Learning to Live Again

By: Barbara Kennedy

Disclaimer: It all belongs to J.K. Rowling, even this Alternate
Universe most of us play in.

Author's Note: This story contains male pregnancy, but it is
definitely not a slash story nor is it likely to become one, so
don't ask. In this story Snape is comfortably heterosexual. I've
decided to change the rating to PG-13 due to frank discussion of
anatomy, pregnancy and its symptoms and possible grossness and

Surprise! It's an update, and it hasn't even been a month since
the last one. I'm getting faster LOL. (Posted June 16, before 1
You can thank Logospilgrim for keeping me going. She is such an
inspiration. (Go look at her site and photos!)
Speaking of inspirations; Heartfelt thanks to all my great
reviewers. I love every one of them.

Chapter 5: Untimely Revelations

The boom of the slammed door echoed like thunder down the empty
halls of the dungeon as Severus stormed from his potion lab in a
towering rage.
His robes billowing like dark sails behind him.

How. . .Dare. . . He!
What arrogance!
Without so much a word, to make such a decision, about MY life,
without consulting me!
No more. It's too much, I won't put up with it!

As the echoes faded, Dumbledore re-opened the laboratory door
and hurried after Snape.

"Severus, my boy, please wait. We really must talk about this."

Snape stopped under one of the numerous charmed torches lighting
the gloomy hallway and whirled around at the Headmaster's words.
His breathing was ragged and fast from his brief exertions and
his fury. His face was hot with emotion, blood pounded in his
ears and he felt a tight heaviness in his chest. He was
disturbed that his vision blurred with unwanted tears that he
could not control.

His nausea threatened to return with a vengeance.

Damn! Thrice damned! Damn this curse and damn Dumbledore as

Snape mustered every ounce of the biting sarcasm he was famous
for as he hissed low and dangerously through clenched teeth when
Dumbledore caught up to him in the hallway. "Oh? Really,
Headmaster? What is there left to discuss? I thought all the
important decisions were already made for me. Since you have
made it quite clear that a substitute has already been found and
I have been so arbitrarily relieved of all my duties here. . . I
. . .am. . . . leaving." He emphasized the last three words
with a growl.

He chose to ignore the wetness on his face as streams of hot
tears spilled down his cheeks. There was nothing he could do
about them now.

Albus stood motionless, mouth open, aghast at Severus' words.
The unexpected tears that glistened on the Potions Master's
proud face had startled him into speechlessness.

Severus turned disdainfully to stride toward his rooms in the
dungeons, just as the door to the Slytherin common room opened.
Draco Malfoy, in a dressing gown and silk pajamas with a
Slytherin-green eye patch over his blinded eye, curiously poked
his head out to see who had caused all the noise.

"Get back in there, now! This doesn't concern you." Snape
growled sharply, even as he noted a sudden dizziness due to his
quick movements. He began to gasp for air as if he'd been
running a long distance. His hand rose to clutch at his robes
over his chest and his steps wavered.

"Yes sir, Professor." Draco looked surprised by Professor
Snape's rebuke, as though his Head of House had never used that
tone with him before. He started to retreat into the Slytherin
Common Room, but hesitated, as he noticed the Professor seemed
to be in some kind of distress.

At that point, Minerva McGonagall charged down the stairs
leading into the dungeons at the end of the hall, her wand drawn
and at the ready in case of trouble.

"What is going on down here? I heard the noise all the way up in
the main hallway! Is Peeves causing a disturbance again?"

Severus turned to answer her but could not catch his breath to
speak. He was overcome with an intense cramp of nausea that
doubled him over in pain and he vomited right in the middle of
the hallway.

As he was bent over, spots began to dance in his vision. He was
choking and needed to breathe but could not as his stomach
convulsed painfully yet again. His awareness of his surroundings
faded as he concentrated on simply trying to breathe. There was
a sharp pain just behind his breastbone as he tried to inhale
and he choked. He suddenly staggered back a few steps until he
ran into a wall, still doubled over with his arms wrapped around
his chest. He gagged and choked loudly as he collapsed on the
cold dungeon floor.

