Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by Alexis.Danaan

Part 15 of 26

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5 months:

Hermione pressed her fingers to her temples and wondered, not for the first time, if returning to work was the brightest idea she'd ever had.

Papers were strewn across her desk and a large, wobbly pile of books on the floor next to her was slowly climbing higher than her head as she sat. She had spare pieces of parchment everywhere with little scribbles, reminders to do something, or look something up, most of them stuck between the pages of the books that she had piled next to her. On her other side, Sebastian slept peacefully in his travel carrier.

Surprisingly, it wasn't bringing Sebastian to work that stressed her out the most. He was surprisingly well behaved for the most part and when he did cry she merely had to erect a Silencing Charm around her desk area until she could calm him down. Most of her co-workers didn't mind anyway, since the majority of them were only in the office to file their paperwork; they hated that task with a vengeance so the prospect of entertaining a baby was far more enticing to them. Sebastian tolerated most of them though he didn't like to be held by any of them. Hermione discovered that having mostly been held by her, Severus, Harry or Lavender for the past five months, he had become accustomed to them only. The first time she handed him off to Kingsley Sebastian had burst into shrieks of outrage, startling the poor man, and reached desperately for his mother. A few more attempts with others had proved just as futile and so the Aurors resigned themselves to greeting him either from his carrier or the safety of his mother's arms. He didn't mind them then and would grace them with a gummy smile.

No, it wasn't Sebastian that was a bother. It was all the bloody reporters in the Atrium.

"Just what the heck is so interesting about a little baby?" Hermione asked herself bitterly, glaring at the paperwork on her desk as if it were the source of all her problems. It wasn't. Her desk always looked like a riot had occurred on it; she functioned best amongst carefully controlled chaos.

The words in front of her swam as her eyes protested staring for so long without blinking and Hermione marked her page, closing the book with a sigh.

"Nothing," she muttered to herself. "There is nothing terribly interesting about my baby."

And yet, the reporters would not leave her alone. She had been back at work for a grand total of three days and already she had to Floo in through Kingsley's office fireplace just to avoid the crush of people trying to talk to her or snap her picture in the Atrium. They all wanted to hear about Sebastian, to see him, to ask her about Severus and their future, whether or not they were in a relationship or if there was a wedding in sight. She had heard all of it and more yelled at her by the end of her first day when it had leaked out that Hermione was back at work. When she had tried to leave through the usual route, she had been bombarded and barely managed to ward Sebastian's carrier against the ash of the Floo before she had to make her escape.

"Nosy bastar—" Hermione let the word die on her lips and wrinkled her nose. That was a habit she really had to break, especially since she rode Harry about it.

With another sigh, Hermione packed up what she had accomplished and made copies of her preliminary notes for the case she was currently working on. She wouldn't be a field Auror again for quite some time, not until Sebastian was weaned and ready for a sitter, but they had plenty of paperwork to keep her busy in the mean time. If Harry had his way, however, she would never enter the field again. She grunted irritably at the thought and folded her separate reports into inter office memos that would probably not be received until the next morning before cleaning up a bit and picking up a sleeping Sebastian gently.

Feeling drained, Hermione made her way to Kingsley's office where she knew he would still be. He didn't have to wait for her, he had given her access to his office for the express use of his Floo, but the man always seemed to be working. She often wondered if it was because he felt the need, or if it was because it was a better alternative to whatever awaited him at home. She didn't even know if he was with someone, he wore no band on his hand, but that didn't necessarily mean anything—look at her and Severus.

"Hey Kings," Hermione said, pushing open his office door.

"Ah," he looked up from his parchment covered desk and smiled at her. "Hermione. Going home?"

"To Severus' shop first," she said, "but then home, yes."

"You look tired," he observed, setting his quill in an ink pot.

"I'm exhausted," she admitted. "But I expected that. It's going to be a while before I feel myself again, I think. Perhaps when Prince Charming here starts sleeping through the night," she said, lifting Sebastian's carrier a bit to indicate the sleeping babe.

