"I can't believe that after tomorrow, we're done with school," Ron said. "It seems like only yesterday we were all boarding the train to come to Hogwarts."
"Tell me about it," Hermione smiled nostalgically, leaning back against the trunk of weeping willow that jutted out over the lake.
She and several friends, including her fiancée Draco, were gathered out by the Black Lake for one last picnic on the grounds.
"So, have you received your contract yet, Weasley?" asked Draco, lying down with his head in Hermione's lap.
"The Chudley Cannons' manager said he's going to owl me this week. I can't wait," Ron was grinning from ear to ear. "I still can't believe they signed me as Keeper."
"I'm glad you have a job that you can be happy in, Ron," said Hermione sincerely.
"You said it. This is like, my dream job. It sure beats working at the Ministry like my dad for years on end. The pay's terrible and the hours suck."
"But someone has to do jobs like that, in order to keep the government working," Katie reminded him.
"True, I'm just glad it's not me. Let Percy be chained to a desk at the mercy of the Minister or whoever." Ron said firmly. "Me, I'm going to be flying high and listening to the roar of the crowd and raking in the Galleons. On a year's salary alone I'll be able to help Mum and Dad renovate the Burrow."
"That's good, Ron. Your parents deserve to live in a place where the roof doesn't leak," Draco remarked, then winced as Hermione smacked him on the ear.
"Draco!" she hissed, glaring down at him.
"Sorry, that didn't come out right," the Slytherin apologized. "What I meant was—"
"It's okay. I know what you meant," Ron waved off the apology, not wanting to quarrel on his last picnic at Hogwarts. "So, Malfoy . . . what are you going to be doing once you finish school?"
"Well, I'm going to be working for Ollivander, as his official apprentice wandmaker. In seven years I'll be a master and maybe open up my own shop. When I'm not learning about crafting wands, I'm going to be trying to clean up Malfoy Manor."
Katie looked puzzled. "Clean it up? But I thought you had house elves for that kind of thing."
"He means he's going to cleanse the place of evil influences," Hermione explained.
"You see, Lucius and Narcissa trafficked in a lot of dark objects and filled the manor with them and some nasty traps and curses. So now that I've come into my inheritance, I've decided to purge the manor of everything dark, and make it into a place that's fit to live in when 'Mione and I get married next year." He gave his intended a sweet smile.
"And I'll be helping him, once the summer comes," Hermione informed them, smiling back at her beloved. "Dumbledore's hired me to be the new Arithmancy teacher, since Professor Vector's retiring."
"That's great, 'Mione!" Harry said. "But are you sure you want to teach a bunch of troublemaking brats?"
"I know how to keep them in line, Harry. I learned from the best—your dad and Sarai," Hermione laughed. "I'm surprised you aren't assisting your father with his classes."
Harry sighed. "Well, I thought about becoming a potions professor. But I think there are enough teachers in my family. Between my parents, Sirius, and Uncle Remus, we've got all the bases covered. Even Aunt Petunia used to teach. That's why Dudley said he'd rather be a police officer, and is going to the Academy next September."
"Dudley's going to be a police officer?" Draco gaped. "The kid that stole a runespoor egg? What irony!"
"Well, you never know. He might be a good corrections officer or something." Harry said, his green eyes twinkling mischievously. "Besides, Dad has Katie to be his adjunct. I've been thinking long and hard about what I want to do once I'm done with school."
"With your NEWTS scores, you could be anything you wanted, love," Katie said, hugging him.
"What did you decide, little brother?" asked Draco.
"I've decided to become a pediatric Healer," Harry announced. "I know it'll mean more studying and classes, but in the end it'll be worth it. I really like helping kids and being a Healer will allow me to brew potions and work with children without having to be inside a classroom."
"That's brilliant, Harry!" Katie grinned, then she kissed her dark-haired fiancée passionately.
"Ahem! Uh, there are children still here, you know," said a familiar voice from behind them. "You really need to restrain yourselves, lovebirds. My virgin eyes!"
