Inspired by Pherazen's Mockingbird challenge, but has since taken on a life of its own. I think I've broken half of the rules by now…
Warnings: AU after book 5, MPREG, non-con, Dark(ish)!Harry, Insane/Manipulative!Dumbledore, Slash sex (M/M), Het (non-graphic), Ron bashing, threesomes, twincest, OOC-ness from loads of the characters, particularly Voldy and Sev.
Rated M for rape and for way more descriptive sex scenes. I read enough slash, it's about time I actually wrote some.
Pairings (close your eyes, those of you who don't want to know): HPSS, DMGW, HGRW, HGTMR, FWGWRL, NLPPPP (padma/parvati - not peter *shudder*), BLRLRL, LMNM, HPAD non-con. I think that's it. Let me know if I missed any. Onwards...
The Consequences of Good Faith
A haunting darkness thick with fake reassurance and laced with fear hung heavy about the dimly lit room, numerous silver instruments twirling and making what little light there was dance and explode. The old man in lilac robes sat in the centre of his office and hummed a gay tune, all the more sinister for the deathly silence and foreboding surroundings. The old man was brilliant, powerful, elegant. And yet, his mind hung over the abyss of insanity and he had gazed too long into her enthralling depths.
For years he had escaped with the impossible and provided the perfect excuses. He had twisted and steered and blackmailed. He had trained Grindelwald to become who he had been, he had trained Voldemort to be who he was. And now he was training Harry to be the future. For, surely Harry must kill Voldemort. Orphaned and entrapped within an abusive home by the Dark Lord the boy's training had begun from the moment he had first drawn breath.
Harry would be the greatest of the three, Dumbledore knew. He had played God long enough to see what made men great and what made them disappear in the void between celebrity and infamy. Harry would be famous and, in time, infamous. He had the temper, the intelligence, the stubbornness, the subtlety and, most importantly, he had the brute power to do what he should; what Dumbledore planned.
The boy was currently curled up safe in the Gryffindor tower, returning to school a week early before the beginning of his seventh year due to arduous circumstances. The pressures of being the Saviour were falling heavily around his head and he was becoming increasingly despondent. His godfather, Sirius Black, had fallen into the veil barely a year ago and the dog's lover and Harry's closest living link to his parents had sunk into a deep depression following the incident. Ron and Hermione had, by careful manipulation, turned to one another for comfort and, thus, the boy had been isolated and left to his own devices to deal with the emotional repercussions.
With a little help of Dumbledore's fake prophesy - who knew the thing, when first thought up, would become so useful? - and the odd little emotional push here and there, blaming Harry for his dogfather's death oh-so subtly, the boy was on the brink of depression.
There was one final test. The old man shook his head, eyes half closed as he considered it. He was… not looking forward to it, per se, but it'd certainly be no task to complete. Then they would see. Was Harry strong enough to survive? If Harry could survive emotionally, if he could carry this out, if his body could cope with it… Then the old man would know. Then Harry would be ready. The… extra… could be easily gotten rid of, then Harry, in a blaze of beautiful glory, would complete the task he had been born with.
Voldemort would fall.
Then, Harry would fall. The boy's emotions would break his mind and his power would take control. Magical power so instinctive nothing could stand in it's way. The wizarding world would burn at Harry's feet, before the boy himself became burnt out and his body could no longer cope with the power. Then he, too, would fall. The next saviour would come and pass. The next Dark Lord would rise and fall. The cycle would continue as it always had.
And, behind it all, Dumbledore would wield the strings like the master puppeteer he was, eventually passing the strings over to his young protégé , who was already so close, on their own, to seeing and admiring the truth.
Dumbledore stopped humming and leant forward, popping a lemon drop in his mouth and sucking it quietly, long, bony fingers running through his beard and tracing the pattern of the relic around his neck. The sign of God on earth. The symbol of The Greater Good. After all, that was all anything was ever about. That's what it was all for.
Emerald eyes snapped open as the Gryffindor common room portrait was breached. The tingle across his fingertips and toes told him that it was Dumbledore. Harry sighed. The last thing he wanted right now was another infuriating conversation with the old man.
After everything that had happened, Dumbledore still refused to tell Harry anything. After Sirius' death and Harry's successful removal of Voldemort's possession of him, the only thing Harry knew was a prophesy that Snape could have told him, if the man liked him. Harry's mood nowadays swung in roundabouts, but the roundabouts were normal, they had become timetabled. The late nights and early mornings were fraught with memories of Sirius falling, of the emptiness without anyone to lean on, the loneliness that had been Harry's only true companion his entire life.
But the days… the days were mesmerising rainbows of highs so sweet they burnt his tongue and bitterness so strong his head spun and he found it hard to keep the depressed expression off his face. Harry was no fool. After five years as a celebrity and the Dark Lord's number one most wanted, he knew when someone was watching him. The teachers who had returned to Hogwarts at the same time of him spent all their time pestering him, telling him to 'cheer up' and just to 'keep his head high'. Harry knew they meant well, but it irritated him.
Because Harry was fine. His emotions were reckless and his magic occasionally out of control, but he'd an entire two months to get over the death of a man he had rarely seen. To tell the truth, it was Remus' seclusion that was hurting Harry the most. At some point during third year Remus had become his one true confidant. His brother, his father, his friend. Sirius had been… looking for too much James. He, like Snape, saw only the school-boy James and never Harry.
The seventeen year old didn't mind too much. He loved his friends and Sirius dearly, but they had all seen the idea of him before they had seen him. Only Ginny, Remus and - perhaps - Hermione saw him as his own person, giving him credit and disapproval on his own merits and failures and not some daydream fantasy version of him.
Ginny, after second year, had sat down with Harry and, after a good long talk, had understood. She had been a constant from that point onwards. Never fully in his life, always hovering in the background as moral support should he ever need it. So far, he had not. Remus had simply opened his heart to Harry during and after third year and Harry, in return, had done the same. As each year passed Remus had explained a little more, the details of his life had gotten dirtier and the betrayal buried deep in the werewolf's heart had slowly been revealed to Harry. And Harry had seen it and soothed it with promises of a greater future, of a better life after.
And Hermione… well. Hermione. Harry held no doubts that the girl had believed utterly in authority, only undermining it when she had felt she had to in support of her friends. She was unwaveringly loyal and had chosen often to believe in Harry above authority. Her certainty about right and wrong had slowly blurred and, with that sudden introduction of grey in her once black-and-white world, Hermione had become confused and clung to Harry like a drowning cat. But whether she saw Harry as a person or a personified knight in shining armour, he didn't know.
'Mr Potter?' the voice at the end of his voice caused Harry to open his eyes again and turn from his thoughts and back to reality.
'Harry, m'boy,' Dumbledore said, smiling in a way that made the hairs on the back of Harry's neck bristle. 'I've found that there's something you need to be informed of.'
Cautiously Harry sat up and swung his legs over the side of his bed in preparation to stand and follow the headmaster to wherever he felt the need to share this new, no doubt vague, information.
'No, no, there's no need to move.' Dumbledore's eyes sparkled somewhat manically and it took Harry barely a moment to realise that now he couldn't move.
'Sir?' he managed to whisper out before his jaw, too was frozen.
'Now, now, m'boy, there's no need to panic.' The headmaster waved his hand vaguely, light sparkles shooting from the end of his wand.
A breath of wind around his nether regions informed Harry that something was very, very wrong. Sure of an impostor, Harry struggled valiantly against the magic that held him in place, but his magical core was slipping beneath his fingers like an oiled fish and he could not get a grip on it. If he could have moved his eyes would have widened, his mouth would have dropped, he would have tried to run. And, no doubt, his voice would be yelling curses and cusses and for help.
But he could not and as magic seemed beyond him, Harry could do nothing but comply as Dumbledore opened his mouth and forced him to swallow a tiny sip of a foul, deep purple liquid that shone like the moon when it caught the light.
Dumbledore's expression was deadly calm as he explained what was going to happen.
'You see, m'boy, I have to know that you're ready. I need to know that you're powerful enough. Do not worry about the after-effects, that can be destroyed when necessary. We just need to know that you're capable. We need to know that you really do have enough power to destroy Voldemort.'
Harry wanted to ask why he had to be naked. He wanted to know why Dumbledore couldn't have simply explained it, then carried it out. He wanted to ask what the potion was to do. He wanted to scream blue murder and run the hell out of there.
Dumbledore did, at least, seem to understand part of what worried Harry. 'Don't worry, m'boy. The potion is just to aid the first part. If it doesn't work it'll drain straight through your system, no harm done. If it does work, then it'll stay as long as the effects, causing your body no real damage.'
Harry could taste the truth in the man's words, but only wished he had made the wards around Gryffindor tower and particularly his dorm stronger. Perhaps, then, this wouldn't be happening.
But, then, the nightmare truly began. Dumbledore pushed Harry back onto the bed and, Harry had fallen backwards. Then the headmaster had rolled him over and, with another wave of his wand, raised Harry's ass into the air so the boy was spread before him.
Harry was freaking. There was no way, no way, no way, no way. He kept saying to himself. The headmaster surely wouldn't -
A thin, bony finger, slid down his spine and breached the ring of muscles surrounding his anus.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
This couldn't be happening. Not now, not ever. What the hell kind of alternative universe had Harry been dragged into, anyway? In his world he was… a freak. A hero. A stranger. A spoilt brat. Never Just Harry. He could never be Just Harry, not even in the eyes of Dumbledore, who Harry had looked up to so much, with such longing.
The finger did not stretch him properly, nor did it lubricate him. It toyed with the muscle only a moment before leaving Harry. There's was a rustle of robes and something entirely other breached that place that should never, never be touched by anyone without Harry's express permission.
The pain was not unequivocal. Harry had been subjected to cruciatus. He had been mauled and beaten and his soul nearly sucked out. He'd been possessed and taunted and starved. But this pain was something else. It was not only physical pain, it was moral and emotional and soul - harming. This was someone Harry had trusted, thrusting dry into him.
This was the headmaster. And even as a disgusting sliminess was spilt within him and the man pulled out, stemming the back flow and stopping it from dribbling back out down Harry's thighs, all Harry could think of was Dumbledore as he had once been to him. All that was good, all that was wise and wonderful and freeing. Dumbledore had been what a grandfather was supposed to be, what Merlin might have looked like. He had saved him from the Dursleys and shown him a world of magic and where the future was prophesised to be tough, but then a happy-ever-after. He had shown him a fairytale world, where he had been the prince charming.
'It's all for The Greater Good, my boy,' Dumbledore said, running that one finger down Harry's spine again. Then he had left, never once apologising or explaining, merely leaving.
And Harry lay there, motionless with his arse in the air, long after Dumbledore had left. The immobility spell had long since been lifted, but Harry couldn't find it within himself to move. The suddenness, the brevity of it… shouldn't something like this be far more monumental? Shouldn't there have been blood and screams and desperate struggles to escape? Shouldn't there have been a faceless man with a cruel laugh and merciless hands?
Shouldn't it have been someone on the Dark side of the war?
Harry lay on his bed for a very long time until, hours afterwards, the thought finally managed to acknowledge itself within his head. He had been raped. By his mentor. Raped.
Slowly the seventeen year old sank back down on to the bed, lifting himself and calmly dressing. His arse ached and his bum felt wet and slick with the sperm that Dumbledore had trapped within him. He did not cry. He did not rage and yell and throw a temper tantrum. He did not run up to the headmaster's office and demand just what the hell had happened. Harry did not sink into depression or explode in anger.
But, inside him, something shattered.
And, if he had happened to glance in a mirror, Harry would have seen that his eyes were no longer just the beautiful shade of green he had inherited from his mother. Instead they burnt and scorched a truly terrifying emerald that exactly matched the colour of the Avada Kedavra curse.
A purely animalistic howl cried out to the full moon that night. Moony could feel the pain of his only remaining pack member and a fierce wave of possessiveness swept through him. And, for the first time in as long as either could remember, wolf and human cried out together. His cub - his cub was hurt. And he had been wallowing in self pity, too blinded by the past - by the passing of his mate - to pay attention to the now.
Working together, wizard and wolf over rode the Wolfsbane potion and broke out of the enclosed room within Grimmauld Place with ease. Hurtling out of the building the werewolf started the long journey from London to Scotland.
His pace never slowed, he never stopped and he never needed to. Remus and Moony working as one; surprisingly human amber eyes glaring out of a suddenly more natural-looking wolf face - it was a terrible and terrifying sight to behold. But, with Remus' magic making muggle and wizard alike turn a blind eye, no one noticed. No one truly saw.
Although, as the werewolf passed in a blur of movement and a great whirling of golden, fallen leaves caught in the slipstream and tossed, twirling into the air behind him, a deep sadness swept over those in the proximity, only to pass as Moony did. Only a few of the most perceptive children saw the wolf pass and either shivered with fear or their eyes filled with tears of sympathy for the wolf's pain.
Eventually, just as the moon was setting, Moony broke through the last line of trees of the forbidden forest and paused only momentarily at the sight of Hogwarts towering above him. The wolf continued at a more sedate pace across the grounds and then up the steps, through the huge entrance and, as he crossed the Entrance Hall towards the staircase leading to Gryffindor tower, Moony transformed seamlessly into Remus.
The man did not have any of his usual injuries from transforming or from hurting himself. Moony had been busy that night. And, as they had worked as one against a greater evil, the war they fought as the moon rose and set over possession of the body had become inconsequential.
Remus, regardless of his near-naked form, stalked proudly down the Hogwarts corridors and entered the Gryffindor common room to see the strangest sight before him.
