Alia: (kneels) Before I say anything else, I would just like to beg forgiveness from all of my dedicated readers and not so dedicated readers. I updated this story last in August of 2006 because I thought that I would have plenty of time to finish the final chapter. Then, as school was starting...I think I got hit with this emotional wave of PMS that would not freaking go away! Then I was struggling with classes too. So big problems including a few annoying family issues. I couldn't write anything. I could barely write a couple summaries and then I couldn't do those.
Thank God, I was able to even get out Parent Exchange and Final Decision. Thankfully, I did start get better (around December) and started seriously writing again. This also means that I was actually able to finish TTS. So, sorry about the wait. Oh and Chris! I tried to make it at Christmas but it just didn't work out. Consider this a late present!
Alia: Now where was I. Oh yeah.
DO NOT SKIP DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FREAKIN CHAPTER PEOPLE!!!
Alia: No, there isn't really anything else, but...I did something that you guys aren't going to like. Do not be afraid though this is a happy ending. Not sappy sugary because I just don't go there. But it's nice. The warnings have changed for this chapter so check em out.
(bows) I would like to thank EVERYONE who read and reviewed and EVERYONE who just read for making this story a success. Thank you for giving me confidence to keep this bad boy going. I love this story and apparently you guys do too. And as a thank you, I'm going to give you a first chapter sneek peek of a story that's been haunting me just like TTS. I'll put the link on the same page as TTS so you shouldn't have to dig for it. I'll only be up for a month, but maybe longer if I forget it. We'll see.
Alia: Don't kill me for some of this. I'm not happy with parts of this chapter so they may be revised someday, but it's mostly ready. I think this chapter will be bigger than the last and over 64 pages. The last chapter had 25007 words. This chapter has 33,000. So it's over 64 pages. Someone tell me though. I lost Microsoft word after some computer issues.
So, FINALLY, enjoy the final chapter of TTS. Remember to review people!
Title: Time, Truth, and Sacrifice
Pairing: Severus Snape/Harry Potter
Spoilers: Up to OotP
Summary: A serial killer runs through part of the wizarding world, but with Harry Potter on the job, things will go fine…right?
Warnings: slash, mpreg, humor, angst, violence, a little gore, language, major/minor character deaths
Disclaimers: Ask my readers why it's a good idea I don't own it and JKRowling does.
Author's notes: (sobs) I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! I have to end the story! And I don't want too! (sobs loudly) But I can't carry my baby any further and I have to let it grow up and go free. (sobs and sniffles) It's for the best. This has to be my best story since Raven's Gift. I'm glad everyone liked it. Thank you guys! For all the reviews and support. And even if you didn't review, thanks for taking your time to read my stuff. It must have been worth it. Thanks! (starts wailing)
Time, Truth, and Sacrifice 15
Harry shifted on one foot to the other as he put his ear closer to the door. "Severus? Are you feeling all right? Do you need anything?" The sobbing continued. Harry knew Severus was trying to keep quiet but he could still hear the potions master through the door easily.
Sighing silently, Harry knocked on the door lightly. "Severus? Severus, what's wrong? Is it the baby? Was it something you ate?" When there was no response, Harry frowned and started thinking back on the early morning. /Okay. So what set him off this morning?/
Severus was usually…well Severus Snape and the potions master only cried when something really upset him. Harry couldn't think of anything that morning that could have possibly caused such an emotional episode from the pregnant wizard. /We woke up and ate breakfast, then Severus wanted a shower./ For a moment Harry froze and wondered if Severus had fallen but the monitoring charms he and Poppy had placed on the man would have alerted him immediately. He and Poppy had gotten more worried for Severus's safety since the potions master was having a hard time getting around.
/Maybe it is the baby. He's nine months pregnant now. I wonder if it's everything else too. But he's had time to process most of it. He's doing better than I am!/
Over the last two months, things had finally settled down after Neville's plans went foul. Neville's body had been discovered nearly a mile away from where Severus had brutally stabbed him. Apparently, the Death Eater they'd captured had thought Longbottom was still alive because of the poison he'd taken and had dragged the Gryffindor from the estate. He'd dropped Longbottom's body into a patch of nearby trees and had ran when he'd heard aurors coming.
After Longbottom's body had been discovered, Shacklebolt, Dillingham, Rollin, and Ron had stood there as Rollin and others in the morgue made ABSOLUTELY sure that it was Neville's body. This time they were certain, even second checking themselves with forensic experts.
The papers were still having fun with all the information they'd gotten from the Ministry, although some of it remained classified. No one knew about the rapes and aborted pregnancies at the victims' families' requests but everything else had been released to the press.
The fact that a serial killer had plagued the Wizarding World, murdering and torturing their citizens had horrified and fascinated the public, especially when it was discovered that Severus had been kidnapped. The only information that had been released was that Severus had been kidnapped by Death Eaters for his unborn child and had been rescued by Harry Potter and a group of aurors. The press and Wizarding Britain had loved every moment of it and ate the story up. Harry managed to bear it all, including the numerous gifts and well wishes he and Severus received.
Severus, however, had to purposely ignore what the magazines and newspapers were printing about him. Harry had never really dated and suddenly, he was attached to the potions master's hip and the older man was allegedly pregnant with his child. People were dying to know how it all started and what Severus had that no other wizard or witch did. Other than a frequently used burning charm, Severus was rather quiet about the whole fiasco.
/And it wasn't anything that happened at breakfast. He was perfectly fine until he got into the bathroom./ Harry tried to think of something that would cause Severus to break down in the bath but he couldn't think of anything. Sighing, he continued to try and coax Severus out of the bathroom. "Severus, please tell me what's wrong. I can't help unless you tell me."
Biting his lip when Severus didn't answer, he said, "Alright. Severus, I'm going to come in if you don't answer me." Surprising, the crying actually got louder much to Harry's shock and concern. "That's it. I'm coming in."
As Harry started to turn the doorknob, he heard a loud, "NO!" "Severus?" asked Harry. The sobbing started again. /Bloody hell./ Frowning, Harry opened the door.
Harry's eyes widened suddenly, not only with concern but a great deal of embarrassment. Severus was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom totally nude. The pregnant wizard was still slightly damp from his shower, his hair especially, and his nightshirt and robe lay on the floor beside him. The potions master's hands were covering his mouth and tear stained cheeks as he stared at Harry in complete horror.
"Oh My God!" Harry spun around red faced and started stuttering apologies to the man behind him. "Severus, I am so sorry! I thought you had gotten dressed already! I didn't mean to see you- I mean I didn't mean to just- I mean-,"
When Harry heard Severus start crying again, he pushed down his own discomfort and slowly turned to the potions master who was no longer bothering to muffle his sobs. The man had wrapped his arms around himself as tears ran down his face. Harry didn't know what was wrong but he knew he had to comfort the distraught wizard.
"Shh. It's alright, Severus. Don't cry. Here." Grabbing Severus's nightshirt and robe, Harry quickly spelled both clean and stepped closer to potions master. Harry was taken aback when the pregnant man stepped away from him, his wet face turned away from Harry.
It had been a while since Severus flinched away from Harry's touch. Last month, it had been Harry who had avoided the potions master's touch, not that it was difficult since Severus wasn't a very tactile person. Harry had suffered from an irrational fear that he would harm Severus if he touched him. Some days he would lock himself in his room as the illogical fear played with his mind. It had taken two weeks of Severus's more creative insults to get him out of that phase.
/Maybe he's just embarrassed. He knows I won't hurt him. I hope he does./ "Severus?" Harry asked startled. Sniffling, Severus dropped his gaze to the ground and, trembling, took a step toward Harry. The auror smiled warily and helped Severus into his nightshirt and robe.
He was glad Severus wasn't looking his way. Harry's face flushed with color as he tried not to look at Severus's body. He found himself utterly fascinated with him and not just the prominent display of his pregnancy. Harry had a strange urge to lightly touch the other wizard to see what he would feel like, but quickly clenched his hands and tore his eyes away from the slightly scarred, pale skin so that he wouldn't make Severus nervous.
"Come on. We'll go to your room so you can lie down." Severus didn't respond, but moved when Harry guided him from the bathroom to his bedroom.
Harry managed to get Severus into bed. The pregnant wizard leaned back against the stack of pillows at the head of the bed and Harry pulled the blankets up over his lap. Smoothing out the comforter, Harry asked, "Are you feeling better?" He sat on the edge of the bed beside Severus.
The older man had finally seized his humiliating crying although he still had a miserable look on his face. Biting his lip harshly, Severus nodded.
Harry raised a hand to brush away the tear tracks that had been left behind on Severus's face but quickly dropped it, not wanting to bother the man like he had before. Onyx eyes actually started to swell with tears at the aborted action and Harry wondered what he'd done this time.
"Severus," whispered Harry as he gently took a long, thin hand in his. "Can you tell me what's wrong?"
Severus shook his head violently. No way in hell was he telling Harry that the potions master had been staring at the mirror and realized just how ugly he was, especially now that he was deformed from his pregnancy. How Harry had ever been attracted to him even while drunk was a mystery to Severus.
It had only gotten worse when he remembered that long overdue hormones had kicked in and Severus was, for lack of a better word, horny. Poppy had told him that because of added stress from his stalker and rape that it wouldn't kick in until late in his pregnancy or not at all. Unfortunately, it had and Severus had been having very interesting thoughts about a green-eyed auror lately.
The miserable pregnant man had burst into tears at his emotionally charged thoughts dealing with his looks and his relationship with his child's paternal father. Of course Harry's actions of supposed disgust at seeing him nude and the auror's hesitancy to touch him only confirmed his own ideas.
Harry sighed impatiently but took a deep breath to stay calm. "Alright. Do you want to lie down?"
"No," he whispered softly. He still didn't look at Harry. "I…I want to get up."
A smile broke over the auror's face at the words. "Okay. How about I get your robes from the wardrobe?" A second later, tears started rolling and Severus was choking, trying not to cry out loud.
/Shit. What did I say? All I did was ask about his robes!/ He wrapped an arm around Severus and rubbed the man's back. "Shh. It's alright."
The Hogwarts professor turned to glare at him venomously, unknowingly calming Harry's worries. "Of course it isn't okay, you imbecile!" yelled Severus. Harry flinched at the volume. "Nothing is 'alright.'"
"Then tell me what's not?"
Seething, Severus growled, "Potter, what have I been wearing for the last week?"
"What does that have to-," Harry started with a confused look.
"Just answer the damn question!"
Gritting his teeth, Harry released a long breath and thought about it. "Um…" His brow furrowed. He gave Severus a long look. "I haven't seen you out of your night clothes."
"Exactly. And what does that mean?" snarled Severus.
Harry glanced at the wardrobe then back at Severus and paused. "Oh! You can't-,"
"Fit my robes anymore!" Severus then sighed and folded in on himself somewhat. "I'm too damn fat to fit into anything anymore."
"No. It's more like the baby has taken up a lot of room." He knew not to go further or Severus would retort back and it would not be pretty. "Have you tried any charms?"
"I've stretched and transfigured them as much as I dare."
Harry nodded. "Okay. If you want, I can go to Madam Malkin's and get you a few new robes."
Severus gave him a long look then nodded. "I would appreciate it," he replied hesitantly.
Smiling, Harry said, "Good." He narrowed his eyes. "Was that it? I would think that it was more to what just happened."
Severus shook his head slowly, not wanting Harry to know what else caused his distress. The auror didn't look like he believed him but Harry nodded. "Okay. I'll go to Diagon Alley today. For now, why don't you take a nap? I know that you aren't really ready for sleep but you need to rest as much as you can. Remember what Poppy said. You're only a step away from being put on bedrest."
A few muttered words about Poppy and Harry were heard but Severus did nod in acquiesce. "Fine."
Harry helped him lie back in bed under the covers. The younger wizard stood to leave. "I'll see you in a little while. I'll leave when you wake up."
"Fine. Out!" Severus snapped, pointing at the door. Harry grinned and walked toward the door. "And remember to answer your owl from earlier, Potter."
Thankfully Severus couldn't see the furious look come over Harry's face. "I won't forget." He just needed a little time to cool off first.
Harry glared angrily at the figure in the fireplace. "You can't possibly expect me to come back so soon!"
Shacklebolt stared back at Harry steadily. "You have a job to do. The Death Eaters have been caught and Longbottom is officially dead. Se- Professor Snape is completely safe now. The case is closed. And you, Potter, are still an auror. You have other cases that you need to concentrate on."
"I know what my responsibilities are, Shacklebolt. But you aren't right." Harry snapped. "I can't just up and leave now. Severus is in his ninth month of pregnancy and needs me here. I just can't leave him. Anything could happen when I'm not home!"
The older auror scowled. "Potter," Shacklebolt started with a sharp tone in his voice, "May I remind you that you do not live with Snape and have your own residence so your current location is not actually your home!"
Harry grit his teeth with displeasure.
"There is no danger to Snape. We've taken care of it already. And not only is Snape no longer your responsibility neither is his child. You are not Snape's lover or spouse. You are not the father of that child!" yelled Kingsley.
Seeing the look on Harry's face, Shacklebolt momentarily wondered if he was being unfair. He quickly brushed it away. Harry was an auror that had a job to do. There was nothing more to it. Shacklebolt ignored the small snort in his head that sounded rather familiar.
Swallowing heavily and clenching his fists were the only things preventing Harry from screaming the paternity of Severus's child to his superior. Severus had forbid him from letting anyone who knew about his assault know the truth. And Harry agreed, as he was sure the knowledge would only bring him and Severus trouble. He had a feeling that if anyone would ever find out other than his friends it would be the Headmaster. The Malfoys might not feel secure leaving him around Severus and who knew how his fellow aurors would react.
"You are to report to the Ministry tomorrow morning to be assigned to a new and open case," commanded Shacklebolt. "Do you understand me?"
Harry's face was stony as he said, "Yes, sir."
"Good. I will see you then." The connection was broken immediately afterward.
"Son of a bitch! What the fuck is his problem?" Harry shouted as he fisted a handful of his hair.
The auror, who was currently cursing his job and his boss under his head, started pacing fiercely. He had never known Shacklebolt to behave in such a way and had no idea what had caused the man to act so. /It can't just me shirking my duties. It has to be something else, but what?/
Harry shook his head. It didn't matter. What did matter was his decision. He could either go to work tomorrow or stay with Severus. He didn't need the money to be an auror. He was certainly wealthy enough without a job, even if his apartment didn't make it look that way. But Harry had become rather attached to his job and not just because of Ron or the fact that his father and godfather had been aurors.
/So what do I do?/ He paused then smiled brightly. /Now why didn't I think of that before? Shacklebolt will be furious but I'll have to deal with him then. He can't exactly punish me for it./ Opening the floo, Harry connected to one of the secretaries in the auror division.
"Can I help you, Auror Potter?" He said.
"Yes. I want at least two or three months leave. I know I have plenty of time saved up. I want to use some of it."
The secretary looked through some files and nodded. "Doesn't make much of a dent in your leave time, sir. When would you like to start leave?"
Harry smirked. "Today would be great."
Shacklebolt would be furious and they would certainly have words tomorrow, but Harry was at the point that he didn't care. He had his priorities and for now, Severus and their baby were his main concern.
Harry fixed his cloak as he prepared to leave. It was spring in London, but the weather had been rather cool for the last few days.
Harry frowned nervously at the fireplace then back at Severus. He wasn't sure going to Diagon Alley was a good idea but knew he was just being paranoid. It was justified. Everytime he left Severus's side, something went wrong. He could only hope it didn't happen again. He looked at the pregnant potions master.
Severus stood in front of the auror with both hands clasped over his bulging abdomen still dressed in his nightshirt and dressing gown. The potions master still looked tired even after his nap. Harry knew he was having a much harder time moving around with the baby's extra weight. Severus actually kept his complaints to himself and didn't take his discomfort out on Harry.
Harry took a deep breath. "Okay. I'll stop by Gringotts for some money-,"
"You have my key, correct?" Severus interrupted.
"Yes. You do know that I can pay for it myself, right?"
Severus scowled. "I know that very well, Potter, but these are my robes, so use my money to pay for them."
Harry nodded. "All right. Gringotts first, then I'll buy your robes. Does Madam Malkin know your measurements? Any specific instructions for your robes?"
"No. Here." Severus removed a small piece of parchment from his pocket. "I did my own measurements. She only has my old ones. Just give her these. She'll know what to do. Also, do not let her talk you into any colors. Just my normal black will do."
Harry really couldn't see Severus in anything but black. It would just be odd to see him in anything else. "Do you want anything else while I'm gone?" Severus handed him a list. Harry grinned. "Books?"
"Of course." Severus added a hint of superiority in his voice.
Harry looked back at the list. "Apples- green, lettuce, spinach, chicken, pasta, and milk?"
"Potter," Severus hissed slightly wondering what the young man was getting at.
"No sweets?" asked Harry. He knew Severus often craved anything sweet and was surprised the older wizard hadn't asked for ice cream or chocolate. Harry decided to pick some up for him anyway.
"Potter, your death wish is showing."
"What are the nappies- oh!"
"We're just over two weeks from my due date, Potter. We've waited long enough as it is."
"Won't we need formula too?" asked Harry.
Severus nodded. "St. Mungo's will supply us with an excellent equivalent of breast milk for the child after it's born."
/Don't want to know. Don't want to know./ Clearing throat, Harry nodded. "Is that all?"
"I believe so."
Harry shoved the lists into his pockets. "I shouldn't be gone too long. Hopefully no more than an hour, but I may be gone two or three at the most."
Severus stared at him.
"I'll check up on you if I'm not back in an hour. Just to make sure you don't want anything else and to make sure you're okay. Remember that Poppy said to rest as much as possible and try to stay off your feet while I'm gone. If you want, you could take another nap."
Severus continued staring.
"And if something goes wrong, you know if you have an accident or something, Poppy will know and she'll be here immediately. If you can, call Albus. You know he'll floo straight here as well. Draco too. It shouldn't be difficult at all." Harry frowned and shifted. "Maybe, I should just send someone to Diagon Alley for me? I mean anything could happen and what if I-,"
Harry paused. "Yes?"
Severus gave him a sharp look. "I will be perfectly fine."
Harry bit his lip. "I-I know that. But it seems like everytime we aren't together, something goes wrong."
"Well it won't. Longbottom is dead and so are the Death Eaters that aren't in Azkaban." Seeing that Harry was still rather apprehensive about leaving, Severus snorted. "Have no fear of your child's safety while you are gone, Potter."
Harry had been around Severus long enough in the last few months that he knew the man was teasing him, in a Snape kind of way. "Be fair, Severus. You know I worry about you too."
"Believe what you wish. I just hope you don't always live in denial." Severus smirked but grimaced a moment later.
The auror took a step forward. "What is it?"
"What do you think? The brat is making its presence known," said Severus with a slight fondness in his voice as he looked down. His expression remained rather neutral though.
Harry grinned when he could actually see something move under Severus's nightshirt a bit. "Still active?" It almost seemed like once the baby had gotten started, the kicking and shifting rarely stopped. He hoped the baby hadn't inherited sleep deprivation from him or Severus.
"Unfortunately." Neither commented on the false statement.
Severus winced when the baby kicked again. Harry cautiously took a step forward and raised his hand. He looked at Severus questioningly. The pregnant wizard scoffed at him. "I will not deny you access to your child, Potter." Severus took a deep breath. "Go on."
Harry laid his hand gently over Severus's large stomach. After a moment, he said, "I think the show is over."
Severus flinched again as Harry smiled. The older man moved his hand slightly and Harry's face lit up when he felt the strong kick against his hand. "I guess I was wrong."
"Honestly!" Severus snapped, grimacing at another sharp kick.
Harry laughed. He smiled down at the swollen abdomen between them. "Take it easy in there. No need to get detention this early in the game."
Severus rolled his eyes.
Harry started again. "Alright, so remember that if I'm not back in an hour-,"
"Potter, shut up!" Severus retorted, his patience gone. Harry suddenly felt a mood swing coming on. "Nothing is going to happen when you leave so get out already."
Instead of responding, Harry smiled. "I thought I was suppose to be the optimistic one."
"If assuring you that the child will be fine-,"
"You and the baby," Harry replied calmly.
"Oh please!" sneered Severus. "If you really expect me to believe that you're concerned for my welfare, Potter, than you-," he was cut off when Harry pressed his lips against Severus's.