"Nesmay, shut up!" Harry ordered, flushing. "Your virgin eyes have seen worse than this. What about that time last summer you walked in on Mother and Dad without knocking?"
"Harry!" Nesmay cried, going crimson. "Did you have to bring that up?"
"Of course he did. He's your older brother," Katie said, rolling her eyes. "Be nice!" She poked Harry in the ribs.
Nesmay pretended to be brushing some nonexistent dust off her robes, which bore the blue trim and sigil of a Ravenclaw. It had been a shock for some when Nesmay was Sorted into the House of Eagles, the Hat had taken a long time to determine where she belonged, it had almost placed her in Hufflepuff or Slytherin, but after a rather long debate, had said she belonged with those who were intelligent, yet stubborn enough to go their own way, though he loyalty and cunning were commendable. Nesmay had been relieved not to have been placed in Slytherin, for though it was her guardian's House, and she loved and respected him, it was also the House of her blood father, and the less she was associated with him the better. No one knew, save her family, Luna, and Ginny, about her true parentage, she knew it would only cause heartache for everyone if it ever revealed.
"You show him who's boss, Katie!" laughed his younger sibling.
Harry gave her a Snape glare. "Watch it, Ness. Or else I'll tell Dad that you're planning on getting a tattoo."
"Don't be a killjoy, Harry!" Nesmay scowled. "You know he'll kill me if he knew."
"I don't understand why you want one," Harry muttered.
Nesmay's mouth firmed. "I just do. It's only a small one, right on my ankle, of a raven. Athair doesn't understand that it's a mark of individuality, not servitude." She said, using the fae word for heart-father. It had taken her over two years to finally feel comfortable addressing both her foster parents in a more intimate manner, but once she had been accepted to Hogwarts, she had finally felt confident enough to express her love and respect for them by calling them the fae words for heart-mother and father.
"Well, you can't exactly blame him, all things considered," Draco reminded her. "Why can't you just wait till you're of age and move out? Then he won't be able to ground your arse forever."
Nesmay tossed her head, making her hair fly back over her shoulders. She had stopped spiking it a month ago, deciding it looked more mature as her natural color, a deep golden brown, and had let it grow out. The new style made her resemblance to her mother Aislinn even more pronounced. "Where's the fun in that? I mean, aren't teenage daughters supposed to drive their fathers crazy?"
"I guess it is a Snape family tradition." Harry agreed, smirking.
"Your poor dad!" Hermione said. "He's going to have white hair before he ever sees his first grandchild."
"Looks like Nesmay isn't the only Snape daughter continuing that tradition," Ron pointed out.
"What are you talking about?" Nesmay asked, giving the redhead a sharp look.
"Take a look at who's flying all by herself over there," Ron pointed to where a small dark-haired little girl was flying a school broom over the Quidditch pitch.
"Bloody hell! Toria!" Draco yelled. "What does she think she's doing?"
"Flying," Harry stated the obvious, rolling his eyes. "Stay here. I'll get her." He rose to his feet.
"Crazy little imp! She's not even three and she thinks she can fly by herself?" Draco was growling. "Harry, you ought to tan her arse for scaring us half to death! She could have fallen off."
"That's Dad's job, not mine," his brother called over his shoulder. "Besides, we did much the same thing once upon a time, big brother."
"What's that matter?" Draco swore.
Harry hurried over to where he had placed his Firebolt and hopped on it. He soared into the air, moving gracefully until he was alongside his small sister. "Hey, Victoria! Why are you up on a broom by yourself? You know Dad's rule."
His intrepid sister turned to gaze at him out of her bright green eyes. "Hi, Harry! I'm flying like you, 'cause I'm a big girl."
"Not big enough to fly by yourself, without me, or Draco, or Dad," Harry reprimanded, trying to be stern. Draco was much better at that than he was. "You know what Dad would say if he ever caught you doing this, don't you?"
She pouted, her lower lip sticking out adorably. "Uh huh. He'd tell me I was in big trouble."
"Yes, and he'd probably turn you over his knee too, Victoria Snape."