Kingsley's eyes drifted down to the baby for a moment, nodding thoughtfully. "There's something I wanted to talk to you about."

"Uh oh," Hermione said, putting Sebastian down. "That sounds promising."

Kingsley grinned slightly. "Don't worry yourself. I'm just concerned about the stress that these reporters are putting on you. I asked the Minister to have them removed from the premises but they argued some bollocks about freedom of the press in the public domain," Kingsley snorted and shook his head. "I didn't realize the Ministry was public domain but Scrimgour doesn't want to piss them off too much so he won't give them the boot from the Atrium."

"I'm sorry," Hermione said. "I really am. I didn't think they'd care so much. I mean, it's not like I've got the next Boy-Who-Lived!"

"In a way, your little man is just as interesting to them," Kingsley said with a shrug. "Think about it, you in your own right are famous in our world not just for your role in the Second War but also for your intelligence and power." Hermione blushed slightly and shrugged. Part of her revelled in people acknowledging her merits, the other part of her was horribly embarrassed at the attention.

"Severus is also famous, or perhaps infamous," Kingsley continued. "Almost everyone has a specific idea about him in their minds and even if they think him a villain or a hero, most of them don't think he's capable of loving. I daresay he's cultivated that image over the years. To suddenly find out that he's not only fathered a child, but to have done so with you? Can't you see how this would fascinate them?"

Hermione shrugged. "Yes and no, but it's been months Kingsley! Aren't they over it by now?"

"Are they over Harry?" he countered with a pointed look. It was a rhetorical question. No, they were not, and both of them knew it. "If it makes you feel any better, I firmly believe that they would be all over you even if you and Severus had gotten married first and had children second."

"I don't even know if marriage is in the cards for us Kings," Hermione admitted softly, dropping into the chair across from his desk.

Kingsley grinned wryly. "I'm not surprised, to be honest."

"You're not going to lecture me on that?" Hermione lifted a disbelieving eyebrow.

"You wouldn't believe how much you look like him when you do that," the older man chuckled and shook his head. "And no, I'm not going to. I wasn't raised in the Wizarding world either, you know."

Hermione's face betrayed her shock. "Actually, I didn't. I always just assumed you had."

"You're one of the few people who doesn't think about blood status, Hermione, even now. Most others, especially those who have been raised in our world, look for it even if it's an unconscious gesture." He shrugged lightly and leaned back in his chair, making it squeak a bit. "It gets harder to tell as we get older, as we assimilate, but when we're young...well, I'm sure you remember."

"Of course," Hermione nodded.

"I would..." Kingsley began and hesitated a bit, looking at her warily. "I don't want to offend, Hermione, but as someone who has known you for a long time I must say that I do hope that you and Severus marry one day. I'd like to see you...happy. Him, too."

Hermione smiled softly, not offended in the least. "And you were born to a generation that, like the Wizarding world, believed that a man ought to marry the woman he gets pregnant."

"There's that too," he agreed easily. "But unlike some other wizards, I don't think it makes you a horrible person to not want that."

Her smile spread to a full out grin. "I know, Kings, and I appreciate your being honest with me. I know you're just...doing that father figure thing."

"I suppose I am," he chuckled. "But we've gotten way off track. I wanted to suggest to you that you give the hounds their blood, an interview, to make them shut up."

Hermione's eyebrows rose. "Do you actually think that would work? Last time we tried that it blew up in our faces."

"Last time you tried...?"

"Harry, during our fourth year," Hermione explained. "He sat for an interview with the other Champions of the Triwizard Tournament and what ended up being printed was the exact opposite of what he had said. I don't want to bother if they're just going to twist my words around."

"Ah," Kingsley nodded. "That's why you get someone credible to do it and have a witness sit in on it so that they can back up your version of events."

Hermione pursed her lips in thought. "I don't know. It's something to consider, that's for sure."

"That's all I want," Kingsley said, standing up and walking around his desk. Hermione stood at the same time and picked up her son. "Just think about it and talk to Severus."

"He won't like it," she promised, walking over to the fireplace and scooping up a handful of powder.