Mentally, Harry was both surprised at himself and smug that he'd gotten Severus to stop snipping at him. The thoughts didn't remain in his head for long, however, as he concentrated on kissing the shocked man in his arms.
Severus tensed in surprise as his eyes flew open in shock. Harry kissing him was the last thing Severus had expected to spring up in their argument. After a moment, his tension eased and the older wizard found himself tentatively kissing Harry back.
/Yes!/ Harry cheered silently and gently brushed the thumb of his right hand over Severus's cheek as he pulled away and smiled at the blushing man. "It's not just the baby," he said insistently.
Severus shook his head as he stared into the green eyes before him. "Potter…Harry…"
"Shocked you, have I?" he asked with a grin. Snorting, Severus nodded. "Just know that I am serious." Harry didn't need to expound on what.
Severus took a deep breath. "I…You should be on your way now."
Smiling, Harry stepped away from Severus and headed for the fireplace. "I'll be back soon." Grabbing the powder, Harry flooed to Diagon Alley.
Severus remained in the library still stunned at what had just occurred. He coughed and headed back toward his room. /Maybe not so ugly. Not to that idiot anyway./ Thankfully for Severus, no one was around to see the little smile on the potions master's face. He nearly raised a hand to brush his lips.
Realizing what he was doing, Severus blushed and waddled slowly back to his room, cursing under his breath.
The moment Harry flooed into the Leaky Cauldron he almost wished he hadn't but it was too late for Wizarding Britain's hero to turn around and run away like he wanted.
People in the Leaky Cauldron recognized him immediately and Harry tried not to grimace when saw the same people begin to point and whisper in excitement at seeing the famous Harry Potter. Throwing a polite smile, Harry quickly headed for Diagon Alley, throwing a quick wave at Tom on the way.
He dug into his robe pocket to feel the papers and keys there. "Okay, Gringotts first. Hopefully this won't take long." Harry wondered if the lines would be long. He was pretty sure things would be interesting since it was noon and Diagon Alley looked extremely busy. /Maybe I should have come earlier or waited till later./
Thankfully, while the lines were quick if a little long. Unfortunately, Harry could see people staring at him. /You would think that after all these damn years they would get over themselves and the damn war. Damn Prophecy and Voldemort and, hell why not, damn Albus too./
After fetching money from both his and Severus's vaults, Harry headed toward Madam Malkin's for Severus's robes. He was a few feet from the door when he heard someone yell, "Mr. Potter!" Grimacing, Harry turned with a false smile on his face, ready to greet whomever it was.
A reporter from 'The Gathering,' which was something like the muggle world's Associated Press, was headed his way through through a small crowd. Harry briefly considered running but it was too late by the time the woman reached him. The auror could only be happy that it was someone from TG. They were accurate and honest, unlike the Prophet, who drove Harry mad since they still had Skeeter and other reporters hunting him down.
The brunette, who looked about twenty years old, smiled at him brightly, her face slightly flushed. "Thank you for stopping, Mr. Potter. I didn't think I would ever make it out through that crowd."
/I really wish you hadn't./ Harry thought with annoyance but kept it from showing on his face. "It's quite alright, Miss…"
"Gentry, Mr. Potter. I am Elizabeth Gentry from The Gathering as you can see," she said, pointing at the badge on the breast of her robe. "And I was wondering if you could give me a short interview on the speculations about yourself and Hogwarts Professor Severus Snape. I promise not to take up too much of your time."
Harry sighed. He really didn't feel up to dealing with reporters but he did have to get the story straight sooner or later. Or at least come up with a believable lie. "How about we meet in the Leaky Cauldron in a couple hours? I have a few errands to run first."
She smiled sincerely. "Thank you very much, Mr. Potter. I greatly appreciate it. I'll see you in a couple hours."
After the woman departed, Harry rushed down the street and into Madam Malkin's before anyone else caught him. He could see a small gaggle of giggling females hurrying his way as he rushed inside.
A pleasant witch wearing mauve robes smiled brilliantly when she saw him enter. "Mr. Potter!" cried Madam Malkin as she walked over to him.
"Hello, Madam Malkin," Harry said with a smile. He ignored the other patrons who were whispering and staring. A few of Malkin's assistants just smiled and helped the other customers.
"How can I help you today?" asked the older woman.
Harry glanced around at the other curious customers and leaned into Madam Malkin. "I, um, I need new robes but they aren't exactly for me."
Madam Malkin looked a little surprised as she motioned Harry to a quieter part of the shop where it would be difficult for anyone else to hear the conversation. "Then whom are you purchasing for?" she asked.
Harry blushed and made sure that his back was facing the other customers. "Professor Snape." Harry saw her eyes widen in surprise. "I need a couple maternity robes. He's in his ninth month and the robes he has now are too small."
Malkin gaped at him for only a moment before regaining control of herself. "Oh." Harry watched her stare at him for another moment and knew that the older woman was just brimming with questions. However, Madam Malkin knew when to mind her own business. She straightened and cleared her throat. "I see. Do you have any new measurements for Professor Snape or shall we guess on his current size?"
Harry dug a parchment from his pocket and seeing the measurements, handed it to her. "He measured himself before I left."
"Any color?" asked Madam Malkin almost hopefully.
Fighting back a smirk, Harry shook his head. "Black only."
"Drat! Oh well. How many robes does Professor Snape need?" asked the seamstress as she looked over Severus's dimensions.
Harry frowned. "I'm not really sure. He didn't tell me before I left."
"I see. Follow me." She started heading toward the back of the shop. "When is Professor Snape's due date?" asked Madam Malkin. She moved away and started eyeing the maternity robes in front of her.
"He's due in about two weeks," Harry muttered nervously. The idea that he could be a father in a matter of weeks, two to be exact, was both exciting and terrifying. Harry tried not to think about it too much but it stayed on his mind constantly. He hadn't exactly grown up with good parental figures, not counting Arthur Weasley. Harry had to wonder if he would be a good parent or not.
"Hmm. Then two or three robes might be best. Just make sure to either wash them or keep a good cleaning charm on them. No reason to overspend on robes with him this close to the end. Although they will be good in the case of another pregnancy."
Harry started coughing, nodding his head as Madam Malkin pulled out three simple black robes. /I would like to see her say that with Severus here./
Levitating them, Malkin began examining them. "Perfect! These should fit Professor Snape just right." She whipped her wand through the air, altering the robes slightly. "Would you like a charm so that they'll change back to his original dimensions once he's given birth? It will cost a bit more."
"That would be great. Thank you."
The two headed back to the front of the shop with the chosen purchases just as the door opened again. "Mum, I want to impress him!"
"Ginny, don't you think you're taking things a bit quickly?"
Harry flinched when he recognized the voices. /Oh no. What are Ginny and Mrs. Weasley doing here?./ Trying to gather what Severus called his fatalistic Gryffindor bravery, he continued following Madam Malkin in order to pay for the maternity robes.
"Harry!" cried Ginny, happy to see her friend.
Harry smiled back. He was honestly happy to see them but at the same time wished he was elsewhere. /This is becoming a pattern way too quickly./ "Hello, Ginny." He smiled at the older woman behind her. "Mrs. Weasley."
Molly tsked at him. "Now, Harry, call me Molly."
"Mr. Potter?" said Madam Malkin as she tried to get his attention. She was folding the last robe and putting it into the bag.
"Getting new robes, Harry?" asked Ginny as she came over and tried to peer inside. Madam Malkin closed it and gave the younger woman a displeased look.
"Yes. The others don't fit anymore." Harry fidgeted as he tried to tell the truth without lying or telling them whom the robes were really for.
"You don't look like you've grown any." Molly said as she looked him over.
Harry laughed uneasily as he took the bag from Madam Malkin. "Thanks, Madam Malkin."
"I'm happy to help, Mr. Potter." She left immediately to help another customer.
Ginny immediately snatched Malkin's signature bag out of his hands. "Ginny!" snapped Harry.
"Oh hush. I want to see what you bought." The red head was surprised to pull out a very large robe. She and Molly immediately exchanged a surprised look.
Sighing, Harry pulled the bag and robe from Ginny and put everything to right.
"Harry," Molly stepped up to him and whispered, "Are-are those for Professor Snape?"
Harry groaned mentally, but nodded. Ginny's lips curved into a smirk while Molly smiled.
"That's wonderful." Molly suddenly looked contrite. "Harry, I wonder if you can take a moment to talk to me. I want to say something to you."
Although he was a bit nervous, Harry agreed. "Alright. Where?"
"Why don't you guys go to Fortescue's?" Ginny suggested as she looked at a woman her age modeling a deep purple robe.
Harry shook his head. "I don't know. I really need to get back soon and I have to go to Provin Alley." Provin Alley was a well-known food marketplace.
Molly smiled. "Then why don't I follow you there, Harry? I need to get a few things too."
"Good. Ginny, dear, just meet us in Provin Alley." After gaining Ginny's confirmation, Harry and Molly left Madam Malkin's.
As they headed down Diagon Alley towards Ollivander's, Molly glanced toward Harry then spoke hesitantly. "Harry, dear, I wanted to apologize for the way that I reacted to the news about you and Professor Snape."
Harry frowned. "Molly-,"
She shook her head and raised a hand to silence him. "No. Let me apologize. I was wrong to send that howler and start snapping at you and Severus the way that I did without letting you explain yourselves. I think of you as one of my own, and I was…hurt when I thought that you were keeping your new family from me."
"No." Harry shook his head. "No, Molly. I never intended to do anything like that. You are the only mother figure that I've really ever had. But there was a lot going on at the time."
She smiled. "I know. Ron told me everything."
Harry swallowed harshly. "He did?" he managed to say steadily. /I'll kill him./
"Yes. He told me how you and Professor Snape were working together and then everything else just happened." She leaned in. "And I completely understand keeping quiet so that the Death Eaters wouldn't find out about his pregnancy."
Harry laughed. /You can always count on Ron./ "Thanks Molly," he said as they continued on their way.
"Did you and Professor Snape get my gift for the baby shower?" Molly asked eagerly.
Harry nodded. "Yes. We were a bit surprised since you were upset with us."
"I hope you liked it. What did Severus say?"
"That is was rather unique." Severus had decided to be polite since Ron was in the room and Harry had been silently begging the potions master with his eyes to be kind. "We have it hung up in the nursery."
"Are you excited about being a father, Harry?" She was smiling brightly at the thought.
He gave a shaky sigh. "I'm scared to death, but I'm happy about it too. I think Severus is nervous too. He's been rushing around changing things all over the cottage when he should be resting."
Molly chuckled. "I believe that Severus is nesting." Seeing the blank look on Harry's face, Molly gave him a short explanation.
The auror blinked. "I see. Well, I just want him to calm down and rest. His back is still bothering him and Madam Pomfrey is close to putting him on bed rest."
"He's in his ninth month? I'm surprised that Severus is doing so well. Male pregnancies can be rather difficult on the body. Is he eating properly?"
They had passed the junk shop a minute ago, and had come upon a break in Diagon Alley. Restaurants and cafés stood at the the front of the alley but midway in Provin Alley stood stands and carts full of food and small indoor stores behind them. Provin Alley was as busy as Diagon Alley.
Harry dug for the grocery list in his pocket. "Yes. He's making sure not to eat anything unhealthy and in a good portion."
Molly nodded as she removed her own list. "That's excellent. It should give the baby a little more of what he or she needs before the birth. Do you know what the baby's sex is?"
"No. Severus wanted to wait. I think it'll be a nice surprise for both of us." He read the list. "This shouldn't take long."
Molly looked over his shoulder at his list. "Not at all. Your list is shorter than mine. Now let's get started so that you can get back to Professor Snape. He could go into labor early and you wouldn't be there." Molly saw the terrified look on Harry's face and quickly reassured the wizard. "But I doubt that it will happen. Babies usually like to take their time."
Harry relaxed a little but was even more determined to finish things and hurry home to Severus. He kept his calm until Molly asked, "Harry, do you and Severus plan on marrying?"
The auror nearly took a nosedive into the ground. "Um…I uh…well…Hey, Molly, isn't that our first stop?"
"Don't you change the subject, Harry Potter!"
It took an hour but Harry finally finished his list, until he looked again. He'd folded the list badly. "Oh no!" he groaned.
"What's wrong?" asked Molly as she purchased a loaf of bread.
"I completely forgot the rest of the list. Severus will kill me if I don't bring everything back." He needed to go by Flourish & Blotts to get Severus's books. /And where am I suppose to get the nappies for the baby? I don't even know any baby stores./
"Molly? Do you know where I can-," he paused to glare at the cashier, who looked all too interested in their conversation. Harry held up the list to Molly and pointed.
The Weasley matriarch smiled. "I know just the place for you to go. We can go there before you go to the bookstore." Harry thanked her as they left the store.
Molly gave Harry a hug when she decided to go find Ginny. "She's a smart girl, but with a boy on her mind there's no telling what she'll get up to." But Harry had one last thing to ask her.
With a blush on his face, he told Molly about what happened between him and Severus earlier that morning. "I just don't know what I did and Severus won't tell me anything. I know it was more than just his robes," Harry said with exasperation.
The witch laughed at him, but stopped when she saw his scowl. "I don't laugh to be mean, Harry. I'm just remembering when I went through the same thing and more than once."
Molly told Harry what was wrong with Severus and, while laughing, left the stunned auror to find her daughter.
His eyes as wide as ever, Harry went on his way.
/And after our brave hero manages to survive the horror of 'Magical Babes: Infants to Tots,' fight off nosy and unfortunately single fans, gain favor at the grand bookstore to obtain potions and defense books, he decides to brave his last adventure: the reporter./ Harry grinned at his thoughts as he headed for the Leaky Cauldron.
He was getting tired and was more than happy to finish up. The only reason that he didn't jump ship and run back to the cottage was because the reporter had been rather nice. He was worried about what time it was. He hadn't had a chance to contact Severus and he knew that the hour was over. /It's too late now and I'm nearly done anyway./
As Harry passed Eeylops Owl Emporium, he paused for a long moment as he thought of Hedwig and Prometheus. /I do need a new owl. And I think Severus does too./ Putting a quick charm over his grocery bag to make certain that nothing would fly in, Harry entered the shop.
The clerk at the front didn't look up as Harry walked in. "If you need any help sir, just call." The young man flipped a page of his magazine.
Although Harry was very grateful for the lack of attention, he was annoyed with the lack of service. Sighing, he looked at the birds that occupied the shop and started browsing. /I'm not even sure what I'm looking for./
After nearly ten minutes, Harry was losing patience and hope of finding two owls for him or Severus. He'd seen tawny, screech, barn, and brown owls like advertised but he'd seen nothing like Prometheus and Harry had not seen one snowy owl like Hedwig. Shaking his head, Harry headed for the front door throwing one more glance behind him. /This was probably a bad idea. Severus may not want a new owl and wouldn't appreciate me getting one for him./
He came up short when he saw a pair of what appeared to be gray owls. One was practically black, while the other was a lighter gray. The owls were Prometheus's size and from they way they were both staring at him, likely rather intelligent.
Harry walked over and stood before their perch. The owls kept their golden gaze on Harry. "Hello." The darker owl hooted at him, then his companion followed suit a moment later.
After buying the owls and promising to send for them the next day, Harry tried not to run to the Leaky Cauldron. He wanted to get out of Diagon Alley and home as soon as possible. He wondered why he forgot that he hated shopping so much.
Harry entered the Leaky Cauldron and wearily started looking for the reporter. The man was pleased that it didn't take any time at all to find her. She stood and waved him over. As Harry walked over, he gave her a weak smile.
"You look tired," Gentry said sympathetically.
"Just a bit," said Harry. "But I've got everything and just want to go home now. So if you're ready…" Harry hated to sound rude but he wanted the day to be over with so he could check on Severus. He didn't even think he'd been gone the full two hours.
Gentry smiled despite his tone. "No problem. Let's just get to it, shall we? Are you and Professor Snape currently in a romantic relationship? And if you aren't now, have you ever been or intend to be in such an association?"
Harry dropped his eyes to land behind Gentry and was surprised to see Pansy Parkinson sitting at a table despondently staring at her hands. The woman looked terribly sad and Harry pitied her. It wasn't every day you found out your husband, now dead, was a kidnapping, raping murderer.
For a moment, Harry accidently caught the woman's eyes. She looked at him emotionlessly before Harry dropped his eyes.
He turned back to the reporter. "Yes, Professor Snape and I are in a relationship, however, I would not like to talk about the particulars of our relationship or how things started without speaking to him first."
"Of course. I understand. And the professor's child? Yours?"
Harry looked up sharply to see Pansy staring at him. "Mrs. Go-,"
"It's Ms. Goyle as you should well know." She sneered darkly at him. Her face fell afterward. "I…I was wondering if I could talk to you."
Harry wanted to whine that he wanted to go home but had a feeling that this was something serious. He turned back to the curious reporter. "I'm afraid that I really need to get home. However, if you want, we can still do the interview at another time and after I've spoken to Professor Snape."
Gentry shook her head and dug into her pocket. "It's quite alright. It was luck that I even found you before the Prophet."
He laughed and took the card she handed him. "Well, I promise that it'll be you rather than the Daily Prophet." /Because I'm too close to blowing them straight to hell for all the crap they write./
They shook hands and with a wave to Harry and a polite nod to Goyle, Gentry left the table. A moment later, Ms. Goyle had taken her seat. Harry stared at her. "So what can I help you with, Ms. Goyle?" he asked politely.
She frowned. "It doesn't have anything to do with you really." She dropped her eyes to her clasped hands that sat primly on the table. "It's about Professor Snape."
Harry stiffened. "What about him?"
"I wanted…I want you to deliver him a message from me."
"And you can't send him one yourself?" asked Harry skeptically.
"No. It should be personal but this is as close as I can get. I wasn't in Gryffindor, Potter. I'm don't have that kind of bravery."
Harry wondered where this was going. "What do you want to say?"
She didn't lift her head. "Tell him that I'm sorry for everything that happened. That I didn't know. He always watched out for us in school and I would never repay his kindness in such a way. Gregory shouldn't have tried to harm him and his child. I wish…" Pansy shook her head. "I can't do this. I have to go." She stood quickly and started to leave.
"Wait!" cried Harry but Parkinson just paused and said, "Just tell him what I said, Potter." She left into Diagon Alley.
Harry sighed and gathered his things. /What a day./
Looking around, Harry cursed when he saw Rita Skeeter heading his way. He stood and walked out of the Leaky Cauldron before she could get to him, not caring what she thought about his manners.
"So what are we going to tell everyone? The guys, except for Ron, think that the baby is Longbottom's, but the public thinks that I am the father. I don't want the baby growing up confused about whether or not I'm their father."
Severus frowned while he sat across from Harry after dinner in the kitchen. "I suppose you are correct. Something needs to be decided. Preferably before the baby is born. The minute it happens, I'm quite sure St. Mungo's will leak the information of the birth."
"So what are we going to do?" asked Harry.
Thinking for a moment, Severus said, "Since your colleagues believe that we have gotten 'close,' merely tell them that we are entering a relationship and that you wish to adopt the child as your own."
"And everyone else?" He could see Severus's hesitation.
"I think we may need to tell Albus. The barmy old coot is too sharp. I wouldn't be surprised if he learns the truth the first time he sees the baby. I'm not quite sure if the Malfoys should hear anything else."
Harry grimaced as he thought about how Draco would react. All Harry could see in his mind was Draco snapping and trying to kill him. Whether he would use curses or his bare hands, Harry's mind apparently couldn't decide.
"At the moment, I believe it would be best if we did not tell them."
"Okay." Mentally, Harry was cheering as the images of his murder stopped playing in his mind, although he wondered how the Headmaster was going to take the news. The mental pictures started again.
Severus stood slowly with a soft grunt, using the table and his chair to lift himself. Harry frowned when he rubbed his back. "Is it bothering you again?" asked the auror in concern.
"Yes," said Severus, who decided not to bother denying it. "It's been getting worse all day."
"Why didn't you tell me?" snapped Harry. He quickly changed his tone when he saw the look Severus sent his way. "I'm just worried."
The pregnant wizard sighed. "I don't know why I kept silent, Potter." Severus didn't say that he didn't want Harry to touch him in his current state of mind.
Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "You still have some of the salve left for your back right?" Severus nodded. "Do you want to put that on and go to bed early?"
