35. Leaving Hogwarts
A week later when they went to breakfast on Monday morning there were a lot of nervous students in the Great Hall because it was the first day of the N.E.W.T.'s. Bobbie noticed a lot of the seven years sitting there with their books, trying to get some more studying in and quizzing each other.
Minerva leant over to Severus and said, "Some things never change. Every year the same picture."
"Indeed! If those dunderheads would take it more seriously during the year instead of waiting until the last minute they would have a much easier time," Severus agreed.
"It will be your last time," Minerva mentioned.
"I won't miss it... Well, I will... and I won't, depending on how you look at it. I'll have to admit that I will miss you and Filius and maybe a few others, but I will not miss teaching, even though it hasn't been that bad this year and sometimes even has been fun. I am just ready to do my own thing."
Minerva padded his arm and said, "I understand."
"I trust you found a replacement for me?" he asked.
"I have! Alice Longbottom will do it until next year when her daughter will start going to public school. If the school would have to notify her about something they wouldn't be able to reach her here at Hogwarts."
"What about a mobile phone?" Severus asked.
Minerva sniffed and said, "I can't believe how these small Muggle devices are taking over the Magical World."
"I would never have thought I would be saying this, but Hermione said it best - it definitely beats owl post," Severus admitted.
"I suppose...!" Minerva mused.
Then Severus suddenly had an idea pop into his mind and said, "Why don't we use one of those unused class rooms in the castle for children of people who work here? Have a nanny for the small children and a tutor for the older ones. If Bobbie is staying here as a psychiatrist she most likely will bring our daughter. We already know that Serina has some Nevari powers but we don't know yet if she will be magical. Regardless she will grow up around magic one way or another because of me."
"Yes, and then Alice could bring Cindy...," Minerva mused.
"Another thing to consider is that we are having a lot of older teachers here - no offence, Minerva."
"None taken, but where are you going with this?"
"Pomona has already mentioned that she would like to retire in a few years. Filius isn't the youngest anymore, neither is Professor Figg who is teaching Muggle Studies and I think Professor Binns should be replaced. Let's face it, his class is downright useless. Most students are using his class as a way to catch up on some necessary sleep. Eventually somebody will have to break it to him that he is a ghost."
Minerva sighed, "I know, I know, and the Grey Lady has offered a few times to do that, but we never had anybody else for the job... Still, where are you going with this?"
"I think there will eventually be a lot of younger teachers here who are replacing the old ones and they maybe also have children. They could stay either here with their families or Floo in and out and bring their children."
"I have never thought of this...," Minerva admitted. Then she smiled at Severus and said, "You would have made a magnificent Headmaster, you know that?"
"Well, so far I am still the Deputy, but you will have to appoint someone for that job too."
"I will most likely ask Filius for now."
"Good choice!" Severus said and then got up. "I better get to my classroom. Just think about this idea. I would venture so far as to say that it could simplify some things."
The N.E.W.T.'s were over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. It was Friday, June 18th and the evening of the End-of-Term Feast. Minerva had invited Harry Potter to eat with them since he had been the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher during those times when Severus was otherwise engaged. Harry decided to get there a little early and visit with Severus, Bobbie and their little girl for a while.
When he knocked Severus opened the door in black slacks and a white shirt holding Serina. "Harry, what are you doing here? Is everything okay?"
"Good evening. Minerva has invited me for the Year-end-Feast and I thought I'd stop by before that and see how you're doing. I haven't talked to you since the prison break. I would also like to show you something."
"Well, come in then." Severus said and waved him in.
"You need to let me know if this is an inconvenient time. If you need time to get ready for the feast, I can come back later...," Harry said.
"Bobbie is getting ready while I try to make this little girl tired." He motioned at Serina. "We will leave her with Millie tonight. All I have left to do is throw my robes over what I am already wearing."
"Okay then," Harry said and walked inside waving a folded up piece of parchment and then laying it onto the table.
"What is this?" Severus asked pointing at the parchment.
"You won't like it, but I feel you have a right to know," Harry answered.
They both sat down at the table and Severus conjured up a couple of cups of tea. Then Harry started, "Remember when we were sitting here talking through the night when Bobbie was taken by your cousin?"
"How could I forget?" Severus said with a raised eyebrow and then got back up to lay Serina on her blanket on the floor.
When he sat back down Harry asked, "Do you remember when you were wondering how the Marauders always found you when they needed someone to pester?"