"Probably not," Kingsley agreed. "But perhaps you can talk him around," the other man wiggled his eyebrows at her and making her laugh just as the Floo activated. She managed to gasp out the address of Severus' shop but when she spilled out of the fireplace at Moste Potente Potions she was still laughing and coughing on ash.


She looked up, still grinning and choking, to see George Weasley sitting on a stool in front of Severus' counter. The grin that had lingered on her face fell immediately and her stomach swooped with nerves. She hadn't seen George since before she got pregnant. He had claimed to be busy with the shop in the few times she had seen him after she and Ron had broken up but as the weeks turned into months she got the feeling that he was avoiding her.

"George," she said, aiming for neutral and hoping she pulled it off. "How are you?"

"I'm okay," he said, turning on the stool and smiling genuinely at her. Hermione's eyes darted to Severus for a moment but he merely looked curious as he watched the exchange. "Quite a few changes in the last while, eh?"

"Something like that," she said lightly, walking over to the counter with Sebastian. He was still asleep, despite his Floo trip. Severus conjured a low stool for her and she placed the carrier on it before turning to George.

"Wow, it's're a mother, Hermione," he said softly, his eyes on Sebastian as Severus gently loosened the blanket that had bunched up around his sons face and neck.

"Yeah," Hermione agreed, her demeanour softening as she watched Severus' fingers linger on Sebastian's round cheeks. The baby sighed in his sleep and made sucking motions with his mouth.

"You should have brought him round the shop," George said softly, meeting her gaze evenly.

"I wasn't sure of my welcome, to be honest," Hermione said, squaring her shoulders slightly. "We barely spoke when I ended things with Ron and after...," she trailed off slightly and looked down at her son. Severus was now sitting stiffly and she knew he was uncomfortable with the conversation. "Well, I didn't know where I stood with the Weasley family and I wasn't keen on having another fight."

George nodded, his face serious. It was more common to see him solemn after Fred's death, even his relationship with Angelina hadn't brought back the George of their youth. The silly boy who was constantly pulling pranks had died with his twin.

"Well, I can't speak for the rest of the family," he said, "but I do not let ickle Ronniekins dictate who I do and do not associate with, even though the little wanker would like that very much." He grinned at Hermione's rolled eyes. "And if it means anything, Ron is the only one who has any real objections to your...relationship?" he ended uncertainly, his eyes darting between the two of them.

"If that is your idea of subtlety Mr. Weasley you need to work on it," Severus remarked coolly.

"George is about as subtle as a gun," Hermione remarked dryly, causing the younger wizard to chuckle. "And yes, Severus and I are together. I'm surprised your mum didn't already tell you that."

"Eh," he shrugged. "She told me to butt out and mind my own business."

Severus snorted. "Wise words."

"Not really," George grinned. "When have I ever listened to such pearls of wisdom? If I had, Fred and I wouldn't have come up with half the things we did in school."

"Extendible Ears," Hermione laughed. "Bringing down the secrets of the Order one meeting at a time."

"What?" Severus exclaimed, eyes darting between the two of them. "Tell me you're not serious."

"We're not serious," George intoned dutifully.

"Cheek, Mr. Weasley," Severus glared at him but there was little heat in the look.

"Are you going to take points from me, Professor?" George's grin was positively evil as he glanced at Hermione. "Or perhaps put Hermione in detention? Scrubbing...cauldrons?"

Severus gaped at George for a second before he picked up a notebook on his counter and swiftly smacked the younger man upside the head with it. Hermione burst into laughter as George jumped off his stool, laughing as well.

"Merlin's pants, Snape! That's abuse!" he laughed, standing far enough away that Severus would have to get up and come around the counter to whack him again.

The sound of their banter and antics woke Sebastian who took a quick look at his parents and the stranger before opening his mouth to let out a pitiful cry. Hermione scooped him out of his carrier and felt the wetness at his bottom.

"He needs a changing," she said, holding Sebastian to her chest. "I'll take him into the office."

She let herself into the room behind the counter, barely ten steps away, and could still hear the two men conversing.

