Disclaimer: Nope, nothing is mine (except Ebony)… the Harry Potter-universe belongs completely to J.K. Rowling and all the others she decided to share with (not me, though). I'm not making any money with it, so please don't sue me.
This story has been written as a response to Eirian's "First time I ever saw your face"-challenge at the WIKTT-group. For further details, please refer to the notes at the end of the story.
~ Once again, my utmost thanks to Autumnmist for beta-reading this story and helping me with my English. *hug* ~
1 + 1 = 3
"Mmh?" I answer, not looking up from the Potions essay I'm correcting at the moment.
"Do you think you might have a moment or two for me?"
"Mmh!" I reply, still not looking up.
Honestly, I love her with my heart and soul, but ever since Poppy has told her that she's going to have a child, she's started to eat and drink like a pregnant woman, dress like one, talk like one, act like one and even think like one. In short: she is pregnant through and through, which also means that her moods switch from one nanosecond to the other – from bright sunshine to thunder and rain – and she's developed the strangest desires I've ever heard of, like emptying a complete jar of pickles right after finishing up nearly all of Poppy's chocolate stock or eating cheese fondue with fruits instead of bread. And above all that, she seems to have developed a sixth sense in bothering me exactly then when it annoys me the most. Like now.
"Give me a few more minutes to finish this essay and I'll be with you, okay?" I continue, not wanting to provoke another 'thunder and rain' which usually follows when I don't focus my full attention on her immediately after she asks for it. I still don't raise my head, but out of the corner of my eye I can see her leaning against the doorframe, holding one hand over her swollen abdomen – which has been her usual pose since the fourth month of her pregnancy.
"I meant now, not in a few minutes!" she hisses and I can clearly hear the effort it takes her to keep her voice steady.
"Hermione, please! I've got work to do."
"Oh yeah? And I've got a baby to give birth to!" she replies raggedly.
"Come on! Don't let it sound more urgent than it is. That's what I'm hearing from you for more than a month now – and you know that Poppy has said it will take at least another two weeks until it's time for it." I explain, trying not to sound too annoyed.
"Well, then I guess the baby gives a damn what Poppy has or hasn't said, because it has just decided to throw our plans for the weekend overboard and instead insists on being born right now!"
Her words have barely sunk in when I notice a movement by the doorframe and I look up just in time to see her double over. Without thinking I jump up from the chair and hurry to her side, forgetting the essay on my desk instantly.
"Dearest yourself! And now bring me to Poppy – unless you want me to give birth to our child on your carpet!"
The painful contraction vanishes as fast as it had begun, and Hermione straightens up again. I take her carefully by her arm and lead her to the fireplace in order to take the internal Floo up to the infirmary.
"Where do you think you're leading me?" she asks irritated.
"Well, the Floo's the fastest way to Poppy – or have you got any other idea?"
"I can't bloody concentrate enough to take the Floo and you know exactly well that your fireplace is far too small for us to travel together! I don't want to give birth to the child in Albus' office… or Hagrid's hut!" she answers and holds her abdomen again, as another contraction announces itself.
Convinced that she's right, I lead her to the door instead and start our long journey by foot up to the infirmary, pausing after every flight of steps to let her gain some breath. However, her breathlessness doesn't hinder her from going through the list of possible godfathers for the child and I mentally cringe more and more with every name she mentions.
"What do you think of Harry? Or Ron? Or would you prefer somebody more your age? Like Remus? Or better yet Sirius..." she trails off as another contraction sets her body trembling.
I haven't commented on her choices so far and a little voice in my head warns me not to do so until after birthing. Before she can continue where her monologue had been cut off, I push her gently but decisively up the next flight of stairs.
By the time we reach Poppy's sanctuary Hermione's labour pains have settled to a regular interval of five minutes. I push the door open, dragging the mother of my yet-to–be-born child with me. I use more force than necessary and the door bangs loudly against the wall. At least Poppy now knows that somebody's here for her, and it doesn't take long before she rushes out of her office.
"Severus?" Poppy asks with concern as soon as she sees my worried face, "What's the matter? Is something wrong with..." The rest of her sentence dies away unsaid when Hermione enters, her face still showing the strain of the last contraction.
"So it didn't want to wait any longer, did it?" Poppy states the obvious while she brushes the hair out of Hermione's face.
I hold back a sarcastic reply and decide to nod wordlessly. Pressing her lips together, Poppy guides Hermione to one of the beds and asks her to lie down.
One swish-and-flick of the nurse's wand and Hermione is dressed in a light blue nightgown. I sit down next to Hermione and take her hand in mine. She looks at me with pleading eyes, asking me without words not to leave her side. I feel her shiver, but I can't say for sure whether it's because she's cold, nervous, afraid or all of it at once.
She holds on to my hand as if for dear life. I do not pull back although I'm not the type of person who likes to show his feelings or affection in public. The sudden knowledge that she needs me, even though I can't help her actively, warms my heart and makes my head spin. Damn, I never thought a woman could do that to me – but she does it, over and over again.
