The usual disclaimers apply.
He just stood for a moment and looked at her with something akin to astonishment – though that expression was only in his eyes – again. And it was only a moment, a second. A second when Hermione felt there was the chance he would actually say yes – a second in which Ophelia's father – and not Severus Snape – stood in front of her.
A second later, however, the man she had seen in school all those years ago was back. The man who sneered, the man who looked down on everyone and everything.
"Good bye, Miss Granger," he said – his sneer as bad as ever and strode through the door, his robes, as she had seen them so often – billowing behind him and she groaned.
What had she been thinking? Asking him out? Insane. Stupid. Of course he would say no. Even if it was only about telling him that she was grateful.
She shook her head and, taking a deep breath, she went into the living room again. Molly was still angrily talking to Ronald. She had no doubt now that she would keep her children. With even Molly against it? And Arthur sitting quietly there?
"Sorry," she said softly and wanted to sit down, when Ronald was glared at her.
"Said good bye to your boyfriend then?"
She sighed. "He is not my boyfriend, Ronald. He's a friend of the family. And his daughter is the best friend of our son Hugo. What's your girlfriend doing?"
"Erm," he began and his eyes grew redder, "no girlfriend any more," he continued – mumbling and earned another glare from Molly – and this time from his father as well.
It was the first time now, that Arthur spoke up. He cleared his throat and sat a little straighter. "I have to admit," he said softly, "that knowing that Hugo is a Squib came as a shock. However, I do believe there is nothing we can do about it now. As such, I think we should, all of us," he threw his wife a pointed look, "try and be reasonable and let the boy grow up as normal as possible. I will welcome him to the Burrow, and as far as I'm concerned, he will remain my grandson, whether he might live in our world or not. I will not allow my grandson to be raised as an outcast. So this will remain secret for the time being. Besides, I do not think it wise for you, Ronald, to raise the children full time. Henrietta told me that you assumed that she will stay home with them and you cannot do that. Not to that girl, nor to your children. I think you should start by being punctual to pick them up on the weekends," he finished with another pointed look at his youngest son and sat back.
"I agree," her father said quietly and nodded. "We should try and give both of them the same chances."
"I could take Ros..."
"Don't finish that," Molly glowered. "Siblings belong together. And children belong to their mother."
The rest – the rest of what they said was more or less lost to Hermione. She had her children. They were safe with her. Molly and Arthur, despite everything, were on her side. Despite everything that Molly had said about her in the past, even those things about Snape – she believed the children were better off with her.
And no, she did not mind Ron picking them up for the weekend. She did not mind at all. She just wanted to make sure, now more than ever, that he did not merely take them because he wanted revenge on her for leaving him. Revenge for the fact that she just could not bring herself to live with him any more. To make her suffer for what she had done. She would not allow that, could not allow that.
And she would still be working towards that law. She would still work, now more than ever, to make sure that Muggles and Squibs and Wizards, halfbloods, purebloods, Muggleborns, had the same rights.
She smiled to herself and leaned back as well, feeling her mother's hand on her arm and flashing her a smile. This entire afternoon had been better than she had anticipated.
"Daddy!" Ophelia yelled and threw herself at him. "You came back!"
He held out his arms, picked her up and held her tight. "Of course I came back, silly little witch," he whispered in her ear and kissed her cheek gently.
He had come back! How had she ever doubted him?
Daddy was not like Mummy. Daddy was leaving her only for an hour (even less, she had asked Mary and she would have to ask Daddy to teach him how to read a clock) and came back and immediately cuddled her. And kissed her. And explained, once more, that he would always come back. And yes, she did trust Daddy but he hadn't even told her he would be leaving just before he did. And that had been bad. Because Mummy had always just put her to Madame Sylvie, had explained that she would be back (but not when) and had often mumbled that she should get rid of the brat and just keep the money. Of course she didn't mean herself with the brat. Maybe someone else. Ophelia never was sure.
And it didn't matter because Daddy only promised things that he kept. An hour and he was back within 45 minutes. That was Daddy. She smiled at him and kissed him on the nose.
"Daddy, we made chocolate cake," she explained conspiratorially. "And Mary said that it's just for us and we can eat it warm."
She felt him holding her very, very tightly to himself, his nose now in her hair, somehow, and she felt him not moving his fingers but just holding her and that was strange. Usually, he always did move a little bit. Fingers or he kissed the top of her head – anything. Not today. Today, he did not move anything.