Severus nodded. "Yes." He was getting more and more worn down from his pregnancy and was ready to sleep for the day.
Smiling, Harry stood and took their plates to the sink. Severus frowned but kept silent at Harry's promise to clean them later. The auror then guided the older wizard toward Severus's bedroom.
"Is Pomfrey still coming tomorrow?" asked Harry as they headed down the hall.
"Yes. I do believe she's planning to put me on bedrest from now on." Severus moved slowly along Harry's side.
"Why?" asked Harry. "I thought she said it depended on how you were doing?"
"That is what she said. However, Poppy said she wants me to have as much rest as possible before I go into labor."
Harry nodded. "I understand. It's probably for the best."
Severus snorted as they finally reached his bedroom door. "So says the man that isn't going to be on his back for the next two weeks."
Harry fought against any embarrassing images those words brought to mind and followed Severus into his room. "Where is the salve?" he asked as Severus headed for the bed.
Severus pointed to the dresser as he sat at the edge of the bed. He picked up the blanket he always used when they used the salve on the pregnant wizard's back. When Harry turned his back, Severus lifted his nightshirt to his hips and placed the blanket over his legs.
Harry turned and frowned. "What's wrong?" A grimace of pain was back on Severus's face.
"I don't think that this is going to work. This position is too uncomfortable for me." Severus blushed as he stood back to his feet. His stomach seemed to hang over and it only aggravated his already bad back.
Eyeing the bed, Harry pointed to the headboard with the hand holding the jar of salve. "We can lean against the headboard. So you won't have to fully support yourself."
Severus nodded in agreement and slowly made his way toward the top of the bed. Harry followed on the opposite side. As the potions master got comfortable on his side of the bed, Harry opened the small pot of salve, keeping his eyes averted as Severus arranged his clothes and the blanket. "Ready?" he asked when Severus was done.
"Yes," said Severus as he leaned back against the wood headboard. Harry dipped his fingers into the jar and went to work on Severus's sore back.
The auror watched Severus drop his head forward with a long sigh. Harry chuckled softly. "Good?"
"Merlin, yes. I don't know how much more of this I can take." Severus gave another deep sigh when Harry pushed his fingers into a rather tough knot in Severus's back.
"Not much longer, Severus. Just two weeks."
"Yes, then comes sleepless nights caused by a howling infant. And we must not forget the multiple feedings, the filthy diapers…"
Harry smothered a grin and continued with the liniment. He jumped slightly when Severus leaned forward and moaned quietly. "Are you alright?"
Severus glared at him from under a curtain of black hair. "Potter, if you don't continue, I am going to make you pay for it."
"Got the magic touch huh?" said Harry with a laugh.
"You're lucky I don't have the energy to kick you out of this bed." Severus ignored the shaking caused by Harry's laughter and closed his eyes. He was tired and in pain. Severus was more than ready to go to sleep.
Harry smiled softly as a drowsy Severus shifted and the dark haired man unknowingly placed his head on Harry's shoulder. Harry didn't say anything to Severus. He just continued to rub the salve into his back. Small noises of relief were the only thing that told him that Severus was still awake.
Looking out into the room, Harry tried not to concentrate on the skin he was covering with ointment and bit his lip. /No, Harry. Now is NOT the time to be having any type of thoughts that go in that direction./ He cursed mentally when Severus gave another sigh. /Severus, if you weren't as exhausted as you were, I'd think you were doing this on purpose./
Severus shifted his head so that his face was more turned toward Harry's neck, accidentally unsettling the younger wizard. "More to the left, Harry."
Harry's eyes widened as he swallowed heavily. While he obeyed Severus's directions, he decided that a very swift change was needed. /What to do? What to say?/ The minute his mind did come up with something, a scowl appeared over his face.
Severus felt the minor tension in Harry's body increase and frowned. He didn't know what would cause the change. "Potter?"
"I thought I should warn you that Shacklebolt may come by tomorrow morning."
The tone of Harry's voice was harsh making Severus wonder just what had happened. "Oh? And why is he visiting?"
"He will probably need to talk to me tomorrow."
"About what?" asked Severus when he opened his eyes. He pulled away from Harry, irritated that the man wasn't answering his question properly.
Harry sighed. "Can we not-,"
"You brought this up, Potter?" Severus snapped. "Now answer the question. What is the reason for Kingsley's visit tomorrow?" The pregnant wizard noticed the tightening of Harry's lips when he mentioned his former lover by his given name.
Staring steadily into Severus's onyx eyes, Harry pulled his hand away from the potions master and picked up the open jar. "He may be…a little upset with me," he answered as he dropped his gaze. Harry picked up the lid and closed the small pot.
"What could he possibly be upset with you about?" asked Severus confused, but not liking the way this conversation was going. He could see the hints of anger on Potter's face.
"I took a little time off yesterday. I didn't think it would be a good idea to go to work-,"
"Wait," Severus interrupted with a raised hand. He narrowed his eyes at Harry, examining the younger man. "What does this have to do with Shacklebolt?"
Harry's hands tightened around the pot of salve. "After you fell asleep this morning, Shacklebolt told me that I wasn't taking my responsibilities as an auror seriously because I wasn't at the Ministry. I was here with you. I told him that I was not about to leave you alone in your ninth month. I told Shacklebolt that you needed me here."
"And what was his response to that?" Severus already had a good idea. /Damn it, Kingsley. I warned you not to get involved in this./
"He said that I had nothing to do with you or our child. And my job as your guard was over." Remembering Shacklebolt saying that his child wasn't his infuriated Harry. Even if his superior didn't know the truth, it didn't make things fine with Harry.
"In just those words?" asked Severus.
"No. Not exactly." Harry drew his eyes back up to Severus's. "But that was the general idea of the conversation. He told me to report to work tomorrow morning."
"And you have no intentions of doing so," said Severus while nodding his head. "That's why you're taking time off."
"Right after I spoke to him and it's just for a little while. Until you and the baby are settled. Then I'll go back." Harry was rather curious on what the arrangements would be once he did return to work. Would he keep living with Severus and the baby at Dumbledore's cottage? Would they move into his home or back to Hogwarts like Severus planned? Harry found himself afraid to ask. He wasn't sure what Severus's answer would be, even when their tentative and unofficial relationship was finally acknowledged. /Bloody hell. I'm not even sure what I want./ thought Harry despondently.
"How calm was this conversation?"
"Define calm." Harry said smartly.
Severus snorted softly and shook his head. He had a feeling that it hadn't been a calm conversation and he'd been correct. "Yelling?"
"Quite a bit." Harry sighed violently and leaned back. "I just don't know what his problem is lately! Normally, he would have gotten on my case about NOT taking vacation time and not paying attention to my job, but lately… I think after that picture in the paper, he's questioning my credibility as an auror. Told me straight to my face that I wasn't doing my job correctly. That I was getting too close to you."
"I warned that damn idiot."
Harry's brow furrowed as he watched Severus scowl. "What are you talking about?"
"You said that this started after the picture of us in the Prophet? The one taken at the hospital?"
"Yes," Harry replied.
"Then I was right. Stupid fool."
The pregnant wizard shifted, trying to put his clothes to right. Harry turned his head to grant the older man a little privacy. "He's jealous."
Harry's head snapped back around with his mouth agape. He blushed when Severus glared at him. The professor hurriedly pulled the nightshirt down over his legs and thighs. "What do you mean, 'He's jealous?'" asked Harry. It had been a vague thought in Harry's mind some time ago, but he'd dismissed it.
"I mean he's suffering from the green eyed monster." Severus smirked as he looked at Potter's eyes. "It started with the paper and I'm sure that it only became worse, correct?"
"Only until now."
"Are you certain?" asked Severus.
Thinking back, Harry shook his head. "There wasn't another time after the paper incident."
"No. You didn't see how he reacted to Lucien and I."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked as he became more confused.
"Shacklebolt and I were in a serious relationship, but he told me he had no intentions of taking it farther and it ended quickly. I saw his face when he saw me holding Lucien."
"I still don't get it," said Harry.
Severus grunted. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Hey," whined Harry.
"Don't do that, Potter. Kingsley saw a more family network. A pregnant man with a child in his arms practically screams that. Then you walked in and Kingsley saw it as…" Severus trailed off in thought then said, "He saw it as you taking a place in a family that he could have been a part of. He is probably wondering about his decision to end our relationship."
"So he's taking his frustrations out on me?" asked Harry in disbelief.
Severus nodded. "In a way, you have what he thinks he wants. He's probably in denial about it or he would have checked his own behavior."
"Unbelievable," muttered the auror. "So what am I going to do?"
"The truth obviously isn't going to work. Not the complete version of it anyway. Tell Shacklebolt that we are together and that you plan to adopt the child. You won't be able to leave your pregnant lover at home alone where anything could happen." /Or at least that seems to be your damn motto./
"What if he disagrees?"
"Then you let me handle him."
Smiling, Harry wrapped an arm around Severus, ignoring the potions master rolling his eyes. "A knight in shining armor. Or black robes."
"I should be. I saved your arse often enough during your school years."
Harry buried his face in Severus shoulder as he snickered.
Harry blinked and looked around as he heard the soft crying echoing around him. Looking around at the hazy atmosphere, Harry realized that he was dreaming. /So where is the crying coming from?/ he thought.
The auror headed off into one direction and was relieved when the crying became clearer. Harry was surprised to realize that the crying was coming from a baby. A smile came over his face as a simple white crib appear a few feet away from him in the middle of the unsubstantial walls and floor.
The baby was older than Harry had thought he or she would be. The dark haired child, dressed in the dragon print sleeper that Harry remembered from Severus's baby shower, was lying on their belly, the little head up and looking to Harry's left. He couldn't see the baby's face for the soft hair.
"Da!" squealed the baby, who had to be at least five or six months old. Harry walked closer to the crib, wondering if this was suppose to be his child calling for him. He'd been having dreams of running after dozens of naked babies with one towel in his hands and Severus yelling insults at him the entire time. Other than variations of that dream, this was the first one he'd had in some time that was really different.
A small chubby fist rose up and reached out in front of him before falling back down. "Da!"
Harry wondered if the baby was reaching for someone. He turned and saw Severus sleeping in his rocking chair asleep, his head tilted slightly the side and covered by the same dark hair the baby had. Even though his face was hidden, Harry knew who it was.
Soft green eyes looked at the baby, whose face Harry still couldn't see, before turning back to Severus. Harry walked over to the man and noticed that the prominent belly he was used to seeing was gone.
Harry knelt down beside the rocking chair and laid a hand on Severus's robed knee. "Severus?" he whispered, wondering if the dream Severus would even answer him. When the older man said nothing, Harry reached out and touched the pale cheek that faced him. The wizard jumped when he felt the cold clammy skin. /Oh no./ he thought. Harry shook his head slightly with rising fear.
"Severus?" Harry said urgently as he put his hands on Severs's arms and started shaking the potion master. "Severus?!" Severus's head turned and Harry froze, stunned at the empty onyx eyes staring though him.
Behind Harry, the baby's crying suddenly grew louder and more hysterical. Harry threw himself away from the dead body before him and looked behind him for the baby. His eyes widened when he saw nothing there. The crying suddenly came from in front of him and when he turned back to look, a strangle cry came from his throat.
In front of him, Severus, whose eyes were now closed, had his arms wrapped around a bloody, naked infant that was howling at the top of his lungs. That was only what partially horrified Harry.
Severus's robe was only partly closed but it was enough for Harry to see the huge bloody gap in the man's deflated stomach. It was horizontal and went from one side of Severus's abdomen to the other. Shaking, Harry walked backwards, trying to get as far away as possible.
A gasp slipped past his lips when Severus's empty eyes reopened and focused on him. "You're too late this time."
"NO!" Harry screamed as he shot up in his bed.
Harry struggled for breath as he bent his knees and buried his hands in his wild dark hair. Tears tried to squeeze out of his eyes as he bit his lip brutally. "It's not true," he whispered with a shaky voice. "He's alive. He and the baby are fine." Tightening his grasp on his hair, Harry moved his hands and pulled back the comforter. He needed to check on Severus.
Severus was already awake when Harry reached his door. "Harry?" he called softly through the door. The younger wizard opened the door carefully and entered, closing it behind him.
Picking up his wand from his bedside table, Severus whispered, "Lumos." After the room was properly lit, Severus was surprised to see just how white Harry's face was. The auror looked terrified and sick to his stomach. "Potter? Harry, what's wrong?"
Not saying anything, the man walked over and sat beside Severus in the bed. He wrapped his arms around Severus and buried his face into the older man's shoulder. One hand lay over the extended belly. "Is the baby awake?" Harry whispered hoarsely. He could feel the warmth from Severus's skin and it comforted him, but he needed to know that their child was safe inside of the Hogwarts professor.
"Yes." Severus didn't ask questions. He could see how shaken the man was. Severus moved Harry's hand and pressed it gently. The baby reacted instantly, pressing back. Harry's shout had startled Severus and in turn woke the baby.
Harry sighed in relief. Severus looked at the head on his shoulder. "What were you dreaming?" he asked carefully.
Harry shook his head refusing to answer. He lifted his head. "Do you mind if I…stay here?"
"You aren't some child that needs cuddling, Potter." But even as he said it, Severus began pulling the blankets up over their legs. Harry showed little humor towards Severus's comment.
Both wizards laid down, Severus making sure that he was facing Harry. The young man pulled the pregnant professor close, as they got comfortable in bed. "Was it so bad?" asked Severus curiously.
Harry took Severus's hands and squeezed it tightly. "Yes, but it's just…" He trailed off and closed his eyes. He didn't want to tell Severus. He remembered the man telling him how scared he was of the baby's birth. "Please just go to sleep, Severus. Please."
Scowling, Severus allowed Harry to keep his hands as they went back to sleep.
Harry's eyes snapped open in shock when he heard someone yell his name. Severus woke at the same time and both went for their wands. Harry glared when he saw Severus struggle to sit up in the bed while he leapt up from under the comforter and to his feet. "Where are you going?" asked Harry.
Harry winced both at the screaming voice he knew belonged to Shacklebolt and the icy glare Severus threw him. "You want me to leave you to Shacklebolt's wrath? Get over here and help me stand." Severus found it difficult to get to his feet with the swollen ankles and offsetting weight.
"POTTER! WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?"
"I just think that you need to stay here!" Harry explained. "Let me handle Shacklebolt."
"Severus, I really think that you could only make it worse."
"POTTER, DO NOT MAKE ME COME FIND YOU!"
Severus raised an eyebrow. "I do not believe that it can get any worse, but go on 'Daniel' into the lions' den."
Harry sighed with aggravation and headed out of the bedroom. "What a thing to tell a Gryffindor."
Suddenly weary of the entire situation, Harry followed Shacklebolt's voice to the library. He could see the auror in the floo and sighed. "Shacklebolt. Isn't it a bit early in the morning for this?" Harry said, realizing he was dressed in long cotton pants and a plain white shirt.
Shacklebolt looked seething angry. "Potter, didn't I tell you to report to the Ministry this morning?"
Harry fought back a smirk. "Yes, you did."
"So why are you not here?" growled the other auror.
"Because I'm on leave." Shacklebolt stilled. "Didn't the secretaries put the papers on your desk?"
"You were always the one that said I needed some time off," Harry retorted spreading his arms out to his sides.
"I don't believe that you would deliberately ignore a direct order!" yelled Shacklebolt.
Harry glared at him. "Don't you give me that! I told you that Severus needs me here. He comes first, Shacklebolt, whether you realize it or not."
"Potter, I cannot believe this. There is nothing at that cottage that is holding you there! Severus can take care of himself and his own child."
"What is going on in this house is none of your business. You are my superior but my decisions in my personal life are my own." Harry realized that he probably shouldn't have said what he did, but he had no intentions of taking it back.
"Your personal life?" said Shacklebolt with a hint of a snarl in his voice.
Harry cursed silently, then said, "Severus and I are…in a relationship." /Or we're getting there. Same thing./
Shacklebolt narrowed his eyes. "You are supposed to be his damn guard, Potter, not his boyfriend!"
"My assignment was over when this happened!" yelled Harry as he pointed at him. "So you don't have anything to say about me not doing my job."
"You were always too close to Severus. I see my mistake in assigning you to this case. Perhaps you were correct. I should have done it myself."
Green eyes narrowed at him. "So eager to take my place, Shacklebolt?"
The man in the floo glowered. "What is that suppose to mean?"
Harry snorted. "I don't think that I need to explain it. You know what I mean."
Shacklebolt stared at Harry in shock. "You think I'm jealous?" he roared. "That's absurd." But what Severus had whispered in his ear rang even as Harry spoke again. "Stop looking at him as if he's the intruder here." It had been the potions master's way of telling him that whatever was happening between Harry and Severus was their business.
"You haven't proved me wrong!" Harry closed his eyes for a second and took a deep breath. "Shacklebolt, leave it be. I'll be back to work sooner or later, but I am staying with Severus and the baby."
Angry eyes stared at him before looking past Harry to the doorway. Severus stood there with his disapproval showing clearly on his face. The pregnant wizard shook his head, his eyes telling Shacklebolt to stop.
"Fine." Snapped the older auror. "I expect you back to work when your leave is up." The floo connection was cut immediately afterward.
Harry sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Thank Merlin that's over." He stood and turned to the doorway and scowled when he saw Severus. "Aren't you supposed to be resting?" asked Harry. He put his hands on his hips.
Scoffing, Severus turned slowly and waddled toward the kitchen. "I may as well stay up. Poppy will be here in an hour or so. Now come fix my breakfast."
The younger man rolled his eyes. "Yes, master. Of course master."
"Just remember your place, Potter."
Poppy smiled as she put away her things. "You're doing very well, Severus. There isn't any stress on your breathing and your weight is just where it should be. I was worried about it dropping. You're becoming little dehydrated so I want you to drink more water and juice. The baby is healthy and still has a healthy range of activity. I heard strong lungs and heart too." She patted the belly of the prone potions master. "Now I want you to stay in bed from now on, Severus."
"Oh for Merlin's sake, Poppy." Severus grumbled.
She shook her head and glanced at Harry, who was smiling at them both. "Severus, I want the baby to decide when he or she is ready to come out. I'd feel better if the child is born as far along as it can get. If you keep traipsing around, the baby will be here tomorrow!"
Harry looked surprised. "What do you mean? The due date isn't until-,"
"Oh I know that, Harry. But babies are rarely born on their due date. Around the ninth month, they come whenever they please." The younger man paled while Severus snorted at his behavior. Poppy turned back to Severus. "The baby is more than ready, Severus, and one good bump from you will tell them to come on out." Poppy wagged her finger at him.
"I wouldn't harm the child, Poppy. I'm very careful," Severus said indignantly.
"I know that. However, you are also tired and physically weary. You could trip or fall into the wall or to the ground even with that bracelet from Albus." Poppy ignored Harry's worried shifting. "And you need as much energy as possible when you give birth. It's going to take a great deal out of you."
Severus sighed. "Oh very well." He crossed his arms. Harry and Poppy exchanged an amused look over Severus's head.
Poppy stood from Severus's bed. "Good. Harry, I trust you'll make him follow my advice."
"Good." She turned back to her colleague. "Remember what I said, Severus. Rest! I'll see you again in a few days." Saying goodbye, she flooed back to Hogwarts after shooing Harry back into his seat at Severus's side.
Albus was waiting for her the minute she got back. Poppy shook her head. "Really, Albus!" she exclaimed with a grin.
The Headmaster beamed at her. "Poppy! You promised, you'd tell me!"
She shook her head. "Alright. Yes." She watched Albus try to contain a shout of joy. "They argue like an old married couple, but they are rather nice together. Harry is very protective of Severus and the baby, and Severus appears to be comfortable with him around."
"Excellent!" cried the Headmaster as he clapped his hands together. /Now Minerva owes me a month's worth of lemon drops!/
Dumbledore turned at Poppy's reluctant voice and could see her hesitance. "What is it, Poppy?"
"Are you sure about this?" Albus had been spouting to Poppy and Minerva that Harry and Severus would be a couple before the baby was even born.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Don't you think that this might be a bit much for Severus? I know his assault was months ago but, I'm worried about him."
Albus smiled. "Severus will be fine, Poppy. I promise. Harry will take care of him." He changed the subject. "So, when will the little bundle of joy get here?"
"Any day now. Why?"
Albus pulled out a thick roll of paper. "I have a list of names for Severus and Harry to decide on."
