Neville was waiting anxiously near the floo in the lobby for St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries for Hermione.
When she appeared he practically ran to meet her, his white robes flapping behind him. Hermione was abruptly reminded of every mad scientist movie she had ever seen.
The lobby of St. Mungo’s was especially busy today, but the summer holidays had just begun. Children of Hogwarts age just couldn’t resist showing off when they got home.
There was a reason there was a Restriction of Underage Wizardry, she thought as she passed a pair of boys, one with an inflated bottom lip, the other holding up his head because one of his ears was now the size of a small watermelon. Another girl blushed furiously as her mother flicked one of the large pink fairy wings sprouting from her back.
“Your brothers christening, nonetheless,” the girl’s mother fumed. “You nearly did your Aunt Pearl a mischief!”
“What’s so important, Neville?” Hermione asked, her curiosity piqued. A short, balding wizard with a long grey beard walked by them clucking like a chicken. His wife led him by the arm and tried to prevent him from pecking things.
“Come on,” Neville said, his voice low. He took her arm and steered her toward the Department of Experimental Research.
Hermione was startled. Neville was never usually this serious. He looked positively grim.
She walked quickly with him through the long corridors until they got to his usual workplace.
“Hello, Dennis,” Hermione said as she walked into the laboratory. Dennis Creevy was swirling an orange liquid at the bottom of a beaker. It slowly turned sky blue. He smiled and put the beaker down.
“Hello, Hermione,” Dennis asked. “How’s the bat?”
“Hibernating,” Hermione made a face.
“You really need to see this,” Dennis said, motioning to a magical microscope. “It’s incredible.”
Hermione looked through the microscope. Then looked at Dennis impatiently.
“It’s sperm, Dennis,” Hermione said patiently. “Incredible. Groundbreaking, even.”
“Perform an Aura Complex charm on it,” Colin said smugly.
An Aura Complex charm was usually used by Wizarding Law Enforcement to identify sexual offenders. It was a simple charm. Each person in the world carried a trace magical identifier, whether they were magical or not. Casting the charm was a type of color coded magical fingerprint. If an offender left behind something that glowed red and shot off small blue sparks and a suspect was found to have a glowing red aura with small blue sparks they knew they had the culprit. Unless he had a very close twin.
Hermione looked at Colin and preformed the charm at the small glass tray holding the specimen.
Hermione frowned. “What is this?”
“We ripped the DNA from it,” Neville said proudly.
“What?” Hermione said, her voice barely a whisper.
“Ripped the DNA from it,” Dennis said loudly.
“I heard him the first time,” Hermione snapped.
Dennis backed off, both his hands up. “It really was an accident.”
Hermione looked back through the microscope. To the naked eye they looked normal, swimming happily on a tray made specifically for them. In reality they belonged to no one.
“Can you impregnate someone with these?” Hermione asked.
“Funny you should ask,” Neville said, still looking pleased. “The potion works on other things as well, like bits of hair or skin, much like polyjuice potion.”
Hermione saw where this was going, fast. She felt the blood drain from her face.
“And we’ve found a way to reprogram the husk,” Neville said excitedly. “Impregnate DNA back in from another source.”
“I see,” Hermione said weakly.
“So people that were infertile might be able to have children,” Dennis said softly, placing a hand on Hermione’s shoulder.
Right about then her knees folded and she hit the floor in a dead faint.
Neville looked at Dennis, one eyebrow quirked.
“Well, that didn’t go as planned,” Neville said.
“Mobilis corpus,” Dennis said shrugging. Hermione rose in the air with his spell. “At least we’re in a hospital.”
Hermione woke up in a small bed with scratchy sheets. She noticed her clothing had had replaced with a flimsy cotton robe that didn’t seem to close in the back. Dennis and Neville were sitting in chairs nearby. A cloth partition was to her right. Something that smelled foul was on the other side of it.
“What happened?” Hermione asked.
“You fainted,” Dennis said. “I didn’t catch you.”
Hermione felt the lump on the side of her head and winced.
“I’ll call for a healer,” Dennis said, rising. “I think she has a potion for you.”
Neville nodded and Dennis walked through the door into the hallway.
“We need to talk more about this,” Hermione said, shaking her head and motioning to the sheet. Neville nodded.
“We can hold a briefing tomorrow,” Neville said. “How about 8? We can order breakfast in.”
Hermione made a face at Neville. “Hardly breakfast talk, is it?”
“What about 9 then?” Neville said, snickering.
Hermione could hardly believe the boy who once was traumatized with a detention of frog disemboweling now went over autopsy reports during his lunch. For light reading material. The idea churned her stomach.
“Who should be there?” Hermione asked.
“Oh, the ‘In’ crowd,” Neville said, lightly.
“Smashing,” she said, smiling as the healer and Dennis returned. The entire High Council. They had realized its full potential then. Hopefully they were keeping it under lock and key.