His cub, his Harry, was curled, sleeping, within the arms of one Severus Snape. The men shared a long look that spoke more than words could ever say. Snape carefully extracted an arm and turned his wand to Remus, quickly summoning clothes and dressing the werewolf.
'The wolfsbane?' he asked, usual bitterness absent, replaced by bland curiosity.
'Useless when wolf and man agree,' Remus answered simply, his voice low and rough from the abuse it had suffered during his mourning of Sirius. 'Harry?'
Snape lowered his head, greasy black hair sweeping across his face and concealing his features and any soft expression he may have given the sleeping boy.
'Is he alright?' Remus persisted.
'His soul was weeping,' Snape murmured softly, not looking up.
Remus bowed his own head, nodding briefly. 'We felt it, Moony and I,' he paused a moment, deliberating, 'Harry is my only remaining pack member. I can not lose him.'
Snape stood, still cradling the seventeen year old to his chest with surprising care. He handed the boy over to Remus, still refusing to raise his eyes. 'He is strong,' he said simply, and left.
Remus walked carefully, with inhuman grace up the stairs, and placed Harry gently on the bed, curling up behind and next to him. He brushed the messy black bangs away from the child's forehead and gently kissed the thin red scar that lay there.
'Oh, Harry,' he murmured. 'I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry. I will be there for you now, I promise, I promise, I promise,' he repeated, as though if he said it enough he could assure himself of the facts.
Harry mumbled in his sleep and rolled over, burying himself in Remus' heat.
''s not your fault,' Remus managed to catch.
And, as the teenager slept cuddled to him, face buried in the older man's neck, Remus wept for him, though he knew not what he wept for.
Harry did not explain what had been wrong with him and none of them spoke of Snape's participation in comforting Harry, though no one would have believed them if they did. Remus was not content with not knowing, but he had long since accepted that his cub needed space, he needed his secrets and he needed space almost as much, if not more, than he needed human contact. Harry had gone so long without human contact to have too much comfort stifled him and scared him. Remus knew that and, whilst it sorrowed him, he accepted it.
Remus was not teaching, but was renting an apartment in Hogsmeade so that he was not too far from his cub. Harry would never ask for comfort, but Moony knew when his cub needed it and, when he did, they were there. Harry didn't speak of what had upset him so, but he had quickly settled into an easy routine once his friends arrived back at school.
Ginny and Hermione were both closer to Harry than they had been before, whilst Ron seemed to only spend time with Harry to spend time with Hermione. Neville also grew closer to the prophesised boy-hero and, as he did so, it became clearer and clearer that the bumbling, herbology-loving Gryffindor had far more to him than met the eyes. Luna, with her dreamy expressions and strangely lucid view of the world also hovered around Harry, stepping in for Remus when the werewolf himself could not. For that Remus could not be more thankful.
Harry seemed cheerful enough, despite his breakdown shortly before the beginning of term, although he was quieter than before. Occasionally, out of the corner of eyes, people would catch a glimpse of the new fire in his eyes, but mostly Harry kept it well concealed, playing more perfectly than ever before his role as hero.
However, as the year progressed, the boy became more and more detached. The rings beneath his eyes became more pronounced and his magic seemed to becoming wilder and less controllable. He became quieter and studied more, harder and subjects that Hogwarts did not teach. And, with him all the way, Ginny, Hermione, Neville and, occasionally, Luna.
Slowly, the fire burnt out and Harry's emerald eyes, whilst fierce, also seemed to gain an edge of wisdom that was far too old for one his age. And, late at night, in the darkest, blackest of shadows, his friends would whispers their most hidden secrets and he would hug them and hold them and hold their hands, directing them on the paths he'd choose. But never did he attempt to return the favour. Instead, his friends just waited patiently, learning when and what to say. Knowing him, letting him become Just Harry around them.
'I fancy Draco Malfoy,' Ginny murmured to him.
Harry smiled. 'Then go to him. Tempt him, tease him, show him that you're a pureblood and something that he couldn't possibly live without,' he directed.
And she did and Draco watched, and smirked and knew that it was Harry who had given her permission. And secretly and oh-so-quietly, the two had struck up a casual relationship that had started with romantic dates and then sweet kisses and was leading, slowly but surely, towards a deep, passionate relationship that Harry did not doubt would last the rest of their lives, whilst everyone else remained happily oblivious.
'I loath Ron,' Hermione whispered to him. 'I thought… but I was wrong.'
Harry was sad about this. Ron had been his first ever friend. 'I know,' he said. Then he'd wrapped Hermione in his arms and let her cling to him as they both wept quietly for the loss of someone who had been their best friend for so long but was now slipping away from them. They mourned him, whilst Ron continued happily, stubbornly stumbling through life, oblivious to the loss of his long-time friends.
'I don't believe in the Light,' Neville said solemnly. 'The Dark may have taken my parents' sanity, but at least they are honest.'
'I'm glad,' Harry replied bluntly. 'Now is not the time to be trusting manipulative Headmasters with no care for personal well being.'
'What did he do, Harry?' Neville asked.
Harry bowed his head and rested a hand ever so gently on his friend's shoulder. 'He lied to me,' he said. 'And he did not tell me the truth.'
To anyone else, those two statements meant the same thing, but Neville knew what Harry meant. Dumbledore had lied about what he had said, and withheld anything important, any truth, that Harry might have needed to know.
'I hear voices,' Luna said dreamily.
And Harry laughed, knowing she spoke the truth but glad for the levity of her words. And Luna laughed with him, clear blue eyes seeing him, knowing him and accepting him without question.
'It'll be alright,' she said.
And Harry believed her.
And, presiding over it all, Dumbledore watched from his tower, now light with candles and full of nosy portraits, muttering about infantile behaviour and declaring that if they were still alive they could do so much better.
But, as months passed, slipping like water through fingers, Dumbledore's stomach fell. He had been wrong. He had been so certain that Harry would have been strong enough… but there was no sign. The boy looked more tired and his magic was not always within his control, but there was no obvious magical expenditure, so the truth could not be hidden, and in that case…
Harry had bounced back emotionally, but he was clearly not magically powerful enough. And that meant one thing in Dumbledore's eyes.
The boy had to be eliminated and a new saviour, a better one, had to be found.
It was the beginning of April and he was huge.
It had taken a long time for Harry to figure out what the Headmaster had meant by his cryptic words during their last meeting, but when he had started throwing up every morning, his magic had gone haywire and just the thought of bananas sent him hurtling towards the nearest toilet, Harry had started looking for reasons why, seriously concerned about his health.
It had taken him precisely three minutes to find the answer, but three weeks for him to be convinced of the idea. He was pregnant. He had been raped, by his headmaster, and he was pregnant. He was a man and he was bloody pregnant. Harry hadn't even known that that was possible. He didn't know how it was possible and, frankly, didn't want to. He still had his bits, which was something, at least, but when he couldn't see them for the enormous baby bump and thoughts of what he had gained and what he might still gain entered his head, it was little comfort.
Harry may have been gay, but he most certainly did not want to be a girl and was perfectly happy with his male status, thank-you-very-much. Although, after everything, he doubted he'd let someone touch him intimately for a very long time. All things considered, Harry had bounced back remarkably well. But then, he faced it the same way he faced everything else. It was just one of the things that went with being Harry Potter.
For six years Harry had been hounded by Voldemort in various situations, in various ways, with various disastrous consequences. Not once had Harry stopped to consider 'why me' and he was not about to start now. This new circumstance was just another consequence of being who he was. And Harry refused to think of the child that grew within him as anything but an innocent child.
And that, really, was the root of his reasoning behind hiding his pregnancy. Dumbledore had said: 'Do not worry about the after-effects, that can be destroyed when necessary.' and Harry would be damned before some idiot wholly unrelated to himself could dictate his life and what to do with the child. Sure, Dumbledore was the other father, but by raping him he had signed over any rights he may wish to have over the child.
Harry was not foolish. As he had settled into his magical majority and growing a child within him, his magical power seemed to increase exponentially, the child's magic blending with his so that it would be protected within him. And, even as Harry felt his own magic increase so much, the child's was not far behind him. With parents like Dumbledore and Harry, what did Harry expect?
But Harry knew that Dumbledore would be watching him for signs. So he kept a tight grip over his magic, staying up long into the night learning to control the new, boundless energy and casting almost permanent glamour charms over his belly to hide the growth of his child. His child. His baby, his family. Harry didn't know how it would work out and it was certainly not how he had planned, but he was fiercely protective of the life within him and nothing would stand in his way. With the way his magic was moulding to his will he became more and more confident that Dumbledore would not be able to take his child.
The mirror in the prefect's bathroom was the only unenchanted one that Harry had been able to find and, as the side room was blissfully free of any portraits to pass on anything they might see there to the headmaster, it was the only place Harry truly relaxed. He was standing naked before the mirror, eyeing himself critically. His belly has huge and the carefully cultivated abdomen muscles from his long hours of Quidditch practice had long since disappeared.
Harry ran a hand over the protrusion, chuckling softly as a soft kick answered his touch. She - for Harry just knew his baby was a she - had started moving just under a month ago and now responded eagerly to his touch. It seemed strange to think of the unborn child as intelligent, but Harry was almost certain that she knew and loved him already. Harry also thought that she seemed to understand that her other parent was bad. She couldn't understand why, but she seemed to know.
Abigail. His baby Abigail growing inside him, loving him and protecting him already, however strange that may seem. She gave him another reproachful kick and Harry chuckled, rubbing his belly again and soothing her. She'd be quite a character when she was born. Harry only hoped she wouldn't look much like her other father.
Harry kissed his fingertips and pressed them to the top of his belly before replacing the glamour and changing back into his school uniform. In spite of the strenuous circumstances, Harry was looking forward to having his baby girl. All his life longing for a family, he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Harry had a smile on his face when he stepped out of the bathroom, but that smile disappeared along with consciousness as soon as he stepped outside the door.
Bellatrix Lestrange was not insane. A little mad, perhaps, but her sanity, for the most part, was intact. Living in Azkaban for so many years had changed her, just as it had her lovers: her husband and brother-in-law. But that change did not have even as large an effect as it had upon her cousin, Sirius Black. Bellatrix liked to act mad. It caught people off guard when suddenly she was perfectly serious and sane. It was also quite wonderful the things she could get away with in polite company that she would not, had she been sane.
However, when Bellatrix found an unconscious certain boy-hero bleeding on her front doorstep she really did think she'd gone mad. The scream she gave to call Rabastan and Rodolphus to her was enough to wake the weakened boy, even in his half-delirious, blood-loss state.
'Bellatrix?' He'd managed to spit out, spraying blood all over her new shoes. 'Oh fuck.' And then he'd passed out again, one hand resting protectively over his belly.
Frowning and wondering which stupid Death Eater had been so foolish as to attack the boy wonder when the Dark Lord had given express instructions not to harm the boy, but to bring him before him, preferably wandless and bound, Bellatrix immediately stooped to check that the belly the boy had curled around was not bleeding. It wasn't. Strange.
She hadn't really had long enough to process that thought when her husband and his twin appeared at her elbows, instantly moving to help her and not questioning what exactly Harry-bloody- Potter was doing there, bleeding on their carpet.
It didn't take them long to have the teenager cleaned up and rested, so Bellatrix woke him again, the normal way, without screaming, and forced a blood restorative potions down his throat.
Potter spluttered and had to have his nose pinched to get him to swallow, but eventually it was all down and the Lestranges felt confident enough to begin their interrogation, thoughtfully skipping their usual method of over-exposure to the cruciatus curse in light of the boy's recent injuries.
'What were you doing bleeding to death on our doorstep? Bellatrix demanded.
'I don't know, you tell me,' Harry shot back.
'What do you mean you don't know? How can you not know how you ended up unconscious and bleeding on the doorstep of a known Death Eater's house - one that is exceptionally well warded, I'll have you know,' Bellatrix added the last pompously. She and her sister, Narcissa, had been arguing since they'd first married some twenty-odd years ago whose husband was better at setting up protective wards. That was regardless of the fact that Lucius, Rabastan, Rodolphus and several of the other higher up Death Eaters had worked together to set up the wards surrounding all of their homes. It was the principle of the thing.
'Last I remember - before you started screaming, that is - was walking out of the bathroom and hoping dessert wouldn't be banoffi pie again,' Harry snapped back, dropping his head back against the pillows and allowing his hand that was under the duvet slither over his abdomen. Discretely he sent out a tiny billow of magic, relieved when he got an equally cautious one in return - Abigail was fine.
Bellatrix frowned. 'What's wrong with banoffi pie?' she asked.
'Bells,' Rabastan prompted, stroking her shoulder gently and bringing her back to the issue at hand.
'Right - well, Potter, if this was some kind of attempt at the Dark Lords life it was very poorly executed.'
Harry didn't even bother to respond verbally to that, just shooting her a glare before closing his eyes again.
'Look,' Bellatrix tried to reason. 'If you could just tell us which idiot dropped you off here, then it'd make everything easier. And, then, you wouldn't be the only one our Lord tortures. You'd have company.' She thought that sounded like a fairly reasonable request.
'Bellatrix,' Harry said, still not opening his eyes and his hand on his abdomen idly tracing calming circles on the hidden life there. 'I don't know who did this. Although, if your darling Dark Lord would torture and kill Fumble-bore already I'd be much obliged.'
There was a long moment of silence whilst the Lestranges stared open-mouthed at the boy in various stages of shock. That is, until entirely cruel and calculating look slipped across Bellatrix's face. Her eyes met her lovers' over the bed and the three of them grinned in excitement of all the possibilities that statement might cover. For all that the boy hero was only seventeen and had, until now, been a blind follower of the so called light side, he was rolling in a power that he had such a tight grip on they couldn't imagine the extent of it.