"Yes! Go on...!" Severus said, a little suspicious of what was coming.
"I think I know. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier. Last week I found this again in one of my old school robes." Harry placed the folded up parchment on the table and tapped it with his wand. To Severus's amazement a picture of Hogwarts and some writing on the front showed up saying, Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot & Prongs are proud to present the Marauder's Map.
It took Severus a little while before recognition set in. "Isn't that the piece of parchment that I found on you, and Lupin bagged it in your - what was it? - your third year? I thought he told me he was taking it away from you."
"He did, until he had to leave the school. He then gave it back to me," Harry replied.
"So these were the names they had given themselves. I remember Lupin calling Black 'Padfoot' during an order meeting."
"Yes! They were all Animagi, aside from Remus."
"I remember this parchment making fun of me when I asked it to reveal its purpose," Severus stated.
"Well, that isn't all it can do," Harry said with a side glance at Severus while he opened the parchment to its full size and then tapped it again with his wand and said, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!"
The outline of Hogwarts with all the hallways, classrooms and floors appeared and then there were a bunch of footprints moving around and then Severus noticed names. When he recognized the area named 'Snape quarters' he saw Bobbie's name inside their bedroom and the names 'Serina Snape', 'Harry Potter' and 'Professor Snape' inside the sitting room."
Severus looked up at Harry and asked, "Where did you get this?"
"The twins gave it to me when they left school. They said they didn't need it anymore. Where they got it and how they figured out how to open it, is anyone's guess."
Severus again looked at the map and said, "Everyone is on there... Merlin! How did they get that?"
"Sirius told me they made it. He said it took them a long time and many spells and a lot of trials and errors."
Severus shook his head and said, "Yes, that will definitely do it! If they needed a punching bag they only had to check this..."
"I'm sorry! For what it is worth, I didn't think it was right and I told Sirius so," Harry said.
Severus again shook his head and sighed, "It is the past. I have somewhat made peace with it, especially when I saw them in that foggy Kings Cross Station after Voldemort's snake almost killed me." He pointed at his name on the map and said, "Everyone is dead. I am still here. Even if I would still hold ill will against them, I could say that I have the last laugh..."
Harry looked at Severus with a small grin and said, "Yes, you could definitely say that."
"It still won't change anything and I like where I am today. I wouldn't change anything if it would bring me to where I am right now."
"I am glad to hear that," Harry said with a satisfied nod. Then he said, "For a while I thought the map was faulty. When Sirius escaped Azkaban I saw the name Peter Pettigrew on the map even though he was supposed to be dead, and even worse I traced the name through the hallway where it appeared and walked right by it without seeing him."
"Because he was in his Animagus form...," Severus guessed.
"Yes. I had mentioned it to Remus and he figured it out. That is when he suspected that Sirius was innocent and Pettigrew was the traitor."
"Why are you showing me this map now?" Severus wanted to know.
"A couple of reasons. Like I have said earlier; I think you have a right to know about how they always found you. I also think it is a valuable tool and should be here in Hogwarts just in case something unforeseen happens," Harry said and then added, "I tracked Draco with it because I knew he was up to something... That was the time he was messing with those vanishing cabinets. He kept disappearing off the map until I figured out he was going into the Room of Requirement and you can't track anyone there."
Severus sat there thinking, nodding slowly and then Harry chuckled and said, "Times sure change. Who would have known that Draco and I are ending up being amicable with each other? He was the reason why I ended up in Gryffindor and not in Slytherin like the Sorting Hat had in mind."
Severus looked at Harry and asked, "You what?"
"It happened on the train. Draco was really nasty to Ron and I just knew I didn't want to be in the same house as him."
Severus looked at Harry a little longer while his face went from puzzled to amusement and suddenly he started laughing, which made Harry say, "Yeah, could you have imagined me being in your house?"
Severus said, "While I agree that this would have been a very awkward situation, the weird thing is that the Sorting Hat was going to stuff me into Gryffindor and I refused because I had a run-in with Black and your father on the train before I came to Hogwarts."
This time it was Harry's turn to laugh and Severus, thinking some more about it shook his head and joined back in. That was how Bobbie found the two of them when she came all dressed up for the Feast. She looked from one to the other and said, "Some time you guys have to let me in on the joke. Whatever it was must have been really funny." She looked at her watch and said, "Unfortunately it is time to go."