As Snape staggered, Dumbledore cried out "Severus!" and tried to
reach him, but it had all happened so unexpectedly and so fast
that he had hardly recovered his wits before Severus fell.

Dumbledore instantly kneeled beside him as Draco scrambled out
of the Slytherin doorway. McGonagall hardly paused in her rush
up the hallway to see what had happened. She cleared the foul
puddle on the floor with an Evanesco charm as she passed.

"What is the matter, Albus?"

Before he had a chance to answer her, she turned to the pale-
faced young man next to her. "Draco, run get Madam Pomfrey,

"I'll go call her by floo, it's quicker." He called over his
shoulder as he ran back into the Slytherin portal.

Severus couldn't breathe properly and his lungs burned, all he
could manage was a repeated convulsive, choked cough. His throat
burned as well and felt constricted. His eyes, wide and
panicked, still streamed tears as he looked up at Dumbledore.

He mouthed the words "Can't. . .breath!" just before he suddenly
went limp and the coughing stopped.

Dumbledore quickly searched for a pulse at the carotid artery
near the point of his jaw and leaned down to listen for the
slightest stir of breath.

Thank Merlin! He heard a wheezing slow breath and another.
Severus still breathed, but it sounded as if something gurgled
in his throat and his pulse was fast but hard to feel as his
face took on an ashen pallor

Minerva hovered nearby, watching anxiously. "Albus, is Severus
ill? He didn't look well at the ceremony earlier and he left
rather abruptly, as if something was wrong. I followed shortly
afterward to see if he was alright. I found him walking this
way, toward his rooms. I inquired if he was feeling alright, but
you know him, he wouldn't admit it to anyone if he were in

Albus didn't appear to have heard a single word she said.
"Severus, my dear boy, I'm sorry. What have I done? What is
wrong? I never meant to upset you. I didn't think. . . ."
Dumbledore's whispered words trailed off as he gently sat
Severus up and pulled him against his own chest to keep him off
the cold stones of the floor as much as possible.

Dumbledore began to gently rock back and forth cradling the limp
form. Suddenly, tears began to flow from beneath his half-moon
glasses and into his snowy white beard.

As she waited for Madam Pomfrey to appear, Minerva hovered
anxiously near Dumbledore in case she could help in any way.
She could hear Snape's steady wheezing as he inhaled, so she
knew he was still breathing. She was surprised as she noticed
the way the flickering torch light glistened on his pale face.
Severus' cheeks were wet with tears too.

Surely Severus hasn't been. . . .crying?

She couldn't catch much of what was said as Dumbledore whispered
against Snape's shoulder between sobs. The Headmaster's sobs
were intensifying as he rocked the limp form in his arms.
"Please, Severus, don't leave . . . . sorry. . . . wanted to
keep you safe. . . couldn't keep them safe . . .too many lost.
. . couldn't protect . . . children. . . lost . . not..
.mumble . . too . . .y-you. . mumble. . .little hope. .
.mumble. . . precious child . . mumble. . s-sor-ry. . . .d-
don't l-leave."

His words faded into wracking sobs and Minerva became alarmed
for Albus as well. In all the years she had known him, she had
never seen him lose control of his emotions in this way before.
He had always been so calm and totally in control of any

She had been aware that the Headmaster had been under a great
deal of stress since the battle with Voldemort, and long before,
but she had never suspected a sudden breakdown like this.
Apparently, Snape's collapse had just been the final straw. She
began to rub Albus' back in small soothing circles to try to
calm him.

Since the Last Battle, as the papers had called it, Albus
Dumbledore had been acting odd, well odder than usual, for him.

