Chapter 20: Ever after
Epilogue: Ten years later
The first thing Severus Snape recognized when he entered their quarters was the fact that it was silent – way too silent. One of the things he had learned over time, was that with two children silence usually meant some sort of trouble. Children were never silent except when they were up to something or sound asleep.
"Harry? Ebony? Aiden?" he called out, walking into the living room in search of his family. All he wanted to do after a long and tiring day of teaching dunderheads was get rid of his robes and have a nice glass of wine in front of the fire. His plans however had not included dealing with two boisterous little pranksters who were up to something – that was Harry's job for today, since he was the one to come 'home' first.
Severus was about to head over to the children's rooms when two dark haired heads appeared in the doorframe, followed by the rest of the broadly smiling children. "We are here Papa!" Aiden announced, trying to hug his father.
Severus leaned down to embrace first his son and then his daughter. "Where is your dad and what were you just doing?" Severus asked Ebony suspiciously. Harry had had his last DADA class over an hour ago and should be in their rooms. The rooms they had gotten back when he, Ebony and Harry had returned to Hogwarts. It had all looked the same as before they left – or well, mostly. The nursery had been turned into a bedroom for the by then almost three year old Ebony and when Aiden had been born about two years later, a new room for him had shown up out of nowhere.
So, here they were, living at Hogwarts, on the same floor as the Weasley-Granger family. Hermione Granger-Weasley taught Ancient Runes and Ron Weasley became the new flight instructor after Madame Hooch retired. Their son, Matthew Alexander, was almost nine and even though he was as much a Gryffindor as Ebony was Slytherin, those two children were good friends. Ileanna Jane Weasley was the same age as Aiden and had inherited her mothers intelligence, a fact that Severus was eternally grateful for – it made her the perfect company for his son.
"Dad went to see auntie Mione in her classroom, but he said he would be back in a few minutes. We were in my room reading," Ebony answered her fathers question, an innocent tone in her voice.
A bit too innocently for Severus' taste. He could have sworn they were up to something and usually, he was right.
"What were you reading?" he decided to ask. There were no dangerous books where the children could reach them, but with children as powerful as these, one could never be sure they had not at least tried to reach them.
"Well, of course we were reading a book Papa!" Ebony announced, the slight sarcasm in her voice so much like his own, Severus realized. Cheeky brat.
Before Severus could question his daughter further, five year old Aiden pulled on his robes to get his attention. "Papa, we were in Grandpa Albus' office and he let me try on the speaking hat. It said it already knew where to put me, but didn't tell me. How long 'till I can go to school, too?"
Severus sighed lightly and bent down to look his son in the eyes. He knew Aiden was jealous that Ebony would start her education at Hogwarts soon, and she was already being tutored. Aiden was a curious child with a great love for books, science and everything that involved structured work. How he and Harry had managed to make such a Ravenclaw child was beyond Severus, but he did not complain, because his son had inherited his love for potions as well.
Taking his son's hands in his own, Severus said, "You are still much too young, Aiden. I am sorry, love, but you will have to wait a few more years. How about we talk to your teacher and see if a few children from the higher years would like to work with you in your school in Hogsmeade? You could take part in some sort of science project next year. How does that sound? And since you are reading so well by now, I could talk to Madame Pince to let you borrow books that are suitable for children of you age, alright?"
When his son nodded at him happily, Severus rose to look at his daughter again. "Now, Ebony, tell me what book you were reading earlier."
"Erm, something Grandpa Albus gave us," Ebony replied vaguely. Uh-oh, wrong answer…she thought when she saw the stern look upon her father's face.
"Please go and get this book," Severus said, leaving no room for objection. Only Merlin knew what sort of book the old fool had given to his children. It had taken long enough for them to get on good terms again, but Albus had never truly regained his and Harry's full trust.
"Yes, Papa." Ebony answered and left to do as she had been asked. She came back a moment later, holding out the book to her father.
He thanked her and took it, almost expecting the worst. A puzzled look rushed over Severus' face when he saw the title. It was a rather harmless book about some short acting glamours, usually used to add a special touch to a Halloween costume or to change appearance slightly for an hour or two. Nothing overly dramatic. Ebony knew many of these spells already.
