Title: sur le sol fertile
Pairing/Characters: Severus Snape/Harry Potter
Warnings: mpreg, cursing, non-explicit sexual description
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Notes: This story was written for a fest at hpcreatures on . I owe an immense debt of gratitude to hull1984 for her speedy and spectacular beta. She managed to pull out the best suggestions I've ever had from a beta in a weekend. You are amazing, woman.
Original prompt and submitter: Snape didn't die, but his almost death left him with a most distasteful present. Now he has some Naga traits. One of those is his ability to grant fertility, pity he didn't know that, when he (accidentally) fucked Potter. I'd prefer if this is not an established relationship fic, but go whatever course your imagination desires. Mpreg with pregnant Harry.
Would be funny if Snape decides to exploit his gift and earn money by helping barren witches but is still as nasty and caustic as ever. Prompt by alexissd.
Harry Potter had been wondering what happened to Snape ever since he'd walked into the Shrieking Shack and found only a pool of blood three years ago. No one had ever found a body and there had been no reports of Snape or anyone fitting his description since. That was why when he came across a tall, thin man with short hair, a turned-up collar, and Snape's nose, Harry nearly fell over himself in shock. This was not the greasy, sallow-faced man who had taught him Potions and had lived his life seemingly under the shadow of two other powerful men. He was sleek and graceful and had a sensuality about him that Harry couldn't look away from. Even sitting on a pub stool, drinking a pint he exuded sexuality. Harry was so mesmerized, he found himself drifting over before he knew what he was about.
"Snape?" came his weak voice, thinned by shock and uncertainty. Snape looked startled, disbelieving that anyone would recognize him, let alone dare to speak his name with such familiarity. Everyone he allowed to address him by his name rather than 'Professor' or 'Sir' was either dead or unaware that he wasn't. And yet, here was Potter, staring with a bit of a glazed look to his eyes.
"What do you want, Potter?" he asked, voice slinking sexily into every nerve ending of Harry's body.
"I thought you were dead. I went looking for you after… after it was all over and you were gone. Where have you been? How did you survive? I didn't think anyone could live through that bite. She practically tore your head off."
"Indeed, Potter, she did." He turned his head to show the large scar that encompassed the whole side of his neck, trying not to think of why he was doing so. He thought that Potter would be repulsed by the hideous disfigurement, hoped it would force him to back away and leave, but Potter was not repulsed. He leaned forward, green eyes wide with fascination, and reached slowly forward to touch the scarred tissue. Before he could, though, Severus slapped his hand away. "Do not touch me, you imbecile."
Harry ignored him, moving closer, if that were possible with his hips and chest already pressed so close to Snape's side. "What happened? How could you have survived that? Wasn't her saliva poisonous?"
"It was. I should be dead, but there was an unforeseen consequence. Instead of death, I was… altered. I am no longer entirely human." He wasn't certain why he was telling the brat this, but it was therapeutic in a way, to speak of his condition. There had been no one with whom he could speak since he had left England, just after the war and he hadn't had the courage to approach anyone since his return. Then, there were those eyes, staring at his scarred flesh with the same intensity that Lily used to look at him with when they were children and he was teaching her spells. He nearly choked on the thought, but was unable to stop it none the less.
"Not human? You're not a snake are you, like Voldemort? You haven't done anything dark, have you?" Harry looked very concerned, though whether his concern stemmed from concern for Severus himself, or from the thought that he might have to fight another Dark Lord, Severus could not determine.
"I am what is called a Naga, a being that is half wizard and half serpent. So yes, I am a snake, but I did nothing to become as I am."
"If you're half-snake, then why don't you have a tail instead of legs?" Severus snorted indignantly into his drink and ignored the brat for a moment. The person sitting to Harry's back moved and Harry quickly slid onto his stool, eyes never leaving the scar he could still see peaking over the edge of Snape's upturned collar. His eyes caught more as he stared, a darkening of the skin towards his spine, a shimmer. He tried to reach out, but Snape once more smacked his hand away.
"I told you not to touch me. I am only part serpent. I am not actually a snake and therefore have retained my legs. Are you satisfied?"
"Oh," Harry responded dumbly. He took a sip of the beer he'd been holding, all but forgotten, as he talked. He tried not to stare, but his eyes kept moving back to the dark bit of skin he could see just below the older man's hair line. It looked a bit like scales, but Harry couldn't be sure.
"Did your relatives never teach you that staring is rude?" Snape turned to him with a raised eyebrow and a small smirk. The brat actually blushed and looked down at his beer. It was endearing in a disgusting sort of way. Severus ordered another pint and tried to forget he had just thought that.
"Sorry, couldn't help myself. I haven't seen you in three years and you look different."
"Indeed, that often happens when one survives near death."
Harry's eyes shot back up and he moved to the edge of his stool, closer, always closer it seemed. "Didn't happen to me and I was really dead there for a minute or so. Only thing that's changed 'bout me is I've 'matured', or so Hermione tells me. You on the other hand, you have short hair, you're wearing muggle clothes, and you're just… I don't know. Better looking."
Snape sneered at him. "My appearance is none of your business, Potter. Why don't you find one of your many groupies and leave me be." He practically growled as he stood and stalked his way to the other side of the bar. Harry remained seated, stunned for a moment before getting up and following. Snape kept his body facing the bar and did his best to ignore the younger man until Harry wedged himself between Snape and the wall.
"I wasn't trying to insult you. It's just a shock is all. You've been gone for so long and then you come back and you look like this, and I got a bit flustered. Sorry." He blushed again and Snape had to down his pint to stop himself from growling. He ordered another, before reluctantly turning to Potter.
"What is it that you want, Potter? As you can see, I am alive and reasonably well. What more could you possibly need to say to me?"
Harry looked flustered, his cheeks reddening again. "Do I need to want something to talk to you? I'm sorry if I'm imposing on your privacy, but you are in a pub, which isn't exactly private, and I just--"
"Potter, do stop babbling. I had intended on drowning my woes in alcohol tonight and your incessant speech is turning my stomach. If you would like to buy me a pint, that would be acceptable, but otherwise please find someone else to bother."
"I can buy a pint; in fact that's a brilliant idea." He quickly waved the barman over and bought them both another round, beaming at Snape the whole time. Severus sighed in a put-on sort of way and tried to convince himself that it wasn't attractive on the little runt. There was a momentary silence between them as Severus enjoyed his drink and Harry struggled to find another, hopefully more acceptable topic. "If you don't mind my asking, where have you been all this time?"
"That, Mr. Potter, is none of your business."
"Just thought I'd ask..." Harry muttered as he went back to his pint, still fumbling for something to say that might actually engage Snape. A minute of silence later, a thought suddenly came to him. "Let's do a shot."
Snape snorted. "Is there a particular reason you seem so insistent to befriend me, Potter? "
Harry restrained himself from saying what immediately came into his head. "Just do a shot with me. You said you wanted to get pissed; why not let me help you along?"
The older man narrowed his eyes for a minute before reluctantly agreeing. Three shots later, they were both well on their way to shit-faced and Harry was ready to test the waters with another question, hoping that this time Snape was far enough gone to answer. "Can you speak parseltongue?"
Snape gave him a side-long look and tried to stop a smirk from emerging. "Perhaps..."
Harry grinned again and leaned in closer. "Really? Prove it." In the years following the war, Harry had become adept at slipping in and out of Parseltongue, and now needed no visual of snakes to do so. Snape felt his cock harden at the words sliding over his skin.
"Do that again and I will be forced to take you home."
"Promise?"Harry licked his lips as he unconsciously leaned in further, entranced by the sibilant words spoken in that deep, sultry voice that had already had him quivering.
Snape growled and snatched Harry's collar, pulling him close. "Unless you have a wish to be violated in ways you are incapable of imagining, I suggest you leave my presence immediately." He was drunk; that was the only explanation as to why he would feel so enthralled by this man whom he was certain he really loathed. And yet, here he was with Potter's breath on his lips and his green eyes so close that he could see the flecks of gold in them.
And then, Potter was kissing him and it was all over. He'd apparated them away before either had time to think, and the next moment he was shoving the little urchin into his mattress and sucking his soul out through his mouth.