The Headmaster had thrown himself headlong into whatever project
came up; from directing the care of all the battle victims in
the hospital wing to repairing Hogwarts castle and grounds and
strengthening the protective charms that kept the school safe
for the students, all this plus his duties as Headmaster. He
also seemed to be constantly attending one meeting or another
with the Ministry when he wasn't in the library "Doing private
research." he had told her. She had begun to wonder if he ever
slept. Perhaps he had not been sleeping well, she now realized.

She had also noted his strange change of behavior around Severus
Snape, in particular, since the end of the war. She had seen
Dumbledore watching Snape constantly but had attributed the
behavior to the wild rumor currently circulating that the
Potions Master had been hit with some kind of dark curse by
Voldemort himself during the Last Battle. The curse that was
thought to be eventually, and some said, gruesomely, fatal.

She knew Dumbledore had a fatherly affection and concern for the
dark, brooding Potions Master ever since his days as a student
here at Hogwarts. She had attributed his somewhat possessive
attention to his concern for the young wizard's health. Many of
the staff and students had noticed that Professor Snape seemed
quieter and more reclusive since the battle as well.

Could the rumors be true then? Perhaps Snape was truly dying?
She could see how that would upset Dumbledore. Few others knew
how badly Severus Snape had suffered at the hands of both sides
of the conflict as he worked in secret for the defeat of
Voldemort. This fact had finally been recognized tonight at the
award ceremony. Now, when peace had at last settled upon the
wizarding world, it was terrible to think that there was the
possibility that he may not live to reap the benefits he had
undoubtedly earned. She found herself tearing up at the mere
thought of such unfair irony.

Oh, Merlin, where is Poppy? Surely she should be here by now?
Though it had only been a little over a minute since Draco left
to floo-call her, it seemed a much longer time. The Headmaster
shouldn't be seen like this, it might cause a panic among the
still nervous students. Unfortunately, he did not seem to be
calming at all. If anything, his crying was getting louder.
Something needed to be done before the noise attracted anyone

Minerva did the only thing she could think of at the moment. She
knelt beside him and pointed her wand at the back of
Dumbledore's head and uttered "Dormio Profundus," to place
Dumbledore in a deep sleep.

She then levitated the suddenly slumbering wizard with a
mobilicorpus charm while she supported Snape, who had not
stirred, with her free arm to keep him from falling backward.
When she had both of them carefully propped up beside each other
against the wall, she took Dumbledore's hat and transformed it
to a warm blanket and draped it over both of them. She then
pulled a clean linen handkerchief from one of her robe pockets
and gently dried the tears from the Headmaster's face.

As she tucked away her handkerchief, Minerva heard the Slytherin
dorm portal open behind her. She turned as Madam Pomfrey rushed
Pomfrey ordered Draco and a few more of the Slytherin students
to remain inside and out of her way. They tried to argue but she
simply closed the door and commanded it to remain shut. There
were thumps and rattles from the other side but it remained

"Oh my stars, Minerva! What happened to Dumbledore? I was only
told that Severus was ill. "

McGonagall assured her, "I just put him to sleep, Poppy. He's
not hurt. I'll explain in a moment."

Poppy quickly moved over to the two limp figures leaning against
the wall. She trailed a levitating stretcher behind her laden
with her healer's bag. She began diagnostic spells on Snape even
before Minerva could answer her question.

"Has anyone used magic on Severus? Can you tell me what
happened? Mister Malfoy could only tell me that the Professor
vomited and then appeared to be having trouble breathing before
he fell." As she spoke, Poppy flipped aside the blanket and
passed her wand over Severus' chest and abdomen, frowning.

Minerva observed all this as she stood aside for Poppy to work.
She found that to be a bit odd. Why check his abdomen when he
was clearly having trouble breathing?

"No Poppy, I'm afraid that was all I observed myself. I heard a
loud noise from up in the main hall and came down here as
quickly as I could to see what had caused it. The first thing I
saw was the scene that Mister Malfoy has described to you. I
immediately sent him to go get you. After he left, Albus became
very distraught over Severus and began crying. He became almost
hysterical. It just is not like him, Poppy. It frightened me a
bit." Minerva shook her head solemnly.

