would be a good plan. But first they cleaned up the baby and Nesmay insisted she take a nap. "Otherwise she'll be monstrously cranky and not want to listen to us."
The other Slytherins agreed, because a cranky Victoria was almost as bad as her father when he was in a snit. Harry did the honors of putting her to sleep, because Toria never fought him.
Two hours later, the Slytherins and the Snape siblings were gathered in Severus' quarters, encouraging their pint-sized prodigy to walk more.
Luckily, Severus' last class coincided with supper, and so did Sarai's third workout. After they were done, the two professors headed directly to the hall for supper, and sat down at the staff table. The House Heads and Albus were already there and some of the students had come early as well and were sitting down at the tables. Remus was there, though Sirius was absent, having gone home to visit with Petunia, Dudley, and Lyra.
Harry, Draco, and Nesmay entered the hall with Victoria as well as the Slytherin girls and Katie. The girls all went to sit at their House tables, giving the Snape children the floor. The four siblings headed for the staff table.
"Now what are they up to?" Severus mused.
"They look like children on a mission," Sarai observed.
Draco and Nesmay hurried over to their parents. Together they dragged the two adults out from behind the table and had them stand in front of the podium on the floor. "It's a surprise, Dad! Watch and see!" Draco said.
"A surprise? As in a prank, Mr. Malfoy?" demanded Severus suspiciously. He didn't think his children would dare to prank him in public, but one never knew . . .
"No. It's better than a prank," Nesmay said, grinning. She was standing to one side of Sarai, with Draco next to Severus.
Harry approached with Victoria, who had already begun to squirm to be put down. Victoria was wearing a tiny replica of Slytherin robes and black boots, looking like a mini student. Harry couldn't restrain himself, and grinned like an idiot as he set her down and clasped her hands. "Ready, Toria? Let's show Daddy and Mama how well you walk."
He steadied the infant as she took her first cautious steps gripping his hands. Once she had a good enough momentum, he let her go.
Severus' eyes widened as he saw his youngest take one, two, three, four steps towards him.
"Sev, our baby's walking!" Sarai cried, her hand over her mouth, overcome.
Severus found that he could not speak, he was so shocked. But he knelt and held out his arms.
Victoria walked into them, tripping on the sixth step and falling against him.
Severus swept her up into his arms and stood up. His heart was filled to overflowing with pride and joy so great that he found the only way he could express it was by smiling, not his usual smirk or a crooked half-smile, but an honest to goodness grin . It was something that the students and staff would never forget, for Severus Snape had a beautiful smile. It transformed him from stern snarky professor to a loving father and husband, showing everyone the hidden side of the Heir to Prince Manor at long last.
As he turned towards the staff table, his emotions naked upon his face, surrounded by his family, a smattering of applause followed him, an accolade long overdue, for the spy who had risked all for an unlooked for reward—the love of a family, which was the true legacy of Prince Manor.
A/N: Don't worry, there's still the epilogue (like another small chapter) still to come! In part of it, Harry is having trouble deciding on a career. Please help him, and me, by giving me suggestions. Oh and of course let me know how you liked this chapter! Thank you! Happy holidays to all!
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