Wary of the sudden silence Harry opened his eyes and caught the look passing between them and gulped. 'Um,' he said, sounding rather stupid but saying it for lack of anything else to say.
'Shh, dear,' Bellatrix cooed, her voice once more higher-pitched and ever so slightly unstable. 'It's all going to be alright - aunty Bella's here.'
Worried but, oddly, comforted, Harry relaxed against the hand that was carding gently through his hair and fell back into a calming sleep.
Snape was going spare. Potter had been missing for two weeks now and no one seemed to be doing anything about it. Dumbledore had blithely mumbled something about 'extra training', Minerva clearly hadn't known, but seemed to trust Dumbledore's word that he was safe, and the boy's friends all seemed wholly unconcerned. And, as for the werewolf - urgh! Lupin never failed to frustrate him.
Determined to find something out, for the first time in over fifteen years Snape went personally to Lupin's rooms to deliver the monthly Wolfsbane Potion. Luckily, the werewolf had remained in Hogsmeade in spite of his 'cub's' disappearance so it did not take long for Snape to be at the door, hammering away at it.
'Where is he?' Snape demanded as soon as the door swung open, but bit his tongue before he said anymore - as it was not Lupin who opened the door.
'Who?' Fred - or was it George? - asked. 'Remy? He's - ah - currently indisposed.'
Snape refused to consider the implications of that sentence, given Fred's state of dress. Or rather, lack thereof. 'Well tell him to bloody well hurry up,' he snarled back, pushing past the red head and glaring at the plain, rather dull surroundings.
The twin - whichever he was - shrugged, shutting the door and sauntering back over to what Snape presumed was the bedroom door. There was a moment of silence, during which he expected the lovers were exchanging words, followed shortly by a 'HE'S WHAT?' and frantic rustling sounds that Snape could only hope were Remus and Fred getting back into their clothes, not, as he had suggested, hurrying up. Snape winced and twiddled his thumbs, determinedly listing all the ingredients needed for a particularly complicated potion he was hoping to brew soon.
It took fifteen minutes for anyone to emerge and Snape absolutely refused to allow himself to even think about what had been going on in there - and with him only a short distance away, with only a thin wooden door between them!
But emerge they finally did, Remus first with his hair in a mess, his buttons done up wrong, a bashful look on his face but a decidedly satisfied glint in his eye. He was followed by the Weasley twin who looked equally dishevelled and was limping ever so slightly. And then he was followed by the other twin who came out licking his lips and stretching languidly.
Snape sneered at them and thought vehemently about Quidditch - which did him no good at all, with all the broomsticks and balls involved. Shunting any thoughts at all related to that matter aside, he narrowed his eyes and said in what he hoped was a suitably disgusted voice, 'Really, wolf, both of them? Are you really that depraved?'
Remus turned a delightful red colour that brought Snape great satisfaction until he saw the Weasley twins snickering silently in his hands and realised that Remus' embarrassment probably had very little to do with the fact he was in a relationship with two men and more to do with depravity.
He narrowed his eyes again and glared at the twins. Unfortunately during their years at Hogwarts the twins had become somewhat immune to his icy looks and they therefore did not have the same reactions as they had when ickle firsties.
'I have come to ask about Mr Potter,' he snapped out reluctantly a moment later when it seemed unlikely that anyone would say anything. 'As his closest adult friend I presume you know where he is?'
Remus clucked his tongue and reached for tea mugs for the four of them. 'I've no idea,' he said shortly.
Snape raised an eyebrow. 'And you don't care?' he asked somewhat incredulously. Throughout Harry's life the werewolf had always been begging information of Dumbledore as to his best friends' son's health and well-being. Snape doubted there was a time when Lupin didn't know where Harry was, even if Harry hadn't even known of the other man's existence until his third year. He found it very difficult to believe - particularly after the werewolf's display seven months ago on the night of Harry's breakdown - that just because of a new relationship the man didn't care for the boy.
'Of course I care,' Remus replied calmly. 'I care enough to know that he is far happier where he is now than he has been in Hogwarts for this entire school year. The only time he's needed my help was on the night of his disappearance, but that need vanished very quickly and I can only presume that it was the shock of the transfer that inspired it.'
Snape sat silently a moment before nodding in understanding - that made sense. He didn't quite know how Lupin's werewolf senses worked in keeping track of Harry's emotions, particularly since it seemed to be a new development, but he trusted that Lupin knew what he was talking about. 'And his friends?' he prompted.
'Have been assured by both myself and Miss Lovegood that he is fine, although Hermione in particular worries too much.'
Snape nodded again and ignored the cup of tea offered to him, placing the potion vial he had brought with him on the coffee table. 'Don't forget to take that,' he ordered, before sweeping out of the apartment with his usual flare and flap of black robes.
'You know,' the twin that Remus identified to be George said, 'with dramatics like that, I could swear the man's gay.'
His twin sniggered, poking him in the ribs. 'You wish.'
George sighed and winced slightly as he stretched. 'Hmm,' he murmured noncommittally.
Remus sipped his tea and gazed calmly over the rim at the twins. His eyes tracked the movement of muscles beneath the twins' clothing and a predatory smile stretched across his face. With Harry hurting terribly he had been reluctant, at best, to accept the twins' advances. And he, himself, had not been ready, emotionally, to allow another man into his bed so soon after Sirius' departure. But now… now, wherever he was, Harry was happy and Remus felt that he had left a respectful amount of time mourning Sirius' death. Now Remus had absolutely no problem in thoroughly debauching the twins.
Slowly Fred and George became aware of their lover's gaze and, after exchanging significant looks of their own, stood and swaggered back to the bedroom, hips swaying provocatively and various items of clothing being left behind them on the way. Growling, Remus forgot Harry and Snape and Sirius and raced after them, drawing first delighted laughter and then greater pleasure from his new lovers.
Harry glared at the chess board reproachfully, as though it were responsible for his current, rather helpless, situation and not just his appalling tactics. Opposite him Rabastan was lounging smugly in an armchair and looking surprisingly unaffected by the fact that Bellatrix was sitting at his feet, fiddling absentmindedly with his toes as she read a magazine that looked, to Harry, suspiciously like a Death Eater's version of a school newsletter.
After the initial shock had receded a little Harry had become somewhat infatuated by the ease and familiarity of the relationship between the three of them. He often found himself wondering how such an… odd situation had come about. But the three of them, Bellatrix, Rabastan and Rodolphus, were so… relaxed around each other. There was an openness and honesty in their relationship that Harry hadn't expected, nor had he ever witnessed before. It made him just a little jealous for someone whom he could be with like that.
Scowling more ferociously at the chess board a sudden victorious grin spread across his face as he saw his move. Rabastan's posture changed enough for Harry to know that the grin was disturbing his playing partner. With a flourish, Harry ordered his bishop forward.
'Check and mate, I do believe,' he crowed victoriously, laughing as Rabastan tried to think his way around the move.
'How-' the older man gaped, then groaned and buried his face in his hands. 'Don't tell Rodo,' he pleaded with Harry and Bellatrix.
Bellatrix laughed and pinched the man's toes before jumping up to give Harry a hug, ruffling his hair affectionately. 'Don't worry, Rob, we won't tell anyone that the boy hero bested you, like so many before you.'
Over the month that Harry had now spent in the Lestrange's care he had become accustomed to Bellatrix's friendly touches. They were a near constant in this new life. Whether it was a pat on the shoulder, a ruffle of his messy hair, a hug or a brief kiss on the cheek or forehead, the casual touches comforted Harry more than he was willing to admit. He had not responded to them at all at first, expecting Bellatrix, like his friends, to get the message and back off a little.
Maybe the witch was oblivious or just persistent, Harry didn't know, but she had not stopped. And he was endlessly thankful for that. He now no longer shrank away from touch and could accept her touch for what it was - a mere comfort. As he'd grown more comfortable with Bellatrix the twins had also become more relaxed around him. They didn't touch him much, but now ruffled his hair or patted his back as he went to bed each night and in the mornings when he stumbled, still half asleep, into the kitchen.
The awkward life he had been living recently at Hogwarts seemed only a distant memory, but Harry still longed to know what had happened to his friends. He often asked the Lestranges if they'd heard of how his friends were, but other than the odd titbit they picked up from Lucius about Draco and Ginny they hadn't heard of anything. Harry longed to find out more, but didn't dare.
He was afraid that if he stepped outside the Lestranges' manor Death Eaters or Dumbledore would swoop down upon him and something terrible would happen again. Before Abigail was born he simply could not take that risk. Harry had learnt to trust Bellatrix and the twins, but the rest of the dark side was still a huge question mark.
'Bella!' A voice called from the front hall. 'Rob! Come, quickly!'
Frowning at being left out of Rodolphus' call, Harry shrugged. He didn't quite know his position within the household. Sometimes he felt like a guest of honour, sometimes like a prisoner and sometimes almost as though he were family. Harry was content with his life and he refused to analyse his standing too deeply in case what he found wasn't to his liking. He was happy, for the moment, living in denial.
Bellatrix kissed Harry's forehead before rising elegantly and, taking Rabastan's hand, swept from the room to greet their third.
Harry stared a little desolately at the chess board that was still waiting for his bishop to sweep through, uncontested, to defeat Rabastan's king. Currently the two pieces were pulling faces at one another - rather childishly, Harry thought.
Listening closely, the teen could just about make out lowered voices talking feverishly in the next room and something that sounded suspiciously like a sob. Determined not to be kept from whatever secret it was any further, Harry rose and walked to the door, opening it slowly so as not to call attention to his appearance. He was shocked to find that Bellatrix was sobbing quietly, clutching at Rodolphus' shirt as she buried her face in it.
'No,' she cried out, over and over. 'No, no, no, no, I refuse, he cannot, no, no!'
'Bella,' Rodolphus murmured soothingly, rubbing slow circles into her back. 'You knew from the beginning that this was highly likely to happen.'
'I won't let him,' Bellatrix screeched, tearing herself from her lover's grasp and, for a moment, looking every bit as mad as she was supposed to be. 'Not now, not after a month!'
Rabastan reached out and grasped his brother's hand, squeezing tightly and sharing a mournful glance. 'Bella, what could you do? Buy him another month? Two? At what price? At what cost to us? To what point?'
Bellatrix crumpled to the floor with a mournful wail and her lovers started forward, moving to comfort her.
'We gave him another month,' Rodolphus said. 'And it was a good month. But, now, our Lord demands his presence. Who are we to deny our Lord?'
'I don't want to,' Bellatrix cried softly. 'It's not fair, It's not Merlin-damned FAIR!' she shouted. She turned to her husband and lover with desperation clear in her eyes. 'Can't you see? It's not his fault! None of it's his fault! He's just a lost little boy who's been thrown into the middle of a war and been ordered to fight.'
'You think we don't know?' Rabastan asked her gently. 'That much is painfully clear, my darling Bella, but we have no choice.'
Bellatrix began rocking slightly, within the safety of the enclosure of her lovers' arms and shaking her head in desperate denial.
Harry, watching the scene, felt like he was intruding upon a very personal moment, but knew clearly what they were talking about. Fear spasmed through him at the thought of having to face Voldemort again, but the comforting weight above his abdomen reminded him what he lived for. Abigail, his precious little Abigail, would not die. Harry had faced Voldemort and lived before, he could do it again. Especially since this time he had a reason to stay alive.
'Bella,' Harry whispered hoarsely, stepping forwards.
The witch looked up with a tear stained face. 'You - you heard?' she asked, voice shaking.
Harry wished he could deny it, but just shrugged. They all knew he had heard, there was no point in lying. 'I'll see him. It's ok.'
Bellatrix shook her head and ducked it again. 'No,' she said scratchily. 'No, it isn't ok. It's wrong. It's not fair.'
Feeling so very, very old, Harry walked over to her and placed a hand on her forward. 'It's ok,' he repeated. Then he walked heavily up the stairs and packed what little had become his during his stay. A few clothes, a new toothbrush and the razor that had caused such a fuss when he'd first had to describe it to wizards who'd only ever shaved by magic and couldn't understand the concept of dragging a sharp blade across the skin.
Then he walked back downstairs and found that Bellatrix had regained her composure. She had washed her face of tears and was standing straight and tall, looking magnificent next to Rabastan and Rodolphus.
'Thank you,' Harry said.
'No, my dear,' Bellatrix said, cupping his face in her hands and stroking his cheeks. 'Thank you.'
Blushing, Harry took Bellatrix and Rodolphus' hands, as they grasped Rabastan's. He felt the wards adjust ever so slightly to allow for apparition and then they disappeared.
Snape shuddered as his Lord drew a finger down his jaw line and tilted his face up so his ruby red gaze met the onyx one of the Potions Master.
'Ssseverusss,' he hissed, tones elegantly refined even as they were terrifying. 'Do you have it?'
The Potions Master nodded and a triumphant grin slid across his Lord's face.
'Will it take long to adminissster?' the Dark Lord demanded, hand dropping to his lap.
Snape shook his head. 'No, my Lord, five minutes at most. But the transformation is doubtless going to be painful.'
A hissing laugh escaped the thin lips and silently Snape wondered if that hissing could be translated into words in the snake tongue. 'I live in conssstant pain in thisss body, Ssseverusss. I think I can handle a little more.'