Hermione stepped into her kitchen from her fireplace. She had to stay extra late tonight to prepare a list of questions at tomorrow’s briefing and the sun had gone down. She inhaled deeply and the smell of steak filled her nostrils. She smiled. The door to the pantry was open.
She was walking to the icebox when she felt a breeze behind her and suddenly she was enveloped in a black cloak. Arms held her tightly and she sighed.
“Do you ever tire of this game?” Hermione asked, tilting her head back. She saw a chin, a jaw line, and a bit of fang. His fangs were always extended when he woke up. They retracted slowly as he became more awake. They were about halfway out now.
“Never,” a deep purr answered. Severus kissed her forehead. He loosened his grip on her and frowned at the bump on her head.
Hermione sat down at the large wooden kitchen table as Severus checked on dinner. It was just the two of them, but there was a time when this table would be full of people going over plans and plotting against the Death Eaters. It was, after all, originally from the Black family residence.
Hermione told him about Neville insisting she meet him, then about his discovery.
“Severus, do you think it’s too late to start a family?” Hermione asked. Her eyes looked like a cross between mournful and hopeful. She was afraid of the answer.
Severus sat next to Hermione, stunned.
They had been married a
year after the
No one had expected Voldemort to enlist the Vampires, nor force vampirism on unwilling Death Eaters. Snape had been the first to be taken. Malfoy the second. He wasn’t sure who came after that.
Hermione and Snape had paired off a year before the last battle. When Snape was Taken Hermione had come to terms with the fact that she would never have his children. He came to terms with the fact that she would grow old and die and he would be a widower. He would never see his family line go on to regain dignity long lost.
He was still, would always be the Severus she remembered. At this point her age was gaining on his and she wondered what would happen when she was in her 80’s and he still looked 55.
His black hair had begun graying at the temples. His skin was still as sallow as it ever was. To Hermione’s surprise, small things did change. The small age spots winding their way over his forehead and over his hands had faded within a month of his Taking. His skin had smoothed out, although he had kept the small crow’s feet in the corners of his eyes. His hair had become healthier and the nails that once looked a nightmare from handling potion ingredients now looked carefully manicured.
Dumbledore commented that Severus looked as he had never seen sorrow; his heart had never felt pain. He looked a picture of perfect health. The ideal people strive to achieve that so few do. Well, vampirism was one way to do it, Hermione supposed.
Hermione went on to explain how Neville and Dennis had found a way to impregnate sperm with 3rd party DNA.
Severus felt faint. Hermione took one of his cool hands in hers.
“They have no proof it will work with vampires,” Hermione cautioned.
“But it might,” Severus said. If he still had a heartbeat his heart would have been pounding in his chest.
“It might,” Hermione said quietly.
“You find out everything you can at that meeting,” Severus said, sitting up stiffly.
“I plan on it,” Hermione said. Severus kissed her again and rose to retrieve her meal.
Hermione had sat through the meeting with her folder of questions. Neville had eyed it warily and practically panicked as she fired off questions.
“Can someone get impregnated with a ‘ripped’ sperm?” Hermione asked.
“You mean an empty one?” Neville asked. “Now there’s a question. I have no idea.”
“Well, it’s a dangerous question,” Amelia Bones, Minister of Magic said sharply. “It’s a foolproof way for rogue Death Eaters to increase their numbers.”
“Magical cloning,” Hermione said, looking at Neville sadly. Neville looked shocked. Hermione could tell the thought never crossed his mind.
“As of this moment, this experiment is Top Secret: Class A,” Bones said brusquely. Neville looked startled.
“I want all your notes,” Madame Bones said. “Any further research will be supervised by the Department of Mysteries.”
Hermione watched Dennis’ mouth drop open.
“You may continue to be a part of the project, of course,” Bones continued. Dennis closed his mouth. “But you’re going to have to move. Your location is alarmingly insecure.”
She stood up quickly and nodded to a slim blonde witch taking notes. The witch stood and Madame Bones turned to Neville and Dennis.
“We’ll be contacting you shortly. Be prepared to relocate.”
Then the Minister and other important members of the Ministry shuffled out of the chamber.
“Well, I suppose we’re out of pharmaceuticals for good,” Neville said under his breath as the chamber emptied.
“I wonder if we’ll get more pay,” Dennis wondered aloud. Neville shrugged.
Hermione got home earlier in the evening than she expected. Severus was still downstairs. She still had an hour of daylight.
She puttered around doing small things she never seemed to have time to do. She cleaned the dinner dishes that had never gotten cleaned the night before. She refolded the small towels hanging over the handle on the stove. She scrubbed the kitchen table with a stiff brush and rubbed in oil to make it shine.
She was just starting on the kitchen counters when the basement door slid open.
“Good evening,” said Severus, yawning. He looked like a cat. “You’re home early.”
“I can’t tell you anymore about the project,” Hermione blurted out.
“Classified, is it?” Severus asked. Then he stared into her eyes abruptly. She was frozen to the spot.