Her face crumpled as she realized the severity of her crime. "You won't tell him, will you, Harry? I don't wanna get a spanking!" Tears hovered in her eyes. She had only been spanked once before, for snitching her father's wand and almost causing a fire. But she definitely didn't want a repeat punishment.
Harry, never able to resist those pitiful puppy-dog eyes, sighed. "All right. But don't ever do this again, understand? You could get seriously hurt flying all by yourself."
"By falling off and breaking your arm, or your leg, or your neck." He guided his broom right next to hers. "Come here. You can fly with me." He plucked her off her broom and put her in front of him, holding her firmly.
She squirmed a bit. "Aww, but Harry . . .!"
"No excuses, young lady. You fly with a grown-up or not at all. Or else!" he scolded.
"Okay," she agreed. She had her rag doll, Lady Snapedragon tucked in the pocket of her jacket. She turned and hugged her brother, saying repentantly, "M'sorry I was bad, Harry. I'll be good."
"Pwomise," she lisped. While she was extremely advanced for her age, and talked very well, there were still some words she mispronounced.
"Where'd you get that broom anyhow?"
"The broom shed, silly!" she answered, rolling her eyes in a dead on imitation of their father.
"That should have been locked."
Victoria shrugged. "It was open."
Her brother mumbled something about irresponsible Quidditch Captains who ought to lose fifty points, then continued flying around the lake.
"I wanna dive, Harry. Please! Please?" Toria begged shamelessly.
"You were very naughty. So I shouldn't do anything that's really fun with you," her brother mused.
"I said I was sorry." Toria snuffled.
"Fine. One dive. That's all. Then you go and apologize to Draco for scaring him."
"Why's Draco scared?"
"Because you could have fallen and broken your neck," Harry reiterated. He wasn't sure his baby sister quite understood the dangers of flying alone. "Hold on," he warned, then he pointed the Firebolt downwards and dove.
"Wheee!" Victoria shrieked in glee.
Harry did not fly as fast as he did during a game, but it was still very thrilling to a two-and-a-half year old to fly at over seventy miles an hour. He pulled up just before they would have crashed into the lake, skimming the surface of the water before soaring back up into the sky.
Harry was laughing, for he loved flying at those speeds. "How was that?"
"Yay! It was so fun!" Victoria was grinning. "Wasn't it, Lady Snapedragon?" she reached inside her pocket for her doll.
Only to discover it was missing.
"No-o-o!" she wailed.
"Lady Snapdragon's gone!" sobbed Victoria. "She fell out and drowned!" She burst into noisy tears.
Harry winced. He knew how much the doll meant to his sister, it was her favorite toy and had been ever since she was an infant. "Don't cry, Toria. I'll find it for you."
"Y-you c-can't! She's d-d-rowned!" Toria bawled, great gulping sobs shaking her tiny frame. "I want Daddy!"
Harry sent the broom into a spiral, hoping against hope to see the doll floating on the surface. But there was nothing. He thought frantically. He could cast a Summoning Charm.
Before he could speak, however, a large black shape emerged from the water, Lady Snapdragon clutched inbetween its teeth. Tossing his mane, the kelpie reared and sent the doll flying through the air.
Harry reached out and caught it with the ease of long practice. "Thanks, Duncan!" he called to the water horse.
Duncan whinnied a reply before disappearing beneath the waves.
Harry cast a Drying Charm before returning Lady Snapdragon to Toria. "Here. Next time make sure you hold onto her. Why'd you bring her flying anyway?"
Toria squished the doll against her tightly. "'Cause she likes to fly too. She's my friend!"
"Oh." He wiped at his sister's tearstained face with his sleeve. "Guess we should land. You look like you need a nap. Who's supposed to be minding you?"
"Grandpa Al, but he fell asleep," she imitated the Headmaster snoring.
Harry bit back a giggle. Then he landed his broom close by where the others had the picnic blanket. Holding his sister close, he walked over to where Draco and Hermione were sitting. "Toria has something to say to you."
"I hope it's I'm sorry and I'll never do it again," Draco snapped, sounding very like Severus, if only he'd known.
"I'm sorry, Draco!" his sister said, looking as if she were about to cry again.