Severus woke the next morning covered with something hot and heavy and snuffling into his collar bone. He sat straight up in shock, jostling the brat right off him and nearly off the bed. "Potter, what in the bloody hell are you doing in my bed?" He growled, shuffling himself to the far side of the bed and away from the scruffy-looking brunet.
"Wha..?" Harry rasped, peering up at him through one half-open eye. "You're making too much noise. Don't you know what time it is? And why'd you move? I was comfortable…" Harry shuffled right after him, curling his arm around his waist and laying his cheek on Severus' thigh as though he wasn't at all concerned with the situation. Severus was near to having a heart attack. Harry's thumb slowly brushed back and forth against the dark green snake skin along Severus' pelvic bone and began to make the snuffling noises again.
"Potter! What are you doing in my bed?!" Snape pushed him away again and stood, pulling a bit of the sheet with him to cover his nakedness.
After heaving a sigh, Harry sat up and rubbed at his eyes. "You put me here. Bloody hell. You needn't make so much noise. You sound like a bloody banshee." Upon opening his eyes, he snorted at the picture Severus made, despite his glare of death. "You do know we fucked last night, right? I've seen your dick. We're well acquainted, good mates in fact. You don't have to hide it from me." His voice suddenly dropped a few octaves and his amused smirk became a leer. "Why don't you come back to bed and we can become even more well acquainted?"
Severus gave him a horrified look and snatched the rest of the sheet off the bed to wrap around himself like a toga. "I will do no such thing. Whatever regrettable acts of depravity I committed last night, I will not be repeating them. Now, if you will please collect your clothing and leave, I have business to attend to."
Harry's mouth turned down in a small pout and he rubbed at his messy hair. "You seemed to like the acts of depravity last night. Too good for the likes of me now it's daylight?"
Severus only continued to glare as Harry stumbled out of bed and began the hunt for his clothing. "Provide a man with enough firewiskey, Potter, and he will fuck anything with a hole, no matter how repulsive that object might appear to him when sober."
Harry only muttered to himself in response and angrily yanked his trousers on. The muttering continued as he searched for and finally found his t-shirt, but once he was fully dressed, he turned to glare at Snape. "You know, I looked for three years for you hoping that…" He shook his head at himself and ran his fingers through his messy locks. "I don't know what I thought, but I hoped that whatever happened between us, it wouldn't be meaningless. And you've gone and ruined it, haven't you? You selfish, stubborn, cold-hearted bastard. If you regret it so much, then don't worry. You won't be seeing me again."
"Good," Snape growled just as Harry popped out of sight. He spent the next minute staring at the space the impetuous brat had just vacated. Then, he dropped the sheet he had been using as a toga and went to wash the smell of sex and Potter from his skin.
Three weeks passed in which Harry fumed to Luna about how disgusted he was with Snape's treatment, while Luna sat on his couch and gave him vague, odd pieces of advice that convinced him she'd been spending too much time conversing with centaurs. Luna had just arrived with an Indian take-away, normally Harry's favorite, in an attempt to cheer him up, but it was not to be. The instant the smell hit his nostrils, Harry turned tail and ran for the toilet. Luna found him there, leant over the toilet bowl, looking a bit green around the cheeks and doing everything in his power to keep his lunch.
"Are you all right?" she asked, kneeling next to him and rubbing his back. Harry made a non-committal noise and fought another spasm of his stomach. They sat in silence for a minute more until he finally won the battle and was able to sit up.
"Bloody Hell. I don't know what just happened." He wiped the sweat from his brow and turned to Luna, bewildered. Luna gave him a sympathetic look and continued to rub his back.
"Was it the take-away? I've heard that sometimes the smell of curry can cause that reaction for those in your condition."
Harry blinked at her, having no idea what she was talking about, but when he asked, she only hummed and stood, murmuring about finding something else for them to eat for dinner. Further inquiry got him nowhere, and so he let the subject drop, thinking it was just another one of her centaur-like answer.
By the next week, he knew that there was something wrong. He was getting nauseous at the drop of a knut and feeling worn-down all the time. He went to his healer, thinking maybe he had the flu, and got the shock of his life.
"I'll need a blood test to be certain, of course, but it sounds to me like you're pregnant, Mr. Potter."
Harry gaped at him for several moments, unable to comprehend what he was saying. He knew that there were ways for men to become pregnant, one conversation with Hermione about safe sex after coming out was enough to convince him of that, but he had been made to understand that it was difficult. There were potions and sex magic spells required, a whole regimen a man had to go through to prepare before he could even think of conceiving. It was nearly impossible for spontaneous male pregnancy to occur.
"What do you mean, I'm pregnant? Do the test, please. I haven't done any of the preparations and I've only had sex with a man once in the last three months. I thought you couldn't get pregnant without a lot of... effort."
The healer looked at him in surprise. "You didn't plan this?"
"Well, no. I sort of would have had to tell you to get the potions, wouldn't I?"
"Well, yes, but I thought perhaps you'd gone to one of the gynecologic healers. Perhaps your symptoms are just confused. Hold out your arm and I'll test you." Harry did as he was asked and the healer tapped his wand to Harry's wrist. A few moments later, a memo flew into the room and hovered between them. The healer took it from the air, unfolded it, and read the results. His face became more perplexed by the moment. "You said you have only had intercourse with a man once in the last three months. When was that, exactly?"
"About a month ago."
The healer nodded and re-read what the parchment said before shaking his head. "It seems you have overcome insurmountable odds again, Mr. Potter. You are indeed pregnant, four weeks along exactly. Was there anything peculiar about your last... encounter?" He turned his gaze to a wide-eyed Harry, who only stared for a moment before realizing that an answer was required.
"Er.. well... he wasn't really... I mean to say, he's had a bit of a... He's er... He's not entirely human."
"If he is a werewolf, I am afraid we will have to abort..."
"No, no, he's nothing dangerous!" Harry immediately exclaimed, hand going to his stomach in a protective move he wasn't fully conscious of. "He's half er.. I think he said he was half Narda or Narga or something."
"Naga? As in the snake god of India?"
"Yeah, that. He got bit by Voldemort's snake and her poison changed him. He's got snake skin all down his back and across his hips and his eyes are a bit slitty, but they're so dark you can't tell unless you're really close to him, which I obviously was... But do you think that has something to do with it?"
"I think it has everything to do with your situation. Naga men are known to be extremely gifted with fertility and sex magic. It is very likely that he caused your condition."
"But we didn't do any sex magic..."
"No, but you did have intercourse and, as I said, the Naga are known to be extremely fertile. To have intercourse with one is almost a guarantee that there will be a pregnancy. Did he not tell you this beforehand?"
"He didn't mention anything about it. We talked a bit in parseltongue, but that was really all the conversation we had about it. We were a little intoxicated." He could feel his cheeks warm and redden with embarrassment.
The healer smiled awkwardly and shuffled through Harry's records. "Well, in any case, you are indeed pregnant and we will have to discuss what you should expect and what you will need to change in order to have a healthy baby. Are you comfortable with that?"
"Er, I suppose. Not much choice in the matter, is there?"
"It is always possible to term--"
"That isn't an option, thank you. Let's just go over what I'm to expect."
They talked for over two hours and Harry left with a dozen Ministry-issued pamphlets on male pregnancy, as well as a throbbing headache. He arrived home to find three messages tacked to his fireplace from Hermione, asking how the healer's appointment had gone. He didn't know what to say, so he held off contacting her and went to Diagon Alley to find a few books on pregnancy instead. When he came back, she was sitting on his couch with Luna.
"Where have you been? We thought you were sick. You couldn't have been to the doctor that long." Hermione was out of her seat before he'd shut the door and over to examine him. He allowed her to fuss him over to the couch, muttering the whole time about how irresponsible he was sometimes, and by the time he was seated, Luna had tea in his hand and they were both staring expectantly at him.
He looked down at his tea, feeling stifled and unsure how to tell them. This wasn't exactly a usual situation. How did one tell ones best friends that one was up the duff by their former Potions professor? "I'm not sick, but thanks for the concern."
Luna nodded her head as if she had expected such an answer, while Hermione huffed in frustration. "What do you mean, you aren't sick? You and Luna both told me you've been running to vomit at the drop of a knut, how could there not be anything wrong with you?"