"Why would Albus give you such a book?" he asked, clearly confused.
"Because we asked for it," Ebony offered.
Praying for patience Severus asked his daughter, "And why, pray tell, would you ask for such a book, Ebony?"
The girl shot her brother a quick look, leaning over to him to whisper in Parsletongue, "See, I knew he would never understand it. He didn't see daddy glow…
"Stop that this instant!" Severus snapped, startling the children who separated immediately. "Ebony, you know the rules about speaking Parsletongue when Harry is not around. I can't understand you, as you know, and I will not tolerate you breaking the rules! Disobey me again and there will be no Quidditch for you for a week. Is that understood?" He asked sternly.
"Yes, Papa," Ebony answered, looking guilty. She knew better than to talk back to her father.
"So, now tell me what this is all about. Were you planning some sort of prank?" Severus demanded to know.
"No, Papa," she said sincerely. "We…we were trying to find out…" she murmured hesitantly, looking over to her brother again. "We were trying to find out why daddy is glowing!" she finally stated.
"Pardon me? Could you repeat that?" Severus looked at her in disbelief
"We wanted to know why daddy glows," Ebony repeated obediently. She knew her father had no idea what she was talking about. He had obviously not noticed the change in her daddy's magic, the glittering, shimmering aura that had shown up out of nowhere two days ago.
Her thoughts were interrupted, when her father asked, "What do you mean, he glows?" Fear rose in Severus' chest. Had something happened to Harry? Had he been cursed or hexed during one of the lessons?
Severus was about to question his daughter further, when the person in question entered the room.
"Oh, here you are," Harry greeted. "I was beginning to worry…" Then he saw the serious look on Severus face and asked, "What's the matter? What's going on?" He had been gone only for a few minutes, the children safely in Ebony's room when he'd left. Now Severus looked worried and pale and Ebony and Aiden looked confused and insecure. What could have happened in those few minutes?
Severus looked his husband up and down twice and when he could find nothing amiss, he answered, "Well, our daughter claims you 'glow'," the tone of his voice indicating what he thought of that statement.
"I'm 'glowing'?" Harry looked from Severus to Ebony, clearly confused. What was this all about?
"Yes, you do, Daddy!" Aiden insisted, deciding to support his sister. He threw a glance at Harry before he turned to Severus, looking him in the eyes. "Can't you see it, Papa? It's right there!" he pointed at Harry's abdomen. "It is sparkling and glittering golden. Daddy's tummy glows."
This time, Harry and Severus exchanged a look, disbelief clearly written on both of their faces. "No…" Harry whispered, shaking his head slightly, but a small, tentative grin spread over his face. "That's impossible, isn't it?" he asked no one in particular, placing a hand over his belly.
"Impossible – no, nothing is impossible with you Harry. I learned that a long time ago. Maybe you should go and let Poppy have a look at you, brat," he murmured, the endearment he rarely used in front of the children slipping out involuntarily.
"So you really think I'm…" Harry whispered, remembering last time they made love, three long days ago. They had been in the bath tub, enjoying their time alone. Harry tried to recall if they had used a contraceptive spell, but couldn't remember.
"Is daddy sick?" Aiden asked, fear audible in his vice. He had moved closer to Severus, clinging to his robes now.
"No, love, daddy is not sick, but he still has to see Poppy for a moment. It is nothing you need to worry about, really," Severus assured his frightened son, picking him up from the floor for a moment despite the fact that he was too big to be carried around. "Why don't you and Ebony go back to Ebony's room and read a bit more, while I will tell Dobby that we wish to have dinner in our quarters today. Alright?"
"Sure, Papa," Ebony agreed, taking her bother by the hand. "Come, Aiden, I want to show you something," She announced and they ran off to her room.
"Congratulations Harry, you are indeed pregnant again," Poppy announced 15 minutes later. Then she looked at the results again and asked, "How did you know so early? It's only a few days since you concieved and you shouldn't have any symptoms just yet. Are you not feeling well?" Concern laced her cheerful tone.
