Severus gave up his robes completely as he hit the six month mark and adopted long buttonless Asian style shirts and wide legged trousers. He wore nothing but black linen now, everything else was suffocatingly hot. The students had never seen him in anything this casual - and never thought about what might have been under the all-covering robes of late - and they were surprised by the change it made to their perceptions of him. He was hard task-master, demanding and unwavering in his insistence for the best, but without the harsh barricade of his usual style they suddenly found this more acceptable. It wasn't simply their concern about upsetting a heavily pregnant man that fuelled the fervour with which they applied themselves to Potions lessons, it was a realised understanding of the passion that their teacher had for his subject and the necessity for concentration and study to do well in it.
The other Professors put it down to a fear of doing harm; they worked hard because they didn't want to infuriate him into early labour. The Headmaster paid attention to small details; he was, however, equally amazed that a mere change of dress could open up the Potions Master to understanding. He was highly pleased, Hogwarts had never seen such a fervour surrounding Potions; it would be far easier for the man to hand over his lessons when they were all trying so hard.
Many students actually missed him when he finally stopped teaching around the seven month mark. Up until then he had been able to make it to the classroom and could conduct a lesson so long as he had help to get into and out of his chair. One morning he found that he just couldn't do it anymore and told Hermione that they were now all hers.
He spent most of his time lying on the sofa in the conservatory, reading or making notes. As he was going to be physically inactive for the remainder of his pregnancy, he had decided to write his own textbook. Hopefully it would be one that would aid his style of teaching. He knew that it would seem a little arrogant to assign his own creation as a textbook for study, but he was writing it for blasted creatures so they could damn well read it.
Severus was surprised by the volume of students who came to him for advice on their assignments. At first he tried to redirect them to Professor Granger but they were persistent. He wondered if someone else was directing them back to him. He knew that Hermione wouldn't do such a thing; Albus on the other hand would have absolutely no compunction about it whatsoever.
It did keep him sane. He was only giving out homework advice really but it made him feel useful and it helped him resolve some of his thoughts about the book. He appended a question and answer section at the back of the book and added every question that the students brought to him.
By the time he was eight months pregnant, he was confined to bed. He left the bed only to visit the bathroom, which Remus had to help him with. Even then he had to wear a support which stopped the weight of the babies from tearing at his flesh. He was indeed humungous.
There was no way on earth he was going to be able to be moved, the baby would have to be born here.
Severus went into labour at lunchtime on a Thursday. He was eight months, one week and five days pregnant; he had lasted a lot longer than Poppy had expected. The babies would not need any special care.
Severus had assumed that this labour would last a similar amount of time as the previous one had. So when the contractions began he rode them out, awaiting the stronger ones. He sent Mirari to play outside, not wanting her to see him in pain, it was too early for her to worry yet, there were hours of this to come.
Only there weren't hours. The contractions came quicker and quicker and before he realised how far along he had come, he began to feel the urge to bear down.
Mirari ran faster than she had ever run before, the doors of the Great Hall swung open before her and she ran for the high table screaming as she went.
"DADDY DADDY DADDY, MAMA IS HAVING THE BABIES. HE'S HAVING THEM NOW DADDY."
There was a general clattering of cutlery, hushes, whispers and gasps from around the hall. The staff were all instantly on their feet.
Remus vaulted over the table, scooped up his daughter and fled to the dungeons, Poppy was rushing somewhere behind them and he assumed that Dumbledore and Hermione would be close behind her.
The wards were down and the door was open and Severus was screaming.
Remus set Mirari down, taking in the scene before him.
The bed was drenched from where Severus' water's had broken. He was lying with his knees raised – feet flat on the bed, nightshirt hitched up behind his knees; he was panting. Sweat dripped from his forehead flattening his hair to his face in damp clumps. Remus was by him in an instant, hand grasped and crushed as a contraction hit. Remus was shocked to realise that Severus was already pushing; how long had he been in labour?
Poppy was casting spells as she entered the room. She stopped at the foot of the bed and appraised both the results and Severus himself. Severus was immediately racked with another contraction and pushed down; there was no choice to do anything else – his body demanded it.
"Severus. You are fully dilated; the first baby is in the birth canal and will be born very soon. You are doing really well. Don't worry, everything looks fine. The babies are doing well and I think this is going to be a very fast labour. When did it start?"