"There's nothing wrong, per se…at least the healer said I'm perfectly fine. I'm just a bit, er... pregnant."
Luna's face broke out into a grin. "Of course you are, Harry. I told you that already."
Both Harry and Hermione turned to look at her. "What do you mean? You never said I was pregnant."
"I told you that it was normal for someone in 'your condition' to have morning sickness. I suppose you were a bit preoccupied with being sick at the time, though, so maybe you weren't listening."
"How was I supposed to know that's what you meant? You know I wasn't trying or anything. Why would you suspect it?"
"Because you said Snape is a Naga. Those who sleep with Naga always conceive, silly."
Harry took a deep breath, trying to calm himself so that he didn't fly across the carpet and choke her. "Why didn't you tell me you knew what a Naga was? I talked to you for weeks about Snape and you never said a word."
"Of course I did. I told you all sorts of things, but you probably just were too distracted to listen. It happens a lot when I try to tell you things."
Hermione rubbed his back in sympathy while he dropped his head into his hands and said nothing. Luna sipped her tea.
"So, you're pregnant? I take it Snape is the father?"
"The other father, and yes. I'm four weeks along and I slept with him four weeks ago."
"And there's been no one else?" Her hesitant question only earned her a glare.
"What am I going to do? I can't exactly keep my job if I'm pregnant, can I? Do the Aurors have paternity leave, do you think? I never even thought to ask."
"I'm sure they do, but you might not want to have such a high-risk job if you have a child. You might have to move to a desk job."
"You think? Maybe I could work for Kingsley, he's been looking for a new assistant since Percy moved to Canada, hasn't he?"
"We can certainly ask him. I'm sure they'll find something for you to do."
Harry nodded absently then shook his head. "What am I talking about? What does my job matter when I'm pregnant? What am I going to tell Snape? Should I tell him? He didn't seem to want much of anything from me. Do you think he'd want to know about this?"
"I think you should tell him and see what he says. Even if he doesn't want anything to do with the baby, at least he won't be able to claim you never told him." She smoothed his hair away from his forehead and went back to rubbing his back. Luna moved to sit on his other side and patted his knee.
"I'm sure he would love to be involved."
Harry snorted into his hand. "Yeah, I'm sure. He's always struck me as the paternal type."
"Maybe he'll have a change of heart with his own. I'm told it is always different when the child is your own. I, of course, wouldn't know."
"Why don't we make you some dinner, Harry? Maybe you'll be able to think more clearly with some food in your stomach, hmm?" Hermione suggested, standing up.
"Yeah, food sounds good. I'll help." He stood and the girls followed him into the kitchen.
I know that you want nothing to do with me, but I have something I need to tell you and I don't think it's the sort of thing you say in a letter. Are you available for tea today? I'll leave the Floo open for you. Please come by any time after two.
Snape looked at the letter several times that morning, undecided as to whether he should bother. He could not imagine what Potter could possibly have to tell him that he could not say in a letter. The brat probably wanted to confess his undying love for him, or some such drivel. By lunch, he had convinced himself that the letter was a ploy to persuade him to have another go. By tea, he had convinced himself that he wanted it.
What he found was a visibly nervous Harry, pacing his living room. There was tea already waiting on the coffee table, along with store-bought pastries laid out on a tray. "You came!" Harry exclaimed, voice shaking a bit. He hurriedly ushered Severus to a seat on the sofa and sat in a near-by armchair.
"Your letter sounded important. What is it you wish to tell me?"
Green eyes turned to fingers twitching in his lap. "You said you were a Naga, right? Like the snake gods of India?"
"Yes, I am part-Naga."
"Do you know much about them? Their abilities?" His voice was hesitant, those green eyes pierced him with a curious look from under his lashes.
"Of course I do, I am one. Do you think I would have forgone researching a creature that I had become?"
Harry looked sharply up at him, eyes burning into his. The nervousness seemed to have morphed into sharp anger. "So you knew, then? That this would happen?"
"That what would happen? You have yet to actually reach a point."
"I'm pregnant. And without any of the rituals or potions or any of it. The healer said I'm five weeks along. And he said it's because of you, because you're a Naga and Naga are extremely fertile. Which means that you knew you had an almost perfect chance of getting me up the duff and you didn't say anything. How could you allow this to happen when you knew you wanted nothing to do with me? Do you know what this will do to my life? My career? What about the baby? How is this fair to her?"
Severus opened his mouth to defend himself, but found that he was struck dumb. Pregnant? How could this be? They had not performed any sex magic, at least not that he remembered. Granted, he had been six sheets to the wind at the time, but that did not mean that he would forget such a powerful ritual. "How is that possible?"
Harry glared. "Didn't you hear what I just said? Naga are extremely fertile. The healer told me that it would have been nearly impossible for us to have sex and not get pregnant. And now I am, five weeks along."
"What do you expect me to do about it?" he asked without thinking, defensive. Something in the brat's diatribe triggered his memory. He had read about Naga and fertility, but all the material he read had referred only to a Naga's fertility in connection with women. There had been no mention of the possibility of spontaneous male pregnancy. The thought had never even occurred to him when Potter first assaulted him, perhaps because he had been so intoxicated at the time. Obviously, there was more to the fertility issue than his books suggested. He needed time to think, to comprehend what was being said. What this meant. He did not take into account that with pregnancy came a heightened emotional state and was not prepared for the furious, watery eyes that met his. He also did not take into account that such an expression would cause his heart to clench for reasons unknown to him.
"Nothing, if you don't want to. I know you certainly don't want anything to do with me, let alone my child. I just thought you should know, in case hell froze over and you suddenly grew a heart."
Severus faked a sneer at the wobbly way his voice shook, though his body was yelling at him to go and comfort his mate, and stood. "You were correct in assuming that I want nothing to do with either of you. Thank you for informing me, but I shall take my leave now." The brat mumbled to himself and wiped at his downcast eyes, apparently trying to keep himself together. Severus did his best to ignore the display, stalked to the Floo, and quickly made his exit without a backwards glance.
Upon entering his study, he collapsed into his favorite chair and stared into the fire. He had acted in haste and he needed to think. This was a lot to take in. Potter was pregnant. He was to have a child, Severus's child. Severus was to be a father. And he had spat cruel words at the boy and walked out without even a goodbye. What had come over him? This was happy news, wasn't it? His instincts had been harassing him to reproduce ever since his turning, and now he had. It was a relief, to know that his genetic material would continue on, and yet he had walked out on the man who carried the offspring. Would the simple knowledge that the deed had been done be enough to assuage that part of him that was so insistent? He would have to hope that it was, because something told him that forgiveness was not on Potter's agenda. He sighed and summoned a drink, mind whirling around and around one thought. Potter was pregnant and he had fucked it up.
"Do you want Luna or me to go with you to the healer for your next appointment?" Hermione asked as she turned a page in one of the pregnancy books Harry had bought the day he found out.
"I suppose so."
"When is it?"
"Three weeks from Tuesday, nine in the morning."
"Luna will have to go. I've got work then."
Harry nodded and absently rubbed at his stomach. There wasn't quite a bump there, yet, but he could definitely tell that he'd begun to gain weight and it was beginning to sink in that there really was a little person growing inside him. In the time since Snape's visit, there had been no communication between the two men. Harry didn't expect that there would be, though the thought that he would have to raise a child by himself kept him up most nights crying like a little girl. He had spoken to his boss at the Auror Department, as well as Kingsley Shacklebolt, and they had all three decided that it would be safer for him and the baby if he transferred to Magical Law Enforcement and worked a desk job. Harry wasn't happy about the new position, but he knew he had no other choice.
"I'll ask her next time she comes 'round."
"You mean tonight for take-away?" They shared a grin and an eye-roll. Hermione was flustered that Luna spent so much time at Harry's flat, despite the fact that Hermione herself spent quite a bit of her time there as well. Harry was amused, but pretended not to be, and let Hermione rant a bit when she wanted.
"No, she's got something to do with the Quibbler tonight. Said she won't be back in town until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest."
"What is it this time, hornkydinkers?" She sighed in exasperation.
"No, I don't know what she's looking for."