"You ought to be." Then he melted at the sight of her woeful face. "Next time behave." He hugged her.
"She looks like she needs a nap," observed Hermione.
Draco nodded, he'd been thinking the same. "C'mon, Harry. Let's go put her down."
"Not without a story!" Toria pleaded.
"Ha! You ought to be getting a time out instead," Nesmay said, frowning.
"No! I'll be good!" Toria detested time out, for her it was as bad as a spanking.
Together, the three older Snape siblings escorted their runaway sister back to the dungeons, where the Snape quarters were. Now only Victoria shared the apartment with her parents, as Nesmay stayed in Ravenclaw Tower with her yearmates.
Their parents were still in class, teaching, as it was only just after lunch. Draco and Harry didn't have any more classes, since they were finished with school after the Leavetaking Ceremony tomorrow, and Nesmay was done with her classes until later that night, when she had Astronomy.
"Enough, Nesmay. She said she was sorry twice," Harry said.
"If Athair or Maia ever knew what she'd done, they'd have a conniption."
"I know, but this once, we'll keep it between us." Harry told her. "I don't want to make Dad spank her, you know how he hates it. I think she's learned her lesson. Right, Toria?"
"Yes, Harry." The child said sincerely.
"Pushover," snorted Draco.
Harry glared at him. "I don't see you running to Dad, Dragon."
Draco looked away. Though he liked to pretend to be strict, he hated it when his baby sister was in trouble, and he would not betray her, even if she deserved to be punished.
While Harry turned down the sheets and Draco warmed up a glass of milk with honey, Nesmay helped Toria out of her muddy robes and into a pair of clean jeans and a top. The little girl yawned, feeling sleepy after her escapade, but unwilling to give into the feeling and rest.
Familiar with how she always fought sleep since she turned two, her brothers and sister were armed with weapons that never failed, warm milk , comfortable pillows, and a bedtime story.
Harry tucked his sister into bed, placing Lady Snapdragon beside her. Draco levitated the small cup of warm milk with honey to her and waited while she drank it down. Then they all arranged themselves about the bed, Harry on the right side, Draco near the foot, and Nesmay beside the head.
Victoria's bed was filled with colorful griffindown pillows, arranged about her left side and head. She snuggled into them as Nesmay began to tell the story of Princess Sarina and her magical flying bed.
"A flying bed?" Draco scoffed. "Don't you mean a flying carpet?"
"No. My gran told me this story and she always said it was a flying bed," Nesmay argued. "The bed took Princess Sarina anywhere she wanted to go in the world, from the highest mountains to the deepest caves filled with jewels. It could go under the sea and through the frozen wastes of the north . . ."
Toria was wide-eyed, enthralled by the story. "Wow! I wanna magic bed that flies."
"There is no such thing," Draco told her.
"Wanna make a bet?" his sister queried, looking like her mother when she was testing a student. "Nessie don't lie."
"Shut up, Draco!" Nesmay hit him in the head with a pillow. Then she raised her wand and concentrated. One of her strengths was silent magic. Though only entering her second formal year at Hogwarts, Nesmay was stronger magically than many her age. Instead of being placed with the second-years, she had been allowed to room with the fourth years, who were her own age.
Suddenly, Toria's small bed lifted off the ground and began to fly slowly through the air.
The child let out a screech of joy. "Yay! My bed's flying! Look, Draco! See? See? Beds do too fly!"
"Now look what you've started," Draco glared at Nesmay.
"Oh, hush, you old geezer. You'll give yourself gray hairs before your time. This is how my gran always told the story." Nesmay said.
She flew the bed, with everyone on it, about the room for a few minutes longer before setting it back down on the ground with a thump. "And so Princess Sarina landed upon a land covered with grass and trees. It was a beautiful country, and she would have loved to stay, but just then trolls came out of the trees."
"Oh no!" yelped Toria, covering her mouth.
"But Sarina wasn't afraid. She had her trusty companion, Lady Snapdragon to defend her," Nesmay went on. "Snapdragon was a kin-sa-dor master and nobody could beat her. She gave those smelly trolls what for all right. With a whack! And a whomp! And a smash!"