Bowing his head again, Snape offered up the potion he had brewed the weekend following his encounter with Lupin and the Weasley twins. It was pale lilac in colour, a shade that clashed terribly with Voldemort's eyes. As his Lord took it, Snape wondered idly if the crimson eyes would change colour as well. The potion worked in the same sort of way as Polyjuice Potion, but it was permanent and could also not change the drinker into someone still living. The potion had been very hard to come by and ever more difficult to brew, but Snape had done it. And, with the help of the remains of Voldemort's diary, it should successfully transform the Dark Lord back to his seventeen year old form.
The lilac potion was thrown back and the phial crashed to the floor, the last dregs glistening ominously. The Dark Lord hurtled forward, launching himself off the armchair and onto his knees on the floor. Long fingers dug into the floor, tearing at the carpet. And then the noises began. A ripping of muscles and tendons, the strange hissing and splashing as the inner organs split and moved and replaced and the terrible sound of bones snapping and breaking. It was worse, watching this, than watching Lupin transform. And yet, the Dark Lord uttered not a sound.
Eventually the transformation passed and the scales the had previously been on his hands and arms had disappeared to reveal pale, unblemished skin. Anything else, Snape could not see, for the cloak that had covered Voldemort still covered this new version, the hood still hanging low over his face that was still pressed against the floor.
Slowly, with more grace than the old version could have ever hoped to have had, the body unfurled and stood slowly. He was shorter, with a trimmer waist and wider shoulders. He was not short by any stretch of the imagination, but he was now a normal 'tall' rather than an unnatural 'tall'. Muscles that had been non existent before flexed in his arms as he raised his hands to look at them. The hood fell slowly back, dropping back over his shoulders and revealed his face.
Tom Riddle was insanely handsome. He had dark brown hair that, even untidy as it was, looked good enough to run hands through. He still had high, sharp cheekbones. But, whereas before those cheekbones looked hideous through the lack of flesh, the rest of his face had filled out and he cut a fine, imposing figure. His lips, non existent before, were now full and the smile that settled there was all at once cruel and seductive.
But, set in that human face, with that human body, the cruel dark crimson eyes remained the same, all the more terrifying now for the fact that their setting was so very human. Blood red eyes gazed upon the Potions Master, still prostrate before him, but looking up in wonder at how the potion had worked. And some unnameable emotion flickered across them and Snape thought that it might be pride.
'Severus, my faithful servant,' the Dark Lord said, his voice still elegant, but the sibilance far less obvious. 'I think it is time that you leave Dumbledore's service for good.'
Snape considered a moment, though he knew, really, that he had no choice. 'When, my Lord?'
The Dark Lord's smile grew further and Snape shuddered away from it, even as he was drawn to the power behind it. 'Very soon, Severus. But first, I am having a special guest tonight, whom I believe you will be pleased to see again.'
The Potions Master frowned, he couldn't think of anyone within the Dark Lord's service whom he would be pleased to see and hadn't been seen for long enough to be considered a special guest. 'Very good, my Lord. Was there anything else you wished of me?' he asked, hoping for a quick dismissal.
That terrible gaze swept up and down the Potions Master once and Snape just knew that the Dark Lord could tell everything that Snape was thinking. There a long moment during which Snape was sure he'd be detained for no reason other than it would amuse the Dark Lord, an imperious hand waved him to the door and Snape rushed, as respectfully as he could, out of the exit before his Lord could change his mind. The Dark Lord would never say 'thank you' but, if you could come to know the man, you could tell when he was grateful. Now was one of those times.
When they arrived Harry was absurdly thankful for Bellatrix and Rodolphus' hands within his own as he stumbled and his stomach lurched. He hated any form of magical transformation - save flying - normally. Whilst pregnant just the mere thought of the floo sent him running towards the nearest facilities and the feeling of apparition, normally uncomfortable, became unbearable. But Bellatrix's hand steadied him, concern etched once more on her and her lovers' faces and Harry knew he had become rather fond of the Lestranges. He didn't want to have to go.
But, go he had and now he stood in Voldemort's throne room, looking up at a decidedly human-looking version of the Dark Lord.
'Tom!' Harry cried out in astonishment.
The Dark Lord raised a single, scornful eyebrow and waited. Harry blushed.
The teenager let go of Bellatrix and Rodolphus' hands and ran them briefly across his abdomen and down his sides - partly to wipe the sweat from his palms and partly to reassure himself that his Abigail was still there and safe. 'Hi,' he said softly.
'What, no admissions of hate and vengeance? No Dumbledore-induced bullshit? I'm disappointed in you, Mr Potter,' Tom said malevolently.
Harry's hands twitched, but didn't stroke his belly again. 'Dumbledore-induced bullshit,' he murmured to himself, 'That sounds about right.'
Voldemort didn't say anything.
'No admissions of hate and vengeance either, Tom. Considering your penchant to rant I'd say that's more impressive,' Harry drawled back, mimicking his earlier words.
The Dark Lord looked hard at Harry for a moment, then smirked. And by gods that smirk - never had an expression quite so sexy been seen before on earth. Harry gulped, but one thought of Dumbledore and the problem sorted itself out. 'Dear, dear, Harry. You do have us all fooled. Why don't you get rid of those nasty glamours, hmm? Let's see what you really look like.'
Harry cried out in shock and turned his face away. Not now. Not now. Not after everything. Eight months. He'd only needed one more month and then - then what? He had to ask himself. He'd been living in Hogwarts and in a Death Eater's house, they'd have found out when he gave birth, or when there was a baby suddenly appearing from nowhere, demanding attention. Still - he'd hoped. Dreamed, foolishly, that he and Abigail would have been able to take off.
Still, he couldn't help but think, even surrounded by Death Eaters, this was a better place to be than in Dumbledore's grip. The Dumbledore that would 'get rid of any by-product'. At least, with the Lestranges backing him up, he might be able to convince them to at least let Abigail live.
'I hate you, Tom,' Harry said hoarsely.
The Dark Lord seemed slightly taken aback by that. Even in spite of his earlier taunts of there being no declarations of hatred - it seemed to actually have one thrown at him caught him off guard.
'Just remember that it isn't her fault. So - just one month. Let her live, please,' he was begging now and the confusion in those crimson eyes that regarded him so coldly moments before - if he'd dared to look - would have been easy to see.
Then the glamour dropped and for the first time in six months Harry was seen as he truly was by others.
His belly was huge, swollen with child, and the clothes that had seemed so snug before had enlarged to their normal size to fit him. There were still purple shadows beneath his eyes, but they weren't anywhere near as pronounced as they had been a month before. But, despite his downcast expression, he seemed to glow. Not a magical glow, or a I'm-covered-in-sweat glow, but an honest, happy glow that showed how completely and utterly Harry suited being pregnant. His skin was a healthy golden tan and his hair shone with extra lustre, through it was still in its characteristic disarray.
'You're p-pregnant?' the Dark Lord stuttered.
But, before he could do anything else, Bellatrix swooped forward and gathered Harry up in her arms.
'Harry, Harry, Harry, baby, sweet baby! You're pregnant and you didn't tell me? Shush, dear. Now don't you worry, I refuse to let harm come to you in this state. One month did you say? Oh lordy, and you've managed to keep a constant glamour this entire time? And gone through all the mood swings and food cravings on your own? Oh, you poor, sweet child. Well don't you worry, we're leaving this instant, Lord or not, it can't be healthy to be standing around all day and -'
'Bella!' Tom hissed, an action that generally sent the woman running for the shadows, but this time she did not. She straightened from her petting of Harry and his belly and glared at him.
'Shush, my Lord. Pregnancy's a delicate thing, that I should know well enough. I will make sure that Harry gets everything he needs.'
Beyond surprised and utterly bemused, the Dark Lord gaped at her and said nothing as she turned back to Harry.
'Now, tell me how you've dealt with things. Food cravings?'
Harry, flustered by Bellatrix's attention but eternally grateful attempted to answer all of her questions. 'Um, I, uh, liberated one of the Malfoy house elves four years ago and he's been, uh, very supportive.'
'Haven't,' he said glumly. 'I just ride them out. Driven my friends bonkers. It's a wonder Hermione, at least, didn't figure it out.'
Harry glared at her. 'How does anyone deal with morning sickness? You wake ill, chuck it up and get on with your day.'
Bellatrix smiled apologetically, but didn't stop her interrogation. 'The Glamour?'
'She was conceived shortly after my birthday and my magical maturity. To everyone else my magic hasn't changed, I've just put all the extra into hiding my bump.'
'A month left. I'm not sure exactly on timescales and stuff, but I know pregnancy lasts nine months and I'm on month eight at the moment.'
'And the baby?'
Harry beamed at this question, a smile that lit up every corner of the sullenly lit room, in spire of the dour décor. 'A little girl, I'm going to call her Abigail. Perfectly healthy and very energetic - it was so wonderful the first time she moved. She likes reminding me, when my thoughts get too morbid, that I've still got her. I can't wait to hold her in my arms.'
Bellatrix beamed back at him, though the lack of some teeth and the condition of the rest meant it wasn't anywhere near as bright. 'The other father's a very lucky man.'
Harry stiffened and didn't say anything. He knew that Bellatrix wouldn't ask who the 'lucky man' was, simply because she hadn't asked him anything about his personal life during his stay. Still - the thought of voluntarily doing… that with Dumbledore… Harry shuddered and his face, surprised when Bellatrix's arms came around him.
'Hush, baby,' she simpered. 'Even if he doesn't know a good thing when it bites him in the ass, I do. With my help you'll raise the most amazing, beautiful little girl you have ever seen.'
'Bella!' Tom hissed, ire ignited now that the interrogation had finished and he remembered that he was being ignored. 'Your loyalties are to me, not to this little slut of a boy who has only remained alive this long because of luck.'
Which - considering what Harry had said about his magic and the fact that a constant Glamour took a ridiculously large amount of energy, yet Harry had continued, as normal for six months with one without being noticed - really wasn't a very smart thing to say.
The last time Tom had been successfully immobilised without a chance of breaking free from the spell he'd been fourteen. So it was far scarier for him to realise he couldn't move than it was for the rest of the Death Eaters present, who were used to that kind of treatment from their Lord. Scary Voldemort, scary Boy-Who-Lived; it didn't make a huge amount of difference to them.
'A slut? Tom?' Harry asked very quietly and very reasonably. 'But I've never had sex. I've only ever had one kiss and that was with a girl,' he said the last word with such utter distaste that anyone, no matter how obtuse, could tell he was gay.
'Tell me, Tom, since you have personal experience. Would you count being raped a slutty act?'
'Dumbledore?' Tom asked, only now realising that the immobilisation did not include his vocal chords or mouth.
Harry hung his head and whimpered. The spell was lifted, but no one moved, no one dared even breathe.
'That bloody, shitty, lemon-sucking, mother-fucking bastard!' Voldemort shrieked, sounding every bit as mad as he had in his snake-appearance. 'He has to go and bloody spoil everything. What the hell did I do to piss him off? I finally get some decent bloody competition and he goes and fucking rapes you! I can't kill you now! It's immoral.'
Harry could swear, at this point, that Tom was pouting. Then he realised what the Dark Lord has just said and, having already come to terms with the Dumbledore thing, burst out laughing. 'I-immoral!' he choked out, tears of hilarity appeared in the corner of his eyes. '"Immoral," he says! Since when did you care about morality?'
Voldemort sniffed. It was a very dignified sort of sniff that spoke volumes about the absurdity of such an enquiry, despite the legitimacy with which Harry asked it. 'I don't, particularly, but he spoilt you,' he deigned to inform the seventeen year old.
Harry only raised his eyebrows and said, quite clearly and with justifiable disbelief, 'Spoilt me?'
'Not like that,' Voldemort said airily, waving a dismissive hand. 'I meant in the fact that there is now no longer any fun in trying to hunt you down and kill you. You were supposed to be my mortal enemy, but since I can only assume you aren't any longer, what's the point? And the worst part is that, as usual, it's all Dumbledore's fault.'
Voldemort looked at Harry for quite a while, no longer glaring at him, but actually looking. Taking in every detail of the boy's appearance - from the way his virulently green eyes sparkled, even from behind those hideous glasses that he always wore, to the way he leant into Bellatix's comforting touch. Looking, also, at the Lestranges and the way they seemed to care so much for Harry and their concern for his well being, Voldemort was struck with a quite ingenious plan.
Of course, like all the greatest of plans it was one that had been attempted before, had failed and was now improved upon. And, with the change of circumstances since the last time he'd tried this - and the fact that his offer was now genuine and not just a ploy - Voldemort felt quite strongly that it was a plan that was likely to succeed. Indeed, looking once more at the pregnant Harry Potter, it was with utter certainty that this would be the plan that would end the war - and in his favour too.
'Harry Potter,' Voldemort asked graciously, standing elegantly from his seat and making his way across the floor towards the boy hero. 'I've proposed this before and I shall ask you once again, for the final time. I have to warn you, if you refuse I will allow you to live until the birth of your child and then I will kill you. I shall make it as painless as possible for you, and I reassure you that your heir will be raised better than either of us have been.'
'My lord!' Bellatrix shrieked a protest, but now that she was not distracted by Harry's pregnancy, the glaring crimson eyes silenced her as they usually did and she said nothing more, moving back to her lovers to receive comfort.
Harry, on the other hand, had narrowed his eyes at the Dark Lord. 'That's not saying much, Tom. I want you to guarantee that Abby will be raised properly.'
'And then you accept my terms?'
Harry's eyes remained dangerously narrow, but he nodded slowly, once, never taking his eyes off Voldemort.
'You friend, Ginevra Weasley, she is dating the Malfoys' boy, is that correct?'