"I should hex you," Severus muttered darkly. "I would never have approached Miss—Hermione—as a student."

"Oh, I know that," George said, accompanied by the sound of a stool scraping across stone. "I just like seeing that muscle in your jaw twitch."

"George, you have a death wish," Hermione called with a laugh.

"I'm not afraid of him," George called back. "He won't kill me when he stands to make a fortune off of me!"

"You underestimate the value I place on your business," Severus retorted. "We should, however, get back to that business."

"Too right," George agreed and Hermione smiled.

She made short work of Sebastian's nappy, once more thrilled about being a witch. Severus kept a supply of things for Sebastian in his office for moments like this when she was with him during lunch. Reaching down to the bottom drawer, she grabbed a changing mat and spread it out over the surface. Changing was made a million times easier as she Scourgified the majority of the mess off the linen and then Banished it back to her flat to be washed properly. Another flick of her wand and she had a warm, wet flannel to clean him up with which could also be Banished after it was used. Within minutes she had him wrapped up in a fresh diaper and walked over to the door to close it on the men talking so that she could feed him.

She settled into Severus' chair with Sebastian in her arms and pulled down her top to reveal a nursing bra. She was trying to get Sebastian used to the idea of taking a bottle but she had left those at her desk under wards and Stasis charms; besides, he was better with the breast, less fuss, and she was tired at the moment. The weariness that she had been carrying around for the last few days, compounded by the fact that she had a new baby to care for, seemed to knock her off her feet by the day's end.

"Hey 'Mione—" the door began opening and Hermione made an instinctive move to cover her mostly exposed breast before it abruptly stopped and Severus' back suddenly filled the gap between the door and the frame.

"Mr. Weasley, did it ever occur to you that she may not be totally decent?" Hermione could hear the sneer in his voice even if she could only see the back of his dark head. She grinned and shook her head slightly.

"What would she be prancing about starkers for?" George asked, genuinely confused.

"It's called breast feeding for a reason, George!" Hermione called, pitching her voice just enough to carry.

"Oh. Oh!"

"Yes," Severus remarked dryly. "Oh, indeed."

"Ah, well then," George said and Hermione could practically picture his blush. "Well, I just wanted to say that you should stop by if you have some time, Hermione. I'd really like it if you did, or—or I could stop by your place?"

"That would be nice, George," she said, smiling. He was babbling a bit, a nervous habit she could empathize with, especially when facing Severus. "How about we talk about it later though?"

"Ah, yeah. Sure. Sorry?"

"I'll let you know my decision by tomorrow evening, Mr. Weasley," Severus said, dismissing him.

Hermione heard George's voice again but it was farther away and she couldn't make it out. The bells above the shop door jangled merrily before Severus turned around to face her. His eyes were drawn down to her chest but there was no lust in his eyes.

"I can never seem to get accustomed to that sight," he said softly, moving into the office and pushing the door almost closed.

"No?" she smiled softly. "Why not?"

"I'm not sure myself," he said, walking around his desk and leaning against it so that his knee brushed her thigh. "Perhaps it's the simple domestic feel of it. I am not used to it."

"Yes, well, hopefully he'll learn to take a bottle soon and I won't have to whip them out all the time," she said, watching her son.

Severus was quite while he, too, watched Sebastian in his mother's arms. When the boy was finished Hermione adjusted her clothes and grabbed a small towel to throw over her shoulder.

"Here, let me," Severus said, taking it from her and tossing it over his left shoulder before lifting Sebastian out of her lap and proceeding to burp him. She watched him walk the length of his office, rubbing his sons back as the baby gummed his fist against his father's shoulder.

"So what is it that George needs you for?" she asked conversationally. "He made it sound like a big deal."

"It is, I suppose," Severus said, turning to look at her. "He wants to commission my services on a permanent basis to create several of the potions he uses in his products. It seems that he does not trust his employees to do it properly and he has spread himself thin trying to do everything himself."

"He has?" Hermione asked. She had very little knowledge about what was going on with Weasley Wizard Wheezes.