The bones of my hand nearly break as she tightens her grip. A soft whimper escapes her mouth and she closes her eyes, trying to shut out the pain that rushes through her body. It is as if I can almost feel her pain, but then again my brain might only playing a trick on me.
I look up to meet Poppy's eyes and she smiles reassuringly. However, I cannot share her confidence: I know that this is only the beginning and the worst part of the birth has yet to come. Hermione continues to squeeze and release my hand while she pants and puffs not unlike the Hogwarts Express when it's ready to leave the station. What a silly comparison!
"You know," she breathes, "we could also ask Neville to be the godfather…"
No, honestly, can't that woman stop talking about possible godfathers? It's as if she's obsessed with this one thought.
"Hermione, don't you think we should focus on more important things at the moment?" I try to interrupt her train of thoughts. "Like: how we should name him? Stephen? Ian?"
"What makes you believe it will be a boy? I'm quite confident it will be a girl and in that case we need to find a female name."
"No, it will be a boy, trust me." I try to convince her.
"And what an earth makes you so sure it will be a boy?"
"All first-borns in my family have been male… and one can see it from the shape of the woman's belly: High belly means girl and low belly means boy." I explain.
She doesn't get the chance to answer, though, because again a contraction requires her full attention.
"Don't be silly!" she utters as soon as she has got enough breath to speak.
All right, maybe speaking isn't doing her any good after all. She really should concentrate more on her breathing – we'll have enough time to quarrel about the boy's name as soon as he is born.
"Let's do it together, okay? Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Hold. Breathe in. Hold…" I try to help her.
"Severus!" she hisses, "shut up!"
I look at her bewildered and she glares back angrily. "Give me a chance, will you? It's also my child!" I defend myself.
"Yeah, of course it is. But I am the one who had to carry its weight nine months. I am the one lying in this blasted bed and I am the one suffering more goddamn pain than I could have ever imagined!" she breaks off and tries to breathe steadily as a her body shakes anew.
Yes, she's definitely furious. "You men think all it takes for you is to join in on the fun part, leave the hard work completely to us women and afterwards you dare to claim 'this is my child'!"
That's a heavy blow – but she might have a point (although I would never admit it).
"It makes me sick, really!" she tries to continue her tirade, but doesn't get very far as another pang strikes her body.
I haven't got anything to add and neither does she want to go further into details, so we remain silent and wait for the child to be born. It's hard for me just to sit here and not be able to do anything to ease her pain, which seems to increase with every passing minute.
"Does it hurt bad?" I try to smooth her frayed nerves.
"What the hell do you think? As if I'm panting and puffing just for fun? As if it's a hobby I could get used to? Honestly, Severus, you men are so ignorant! That must be the most idiotic question I've ever heard!"
"I believe that's enough, Hermione!" I cut her off, feeling quite offended by now.
"No, it isn't!" she hisses, "Please, remind me the next time you want to have a little bit of fun on my account to hex your balls off. Or even better: feed them to the crocomanders Hagrid's looking after at the moment. And if that isn't enough, I'll make a knot in your best piece which you won't be able to unknot in a century!"
I prepare myself for a verbal payback but a stifled giggle interrupts me. Looking up, I see Poppy standing a few meters away, watching our little row with tears of laughter in her eyes. She then shakes her head and mouths 'leave it'.
'How long?' I ask her in the same way, but she just lifts her shoulders and turns around. I hope she is getting one of my analgesic potions for Hermione.
Poppy comes back shortly after, carrying not only said painkiller but also a relaxing elixir. Mixing them together, she hands me the glass with the clear liquid. "You need to relax a bit, Hermione" she explains to both of us, "it's only a light analgesic, but it should help."
I hold the glass while Hermione drinks and as soon as her head hits the pillow again, her eyelids become heavier and heavier. She then smiles weakly at me, her previous words seemingly forgotten.
"You've been sitting here for hours, Severus. Why don't you go and eat something and maybe even try to find some sleep?" Poppy addresses me.
"I can't leave her now!" I reply indignantly.
"It won't go any faster if you stay here, honestly."
"But…" I try to contradict her words, but she interrupts me with her you-know-it-gaze. Why do women always have to be right in nine out of ten cases? And, even worse, I can see in her eyes that she knows that I know that she knows that I know it… Where did this thought come from? Seems like I truly need a time-out.
Leaving the infirmary with one last kiss on Hermione's hot lips, I head to the kitchen to fetch a late diner.
I only manage to eat a few bites, though, before I push the plate away from me. I just can't force myself to eat anything, knowing that a few floors above me Hermione is suffering unimaginable pain – because of me. Before I realize it, I'm on my way up again to the place I left just fifteen minutes ago.
The door is closed, and my hand automatically stretches out to the doorknob, but I pull back immediately. No, I can't go in there just now. I have to wait at least another quarter hour or Poppy will send me away again. Or will she not? My fingers glide over the cold surface of the bronze knob while my head and heart fight about my next actions.
