“Sure, you can handle another Weasley-Potter?“ Harry asked and beamed like a madman and even Ginny managed a watery smile – postnatal depression had hit her hard this time.
Hermione looked at her two best friends and hugged Ginny: “Of course we can! You may produce six more kids and we’d be fine!” Her gaze traveled to James, two and a half years old, sitting on the floor and staring up to her with huge green eyes. With a casual flick of her wrist she made several butterflies appear which circled the infant before they vanished in a shower of sparks. James squealed with delight.
Ron watched Hermione with admiration in his eyes and turned to his best man to be: “So, spit it out, what’s the name of the latest addition to the family?”
Ginny looked a bit worried but Harry put an arm around her shoulders and answered: “Albus Severus Potter” just as if he wanted to name him Ben.
Ron gaped and Hermione smiled – her best friend really seemed to have grown up.
“Okay, now that you finished fooling around – what’s the name?” Ron asked again.
Calmly Harry replied: “Albus Severus Potter”
Ron finally reacted – loudly and not very grown up: “Honestly?! You simply can’t name a kid after that bastard! Remember what he has done to us!”
Harry shrugged: “Well, that’s exactly the point. I do remember what he has done!”
The color of Ron’s face turned an ugly shade of green and he screeched: “You name him after the greasy git of the dungeons, after the tormentor of our school days, after the slimy spy whose loyalties were never ever clear! You just can’t!”
Harry and Ginny took it calmly but something in Hermione snapped. She turned to her future husband and her angry look hit him like a force of its own.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley. Thank Merlin every day on your knees that he lays in St Mungo’s in coma or I wouldn’t be here and rest assured that I wouldn’t be betrothed to you!”
With these words she turned to Harry and declared: “I will be godmother of the child. Forget Ron and his childish behavior.”
She took a struggled breath and started the incantation which would make her unbreakably responsible for the child.
The alarm in ward 53 in St Mungo’s Hospital went off in a shrill tone.
Severus Snape winced and swung his legs out of bed. With a flicker of his wand he was fully dressed and out of the door before the nurse even reached the corridor.
Brow furrowed in concentration Snape vanished to rematerialize in Spinner’s End. Without much ado he collapsed onto a moth-eaten couch which made a not very trustworthy noise beneath his weight.
He brought a shaky hand to his face in order to brush the black hair out of his forehead and then he started concentrating on the tugging in his chest without acting on it yet.
Nearly 15 years ago Voldemort had tried to get rid of him but one of Voldemort’s greatest weaknesses was the simple fact that he was vain and always believed that he was the only one capable of planning, masterful planning to be precise.
Snape had played his role almost too well. He had whined to find Harry Potter so that all around him got the impression that he wanted to save his own life, he had acted out the horror and pain of Nagini’s bite and fallen on the dirty floor a seemingly dying man. In fact he hadn’t felt anything at all. Before the last battle began, he had drugged himself beyond feeling. There was no fright, no pain and certainly no panic left.
So when they found him lifeless he half expected them to bury him alive but the always optimistic and clever Hermione Granger used an old Muggle trick to see whether he was still alive. She simply put a mirror to his mouth and his breath fogged the glass which was indeed the only way to find out if he was still alive.
So he ended up in St Mungo, unconscious and in deep coma. And there he waited, year after year in his artificial stupor, registering everything around him but the final part of the charm wouldn’t be triggered.
The second part of his potion wouldn’t work, there was no one left in this world who would acknowledge what he had done. Minerva would know and appreciate it but she would not voice it, she was just a too private person for outbursts of emotional loyalty. Dumbledore would have done everything to clear his name but he was dead.
The Malfoys were lucky that their money bought them their way back into society. They had enough trouble without trying to rescue a forgotten man in St Mungo.
Potter, well, did he really count on Potter? He didn’t know but he thought rather not.
And that was his mental list of savers and after 15 years he had resigned. Day after day he lay in his bed, not able to move and he hoped that someone would have mercy and just kill him painlessly. Perhaps a nurse too tired of looking at his still form, perhaps an old enemy, but the world had forgotten about Severus Snape – up to this day.
He wondered what had happened. And he wondered if he was brave enough to find out. But then he thought of Dumbledore’s words: “Maybe we sort too early” he had said to him years ago. So there was some Gryffindor part in him after all. And after 15 lifeless years he was fed up with being careful and considerate. His body had not aged a single day and life was out there calling his name louder and louder every minute.
So without making the effort to stand up, Snape closed his eyes once more, concentrated on the tugging in his chest and let it lead him to the source of the unexpected but very welcomed acknowledgement.
The process of baptism was finished and Hermione was godmother of Albus Severus Potter. Her smile was a bit strained but she sat down with Harry and Ginny, young James on her lap and talked seemingly easily to Arthur Weasley who was kind enough not to mention the behavior of his youngest son and his dramatic way of leaving.