"Apparently, the two of them had some kind of disagreement
before I arrived, I don't really know. Severus did look rather
irritated, and, Poppy, I hardly believe this myself, it but it
looked like he had been crying, there were tears on his face. I
haven't seen Severus cry since he was a young student here and
only rarely even then."

Poppy, who looked a bit startled at Minerva's revelation, pursed
her lips. "You may be right Minerva." She peered at Severus.
His eyelashes were still wet and the drying trails of the tears
were still visible. She had a good idea that the hormonal
changes of his pregnancy were why he had probably begun crying,
but something else had to have triggered it too.

It became clear that Poppy was not going to elaborate on her
statement after a moment, so Minerva continued. "I didn't think
it would be a good idea to let the students see their Headmaster
in such a state, so I put him to sleep with a Dormio Profundus
charm. I did not touch Severus with any magic, but I did
levitate Albus and transform his hat into the blanket."

She paused for a moment then asked, "Poppy, is there some reason
that Severus should avoid magic?"

Poppy Pomfrey looked up to Minerva briefly and nodded. "You did
the same thing for Albus that I probably would have done. He
will sleep at least long enough for us to get him into the
hospital wing."

She paused, considering how much to tell Minerva about the
curse, if anything.

"Yes, Minerva, there is a very good reason for Severus to avoid
magic, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it with you. It is
Severus' secret to tell you if he wishes, but it is best for him
to be cautious about certain forms of magic right now and it is
the cause of my immediate concern. Severus has aspirated some
vomitus into his lungs and his heartbeat is too fast. I'm not
sure whether I should use the spell I need in order to clear his
lungs, but I'm afraid that if I don't get his lungs cleared, he
will be in greater danger. The longer I wait, the worse it will
get. I'm going to have to risk it."

Poppy stood and moved to Severus' side and gently tilted his
head back against the wall. She raised her wand again to point
it at Snape's chest. "Stand back, Minerva. This may be messy."
At Poppy's hand motion, Minerva retreated to the other side of

"Respiratussio!" There was a single long wheeze as Severus'
chest expanded as much as possible to pull a large amount of air
deep into his lungs, then his mouth opened and matter and liquid
spewed out propelled by a huge cough, spraying a large area of
the hallway directly in front of him. It occurred three more
times before nothing else was expelled. After that, the wheezing
ceased and he settled into a normal pattern of breathing and his
color seemed closer to normal.

Poppy uttered "Evanesco," clearing the floor once more before
she turned back to do her diagnostic spells over his chest and
abdomen again, this time hovering a bit longer over his abdomen
than she did before, Minerva noticed. She watched as Poppy
frowned in concentration then pursed her lips slightly before
she turned to move the stretcher closer in preparation of
getting Severus moved onto it.

"His lungs are clear now, thankfully, but I'm not sure why his
heart is still beating so fast or why he hasn't roused yet and
it worries me, so I want to take him to the hospital wing and
keep him there for observation, at least for tonight. I'd rather
not risk any more magic of any kind being used on him right now.
Do you think you could possibly help me lift him onto the

Between the two of them, Severus was soon on the stretcher with
the healer's bag at his feet. Minerva was a little surprised how
easy it was to move him. He was thinner and lighter than she had
expected. The flowing black, voluminous robes he habitually wore
made him appear much larger than he was.

"Until I find out what happened, I want to keep an eye on both
of them. From what you've described, Minerva, Albus may have
suffered an emotional breakdown tonight. Even the strongest
among us have a breaking point. At the very least, I may need to
give him a sleeping potion to make sure he gets a good night's
sleep." Minerva looked concerned but did not comment. She
simply nodded in understanding.

Poppy took the blanket and handed it to Minerva.
"We'll need another stretcher, do you mind taking care of it
while I check Albus, Minerva? We can take them both upstairs

It didn't take long for Minerva to change the blanket into a
second stretcher. As soon as it was done, Poppy was ready for
Dumbledore to be levitated onto it. "He does show signs of
fatigue and stress. That is all I can tell at the moment. He's
been pushing himself much too hard and not resting enough."