She then picked up Serina who had fallen asleep after playing catch with Benton's tail and said, "Thank goodness she seems to be okay now. She was a little fussy in the afternoon. I think she is starting teething."
"She seemed to be fine with me," Severus said while Harry put a 'Mischief Managed' onto the Marauders map and folded it up.
"I have let Millie know just in case. She said she knows what to do when babies are teething."
"Good, maybe I need to go through my potions books and see if I can find something for that. We can't bother Millie every time," he said to Bobbie and then he turned back to Harry and said, "You should take that map to Minerva. Knowing what someone with a grudge could do with it I think it should be detained, but it would be too valuable to destroy it. It could help with finding students who are lost or hiding because of whatever reason."
They got up and Severus helped Bobbie into her overcoat and he put on his outer robes and then the three of them walked to the Great Hall.
When they arrived they walked into a sea of blue and bronze, the colours of Ravenclaw who had won the house cup. When everyone was accounted for Minerva got up and began her speech. She talked about how proud she was of everyone, how people from different houses had learned to be friends and that even though Ravenclaw had won the house cup it was almost impossible to tell without the numbers on the bottom of the hour glasses which house had won, because it had been so close.
Before Minerva got the feast started she looked at all the tables and saw that each student still sat at their respective table. She smiled and said, "I think I can speak for everyone here at the teachers' table that it would be a far more enjoyable meal for everyone if they would be able to sit with their friends instead of the table which belongs with their house. I know some of you have made friends with students from other houses, why don't we make all the tables neutral and everyone can sit with their friends?"
She waved her wand and all the house colors changed to orange and purple, which were two colors that weren't associated with any of the houses. Then she encouraged the children to find their friends and sit with them. The first and second years were quick to make good use of the offer. When everyone had their seats she said, "Now enjoy your meal!"
Severus looked at the sea of happy chatter and giggles and thought to himself how much this would have annoyed him less than two years ago. Yes, he still liked his peace and quiet but there was nothing wrong with being around happy children once in a while. Times sure had changed. He squeezed Bobbie's hand under the table and smiled at her.
Shortly before the feast wound down Severus asked Harry, who sat next to him, "So, since you are here already, are you taking Miss Weasley home tonight?"
"No. We had talked about it and decided it wouldn't be right, just because we are dating. As long as she is still a student and that will end tomorrow and not tonight, she should obey the school rules and take the train home tomorrow. It will also give her some time to say a proper goodbye to her friends."
"Good choice!" Severus replied. "When you see her before you are leaving tonight, tell her that my wife and I expect her to call us by our given names when we see her again after school. It wouldn't be right if you are allowed to do so and she isn't," Severus jested.
Harry laughed and said, "I will make sure I pass it on."
As soon as the students had left the school next morning to file into the compartments on the Hogwarts Express and make their journey home for the holidays, or in case of the seventh years, for the last time, Severus and Bobbie slowly started to empty their quarters of their belongings and move most of them to Prince Manor. Some folks had already started to call the grand old mansion 'Snape Manor' as soon as they heard that it had changed hands, but Severus still couldn't bring himself to call it that. For him it was still Prince Manor or just 'the Manor'.
He moved all of his ingredients to his much larger potion lab in the dungeons of the Manor. Horace Slughorn would be occupying Severus's old lab to brew the potions for the infirmary which would be more convenient for him than using the school lab. At least most of them he would be brewing. There were a few tricky ones which Severus had agreed he would still be making. Bobbie, who would work a couple of days a week at Hogwarts to council students or to help Poppy, would let him know what and when they were needed.
They had spent a few nights here and there at the Manor on the weekends but now they were moving in and would use the cottage only on the weekend. Severus had gotten a little more relaxed about spending time at the large mansion but he still wasn't convinced that it was the right thing to take up permanent residence there. For him the cottage was still his home. Unfortunately it was much more convenient to stay close to his lab especially if an idea for a potion would pop into his mind in the middle of the night, as had happened many times before, while they lived at Hogwarts.
They were finished with moving their belongings shortly before dinner time and Minerva, who had come by to see how things were progressing said, "Why don't you eat here instead of running off now. It would make things much easier. You wouldn't have to think about what to get for dinner and we all could have one more meal together and then say our goodbyes."
"Well, it isn't as if we are gone from this world. Bobbie still works here Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I hope you won't mind if I show up once in a while for a little visit," Severus said with a mischievous smile and then added, "But I agree with you. It would be nice for old times sake."