No one except Ginny had noticed that Hermione had not reacted to any of the accusation Ron had thrown at her. After the ritual – which was very similar to an unbreakable vow – he had screamed and ranted like a madman:
“You defend this... this... this... person. You kinky whore!”
His speech lasted for several minutes and Hermione went stiff and mute. She hadn’t said a word, she just turned on her heel and with a complicated movement of her wand a few bags appeared in front of her, followed by several boxes which looked heavy and as little James lifted a lid Ginny got a glimpse of neatly stacked books. Hermione left Ron without one more word.
The assembled party was not too happy but they all tried not to laugh too artificially and not get too drunk. So they were sober enough to hear the resounding thunder which announced the fulfillment of a powerful charm. Several confused looks were exchanged but then the old habits awoke and witches and wizards alike jumped up, cast shielding charms and diagnosing spells to find out what had happened.
Amid all this fuss Severus Snape appeared in their midst unnoticed and he calmly helped himself to a strong coffee and a piece of apple tart.
So when after a quarter of an hour everything settled down again, one more seat was occupied by a Severus Snape looking very much alive, sane and well.
Hell broke loose. The surprised screams and shouts hit the oversensitive ears of the ex-spy. His eyes travelled nervously from one person to the other and finally found Hermione’s. A smile slowly spread across her face but then a very grown-up and somber looking Harry Potter appeared in his view, held his hand out to him and said:
“May your magic flower and be very welcomed, sir, to the baptism of my second son Albus Severus. I would be honored indeed if you agree being the godfather of the boy.”
Snape did not even try to hide his satisfied smile. The young Potter had not only learned some good old magical manners as his traditional greeting suggested but he was the one who had released him from his spell.
Graciously he bowed his head in acceptance and the ritual was performed once more.
The magical community seemed as if they had learned a lot since the final battle. After the magic was done one after the other left until only Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Snape and the two boys were left behind.
And Snape began talking out of his own will, telling them his story after Nagini’s bite. He did not even forget to thank Hermione for thinking of the old trick with the mirror. His three ex-students were pleasantly surprised as to what extent the grumpy potion master had changed. He saw their confused looks and a small smile appeared on his normally strict face.
“Fifteen years are much time to think about what to alter in his own behavior in order to make life more worthwhile. Always fearing the alternative of never waking up can change a man.” Snape’s whole manners were the opposite of his usual self and especially Harry and Ginny had to get used to his new self.
Hermione, however, sat next to him in a completely relaxed way, joked and laughed with him and he felt that not only the name of Harry’s youngest son had broken the spell. There had to be something else which had shattered the magical bonds the potion had put around his body.
When all questions from Harry and Ginny were answered he looked at the three young magi and asked quietly: “So, you decided to name your son after Albus and me but what else did happen?”
His skills as spy were not so lame that he didn’t notice the uneasy glances the couple exchanged. But Hermione broke the ensuing silence: “Ron threw a tantrum because of the name and I … well…” She searched for words and broke off.
Hermione turned a charming deep scarlet and looked at Harry for help but the young wizard just shrugged and Severus grinned: “You what? Declared your undying love for me?” Hermione stared at her former teacher in horror and Ginny gasped: “How did you know?”
Confusion swept over Snape’s face as he, too, looked at Harry: “What? It was only a joke!” but Harry shook his head: “No, sir, it was the truth. That’s what Hermione did. She said that Ron was lucky you were in coma. Otherwise she wouldn’t be betrothed to him.”
Snape’s gaze traveled from Harry to Hermione who sat hot and uncomfortable next to him studying the table surface as if it held all the secrets of the universe. She refused to look at him, so he extended his hand and reached for her chin. Slowly and carefully he rose and turned her head.
Harry exchanged an amused look with Ginny and they both left the table silently to leave Snape and Hermione alone.
If possible Hermione blushed even deeper. A wide smile appeared on Severus’ face. Although they were alone he only murmured: “You know, I always noticed the look in your eye when you watched me.”
Hermione buried her face in her hand and she whispered through her fingers: “Is there any chance you end this shameful conversation?”
Severus laughed and Hermione reemerged behind her hands and stared at him in wonder. His voice was even deeper and richer when he laughed.
“You can’t deny that you want me!” Severus exclaimed. Hermione sighed and answered: “I wouldn’t dare. You are a far too good legilimens.”
Severus grinned a wicked grin, leaned in close and whispered: “A pity that you haven’t mastered this art or you would know that I want you just as much.”
“Stop fooling around!” Hermione snapped and Severus nodded. Before she could move another muscle he gathered her up in his arms and kissed her.
Hermione gasped as he broke the kiss and he smiled softly at her: “Be sure, I’ll teach you to read my mind with no effort at all.”