Not far away, in an alley dark enough to make Knockturn look like a kiddie carnival, Luna stood in front of a hideously decrepit building with a smile on her face. It was number 13 and she pushed the call button on the thirteenth name down on the flat list. A growling, seductive voice answered. "Who is it? I'm busy."
"Luna Lovegood here to see Professor Snape. Is that you, Professor?" her voice lilted through the gloom surrounding her.
She could nearly hear the sneer in his voice. "How did you find me?"
"Harry," was her soft answer. There was a pause and then a buzzing sound as the front door opened by itself. She stepped in and took the stairs up to the first floor and knocked on number thirteen at the end of the hall. The door was flung open and a dark figure quickly ushered her in.
"You shouldn't be here. I thought the brat understood that I want nothing to do with the creature growing inside him."
Luna turned to him, unfazed by the harsh words, and smiled serenely up at him. He towered over her, black eyes glaring death at her. "We both know that isn't true. Naga always want to be involved with their children, to ensure that they grow healthy and become productive themselves. Why did you lie to Harry? All he wants is to love and be loved and you went and crushed his heart like he was a dung beetle and you were a Snickergue. Very un-gentlemanly of you."
Snape growled and moved further into the room. "He wouldn't want me. He could have anyone; why would he choose me?"
"He's in love with you, silly. He's been searching for the answer to what happened to you for three years now."
"Don't be ridiculous; he hates me. He's done everything but yell it at me, you insolent, meddling child."
"He's hurt and has more hormones packed into him than any man should. He thinks that you hate him and want nothing to do with him and all he wanted was to be with you."
There was a pause in which Snape fixed himself tea without offering Luna any. "I won't go groveling to him."
"He would take you without it."
"I shall have to think about it."
"You have seven and a half months. I think it's best to see him immediately, though. Crying so much can't be good for the baby." Her voice held just a hint of the guilt she was trying to push on him, but it certainly provided the full impact she desired. Snape paused in drinking his tea and gave her a steady, stern look. She smiled back and turned to the door. "He has an appointment with the healer three weeks from Tuesday, just in case you want to go."
"I think I already have something else scheduled."
"In that case, I guess I'll be going to see the sono-bubble. Oh well. I should probably be going. I have an article to write before tomorrow morning. Have a nice day, Professor." She only got a glare in response and she cheerfully let herself out without another word. Snape stood in the middle of his kitchenette staring into his milky tea for several minutes before remembering that he had a potion brewing and hurrying to his workroom.
You may stay home tomorrow. I will be accompanying Potter to his appointment.
Harry was just getting ready to apparate to his healer's office when his Floo flared up and the last person he expected to show up in his living room came through, brushing the soot from his deep-green robes. Harry's heart clenched up and his hand went to the slim, new bulge of his stomach. "Hello," he croaked.
Severus's eyes immediately moved to his stomach and the slight roundness visible through his t-shirt. He looked almost... eager. Harry didn't know what to think. "You have an appointment with the healer today, I believe."
"Yeah, I was just going..."
"I will be accompanying you. If we are to have an offspring, I want to assure myself of its health."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Don't talk about her like she's a thing. She's our child, not some animal."
Severus restrained his frustration and spoke calmly, lullingly. "As the fetus is not yet large enough to have acquired a sex, it is indeed an 'it'. When we know the gender, I will refer to it by that gender. Now, shall we go?" He moved closer to put a hand on Harry's back to assist him, but Harry moved suspiciously away.
"I thought you didn't want anything to do with me or the baby. Why are you here?"
"How shall I explain this so that a Gryffindor might understand? I have... seen the error of my ways, so to speak. I wish to see that the child is healthy. Now, once more, may we leave? We are about to be late." He once more moved to Harry's side and Harry once more moved back.
"Healer Rotterdam can wait. When you say you want to know the baby is healthy, do you mean just today or are you going to give this a go?"
"We shall discuss it after the appointment. I will not ask you again, may we leave?"
"We'll discuss it now. Don't treat me like a child. I'm not your student anymore," Harry snapped, glaring.
Severus resisted a growl, knowing that he was not about to win Harry's co-operation with animosity. "I intend to be involved, if that is what you are asking. I do not yet know the extent of my involvement, but we can discuss it after your appointment."
The hostility began to slowly bleed from Harry's body and hope moved in to replace it. "With the baby or with both of us?"
"We shall see. Now, may--"
"Yes, let's go." As they apparated, Harry could have sworn he heard Severus mutter 'Finally', but he ignored it in favor of making his appointment. Heads turned as they walked past, all eyes falling to the rounded belly obvious through Harry's snug t-shirt. Harry was too distracted with his companion to care what others thought of him, or of what was going to end up in the Prophet next day. Severus, on the other hand, was aware of all those around them, taking note of who looked threatening, protecting Harry and their child without even realizing he was doing it. Luna had said that it was instinct and she was correct. His body automatically protected Harry without him ever having to think about it, and the instinct was even stronger just at that moment because he had essentially abandoned them both and his body felt he needed to make up for lost time.
When they reached the office, there were only two other wizards and one witch in the waiting room. Harry spoke quietly to the receptionist while Severus surveyed them and assured himself that they were all harmless. At least the men were. The woman looked like a gossip of epic proportions. He glared at the woman, black eyes narrowing menacingly, before a touch from Harry on his arm got his attention and they took a seat in the far corner together. "She said it will only be a minute," Harry whispered to him.
He nodded and watched as Harry settled in, hand moving automatically back to his stomach. Severus had to resist reaching over himself. He didn't think Harry would appreciate it at that moment. They waited in silence, neither knowing what to say to the other that wouldn't entail a fight. Harry looked relaxed, but Severus could feel the wave of tension just below the surface.
After a few agonizing minutes of silence, a medi-witch called for Harry and they followed her back to a small examining room. Harry hopped onto the examination table while Severus curled himself into the corner chair and tried not to stare at Harry or the bump. After about fifteen minutes of waiting, a wizard about Severus's age slipped into the room wearing white robes and holding a chart. He smiled at Harry, who smiled back. "Good morning, Harry. How are we feeling today?"
"I'm fine, I suppose. No morning sickness today, so that's good, I guess."
"That's wonderful. And this must be... Severus Snape?" The man had begun his sentence cordially, but as the recognition hit him, his face turned into that of astonishment. "You are supposed to be dead."
Severus clenched a hand on the arm of his chair and tried not to glare. "The reports are, as usual, incorrect. As you can see, I am perfectly alive."
"But not..." He looked from Severus to Harry and back again, and it was clear on his face that the puzzle pieces were beginning to fit together, though whether or not he liked the picture they made was unclear. "You're the Naga who impregnated Harry without telling him such a thing was a possibility. That was extremely irresponsible of you, you know. What if Harry had not found out until much later in the pregnancy? There could have been serious complications."
"There could have been, yes, but thankfully he discovered the... condition early. I was unaware that my fertility applied to males as well as females, unfortunately, or the entire thing should not have happened." Severus recognized the man now. He had been a year ahead of Severus in school, a nosy Ravenclaw who had asked Lily out in their fifth year. He remembered Lily's complaints about how boring he was. He began to make plans in his head for finding Harry a new healer before their next appointment.
Harry shot Severus a look. "Can we get back to the reason we're here? I want to see her."
"It," Severus prompted, earning him a glare.
"Of course, Harry. Just let me do a few tests to make sure everything is as it should be and then we can do a sono-bubble. I must warn you, though, that the fetus is not yet large enough to have developed a sex and will most likely be a boy when it does."
Harry smiled down at his stomach and rubbed circles across the taught t-shirt. He knew from Hermione's lectures (there had been at least three) on male pregnancy that the probability of two men producing a girl was about as high as two muggles producing a magical child, what with the available chromosome types or matches or something. He always lost her about the time she got to the scientific bits. Regardless of the probability, Harry was convinced that he was having a girl and little short of a penis showing up on the sono-bubble was going to change his mind. "I know, but I have a feeling the baby's going to be a girl so I call her a girl. Is that all right?"
"That is perfectly fine. I shall refer to the baby as a girl as well, for the time being. Mother's intuition and all that." He and Harry shared a knowing smile that made Severus want to punch the healer. The Brat was never going to allow him to call the fetus 'it' now. A few tests were performed and declared normal and then Harry was asked to lay back and lift his shirt up. A spell was cast and a bubble appeared above his stomach.