"No, I feel perfectly fine, Poppy, thanks," Harry assured her. "It wasn't me who discovered I was pregnant, but our lovely children. They claimed that their daddy 'glows'. Seems like those two could see the change in my magic. Severus was rather perplexed, to say the least." He smiled a happy little smile.
"Yes, I bet so," Poppy murmured, looking down at Harry fondly. Ever since Harry had become pregnant the first time and had left the wizarding world after Ebony's birth, she had taken on caring for him and his family in a very special way. She had not only been responsible for the check up's during and after Ebony's birth on both of them, she also had cared for Severus after they had talked about his past with the Death Eaters. It had horrified her how much Severus had been hurt, both physically and mentally and she had done everything possible to help the persons she considered her closest friends.
It had been she, who had tended to Severus' old wounds, trying her best to repair the damage done, while not traumatizing him any more. It had been she, who had told them not to expect too much when it came to the question if Severus would be able to ever get pregnant; his internal wounds had been deep and were scared over many times. Finally, she had been the one to have the honor of telling them that the unexpected had happened and Severus was indeed pregnant. Aiden was on his way.
Of course, the little family had long since returned to Hogwarts by the time Aiden was born and so caring for two grown, yet stubborn wizards, a toddler and a newborn had been slightly easier. And now, she was once again the one to deliver happy news – Harry was pregnant again.
A small smile crept up her face and she addressed Harry softly, "Who would have thought everything would turn out like this? I was so worried about you two and the way you started your relationship, I can't begin to describe how glad I am everything turned out nicely in the end. You deserve to be happy after all the things you two had to go through." She paused, lost in thought. When Harry finally rose from the bed, she handed him his shirt, saying, "Off you go and tell your family about the good news. I'm sure they will be thrilled."
"So am I." Harry grinned, putting on his shirt again and fixing his robes. He was excited to get back to Severus and the children to tell them about the new baby. Oh, and, of course, he would have to tell Albus soon, so the curriculum could be re-arranged to not endanger the new life growing inside him. He never wanted to fear for the life of one of his children ever again.
Thanking Poppy and hugging her tight before he left, Harry made his way back to their quarters, imagining what Severus' reaction might be like. Even tough they had never talked about having more children, Harry knew Severus would be overjoyed as well. Harry grinned when he realized that it was, yet again, five years, between the birth of Aiden and the child he was expecting now.
When Harry came back from his visit to Poppy, Severus was awaiting him impatiently. As soon as Harry stepped into the living room, Severus got up from where he had been sitting and rushed to his husbands side. "What did she say?" he asked, but when he saw the bright smile on Harry's face, he had his answer; Harry didn't even need to say it.
Severus took his husband in his arms, hugging him tightly, tears of joy coming to his eyes. "A baby," he whispered, and Harry answered, "Yes love, a baby. I'm pregnant again!" Then he sealed Severus' mouth with a kiss. When they broke apart, Harry snuggled his face into the crook of Severus' neck, murmuring, "We should tell them after dinner. I'm starving."
Severus chuckled at the endearing look on Harry's face. He moved his hand to lie on his husbands still flat stomach, murmuring, "Well, then let's feed you two," before claiming Harry's mouth in a soft kiss.
An hour later found all Potter-Snapes on the couch in the living room, an album with moving pictures in it between them.
"What's that, daddy?" Aiden asked pointing at a picture that showed a much younger Ebony jumping around in the snow. In the background a huge snowman could be seen that was waving into the camera.
"That, Aiden, was the winter Ebony took the Muggle song 'Frosty the snowman' a bit too literally and decided to animate the snowman she and your daddy had made," Severus explained dryly.
Aiden looked fascinated.
"I was hardly the first child to try such a thing at Hogwarts, was I father?" Ebony tried to argue.
"No, you were not," Severus agreed. "But," he empathised, "The others who tried – and without much success I might add – were students here and not five-year-olds who got a little carried away."
Harry just smiled and listened to the conversation. He noticed the gleam in Aiden's eyes, when the boy spoke, "She did that when she was my age? Wow!" he squealed excitedly.