Poppy remembered to release her command on the doorway to the
Slytherins' dormitory before they set off to the hospital wing.
The two stretchers with their quiet burdens levitated beside
them up the stairs smoothly and silently.

It was quiet in the hospital wing when they arrived. The
majority of the victims of the battle had been released and sent
home by now, so the ward was mostly empty, though even now, a
month afterwards, there were still a few patients in need of a
healer's care, George Weasley for one. Molly Weasley still split
her time between her home and volunteer work in the hospital
wing to be near her son until his back injuries had healed
enough for him to go home. Even with magic and potions, back
injuries took a lot of care and time to recover from. Nerves
healed slowly, when they healed at all, and rushing them would
only complicate matters.

So it was that Molly Weasley was there to meet them at the door
to the hospital wing to let Madam Pomfrey know that the private
room was ready for them. She gasped in surprise when she saw the
second stretcher carrying Albus Dumbledore floating in the air
behind Professor McGonagall.

"Goodness Poppy! What happened? Were they attacked?"

Madam Pomfrey shook her head but didn't pause. She took them
straight into the private room as quickly as possible. "Molly,
bring another bed in here will you? I don't want to put
Dumbledore in the ward."

She drew her wand from her apron pocket and moved the single bed
in the room to one side to accommodate another. She moved the
stretcher bearing Severus over the bed, lifted her healer's bag
onto the floor and gently tipped him onto the covers. The
stretcher was then banished to the storeroom until needed. She
took a few moments to take off his shoes, robe and frockcoat,
mostly due to his numerous buttons. She draped the clothing over
a chair, leaving him in his shirt and trousers. She made sure
his wand was safely tucked away with his clothing too.

As soon as Severus was settled comfortably in the bed, she
started diagnostic charms again. "Cordissonos." She alone could
hear his heartbeat and was relieved that it had slowed and it
was a bit stronger than it had been before, down in the
dungeons. He was beginning to recover from whatever had
happened. She continued a more detailed examination silently
while Minerva and Molly saw to the Headmaster. She wasn't
entirely happy with what it revealed.

Minerva McGonagall rested Dumbledore's stretcher on the floor
while Mrs. Weasley quickly levitated one of the empty beds from
the ward into the room and placed it in the space Poppy had
cleared for it. Together they got the Headmaster settled onto
the bed and the stretcher was returned to its original form as
Dumbledore's hat. Molly put up a privacy screen between the beds
before they removed Dumbledore's brightly-colored outer dress
robes, his glasses and shoes then tucked him under the covers

Satisfied that Severus was in no immediate danger, Poppy turned
her attention to the sleeping Headmaster. "Minerva, would you
get us some tea? I'm going to waken Dumbledore in a bit. It is
likely he knows what triggered Severus' collapse tonight."

"I'll be glad to Poppy, I could use a cup myself after all that
has happened. I'll just use your fireplace to have the House-
elves bring up a tray, shall I?"

Molly quietly bustled around gathering the clothing and shoes to
store them in the cabinet in the corner of the room. Minerva
brought in a tea tray a moment later and set it on a table at
the side of Severus' bed.

When Madam Pomfrey used "Enervate" to waken him, Dumbledore
suddenly sat up in the bed and asked the first thing on his
mind. He spoke not knowing that there were other people in the
room. "Where is Severus, is he alright? Is our baby alright?"
Poppy tried to quiet him, but the damage was done. "He's in
here, Albus, hush, we aren't alone."
She whispered, but it was
too late.

A teacup dropped to the floor and shattered just before Minerva
McGonagall looked curiously around the privacy screen with a
look of great confusion on her face. A moment later, Molly
Weasley peeked around the screen as well.

Albus Dumbledore could only stare back at them, horrified. What
had he just done?

To be continued. . . soon.

So. . .what do you think? Review, please?