Poppy knew Albus and wondered how she and Minerva could make that list disappear.
Later that day, Harry dug into the cupboards for a jar of applesauce that Severus swore was there. Harry was digging through the very last cabinet with little hope. He personally thought Severus had sent him on a wild goose chase. The potions master was getting a malicious joy out of ordering Harry around. He claimed it was revenge for Harry harassing him.
/Harassing him. I'm not harassing him. I'm only worried about him and the baby. He should be happy that I keep asking him how he's doing. Poppy said the baby could come any time./ The commands annoyed Harry to no end, but as long as Severus was quiet and happy, so was Harry.
/Maybe walking around wouldn't be a bad idea for him./ Then Harry, peering into the open cupboard, paused as he thought about Blaise's labor. He put Severus on the bed in labor instead of Blaise. /On the other hand, taking our time is absolutely for the best./ He nodded and reached for the jar of applesauce he'd found.
A small tapping at the windowpane drew Harry's attention away from finding Severus a spoon. Walking over to the window, Harry saw the two owls he'd bought in Diagon Alley.
"Hello there," Harry said as he opened the window. The two birds flew in and Harry saw that both carried a box. He reached for the one the lighter owl hand and nearly lost his hand.
"Hey! Easy there!" He raised his hands out in front of him. "I didn't mean any harm. Honest!" The owl's eyes examined him for a long moment before hooting. Harry took that as permission to get the box. Both owls watched him closely as he took the box and removed the string that kept it closed.
Harry's eyebrow rose as he saw the three eggs lying in the box on top of some straw. He looked at the owls. "Right. Yours?" Both owls hooted. Harry looked at the lighter owl. "And I guess you're the girl?" The owl hooted. "Okay."
Apprehensive eyes looked at the darker owl and the box he held. Harry swore the dark owl was laughing at him. "You're definitely going to Severus," he said with an exasperated sigh.
He took the box and opened it. It was full of supplies for the two owls. "Hmm…cages, owl treats, books?" Harry picked up the first book. "How to Care for Baby Owls." He looked at the owls that stared back. "I'm sure you two will take care of that."
Harry picked up both boxes and headed toward the door. "Come on. You have to meet Severus. And you two need names." The two owls watched the human walk out the door before following him.
Severus looked up from his book and was startled when Harry entered with two boxes and two dark barn owls. "Potter?"
Harry smiled. "I got them in Diagon Alley. I figured that we both needed new owls. I never bought a new one after Hedwig."
Severus stared at the owls as Harry removed their shrunken posts from one of the boxes he held and enlarged them. Severus leaned forward and peered into the boxes, continuing to watch the birds through his peripheral vision. He scowled seeing the eggs and glared at Harry. /Potter, if you bought those birds as a joke, you're a dead man./
"What?" Harry asked confused.
"Eggs, Potter. You're giving me an owl with eggs."
The wizard realizing what he was being silently accused of immediately went on the defensive. "It was a coincidence, I swear. I had no idea that there would be eggs." /I forgot paranoia was a Slytherin trait./
Severus snorted and Harry shook his head. "Do you want to name them?"
"Which is mine?"
The darker owl hooted softly and caught Severus's gaze. Harry nodded. "The ligher one is mine."
Severus threw one more look at Harry before calling the owl over. It flew over to the bed and waddled over to Severus. The potions master gently caressed the bird's feathers. "A name? What do you intend to name yours?"
Harry shook his head. "I haven't the slightest idea. If you had gotten the girl, what would you have named her?"
Severus smirked. "Medea."
Harry didn't look at all amused. He looked down at the man's round belly. "Oh please don't be a girl."
"Very funny, Potter." Severus said rolling his eyes. "Just name your own damn owl."
Chuckling, Harry nodded. "How about Alex?" The owl seemed to glare at him.
The pregnant wizard raised an eyebrow. "Apparently, that isn't a good name."
"Then what are you naming him?" Harry pointed to the dark owl.
"Since he's rather dark, I'll name him Uranus." The owl hooted with acceptance. Severus pulled the box of supplies to him.
Harry groaned and looked at his owl. "Any name suggestions that don't involve homicidal vengeful women?" asked Harry.
Severus actually had to stop and think about it. Uranus hooted pleasantly at the bag of owl treats in the potions master's hands. "I thought about Eris, but considering that she's the goddess of discord and destruction-,"
"If you ignore the sentimentality of it, you could name her Urania. She was one of the Muses. Or…"
"What?" Harry could see Severus's hesitation.
"I thought if the baby was a girl, Antigone would be a good name for her. Perhaps it would go better to the owl." (AN: One of my favorite plays ever.)
Harry could see that Severus was actually a bit attached to the name. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. Besides, we don't know the child's sex and most seem to think it will be a boy."
"Okay." He turned to his owl. "How's Antigone?" He got a pleased reply and sighed in relief. "Thank Merlin."
Severus snorted at him while flipping through the book for the baby owls. "If you are like this, I would hate to see what you're like when the baby is born." He muttered softly about eggs being a brilliant idea and that mammalian pregnancies had to be a form of birth control. He put the book aside and got another.
Harry took the treats and gave one to each owl. "Should we start a list? I mean you are awful close to giving birth."
"No. We're waiting."
Deciding to live with Severus's superstitions, he picked up the book on baby owls. "Okay. So where can we put the 'nest'? Doesn't it have to be high up? Maybe we should just let Antigone decide."
"What's this?" asked Severus.
Harry turned around to see Severus holding a silver pendant tied to a black string. The pendant was flat and plain with nothing on it. It was just a thin, silver circle. "Maybe it's a gift?" He reached out and brushed the silver circle with his index finger.
"I doubt th-," Severus's eyes widened as he felt a familiar tug at his navel. His alarmed eyes caught the green ones in front of him. Harry reached out to him, but it was too late.
The owls panicked as Severus disappeared right before Harry's eyes.
(Alia: Yeah, yeah, I know. He got kidnapped again!)
The pregnant wizard stifled a cry as he landed on his back hard on the floor. Severus saw black spots when his head landed. Pain shot through his back and the rest of his body. His breath was knocked out of him when he landed and Severus started gasping for air.
Severus rolled over onto his left side with a low groan and wrapped his arms around his distended stomach. His face was scrunched up with pain. Severus tried to lift his head, but it throbbed terribly. The potions master closed his eyes tightly as he tried to think. "A portkey?" he whispered in disbelief. /How did a portkey get into a box of owl supplies?/
Opening his eyes, Severus allowed them to adjust as he checked his surroundings. He was in a large room with stone walls, ceiling and floor. The room was chilled and the floor felt slightly damp to Severus. Little lighting came from a tiny barred window that was close to the ceiling. Severus couldn't see much even with the moonlight. There was a thick wooden door to Severus's right. Nothing else occupied the room.
Taking a deep breath, Severus used his left arm to prop up his upper body. He grimaced as he shifted his legs and began moving back against the wall. Severus moved slowly as to not aggravate the pain in his back. It took time, but Severus finally managed to get his back against the wall. With another shaky breath, the pregnant man sat up against the wall. "Oh Merlin," he groaned softly.
Severus's gaze dropped down and he laid both his hands on his stomach. His child hadn't moved. Severus hoped that the baby had been a bit shocked by the hit and nothing serious had happened. /You had better be all right. I landed on my back after all./ Severus poked himself and sighed with relief when a small movement was his response.
Wrapping his robes around his body, Severus was pleased that he'd gone to bed wearing his new robes. The room's cool temperature was already trying to seep through his clothes. He laid his head back against the cool stone. "We'll leave, child. I promise." But Severus knew that he had to at least try to recuperate from the fall before he went anywhere.
However, it seemed that someone had been waiting for Severus's arrival. Only a few minutes after Severus had appeared in the room, the heavy wooden door opened.
Severus cursed the foolishness of leaving his wand sitting on his nightstand. He had thought he was safe with Potter in the cottage. /This is a lesson I'll never forget./ Before his pregnancy, Severus had never gone anywhere without his wand with him.
He looked up at the person that stood in the doorway and Severus was once more surprised.
"WHAT?" Shrieked Ron before he shook his head. "Out of the way mate! I'm coming through!" Ron turned around and yelled at one of the secretaries before coming through the floo.
Ron was greeted to the sight of his best friend pacing back and forth like a madman, his eyes dark and angry. The red head winced. He would hate to be the one that had to face Harry when they got to Snape. "Snape's missing?" asked Ron, who wanted confirmation.
Harry nodded stiffly. He spoke quietly. "Whoever the bastard is that's responsible slipped a portkey into a box of owl supplies. Severus picked up the portkey and he was gone a minute later. I think it may have been keyed to me. It only took a second after I touched it to activate."
Ron was suddenly nervous. He didn't like it when Harry got into this particular mind-set. Harry was in ready to kill mode. This particular attitude of his friend's started when he'd become more active in the fight against Voldemort. It honestly scared the hell out of Ron when Harry acted this way. The last time he was like this was when Longbottom had Snape strapped to that altar. "Okay. No worries right. I mean we found Snape last time and Dumbledore still…"
Harry held up Severus's silver bracelet while looking Ron right in the eye. "I don't think it will be quite so easy this time," Harry said coldly.
Ron cleared his throat. "Right."
The floo activated again as Shacklebolt and Tonks flooed through. "What happened?" asked the aurors.
"Someone came running and told us Ron needed us here immediately," said Shacklebolt.
"Severus is missing." Harry looked Shacklebolt straight in the eye.
"Shit," muttered the senior auror as Tonks turned back to the fireplace.
"I'm calling Dumbledore," said Tonks. "He still has that parchment for the bracelet."
"Which I have in my hand," said Harry. Tonks gaped in shock and worry came over her face. "Try contacting him anyway. Maybe there's something he can do, however, we're leaving."
Ron did a double take. "What? Why? Where are we going?"
"We thought this was over," said Harry as he summoned his auror robes. "But apparently, we were wrong."
"Potter, we got all of the Death Eaters in on Longbottom's scheme." Shacklebolt said, trying to assure the anxious wizard.
Cool green eyes stared at him. "Are you totally sure? You say we got all the Death Eaters but what if someone else knew?"
Ron flinched. "Bloody hell! Why won't this ever end?" He glared at Harry. "I swear somehow the baby inherited this trouble finder from you. Kid's not even born yet and it's worse than yours!"
Rolling his eyes, Harry turned and headed toward the door of the library. "Talk to Dumbledore, Tonks. We'll meet you in front of the French Ministry."
"That's where we're going?" asked Kingsley. He knew now was not a time to challenge Harry's decisions although he wanted to know why they were headed there.
"After we go to Diagon Alley." He didn't stop to look at the two men following him to the front door of the cottage.
"What for?" asked Ron. "Why not straight to the Ministry?"
Harry smirked, his eyes darkening, as the trio exited the cottage. "Because I have to have a conversation with someone at the Owl Emporium."
"LET GO!" screamed the clerk as he struggled to escape Harry's grip. The man had been dragged partially over the counter, his legs kicking behind him while his upper half hung down toward the floor. Harry had the man by the throat. Ron and Shacklebolt looked at each other and wondered if they should interfere.
Harry smiled at the man and that only seemed to make his struggle harder for his freedom. "I can't let you go. Not until you answer my questions."
"Um…You might want to go ahead and talk to him. He's not in the best of moods when he's this way," said Ron, hoping that the man would take his advice so they could leave.
"Okay! Okay! Just ask me what you want to know!" he whimpered as Harry's grasp tightened around his throat.
"Thank you." Harry said politely. He still didn't release the man. "Now would you be so kind to tell me, who packed the box of owl supplies that was sent along with the two owls I bought yesterday?"
"I did!" The man croaked. "I started it a bit after you left."
Harry didn't look pleased with the answer. "I see. So you're the one that can explain the portkey that was hidden inside the box?"
The clerk's eyes widened. "What portkey?" He nearly squealed when Harry's face turned dark with anger.
"The silver pendant with a black string that was in the box you sent me. That portkey."
The clerk shook his head furiously. "I didn't put it in there! I swear I didn't. I didn't know that it was a portkey!"
"What do you mean you didn't know?" snapped Shacklebolt.
"Harry, you may want to easy up there a bit, mate. He needs to breath to talk to us." Ron shifted his weight to from one foot to the other.
"Sometimes, breathing should be optional. But fine." He released his hold on the man. "Answer the fucking question. What do you mean you didn't know it was a portkey?"
The man held up his hands defensively. "Look, they came in and saw me muttering about Harry Potter buying a couple owls and how I was gonna add in the eggs. I was fixing the supply box when I turned my back on them for a minute. Next thing I know, she was gone and there's this little jewelry thing in the box. I didn't think it would hurt anyone so I just left it in!"
Ron decided that it was time to pull Harry away and he did so just in time to save the stupid clerks's life. "Do you know who she was?" asked Ron as he pulled his friend to his side.
"No. I barely even looked at her."
Harry looked ready to rip his throat out and for a moment, the auror wondered if he could get away with just ripping the man's mind open and finding out the easy way.
Unfortunately, it seemed like Shacklebolt knew what he was thinking because the man was dragging him and Ron from the shop. "I am not explaining to Severus how you got locked up in Azkaban." Yelling over his shoulder, Shacklebolt told the clerk that someone would be back to talk to him later. He turned back to the younger men. "French Ministry?" Both nodded and they quickly apparated to France.
Ron and Shacklebolt were slightly disoriented at having to apparate such a distance but Harry didn't even appear to be fazed. The auror headed straight for the French Ministry's entrance with the other aurors scrambling to keep up.
"So why are we here? And aren't we going to wait for Tonks?" asked Ron.
"She can meet us inside, and we're here because the surviving Death Eater is here. We need to question him on who else was involved."
It only took a moment for them to get inside, but they didn't receive much in the way of assistance when they asked to see their former colleagues.
The secretary just looked at them. "I'm sorry, sir but you should have contacted the Ministry prior to your visit."
Harry looked ready to rip her damn head off. "Either you get Dillingham, Buxton, Wickham, or Rollin here now, I'll blow the damn building apart."
The secretary's eyes widened at the name and the woman finally noticed the eyes and the nearly hidden scar. "Harry Potter!" she exclaimed.
Harry glared. "Yes. Harry Potter who is awaiting some much wanted assistance."
She blushed. "I'm very sorry, sir. Just a moment."
The secretary worked quickly to make up for what she'd done and a moment later, Dillingham and Buxton were rushing down the main corridor toward them. "What is going on here?" asked Dillingham. He and Buxton looked surprised to see the three aurors.
"Severus was kidnapped."
"Again?" cried Buxton, who flinched and took a step back at the look on Harry's face.
"Yes, again," he snarled. "Someone slipped a portkey into some owl supplies and it took Severus away after I activated it. Someone tried to get me and got him instead." /Unfortunately, they got the more important one of us./ "We need to talk to the Death Eater."
Dillingham nodded. He felt for Harry. He knew he'd be impossible to handle if something happened to Rollin and their child. "Follow me. We'll go straight to the cells. We can question him there."
"I'll get the Veritaserum!" said Buxton before she took off in another direction.
The four aurors quickly made their way down to the French Ministry's holding cells. In the back of Harry's mind, he could tell that the cells looked better than the ones at the British Ministry but not by much.
Dillingham signed the log by the entrance door and guided them down the thin corridor lined with cells. "He's here in the last cell." Everyone unconsciously increased their pace and it didn't take but a few moments before they made it to the last cell.
The Death Eater was lying on his stomach asleep, drooling on his pillow and snoring. Harry glared at him and, after Dillingham opened the cell door, was about to storm in when Ron grabbed him.
The youngest male Weasley smiled at his friend. "Why don't we let the less homicidal of us go in?"
Shacklebolt and Dillingham went in and quickly woke up the Death Eater. The man jumped up in surprise, wiping the drool from his mouth. "What are you lot doing here?"
Ron tightened his clutched Harry's arm, making sure his friend didn't do anything stupid. Dillingham glanced back at them before turning to his prisoner. "You told us that the other Death Eaters knew about Longbottom's plan."
The man scowled. "Yes."
"Did anyone else know about the plan? Anyone that wasn't marked as a Death Eater? That may have helped?" aske Shacklebolt who was watching the man closely for deceit.
The Death Eater shrugged. "I don't know."
"Harry!" yelled Ron as he threw both arms around his dark haired friend when the man lunged for the Death Eater.
"Calm down, Potter!" snapped Dillingham, hoping the man would regain his facilities.
The prisoner jumped up. "What in Merlin's name?" Harry ignored them and took deep breaths to calm down.
Buxton, followed by Tonks, ran down the corridor with a vial in her hand. "I got it." She smirked at the Death Eater. "Open up."
The man glared at her before hesitantly opening his mouth. After a few drops of the potion were in his system, Buxton nodded for them to start the questioning. "Ask whatever you want."
"We don't need much. We only have a few questions." Shacklebolt turned to the drugged prisoner. "Did anyone other than marked Death Eaters know about Longbottom's plan?"
"Do you know their names?"
Harry cursed silently as Shacklebolt continued his questioning. "Do you know how they found out?"
"How did they find out about Longbottom's plan?"
"She was married to one of us. The Dark Lord never had a chance to mark her. He marked all the females the same."
/Married to one of us./ Harry took a deep breath as he came to a realization. "Whom was she married to?"
"That bitch!" roared Harry as he took off at a run.
After the apology that had been relayed through Potter, Severus was certainly surprised to see Pansy Parkinson enter the room. "Parkinson?" he asked in surprise.
She smiled sweetly but Severus could see a malicious anger in her eyes. "Why hello, Professor! I didn't expect to see you here, but I'm happy to see you nonetheless."
Severus stared at her. "You didn't expect to see me? You had me brought here."
She shook her head and lost her pleasant demeanor. "Not exactly," she said emotionlessly. "You see, I was hoping that Potter would appear, rather than you. The portkey was keyed for him." She shrugged with an uncaring movement. "But as long as Potter suffers."
"Parkinson, what are you babbling about?" growled Severus. He shifted and winced at a small pain that ran down his lower back.
"You're a Slytherin too, Professor. Don't you know what this is?" She motioned around the room. "Revenge. This is revenge on Harry Potter for killing my husband."
"That's a lie. Longbottom poisoned your husband." Severus decided not to tell Parkinson that her husband had it coming and had brought it upon himself. /She knows about the poison. I know the Ministries told the families the complete truth./
Parkinson shook her head furiously. "No, you are the liar. Goyle died when Potter destroyed the plan for the Dark Lord's return. I have lost my husband and our lord." She hissed angrily, "So now he has to pay for what he's done."
"And what do I have to do with this?"
Pansy smirked. "You didn't have anything to do with it at first, but now you do. You're going to be very useful. I know who the father of your little bastard is," said Parkinson as she pointed at Severus. "If Potter is the Gryffindor I think he is, he'll come running the minute I let him know I have you."
Severus glared. "You'll let him know? Potter knows that I'm gone, girl. And despite what you think, he isn't stupid. He'll find me." Severus was surprised that he had such faith in Harry, but the wizard hadn't let him down yet.
She frowned. "I won't give him an advantage. I'm the one in control." Parkinson looked at Severus in disgust. "You'll be here for the next couple days."
"Parkinson, you can't expect me to stay here!" Severus yelled after her, but his only answer was the closing of the door.
The British aurors, along with Dillingham, had apparated to Pansy Parkinson Goyle's home to talk with the woman. At least so most of them could speak with her. Harry was willing to torture her until he got Severus back. He didn't think too many people would argue with him.
The entire house had been searched from top to bottom with Ron having to stop 'accidental' damage from Harry. Nothing had been found. Every room, closet, and hallway had been revealed but Severus and Parkinson weren't to be found.
Harry was pacing back and forth in the foyer of Goyle's home. "Where the hell is she?"
"Potter, did you honestly expect her to just be sitting here with tea, waiting for us to show up?" asked Dillingham, who came from the second floor with a deep frown on his face.
"No but it would have been pretty damn convenient," he said frustratedly.
"She has to be somewhere. Any ideas on where she would go?" asked Dillingham.
While Harry shook his head, Ron looked thoughtful. "Maybe we should check the Death Eater properties. The Ministry didn't confiscated of the properties so they may just be empty and abandoned. Goyle and Parkinson were wealthy purebloods. They may have other properties."
"That's brilliant, Ron!" cried Harry as he brightened for the first time that evening.