Severus stood to get a better look and was struck dumb at the sight of a little white being floating in a sea of red. He was surprised at how well-developed it was for being so small. He could already distinguish the head from the body and all four tiny limbs. He glanced momentarily at Harry and was surprised by the enraptured look upon his face. He was even more surprised by his own reaction to that look on Harry's face. Those green, green eyes twinkling in wonder at the sight before him caused a stirring in his chest. His breath momentarily left him and his heart sped up just a bit.
He turned his eyes back to the bubble in front of them, attempting to distract himself from Harry. "Is it healthy?" he asked.
"She is very healthy. Can you see that fluttering just there?" He pointed to the fetus and Severus watched as the tiny chest flickered back and forth. "That's her heartbeat. Unfortunately, the nature of the spell doesn't allow for sound or you would be able to hear the heartbeat, but I can see that it is a normal rhythm. She appears to be growing at a healthy level, which is excellent."
"Is that... how big she really is?" asked Harry, voice filled with awe.
"Yes. The spell reproduces your uterus exactly."
"My... uterus? I have one?"
Severus snorted and rubbed at his temple, feeling a headache. "Where did you think our child was, bouncing around between your organs?"
"I didn't know! I don't have one of those normally and all the books are about creating that sort of thing with potions and spells. I didn't know if I would still have the same bits the way we did it. It's not exactly normal to spontaneously sprout a child."
"Of course not, Potter, but you always seem to manage the impossible no matter the circumstances." He glanced back at Harry only to find green eyes still glassily fixed on the sono-bubble, making him wonder if he had even been heard.
"Why don't we take a print of this so that you can take it home with you and show it to your friends. I know Molly would love to see it." Green eyes finally moved away from the bubble to look at the healer.
"You can do that? That sounds perfect. I haven't actually told any of the Weasleys yet, except Ron, so it'll be a nice surprise."
"Make two, please. I would like one for myself."
"Gladly." There was a flash of purple light and the bubble disappeared. A minute later a memo floated in. It unfolded in the healer's hands and two identical moving photos appeared. He gave one over to both of them and Harry sat up, looking a bit crestfallen at being unable to see his child anymore.
The rest of the appointment consisted of questions and instructions, all of which were exceedingly tedious to Severus. He stopped listening after a while and only tuned back in when the healer began to talk about potions. They left with a list of the supplements Harry should be taking, as well as several parchments with instructions on what to expect. Harry was quiet through most of it, asking the occasional question.
He said nothing as they apparated back to his flat, but as soon as they were in the living room, he looked up at Severus. "Are we going to talk now?"
"If you feel we must."
"I do. I want to know what to expect from you. Do you just want to see the baby healthy and alive or do you want to try for a relationship between us?"
"I..." He hesitated, unsure how to answer. His eyes scanned the room, looking everywhere but at his questioner. He noticed a small pile of books on the coffee table, all with 'pregnancy' and 'baby' in the title. Harry was focusing his whole life on this child and it had only existed for two months. Was that normal? His eyes accidentally returned to Harry and he instantly regretted it. Those green eyes were boring into him insistently and he knew he would have to answer. "I do not know what I want for our personal relationship, but I do want to be involved with the child."
"You don't know what you want from us? If you don't know, then does that mean you'd be willing to try?"
"Yes... there would be no harm in an attempt, I suppose. If it does not work out, then we shall find a way to tolerate each other."
"And you'll really make an effort? No more calling me 'Potter' or 'Brat'? And you won't keep acting repulsed to touch me when I know you aren't?"
Severus sighed and rubbed at his temple. "I will do my best."
Harry eyed him warily and fiddled with his t-shirt hem. "Are you repulsed by me? Because if you are, you don't have to pretend. We can work out some kind of… custody deal. If you want. I won't keep the baby from you if you want to see her."
Gritting his teeth for only a moment, Severus finally made eye contact. "I am not, nor have I ever truly been, repulsed by you. I was feigning disinterest so that you might leave me be. I did not think your interest in me would stretch much further than a passing fancy. I thought it best for us both if I discouraged you as much as possible."
Harry didn't say anything for a few moments, taking the pause to scrutinize him. When he spoke again, what he said was not what Severus expected him to say. "For being such a well-educated person, you are very stupid. I told you the next morning that I had been hoping for three years to have something more with you and you scoffed at me. Did you think I was lying to you just to get you back in bed?"
"I knew not what to think. It has been quite some time since I was in a sexual relationship of any sort with someone and I confess I am not particularly adept at managing one."
Harry sighed and shook his head, an amused little smile playing across his lips. "So, instead of talking rationally through things and explaining to me that you are not very good at relationships and were worried that I would lose interest in you, you tell me that I am a repulsive hole to fuck and that sex with me is a depravity? Do you realize how fucked up that is? You're lucky I'm even still interested at all."
"Well, we needn't be sexually involved if I have offended you beyond what your sensibilities will allow. I'm certain we can work out a platonic relationship for the sake of the child."
"Offended me beyond what my sensibilities will allow… Severus, honestly, where do you come up with these things? Why don't we just put the entire thing behind us and start over? Minus the alcohol, since I'm not longer allowed to partake?"
"I… That would be agreeable."
"Good." Harry's face lit up with pleasure and all of a sudden, Severus found himself with an armful of messy black hair and lips pressed to his. Not knowing what else to do, he allowed the chaste kiss. Had the Brat been this good their first go around? He hardly remembered that night for the alcohol he had consumed, and an excellent kisser was not a part of that memory. He groaned and deepened the kiss, tugging at Harry's clothing until they were pressed together tightly. Harry let out a little mew of pleasure and opened his mouth to Severus's insistent tongue.
They moved to the couch, Harry falling backwards before being covered by Severus. After a while, Severus pulled back and looked down into sparkling green. "Perhaps we shouldn't rush into anything. I believe that is what got us into this mess in the first place."
"It is, but now that we're in it, s'not like you can do it again for a while, is it?"
"We do not know what I can or cannot do to you."
Harry growled and leaned up to suck on his neck. "Come on. Do you know how randy pregnancy makes a person? If we don't have sex soon, I'm going to explode."
"I really don't think..."
Harry didn't let him finish before thrusting his hand down his trousers and giving a firm tug. "Shut up and fuck me already." There was no arguing with that, and Severus soon found them naked and making love.
The next week was full of awkward, stilted conversation and very hot sex. Harry was trying to explain this to Hermione and Ron that Friday evening over a bottle of wine, but he wasn't very successful.
"Haven't you put the thestral a bit before the carriage there, mate? I could have told you you wouldn't have anything in common."
"We can both speak to snakes. That's something, right?" Harry asked, biting his lip. He was beginning to think a relationship between he and Severus wasn't going to work out and was worried for the baby.
"Isn't that what got you into this bloody mess in the first place?"
Harry scowled, wishing he had never explained that part to Ron. "Well, yes, but still. We do have it in common."
"Yes, but that isn't enough to sustain a relationship, Harry. You're going to have to find something else, or at least find a way to talk to each other so that you will be better understood. Otherwise, anything you build will just fall apart and you can't have that with a child to think about," Hermione reasoned. Harry made a face.
"I know, I just don't know what to do with him. The only time we really connect is when we're naked, and it's hard to have decent conversation that way."
"Well, perhaps you need to abstain for a night and see what happens." Both Harry and Ron starred at her as though she'd grown a second head.
"They don't get along without the naked bit, as gross as that is. Didn't you hear him?"
"I don't think Severus would like that much," Harry agreed.
"Well, I don't know what to tell you, then, Harry. I don't want to say you're doomed to a failed relationship, but if you won't even try to work things out…" Harry pouted, starting to look a bit weepy, and Ron instantly shot her a look. She apologized with an exasperated sigh and rubbed his back. "I'm sure things will work out, no need to worry about it."
Harry only grunted and rubbed at his watery eyes. "Bloody hormones," he muttered.