Grinning deviously, Nesmay slammed Draco and Harry in the head with pillows.
"That's it! You're dead, brat!" Draco shouted, grabbing a large pillow and smacking Nesmay in the face with it.
Harry joined in, smirking, and soon the three were in a riotous pillow fight.
"I wanna play!" cried Toria, she stood up and grabbed her pillow, hitting Draco in the arm.
Draco shoved her back and she fell on the bed. But she got right up and swung at Harry, shrieks of merriment coming from her.
He gave ground before her and Nesmay pummeled Draco relentlessly until he withdrew.
"We won! We won!" Toria yelled, clapping her hands.
"And once the princess and Lady Snapdragon had defeated the nasty trolls and sent them crying home to their mummies," Nesmay grinned wickedly. "They flew off to a green jungle, where there was a fiery mountain and a great green dragon that lived there. The dragon tried to eat the princess . . ."
Taking his cue, Draco quickly Transfigured his robes into his old dragon costume Hermione had made for him years before on Halloween. "Rrrawwr!" He pretended to try and bite Nesmay.
Toria screamed, half-frightened and half in play. "Help! Ahhh! Help!"
The door to the bedroom burst open.
"What in Merlin's name is going on in here?" demanded an irate Severus.
"Daddy! Save me! The dragon's gonna eat me!" Toria shrilled, pointing at Draco.
Severus raised an eyebrow. Then he smirked wickedly. "We'll see about that," he said, then Summoned an extra large pillow from his bedroom.
He walloped Draco hard across the back. "Take that, you evil beast!"
"Dad?" Draco yelped, turning around. "How'd you get here?"
"I walked. I could hear Toria screaming from my office," he answered. "Why are you having a pillow fight in the middle of the day?"
"Uh, it's part of the story," Draco coughed.
"My bedtime story!" chimed in Toria. "Nesmay telled me it. 'Bout a princess an' some trolls, an' Lady Snapdragon that kicked those bad ole trolls behinds like Mama kicked the frost giant's."
"I see. But aren't bedtime stories supposed to make you sleepy?" queried her father, moving to sit beside his youngest.
"Uh . . . not yet, Daddy . . .We gotta kill the bad wizards. Shazam!" Toria pointed a finger at Harry, who pretended to die. Then she spun around, whacking Severus in the head with her pillow.
"Victoria Juliana Snape! Settle down!" Severus ordered sternly. "This is nap time, not a free for all!"
"I never would have guessed," said Sarai, leaning on the doorframe, her green eyes alight with amusement. "Having fun, Sev?"
"Mama!" Toria sprang off the bed and ran to clutch Sarai around the leg. "Daddy ruined my story!"
"I did no such thing," Severus defended. "Get back in bed."
Toria hid her face in Sarai's tunic. "Nooo! I don't wanna take a nap. I wanna play!"
Familiar with this tactic, her mother scooped her up in her arms. "Victoria, it's time for all little girls to go to sleep, so you can grow up big and strong."
"Like you n' Lady Snapdragon?" Victoria asked.
Toria scowled mulishly, looking exactly like a certain potions professor. "But I'm not tired."
"Oh, I think you are. Why don't you lie next to your father and listen to him finish the story?" suggested Sarai, knowing full well her daughter was fighting sleep.
Toria shook her head. "He don't know how it ends, it's Nesmay's story."
"Dad knows how all the stories end," Harry interjected. "Because he's told them all before."
"An' he's the smartest man in the world!" crowed Toria.
Severus looked both proud and uncomfortable.
Draco elbowed Harry and whispered, "She's his daughter, all right. Knows just how to butter him up, the scamp."
Toria let Sarai put her back on the bed and tuck her in. She cuddled next to Severus.
"Little conniver!" her mother chuckled, and kissed the tip of her nose. "I hope this next one isn't such a clever boots." She straightened, putting a hand over her still flat belly.
"Next one?" Nesmay repeated wonderingly.
Draco gasped. "Mum, are you . . .?"