'Then if you do not accept my offer your child shall go to them, should they accept. If not then I hope leaving them with the elder Malfoys will be amenable to you? Ginevra can keep an eye on your child without having to raise it.'
'Do the elder Malfoys mind?' Harry asked, hesitant to accept this much, but knowing Ginny well enough to love Abby as a godmother or a mother, if he was gone.
At this point a highly amused Lucius Malfoy stepped forward from his place in the circle of Death Eaters that still stood around the edge of room. 'If I might, my Lord?' he requested permission to speak and continued when Voldemort nodded. 'Due to unfortunate circumstances surrounding our son's birth, Narcissa is not capable of conceiving again. She has always longed for a second child - particularly a little girl - and I think she would not treat this as a task so much as a gift.' Up until this point Lucius had been explaining to the group generally, as it was a fact that only the Lestranges - as Bellatrix and Narcissa were sisters - knew.
Now, he spoke directly to Harry, 'Know that if you should choose to decline my Lord's offer and you have to hand your child over - Narcissa will take her as her own. As such, I will as well. Do not doubt that your little girl will have every luxury she could ever asked for.'
Those softly spoken words, so sincere and meant to be so comforting made a lump form in Harry's throat. But, before he could do anything terrible - like start to cry or, merlin-forbid, hug Lucius - a sudden, terrifying thought crossed Harry's mind and he groaned, causing Bellatrix to scuttle forwards again and once more wrap him in her arms.
'Harry? Are you OK?' she asked.
'No!' Harry cried in despair. 'They-' he pointed an accusing finger in Lucius' direction '-are going to turn by angel Abby into some spoilt hellion with Malfoy's - Draco, that is - 'daddy' complex! Urgh, I'd never live it down! Can you imagine? A Potter child raised by Malfoys and running around demanding this, that and the other and threatening everyone with her daddy?' Harry groaned again, but this time everyone knew it was not from real pain, just the indignity of the scene he'd just painted.
Bellatrix chuckled - and she was far from the only one - and said, quietly, 'It would be a good life, though. I promise I'll keep an eye on my sister, stop her spoiling your Abby too much. And I promise she'll know about you, about what a brave man her real daddy was.'
And now Harry really was crying, because he knew that even if the people around him did torture and kill others, they were telling him the truth. He did not doubt that Narcissa was indeed now barren, nor that she'd spoil his Abby rotten given the chance. And he knew from the last month spent in her care, that Bellatrix would adore her.
Carefully getting a grip of himself he wiped his tears away and gave them all a watery smile. 'Bastards,' he muttered half-heartedly at them, setting off another round of chuckles. Then he straightened up fully and looked Voldemort in the eye. 'Very well,' he said, 'I accept that. Now, what is your proposal?'
Voldemort, who had been watching the whole display with a strange curiosity realised with a twinge the lengths that this man before him was willing to go to to protect his unborn child - even going as far as to promise her to Malfoys. In so doing he had just made Lucius and Narcissa unofficial godparents to the unborn baby. In that moment he changed his plans again. Not very much, but a little.
When Voldemort smiled at Harry it was not twisted or cruel or malicious. Behind it hid the intent to harm, but that intention was not directed at Harry. No, this smile was a companionable smile that promised Harry that the one he - they - would harm would regret ever hurting them.
'I propose, Harry Potter, that you join my side. Not as a follower,' here he paused and gazed around at his inner a circle. 'But as an equal.' He shot a determined look at the brunet before him and took the boy's hand.
Although physically Harry was now older than Voldemort by little under a year, the Dark Lord still towered over his petite frame. Voldemort took his hand with both of his and completed his request. 'I do not know the implications it will have upon your unborn child, as to whether the ceremony would be better performed before or after her birth, as it is very dark magic, but-' he took a deep breath, directly met Harry's unblinking, emotionless gaze, and asked, '-will you, Harry James Potter, join with me, Tom Marvolo Riddle and the Lord Voldemort, in a blood bond of brotherhood?'
The quick inhalation of air was heard all over the room, but no one dared say anything in case they missed Harry's reply.
It was not immediate in coming and, for that, Voldemort was grateful. If the boy had responded straight away it would not have been the right choice and he hated to think that he'd have had to kill him. But, instead, the teenager, was looking up with him, without shock and a great deal of consideration in his eyes.
'Make no mistake,' Harry started finally, each word carefully chosen, 'My hatred for Dumbledore is great. In spite of the fact he is my baby's father, it is not in anyway that counts and I am proud to say she hates him already. However, a mutual hatred for one man is not enough to incite within me the desire to become a brother to you. I feel the need to remind you of the part you played in my parents' deaths. I need an awful lot of explanations from you, Tom. And you, no doubt, have questions to ask of me.
'Now is not the time, nor the place to be having those discussions. But, when the time comes, I will need to know precisely what you hope to achieve in this war, how you plan to achieve them and what you expect my role at your side to be. Keeping in mind if I do accept, that I will have a newborn to take care of. However, I am not declining your proposal out of hand and am greatly honoured by this request which, unlike the one made in my first year, seems to be genuine. If I do decide to turn you down, it will not be before I give you the name of one of my friends who, I am pretty certain, will eagerly join your cause.'
Harry turned to look at Bellatrix, his gaze piercing and she silently wondered who this friend was. 'For right now, I am tired, and I would appreciate if I could return home,' he requested, unaware of the fact that he had referred to Lestrange manor as 'home'. Bellatrix had noticed however, and stepped forward.
Voldemort was still holding Harry's hand in both of his and he squeezed it ever so slightly before dropping it. The others would not have seen that sign of comfort, translation his taking of Harry's hand as part of the proposal - which indeed it was - but he knew Harry had felt it.
'Certainly,' the Dark Lord acquiesced. 'Would you join me after lunch tomorrow?' He regarded the Lestranges ponderously. 'You may bring them if you wish.'
Harry nodded, a small smile lifting the edges of his lips before he was whisked away by the Lestranges back to safety and a warm bed. It was strange, but at that moment both Voldemort and Harry felt like they'd won a small victory over Dumbledore.
It was now hours since Harry had left and the majority or the Death Eaters had left, only Lucius and Severus remained and they, along with Voldemort, had retired to a relatively small, comfortably furnished drawing room.
There was silence for the moment, other than the merrily crackling fire and Voldemort knew that neither of the other men would dare to break the silence. As reluctant as he was to admit it, he had regained a comfortable portion of his sanity as he gathered up his Horcuxes and returned them to one body. Of course, with the Gaunt ring destroyed by Dumbledore, the Diary destroyed beyond repair and the fact that he was keeping the piece in Slytherin's Locket where it was, he would never be entirely sane again, but he was a lot closer now than he had been in over thirty years.
The potion that Severus had supplied had also helped a lot. Because it had used the remains of the diary in the brewing whatever little that could have been salvaged had been and Voldemort was now far superior to what he had been even just a week before. But, with his change, also came a new wariness from his followers - no one knew quite how to treat him anymore, with the exception of Harry who treated him just as he always had.
But these two men here, he knew, would soon become his closest confidants. Lucius had served him faithfully throughout the past, only turning from him after that Hallowe'en debacle that had resulted in Harry's scar and his own 'death'. Lucius, he had no doubt, would be all the greater a supporter now that his sanity was mostly in tact and his goals that much clearer and more reasonable - honestly, what had he been thinking to try and kill all muggles?
And Severus… well, he knew that Severus was a spy, although what he did not know was whether Severus' true loyalties lay with him or with Dumbledore - he would not be surprised either way. What Voldemort had been surprised about was the clear affection Severus had for the famed boy-who-lived. He had not been so insane to have thought this even just a year previously, but at some point over the last year Hogwarts' resident Potions Master seemed to have fallen in love with Harry.
In many respects this fact concerned Voldemort - not necessarily because of Severus' uncertain loyalties, but because of the feelings involved. Severus was not one to fall in love lightly, and the fact that he had given his heart - however unwillingly - to Harry was quite phenomenal. But how Harry would take that fact - whether he'd exchange that heart for his own, or if he'd tear it up and leave it behind - Voldemort didn't know. He didn't know whether Severus deserved Harry's love. But, at this point, he didn't know whether Harry deserved Severus' love either.
'Severus,' he said, drawing himself and the others out of their silence. Whilst Lucius seemed only precautious around him and content enough to sit in silence sipping the cognac, Severus was getting more and more nervous with each passing moment. 'How deep is your infatuation for the boy?'
'My… My infatuation?' Severus stuttered, disbelievingly.
'Yes, yes,' Voldemort said impatiently, 'for Harry, how deep is it?'
'I-' Severus was clearly on the brink of denying feeling anything other than hatred for the boy, before he sighed and his head bowed. 'I love him, my Lord.'
'In private, the two of you may address me as Marvolo,' Voldemort informed them absentmindedly, giving them the name he'd gone by at school by everyone other than Dumbledore. Then, he paused to consider what Severus had said. 'If Harry had immediately declined my proposal, what would you have done?' This question, he had to admit to himself was pure curiosity.
Severus' head snapped up to look at the Dark Lord. 'I don't know,' he said quietly. 'He still believes me to be loyal to Dumbledore and so would have been reluctant to accept my help, but he said the baby is due in a month, so I would have had that long to come up with some plan. Where I would have taken him? Again, I don't know. Where in the world is safe from both you and Dumbledore?'
'Ah yes, the baby,' Voldemort murmured. 'Your reaction to that?'
Obsidian orbs, when they gazed into his own crimson ones, were burning darker than anything Voldemort had ever seen before. 'If you do not hurt him, my loyalty belongs to you,' he snarled.
Voldemort smiled to himself, but reasserted his question.
This time, Severus answered the question differently. 'The baby is… a part of him. I have already declared myself in love with him, my Lo- Marvolo. What kind of man would I be if I hated the parts of him that don't seem perfect at first glance? He has made it clear that the child is not Dumbledore's in any way other than biologically. Who, then, am I to disabuse him of a notion that, considering the circumstances, I agree with to its entirety?'
'Good,' Voldemort said, satisfied. Whether Severus was loyal to him mattered not. In this case, he was worthy of Harry. The only question that remained was whether Harry was worthy of him. 'And what do you think of my proposal?'
Here, Severus allowed himself a tiny smile. 'I will admit, my L - Marvolo. You had me worried for a moment that you would propose marriage.'
'You do not mind?'
'If you hurt him, have no doubts that I will go to the ends of the earth and beyond to kill you,' he answered simply.
'Good,' Voldemort said again. 'And you, Lucius? What is your take on this situation?'
The blonde man had been listening intently to the conversation, but had kept his quick silver eyes on the fire, took another sip of his drink before raising his gaze. 'I think that you are a fool, Severus, for falling for the boy. But, nonetheless, I can see that it is through no fault of your own - Bellatrix is clearly enamoured of the boy and he of her, which says a lot about his heart. The fact that the only thing he could fault me for when I accepted the offer of taking his child as my own was that I might spoil her also says a lot about his willingness to forgive. Whether he is capable of forgiving you - both of you - enough for your wishes to come true, I do not know.
'Marvolo, I will make no pretences and say quite clearly that I never expected you to make such a proposal to the boy - he has long been someone you have been sworn to kill. I admire the fact that you are willing to make such a bold step, despite my doubts as to whether it will work, however I am uncertain as to what you wish to achieve through this. I have a feeling that it is a family and I wonder if, perhaps this is the right way to go about it?'
Voldemort's crimson eyes shifted beyond the two men and he rose to look out the French doors that opened on to a patio that stepped down into part of gardens. The moon was low in the sky and it's silvery light made the garden an astoundingly beautiful place, though haunting in the long shadows that shrouded it. He allowed himself to smile.
'A family? Perhaps. I will admit that tonight is not the first time I have felt kinship to Harry. Our pasts are so similar. But, as Harry needs answers from me, I need answers from him. You are aware, I'm sure, that some level of trust is needed for the bond to be completed. It was initially my aim just to get him to join our cause, but I must admit that the prospect of having a brother - and a brother such as him - is much more appealing.'
He turned to look back across the room and saw that same edge of concern in Lucius' gaze that he had expressed in his speech mere moments before. Severus' eyes - as they so often were - were shuttered.
'Rest assured, Lucius, with my sanity now mostly intact and my intelligence just as it always was, I will not make a mistake with this.'
Lucius nodded and, hearing the dismissal, rose to leave, uttering his farewells before finally departing.
'Marvolo?' Severus asked, still clearly uncomfortable with calling Voldemort by his given name as opposed to his honorific that he was so used to using.
Voldemort bent to pick up his liquor glass again, downing the last of the amber liquid and revelling in its taste. 'I think, with this new development, you had better remain at Hogwarts, my friend,' he said.
Although obviously unbalanced by the "friend" comment, Severus smirked and met his gaze confidently for the first time that evening. 'My thoughts exactly.'
If there was one certainty in life it was this: that Hermione Granger never received detention. Not since she'd been given her Head Girl badge and it didn't matter at what hour during the night she was out of bed, anyway. Nonetheless, here she was at 9pm on a Friday night, heading down to the dungeons to meet her acerbic teacher.
Friday nights were Hermione's escape nights. She'd do whatever the hell she wanted on those nights. She didn't study or revise or even think about school. She made her way to Hogsmeade and did whatever she wanted. Often she just went to Remus' home and they, along with the Weasley twins, who now seemed attached to Remus' hips, would recount Harry's adventures or talk about politics or the war or just life in general.
More than a couple of times Hermione went even further and went to the huge wizarding section of the British Museum Library. She had spent many a Friday night in that huge library reading both magical and muggle literature and disappearing into the worlds that the authors created, so as to forget the real one.