"What in the name of Merlin have you done to make him cry now, Granger?" came a deep, surly voice from the doorway to the kitchen. They all three looked to see Severus standing in the open doorway, robes draped around him sexily. Harry nearly forgot his worries at the sight, sitting up straight and trying to ignore that his eyes were surely red-rimmed.
"She didn't do anything, just the hormones. You didn't say you'd be coming over today."
"I finished brewing early and thought I would come to check on my offspring," he said as he moved into the room and sat in the armchair across from Ron's. Ron was all but glaring at him and Hermione was rubbing Harry's back, watching them both with a scrutinizing eye.
"What were you making?" Harry asked, hoping to somehow start a real conversation about a subject he knew was Severus's passion.
"Contraceptive," was the flat reply.
"For me? But I'm already..."
"Yes, but I don't want you to miraculously sprout another one right after this one's been born. I thought it best to be… prepared." He looked uncomfortable to be discussing the issue in front of Ron and Hermione.
Hermione, however, was not uncomfortable in the least and scoffed at his reasoning. "Are you really that concerned about it? Harry's not even three months along yet. You've got plenty of time and Harry has enough to worry about without adding this."
Severus sneered at her. "Once again, Miss Granger, you manage to involve yourself where you are not wanted. I believe I was speaking to Potter alone."
"And giving him the wrong impression. Harry's sensitive enough as it is right now without you scaring him."
"Harry is sitting right here. You don't have to talk about me like I'm not in the room, and he isn't scaring me. More like annoying me. I'm not taking some bloody potion just to make you feel better about shagging, which won't even happen if you keep calling me Potter."
"Harry…" Hermione began in a cautious, conciliatory voice that grated on Harry's thinning nerves. He ground his teeth and stood, brushing off her hands. Severus hadn't even had a chance to respond before Harry began speaking again.
"You know what; I think I'm done bothering with all of this. This thing we've been trying to make work isn't going to. And do you want to know why, Severus? Because you can't be sodding bothered to make an effort. You won't call me by my first name, you only talk to me when we're shagging, and that's not even in English. How are we supposed to raise a child together if we can't even have a conversation? This obviously isn't going to work and I'm tired of being the only one trying, so I'm done. And I'm done being coddled, too." He turned to his friends who both looked shocked at his irritated expression. "I may be an emotional wreck most of the time with this baby, but I don't need you stepping on eggshells around me and constantly trying to comfort me. I'm an adult, and a man! I don't need coddling and I don't want it. So if any of you want to talk to me like I'm an actual adult, you can find me at Luna's." He apparated away at the end of his speech without giving anyone the chance to respond.
Not that any of the three of them were able to respond, at least not for several minutes. Severus was the first to break the silence that had settled over them. "Granger, what sort of psychobabble have you been subjecting Potter to? He was perfectly fine when I left him this morning."
"I didn't do anything. He was telling us about how terrible your attempt at a relationship was going and how the only time you got along at all was when you were in bed, which I think is an atrocious way to begin a relationship. I mean, honestly, how did you—." Hermione would have gone on a longer rant, but she was abruptly cut off.
"Spare me the lecture. Though I am displeased to hear that he has decided to disclose our sexual relationship to the two of you, it is true that we only communicate well while in bed. It is not entirely my fault, though. How am I expected to get along with such a self-involved brat?"
Ron and Hermione instantly went on the offensive, both puffing up in indignation and Ron actually standing from his chair. "Oi, Harry isn't self-involved or a brat. He's a good bloke; you just won't give him a chance. He's had a bit of a hard life, you know."
"Yes, poor pampered Potter, let's all pity him," Snape drawled. "His life must have been such a hardship, being worshiped by our entire world."
"Pampered? Harry hasn't had a pampered life. He grew up in an abusive home that I know he's never quite got over. He came to our world thinking that he would finally be safe, only to be stalked and hunted down like an animal for something that wasn't even his fault. And now that he should finally be able to relax and settle down, he can barely walk out of his door without worrying about being followed. Do you even know what he does every day? He hasn't gone anywhere but his office and his healer's office since he started showing because he's afraid the Prophet will run another article about him. Harry is the most selfless person I've ever met and you've never done anything but ridicule him and make his life more difficult than it already is. You should be ashamed of yourself," Hermione lectured, cutting off more than one attempt at an interruption from Severus.
By the end Severus was staring at her as though he could not decide whether to throttle her or turn away in shame.
"Hermione's right, you don't do much but make him feel worse about himself. And you don't know how long he spent trying to find you, either. He almost lost his job because he spent so much time trying to hunt down information about you. He doesn't deserve to be treated this way."
"Why would he spend any amount of time looking for me? He hated me." Severus's expression had turned from conflicted to indifference as Ron spoke, but both he and Hermione could tell that the indifference was only a mask for his confusion.
"Not after you gave him those memories, he didn't. You showed him his mum and he never knew her before that. It meant a lot to him. He's the reason your portrait's in the Headmaster's office, and why you have that Order of Merlin."
"How could he have not known Lily? His grandparents surely told him things or Lily's vile sister did at least. I know he lived with her and Lily's parents adored her."
Ron and Hermione both looked at him in confusion. "What grandparents? Harry's never mentioned any grandparents on either side. As for his aunt, she hates him and his mother. She never even told him about magic. He didn't find out he was a wizard until Hagrid collected him right before our first year. He never knew anything about his mother except that he had her eyes and that she had given her life to save him. People always talked about his father, but you were the first person to show him what his mother was like." Hermione told him, watching the subtle change in his expression as she spoke.
"Albus never told me any of this. He always gave us the impression that Harry was perfectly safe in his home life. I knew that he was reluctant to return to his relatives every year, but I just assumed that he was being a petulant teenager."
"Yes, well, perhaps you should stop assuming you know anything about Harry, shouldn't you? Unless you aren't actually interested in a real relationship with him." She looked at him as though she was skeptical as to whether or not he really wanted that.
"He is going to have my child. I have no other choice."
"Well, isn't that a logical reason to be with someone. If you aren't interested in Harry for himself, then you shouldn't bother. You'll only hurt him in the end. If you apologize for being horrible to him, I'm sure he will let you see the baby. At least, if that's what you're really interested in."
"I..." He paused, staring off into space for a moment. "I do not know for certain what I am interested in. At first it was only my interest in the child that lead me to reconcile with him, but now I find I enjoy our physical relationship and would like it to be more."
"Funny way to show it, calling him brat and Potter and throwing all his attempts to talk to you back in his face," Ron said. Severus only gave him a disdainful look.
"You'll have to apologize to him, you know. You've really hurt his feelings and made him think you don't want him for anything but sex."
"I shall consider it."
"You'll do it or you won't get Harry," Hermione stated, staring him down. If Severus had ever wondered why Harry did the things Hermione told him to do, he understood now. Her menacing stare rivaled his own when she really put the effort in.
"If you insist. Might either of you know where Miss Lovegood lives?" He stood as though to go right away, but was rebuffed once more by Hermione.
"Don't go now. He's still angry. Wait until he's had a bit of time to settle down or he'll fly off the handle before you've got a sentence out."
"And when would you suggest I speak to him, if not now?"
"Maybe in a day or two, when he's had time to cool down a bit."
Severus raised an eyebrow, skeptical that time away would do any good, but he nodded in agreement anyway. "I will take your advice, though I know I shall regret doing so later. Good evening." He stood and left through the Floo, leaving Ron and Hermione to look at each other as though they couldn't believe what had just happened.
"Did that really happen? He listened to you and everything," Ron said in awe. Hermione scowled.
"He better have listened. He's hurt Harry enough as it is; he clearly isn't capable of sorting out his own love life. I can't believe after all this time he still thinks Harry lived a charmed childhood. How he could have known Harry for as long as he did without realizing that Harry had a harder childhood than he did, is completely beyond me. And he calls Harry self-absorbed! Honestly." She pushed some of her bushy hair away from her face and sighed impatiently. In her head, she continued to rant about the injustice done to Harry and the selfishness of her former professor. Ron only sat back in his chair and tried to forget that he'd had to hear about their sex life.
Meanwhile, in a round house in a village far west of the flat, Harry sat on Luna's pink and purple polka-dotted couch, sipping peppermint tea and letting Luna talk him out of castrating his lover. Or ex-lover as he kept insisting, though Luna refused to listen to him.