Shacklebolt and Tonks agreed as they came toward them. "So we're going to the Ministry?" asked Tonks. Ron and Harry replied positively.
"Let's check her floo records when we get there. It might help if she didn't think we could get them."
After another hurried trip, the aurors sent the secretaries running through the halls of the British Ministry to get what they needed to find Pansy Goyle.
"Tonks, did you find Dumbledore earlier?" asked Harry as they waiting for the papers to arrive. He had been so singleminded before that he hadn't paid much attention to what else was happening.
"No. McGonagal told me that she didn't know where he was because he'd disappeared for a short while. She said that she would tell Dumbledore we were looking for him."
Harry nodded anxiously but smiled with triumph when the first secretary brought in a stack of papers. "Thank Merlin."
"It may take a little longer to get the floo records but it should only take an hour or two at the most."
"Thanks, Allie," Tonks said absently as her colleagues began dividing up the huge stack. Others followed over the next two hours as the group found the most likely places to search.
The aurors were so embroiled in their work that the figure at the door had to clear his throat more than once to get their attention. Everyone looked up to see two amused aurors.
Dillingham scowled. "Rollin-,"
The pregnant auror just shook his head at his lover while Wickham snickered behind his hand. "I'm not going out into the field." He glanced down at his slightly protruding belly. "I'm too far along for that. I am going to help you with the records." He held up some papers. "One of the secretaries gave us the floo records when we came here from the cottage."
Harry frowned as he laid aside another paper. "What were you doing there?"
"Looking for all of you obviously," said Wickham. "Oh and we bumped into Headmaster Dumbledore and Madam Pomfry back at the cottage. They're looking for you and Snape. The nurse looks awful upset."
"Potter, go back to the cottage and alert Dumbledore and Pomfrey of the situation. Ron, you go with him. The rest of us will keep digging."
Both men nodded at Shacklebolt's orders and exited the room. Ron glanced at Harry and could see his friend's worry and terror. He clasped Harry's shoulder for a second as they rushed down the hall. "We'll find him, Harry. We have before. We'll do it again."
"I know." But ever since Severus had disappeared right in front of his eyes and just inches away from him, Harry's mind replayed the horrible nightmare from the night before.
The two aurors flooed to the cottage and Harry was shocked that the minute he appeared, Madam Pomfrey was yelling at him. "Where have you been?" shrieked the mediwitch. "And where is Severus? I told you that he was suppose to be on bed rest!" she said poking Harry in the chest. "And now look what's happened! Did you take him to St. Mungo's? I didn't think-,"
Dumbledore hurried over with a smile at his overwhelmed former students. "Calm down, Poppy. I'm sure there is a good explanation for Severus being out of the cottage." He looked at Harry for answer.
"Severus is missing. We think Pansy Parkinson took him." The older witch and wizard stilled, staring at Harry in horror as he and Ron told them what happened.
Poppy clasped her hands over her mouth in horror, but the Headmaster grabbed Harry's attention. The older man had a worried look in his eyes that Harry knew well from the war. Dumbledore felt that something bad was about to happen.
"Harry…my boy…" Albus looked to Poppy to explain but she shook her head, refusing to do it.
"Albus, what's wrong?" /Please. Please don't make this worse./
Dumbledore could see Harry's thoughts clearly, and gave him an apologetic look. "Harry, Severus has gone into labor."
The strength in his legs just seemed to sap out of him and the only reason Harry didn't crumble to the floor was that Dumbledore and Ron had grabbed his arms. The wizards guided Harry into a chair. "Isn't it too soon?" Harry whispered, looking at Poppy pleadingly. "I know what you said about the baby coming when it was ready-,"
The witch shook her head. "Harry, I knew how close Severus was to going into labor. That was why I put him on bedrest." She pulled a pink and blue watch from her pocket.
It was like the Weasleys' clock, but LABOR sat over the one hand the clock had. The interior was cut in three uneven pie slices. Three stages of labor were present and Severus's hand was pointing at the beginning of the first stage of labor. The first stage was the largest and the third stage was the smallest.
"Severus went into early stages of labor about an hour ago. We need to find him quickly, Harry. It's very dangerous if Severus goes into the second stage of his pregnancy alone."
"Why?" asked Ron.
"Because he's a man, Ronald." Dumbledore replied. Albus didn't want to say that Severus couldn't give birth and that both he and the baby would die if they didn't find them soon. Who knew how Harry would take the information.
"How long does the first stage last?" asked the worried father to be.
Poppy smiled. "That's actually good news. It can last for quite a while. Severus won't even know until he gets closer to the second stage and his contractions become stronger. However, I don't know how long that will last. It can go from hours to maybe even a day with a male pregnancy. It always depends on the person."
Harry nodded. "So we still have time. Ron, contact the Ministry and see how they're doing. Tell them about Severus too."
"Sure." He left immediately.
"Harry, why don't you just ask me for the parchment? Severus still has his bracelet."
Harry shook his head and took the bracelet from his pocket. "No. He left it. I doubt he even thought he'd need it anymore since Poppy made him stay in bed. Albus, is there anything we can do? To get a general location like last time. They're looking at the Ministry but I'm not sure if it'll work."
Albus saw Harry's desperate need to find Severus. "Harry, when was the last time Severus wore the bracelet?"
"This morning. He took it off for his shower and never put it back on before Pomfrey came to see him."
Albus pulled out the parchment. "I'll need the bracelet Harry." The auror reluctantly gave it to the older man. "I have to return to Hogwarts but let me see what I do. Severus has worn the bracelet for a while and some of his residual magic may still be on it. It could be enough to find him."
"Thank you, Albus."
The older man shook his head. "My boy, you have taken care of Severus all this time. There is no need to thank me."
Harry dropped his eyes. "I don't think I've done such a good job."
"That is where you are wrong. Even when Severus is in danger, you always manage to come through for him." Albus laid his hand on Harry's shoulder. "And you will do so again."
Harry smiled at him and both turned to the fireplace to see Dillingham floo in. "Find anything?"
"Yes but not good news. Ms. Goyle isn't as stupid as we hoped. She's flooed to fifteen properties just yesterday. We've found all fifteen properties but at least nine of them have strong wards that we'll have to break through."
Harry dropped his head. "Great," he said sarcastically. If Dillingham and Harry had the same thoughts when it came to strong wards, it would take hours just to get through. Purebloods were traditionally known for having old, powerful wards around their estates.
"Have faith, Harry." Dillingham moved aside so Dumbledore could floo to Hogwarts. "I'll contact you the minute I find something."
"What's Dumbledore looking for?" asked Dillingham as he handed Harry the stack of deeds.
"He's going to use the bracelet and see if he could find something for us to use."
"Good. Until then, let's go. We're starting with the nonwarded properties. You and I are meeting up with Weasley at one property. Shacklebolt, Tonks, and Buxton are going to another."
Harry and Dillingham got ready to floo out. "What about Wickham and Rollin?"
Dillingham grimaced. "Wickham is helping Rollin. They're going back to our Ministry to see if they can find anything else."
Harry smirked. He knew exactly why Dillingham got that expression. He'd worn it himself quite a bit over the last few months. "Got pissed he couldn't go, right?"
"PARKINSON! PARKINSON!" screamed Severus as he leaned forward over his stomach.
According to Severus's internal clock, it had been more than a day since the potions master had been portkeyed into the cold stone room. Parkinson had returned once with an apple, a bucket, and a cloth. That had been an hour after he'd arrived. She hadn't been back since.
However, as the day progressed, Severus had wondered just how much damage had been done to his body. The pregnant wizard began feeling small pins of pressure coming from his lower body that occurred randomly. They had made Severus uncomfortable, but lying down on the floor or standing up, despite the struggle, helped. The potions master had found himself cursing for long moments of time as he shifted his large frame around, a near impossible feat.
However in the last few hours, the small pangs of discomfort slowly became painful and worse over time. It hadn't taken long for Severus to fall into a panic when he realized that that the now painful pangs that radiated through his lower body were coming in a regular pattern. /Merlin, I'm in labor!/ he had realized with horror.
Severus leaned back against the wall and glared at the door as his contraction finally eased. "Damn you, girl!" Severus closed his eyes. He didn't want to admit it but he was scared, or more like terrified, for him and his unborn child.
In the Wizarding World, male pregnancies were almost exactly the same as female pregnancies. But while the process was the same, things differed greatly when it came time for the actual delivery. When a witch gave birth, the baby was pushed out from her womb and through a birth canal.
"PARKINSON!" Severus screamed again as his contractions hit again. His fists tightened at the sides of his round belly in pain and fear.
When a wizard gave birth, the womb that had protected the baby for the last nine months slowly unwinds like yarn from a ball as a reaction of the baby's magic. The contractions, which felt like a witch's would, stemmed from the unwinding womb to warn the carrying parent.
If the baby wasn't born before or immediately after Severus's womb was gone, the child would either suffocate or drown within Severus's body. That in turn would cause Severus's death as well.
"What the bloody hell is it, Snape?"
Severus looked relieved as she came to the door and opened it. The disgruntled Pansy Goyle glared at him. "Well? I could hear your screaming all the way upstairs," she snapped.
He stared at her for a long moment. "We have a situation."
"What situation?" she asked. Pansy stared at him confused.
"I'm in labor."
Parkinson stared at him for a long moment, her eyes widened with surprise. The woman's mouth even fell open in momentary disbelief. Another flash of panic crossed her face as she muttered, "Are you serious?!"
Then, Pansy's lips curled into an amused smirk and an ominous feeling ran through Severus. The professor suddenly realized that this would not turn out well for him. "Oh really?" she said with a broadening smile and a wicked intent in her eyes. "We should do something about that." She turned and walked away. "Call me when you think it's time."
Severus knew he shouldn't be surprised, but he was furious. "You heard me, Parkinson! I'm in labor! It's time now!"
Ms. Goyle shrugged her shoulders. "Oh you know how labor is. It takes time to get to just the right moment." She sighed dramatically and smiled at Severus. "But since you are so impatient for your baby to be born, Professor, I'll go get you something for the birth." She walked out and slammed the door behind her.
Severus cursed her softly. /That maniacal little whore is getting the potion for this./ The Hogwarts professor's breath hitched when another contraction hit. They were growing in pain. /Potter, where the hell are you?/
It was only a few minutes before Severus could hear footsteps outside his door. Parkinson, still smiling, stepped inside but made sure she kept a distance from Severus. "I brought you something to help the birth along, Professor Snape."
"What?" asked Severus as he tried to relax after another contraction.
She threw something on the floor at Severus's feet. "That will help you take care of your birth."
Severus stared at the object she'd thrown him.
Parkinson laughed cruelly. "I can't invite a healer, Professor. You'll have to take care of things yourself." She left the room, her laughter still echoing as Severus's heart raced with horror.
/Harry…if you're going to pull one of your stunts, now is the time./
"I wonder if getting hit with the killing curse and living uses up all the good luck you had saved up for the rest of your life?" Harry said, frustration clear in his voice as he leaned against the door behind him. "I mean it's a good theory right? It seems to be proven right."
Since leaving the cottage and the Ministry, the two groups of aurors had found nothing of the whereabouts of either Parkinson-Goyle or Snape. Harry was worried out of his mind and at each location they checked, he called Rollin and Wickham at the Ministry to see if they'd heard anything. He always recieved a negative answer and Harry's distress only grew.
Ron looked over at his anxious best friend. "What makes you say that?" the redhead asked as they waited for Dillingham to meet with them in the foyer. Ron had checked the west wing while Harry had checked the east. Dillingham was checking the rest of the household.
"Oh, just this entire situation!" Harry said, throwing his arms into the air. He started pacing back and forth. "The fact that I don't think Severus and I have ever caught a break in our lives! The fact that there is still some maniac harassing us! The fact that one of us is ALWAYS getting kidnapped-,"
As Harry continued his fear/frustration induced rant, Ron wondered if he should mention that Snape had never been hit with the killing curse. He decided that silence really was a virtue. Besides, the way Harry was going, he was likely to snap and attack someone, even his best friend.
Ron snapped back to attention when Harry stopped speaking. Dillingham was rushing down the grand staircase toward them. "Did you find anything?" Ron asked urgently only to be disappointed when Dillingham shook his head.
"Nothing, but I've got good news for you, Potter." Harry looked at Dillingham hopefully and the man smiled at Harry. "I flooed Shacklebolt, Buxton, and Tonks in one of the upstairs rooms. They've just finished their search. We'll meet them at our next location."
"That's good," said Ron. "But that still means we each have two places left to check."
"That's where my news comes in. I sent a call to the Ministry and Wickham told me to call Dumbledore. He came through for us. The Headmaster told me that he managed to narrow down Snape's a location."
"Yes!" Ron cheered and jumped in the air as Harry's shoulders sagged in relief. The dark haired auror pressed his clamped hands over his smiling lips for a moment before turning back to the older auror.
Dillingham continued speaking before either could interrupt. "Two of our dwellings are in that area, so we're each going to take a place. Shacklebolt said that he would take one house and we'll take the other."
He pulled out a scyring mirror and Harry felt a small pang in his chest. He briefly wondered what Sirius would think about his current situation, including the most important person involved. Harry quickly pushed the thought away. As much as he loved Sirius, he could not have influences on Harry's life. Especially when Severus and their child were involved.
"If they find Snape, they'll contact us immediately and we'll floo or apparate to their location. The same goes with us. We find Snape or Parkinson, they will come to us."
Ron grinned at Harry. "See, we found him! Just like we said we would."
Harry nodded. "I certainly hope so. It's been more than twenty four hours, Ron." He tried to keep the small shake out of his voice. /And I'm too scared to check in with Pomfrey./ Poppy had said that the first stage of labor was the longest but that Severus had to be found immediately before the second stage began.
Harry wasn't stupid or blind. He'd read some of those pregnancy books and knew that for a witch at least, it was time for the birth. No more waiting. The knowledge that Severus wouldn't be able to give birth without taking a potion or, worse, being cut open terrified Harry. Who knew what was happening with Severus and their child.
Dillingham and Weasley could see the fear that gripped their fellow auror. Dillingham dropped a hand on Harry's shoulder for a moment. "We'll find him. We did it before and we'll do it again." He smiled. "Now let's go."
At Hogwarts, Poppy dropped into her chair and stared blankly at the walls. A moment later, Pomfrey threw the clock at the wall and buried her head in her hands. The mediwitch wondered what she was going to tell Albus.
Unfortunately for the group of six aurors, they ended up meeting earlier than either of them planned to.
Buxton whimpered in pain and leaned against the tree behind her. "Why the hell weren't we warned about that? It's not on the deeds." All deeds displayed what kind of wards were put on the properties, but sometimes, people found ways to get around it.
Shacklebolt shook his head then winced. Tonks was still kneeling over the prone body that lay a couple feet away from Julie. Ron was lying flat on the ground, still in pain from being thrown into the air and away from the malicious wards. He's smacked his head hard as he landed. Dillingham, who hadn't been hurt as much as the others, was trying to convince the last of their group to halt.
Dillingham struggled to keep his grip on the younger auror. "Just give us a minute to regroup, Potter!" Like the others, Harry had been thrown well away from the property they had tried to approach. However, that didn't seem to stop the determined wizard.
Harry jerked away from the French auror. "Bloody hell, Dillingham! I have to find them!" Harry shouted.
"I know that," he yelled back in reply. "But how are you going to help Snape if you're incapacitated?" Dillingham took a deep breath as Harry scowled at him. In a barely calmed voice, he continued. "Both estates have strong wards we need to break through, but this one is more dangerous."
Dillingham, Harry, and Ron had tried to enter the larger estate they'd found only to be knocked away by the wards. Ron had been injured and Dillingham and Harry were left bruised and disoriented. None had been prepared for the attack because most wards either prevented them from entering or sent them to another location.
Shacklebolt, Tonks and Buxton had heard their cries and hurried around to help. Seeing the injured aurors, Tonks rushed over to them as Shacklebolt and Buxton stepped toward the large manor to investigate. They were immediately tossed aside just like their colleagues had been before.
Harry ground his teeth before nodding in agreement. The wards had to be broken and the more dangerous one was going first. "You're right. So where do we start?"
"With a ward this strong, they usually have a focus.Some actually depend on familial blood but in this case, with the family member being dead, the wards should have failed. It's quite a bit like Hogwarts, but here the focus should be outside of the home."
"Which means we need to have a look around," said Shacklebolt as he walked steadily toward the two men. "Ron's up. He, Tonks, and Buxton are checking the other place."
"Did you give them your mirror?" asked Dillingham. He wanted to be in immediate contact with the other team.
"Yes," said Kingsley. The three aurors turned to see the three figures of their colleagues walking away. Ron paused to turn and wave a good luck to his best friend before limping away with the other two women. Harry waved shortly in response before saying, "I'll take the north end."
"I'll take the south side," said Kingsley.
"Since we're West now and there is nothing here, I'll take the East. Shoot up a colored flare if you found it or need help." The three men nodded before headed in different directions.
As Harry ran for the North of the estate his anxiety only increased. /What's wrong with me?/ The almost frantic father to be thought. Of course it was a rather stupid question to ask. Severus and their child were in danger and could possibly be dying if their capture hadn't helped them.
It took a few minutes but Harry finally made it to the North. He began turning in circles hoping to find something out of the ordinary. /But wouldn't it be better if they were alive? It would be! Maybe he gave Severus the potion? Merlin, please just let this last time turn out well! I'll never let this happen again if they're safe and alive./ He closed his eyes as another foreboding feeling came over him. /Twenty four hours... Stay with me, Luck./
Harry saw a statue and a fountain nearby but that was all. There was nothing else and since neither the statue nor the fountain were unusual enough to be a focus. Such things were often extremely strange. Once Harry had seen a focus as a stone bird that kicked it's laid eggs, which were rocks, at whoever passed.
"Nothing! Now what?" Harry muttered as he ran another critical eye over his section of terrain. He jumped slightly as the sound of a flare was heard. He looked and realized that it came from the South were Shacklebolt was stationed.
Harry started running toward the flare from Shacklebolt's wand, noticing absently that the red sparks remained in the sky longer then the green sparks that were with it.
Ron leaned against the wall, weary as he, Tonks and Buxton slipped in the home through a back door. "Okay, who has upstairs? There are two floors then we have the first floor, and of course, a dungeon."
Buxton sighed. "Does everyone have to have a dungeon? When were these places built? Were dungeons just the fashion then?"
Tonks smiled. "You never know. It could have been a survival of the upperclass sort of thing. Like having a dungeon made you important."
"Can't argue with that too much. Look who we're chasing and who these homes once belonged too," Julie replied. Watching Ron and Tonks, she sighed. "Weasley, you don't look like you'll get far up the steps, so you take this floor. Tonks and I will go upstairs."
Ron nodded, his sore body grateful as he turned away to begin his search for the missing potions master. /Merlin, why did I become an auror? Sure, I love my job but the disadvantages definitely outweigh the perks! Ugh. My back./
Moving like an old man, Ron grimaced as a spasm ran through his shoulder. The redheaded auror made sure to remain cautious as he made his way through the foyer area. Being in the open with no close protection was dangerous. Ron moved quickly, despite his bruises, and was out of the foyer in seconds. He made went into a door to the right of the grand staircase that dominated the area.
Ron stepped inside, looking around at the empty walls. He was in a dead end corridor that while not very long, had at least four doors on each side. His wand held tightly in his hand, Ron walked to the first door.
It was nearly 20 minutes later when a frustrated Ron reached the last door. The other rooms had been totally empty of anyone and no clues could be found from the slightly dusty furniture that filled them. The only thing that had come close to important was when Ron had heard a soft sound of rustling cloth. After noticing a magical window that had been placed in the room, Ron had spent the next minute simply glaring at the shifting curtains.
Ron tried to open the door before him without success. He tried his wand and recieved the same results. It was locked heavily and would need a key instead of a simple 'alohora' to open it. Cursing mentally, Ron glanced down the silent corridor once before raising his wand to the door. A quick melting charm later, and a very smug auror opened the door.
He was surprised to see that instead of leading into a room, there was a short set of stairs that led down to another well lit hallway. Ron grumbled at having to walk down the stairs since he was still sore. He gathered himself and headed down the stone steps, trying to keep quiet and listen for anything strange that was happening. He froze when he heard heavy breathing and running footsteps headed his way.