Severus nodded. "I am speculating, but I do believe that Mr. Weasley's lack of communication with you after the end of your...relationship," his mouth twisted at the words, "with his brother was a result of his trying to do everything that had once been done by two men rather than avoiding you specifically."

Hermione raised her eyebrows, slightly surprised.

"You shouldn't be inclined to think the worst of the people that care about you," Severus said quietly.

Hermione's eyebrows, if possible, lifted even higher and she pinned Severus with a look that spoke volumes about the hypocrisy of that statement.

"Yes, yes," he rolled his eyes. "I know. I am arguably the worst person to advise you on friendships since I have so few of them."

"That's not what I was thinking at all, actually," she said, watching as Sebastian burped onto his father's towel covered shoulder. "I was thinking that it is quite hypocritical of you to tell me to have more faith in people when you do not."

"You and I are different," Severus said shortly, sitting down on the edge of his desk and wiping Sebastian's face.

"Are we?" Hermione countered, standing up to take their son so Severus could Banish the cloth.

Severus barely looked at her as she handed the baby back and he changed the subject.

"What would you like to do for dinner?" he asked, turning towards the office door.

"I don't know," she said, following him after he settled Sebastian in his carrier and headed out of the office to close up. "How do you feel about Muggle pizza?"

"As long as there is no fruit on it this time," he grumbled as he locked the door and set the wards. She watched him and wondered if she should bring up with Kingsley had mentioned to her in his office. He flicked his wand around the front area of the store, cleaning up a bit of the mess that customers had tracked in and she decided that there was no time for the present.

"Kingsley suggested something to me today and I would like your opinion on it," she said, leaning against the counter.

He turned and looked at her to show that he was listening as he continued casting cleaning charms.

"He thinks that I ought to give an interview in the hopes that the reporters will stop following me at work or staking out my flat," she bit her lip, watching him. She did not expect him to react favourably to this idea.

"It is your decision," he shrugged lightly. "If you think it would help matters, by all means."

"That's not an answer," she sighed irritably. Why couldn't he just give her his opinion? "I want to know how you feel about it as well since it would ultimately involve you, not to mention that they will probably want to take pictures of Sebastian."

"Absolutely not," he said with finality. "My son is not an attraction for those gum flapping, gossip mongrels."

"I agree," she said, spreading her hands out in front of her as he stood across the shop from her, looking defiant. "But they're going to get pictures of him eventually, Severus, unless you plan on never letting the boy outside?"

"He goes outside," he said and Hermione wondered if he was being argumentative on purpose.

"What are you going to do when we're walking through Diagon Alley and someone snaps a picture of him?" she asked. "Are you going to hex them for it? It's not illegal, you know. Why not do it on our terms?"

"Why are you in favour of this?" he countered. "I was under the impression you did not want him used to garner attraction."

"Severus," she sighed, closing her eyes briefly. "Don't. Don't start that argument. You know I don't want the attention from the papers any more than you do, less, actually. You're not the one being disparaged as a sexual deviant and unfit mother."

"Of course not," he retorted, eyes glinting with anger. "I'm just the old pervert sleeping with a woman young enough to be his daughter, getting her knocked up and not making an honest witch of her."

"Ugh," Hermione groaned, dropping her forehead to his counter. The light thud of her head was only slightly cushioned by some of the parchment he had there. "If the age difference bothers you that much, Severus, why did you come home with me in the first place?"

She lifted her head, holding down the parchment so it didn't stick, and glared at him.

"I am simply pointing out that you're not the only one who is being attacked," he said, avoiding her question completely.

Hermione heaved a sigh and turned to pick up Sebastian. "I don't know why I bother trying to talk to you. It's clearly a pointless endeavour."

"Where are you going?" he demanded, his voice raised slightly with alarm.

She turned and looked at him curiously. "Where do you think I'm going? Home. I'll see you there when you're done."

He didn't say anything else as she walked to the fireplace on the other side of the shop and Floo'd back to her flat.


A Harry Potter Story
by Alexis.Danaan

Part 15 of 26

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