And, occasionally, she would go to the Hogshead and drink until she passed out.
Aberforth knew enough about Hermione to take her to Remus' when this happened and he had always done so without once reprimanding her about it. Even Remus had only shot her a stern look when it had happened the first time. The second time the twins had, from the sounds of it, been distracting him and Hermione had had enough time to make them all breakfast before he had come out of the bedroom. The combination of food and embarrassment from having wondered into the kitchen in the buff had stopped any lecture he might have wanted to give.
And the third time… the third time was supposed to be tonight. So she only got pissed very, very, very rarely. Still, Hermione was proud of the fact that, when Ron had dared to imply that she never even touched alcohol she'd been able to take the shot he was offering her and down it in one, without so much as watering eyes. She'd thrown the glass back at him and said not to judge a book by its cover. She had told him to grow up.
And Ron, Dean and Seamus had watched her leave in awe.
Yes, Hermione was very proud of that particular incident.
Still, it would have been nice if she could go on her pissing night and not have a detention for - oh yes, absolutely nothing at all! She hadn't done anything wrong, her homework had been exactly the right length, her potion nothing short of perfect, especially now she didn't have to worry about Draco throwing explosive ingredients into her work. In short, by the time Hermione had reached the Potions classroom her mood was nothing less than foul.
Snape gestured her in without a word and she dumped her bag on her usual desk before sitting down. Snape was marking essays and did not look up at her for some five minutes before he replaced his pen in the ink well and placed the marked essay on the pile. Hermione felt sorry for whoever's it had been, for the Potions Master had probably written more on it than the student had.
'Miss Granger,' Snape addressed her, his voice surprisingly more welcoming than she expected. Not that Snape's voice could ever be described as welcoming, it simply was not as poisonous as she had been expecting - what with it being a detention and everything.
'Yes, sir?' she asked carefully, meeting his gaze full on.
The man sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. 'Firstly, I must apologise for my calling you here under the pretence of a detention. I am well aware that your work was nothing less than stellar.'
Hermione felt as though if her mouth got any larger her jaw might hit the floor.
'Secondly, I feel I should inform you that I have seen Mr Potter.'
It was uncanny, how fast Hermione switched from astonished to suspecting. Her eyes narrowed and she watched Snape very carefully. Finally, after along moment during which neither of them spoke she said, 'You love him.' It was not a question.
'Yes,' Snape said, pinching the bridge of his nose again - how did everyone know? Was it that obvious?
'Where is he?'
The simplest of questions she could ask and he couldn't even answer that. 'Safe,' he substituted, knowing she would not accept that.
'Whilst that's good to know, it's not a proper answer,' she informed him sharply. 'You called me here, so you will tell me precisely what's going on.'
Snape ducked his head, for the first time in as long as he could remember, acceding to a student. But, at that point in time, they weren't teacher and student. They were just two people who both loved Harry. 'Did you know he was pregnant?'
'Yes,' Hermione replied. 'He didn't tell me, but I'm not stupid - it wasn't yours?'
'No. You know that he was staying at the school a fortnight prior to the beginning of the year?' This time he didn't wait for a response, 'A week before term started both myself and the werewolf heard his soul cry out. We both went to him. We did not know what had happened but I have since learnt that he was raped.'
Hermione gasped and all thoughts of Friday piss-night and castrating Snape for lusting after Harry fled her mind. 'Oh God,' she breathed. 'I thought… I don't know. I knew his magical inheritance must have been huge for him to keep that sort of level glamour up twenty four-seven, and I thought he was just ashamed, I never thought… I don't know. I guess I just assumed it had been a one night stand. Given his sudden affinity to the Slytherins, I supposed it must have been one of their number, but… wait.'
He saw it. The moment she figured it out. Snape knew that Hermione Granger was a very intelligent witch - he'd taught her for nearly a full seven years now - but he had never realised quite how sharp she was. It was beautiful, watching that sort of genius. Her large brown eyes were so very expressive and he saw quite clearly the glee of figuring it out, then the pain, the fury, and then, in a moment, they were calm. Dangerously calm.
'Dumbledore,' she said. She knew she was right - how could that brilliance be wrong? But still that name was a question, a pleading question of please, please let it not be.
Snape didn't want to break that hope. He wanted to give into those pleas and tell her, no. He wanted to be able to tell her that he and Harry had dared to fall in love, that the child was a product of their love. He wanted her anger to be that of a best friend protecting her pseudo-brother from the evil Potions Master. He wanted to tell her that Dumbledore was still a figurehead that deserved to be followed, that her faith in him was true.
'Yes,' he said, quietly.
The girl, now eighteen and a good six foot tall, stood. Once an awkward, bushy haired runt of an eleven year old, Hermione had grown into quite a beauty with full hair, large eyes and features that didn't need make up to be beautiful. As she stood she pulled her bag up with her, looping the strap over her shoulder and looking determinedly at him.
'Professor, we have the rest of the night to do with what we will without my absence being suspicious. Will you allow me to notify Neville and Ginny and we'll meet you at Remus' house.'
'Ms Lovegood?' Snape didn't bother asking what for. He'd known the moment he'd told her that Hermione would demand to see Harry.
'She'll know,' Hermione replied simply and left.
'I don't fucking care!' an extremely familiar voice hollered. 'You're not even my bloody brother yet and you're already trying to take over my life, leave me the god-damned hell alone!'
Hermione, Neville and Ginny all shared a look. They had all, at some point, been on the receiving end of one of Harry's tantrums and weren't about to laugh at the person currently in that awkward - and more than a little dangerous - position.
It had taken twenty minutes for Hermione, Neville, Ginny and sure enough Luna, to be ready and waiting at Remus' house. Five minutes later the seven of them - eight if you counted Snape - were standing in a luxuriously decorated room with a very large fireplace that was presumably an arrival room of some sort created specifically with floo travel in mind.
Somewhere outside the room a door slammed very loudly and they all winced. Then a tall, elegant but rather ruffled seventeen year old entered the room with an expression darker than a storm cloud and twice as foreboding. He didn't seem particularly surprised to see the group of them there, but Ginny had paled dramatically and immediately gripped her wand, ready to fight, thus triggering off everyone else, with the exception of Snape.
'Fuck!' the teen bit out in annoyance. 'I do not need this right now! Harry's in a mood because of his sodding hormones and the fact that you weren't here earlier and now you bloody well do arrive, an entire fucking hour after we'd arranged, Severus.' The teen seemed entirely unconcerned by the wands that were pointed at him and more worried about trying to kill Snape with his gaze alone.
'My apologies, Marvolo, you didn't specify a time,' the man bit back sarcastically.
'This should be your problem, not mine.'
'He's your brother, my friend.'
Hermione, who had long since lowered her wand, placed a calming hand on Ginny's wrist and everyone else had followed suit, said then, 'Um, Mr Riddle?' That was enough to get the teen's attention, simply because he hadn't told them his name. 'Yeah, I don't know where you or Harry or, well, anyone, really, stand anymore when it comes to the war, but can we see our friend now?'
The teen's eyes widened and he suddenly regained his manners. 'My apologies, Harry's-'
'-An earful, yes,' the twins said, cheerily together.
'My name's Tom Marvolo Riddle, more commonly addressed as Lord Voldemort. Harry has been my highly hormonal guest for the past two weeks and, since Abby's about to make an appearance at any moment, I thought it was about time you were alerted to this fact so your thoughts, at least, could be with him, when he gave birth.'
'Abby's the baby?' Hermione asked.
Ginny squealed excitedly for a moment, before pointing her wand menacingly at Voldemort again. 'You will take us to him immediately or, so help me Merlin, you will become intimately acquainted with a fate worse than a Dementor's Kiss.'
Tom raised an eyebrow at her and said, 'I can see why Draco likes you,' before turning and leading them from the room.
Harry was sobbing in his room when the knock came at the door. He wasn't supposed to be this emotional at the end of his pregnancy, he just supposed it had to do with suppressing all of his emotions earlier on. He didn't mean to blow up at everyone all the time, but he couldn't help it. He'd managed to last another couple of days after Voldemort's proposal - enough time to establish that, yes, actually, joining - a suddenly sane - Voldemort was actually probably a very good idea. During those two days Tom and Harry had pretty much locked themselves up alone with one another and talked about everything.
Of course, they both knew the majority of the life line of the other person, but neither knew the feelings, the personality behind them. When they had, they found they liked that person. And so Harry had agreed to become blood brothers with Tom and they had started, together, to plan the future of the war. After all, with Harry on his side, Voldemort would be nigh on unstoppable.
Harry still found Voldemort disturbingly sexy, but he'd discovered that it was the sort of sexy that he registered with members of the opposite sex. Like Hermione. He knew Hermione was drop-dead gorgeous and blushed when she flirted teasingly with him, but it didn't turn him on. Voldemort was the same. Harry could look at the Dark Lord's ass and appreciate exactly how well-shaped it was, but not once did he catch himself imagining what he'd like to do to that ass. Because he didn't want to do anything.
Snape on the other hand…
Snape was ugly. Really ugly. There was no getting around that fact. His teeth were yellowing and crooked, his skin unhealthy and sallow and his eyes were bloodshot. Harry didn't even bother to consider the nose - that didn't need anything said about it, it's size said it all. Under his robes he was likely just as sallow. Most likely underweight, with pointy hips and ribs that you could count. If he had been Muggle he'd have probably have arthritis by now from all the potion stirring.
Harry knew that Snape loved him. Everyone knew Snape loved him. The Potions Master was disturbingly obvious about his affection. Not that he ever really showed his affection, it was just so obvious to everyone. Harry wasn't really sure what to do about that. Snape had always hated him, always. But he'd always been there for him, as well. Snape, throughout Harry's life, had been the one constant. Sarcastic, mean, but never falling for the boy-who-lived bullshit. And always willing to save his life.
Snape and he hadn't really talked since Harry had moved into Voldemort's manor. To be perfectly honest he'd been avoiding Snape. And he also… he knew that he had Snape's affections now, but if Snape tried to talk to him in this emotional state, Harry knew that he'd say something horrible that would send the older man running. And he knew that Snape had impossibly high standards - the prospect of living up to those standards was daunting to say the least.
And from those feelings Harry could only deduce that he wanted the man back. But he didn't know how much or how far or, to be honest, why. And Harry wasn't willing to break Snape's heart just to find out the answers to those questions. It wasn't fair on him and also… Harry knew he wasn't ready for anything remotely physical.
The physical side of things would be difficult. Harry had long since come to terms with what had happened and was now comfortable with being touched - in fact, he craved it. But he had yet to be touched in the romantic sense and he wanted to live up to Snape's expectations. If he couldn't even handle some innocent (ish) groping, then… well, he didn't stand a snowflake's chance in hell.
Harry figured ugly must do something for him, considering he was surrounded by pretty people - Voldemort (now), Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Luna, the Lestranges, the Malfoys - and none of them did anything for him.
Tired of being ignored, Hermione pushed open the door Tom said led to Harry's room and poked her head round it. 'Harry?'
A familiar, scruffy haired teen looked up to reveal red puffy eyes and a hopeful expression. Moments later Hermione found herself with an armful of pregnant Harry.
'Oh my goodness, Harry, you look gorgeous!' Ginny squealed from behind Hermione, pushing her way through and holding Harry at arms length to get a proper look at him. 'I'm not going to ask what you're doing here with Riddle - who tried to kill me, I might add - but oh, wow, does pregnancy suit you! You're glowing! I want to look as good as you when I'm pregnant!'
The other teens, including Harry, shot Ginny a strange look.
'Sheesh, I'm not pregnant yet. Drake would kill me if we had a child even conceived out of wedlock,' Ginny explained with a roll of her eyes. 'Besides, I'm only sixteen, I don't want a baby yet.'
'I do!' one of the twins piped up from behind her, startling his brother and lover.
Harry coughed. 'Uh, yeah… so how are you guys?'
'Us?' Neville asked disbelievingly, 'How are you?'
And so ensued a rather long winded explanation of just about everything, including a rather in depth conversation as to what part they were all going to play in the upcoming war.
Finally, at about 3 in the morning, Snape came and knocked on the door. His eyes immediately shifted to Harry, checking the young man's health, before they moved to cast a scathing glance over the rest of the population of the room. The teenagers all rolled their eyes, Remus stifled a chuckle and Harry smiled indulgently.
'I think I should probably return you all to Hogsmeade,' the Potions teacher said, before looking once more at Harry and leaving with his usual robe-swirling flare.
As the others filtered out, Harry called out to Neville. Once they were alone in the room Harry spoke quietly to his friend. 'Listen, Nev, I know you still feel strongly about the Lestranges, but they've been really good to me, especially during the month when I stayed with them. I know you'll never forgive them, but, would you meet them one day? Just us and them. Hear what they have to say, their side. Maybe then you'll be able to get some closure.'
Neville remained with head bowed for a moment before he met Harry's concerned gaze. 'Yeah. Yeah, ok. I think I'd like that.'
'Thanks,' Harry said, and hugged the other boy as best he could around his swollen belly. 'I'll see you soon. Hopefully, next time, with this little tyke in my arms.' Harry rubbed his belly fondly, smiling warmly.
'You're happier here than I've seen you in a long time,' Neville told him. 'I'm grateful for that. I'll see you and little Abby soon.' Then he turned and followed the others out, leaving Harry to strip and sink onto the bed, praising the heavens for fine linen sheets and goose down mattresses.
Dumbledore frowned at the group he could see making its way back to Hogwarts. Harry's friends. Of course, by now Harry would be long dead, but Dumbledore had a niggling feeling that he'd overlooked something.