The youngest male Weasley moved to stop the person, an immobilizing spell on his lips, when he heard crying. A baby's distressed wail could be heard.
Ron's eyes widened. /Snape! And he had the baby./ He listened to see if whoever was running had the baby, but while the sound of pounding feet grew louder, the baby's cries remained steadily at the same volume.
Deciding that Snape and the baby were more important, Ron looked around for a dark corner to hide in until the person had gone by. /Maybe I'll just bind them and find Snape./ A loud scream pierced through the manor as the footsteps immediately stopped. Mentally freaking out, at the sudden change, Ron started down the corridor at a brisk walk. /Was that Snape?/ Ron wondered as he thought about running down the hallway.
Another scream, loud enough to make Ron throw his hands over his ears, echoed down the corridor. His decision made, Ron started to run down the hallway where the screaming had come from. So determined to discover what was going on, he missed the very faint call of his name.
"What the hell?" Ron asked himself as he came upon a dead end in the hallway. As he'd proceeded down the hallway, the baby's crying had slowly decreased in volume and eventually stopped. The baby must have finally quieted down. Ron knew the child was nearby so he hadn't left the crying behind. What surprised the auror more was that whoever was running toward him had vanished.
"Ugh!" The disgust was clear to see on Ron's face. Sighing heavily, Ron leaned back against the wall to his left, and fell throught it to the floor. "Ah!" he cried as he watched the wall in front of him move away and disappear. A shiver ran down Ron's back as he fell through a thin wall of magic. He felt it run over his entire body as he passed through what he realized was a false image of a wall. He'd seen it done before to hide passages from others.
Ron grimaced as his head hit the hard stone floor after he'd falled through the illusion of a wall. "Shit! Don't I have enough bumps and bruises for one day?" he exclaimed angrily, yelling at the ceiling. Gritting his teeth, Ron rolled over onto his hands and knees. Ron lifted his upper body and, while kneeling, observed his new location. His eyes widened in surprised. "Cells."
Rolling to his feet quickly, Ron started running down the small hallway, which had a wall to the right that was lined with thick doors. Ron began peering into the small bar windows that each of the doors had. When Ron peered through the first door, he'd seen a set of chains attached to the wall, it only led him to acknowledge that his assumption had been correct.
Ron began hissing Severus's name as he continued down the hall, peering into the cells as he continued down the hall. He halted as the baby's crying began again. "Yes!" he whispered triumphantly.
"Ron!" The auror nearly jumped ten feet into the air as he spun around. He saw a worried but amused Buxton and a nervous, but relieved Tonks.
"What are you two doing here?" he asked softly as he tried to calm down his pounding heart.
"We heard screaming! Loud screaming. We thought you were in trouble so we followed your tracks down here. We heard thought we heard a baby too."
"We still hear it!" Tonks said as she realized that the baby was making their displeasure known once more.
Ron nodded at Tonks. "You did. I heard the baby crying and someone else was around too. I heard them running but when I looked, no one was there. I found this hall though."
"Following the baby's cries?" said Buxton.
"I am now. Come one. There are plenty of cells left to look through. Snape HAS to be here. We need to hurry before the baby stops crying again."
Buxton and Tonks nodded in agreement and hurried after Ron. The three of them hurried down where the crying could be heard the loudest. Tonks made it first and peered into a cell. She turned and shook her head. "Not this one."
Ron and Julie rushed to the next two cells that were the last on the hall. Julie peered in the last and Ron the one before it. A huge smile overtook Buxton's face. "I found them!" she exclaimed.
Ron and Tonks looked over her shoulder and into the room with a relieved look on their faces. The potions master was curled up into the corner of the room, sleeping, his face totally relaxed. In his arms and against his chest, lay a slightly red infant who still had a bit of blood on him. The baby was wrapped up in Snape's robes. The infact cried loudly, his little fists waving in the air angrily.
Buxton looked at them. "We should alert the others. Potter must be going stir crazy."
Ron grinned at her as he came around to examine the door's lock. Tonks nodded. "I'll get them. It shouldn't take them long to get over here." She turned and ran to the adjacent hall.
Ron cursed as his spell didn't work to open the door. "These things are so damn annoying." He thought about using his melting charm again.
Buxton rolled her eyes, raised her wand, and waved it at the door. It instantly fell to ashes. Ron gaped at what used to be the door. "What the..."
"So it's a slightly illegal charm! Who cares? Now let's wake up Snape and get the hell out of here." Buxton grabbed Ron's arm and dragged him into the cells. "Professor Snape?"
"Snape?" Ron walked over and tried to wake the potion master by repeatedly calling his name. "Snape? Wake up!"
"Calm down, Ron. Just give him a little shake. You're scaring the baby. Besides, since they gave him the potion, the labor was probably too hard on him."
Ron placed his hand on Severus's shoulder. "Give us a little more light. It's too dim in here and it'll help wake him up."
"No problem. Lumos." The tip of Buxton's wand lit the room brightly enough for the two of them to see everything fine. Buxton grimaced looking a little sick at the blood she saw near Snape and on him. /A hard labor indeed! We better get him to St. Mungo's quick./
"Snape! Come on, Snape. Harry will be here in a minute." Ron gently shook the potions master again, but Severus still didn't wake up. The baby had quieted at hearing their voices. Sighing, the auror raised his fingers to pry open one of Severus's eyelids. Thankfully the older wizard didn't have his wand on him or Harry would have gained a child and lost a best friend.
Buxton frowned when Ron stopped moving. "What? Did he fall into a coma?" She walked closer when Ron stood and stepped away.
"Fuck. Oh fuck me. What the hell am I going to tell Harry?" Ron raised a hand to his forehead as the emotional rampage that suddenly crashed into him threatened to take over. He closed his eyes tightly and bit his lip. "Sweet Circe, what am I going to say?" Ron looked back at Snape. /We were too late this time. Snape, I am so sorry./
Buxton scowled at him then knelt down beside Severus before she could stop him. She touched his face and stilled. Her face went white. "Weasley...Ron, he's ice cold," her voice filled with sadness.
The redheaded auror nodded in agreement as he took calming breaths. "That's because he's dead." Ron stepped back to Severus's side and looked at the bloody infant. The baby had fallen asleep wrapped comfortably in his dead father's arms. "He...he must not have survived the labor."
Clearing her throat, Buxton let her professionalism slide back onto her face. "We need to take the baby. I need to examine him and see what happened to Snape."
Ron removed his auror robes to wrap the baby in but froze when he heard footsteps, from more than one person, come racing down the hall. "Shit. They're here."
Buxton frowned. "Go stop Potter. He doesn't need to see this. I'm not sure how he'll take this."
"Right. Here." He handed Buxton his robe. "I'll..." Throwing his hands up, Ron stomped out of the room. Although Ron was still sad about Snape's death, his anger was starting to boil at whoever had taken the potions master away in the first place. If Snape had remained at the cottage, he may not have gone into labor so soon. And if he had, Harry would be able to get him to either Poppy or St. Mungo's. Gathering his wits about him, Ron stepped out of his room and prepared to stop his best friend from entering.
It was no surprise to see Harry well ahead of the others as he ran full speed down the hall toward the cell Ron was now standing in front of. Suddenly, the redheaded auror wished Buxton hadn't destroyed the door.
"Where is he? Is the baby alright?" Harry asked with a huge smile on his face. Ron's heart ached for his best friend.
He tried to smile bravely at Harry and their colleagues that stood behind him. "The baby's fine, Harry. Buxton is checking him over now." Ron prayed that Harry hadn't noticed that slight tone in his voice. Harry and Tonks didn't, but Shacklebolt and Dillingham caught it instantly. He turned back to Harry and hugged his best friend tightly. Harry thought it was a congratulations hug, but Ron knew better. He knew that he'd be doing this again in just a moment. "Congratulations, Harry," he whispered into his ear. "You're gonna make a great dad."
The older French auror frowned as he watched Ron. There was something about the auror's demeanor that unsettled him. It was then that he realized just want Ron was doing. He was stalling Harry. Scowling, Dillingham quickly walked around the hugging friends and toward the cell, followed by Tonks and Shacklebolt.
"I'm glad you think so." Harry pulled away with a huge grin on his face. "Because I'm scared out of my mind, but I'm so happy right now." Ron tried not visibly flinch in front of his friend. "How is Severus? I know he was worried-,"
Tonks' startled scream drew their attention to the entrance of Severus's cell. Fear and concern crossed Harry's face and the auror tried to move forward only to be brought up short by his best friend's arm. "Ron, what are you doing?" Harry asked with a scowl. He tried to move around his friend only for Ron to move before him again. Harry glared at the redhead and the regretful look in the man's face only made him more determined. "Ron..."
Ron shook his head. "You-you can't go in just yet, Harry."
Harry stiffened and knew that someone wasn't telling him something. Stumbling footsteps made his eyes snap away from Ron and both men looked behind Weasley. Dillingham almost fell into the wall opposite the cell with his hand clamped tightly over his mouth. The auror's eyes were wide despite the horrified grimace on his face.
Finding himself terrified with what was going on, Harry shoved Ron to the side and rushed into the cell, throwing off Dillingham's hand as the man tried to stop him from entering. "Potter, wait!"
Tonks was the first person Harry saw as he entered the room. She stood to the side of the cell, leaning back against the wall that was adjacent to the cell door. Cradled in her arms and wrapped in what Harry realized was Ron's auror robes was a squirming baby. A small bloody hand was all that Harry could see as it smacked repeatedly against Tonks' chest. Little whimpers came from the bundle.
Harry knew that it was the baby, his child that Tonks was holding desperately, laying her head against the baby's and bouncing the infant in her arms. There was a look of pain on her face when she looked up at him and Harry wondered if something was wrong with the baby. He didn't know if he could stand the thought of losing his son or daughter after just finding them and their 'mother'. However, the shifting in Tonks' eyes told him that the newborn wasn't what caused her anxiety.
His earlier frown still in place, Harry finally turned to see the rest of the room that had eluded his attention after his mind had become distracted with his first child. As much as he would rather see the baby, he knew he had to see to Severus and whatever it was that his friends and colleagues were hiding from him.
It only took a minute for Harry to realize just why they hadn't wanted him to come in. They had wanted to protect him from the rather gruesome sight in front of them.
Shacklebolt was totally stonefaced as he stood behind Buxton while she knelt on the floor. There was tension around his mouth. His fists lay by his sides, clenched so tightly that Harry was sure the palms would be shredded by his nails. His eyes were dark as he stared into a corner.
Buxton had adopted a look of professionalism about her but Harry could see the sorrow on her face as she held Severus's bloody robes open. Her hands held the cloth delicately as she shook her head at the sight. Surprisingly, neither she or Shacklebolt noticed that Harry had entered. "He didn't have a choice. He entered the second stage of his labor and the womb was gone. If he hadn't made the cut, the baby would have died. With no wand, he didn't have a way to stop the bleeding."
"How long has he been dead?" Kingsley whispered softly.
Harry was surprised that his mind had trouble contemplating those words. He knew he had never been the smartest student at Hogwarts and that many were still smarter than him. However, Harry knew that he should have a full understanding of what Shacklebolt had just said. The problem was that the stunned auror knew that they shouldn't have had anything to do with the man lying in the corner of the cell.
"Not long. At least four hours." Raising a hand that glowed green that protected her hand like a muggle glove, Buxton lightly laid her fingers along the long, horizontal incision along Severus's abdomen. The jagged cut gapped slightly and a blood trail was seen easily along the pale, lifeless skin.
"..." He was speechless. Harry was utterly speechless and could find a thing to say. No angry exclamations came forth because the pain and sadness clogged his throat. No screams of denial spilled out because his eyes showed him that the corpse sitting on the stone floor was Severus. He couldn't move because he was still in shock. But he did react naturally despite all this.
Harry released a choked breath from his lips, alerting Buxton and Shacklebolt to his presense. Julie closed Severus's robes immediately as Kingsley slowly headed toward the horrified auror. "Harry..."
Still unable to move, Harry stared at the lifeless body. Unseen by anyone else, the empty black eyes opened and looked at Harry. A sad smile slipped over Severus's lips. Then as the bluing lips mouthed the words, Harry could hear them in his mind. They were just as haunting as before and sent a chill down the auror's back.
/You're too late this time./
Harry swore his heart skip essential beats as his mind finally shut down. He felt like he was dying.
The aurors assigned upstairs weren't particularly quiet as a crew slowly combed the estate, looking for any clues on Parkinson's whereabouts on the first three floors. Room were dissected one at a time and left behind unsettled when nothing was found.
In the basement and dungeon area, things were different. The group of aurors downstairs were totally silent, only speaking when information was pertinent and doing their best to keep to their tasks. A few couldn't stop themselves from taking a long look at the French and British aurors that were already in the residence, although one drew the most attention. Their colleagues would merely draw their attention back to their work to give the man his privacy. That didn't make it any less difficult to not look at the broken man holding the baby.
Ron sat in another cell on a transfigured couch glaring at anyone that peered into the room as they walked by. He knew that if his best friend had been in his right mind, the man would be embarassed to have people see him in such a state, but Harry had other things on his mind. Ron tightened the arm that was wrapped around Harry's shoulders.
Ever since Harry had woken up after passing out in Snape's cell, the man had been crying. It wasn't loud, sobbing cries of despair and grief. Harry cried silently while clear tears rolled from his darkened green eyes. The auror stiffled any sobbing by bitting his lip harshly, easily breaking the skin. His body would jerk as he tried to control his breathing.
The redhead had to wonder if his friend's silence was really for his son. The baby, now clean and wrapped up in a warm blanket, was sleeping comfortably in Harry's arms as his father rocked him back and forth slowly. The tiny eyes had closed after the little face relaxed. The black haired baby had known that he was safe. Ron had to wonder if he would ever know the sacrifice of his other father.
Almost totally lost in his grief, Harry dropped another soft kiss to his newborn son's forehead, relishing in the soft skin under his lips. He pulled back when a tear fell on the baby's cheek. It rolled down the infant's face and it almost appeared as if he were crying too. Harry hoped not. He could barely control his own grief, he didn't think he could handle his child's as well. Harry prayed that his son didn't notice that his other father was missing.
His mind ventured into another direction. His Severus was...Severus was dead. Harry's hands trembled as the words still didn't make sense in his mind somehow. And now Harry was left to care for their son. Alone.
"Oh God. Severus..." Harry bowed his head in shame. He felt like it was all his fault. If he hadn't activated that portkey, Severus would still be safe in bed, resting for the labor. He would have been able to go into labor without being stressed and hurt. If Severus hadn't been taken away because of him, the pregnant potions master wouldn't have been desperate enough...he wouldn't have been forced to-.
Harry swallowed heavily feeling the bile rising in his throat at what Severus had done to save their son's life. /Severus, what were you thinking? Did you realize that I was a failure? That I wouldn't get there in time for you and our child? Merlin, you must have been so scared./ The tears that had almost begun to dry grew worse instead and Harry lost a small sob he'd been holding back. The image of Severus sitting on the cold floor with a piece of sharp, rusty metal preparing to cut his child out of his own body shook Harry to his core. The new father held his sleeping child closer.
A shout startled Ron and pulled him away from his mourning friend. "What the fuck is going on out there?" Glancing at his best friend, who only had eyes for the baby, Ron stood and moved to the door of the cell. He looked down the opposite way from the shout to see Dillingham and Tonks come his way. Tonks appeared curious while Dillingham looked pissed. Ron didn't blame him. All of them knew that Harry needed some quiet and these bastards were running about yelling.
"What is going out here?" Dillingham stopped himself from yelling as he glanced into the cell over Ron's shoulder. He pitied Harry greatly for what had happened. He didn't think he could make it if something happened to Rollin. Not that he alerted his lover of what happened when he asked for a team of aurors.
Xavier had told his pregnant auror flat out that he was not to come to their location. It led to a short shouting match that ended when Julie had screamed, "This is NOT the place for someone like YOU!" Being the smart man that he was, Christian realized that Snape was dead and that a pregnant auror was the last person that needed to see the man's body.
Two aurors, younger than Ron and Harry, rushed up to them. "Auror Dillingham, we found-," the blonde of the two glaced at the cell as he cut off his words.
Dillingham and Ron exchanged a look between themselves and with Tonks. The small group stepped away from the door. "Well what did you find?" asked Tonks with a demanding voice.
"We found Pansy Parkinson, sir."
"Good," Ron replied instantly with an almost bloodthirsty tone. Oh he couldn't wait to get a piece of her. Better him than Harry. He was afraid of what his best friend would do.
The other auror shook her head. "Sir, we found her body." The three older aurors stared at her in surprise with dropped jaws, gobsmacked expressions, and even a bit of stuttering.
Dillingham's eyes narrowed and the two young British aurors were suddenly glad he wasn't their superior. "What do you mean her body?"
"There a flight of stairs about half way toward the entrance. You enter it the same way that you enter this hall. Looks like she was going down the stairs and fell."
The male snorted. "Fell nothing. She's got a bruise the size of London on her face. Someone knocked her down those stairs."
"Are there any other injuries on her?" asked Tonks.
"Other than the one on her face, I saw something around her neck. I didn't look too closely."
"Just take the body to the Ministry and let them see what happened to her." Dillingham walked away without another word. The man was obviously tired. They all were.
Tonks dismissed the other aurors and she and Ron walked back to where Harry was sitting. The green eyed auror hadn't moved. Tonks smiled sadly at the baby. "Do you think he'll be alright? I've never seen Harry so heartbroken. Not even when Sirius died. And to lose Severus like that." She stopped and shook her head.
Ron leaned against the doorframe and watched his best friend care for his child. "He needs time, Tonks. He really did care- hell, he loved Snape. This isn't going to be easy for him to get over. But if we give him some time, help and support, he'll come around. He has to. Harry is all that baby has left."
Harry listened to every word his colleagues said as Ron and Tonks spoke. Harry had to wonder if that was the truth. If over time, he wouldn't feel like his heart had shattered into pieces and that each one was slowly bleeding out of his chest. He didn't think so. If it hurt the way it did now, he would be on his deathbed before time cured anything.
And he didn't want it to. Harry didn't think it was fair that the one time he needed it, time didn't seem to cooperate with him. It was there last time when Severus had been taken from right under their noses. They had arrived just in time to stop Neville from giving Severus a potion that would have taken both the potions master and the baby away from him. It was there when he'd kept that sick son of a bitch from raping Severus in Diagon Alley. Unfortunately, Harry thought, time apparently thought he'd used up all his minutes.
Closing his eyes, Harry felt his heavy heart grow heavier. Tonks was right. He felt so much worse than when Sirius died. He knew he had his son and always would, but he did love Severus. It didn't help knowing that he would have the comfort and support that he'd had at his godfather's death. Harry's emotional pain only grew.
"I'd change it if I could," he whispered, looking down at his son. "I'd bring your father back to both of us." /I'd bring them all back if I could./ But things like that were only wishes.
Harry paused and his mind rewinded to his third year in Hogwarts.
Dumbledore kept his head buried in his hands as he whispered Severus's name over and over. "Severus. My poor boy." It wasn't the first time that Albus felt that he'd left someone down, but it was certainly one of the worst. Not long ago, Shacklebolt had come to Hogwarts to deliver the news of Severus's death.
The sad, weary auror had gone straight to the Headmaster's office where he had found Albus and Minerva trying to comfort Poppy. Telling her that all was not lost when both had known it was.
The old wizard winced when he thought about the pain that hit him at the realization. /He's truly gone. My dear Severus./ Albus didn't know what he would do without the younger wizard. He and Severus had been friends for years, even after a rocky beginning because of the potion master's spying. He admitted that there were times that he failed as a friend, but Severus had always forgiven him.
Thoughts and memories of the newly deceased rushed through Albus's mind, bringing tears to his eyes. The Headmaster quickly cut off the flow in his mind. After all, he wasn't the only one devastated by the pregnant wizard's death. As Albus's mind wondered toward the baby, his eyes observed Poppy and Minerva.
Both women were crying, Poppy moreso than Minerva but the emotion was just as strong in the other woman. Poppy had been crying for some time when she rushed to Dumbledore's office to show them Severus's clock. Albus's heart had dropped into his stomach as Poppy explained the situation to Minerva through her tears. Neither had wanted to give up hope despite the fact that Poppy had lost all of hers. Then Shacklebolt had arrived with the announcement that Severus had died.