Maybe – maybe he was just as happy to see her as she was happy to see him. To have Daddy back – even if he had only just left for a short while.
"Love you, Daddy," she whispered softly and from the corner of her eye, she saw Mary grinning.
He only breathed deeply and he made absolutely no move to let her go.
Something definitely had happened. Mary wasn't sure what it was, but him, standing there, hugging Ophelia as if he was seeing her for the first time in years, with his eyes closed and his nose deeply buried in her hair – that was not something he did every day. And she had grown to be an expert on Severus Snape's hugging habits. When he was in a particularly good mood, he tickled the girl – sometimes even with a slight, barely noticeable grin on his face. When he was in a difficult mood, he only hugged her briefly, and usually did not even pick her up. When he was angry, he did not really hug her.
But this clinging to her? This holding on to her? That was new.
"I was a Ravenclaw at Hogwarts," she said softly.
"Daddy says I'm a little Slytherin but he's not sure whether she should send me there at all," Ophelia struggled free from her father's vice-like grip and grinned at her. "Maybe he will teach me at home or find a better school."
"I think you should go to Hogwarts, sweetheart. Show them how brilliant Slytherins can be. My Joe was a Slytherin," she explained fondly. "And there are good people in that House. Very protective of their own," she grinned – had to – at Severus. "And she will give all those Gryffindors a run for their money."
He said nothing, merely stared back at her. No, of course he didn't understand. She didn't quite understand herself. But something had happened wherever he had gone to. And she intended to find that out.
"Ophelia, do you remember that I showed you where the icing is?"
The girl nodded happily. "Can, erm, may I put it on the cake?"
She nodded and wriggled out of Severus's arms and darted into the kitchen, leaving her to stare at her father. And him to glare at her.
"Would you tell me where you went? I could hazard a guess, but..."
He almost huffed (if such a thing were possible) and sat down at the table. "Hazard away, then," he said snarkily and she stared at him.
His feathers were ruffled. Something unexpected had happened. And the only unexpected thing that had happened lately – was that family. The family (she couldn't remember the name) with the boy who was Ophelia's friend (Hugo – she had told her) and the mother who had just divorced. And that Hugo lived with his mother and sister and grandparents and somehow Hugo couldn't do magic (it was easy to make Ophelia tell things). And Severus had mentioned something the other day about having to help stupid Gryffindors who could not solve their own problems. Maybe it was that.
Or that blonde, arrogant wizard who always came into the apothecary when it was empty and bought a vial of Stifforce Potion. Who always looked at Ophelia as if he wanted to cut her throat. He had mentioned him as well. Lucius Malfoy. Oh yes, she remembered him. Was a big regular at – the seedier establishments where no wish remained unfulfilled. Candace Ritter had told her things about him – no, she didn't want to remember and she knew stories about his past, of course. Maybe Severus had gone there – just to make sure that blonde man would not harm Ophelia.
Both as likely as the next. She merely looked at him and smiled gently. And waited. He usually cracked after a while – not used, apparently, to patience. He glared.
"The Grangers. Insufferable family."
"With the Squib-son?"
He nodded quickly.
"And what made you so," she paused, "insecure about that visit?"
No – merely surprised. Hermione Granger wanting to thank him? And as a way of thanking him wanting to take him out to dinner? Ridiculous. Absolutely, definitely, ridiculous. He had not done anything. He had just sat there – quietly. Had not even made a mean comment about foolish Gryffindors. Not a single one.
But she had looked at him oddly. Well, not oddly, maybe that was the wrong word. He wasn't sure how to describe it. It had been definitely different. Very, very different from the way she had usually looked at him.
And it had been – almost – almost – almost tempting. Dinner with Granger? And her, thanking him? What if not that – was revenge? Little, small, sweet revenge?
"She asked me to dinner," he muttered.
"She did what?" Mary grinned. "Asked you to..."
He growled. "Yes."
"And you said no," she sighed.
"No, I didn't say no."
"You just left then," she grinned. "Without saying yes."
He arched his left eyebrow. "Why should I go to dinner with her?"
Mary Kelly smiled gently and took his hand on the table. "Because she might be good for you, Severus. Because you can't only exist for your daughter and brewing potions for dotty old women like me. Because you need to have a life of your own and I love to watch Ophelia. Because this woman might do you good."
He stared – for the – umpteenth time that day at a woman. "You are not serious," he shook his head, got up from the table and went into the kitchen. Ophelia. Even if he was interested in a woman – not that he was – he could never do that to his little witch. Never.