"He may be difficult to talk to, Harry, but I know he means well. It's part of a Naga's instinct, you know, to protect his mate. He probably just wants to make sure he doesn't hurt you or the baby."
"I'm not his mate and I don't think he cares about me at all. He still calls me by my last name most of the time and he keeps calling the baby our offspring like she's a snake or something."
"He has difficulty expressing his feelings. Most Naga do. Think about it, when was the last time you had an in-depth discussion with a snake about his feelings?"
"Never. They always slither away when I ask them questions like that."
"Exactly. You shouldn't expect Professor Snape to be any different. He is a snake of sorts, you know."
"I don't want to talk about his feelings, necessarily. I'd just like to be able to talk to him and not have it be awkward, you know? It's like he doesn't want to have a normal conversation with me."
"Perhaps he's fallen under the spell of a Hunferkle. They often cause awkward conversations." She patted his knee in comfort and he sighed, knowing that asking her what a Hunferkle was would only confuse him more.
"Maybe we should talk about something else. How's your article on that new species of unicorn coming? Did you get your photographs developed?"
Luna grinned at him. "Oh yes, let me show you! I'll be right back." She hurried up the stairs to her bedroom and came back a moment later with a packet of photographs of a winged unicorn. Soon they were discussing the article and going through the packet, and Harry was able to put thoughts of Severus in the back of his mind for the time being.
Three days later, Harry came home to the smell of food cooking in his kitchen. He was immediately confused because the only two people he would expect to use his kitchen, Luna and Hermione, weren't even remotely capable of making anything more complicated than toast. He poked his head around the kitchen door and found the last sight he ever expected to see. Severus was standing at the stove, robes draped over a kitchen chair, Harry's Charmed City Cakes apron tied around his waist, and he was stirring what smelled like pasta sauce in a pan over the fire.
"What are you doing?"
"I'd have thought that was obvious, Harry. I am making you dinner," Severus answered, glancing over his shoulder at Harry.
Harry walked closer, bewildered, but intrigued. "Why?"
"Mr. Weasley thought it would be, and I quote, 'a good way to make up for being a git'. I disagree with his choice of words, but I suppose it is an... accurate description of my recent behavior towards you, and so I am making you dinner to assuage the maltreatment."
"You're making me dinner to apologize?" Harry asked, surprised. Severus looked down at his lover who was staring up at him with equal parts skepticism and hope. Something inside him warmed at the sight of him.
"Yes," he answered simply.
"And you asked Ron what you should do?"
"He volunteered the information, but essentially yes."
Harry peered into the pan he had been stirring. "Alfredo sauce? Is there chicken in there?"
"Yes, and you needn't worry about your current lactose intolerance. Hermione informed me that you have been having an issue with milk and so I used soy instead."
"That means you went to Tesco, didn't you?"
"I did not. I went to Marks and Spencers." Harry looked wide-eyed up at him, surprised that he even knew what one was. "I did grow up half-muggle, you know. You needn't look so shocked."
"You act so wizard most of the time I forget. Thank you, though. I'm happy you made such an effort just to apologize."
"Am I forgiven, then?" Severus raised an eyebrow and was rewarded with a kiss. Severus leaned down to deepen it and Harry made a small noise of acquiescence. He splayed his fingers against the soft ridges running down Severus's nape, loving the feel of them under his fingertips again. The snake skin was his favorite part of touching his lover, so smooth and silky and a shimmery green-black.
After a few minutes, Severus pulled gently away with a final kiss to Harry's forehead. "Go get changed out of your work clothes and when you come back, dinner will be ready."
Harry did as directed and disappeared down the corridor. Dinner was a relaxed affair, quiet but for the first time, comfortable.
After that night, the two fell into a routine where-in Severus cooked dinner every night and they spent their evenings together, sometimes talking, sometimes working on separate projects in the same room. The awkwardness of before began to melt away and was replaced by a growing mutual respect.
"I would have thought you would want to know the sex as soon as possible, to prove yourself right."
"Well, I don't. The books all say there's less pain if you don't know the sex before the baby's born," Harry explained for the thirteenth time that afternoon. Severus had been trying to prod him into finding out what the sex of their child was since their appointment that morning, but Harry was holding fast that he did not want to know.
"What pain? You're having a cesarean. You won't feel a thing." Harry scowled and walked away from him.
"She's a girl, I don't need proof until she's ready to show me herself." He rubbed at his belly, which had grown so large by then that he could no longer see his own feet, and soothed a particularly hard kick from the infant inside. "Let's stop talking about it; she kicks harder every time you mention it."
Severus huffed under his breath and scratched at the scales at the back of his neck. "All right, I won't ask again if the baby isn't happy about it, but would you be opposed to my asking the healer myself? I won't tell you."
"Promise you won't tell me?"
"And risk your wrath if I do? Of course not."
"All right." There was a pause where-in Severus thought he had finally got his way before Harry turned to pierce him with an accusatory stare. "You said you'd stop calling the baby 'it' when you found out the sex. Are you still going to do that? Because I don't want you calling her a 'he' in front of me."
Severus raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you having doubts? Is that the reason you are so resistant to finding out?"
Harry scowled once more. "No, I'm not having doubts. But if I do happen to be wrong, I don't want you to give me any hints until she's born. What if you slip up and say something? We've still got over a month to go." Having made his way back to his lover, Harry looked up at him with doe-wide eyes.
"I will not 'slip up', as you so eloquently put it. I would remind you that I was a spy for nearly twenty years. I think I am capable of keeping such a small thing as the gender of our child from you."
"I'm going to hold you to that. If you slip up, you won't like the consequences, I promise."
"Indeed, I do not think we shall have a problem." To seal the promise Severus leaned down and kissed him, pleased at the tiny mewl let out at the touch. Harry took his hand and pressed it flat against the side of his belly and Severus could feel an insistent kicking just beneath the flesh, as though the baby were airing its pleasure at their kiss.
The next afternoon, Severus owled the healer in order to find out the sex and was not particularly pleased to find out that they were indeed having a girl. He crushed the parchment in his fist and tried to suppress his frustration in the face of a smirking Minerva.
"I will assume from the show of violence that you are indeed having a baby girl. Congratulations."
Severus ground his teeth. "Of course we are. It would not do for the Brat to be wrong, now would it?"
"Do relax, Severus. Harry will be thrilled. Are you going to tell him?"
"And have my testicles removed in a fit of wild magic? I think not. I shall enjoy the short time I have left before he begins to gloat."
Minerva gave him an indulgent smile and sipped her tea. "He will probably be so distracted with the baby that he won't notice. Will he be staying home to take care of her or are you going to employ a house elf?"
"Potter's elf is too old. I would be afraid he would drop her." Severus paused momentarily to wonder that he could reliably refer to the baby by gender. It somehow made her more real, though how he could have ignored her existence before with Harry nearly as large as a house and always pressing his hand to his belly to feel her kicking was a mystery.
"You could employ one of the kitchen elves or their offspring if you like. We seem to have had an over-abundance of them as of late." She wrinkled her nose as if irritated with the over-crowding of her kitchens.
"I will ask Potter what he would like to do. I suspect that he will want to stay home, but who knows. He could surprise me."
"I thought you were going to stop calling him by his surname."
"I have. I always call him Harry to his face. It's a bit difficult to remember here, though. If he were with me, I would remember better."
"That's good. You were beginning to worry me that you might not be making as much of an effort as Harry deserves."
Severus didn't reply and the two lapsed into silence, drinking their tea and looking everywhere but at each other. The subject of Harry was sensitive to say the least and it almost always made them feel awkward. After a few minutes, Minerva perked up and smiled at him over the tea table.
"I got an owl the other day from a former student, perhaps you remember him, Blyve Randley."
"No, that name does not sound familiar."
"He was in Gryffindor, a few years behind Charlie Weasley. It doesn't matter whether you remember him or not. He's interested in your services and he didn't know how to contact you, what with all the owls going to Harry's being diverted to Miss Lovegood. He and his wife have been trying to have a baby for several years now, unsuccessfully, and they hoped you would be able to help them. Apparently there are extremely potent potions that can be made from your… bodily fluids that are nearly 100 percent effective in making a woman fertile. Is this true or shall I tell him he's wasting his time asking you?"
