A/N: I know that at the end of the last chapter, I said I would be updating more regularly. And I'm sure by now you've noticed that I lied. So. I'm sorry. I have a tendency to lie. And to not update.
But I got Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince yesterday. And finished reading it yesterday, too. And that gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get this updated.
Never fear. There's no spoilers in this chapter. I couldn't exactly fit them in, even if I wanted to.
I will say two things about Book 6:
1. I liked it way better than Book 5
2. Even though I'm ignoring certain occurances. ;)
Even halfway down the hallway, Severus could hear the racket Harry was making in the Hospital Wing. He was obviously awake, and just as obviously very unhappy about being confined. Harry screamed in rage and something shattered. Severus winced in sympathy and held Siobhan a little closer to his chest. Kingsley adjusted his grip on Severus's waist and they slowly limped towards the din.
Albus reached the door two steps ahead of them, and pulled it open. Harry's cries were suddenly much louder, and in Severus's arms, Siobhan jerked awake. Once Kingsley had helped him through the door, Severus pushed away from him and propped himself against the wall so that he had the use of both hands to sooth her.
At the other end of the ward, Madam Pomfery was standing helplessly in front of a heavily warded door, from behind which came the sounds of Harry's fury. The Headmaster approached and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder, speaking to her softly. At his words, the mediwitch quickly turned, her eyes seeking out Severus were he was slumped by the door. The relief in her expression was blatant. She hurried down the ward toward him.
To her credit, she didn't even reach to take Siobhan from him. Instead, she let Severus keep his daughter in his arms. Poppy peered at her carefully and then ran her gaze assessingly over Severus's body, cataloging his visible injuries. Finally she peered into his face.
"Is she alright?"
Severus nodded wearily. Now that he had Siobhan to a place he considered safe, his exhaustion was catching up with him. "Malfoy cut her chest, but the bleeding has stopped. She's okay."
Poppy nodded, "And you?"
Severus's lips twisted wryly, "I feel like I was trampled like a herd of hippogriffs, but it's nothing I haven't experienced before."
The mediwitch obviously wanted to push him to a bed and examine him, but she restrained herself when she saw Severus's gaze shift past her to the warded door.
"He's physically fine. Just a light concussion. And he's very…" she paused, looking for a delicate way to put it before she gave up, "pissed off. I've never seen him like this: he just tore through any wards I put up to keep him here. And he doesn't even have his wand." The awe was rich in her voice as she turned to look at the door too. "I had to get Albus to put up wards to keep him in."
There was crash and Severus and Poppy winced simultaneously. Poppy turned back to Severus. "I think it would be best if you took his daughter into him as soon as possible."
Instead of replying, Severus pushed himself off the wall and started to hobble down the ward. Poppy hovered at his elbow, but made no move to assist him, for which Severus was quietly grateful. "You have twenty minutes before I come to treat your wounds. Hopefully Harry will have calmed down by then."
Severus nodded curtly and, having reached the door, turned to look expectantly at Dumbledore. The old wizard's eyes twinkled as he drew his wand from his sleeve, "Better you than me, my boy."
The wards dissolved, and Severus opened the door and swiftly stepped inside. He pushed the door closed with his heel as he quickly assessed the room. The bed was the only piece of furniture that remained whole. Everything else had obviously been thrown across the room more than once, victims of Harry's rage.
Harry himself was standing in the middle of the room, the remains of a chair held high in one hand. His face was pale, making the bruise on his cheek bone even more ugly, and his hair was the most disheveled Severus had ever seen it. And his eyes… his eyes were wild with anger and fear. Harry stared wide-eyed at Severus for several long seconds before his eyes dropped to their daughter.
Slowly, the hand clutching the broken chair lowered to his side. Harry cleared his throat before opening his mouth, but his voice was still hoarse and barely above a whisper. "Is she okay?"