My brain wins, and I let go of the doorknob once more. I start to pace in front of the door – three steps to the left, three steps to the right, one step towards the door and one step back. A muffled scream makes me flinch and I find myself in front of the entrance to the infirmary again. No, not yet. I resume my pacing and try hard not to break the door open as I hear Hermione scream again – louder this time.
I'll go mad if this takes any longer. I know it. Madmadmad.
Why did I let Hermione get pregnant? Why hadn't I been more careful? It could kill her! Or at least it sounds like it could.
I stop dead in my tracks as I nearly walk into something black, standing in my way. Slowly I raise my eyes and look into the face of a sneering Sirius Black, the last person I would have wished to see today.
"Well, Severus," he begins and stops for a moment, as Hermione's cry permeates through the door, "who would have thought that a quick shag against the dungeon wall would result in this?"
That is it, definitely. This has been the last straw. I've tolerated Black's insulting and rude commentaries and actions far too long.
He blinks in surprise, as he suddenly finds himself pressed against the wall, my left forearm across his throat and the tip of my wand threateningly close to his smug, boyish face.
"One more word, Black, only one more word, and you will wish that you'd never been born!" I hiss raggedly.
"Gentlemen, please!" Poppy's voice calls from the door and I instantly let go of the scum with a push. It takes a moment for him to realize that my attention is no longer focussed on him, and he hurries away quickly.
"Come in, she's close." and with these words she turns around, leaving the door open for me. I don't need a second invitation and hurry inside to Hermione.
She's sweating and panting but on the other hand wears a mysterious smile on her lips. "Severus" she breathes and her face contorts and turns bright red from the labour pain that penetrates her body, "she's coming."
I only nod and take her hand in mine, kissing it passionately. I too begin to pant and press in the same rhythm Hermione is following and it takes all my mental effort to not look away from her as she screams anew.
And then… suddenly, she releases the breath I haven't noticed she has been holding, and instead of her screaming, I hear a high whimpering sound coming from a red and slimy little thing in Poppy's arms. She turns away towards a table next to her before I can take a second glance, but only seconds later she steps towards the bed and lays a heap of light green blankets into Hermione's outstretched arms. "Congratulations to your girl." Poppy says smiling and then leaves us alone.
I swallow hard, totally lost for words. My child. Hermione's child. Our child. I look from Hermione to the baby girl in her arms and back to Hermione again, still unable to take it all in. A strange, unknown feeling tingles in my stomach. What is happening to me? What is this? A warmth I've never felt before washes over my body and makes the blood in my ears sing. And then I suddenly understand: it is nothing more or less than love, but ten times stronger than before. This is not just our child – it is the result of our love for each other.
Hermione smiles in a triumphant 'I've-told-you-it-will-be-a-girl' way, but her eyes tell a different story: filled to the brim with love and devotion and I know she feels the same way I do. No boy? Who cares! I've always wanted a daughter anyhow – or at least that's how I feel now.
I stretch out my arms and she lays the child into my hands. How tiny she is. How lightweight she is. How perfect she is. Her head is covered with fine black hair, her unfocussed eyes are a dark blue like the sky early at night and her red mouth is opened in awe. A strange desire overcomes me and I push the blankets aside, wanting to check if everything is really in place. Two arms, two hands and ten tiny fingers. Two legs, two feet and ten tiny toes. Have I counted correctly? I'm not sure and so I touch each of her fingers and toes to recount them. Yes, ten of each. Perfect.
Hermione's giggle brings me back to reality. Yes, I must have been quite an unusual sight: Severus Snape, the most terrifying teacher at Hogwarts, is counting the fingers and toes of a newborn, which he is handling as careful as a raw egg.
"Now that we can hardly call her 'Stephen' or 'Ian'… have you got any other, more suitable ideas?" Hermione jokes and I can't suppress a smile, thankful that her humour has reappeared.
I give the child back to her but don't let go completely, so that our daughter is cradled in both our arms. I haven't thought of a girl's name, to be honest, but glancing only once more at the baby, my mouth forms the name before my brain can catch up. "Ebony."
Hermione beams. "That's lovely. I like it!… Ebony Snape."
Smiling back I first kiss the baby on its forehead and then lean over to kiss Hermione. Ebony Snape. Yes, that sounds just perfect. Perfect like my daughter… and, mind you, also my wife!
"Now that this most important thing is settled," Hermione begins with a wicked expression on her face, "any suggestions for the godfather?"
*** The End ***
Read it? Liked it? Please review… Thanks :-)
----------------------- Notes ------------------------------
Running - 02-10-28 - First time ever
I saw your face
15 December 2002
Length: no limit
Written from SS's point of view – the first time he holds his daughter after her birth. Fic may start any time after the onset of Hermione's labour pains. Can continue however further you wish.
1. Fic should include mention/use/involvement of:
2. a. miracle of life etc (the more clichéd the better)
3. b. a frantic, pacing, mad with worry Sev
4. c. mention of possible godparents
5. d. the quote "who would have thought that a quick shag against the dungeon wall would result in this"
6. Hermione threatening SS with all sorted of Physical harm if he ever touches her again!!!!