Minerva hugged Poppy and shushed her as the woman hugged back. Albus smiled at them sadly before closing his eyes. There was still so much that he didn't know. That could only make the current situation better or worse, but Kingsley had left quickly, unable to give them the information that they needed.
/Is the child even alive?/ Albus didn't think so and the weight in the Headmaster's chest grew heavier. If Severus was dead then so was his unborn child. Dumbledore's focus turned again. This time to Harry. /I have to see him very soon. I doubt he will be handle things successfully./ Albus knew that his thoughts were actually underestimating what he knew Harry's reactions would really be.
The young wizard had his family ripped from his hands, both his future lover and a child that Albus was sure Harry would have adopted as his own. /He loved them both so sincerely. It was so easy to see that. What will he do now?/
"Harry?!" cried Minerva as she stood to her feet.
Albus's head snapped up to meet a pair of glowing green eyes. "Harry?" asked Dumbledore, whose eyes had fallen to the tiny bundle in Harry's arms.
Poppy gasped. "The baby!" She jumped to her feet and started casting diagnostic charms without another look at Harry. The auror smiled tiredly at her.
Dumbledore stood as began to walk toward them as Minerva observed the baby. "Oh. She-,"
"He." Harry stated simply as he turned his eyes back to Dumbledore. The older man stopped a foot away from the little group.
Minerva smiled. She raised a hand and gently touched the infant's silky, black hair. "He's gorgeous." She looked at him. "And Severus? Was-was Kingsley telling the truth?" Her voice shook as she dared to hope. /If the baby is alive then surely Severus is too./
"No. He...He really is dead." Not ending the staring contest between him and Dumbledore, Harry slowly told them what happened to the potions master and just how his son was still alive. Gasps of horror came from both women while the men remained silent. A tear fell from Dumbledore's eye, however.
Albus stared at the young auror. "Harry." There was something in the wizard's eyes that he knew well. It was hope. It was something that Albus knew really shouldn't be there. Yet there it was shining brightly in Harry's eyes as it had so many years ago during the war. "Child, what are you doing here?"
Minerva frowned at Albus as Poppy looked confused. Neither could understand how Albus couldn't see that Harry came for support.
Harry smiled, but it seemed to be a smile of desperation. He stepped toward Albus and stretched out his arms. Albus automatically took the sleeping infant from his father. "Look at him. Looks a little like Severus." Dumbledore looked down at the baby, his eyes shining. "Do you love him, Albus?"
The older wizard lifted his head to regard Harry. Albus didn't know whether Harry meant Severus or the baby in his arms. He knew the answer anyway. Dumbledore loved Severus and he now loved the innocence in his arms. "Yes."
A strange power flickered in Harry's eyes. "Truly. Would you sacrifice for him as Severus did? As I would?" asked Harry, the anguish in his voice becoming more apparent.
Dumbledore didn't hesitate to say, "Yes."
"Then give me what I need to fix this."
"Harry...I can't give you a time turner." There was a strangled gasp from Poppy. Minerva stared at the two men sadly.
The eyes of the wizarding world's savior darkened along with the rest of his features. Gritting his teeth, Harry snarled, "Why not? Didn't you give me one for Sirius? It worked! So why can't I have one to save Severus? You say you love him but you won't give it to me." The fear of waking his son stopped him from screaming like he wanted to, but he made certain that Dumbledore saw his growing fury.
Harry was afraid. He knew that one could be taken from the Ministry but it would take too long to get and have made. Not to mention that he would have to fight to get it if he stole it. He didn't want to fight his colleagues, but he would if he had to. He had to get Severus back.
"Harry," Albus sighed. "If I could, I would have used the time turner to change so many things." For a moment, he gazed down at the newborn. "But the time turner would not possibly be able to help you in this scenario."
"Two reasons. Firstly, it rarely works. I was taking a chance when I gave it to Hermione. And secondly, the time turner is said to only work on Hogwarts' grounds and surrounding area." His eyes dimmed at the crestfallen look on Harry's face.
"Then, it would have never worked there." His shoulders slumped despondently.
"Are you sure, Albus?" asked Poppy determinedly. She stared at him hard. "Are you sure it doesn't work outside Hogwarts? That it wouldn't work in this situation?"
Dumbledore opened his mouth to confirm it then paused. Lightly he bounced the child in his arms as he examined Harry. "The chances are so very slim, Poppy."
Minerva smiled as Harry's eyes again grew hopeful. "Then you have the right person, Albus. If anyone can beat slim odds, it's Harry Potter." Harry smiled at Minerva before turning back to Albus.
The headmaster mumbled a few words and the familiar time turner appeared out of nowhere right in front of Harry floating in the air. Albus looked him seriously. "Bring him back to us, Harry."
"I will." Green eyes stared at the child before turning back to Albus. "You'll care for him while I do this?"
Poppy snorted and grabbed Harry's shoulder, jerking the younger man back. "Don't ask ridiculous questions." She and Minerva turned him and pushed him toward the door. "Hurry and help Severus!"
Harry stood nervously outside the estate where Severus died. He hid inside the wards so that he would not have to fight to get inside. He also hid from his fellow aurors. There was not a doubt in his mind that they would try to stop what he was doing. Ron might even try to stop him. After leaving Hogwarts, Harry had decided that he had better keep his plan to himself.
He knew what he had to do. Things had to appear to have happened just as before while being different. And Harry knew just how to make it happen. Praying that things would turn out well, Harry started turning the tiny hourglass.
It was the screaming that guided the way rather than Harry's own memory. The familiar voice was screaming at the top of his lungs, making Harry's heart pound as he slowly made his way through the same halls as before.
"PARKINSON, YOU BITCH!" A hint of hysteria could be heard in the usually smooth voice. "PARKINSON!"
Harry flinched as a cry of pain echoed from Severus's cell. The older wizard was in just entering the second stage of his labor. The auror knew that Severus had to be terrified of what would happen. A shiver of fear and disgust ran through his body as he arrived at the illusioned wall. He would not allow Severus to do such a thing. Not when there was something he could do.
Harry picked up his pace as Severus finally went silent. He didn't want to guess what the man was thinking, but as it ran through his mind, Harry began running down the hallway.
Footsteps echoing through the silence, Harry threw himself onto the door of Severus's cell. Peering through the small barred window, he saw the pregnant wizard curled up in the same corner as before, his head bowed and his hands clutching his swollen belly. Severus looked utterly defeated.
"Gods, damn you Parkinson." He gasped in pain and pulled his knees up a little. Severus seemed to caress his stomach with his hands as if he was comforting their unborn son.
Harry watched Severus shakily move his right hand out and pick something up from the floor. Seeing the same scrap of metal as it hit the light, Harry felt his heart stop.
"Severus, stop!" he cried, unable to remain calm any longer. He knew he should keep his voice down in case Parkinson-Goyle was around, but he didn't care.
The potion master dropped shard of metal instantly. "Merlin, Harry!" he nearly whimpered in relief. He raised a hand to his sweaty forehead.
Using a spell to remove the entire lock that kept the door shut, Harry quickly opened the door. Severus continued to speak as the auror made his way to his corner. "What the bloody hell took you so long? I thought- for a moment, I-,"
"Didn't think I would make it?" Harry asked as dropped to his knees beside the other wizard. He wrapped his arms tightly around his pregnant love. "You weren't the only one."
Pulling back, Harry kissed Severus's lips, thanking whatever god that existed that Severus was alive and warm. To feel that heat, to see the older man completely whole, and to have those black eyes still filled with life looking at him was one of the greatest things in Harry's world.
A grunt of pain forced Severus to pull away from him. "Harry, I'm in labor. I don't know for how long."
"Too long. We need to get you to St. Mungo's." Harry was certain that time was about to run out for Severus and the baby any moment now. They needed help immediately. "Can you stand?"
"I'm not sure," Severus answered as he shook his head. "I was dropped hard when I appeared."
"Alright. That's okay." Grinning, he pulled out an old scarf that was purple with faded gray pocka dots. It was obvious to Severus what it was. A portkey.
Severus glowered at him. Harry pecked him on his cheek. "Yes, I know. I don't like them either but this is the fastest way to get you to St. Mungo's. We can't afford to waste anymore time, Severus. We need to go before Parkinson comes."
"Oh bloody hell. Fine. Let's go."
Harry used a levitating charm to get Severus on his feet. He wrapped an arm around the pregnant wizard to steady him. Severus grimaced as shots of pain ran down his spine and to his legs. "Ready?" asked Harry.
"Yes. The baby has to be born now. I don't think it wants to wait any longer."
"He's gonna make it, Severus. You both are. Just hold on." Harry activated the portkey and the two were gone.
A few employees of St. Mungo's jumped when the couple appeared in the waiting room of the wizarding hospital's maternity ward. Severus felt his knees buckle under him, but Harry was quick to help the potions master stay on his feet. "Are you alright?" Harry asked urgently.
Severus was panting harshly and it appeared that he had problems breathing. "No! Find a healer now!" He dropped his forehead to Harry's shoulder and clutched the younger man's robes as the pain slowly began overwhelming him.
Harry nodded furiously and turned his head. He saw a nurse edging her way toward them in concern. "Fetch a healer! He's in labor!"
The woman nodded and waved at her colleagues. "Mary, find one of the healers." As the nurse rushed off another hurried toward them. "Professor Snape, do you think you can walk?"
Severus shook his head furiously as Harry answered. "No. He fell and hit the ground hard."
"Cathy, check him. I'll go find them a room." The extra nurse rushed off as her colleague continued with Harry and Severus.
The nurse pressed her hands to Severus's abdomen to see if the fall had harmed the baby. A scream of pain erupted from the pregnant wizard causing Harry and the nurse to jump in surprise. Harry wrapped both arms around Severus when the potion master nearly fell to his knees.
"Merlin! When did he go into labor? He's acting like the womb is-,"
"Almost gone? It is! He's been in labor for more than a day at least!"
Cathy glared at Harry suddenly furious as the other nurse returned with a stretcher. "What made the two of you wait this long to get here?"
"Madam, I am about to give birth," rasped Severus, "and at the moment do not care to talk about my kidnapping. So if you don't mind? HELP ME!"
Blushing, she nodded and the nurses levitated Severus onto a stretcher and quickly hurried him down the corridor.
Harry paced back and forth, throwing looks at the others occupying the hospital room as Severus took the potion that was given to Blaise not long ago. The healer and nurses blocked Harry from the bed in order to monitor the Hogwarts professor's change as it took affect.
The womb that had surrounded the baby for nine months had almost completely unraveled. The healer told Severus trying to do the safe Cesarean that he wanted would be impossible with the time frame. It was imperative that Severus take the potion instead.
The physical changes would stop the womb from disappearing and the baby could be born safely through the new birth canal. Severus hadn't been pleased to hear that at all, but agreed to it for the child's sake.
A groan from Severus caught Harry's attention and he quickly took the place of one of the nurses as she moved. The other nurse pulled out her wand and whispered a spell. Over the head of the bed, Harry could see two hearts. One was larger than the other and the smaller one was beating faster.
The healer moved to the end of the bed near Severus's feet. "How is the pain, Professor Snape?" She asked. "Better than before or worse?"
Severus wiped at his eyes. "It was better, but it's getting worse. My contractions are still strong." Grinding his teeth with a grunt, Severus curled his upper body up. "Shit." Harry took one of his hands and squeezed it tightly. The older wizard responded in the same way.
Nodding, the healer turned to Harry. "The baby's impatient."
"Sounds familiar," both Harry and Severus muttered. Severus glared while Harry grinned at the pained man.
The healer continued with an amused cough. "Right. Professor, your body is telling you it's ready to start pushing. I need you to move closer to the end of the bed and spread your legs."
His cheeks slightly flushed, Severus moved into position with a bit of help. After a suggestion from the doctor, Harry sat on the bed behind the potion master. "He'll need you for leverage in case he gets to exhausted to push on his own."
The nurse recorded the heartbeats above the bed as another brought a little cradle over to the bed. Another nurse appeared. He paused at the door, surprised at the couple, before grabbing a few things that the healer would need.
Severus closed his eyes and leaned back against Harry. "I'll get that whore for this."
Harry chucked and propped his chin on Severus's shoulder. "Let me handle her, Severus. We need to concentrate on our son for now."
"So sure aren't you, Potter," Severus said as his voice fell to a whisper. "Brat is as demanding as you are."
"I am not!" The auror said as Severus pulled forward. Seeing the potions master tense, Harry called the healer. "He's ready."
"He certainly is." The healer smiled at them. "You might want to brace yourself, Mr. Potter. This won't be pretty."
Harry smiled back. "A little blood won't bother me."
The healer smirked as she sat on a stool. "Oh I wasn't talking about that."
About five minutes later, Harry understood her perfectly. He was so lucky that he'd taken a seat behind Severus. The potions master would have tried to kill him otherwise. Harry was sure of it. "Severus, can you please-,"
"Potter, if you tell me to calm down I swear I'll make you pay for it the rest of your LIFE! You fucking bastard!" Severus screamed as he continued pushing. He crushed Harry's hand in his left and a nurse's in his right.
"Just shut up, you mindless idiot!" Severus actually elbowed him causing Harry to start coughing heavily. The healer tried not to laugh as she worked. "I don't believe I got myself into this situation!" Severus groaned. "I knew this was a horrible idea. What was I thinking?"
"That you loved and wanted our baby?" Harry winced.
"I was drunk damn you!" roared the pained wizard. "I would have never let you touch me if I wasn't!"
"Wha-? Were you drunk when I-,"
"Shut up!" snapped Severus as a nurse's eyes widened.
"Severus, you know that has nothing to do with deciding-,"
"Potter, shut up." It was said in a very controlled and very quiet snarl.
"BE SILENT, YOU BUMBLING-,"
"Professor Snape, you need to control your breathing," ordered the nurse at his side.
The healer glanced up at the hearts over Severus's head. Snape's was beating too fast. "Good idea. Professor, did you learn any breathing exercises?" Severus nodded jerkily through his pain, ignoring Harry's confused look. "Good. Then start using those. It should help with the pain. Whenever you feel the need, push understand? Don't hesitate. Just push."
It wasn't long before Severus was squeezing Harry's hand to the breaking point. And while the auror certainly cared about the condition of his extremities, he was more worried about the man in his arms. Severus was leaning back heavily against Harry's chest, his wet hair falling back against the younger wizard's shoulder. His sweaty brow was pressed against Harry's cheek as he gasped for air. Severus's eyes appeared to be almost glazed over as he took another short break from pushing.
Harry brushed his lips over the potion master's. "You're doing great, Severus. It's almost over." He looked at the healer. "It is right?"
The woman was looking over his head at the heartbeats with a frown. Both heartbeats had sped up more than she'd liked. Snape was in good health but his body was becoming overly stressed. She made no comment of her concern to Harry but did exchange a couple quick looks with her assistants. "Yes. Almost." One of the nurses handed her a small vial. She smiled at Harry and Severus. "Alright. I'm going to speed things up a little. Mr. Potter, I need you to hold Professor Snape and make sure he doesn't move."
"Why?" asked Harry seeing the look one of the nurses gave them.
"The baby's heart is a bit distressed. And I'm concerned about Snape as well. Whatever happened before he arrived here is causing complications. For now, just follow my instructions."
"Harry," whispered Severus.
The man smiled. "It's okay. Any minute now."
It was strange that even though he'd held his son in his arms just hours before, joy hadn't filled him the way it did now.
Harry smiled down at the baby howling in Severus's arms, covered with familiar looking fluids that Harry was loathed to question. His little eyes were open and his hands and feet shook as he was wrapped in a blanket.
The healer smiled at them. "Congratulations, gentlemen. A healthy baby boy." The others were quick to congratulate the famous man and his new family.
Severus had fallen silent as he looked down at the baby. He was running his fingertips over the baby's small features, playing with his hair, and just staring at him. Harry leaned into him. "Are you alright?" he whispered to the potions master.
"Yes." Severus pulled the whimpering baby into his arms and held him close. "I'm fine." It wasn't a lie. Severus simply felt peaceful. He didn't understand why he was so calm and why everything seemed right, but he was fine. /More than fine. I can finally see my feet again./ He thought as he stared at the baby with a small curl at the end of his lips.
One of the nurses stepped forward as the one of them headed for the door. "Sir, if you could give me the baby, I'll get him cleaned up and right back to you."
It was then that everything snapped back into place for Harry. "No." His answer immediately drew everyone's attention to him.
Severus gave him a confused look. "What? Harry-,"
"I have to finish this, Severus."
Everyone in the room froze to look at the couple. Severus scowled and pulled away from Harry slightly. "What do you mean 'finish this'?" He was confused but at the same time assured that Harry would not harm their son. Not that he would let the man if he tried.
Harry stood from the bed and placed his hands on the sides of Severus's face. He looked into the onyx eyes with his green. "I didn't make it." Harry released a shaky breath. "I didn't make it this time, Severus." His throat was tight as he said it and Harry had to fight the urge to cry.
It still hurt. Even with Severus alive in front of him with their baby in his arms, it still hurt. The images continued to haunt him and left his soul completely cold.
Understanding lit Severus's eyes, so Harry continued. "I-I don't want to, but I have to take the baby with me. That's the only way..." He closed his eyes. A light brush of fingers against his face made him open his eyes to look at the exhausted father. Severus dropped the same hand that had played with his son's hair.
"If that's what you need to do."
Harry's eyes widened in surprise. He knew Severus cared for him as he cared and even loved the Hogwarts professor, but he had no idea that Severus trusted him so much. Because Harry knew that anyone else would have had a hard time believing him on just his words alone.
Severus rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Potter. If you can't figure out why I trust you then you're an idiot." Quickly dropping a kiss to the baby's forehead, just as Harry had done before, Severus gently gave the auror his son. "He had better not have a scratch on him." Severus ached to have the baby back in arms but knew that the child had to go with his father.
Smiling enough to light the room, Harry kissed Severus. "I swear. He'll be back with you in a few hours Severus. For now, rest until we get back." Kissing his lover once more, he turned back to the healer and her assistants including the one standing by the door.
In a commanding voice he said coldy, "No one, but no one hears of my son's birth until I return. Do you understand me? Until we return no one is to know we ever came to St. Mungo's." The silent 'or else' was heard easily.
One of the nurses, the one by the door, was about to protest but a look from Harry quickly cowed the woman. The healer and the others nodded in understanding. "Very well, Mr. Potter." The healer ran a quick diagnostic spell. "He's fine and healthy. Be sure to keep him warm."
Nodding Harry glanced at Severus, who was laying back in the hospital bed. The healer handed the tired wizard a sleeping draught. "Hurry so you can bring back my son, Potter."
"He's mine too you know." But Harry would always love to share.
Grimacing, the auror stepped into the empty cell with his son. He looked around the cell where part of his nightmare had began.
It was currently empty. Severus's dead body did not sit curled up in the corner, mutilated by its former occupant in order to birth his son. There was no bloody trail and the small scrap of metal that still lay on the floor was rusty but clean of blood and gore. It wouldn't be that way for long. Harry had to set the stage to start all of this.
Folding up his invisibility cloak, which he'd stopped to get from his own residence after leaving Hogwarts, Harry sat it on the floor and then his sleeping son on top of it. Smiling nervously, he threw Severus's clothes in the corner of the room. Raising his wand, Harry began to transfigure the pile so that they were in a sitting position and using a extra article of Severus's clothing, Harry transfigured them a body to cover.
With the horrifying image making his sick to his stomach as he held it in his mind, Harry made everything look exactly the way it should. From the blank look in the false Severus's to the sickening cut in the abdomen.
Harry scowled at the transfigured body. Now that he knew what was really happening, he didn't want to sit his son with this fake parent. /But I don't have choice./ However, there was a need for the invisibility cloak other than to cushion his son. Harry planned to stay inside the cell until Buxton and Ron showed up. Then he would leave knowing that his son was in good hands.
Picking up the baby, Harry placed it within the faux Severus's arms and wrapped him up. Harry thought the scene looked like a twisted version of what he'd seen at the hospital. A shiver ran down his spine as he wondered if Severus really had the chance to cherish his child's birth after delivering the boy himself with a scrap of metal. Harry shook his head, reminding himself that Severus was alive and well at St. Mungo's waiting for him and their son to return.
He leaned over his son and peered into the barely open eyes. "Not a day old and you're already having your first adventure. You beat me by a good margin."