No matter. The new saviour was on the brink of being ready and his protégé, the next to carry the weight of having to uphold the mantle of The Greater Good had, he knew, figured it all out. Now all he needed was to fit the final pieces of his master plan into place. Then Voldemort wouldn't stand a chance and the world would begin to burn.
Harry knew Braxton Hicks Contractions. He knew them very well. He also knew that what he was currently experiencing were not they.
'Jesus-fucking-Christ!' he shrieked as another one hit, Voldemort hovering anxiously by his side as the doctor and a midwife also hovered around, entirely un-anxious. 'Tom!' he spat out between gritted teeth.
'Yes!' the Dark Lord said, jumping to his side, ready to do everything and anything Harry asked of him.
'Could you fucking kill Dumbledore for me?' he moaned out, panting.
Voldemort smiled, stroking Harry's cheek soothingly. 'I was going to leave that honour to you.'
'Oh- oooOOOooh fuuuuck!' Harry screwed his eyes tight shut and breathed heavily for a moment, before opening his eyes and looking up at his soon-to-be brother. 'I can firmly attest that giving birth hurts a hell of a lot more than being kicked in the balls.'
Another contraction hit, along with a plethora of swear words. 'Tom!' Harry panted out again during his reprieve. 'Can you get Snape for me?' he pleaded, knowing he sounded pathetic, but not caring.
'Yeah, bro. Of course I can,' Voldemort told him, smiling and kissing him on the forehead.
'Don't!' Harry shouted out just as the Dark Lord was leaving.
'No, get Snape. Just - ah, ah! - do-o-On't call me-e "bro",' Harry stopped talking, winced, then carried on, surprisingly calmly. 'It's disturbing in more ways than I can count.'
Not one to argue with an extremely powerful wizard who was giving birth and made quite a name for himself with his temper among the Death Eaters even during just the past two and half weeks, Voldemort nodded and quickly left. He went to the first room he came across with a fireplace with floo access and floo'd straight to Snape's private quarters.
'Severus!' he called out, unsurprised that when Snape did appear it was bleary-eyed and wrapped up in a - black - bath robe. What he was surprised about was the fact that said bath robe was silk.
'Yes?' the Potions Master snapped, drawing Voldemort from his musings.
'Oh, right. Your beloved is giving birth.'
Now that was amusing, the funny colours Snape turned when told that. First he went very, very pale, then a weird, purple-red colour, before returning to his unhealthy yellow, now with a rather downcast look on his face. 'Why are you telling me this?'
'Said beloved has very loud vocal chords, his magic isn't even remotely diminished by the fact that he's giving birth and he's demanding that you be there.'
Snape's face turned that funny range of colours again, this time when he returned to his yellow his face was hopeful.
'Is this a joke?' he hissed dangerously.
'No. This is a get-your-arse-here-now-or-risk-losing-it-by-Harry's-wand thing. And I think that when he finally is ready to let you into his bed he'd really rather prefer you still had your arse. And whatever other bits he decides to lop of because you're standing there like an idiot and not coming through the floo,' Voldemort informed him coolly.
Snape scowled at him a moment longer before reaching into the fire and pushing Voldemort's head down. Then he grabbed a handful of floo powder and, heedless of his undressed state, went through to Riddle manor, stepping elegantly out of the fireplace on Voldemort's side and paying no attention to the frowning Dark Lord sprawled across the floor.
'Where is he?' he demanded to know.
Just then a loud strong of expletives was yelled with great gusto and the two men shared a nervous look.
'Just follow the swearing,' Voldemort said, shrugging.
Not sparing him a look for his callousness, Snape took off through the corridors like a bat out of hell. It was only when he reached the door that clearly led to where Harry was giving birth that he hesitated. What if Harry didn't really want him there? What if it had only been a whim and Harry would regret it later.
'Severus sodding Snape!' a screech from inside cut off Snape's thoughts. 'I can tell you're out there, get your lazy fucking arse in here before I bloody well hex it off.'
Grateful but also slightly scared, the Potions Master entered slowly, hesitantly. Normally he wouldn't have stood for that sort of language, but, well, he was giving birth. As soon as he saw Harry, though, his nervousness disappeared, replaced with concern as he hastened to his side. Snape brushed Harry's fringe back off his forehead and then tried to take the teen's hand, hurt when the action was refused.
'If I hold your hand I'll probably crush it,' Harry explained. 'Apparently men giving birth is more painful than women because we don't have the right… er… equipment.'
'I was not trying to take your hand, foolish child,' Snape sniped back.
Harry glanced across at the older man and rolled his eyes, not bothering to contest Snape's quite obvious lie. Then his hands gripped the bed clothes again as another contraction hit.
'OK, baby, you're fully dilated now, so when the next one comes I want you to push, ok?' the midwife asked gently, stroking soothing hands up and down Harry's shins.
Seeing the caress and hearing the endearment Snape snapped, pushing her back. 'Stop. Touching. Him.'
'Snape!' Harry groaned out, immediately catching the Potions Master's attention. In any other situation, the way the man's face went from furious to worried would have been funny. 'This really isn't the time to get all possessive on me,' he said gently, stroking the back of the man's hand, before moving away as if burnt.
For a split second Snape considered being hurt again, but then it became clear that Harry was riding out the next contraction, this time pushing to encourage his baby Abby out into the world.
Snape could tell, from the way that Harry's face was contorted in pain, that this was worse than any of the contractions had been. And yet, the seventeen year old was silent. His fingers were gripping the bed sheets madly and his breath was coming quicker and quicker, his eyes screwed tight shut, but he didn't scream. Snape wondered if the boy had enough energy left in him to scream. But he pushed those thoughts aside and just wiped the damp cloth he'd been given across Harry's forehead.
Eventually, after a time that seemed far too longer to either's taste, Abigail Hermione Potter was cleaned and wrapped safely in a clean blanket, snuggling against her tired but proud father's chest. Her eyes fluttered open and Harry was pleased to note that his own green eyes gazed back at him. She had a tuft of blonde hair on the top of her head that already seemed to be growing darker.
Harry was leaning against a mountain of cushions and sat to either side of him, Voldemort and Snape. Voldemort was cooing excitedly over the little wrinkled bundle and Snape, much to both his and Harry's surprise, had an arm wrapped firmly around Harry's shoulder.
'She'll be beautiful,' Snape said softly, stroking one finger down Abby's chubby cheek.
Voldemort looked up with accusing eyes. 'She already is beautiful!' he said firmly, daring anyone to argue.
Harry rolled his eyes. 'She's as wrinkled as an old woman at the moment, Tom.'
The Dark Lord sniffed one of his aristocratic sniffs and proceeded to ignore his soon-to-be brother. 'You are beautiful, aren't you? Yes you are!' he cooed at the newborn, looking suitably affronted when she started wailing.
'Shush, darling,' Harry said, batting away Snape and Voldemort's anxious hands. 'She's hungry, you idiots! Poking her won't help!' So saying, he climbed tiredly out of bed and retrieved one of the baby bottles the midwife had left warmed on one of the tables. He wormed the nipple easily into her screaming mouth and sighed happily as she settled down into her feeding, chubby hands reaching up to hold the bottle steady.
When Harry looked up across at the two men still seated on his bed his eyes were tender and teary. Snape immediately jumped up and moved around Abby to give the teen a warm hug, enveloping him in his arms. Harry turned his head to cry awkwardly against the older man's silk-bath-robe clad shoulder. And, for the first time in his life when he cried, those tears were happy ones.
George had been unceremoniously thrown from Harry's rooms not half an hour after his arrival. Since first discovering Harry's pregnancy the red head had become increasingly broody and neither Harry nor Abby could put up with his over bearing nature for long. The baby was tired of having interesting sucking objects torn from her sticky grip and Harry was tired of not being able to hold his own baby.
So, now, George was sitting outside Harry's rooms moping. It wasn't his fault, not really. George was perfectly aware that his broodiness was one of the various side effects of the products he and Fred were testing for their shop and also his underlining desire to have a baby. He was also perfectly aware that neither he, his twin brother, nor Remus were magically powerful enough to keep a womb in tact for long enough for the baby to be born safely, with or without potions.
So he was moping.
Of course, what George had forgotten was that he, Fred and Remus were good friends with an incredibly smart and loving witch by the name of Hermione Granger. A witch who didn't much like bloodshed or killing but a very strong sense of loyalty. A witch who, upon noticing George's broodiness, had already started plans that would get him what he wanted, and also her too.
Harry was in the nursery again. With Abby barely a week old it was a very frequent thing, as she often demanded his attention. And Harry didn't mind. It felt wonderful knowing that this tiny being was relying upon him entirely and that he could give her everything he'd ever wished for during his own childhood.
At the moment Abby was on her back, asleep in her cot, as Harry looked down on her. The wrinkles that all newborn babies had, had smoothed out and she was a tiny ball of soft pink skin and chubby limbs. Her lashes were dark black against rosy cheeks and she was pouting in her sleep, unconsciously pulling her thumb into her mouth to suck on it gently.
Her eyes were the same iridescent green eyes as her birth father and the tiny fluff of blonde hair that she had been born with had darkened to a deep mahogany a shade darker than her grandmother Lily's had been. Harry knew that when his baby girl was all grown up she'd be an absolute stunner.
But he was worried. Harry adored his little Abby, but she was already starting to show signs of magic - and she was far too young at this age to comprehend what that meant. The majority of wizards and witches began accidental bouts of magic at about five, and even if the child didn't understand what the magic was or how it worked, they knew enough to control it, to stop doing it. But for Abby to have signs already… who knew what might happen?
The door opened and Harry jumped a bit, relaxing when he saw the dark form of his Potions Professor there.
'Harry?' Snape asked gently. 'Are you alright?'
'She called her bottle to her today, Severus,' Harry said quietly. 'It was almost at her mouth anyway, but I felt the tug of her magic.'
Snape said nothing and moved up close behind Harry to gaze down at Abby. 'With parents like you and Dumbledore…'
'I know,' Harry murmured back, anxious not to wake the sleeping child. 'But she's so young, how can she understand not to? Anything could happen.'
'Hmm,' was all Snape said in response.
'What?' Harry asked, whirling to face the older man. 'You have a theory.'
There was a moment's longer consideration before Snape answered. 'You said, before, that she responded to your emotions even whilst still in the womb. That she helped stabilise your magic during the period you hid your pregnancy under a Glamour. Maybe this show of magic is just the residue of having been under a Glamour for so long. And, even if it isn't, she seems to me to be a highly emphatic child, which should mean that as soon as she realises what she's doing is hurting other people, she'll stop.'
Harry smiled a little, comforted by those words, but still entirely uncertain about what he should next do.
'Harry,' Snape said again, 'You worry too much. Relax.' He reached a hand up to cup Harry's face and the younger wizard reached up to keep his hand there.
'Help me to?' Harry asked, softer than a murmur.
There was a hesitation, a tiny slither of time that was all uncertainty and longing, then Harry went onto his tiptoes and softly pressed his lips to Snape - no, Severus'.
And Severus kissed him back, arms looping around Harry's waist to hold him in place as one of them - neither certain who - tentatively licked the other's lips, asking and granting entrance. It was so sweet and tender that kiss. So perfect in it's tiny imperfections, showing just how real it all was.
Then Harry broke the embrace, took Severus' hand and led him out of the nursery, through the lounge and into his bedroom with it's double bed, fine linen sheets and goosedown mattresses. This time there was no hesitancy - there was no 'are you sure?' or 'are you ready?' because they both knew that both of them were stubborn enough to stand and leave if they had not been entirely comfortable with it.
Harry pushed Snape back onto the bed and slithered up his body to kiss all along his jaw line and lick the shell of his ear before kissing him on the mouth again, both of them staring deep into the other's eyes.
'I think,' Harry growled between kisses, 'that we… are wearing… too many clothes!'
Severus chuckled, a deep vibration of his chest that sent all sorts of wonderful shivers down Harry's back. 'Five points to Gryffindor for that astounding observation!' he snarked, running his hands greedily through Harry's hair as the young man bowed his head to pay attention to the many buttons along the front of Severus' robes.
Harry looked up and cocked his head, a teasing grin hinting at the edges of his mouth. 'What, only five?' The grin burst forth in all it's glory then, making Severus smile back just because. 'I shall have to try harder.' Then he pulled the outer robe off and groaned as he saw a waistcoat and dress shirt still waiting underneath to be unbuttoned. 'God, Sev, button fetish?'
Severus' grin was feral as he smirked down at Harry who was still sprawled across his chest, struggling with his clothing. 'Now there's an idea,' he said.
'Fuck this,' Harry muttered into the older man's chest, ignoring Severus' snort of laughter and simply vanished the rest of their clothes, causing Severus to jump slightly at the sudden cold and - was he pouting?
'I wanted to do that,' Severus said - yes, definitely pouting. But then he began rubbing his hand vigorously up and down Harry's sides, causing him to squirm and writhe until a little giggle slipped out and progressed into laughter.
'Se-ev!' Harry gulped out. 'Stop-p that! I-I'm tic-klish!'
And Severus did stop, instead smothering Harry's face with kisses, his hands wondering down Harry's side to caress his arse. He slipped a finger into the crack and wriggled it up and down a little, causing Harry to squirm again and let out a breathy moan. Pleased with himself and that reaction, Severus' hands moved lower to cradle the top of both of Harry's thighs, and he ran soft fingers over the sensitive flesh between his legs.