"Yes, she did," Harry confirmed, still smiling. Ebony had done a lot of things like that at his age. He wouldn't tell Aiden about that, though.
"Where were you then, father?" Aiden asked curiously, his black eyes fixed on Severus. "Did you take the photo?"
"No, I was not out in the snow at that time, Aiden. I was seven months pregnant when this photo was taken and I didn't want to take any risk hurting you or myself for that matter," Severus replied.
Aiden squealed with delight at that statement. "Ohh!" Can we see pictures of you with the baby-belly? Please?" He gave his parents his best puppy dog look and Ebony joined in, "Oh, yes, please, father! There are so few pictures of daddy when he was pregnant with me. Surely there must be some of you being pregnant with Aiden."
Severus sighed. "Yes, unfortunately there are, thanks to your dad. He insisted on taking photos of me all the time. It's embarrassing, really. I was looking rather ridiculous…"
"No you were not!" Harry interrupted. "You were looking quite cute waddling around eight months preggers." He grinned and then smiled at his husband lovingly.
"I am never cute," Severus replied, attempting to snarl but failing miserably. "Just you wait until…" he began, but broke off before he could reveal too much. Maybe this was the right time to speak about the new baby.
He looked over at Harry for agreement and when his husband nodded slightly he said, "Children, we have something to tell you."
At that Ebony and Aiden looked at their father expectantly.
"We told you already that it is not a sickness, and Poppy did confirm it, but we should tell you what it is that makes your daddy 'glow'." Severus elaborated and he could see the curiosity and the excitement in their children's eyes. "The reason for the change in his magic is that he is pregnant again. We are going to have another baby," He explained.
After a moment of shocked silence, Ebony looked at Harry with awe. "Daddy?" she asked, wonder in her tone.
"Yes, Ebony," Harry confirmed. "It's true. You are going to have a brother or sister."
"A baby!" Aiden squealed and jumped on Harry's lap, hugging him tight.
"Aiden, Aiden, slowly!" Harry protested softly, grinning at his son. "I'm sure your unborn sibling would appreciate it if you wouldn't jump around so much in my lap, jiggling him or her around."
Aiden paled. "Did I hurt the baby?" he asked guiltily.
"No, no honey, you didn't, but you should be a bit more careful from now on, ok?"
Aiden nodded obediently and Severus smiled at his son's serious face.
"Because when the baby grows it could become upset about being jiggled too hard and then it will kick me. Ebony used to kick me a lot when she was not comfy, and Severus told me countless times you were keeping him awake all night by playing football with his kidneys," Harry said, smiling slightly at the memory.
At that the children giggled and Severus snorted. "Not funny, Imp!" he murmured and lifted Aiden off Harry's lap. Seeing Harry cover his belly with his hand, the memories of the moment he, had realized he was pregnant, all these years ago, came to life.
Severus stirred the potion three times clockwise and two times counter clockwise before he leaned over to grab the phial of phoenix tears. The steam coming off the cauldron touched his face and suddenly he was overwhelmed by nausea. The world began to spin around him when another wave of the foul smelling cloud hit him; stumbling, he took a step back before he could steady himself by grabbing the edge of his desk.
What the hell was wrong with him? Could it be he had caught wizard's flu even though he had taken the proper antidote already? Maybe the virus had mutated and the potion had not worked properly? He had felt somehow off for days now but had refused to go and see Poppy because of something so banal as an upset stomach. This however was something completely different. It had never happened before that he had felt sick and dizzy from the fumes of a potion alone.
Deciding to talk to Harry about it, he put a stasis charm on his potion, while carefully avoiding the fumes, before he headed for their rooms. It was late so Ebony was in bed already and Harry was at his desk, grading papers. He looked up surprised, when he saw Severus enter the room.
A worried look crossed Harry's face when he realized that his husband was even more pale than usual and looked quite shaken. "Severus, are you alright?" he got up and rushed over to his partner. "Tell me what's wrong. You look like you are about to collapse."
"I feel dizzy," Severus admitted, grabbing Harry's arm for support. "I seem to have caught the flu, because the fumes of my potion just made me feel sick."