Severus was already skilled in Occlumancy. Unfortunately, his vampyric talents only enhanced his abilities. She watched the meeting flash before her eyes. Suddenly she regained control of herself. Severus caught her as she stumbled forward.
“Stop that!” she yelled at him.
“Stop what?” Severus said innocently.
“Invasion of privacy,” Hermione spluttered, shoving him away from her. “Violation of the mind!”
“I sneezed and lost control of my abilities,” Severus said silkily. He folded his arms in front of himself.
Hermione stared at him for a moment. Then she began giggling. “You sneezed?”
“It could happen,” Severus said lightly.
“You have to breathe to do that,” Hermione pointed out.
“I still take in air from time to time. I sigh. I yawn,” Severus pointed out.
“Purely from habit,” Hermione snorted as she reached for her cleaning supplies.
“It still happens,” Severus protested. “Why didn’t you use magic for that?”
“I wanted to keep my hands busy,” Hermione said, putting the supplies under the kitchen sink. “Anyway, that wasn’t very nice.”
“I didn’t want to be responsible for your guilty conscience after I made you tell me,” Severus said simply. “Anyway, that didn’t tell me anything I might have guessed.”
Hermione made a face at him. He was right, of course. He may take weeks or months, but he could wear her down. The information wasn’t anything he couldn’t have figured out. When she had first told him it wasn’t classified. She should tell the Minister anyway. Severus was a competent Potions Master, well known in the Ministry. Perhaps she wouldn’t be too angry.
“I am sorry,” Severus said quietly. “I just- children-“
“I know,” Hermione said. I had been something they had fought about before his change. He maintained that he was too old to start a family. That he had enough children to look after at Hogwarts. That he was afraid of what type of father he would be.
After the change, his body was not the only thing to change. He began looking at things differently.
For awhile he was completely self destructive, drinking alcohol although anything besides blood made him violently ill. Walking into burning buildings to save people, then obliviating all the witnesses. The blisters had taken a week to heal. He took to cliff diving, not nessisarily into anything besides trees and shrubberies.
That had annoyed Hermione.
“Could have gotten yourself killed,” she had said as she pulled a sharp shard of broken branch out of his side. It squelched unpleasantly. “Impailing yourself. How romantic.”
That was when he had proposed.
“Yes, idiot,” she had replied as she had put the branch down and wiped her bloody hands down the front of her now soaked jeans.
He had to leave Hogwarts, of course, after his change. He came back for a lecture once a year with the Seventh Years, but didn’t teach any longer.
Now that he had time to think, he regretted some of the decisions he made in the past. One was giving Hermione the child she had wanted. After she had been told of his change she had never mentioned children again. The one time he apologized for it, she had smiled stiffly and insisted there was no use being upset about things they couldn’t undo. Then she had patted him on the knee and had locked herself in the bathroom.
She knew his hearing had been improved, but she had no idea that he heard her tears splashing on the linoleum. Heard her fingers dragging across the tile as she tried not to scream as her emotions flooded over her. He had never spoken of it again.
Now they might have another chance.
“I still don’t think we should get our hopes up,” Hermione said hesitantly. “If it is true.”
Severus drew her into his arms and nuzzled her neck. She felt his teeth prick her slightly. She swooned slightly as the anti-coagulant his teeth secreted induced a slight euphoria.
“Severus,” she tried to push him away, but he picked her up and sat her on the edge of the kitchen table.
“Tiny babies,” he whispered in her ear. “Learning to walk and read and fly on a broom.”
“Not all in one day, I hope,” Hermione said, slightly giggly. She felt something poking the inside of her thigh, through her robes.
“One could assume not,” Severus said, pulling her robes up. She kissed him on the cheek. “No underpants today?”
“It is your turn to do the laundry,” Hermione said hotly. “I have been working late, you know.”
“I shall endeavor to keep track of your under things,” Severus said. She heard his unfastening buckles. She nipped him playfully on his neck. He groaned and she felt him pushing inside her.
“Gods, it’s been too long,” Hermione moaned and tilted her head to one side.
“I’ll say,” Severus said as he sunk his fangs into her neck.
Severus felt Hermione’s legs wrap around him. He felt her pulse in his mouth, through her heart beating against his breast, down her legs and through her arms. He didn’t draw her blood from her, but let it coarse of its own accord into his mouth. When he felt her blood pressure drop slightly he lifted his head from her neck and licked her wounds. They stopped bleeding. In a few hours they would be gone.
He began to move in and out of her. Her eyes were glazed slightly.
“Goodness, it has been a long time,” Severus chuckled down at her. “I remember when you had quite the tolerance built up.”
Hermione smiled faintly at him.
“Fuck me,” she whispered as she reached a hand through his layers of clothing to get to his bare skin.
“It would be my pleasure, my lady,” Severus said as he sucked her bottom lip into his mouth and pricked it with his fangs.