Severus nodded and – seemingly before the chair had even clattered to the floor – Harry was in front of him, one hand reaching tentatively to caress Siobhan's head. This was apparently all the reassurance Harry needed to break through his rage, because when Severus gently pressed her into his arms, Harry clutched Siobhan to him and collapsed against the other man's chest. Surprised, Severus dropped his hands uselessly to his side. Harry was whispering something, over and over again, and it took Severus a moment to decipher what the litany was: "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou-"
There was a wounded sound, and Severus was surprised to realize that he had been the one to make it. Almost involuntarily, he brought his arms up, meaning to pull Harry against him, but he stopped, unsure. Still whispering his litany, Harry shifted Siobhan to rest against his shoulder, freeing one arm which he wrapped around Severus's chest.
Severus grunted softly and let his arms settle around Harry's back. He bent his head over Siobhan's, his lips almost touching her fine hair, and his cheek pressed against Harry's. He pulled Harry and their daughter tight against him and let his eyes close, just listening to Harry's quiet litany and Siobhan's soft breathing.
It was much more than twenty minutes later. Harry was perched on the bed, Siobhan still clutched to him. Severus was propped against the wall, arms wrapped protectively around his aching chest.
Harry pulled back the blanket that swaddled his daughter, needing to reassure himself that she truly was okay. Fast asleep, she didn't stir at all as Harry stared down at her, his eyes tracing the bloodstains on her forehead, lips and chest. He knew what they signified, and his voice shook with doubt as he questioned, "This is your blood?"
"Yes," Severus was swift to answer, "The spirits had already been summoned for the Naming Ceremony. I completed it."
Harry nodded once, sharply, and the tension born of doubt left his shoulders.
"What is her name?"
Harry repeated it softly. And a moment later he asked, "What does Siobhan mean?"
"Praise. It means 'praise'."
Harry nodded again. He reached out a finger and softly touched the cut on Siobhan's chest. He slowly traced it a few times.
"What happened to Malfoy?"
Harry's voice was so quiet that Severus barely heard the question. He wanted Harry to look at him, but the younger man stared fixedly at his daughter's wound.
"I killed him." Severus's voice was almost as low as Harry's had been.
Harry kissed two of his fingers and pressed them to Siobhan's chest, before wrapping the blanket securely about her again.
Harry met Severus's eyes, and there was no hint of remorse in them, just cold satisfaction. And Severus couldn't fault him for feeling that way. He'd be a hypocrite if he did.
After that, Harry was silent for a long time.
There was a hesitant knock on the door and it inched open enough for Madam Pomfery to peer in. Severus cast one last glance at Harry and Siobhan and left the room to allow the mediwitch to see to his injuries.
"Why is he in your room?" a voice sneered.
Harry turned to look at the intruder. Sirius stood, legs akimbo and arms crossed in the doorway, glaring belligerently at Severus, who was propped up in the second bed in the infirmary room. Harry was sitting in an armchair between the two beds, Siobhan cradled in his lap. Harry blinked at Sirius and darted a glance at Severus. The older man peered over the top of his book, sniffed and went back to reading, pointedly ignoring the visitors in the doorway.
"Sirius!" Remus admonished from over the other man's shoulder and nudged him into the room. Sirius gave ground with ill grace, shooting a glare at the werewolf. He didn't say anything further, however; just marched across the room and planted himself on Harry's vacant bed, gifting Severus with another sour look.
Remus sighed, rolled his eyes and followed Sirius into the room. Trailing behind him came Ron, Blaise and Dean. Hermione brought up the rear, leading a rather pale looking Draco by the hand. Harry felt a brief pang of guilt at the sight of his friend's face: Draco may not have liked him much, but Lucius had still been his father.
Though the others all noted Severus's presence in Harry's hospital room, they all chose to ignore him, as he was so pointedly ignoring all of them. Blaise dropped Ron's hand and hurried to Harry's side, peering down into Siobhan's face.
"Is she okay? Ginny told us what happened. Did Lu- did he hurt her?"