Harry looked worriedly at the man he loved, helping him to sit down on the couch. "Severus, I better get Poppy to check on you. She'll know what to do and will also make sure you don't pass on to Ebony whatever bug you caught." With that he went over to the fireplace, threw a hand of floo power in and called, "Poppy Pomfey's office".
A moment later, the medi-witch stepped into the room and ordered Severus to lie down right were he was. She knew Severus hated the infirmary and if it was something serious, she could still bring him there later. Sighing, she ran several diagnostic spells over him. By now she was used to the fact that someone in the Potter-Snape family always seemed to be in need of her services. Seeing the results though, Poppy suddenly looked up into Harry's eyes, a bright smile lighting up her face.
Harry frowned. "What's the matter? Why are you smiling? What is it? I get it it's nothing dangerous then?" Harry asked even before the medi-witch could explain herself.
"No, Harry, it is nothing dangerous – unless you would call a baby dangerous," she answered.
"A baby?" Harry and Severus asked in unison. Surprise and disbelief clearly audible in their voices.
"Yes, Severus, you are really pregnant. Congratulations, you two." Poppy beamed at them.
"Severus," Harry whispered, having recovered from the shock first. He dropped to his knees beside the couch his husband was lying on and kissed him softly. "Severus it really happened. You're pregnant. We're going to have another baby."
Severus came out of his memories when his husband touched his hand, moving it to lie on his still flat belly, smiling at him lovingly. Severus couldn't wait until he would be able to feel his child move inside of Harry for the first time.
That evening Harry and Severus lay in their bed, snuggled together when Harry whispered, "You know what I realized earlier, love? It's been five years again - since we had Aiden. It's as if we had planned it."
Severus smiled, rubbing little circles on his husband's belly. "It was fate, Harry. If I have learned one thing during my time with you, it is that what is supposed to happen, will happen. And on top of that, usually you are in the middle of the worst trouble, my brat. Just remember what our love survived: meddling friends, unexpected pregnancies, bad press, you locking me out of our bedroom and leaving me," he teased and Harry slapped his arm in a playful manner.
"Not that again, Severus. I apologized for that often enough. You know I just locked you out because I thought that was what you wanted. I wanted to signal you that I was sticking to our 'no sex' agreement…"
"Your rule you mean," Severus interrupted, the memory of their forced time apart not forgotten. It didn't hurt any more, though, and now it was a constant joke between them.
"Alright, I admit it, but I suffered as much as you while we were apart. I still suffer whenever I can't be near you and you know it," Harry replied snuggling against Severus as if to confirm his words.
"Oh, then I will have to make sure that I am always close to you," Severus murmured. "Very close." He shifted his position, poking his erection into his husbands thigh.
"Yes!" Harry hissed in a husky voice, pressing himself closer to Severus. "As close as possible, love." He encouraged. "Preferably inside me."
"You are insatiable!" Severus chided mockingly, reaching down between Harry's legs.
To read the sex please head over to either my LJ, my yahoogroup (see userinfo), orforeverfandom, since garphic scenes ar not allowed here.
"That was wonderful, love," Harry murmured dreamily and Severus smiled a little smile before he reached for the blanket to cover their cooling bodies with it.
"I promised I'd make it good for you, remember?" Severus answered, brushing his lips over Harry's in a gesture of tenderness. "I always try to keep my promises."
"Yes, I know," Harry replied, looking up to the man he loved. He was silent for a moment before he added thoughtfully, "And you love me."
"Of course I do," Severus agreed softly.
Shaking his head slightly, Harry elaborated, "No,…yes, I mean, I know of course that you love me, it's just that…I realized, that for me to become pregnant again it still needs to be," he hesitated once more "unconditional love."
"And that surprises you, Harry?" Severus asked, looking in the eyes of the man he had fallen for such a long time ago. "Then let me tell you something, brat. There is only one way I know to love you, and that is with all my heart and soul. I don't expect it to change – ever." With that he kissed the tip of Harry's nose.
Harry smiled up at him, tears of joy forming in his eyes. "Good," he whispered hoarsely. "Because that's the only way I know as well."