"Professor Dumbledore?" He found himself asking.

"What is it, Severus?"

It was torture, pure torture. How could he have let himself do this? How could he have been so thoughtless? The words burst out of him. "I've got to leave Hogwarts."

Dumbledore looked surprised. It was not a common expression from him. Severus doubted that he had ever seen it so pronounced before. "Why?"

His face was burning. He could feel it. "I have… family matters to attend to." He sounded stupid and he knew it. He was stupid—he knew that as well.

"But Severus, surely you have no living family anymore?"

"No… no, I didn't…"

But he didn't have to say it. The Headmaster already knew, of course, having put two and two together.

With a slight chuckle, the older man regarded the younger. "Ah… It is remarkable to see in one so accustomed to thinking ahead… But I suppose you do not find it amusing."

"No, I do not," Severus replied through clenched teeth. "It is an unnecessary distraction from my work and a bother to me. I did not choose for it to happen."

"And yet, when you were told of the problem, you didn't do anything to stop it?"

"She wouldn't let me! I offered, of course! She just called me a jerk and left!"

"Well…" Dumbledore said, still looking calmly amused, "can you blame her?"

"Yes, I can," Snape hissed, "and I fully intend to do so, once I have finished feeling guilty myself! Now, this really is important, Headmaster, so if you don't mind…?"

"Yes, I suppose you had better go… Do try to be back in a few weeks, though? We have no competent substitute teachers for Potions."

Severus bowed stiffly and turned to leave.

"But Severus," Dumbledore called, "I have something for you before you leave…"

Snape turned as he felt the dread rising in his chest. Dumbledore held out for him two things: a t-shirt and a balloon.

He snatched them and stormed out of the room without another word, pausing only to throw the items into the trash can.

Dumbledore strolled over and looked into the bin, still laughing over the t-shirt that read "New Father" and the balloon that bounced up to the ceiling bearing the legend "It's a Girl!" in curly, garish script.