The only answer Severus gave was something in the region of "Unnnnngh" as he pushed again.
Albus, Minerva and Hermione came rushing into the room.
"GET.OUT." he screamed over his own fear and pain. Mirari looked terrified, but there was nothing that either parent could do about that for the moment.
Hermione picked up Mirari and took her into the living room. Minerva hovered just outside the bedroom door, listening in case Poppy should call for their help.
Albus plonked himself cross-legged in the midde of the living room floor.
"Mirari, would you treat me to a game of Tiddlywinks? Dobby tells me that you are quite the whiz and I haven't played for years. It's not often that one finds a young lady with the intelligence to appreciate a good game of Tiddywinks."
Mirari was torn between her concern for her mother and her favourite game with her favourite Godfather. A handful of chocolate frogs, a broad grin and the general essence of Albus eventually over-rode concern as though he gave off an amnesia pheromone. If anyone had looked in on that scene, they would never have guessed what was going on in the next room.
"That's good Severus. The head is crowning. That's it, keep going. Come on love, one big push."
Severus glared at her, gritted his teeth, gripped Remus, gripped the bed and pushed. That one long push seemed to last for hours to the tired man, he couldn't remember a time when he wasn't pushing and couldn't imagine one where it would be over. Moments later the air was filled with the cries of the first baby. There were however two more to come. Poppy called Minerva to take the first baby, a boy, after she had cut the cord. Within the next twenty minutes the other two triplets had been delivered. Severus was cleaned and covered and holding two baby boys whilst Remus held the little girl. The little girl was dark like Severus with bright black eyes. Both boys were sandy haired and brown eyed like their father, they were not identical though, which Severus was thankful for.
"That was quicker than last time." Severus sounded surprised but very tired. He had almost forgotten what this moment felt like; the moment that wiped away all the pain, all the discomfort and showed you what it had all been for. In that moment Severus wondered whether these would be his last children. The thought that he might want more frightened and thrilled him equally. Remembering the past few months, he latched onto the fear like it was the warmest cashmere blanket and resolved to wrap himself in it.
Everyone was cooing over the babies and telling Mirari what a fantastic big sister she was going to be. Remus was showing her how to hold her baby sister. Only Albus saw what was happening behind Severus' eyes and as he sat on the edge of the bed he didn't move to hold one of the boys but leant in and kissed Severus on the forehead. Of all the futures that he had dreamed of for his most beloved friend, the one of brood mother had never been one that had crossed his mind. It was the furthest possible path from guilt ridden Death Eater that he could have taken. He thought back to the life Severus had led before Voldemort's fall and compared it with the life he had now. Guilt ridden, blood sodden, pained, alone, bitter, twisted, rejected, misguided and desperate to wipe his soul clean. Severus had revealed so much of himself since the day the man had resurrected him. He was gay (something that Albus had never realised), married, a mother of four, calmer, fairer, more at peace and most importantly happy. Albus Dumbledore felt that he had never been more proud of anyone in his entire life.
"Severus, Remus." He got their attention.
"I was overjoyed when you asked me to be Mirari's Godfather."
Remus interrupted, "Albus, we were intending to use the same Godparents for all our children."
"Ah wonderful. That is not, however, what I was going to ask my dear boy."
They looked at him quizzically.
"I was wondering if perhaps I could hand the honour of Godfather over to someone else, perhaps Ronald? For Mirari too, not just these three."
Mirari looked like she was about to burst into tears.
"You don't want to be my Godfather?"
"Well Mirari, I was wondering if your parents would allow me another role." He turned back to Remus and Severus.
"Neither of you have living parents and you now have four children. I was wondering if you might perhaps think that a Grandfather would be useful."
Mirari scrambled across the bed and grabbed the old man round the neck in a fierce embrace.
Severus smiled and looked at Remus, who nodded.
"Albus, we would be delighted if you would consent to be Grandfather to our children."
Albus beamed at all his Grandchildren, "The honour, most decidedly, is mine."
A/N Another note that I didn't intend to make. However, I promised more chapters than I am delivering here. The reason is that the other chapters that I have written are set when Mirari is at school. So I am ending this here and that will be a sequel instead. If you are interested, watch my page and it'll start up soon. Thanks for the reviews, they are appreciated.