Severus paused in taking a drink to stare at her, momentarily speechless. He had been so distracted with Harry and the baby that it hadn't even occurred to him to research the new discovery of his fertility magic. If there weren't potions available, he could certainly develop his own, and perhaps the profit from the potions would be enough so that Harry would be able to stay home with their daughter and they wouldn't even need to consider hiring a Hogwarts elf. "I have not heard of such a potion, no. But I would not object to looking into the matter. Did he have a specific potion in mind?"
"He did. He said he found a recipe in an old potions manual last week. I'm sure he would be more than happy to owl it to you. Shall I let him know that you're interested?"
"Yes, if you would. Tell him to direct his owls to my lab. They aren't being monitored by Lovegood."
Minerva smiled a surprised smile, obviously not expecting him to agree to help. "Of course I will. I appreciate you helping him. They've become desperate as far as I can tell, and Blyve was such a sweet young man."
He declined to respond and soon found an excuse to go home, where he found his very pregnant lover knee-deep in furniture boxes in the guest room.
"What, pray tell, is all this?" he asked, leaning against the door frame.
Harry turned and beamed at him, glowing in his happiness. It made something twitch in his chest. "You're home! Good, I need your help. All the baby furniture finally came and I'm helpless." He rubbed a hand over his bulbous stomach as if to emphasize exactly why he was helpless and his smile turned sheepish.
"I didn't know that you had planned to convert the guest room into a nursery. Where is Miss Lovegood to sleep?"
Harry rolled his eyes and pushed a lock of hair from his eyes. "At her own home. Honestly, she isn't here all the time. I don't know why you have to make such a fuss about it. Come and help me. I think the baby wants to come early and I want to have this all sorted before she does."
"You're not eight months yet, how early do you think he will be?" he asked, deliberately using the wrong pronoun to confuse him. For a half a second, he thought Harry hadn't noticed, but then his entire posture tensed.
"You promised!" he yelled, attempting to get to him so that he might assault him, but he was too tangled in boxes. "I knew it was a bad idea to let you find out the sex early! And I already bought dresses and pink blankets and everything." It was at this point in his rant that the tearing up began and Severus abruptly changed his mind about teasing his lover and went over to reassure him. A crying Harry wasn't worth the amusement.
"I was only teasing you, love, you know I wouldn't really let something so important to you out. You needn't get worked up. Although if you refuse to know the sex, then why have you begun to buy clothing? Shouldn't you wait until you know for certain? Or have me do that sort of thing with Lovegood?"
"Luna would let it slip and I can't trust you to buy anything that isn't completely practical. I don't want our child dressed like a stuffed-up pureblood or a miniature version of you, especially if she's a girl. If I'm wrong, I'll take everything back, but I don't think I am and I don't appreciate you tricking me like that." His glare had Severus sufficiently cowed, knowing that any upset to Harry meant no sex, regardless of how the pregnancy affected his lover's libido. He sighed and took his lover's face in his hands, forcing watery eyes to look at him.
"Don't worry about what our child will be wearing or not wearing when he or she comes out. The baby won't notice if we've forced him to crossdress. I was under the impression that babies are usually more concerned with removing any clothing they have on regardless of the style of said clothing. I'm sure he or she will be content with whatever you decide to put on him or her."
Harry nodded, still looking less than convinced, so Severus kissed him in hopes of distracting him. It worked for the time being and by the time they pulled away, Harry was flushed and bright-eyed again. "Now that we have that settled, shall we get started with this furniture? I don't know why you've attempted to do this by hand. Did you momentarily forget that you're a wizard?"
Harry gave him another glare and pushed away from him. "You know my magic's gone all wonky. I'm more likely to blow everything up than put it together. I need your help."
"All right, then. Why don't you take a seat in that rocker Molly sent over and I will get to work." Harry did as he was told and sat back to watch as Severus constructed their nursery.
It was the middle of the night and Severus was just arriving back from a late session in his lab, having been consumed with the new fertility potion since the recipe arrived three days earlier. Harry was fast asleep, curled up on his side in a position mirroring that of their unborn child. Just as Severus as sliding carefully into bed, he was startled by Harry jerking a bit and groaning loudly. He put a hand on Harry's shoulder, intent on waking him from whatever nightmare he was entangled in, when Harry abruptly opened his eyes and attempted to sit up, hand pressed against the side of his belly. "Bloody Hell, what was that?" he mumbled, pressing his hand closer. He cringed once more and furrowed his brow. "Ow, that hurts."
"What is it? Is the baby kicking too hard?"
"No, it's not that. I think… Ow. I think it might be contractions." He turned to look at Severus in panic, green eyes wide and fearful. "It's too early for the baby to come, isn't it? She's not even nine months yet…"
Severus took a deep breath and forced himself not to panic. This was nothing. He had been through a horrific war without faltering; he could handle something as simple as contractions. "It will be all right. I'll floo the midwife. Just lie back and relax. Take deep breaths. I'll be right back."
Harry looked even more panicked. "Don't leave me! What if something happens? I need you!" He clenched on to Severus' arm, his knuckles turning white from the strength of his grip.
Severus leaned over to kiss him on the temple, the hand not held in Harry's grip rubbing over his rounded belly, feeling the rhythmic contractions of skin. "It will be all right, Harry. I'll only be gone a few minutes. We need the midwife and I can't conjure her out of thin air. Be patient and lie back. I won't leave you alone for long." He guided him to a lying position, propping his back up with pillows and smoothing the fringe from his forehead. It took a minute for Harry's breathing to settle and his fist to unclamp from around Severus' wrist. As soon as he was free, he got back out of bed and hurried to the floo in the living room to contact the midwife.
Three hours later, Severus was pacing the nursery, a bundle of pink blankets in his arms and the most beautiful face he had ever seen staring up at him. He was in awe of the tiny being he held, dark curls atop her perfectly round head and bright green eyes shining up at him. Love had never been an emotion that came easily to Severus. In fact, he could count the number of people that he truly and honestly could say that he loved on one hand. Until recently, until this little being had been placed in his arms ten minutes ago, that group had not even included Harry. But now, looking down at this gift, this phenomenal little girl in his arms who he could not help but love and adore with his entire being, he knew that he loved her father just as much for giving him this gift.
"I knew she'd be a girl. Even when you tried to trick me, I knew it," Harry spoke, shuffling slowly into the room to stand at Severus' side. It was clear that he was not entirely recovered from the birth, but his eyes shone bright with happiness so that Severus did not order him back to bed. Instead he leant down and kissed him, long and lovingly as he had not done before.
"Thank you," he whispered against his lover's lips. "You have no idea what this gift means to me, what you both mean to me."
Harry glowed with pleasure. "She's beautiful, isn't she? I think she has all our best features. I was worried she'd have my hair, but it looks more relaxed than mine ever has."
"I agree, she does have our best features. I am happy she has your nose. I would never have forgiven myself if she had inherited mine." Harry grinned and leaned on his tiptoes to kiss said nose before both their eyes went back down to the little babe, who had busied herself sucking on a bit of her blanket. "What shall we call her?"
"Lily?" His voice was hesitant, unsure. Severus smiled and nodded.
"Yes, I think Lily is a perfect name." Little Lily gurgled and pulled at the blanket edge and both were entranced by every minute movement.
"I didn't think it was possible to love something as much as I love her, and we've only just met," Harry said, a hand moving to brush against her cheek. She clamped her little fist onto his finger and began to suck on it. "I think she might be hungry. What do you think?"
"I know very little about infants, but I think attempts to suck your fingernail off might be a sign of hunger, yes." Harry laughed and padded away to fix a bottle, having, much to Severus' relief, not acquired breast milk to feed her himself. He returned a minute later with a warm bottle and Severus waited until he was settled into the rocking chair before handing the bundle to him. Harry took to feeding their infant immediately, despite never having fed a baby before. Severus watched them in awe, still amazed at what a gift he had been given. An entire life of struggle and heartache had all been worth it for this moment. He had a life, a family. Harry smiled up at him and beckoned him closer for a kiss. He came willingly, happy to grant whatever Harry desired in exchange for the gift of everything he had ever wanted.