"You mean you're going to have another?" Harry stared at her.
"Sarai, you're expecting? After all this time?" Severus queried, looking dazed.
"Yes. I'm finally pregnant again. This time, it's a single baby. A son."
"How . . . do you know that?" asked her husband.
"Poppy confirmed it," replied Sarai, beaming. "I was going to wait and tell you after supper tonight, but . . . this seemed like a better time. Are you happy, Sev?"
He rose and pulled her into his arms. "Always, love. When are you due?"
"Around November," she answered, then she kissed him.
Severus felt a familiar heat flare within him, and would have kissed his wife for much longer, but a child's innocent giggle interrupted him. He reluctantly drew away, whispering, "Later," into Sarai's pointed ear. Then he turned and addressed his small daughter. "Soon, Toria, you'll have a new baby brother."
"Where? I don't see no baby." Toria said, looking around.
"You mean, you don't see any baby," corrected her father, returning to his previous seat.
"Where is he?"
"He's inside me," Sarai said, sitting down on the bed next to Severus. "He's too little to play with you yet, he needs to grow inside my tummy awhile longer."
Toria looked perplexed. "Why?"
"Because that's how babies grow at first. When he's ready, he'll be born."
"Not for many months."
They all laughed at that statement.
"Before you know it, he'll be causing havoc like this one," Severus said, and tweaked his daughter's nose. The prospect of a new son filled him with delight and a little concern as well. He prayed nothing would happen with this baby. "What story were you telling?" he asked Nesmay.
"Princess Sarina and the flying bed."
"Ah. Now then, hush and listen. After Sarina defeated the dragon, she went home with Lady Snapdragon to rule her kingdom. She married a very smart prince who loved her even when she annoyed him to no end, and they had several clever mischievous children and ruled their kingdom wisely and well. The end."
Toria shifted and yawned. "Tell me another one, Daddy."
"One more. Then you go to sleep." Severus ordered.
Toria nodded. "'kay."
Severus thought for a moment. "Once upon a time, there was a young man named Gwydion, he was the son of the great wizard Merlin, and he fell in love with a fairy princess named Alshiara. To prove that he loved Alshiara beyond measure, he built a beautiful manor for her. It was a very special house, because it dwelled in two worlds, that of Fairy and that of Earth. The house was called Prince Manor."
"Like ours?" Toria murmured, her eyes starting to close.
"Yes. For this is the story of our family, and the manor is where it all began . . ." Severus spoke in a silken whisper, telling the story of Prince Manor to his little daughter. It was a story he would repeat many times as she and her brother grew, instilling in them a love of their home and family, both mortal and fae, who had given them a great gift of magic and longevity. His older children knew the story by heart, but they never tired of hearing it again. They sprawled about his feet, listening to him tell the tale of duty and honor, of epic battles won and lost, darkest sorrow, and love that would last beyond death. Someday they would tell it to their children, and their children's children, so the legend of Prince Manor and its heirs would never be forgotten.
And so we come to the end, at long last, of this tale. I hope you have enjoyed the journey I took you on along with the Snape family. It's been a great pleasure to write this tale and I'm sorry to bring it to a close. Perhaps someday I shall write more, and let you see what else happens with Harry, Draco, Nesmay, Toria, and the new baby, as well as Severus and Sarai. I left a few strings dangling on purpose, in case I want to return someday and tell more stories. Suggestions for new stories in this Au are always welcome! I also have a request, if any artist reads this would you mind making a picture for me of Toria walking to Sev in the Great Hall, it doesn't have to contain anyone save those two, I really want to draw that scene, but I can't draw people. So please, if anyone has time or anything . . . please let me know. You can review me and I will give give you my email. Thanks!
But right now I have other stories I'm working on and trying to finish. Such as Irresistible Chemistry, Stormcaller, Common Interests, Cursed, Apothecary Knows Best, and Out of the Ashes. Please join me on one of those if you'd like, now that this one is finished. I would like to thank all of you who read and reviewed this tale, know that I appreciated all of your comments, they kept me going, even if I couldn't always respond to everyone.
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