Harry reacted instinctively and shied away from Blaise's nearness, turning his upper body to shield Siobhan. In the bed beside him, Severus had also stiffened, his hand twitching towards his wand.
Blaise noticed Harry's reaction and backed off hurriedly, an apologetic half-smirk on her face.
"Opps. I guess you're still jumpy, huh? Sorry." She made her way back to Ron's side, lifting up his arm and wrapping it around her waist.
Severus glared over the top of his book at Blaise, but the tension had drained from his shoulders. Harry gave an abashed grin and relaxed again as well. "Yeah, sorry. Didn't mean to be rude."
Remus laughed softly and not unkindly. He perched himself on Harry's bed beside Sirius.
"It's understandable that you would react like that, Harry. Your daughter was stolen." He shifted his weight and pulled the chart he had sat on from underneath him, holding it in his lap, "I imagine you won't want to be letting her out of you sight for time now."
Harry smiled ruefully and shook his head in agreement, stroking a finger down Siobhan's cheek.
"But.." Hermione hesitated, "She is okay, isn't she? I mean, h-" she hesitated again, glancing sidelong at her unusually subdued boyfriend, ".. nothing actually happened, right? To her, at least?"
"No. S- Professor Snape stopped him in time. He got hurt in the process, though." Harry gestured at Severus's leg, propped up as it was on several pillows. Everybody followed Harry's gesture, and Severus quickly dropped his eyes to his book again.
"So," Dean coughed, "No harm done right?" His eyes darted to the studiously oblivious Snape and he hastened to add, "I mean, everything's going to be alright, yeah?"
"Yeah," Harry agreed, "Madam Pomfery is going to keep us in for-"
"Harry!" Remus exclaimed, "You've named her! You didn't tell us you'd named her!"
Harry turned to stare at Remus, wondering how he knew. His eyes dropped to the chart Remus was clutching in both hands. Remus smiled at Harry and his daughter and looked back down at the chart, reading the personal information there.
"Siobhan Aisha S-"
He stopped. His eyes widened and he looked up at Harry. Slowly, his gaze swiveled to Severus, who had dropped all pretense and was staring back at him.
"Isn't Aisha her first name?"
"Yeah, what about Cearo? I liked Cearo."
Harry ignored the interjections of his friends. He held out his hand for the chart, "What, Remus? What's wrong?"
Like an automaton, Remus handed the chart to Harry, his eyes traveling between Harry, Severus and Siobhan. Harry held his gaze for a moment longer before looking down at the chart, searching for the cause of Remus's strange reaction.
And there it was. In black and white. Given Names: Siobhan Aisha. Surname: Snape. Involuntarily, Harry whipped around to look at Severus, the chart falling lax in his hand. Severus met his gaze and frowned at him. "What is it Potter?"
Harry opened his mouth, shut it again and raised the chart to pass it on to Severus.
It was snatched from his hand. Far from exclaiming over the change in Siobhan's name like Harry's friends had been, Sirius had been watching the strange exchange between Remus, Harry and Snape. There was obviously something in that chart that had perturbed Remus and Harry and Sirius would be damned before he let Snape see what it was before he saw it himself.
Harry jerked his head back around to gape at Sirius. He made an aborted grab for the chart, but stopped because he did not want to jostle Siobhan. Remus also attempted to get the chart back, but Sirius, even more determined since they obviously didn't want him to see, fended him off. He scrambled off the other side of the bed to keep out of Remus's reach. With one eye on the others, he scanned the chart.
Sirius froze and his knuckles turned white around the chart. Harry closed his eyes in resignation and clutched Siobhan closer to his chest.
"Snape!" Sirius shrieked and Severus bolted upright, his wand clenched in his fist.
"What the hell?" Sirius yelled, lunging across the room towards the other man. Remus leapt up and blocked him. Sirius paid him little mind, raging over his shoulder, "Why the hell does Harry's baby have your last name, Snivellus?"