"Well, it is settled then!" Minerva stated.
"I also would like to talk to you about the Floo. If it would be possible to disconnect the cottage and the Manor from the dungeons, but leave both of them open with the infirmary so Bobbie could still use it to go to and from work, and I can take finished potions to the infirmary," Severus said.
"Of course!" Minerva said. "That will be no problem at all."
"Thank you Minerva. That will be a big help." He then looked around and said, "If you don't mind I will do one last walk-through in the lab and see if I have everything."
"Go ahead," Minerva said, "my guess would be that Bobbie would like to do the same inside these quarters. I will see you both in a little while." She nodded and just before she walked out of the door she asked, "Where is Serina?"
"She is already at the Manor and so are the dogs. Millie and Winky are taking care of them. It was just easier for us to get everything settled without having to work around them," Bobbie answered.
"I understand!" she said and then proceeded on her way to the Great Hall.
After the last check of their rooms and right before they walked out of there Bobbie took Severus's hand and said, "This was a nice place." She then touched the wall and said to the castle, "Thank you for making this place a true home for us."
Severus smiled at Bobbie and then said, "Yes, the castle was good to us, especially to me. I could have never gone through everything if she wouldn't have made it so that you and I could be together." He took Bobbie into his arms and said, "I will never understand what you are seeing in me and why you want to be with me, but I am grateful for it every day." He kissed her gently and stroked her hair before taking her hand and first kissing her palm and then leading her out of the door of their former home for the last time.
They had a relaxing meal with the staff in the teachers' lounge and before they left for the Manor everyone wished Severus well on his new endeavor. He was surprised that he felt a small pang of regret that he was leaving these people behind who had somehow become his friends in the last year and a half. Then he remembered his own words, it isn't as if we are gone from this world, and it made him feel a little better about his decision.
When they arrived at the Manor they first checked in on Serina who was fast asleep with the dogs lying at the foot of her crib, as if they were guarding her. Bobbie patted their heads and told them they were good dogs. Then they got up and followed Severus and Bobbie into the living room where they plopped down on their dog beds next to one of the windows.
Severus took Bobbie's hand and said, "Come, let us go up to the tower for a little while. It is a beautiful night and we can relax on the platform for a little while and watch the sunset."
"That is a wonderful idea," Bobbie agreed. They told Winky to keep an eye on Serina, just in case she would wake up, and then they took the dogs with them to the tower. They stood next to the wall that surrounded the platform, breathed in the fresh air and nursed their cups of pumpkin juice they had taken with them, while watching the sky turning from orange to red and then purple.
Severus had walked up behind Bobbie and folded her into is arms and kissed the top of her head. "You know that I wish for Grandmother to still be here, but I guess this is the second best thing. With this place I at least have something to remember her by. It is almost as if she is still with us."
"I can still feel her. I told you about my grandfather being able to communicate with people who have passed. I never had this ability and I probably never will, but I still have this feeling... It is hard to explain."
"I think I'm beginning to understand...," Severus said and then thought about something. "What about Albus. Did your grandfather even need that portrait to converse with him?"
"It isn't that he can see those people clearly. He loved seeing Albus in that portrait moving and looking the way he had been."
"I see...!" Severus said quietly.
"Speaking of Grandfather - he told me in our last phone call how proud he is of you," Bobbie said.
"I sure hope I don't disappoint him..., now that I'm basically unemployed," he whispered.
"Oh Severus. You already have done more in the last year than what most people are doing in a lifetime. We could live very comfortable with what you have accomplished already, but I am sure you will do a lot more wonderful things in the future."
Severus turned her to him and said, "You have always been more confident in my abilities than I have myself. I have no idea how I deserve you in my life."
She cradled his face and lovingly traced the shape of his brows with the pads of her thumbs while looking deeply into his onyx eyes and said, "You are the most deserving person I know." Then she kissed him and said, "Let's look in on our daughter and then I want you to make love to me."
"There is nothing I would like to do more...!" he quietly said.
A/N: Okay, this is it! I have rewritten the ending of this chapter a few times so it could stand as an ending for the story but it would also be easy to continue with a third part in the series if I ever get around doing so. For the last few weeks real life has caught up with me full force and I have no idea if I will be able to continue and when.
I hope everyone enjoyed this fanfiction and drop me a review if you did! I thank all of you readers for hanging in there. Love you guys!