Harry stilled and not a second later, he spun around with his wand in hand as he cried out, "Expelliarmus!"
Parkinson, who had her own wand pointed at Harry's head, was knocked back by the powerful spell, unable to move out of the way in time. Her wand fell from her hand and was quickly snatched up by Harry. As the enraged auror stormed toward her with death in his eyes, Parkinson stood up, but again, not in time to avoid Harry.
Harry wasn't the type of guy to hit a girl. In this case, he found the fact that Parkinson had left Severus alone to die was a good enough excuse to leave his old ways behind.
Pansy cried out as Harry smacked her fiercely, knocking her into a wall. "Get away from me!"
"I will," Harry stated icily. "Right after I make you pay for what you did."
Even though she realized she was in grave danger, Parkinson couldn't stop herself from laughing. "What's wrong, Harry?" she asked mockingly. "Aren't you happy your little bitch had your baby?" As the dark green eyes went darker, Parkinson-Goyle suddenly remembered that this was the man that defeated one of the greatest dark lords the world had ever seen.
Harry dropped his wand and his hands lashed out, grabbing Pansy around the throat and lifting her from the floor. The woman struggled, gasping for air in the powerful grip as Harry pressed his thumbs into her windpipe. Pankinson scratch futilely at his wrists before kicking Harry between the legs. Instinctively, the auror shifted to the side so that she only kicked his upper thigh.
Nevertheless, Pansy was released and raced down the hall. Snarling profanely beneath his breath, Harry cast a silencing charm over his shoes and summoned his invisibility cloak. He would catch Parkinson no matter what. Harry raced down the hall after Pansy.
Pansy looked behind her in terror, knowing that if Potter caught her he would kill her with not questions asked. She had after all been responsible for Snape's death. She ran faster forcing her feet and legs to go as fast as they could. /I could slip out through the back! I just have to reach the staircase./ Parkinson could hear the baby's cries begin behind her and wondered if Potter had turned around to go to the infant.
She grinned triumphantly as she made it to the illusioned doorway, gloating mentally that she had beaten Potter and would get away. A strong hand clamping down shoulder made her freeze. Shaking, Pansy turned to see an enraged Harry James Potter, Gryffindor, Boy Who Lived, auror, and new father.
Harry stepped toward her, trying to control himself. He was trying to convince himself to restrain her with magic and leave her for the Ministry but his anger was taking over. He was going to kill the filthy bitch for what she had almost done and he prayed that he wouldn't regret it.
"You heartless bitch!" He hissed as he stepped toward her. Parkinson stepped back and it continued as the two quickly made their way through the doorway. "How could you! Why?" he snarled. "They both could have died back there!"
Peering behind her at the staircase, Pansy decided to make one last run. She smirked as she took a few steps away and Harry did not follow. "Easy. Because I could." Before Harry could strike out at her, Pankinson turned and started to flee.
Harry grabbed at her shoulder only to get a handful of robes. Pansy turned immediately and knocked his arm away, but at the same time, she lost her balance on the stairs. Harry threw out a hand, but Parkinson only pulled her arms close to her body. A piercing cry erupted from her throat as she began tumbling down the stairs. A sickening crack was heard just before she hit the bottom. Dead.
The auror stood there shocked as he stared at Parkinson's body. He was shaken out of his daze by running footsteps. Turning after another glance at the deceased woman, Harry watched his best friend run down the hallway toward his crying son. "Ron." Harry smiled and realized that the baby would be safe. He could always count on his best friend.
He decided that he would go to Hogwarts and remain there until his earlier self left to save Severus with the time turner. Then he would take his son and go to St. Mungo's to see Severus. Harry turned back around to see Parkinson's dead body. It had to be over now. There really was no one left. His eyes narrowed. /And if there are, then they'll all have to end like this./
Turning, Harry slipped from behind the illusioned doorway, making sure to step aside when Tonks and Buxton raced by him. A smile overtook his face again as he silently made his way out of the house.
Harry listened to the conversation inside the Headmaster's office.
"Then you have the right person, Albus. If anyone can beat slim odds, it's Harry Potter."
"Bring him back to us, Harry."
"I will." A pause. "You'll care for him while I do this?"
Poppy snorted. "Don't ask ridiculous questions. Hurry and help Severus!"
Harry almost laughed as he was thrown from Albus's office. With a swift goodbye, his earlier self left. Without a word, he slipped into Dumbledore's office.
Minerva and Poppy didn't notice him as both women spoke confidently of Harry saving Severus. Dumbledore didn't notice him either as his attention was taken by the little one in his arms.
The baby squirmed and whined before he started crying. The headmaster rocked the infant but he only continued to cry. Albus looked surprised before turning to the occupied women. Neither paid any attention to him whatsoever. Shaking his head, Albus smiled at the crying newborn. "I suppose you're hungry?"
"He should be. He hasn't eaten yet." Seeing Albus's wand appear instantly, Harry was swift in removing his cloak.
The trio looked surprised at him. Poppy looked at the door then brightened. "Severus?" she asked, hopeful of a positive answer.
Harry gave her a weary, proud smile. "Sleeping at St. Mungo's. I promised I'd bring back our son as soon as possible."
Albus congratulated Harry as he happily bounced the baby in his arms, blue eyes twinkling brighter than ever. Minerva grabbed Harry in a fierce hug. "Then, my boy, I suggest we all hurry to St. Mungo's. Best not to keep Severus waiting."
"Harry!" cried Ron as he rushed down the hall of St. Mungo's ignoring a few disgruntled hospital employees and their admonishments. When his friend and the newborn had gone missing, the aurors occupying the house had panicked since no one had seen them leave. They had checked both Ministries but it was only until a hurried call came through that the aurors learned where he was.
Hermione and Luna, both terribly excited, yelled at Ron to hurry to St. Mungo's to see the baby. They ended the connection before Ron could get a word in. Rollin suggested that he go see Harry. The auror must have taken his son to the hospital to get checked.
The green eyed wizard turned and smiled as Ron hurried up to him. "I was wondering if Hermione had reached you. I didn't think she had done it so quickly. Come on." He grabbed Ron's arm and started dragging his friend toward a room.
Ron frowned at Harry's behavior. Not long ago, his best friend was a complete wreck after seeing Snape dead but now the man was practically glowing with happiness. Ron didn't think for a second that Harry had forgotten Severus so what could possibly explain his change of mood. /And why are we headed for a hospital room? The baby should be in the nursery./
Hermione and Luna could be heard cooing over the baby as they reached the door. Ron couldn't understand the words but the tone they were using told him all he needed to know. Smiling, Harry opened the door. "Come on. I know you didn't really get a good look at him before."
Entering after his best friend, Ron froze as he stared at the bed in total shock before fainting dead away.
"Ron!" cried Harry, Hermione, and Luna. "Mr. Weasley!" exclaimed Minerva and Poppy.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "And this man is an auror? If he shocks this easily I have to wonder how that occurred."
Albus chuckled. "Honestly, Severus. What will we do with you?"
The wizard lay in bed with his son, now cleaned and awake, cradled in his arms. Severus was feeding the baby a short bottle of milk. Hermione and Luna stood on the right of the bed, away from the door, congratulating Severus as they admired the baby. Albus sat in a chair to Severus's left side of the bed.
"Severus, not now!" Harry quickly knelt at his friend's side. "Ron! Ron, wake up!"
Poppy hurried over as the door burst open. Draco rushed into the room and nearly tripped over Ron in the process. He did, however, step on the auror's shoulder and arm. Ron woke up immediately after.
"OW! What the hell is wrong with you, Malfoy?" Ron sat up and began rubbing his arm. "Watch where you're stepping! You didn't have to step on me. Aren't you suppose to be graceful or something? No wonder you were such a horrible seeker in school!"
"Me? What the bloody hell are you doing on the floor, Weasley?" snapped Draco with a glare. Blaise, Lucien, and Narcissa entered behind him. "My family could have been hurt trying to walk around with you drapped all over the damn floor! And I was a much better seeker than Potter was! He just cheated with that bloody broom of his!"
The rest of the Malfoys went straight to the bed while the two wizards continued arguing. Poppy rolled her eyes before walking back to her seat on the sofa in the corner.
Blaise, holding Lucien, stopped on Severus's left. He leaned over to look at the feeding newborn. "He's adorable, Severus."
The potions master scoffed. "He's red and wrinkly all over. And had his first bowel movement not long ago. Believe me, he is anything but cute."
"Oh leave the poor child alone, Severus. He doesn't need your criticisms this early in his life." Silently forcing Hermione and Luna to step away from the bed with a look, Narcissa stepped into their places. The two women moved toward the foot of the bed. "And he is rather cute. He doesn't have your nose, thank Merlin."
Severus wished desperately that he could argue with her, but she wasn't the only one that was happy the child had gotten Potter's nose. He did pray that the boy didn't grow up to look exactly like his father. Severus didn't know if he could take it.
Harry rubbed his forehead as the two grown wizard shrieked like children at each other. /I'm going to kill them both and Hermione and Blaise will never forgive me./ He turned to see the formerly mentioned glare at the two wizards when Lucien started to get upset. /So maybe they will forgive me./ "Silencio!"
Draco and Ron clamped their hands over their mouths before turning to glare at Harry. The auror looked at them unfazed by their glares. "Aren't you here to see the baby?"
Draco looked over at his scowling godfather. With one last glower at Ron, he walked over. Ron glared at the blond's back before hurrying over, trying to beat Draco to the bed. Draco moved quicker and smirked when Blaise shifted to the side to let him see his new godbrother. "Well, aren't you something," he said with a smile. "He is cute, Severus."
Harry walked back over as Hermione and Luna took seats in scattered chairs. Grabbing Ron's arm, Harry dragged his friend to the right of Severus's bed. Narcissa shifted down so that they could see the baby.
Ron smiled. "Congratulations, Professor." He turned to grin at Harry before turning back to Severus and the baby. The baby finally released his bottle.
Narcissa took it. "Three ounces. Good." She sat it aside.
"Can I hold him?" asked Ron. Severus simply stared at him as he lifted the infant to his shoulder. Ron cleared his throat. "Or maybe not."
Albus laughed. "Don't worry, Mr. Weasley. Severus has not released the little one since he's arrived. It may be time to name a godmother or godfather before Severus gives him to anyone other than Harry."
A little burp was heard from the baby and Harry grinned stupidly with a prideful look. Severus rolled his eyes as he returned the baby to his lap. "You poor child. Stuck with Potter as a father." Harry continued grinning.
"When are you going to name him, Severus?" asked Minerva. "We can't just keep calling him child or baby, or little one."
Severus and Harry exchanged looks. "We can do it now," suggested the auror. "With so many here, we'll have plenty of opinions." Severus actually looked worried as his eyes momentarily darted to an excited looking Headmaster. Harry looked nervous as well.
Dumbledore stood from his chair and quickly began patting down his robes. "I'm so glad that you'd like to have a good opinion, boys. I have a list here that..." He paused. "That's strange." He patted down his pockets. "My list is missing."
Narcissa watched Minerva and Poppy smirk at each other. She mentally thanked the two women. She smiled at Dumbledore. "Never fear, Headmaster. I knew a problem like this would come up." Narcissa removed a small book from her pocket. "Here's a book of names to use. I bought it when I was having Draco."
Severus thanked her as Harry took the book. He sat down beside the potions master on the bed as everyone else took a seat or transfigured one. "There are plenty in here." Harry flipped through the book.
"Of course there are plenty. Just look for male names. If my son accidentally ends up named Cynthia, I'll kill you."
(Alia: I got these names from THE best Harry Potter name the baby site. Someone suggested it and I've been using it ever since Raven's Gift. www. geocities .com /willowsevern /other /names .html)
Ignoring the threat, Harry opened the book. "Hmmm. Albinus, Aldous, Amadeus?"
"Someone take the book away," said Draco.
Harry glared. "I'm just naming them off."
"Harry, try finding something you and Professor Snape would like." Hermione didn't want to see a name battle, but it was going to happen anyway.
"Okay. How about Atticus?"
"That means 'father'," said Poppy.
"Which also means no." Severus shook his head. "I don't see the significance of naming a child Atticus unless he intends to be a father at a young age."
"Aster?" Harry suggested.
"That's a girl's name, Harry." Ron wondered if they should take the book away. "How about Aries?"
"Um...I really don't like that idea, Ron," said Harry. "Severus would try to change it from the constellation to the god of war."
"What makes you say that?" asked Severus.
"Might I remind you of the Medea incident." Severus snorted. "I would rather not the baby be named war. Aloe?"
"Like Aloe Vera? I like that one," said Luna.
"One more strike against you, Potter," said Severus. He leaned over Harry's shoulder. "Amaranth?" said Severus.
"He doesn't look like an Amaranth," said Blaise.
"Lucien doesn't look like a Lucien," Harry answered.
"Yes, he does." Everyone said in reply to Harry's comment.
Sighing, the auror continued. "Alyssum?"
"That sounds like a bloody asylum. No," snapped Severus. "Change letters."
"Alright. You know I don't know why some of these names are even here. Archer and Augustus I kind of understand," he paused to see how Severus thought about those. When there was no reply he continued. "But Air? Alchemy? Who would name their child Arbor? Or Astrid. Or Benevolent, Bliss? Or Cobalt?" He flipped through some more. "Energy? Independence? Simplicity? The poor kid would be mocked for life."
"You would be surprised," said Narcissa. "Try looking into the categories. Look under plants. Just don't let Severus name the child after a potions ingredient." Severus smirked at her.
Harry flipped to the section. "Most of these are girl names. Cypress? Kale? Leaf? Who would-,"
"I like Cypress," said Draco. "Anything else good?"
Harry shook his head. "No. Sage isn't bad though."
"Perhaps another section," said Albus.
"How about this one? Some nice simple names."
"Desperate to name him after relatives, Potter? No. Pick something else."
"Severus, there are good names here. Look." Harry leaned over to give Severus a better look. "Adam is a good name."
"It does mean the first, Professor," said Hermione in support.
"Yes, but Potter is forgetting that the child will be the only."
"David and Ian are good."
"I like Ian, Severus," Minerva declared. "And David is a nice, sensible name."
"Minerva, considering the fathers and the last year, this child's life will be anything but nice or sensible."
Sighing, Harry went through the book again. "There are some mythological names, since you liked Antigone. Ajax, Atlas-,"
"Yes, name my child after a man forced to carry the world for the rest of his days."
"That sounds like Castor Oil," said Ron.
"Gullible Gulliver is more like it."
"Poppy!" cried Minerva, surprised at the woman. The mediwitch laughed.
"No H names, Potter."
Ignoring Severus, Harry continued although he did skip the letter. "Marshall," Harry skipped the S names. "Theo, Tobias-,"
"No." Severus whispered icily and everyone was quiet for a minute.
Harry wondered what about that name brought on that tone but decided to find out later. Clearing his throat, Harry continued. "Virgil, Wilbur, Xavier. How about that?" No answer. "Artemus? Demetrius? Dionysus?"
"Potter, that was the god of debauchery," said Blaise. "I don't think that would be proper."
Harry skipped the G names, not wanting his son to share a letter with Gregory Goyle. "Janus, Julius, Lazarus, Linus, Marcus?" Severus shook his head. "Thaddeus, Xanthus, Zeus?"
"Who later turned into a mad man? I think not. We have enough of those running about," said Severus.
Annoyed, Harry gave him the book. "You aren't being very helpful. If you're so determined, you pick a name."
"Alright." Sitting the book aside, Severus asked Albus for the birth certificate on the small dresser by the bed. Sitting up his son, Severus said, "His name is Archer Kale Snape." Harry gaped at the potions master, who lifted an eyebrow and said, "See how easy that was." Everyone started laughing.
"That was rather quick," said Albus.
"Of course it was. I've had his name chosen since I was three months pregnant." The group went silent although Luna looked around a bit confused.
Harry stared. "Um...Severus? Didn't you say it was bad luck to name the baby before he was born?"
"Yes," he replied nonchalantly.
"Then, why did you name the baby?" asked Harry in confusion.
"Because I knew that my pregnancy was not going to be normal considering how the child was conceived and with who." There were frowns from everyone but Ron and Hermione. Albus saw Harry's friends and wondered just what he'd missed. "When you and Buxton told me about Longbottom, I certainly knew my luck was going to be bad anyway, so I went ahead and picked it. I never spoke the baby's name outloud for the sake of the superstition."
Harry still looked rather surprised but not displeased. He did hope that the early naming didn't cause any of the trouble they had had. "So Archer Kale Snape?" Harry looked at the group of friends occupying the room.
Everyone agreed that it was a nice name for the little boy. Albus smiled as he gave Severus the birth certificate and the quill. Severus reluctantly handed the sleeping babe over to his father. Harry smiled down at the baby then looked over Severus's shoulder at the birth certificate.
"Why are there so many spaces for names? You should only need three right? A first, middle, and last?"
"Potter, how many middle names does Albus have?" The Headmaster chuckled at Severus's quiz question.
"Oh," said Harry with a grin.
"It's quite normal to have more than one middle name, Harry," said Albus.
"I have three," said Draco. Blaise raised two fingers.
"I only have one," Ron said cheerfully. "Good thing too. Dad said Mum was coming up with some strange names."
"Pick one of the normal names that you seem to like so much, Potter." Harry watched Severus write in Archer then stop.
"I liked Xavier instead of those."
Severus nodded and started writing. Their son's name was Archer Kale Xavier Albus Snape Potter. Harry raised an eyebrow at the extra middle and last names. "Severus-,"
"The press will call him that anyway. And don't you say one word." The potions master snarled quietly. Smirking, Harry nodded. He wouldn't say anything but he knew that when Albus found out he would be delighted. Severus filled out their information.
"So, when do you think the press will find out about the baby's birth?" asked Poppy.
"More than likely they already have. They'll be swarming the place like flies any minute now," said Severus.
Ron stood. "Then I better go and call a few people to keep an eye out so you won't be bothered."
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley."
"Oh come on, Professor. With the baby and Harry around, you might as well call me, Ron." He didn't bother asking for reciprocation. Maybe someday though.
"I'll come with you, Ron." He picked up the birth certificate. "I'll turn this in after I tell everyone what really happened." He got confused looks from the Malfoys. He pressed a kiss to his son's plump cheek and handed the 7 pound 3 ounced baby back to Severus. Harry leaned in to kiss Severus but stopped and blushed when he noticed everyone around them closely observing.
"Of for Merlin's sake, Potter!" Severus grabbed the collar of Harry's robe and pulled him down. He kissed the surprised auror, who dropped the birth certificate. Only Ron noticed the small flash of light behind him but didn't think much of it.
Harry's eyes were wide open for a minute before he relaxed into the kiss. Although they had kissed before, Harry had always been the one to initiate the intimate contact. It was surprising, but definitely nice, to have Severus do it for once. It was also very reassuring of the potions master's feeling toward him.
Severus released him at the whistle from Blaise and laughter and congratulations from everyone else, although Draco couldn't hide the grimace on his face. "Now go and convince Shacklebolt not to fire you."
Grinning the aurors left the room. Harry opened his mouth to speak when he noticed a familiar looking woman clutching a camera with a huge smile on her face. "Hey!" The woman stared at him in horror before taking down the hall. Groaning, Harry dropped his head in his hands. "There goes another picture."
Ron patted him on the shoulder. "At least you're ready this time. So shall we face the firing brigade?"
Harry nodded with confidence. "I don't regret what I did. I'm happy and my family is safe. That's all that matters."
"Well, the faster we go the faster we can return." As they started to leave, Harry could hear the conversation in the room.
"Severus, why is Potter's name on the father's line? Only the biological father can go there. The magic on the certificate won't allow anything but." Blaise's voice was heard.
"Severus?" Albus asked questioningly.
"Ah, yes. I believe I have to explain a few things," Severus announced calmly.
Flashes of his death danced across Harry's mind. "You know, Ron, maybe we should hurry ahead." Grabbing his friend's arm, Harry hurried Ron down the corridor.
Draco's voice could be heard as they rushed away. "What do you mean Potter really is the father?!"
Alia: (dances around throwing confetti) Oh Thank GOD! IT'S OVER! I hope you guys liked it. I think it may have been a bit hurried but I did my best! Remember that I'll have the new chapter of that new story up on my site sooner or later. I may have a couple oneshots coming up too.
REVIEW!!! (sniffles) God this is so hard! (sniffles) But still REVIEW!!!