Ron, Blaise, Dean and Hermione were all staring at the scene, their mouths gaping. Even Draco had shaken off his funk.
"Sirius! Don't call him that," Harry snapped, automatically defending Severus.
Sirius rounded on him, "Why are you defending him, Harry? This bastard's managed to give your daughter his name! Who knows what effect that could have on her? She could be Slytherin!"
Severus sneered, his wand still trained on Sirius, "And what would be so wrong about her being a Slytherin?"
"You filthy bastard," Sirius snarled, "What did you do?"
"Do?" Severus arched an eyebrow, "I didn't do anything except complete the Naming Ceremony. I imagine the inherent magic recognized her paternity and named her accordingly."
"What!" Ron screeched, rounding on Harry, "Snape's her father?"
Harry stood up and thrust Siobhan into Severus's arms. He hastily dropped his wand in favour of cradling her safely.
"Yes. He's her father." Harry planted his hands on his hips, "Do you have a problem with that?"
Ron turned purple in the face, spluttering. Sirius made an inarticulate sound of rage and Remus had to exert his inhuman strength to hold the other man back.
"It's Snape!" Dean exclaimed.
"He's your teacher, Harry!" added Hermione.
Ron got out, "He's a slimy git!" and Harry glared at him. He added, "He's Slytherin, Harry!"
"You have a problem with that, do you?" Blaise stamped on Ron's foot and moved away from him. Ron opened his mouth to say something else, but Blaise glared at him and he snapped it shut again.
Quietly, Draco said, "A Potter, Severus?"
Severus raised his chin, "A muggleborn, Draco?"
Draco snorted and then shrugged. And apparently, that was all he had to say on the matter. Hermione looked between her boyfriend and her professor. She wrapped her hand in Draco's and looked at Harry.
"Do you love him?"
"I –" Harry couldn't answer. He averted his eyes instead.
"What about Jason Phillips, Harry?" Remus asked shrewdly, "Why make him up? Why didn't you just tell us?"
"I –" Harry said again, and turned away, casting a glare at Severus's.
Severus sighed. He may have entertained a small hope that returning Siobhan would have solved anything, but he had known it was only in vain.
"He didn't know," Severus answered on Harry's behalf. Harry shot him a startled glance.
Sirius exploded again: "What do you mean he didn't know? Of course he knew! It's not exactly the sort of thing you m-"
"I obliviated him."
There was a sharp silence, then Sirius began struggling against Remus anew, "I'll kill you, you scum! Death Eater! You… you… paedophile!"
"Sirius!" Remus, Hermione and Blaise exclaimed.
Harry had gone cold at Sirius's words. "Get out," he hissed.
The visitors all turned to look at him, but nobody moved.
"GET OUT!" He yelled, and that startled Siobhan like nothing else had. She started to cry in Severus's arms. Harry took her from him. Without looking at anybody, he repeated himself.
"Get out. All of you. I want you to go away."
Sirius was beginning to look remorseful. "Harry, I –"
Harry glared at him and climbed onto his bed, where he proceeded to ignore everybody but his daughter.
Remus took Sirius by the arm and dragged him behind him out the door. The look on the werewolf's face did not bode well for Sirius and Severus smirked. One after another, the students filed from the room, Dean closing the door behind him.
Severus retrieved his wand from where it had fallen on the bedspread and twirled it between his fingers. That hadn't exactly been the way he's imagined acknowledging Siobhan as his daughter. He's hoped for something a little less… dramatic. Although, he supposed, Black's reaction was always going to be explosive.
Severus sighed softly and turned to address Harry. Harry pre-empted him.
"I don't want to talk about it, Severus."
Severus blinked. The boy wasn't even looking at him. He was curled on his side, facing away from him. Siobhan was tucked against his chest, still whimpering softly.
"I said I don't want to talk about it!" Harry snapped.
Severus rolled his eyes and decided to let him sulk. He picked up his book, found his place and went on with his reading.