Harry let out a long sigh at the feeling and gently kissed Severus' collarbone, licking along the pale column of his neck and sucking and biting when he found the most sensitive spots. He was leaning on one elbow, holding him slightly aloft Severus' chest, and he let his other arms run from the base of Severus's neck down his chest and abdomen. His fingers coiled in the top of his soon-to-be lover's pubic hair and sifted down through it, until he came to his prize, smiling into the man's chest as he gave out a gasp and arched off the bed, pressing the two of them closer together.
Harry held Severus's penis in his hand, caressing it's length and beaming as he felt and heard, rather than saw, the older man's reactions.
Both of them had come into the bedroom with assumptions of their own about each other, about what they might like or dislike and what they would and wouldn't be prepared to do. Harry, on his part, had only known what it meant to bottom - and he didn't really count his rape as any kind of experience - and so had assumed that he would bottom this time, too, loathe as he was to make any comparison between this and before. And so it was with great surprise that Harry received the bottle of lube that Severus accio'd.
'I- I don't really know what I'm doing,' he said on a horrified whisper, erecting already wilting.
And so Severus had given him the most marvellous display that made Harry forget entirely about Abby's conception. After all, it was hard to concentrate on anything other than the sight of Severus lying on his back, legs wide open and welcoming as he finger-fucked himself. Harry was salivating by the time Severus declared himself 'ready' and turned his sultry, dark eyed gaze to Harry in a clear invitation.
Harry had quickly covered his own cock with the lube and then crawled across the other man, carefully directing himself into Severus. And - oh! It was tight and warm and absolute heaven. The moment pause once Harry was seated was as much for him as it was for Severus. After a quick affirmation that, yes, he was fine and, no, it didn't hurt that much, Severus got tired of waiting on his lover and wrapped his legs around Harry's waist, slamming the younger man even further into him and making them both gasp.
And then they were both rocking harder and faster, faces screwed up in pleasure and a wide range of noises escaping both of their mouths and then Severus screamed out Harry's name and came all over their stomachs, clenching around Harry and milking him for all he was worth, his younger lover coming moments later with Severus' name on his lips.
Harry drooped bonelessly across his lover's chest, one finger tracing a figure of eight pattern in the come splattered across Severus' chest. Suddenly overcome with curiosity, Harry sucked that finger into his mouth, licking the semen off and tasting it. He wrinkled his nose a little at the taste, but couldn't resist tracing the same pattern in a different place and once more sucking the finger into his mouth, hmm-ing appreciatively around the digit this time.
Severus groaned and dropped his head back on the pillow. 'You'll kill me if you keep that up, you know,' he muttered a little hoarsely, but fond in spite of his words.
Sated, his lover just smiled indulgently at him and rolled off, both of them inhaling sharply as Harry slipped out of Severus. Harry waved his hand across both of them, his magic responding without word or wand to clean the come off both of them. Then Harry tucked himself neatly against Severus' side and settled in for a good night's sleep - or as good a night's sleep as one can hope to achieve with a baby to look after. Severus just wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders and held him close as he, too, fell asleep.
Neville scratched the tip of his nose nervously and shifted his weight from left to right on his seat. They were coming today. The Lestranges. Abby was two and a half weeks old now and everyone seemed to be over as often as possible to irritate Harry and hug Abby. And today was the first day that Neville's visit coincided with the Lestranges.
He shifted again, right to left.
For the first time Neville cursed Abby's beauty. If she hadn't been quite so cute, would everyone have been coming to see her so frequently? He knew he was being irrational and that the Lestranges had - according to Tom - sort of adopted Harry so they'd have been over anyway and Harry was Neville's best friend, so he'd have been over anyway too, but still… he'd have been quite happy to never meet the Lestranges ever again. At least, never again since his promise not to wreak his vengeance and kill them in various, horrible ways.
He shifted again, left to right.
Of course, he'd been more inclined to follow the Dark side, ever since Dumbledore had started… twinkling at him. Dumbledore had never twinkled at him before. The headmaster had always twinkled at Harry - all the time, no matter what Harry was doing and, at the time, it had seemed like the gaze of an elderly relative watching over a beloved family member. Now that the twinkle was focussed on him it felt more like the gaze of a paedophile eyeing up his next victim. And, considering what had happened to Harry, that did not comfort Neville. At all. Not that he'd known about Harry's pregnancy when he first deviated from the Light side, but with as creepy a leader as Dumbledore was turning out to be, when he did know it had only confirmed his resolve to go bad, despite what had happened to his parents.
Then, on Hermione's resolute 'don't buy it until you know everything about it', Tom had sat down with all of Harry's friends and explained everything. He'd told them about the compulsion spells, the Dark ideas that weren't his and the distinct impression that there was someone playing God with his life. He explained about splitting his soul against his will and saying farewell to his sanity. Then he told them about how the last of the compulsions had been utterly ruined in late August.
From there he'd begun to collect his Horcruxes together, carefully rebonding them, with the only exception being Slytherin's locket which he wore constantly around his neck. After all, although the Horcruxes had happened against his will, there was no point looking a gift horse in the mouth, especially when it offered immortality in the middle of a war.
At this point Hermione had scowled that you-will-do-as-I-say scowl of hers and told him that as soon as the war was over the last Horcrux would be rejoining the rest of his soul or so-help-her-Merlin she'd make sure he never got laid for the rest of his immortal life, using a combination of castration and haunting to ensure it. Tom had gulped and nodded quickly. Hermione's triumphant smile was almost as scary as her previous scowl and silently the others wondered how long it would take for the brunette to be running the Dark side, rather than Tom.
And then, of course, the real shit hit the fan. Ginny had been born into a big family and loved that fact, even if she had to put up with six older, over-protective brothers. Hermione, Draco and Remus had all been only children and wished that they could have had siblings. Fred and George had each other and couldn't imagine life without the other, or their siblings, no matter how annoying. Neville had been an only child growing up under the strict rules of his grandmother and had always wished for a little company. So when Tom explained The Spell all of them hit the roof.
The Slytherin heirs had always been told that there were complications at birth that had led to them being the only children - the few exceptions to the rule, like the Greenegrasses had just said that they were lucky. And Harry had been told that Narcissa couldn't have anymore children after Draco's birth. Then Tom told them why. Dumbledore had placed a curse over all those Death Eaters - accused, suspected or otherwise - that didn't allow them to have anymore than one child.
The problem with this spell was that as reluctant as Dumbledore was to admit it, the war was one with two sides and with half the population on either side he managed, with one spell, to dramatically reduce the number of children there were supposed to be in the next generation. And, with his blind bigottedness, many of those who were on the Light side, but had made a mistake or had been friends with someone on the Dark side, were reduced to having only one child as well. And so the population shrank dramatically. Eleven years later and the year sizes at Hogwarts had shrunk from about ninety to less than half of that. The wizarding kind, thanks to one spell, was dying out.
And then there was the war, killing more and more people on both sides. Tom explained to them how once his sanity had been mostly regained he'd had a long talk to all of his inner circle and their battle tactics had changed. Their aim all along had been the good of the wizarding world, and with the constant threat of Muggles finding out about them, it had made sense to an insane Dark Lord to destroy them. But now their goals had turned inwards instead to keeping the wizarding world alive. They would deal with keeping the Muggles blissfully ignorant once they were certain there would be anything left for them to be blissfully ignorant of.
At some point during this Ginny had gained a very determined glint in her eye which Draco knew did not bode well for a future with only two or three children. He was utterly in love with the red head, which was how he knew that he was completely and totally screwed.
'Gin, please,' he begged her quietly, unaware that he wasn't being quiet enough for everyone else to hear what he was saying. 'Graduation. At least wait until after your graduation. Can you imagine how hard it would be for you to take your NEWTs whilst pregnant?'
Ginny had shot him an indulgent sort of look and pecked him tenderly on the cheek. 'If you marry me soon,' she said and smiled as Draco froze and went very, very pale. She rolled her eyes and then snuggled up against his unresponding side as everyone else chuckled.
That meeting had been before Abby's birth. And, really, Neville knew that even if the Dark Lord was still insane and going around killing people, he probably would have followed him anyway. At least that way he had a chance of one day owning his own little botany shop, providing potions ingredients and flowers and everything a wizard or witch might need and that could be grown, without the fear of Dumbledore breezing in and twinkling at him and demanding he fight and die for something he didn't believe in.
Still, in some respects he'd always hoped that he might never have to meet the Lestranges. He was sure that - besides the torturing his parents thing - they were lovely people, but he wasn't too keen on meeting them.
'Harry, sweetie!' an unfortunately familiar voice called, followed by a slight shriek and an 'oomph' noise which Neville supposed was Harry greeting Bellatrix in true Potter style - the run and hug attack.
'Bella! Rodo! Rob! It's great to see you guys again!' This was Harry, sounding a little muffled as though it had been his turn to get hug-mobbed by the arrivals and was speaking around a shoulder or arm.
'Hey, my man, it's only been a week,' one of the twins, Neville couldn't tell which, said.
The footsteps were coming closer to the nursery door and Neville hugged Abby to his chest - whether to protect her or him he wasn't entirely sure.
'A week too long. Now, guys, I want you to behave. There's someone I want to introduce you to and he's one of my best friends, so - play nice, ok?'
'Yeah, sure Harry, hurry up, I want to see my favourite baby girl!' that was Bellatrix again, sounding excited. Neville didn't blame her for it - after the news of the Death Eaters only being able to conceive one child and the fact that Bellatrix didn't have a son or daughter, it was clear that she had either miscarried or the child had died.
'Bella,' Harry was insistent and Neville let out a sigh of relief - he wouldn't let the Lestranges hurt him and, if it was too much for him, Harry would kick them out.
There was a long exhalation of air before a quiet, 'Yes, of course, Harry, why would you think otherwise?'
The door to the nursery swung open and Neville watched it's slow motion with the kind of morbid curiosity one watches a raging bull charge towards them. Then the door was out of the way and Harry was standing there, hand still on the doorknob and, standing next to him, holding his other hand, was Bellatrix. Beyond her, the Lestrange twins.
There was a long moment as they all stood just staring at one another, baby Abby silent for once and watching them all with solemn green eyes. Bellatrix had changed a lot since the picture that was one her Wanted poster had been taken. Her hair, whilst still wild, shone with a lustre that it hadn't had in the photo. Her face was clean and her eyes bright, not the hollows they had been after her escape from Azkaban. She was wearing a touch of make up, lip gloss and a pale shade of pink eye shadow that did not seem to suit her murder-torture personality at all.
'Dear Merlin,' she said on a breath, her eyes taking in every detail of Neville's appearance. It made him uncomfortable, but it was no where near as bad as Dumbledore's twinkle. Bellatrix licked her lips and seemed very nervous as she said, 'L-long bottom?'
Neville nodded silently.
Next thing anyone knew Bellatrix was across the room, squashing both Neville and Abby to her chest in a tight hug. 'Oh my baby,' she muttered, clinging to him and ignoring the indignant squawk both of her hug-victims gave out.
Harry carefully extracted Abby from the hug before the baby started bawling, and shared a confused glance with Neville - what on Earth was this about.
'Oh my baby, oh my baby,' Bellatrix chanted under her breath, rocking slightly as she clung to Neville, her husband and lover gazing at the pair with a strange fondness before they carefully moved forwards to peel Bellatrix from Neville.
'Bella, baby, he doesn't know. We need to explain to him first,' one of the twins shushed her as she turned to cling to him instead.
'Seventeen years, seventeen years he's spent hating us, thinking we tortured his parents, I couldn't - I can't-' and Bellatrix burst into tears.
The twin who was hugging her pulled her backwards on to the low set couch and with an ease that only came from practice, pulled her onto his lap and soothed her cries. The other twin sat next to them, eyes worried but hopeful - oh so hopeful.
'Are you going to explain this?' Harry asked the unoccupied twin, conjuring up another couch for himself and Neville.
The twin stared for a moment at his other halves before turning to Neville. 'Did they keep your name?' he asked. 'Are you still Damon?'
'N-no. I- I'm Neville,' Neville stuttered and scratched his nose, anxious under the gazes turned his way.
'Neville,' Bellatrix repeated and gave him a watery smile. 'Ok, Neville. I like that. Don't you think, Rob?' she asked the twin she was sitting on.
'I like it,' the other - Rodolphus? - said before continuing. 'I'm guessing by now our Lord has explained to you about the curse?' The boys nodded. 'Well, a curse like that doesn't come from nowhere - the caster has to practice it and Dumbledore did. On Alice Longbottom.' he paused and waited for Neville to signal to him to continue. 'But the spell went wrong. It stopped her from having anymore children, but… it killed the child she was carrying as well.'
Neville lost all remaining colour and leant heavily against Harry, who had moved to help his friend. 'What?' he blurted. 'But - but what about me?'
Bellatrix climbed of Rabastan's lap and knelt before Neville, taking his hands in hers. 'She went mad with grief, Neville. She miscarried at six and a half months - not far enough along for the fetus to survive, but far enough to cause her body great damage. She… she ended up going into a coma for two months. But, the thing is, when she woke, Dumbledore told her the baby was fine. That he was in the next room, waiting to be named.'
'During those two months Dumbledore cast the curse on hundreds of people who he believed to be guilty of being Death Eaters - whether they were or not - and, also, during that time, a group of aurors attacked our house. Dumbledore was with them and, when he saw the baby boy in our nursery, barely a day or two old, he took him.' She bowed her head and a lone tear escaped down her cheek. 'Took you. Obliviated certain of Frank Longbottom's memories and then… gave you to them. I couldn't have any more children anymore, Dumbledore had taken that from me as well, so we searched for you. Searched and searched - it took us over a year to find you and when we did…' she turned away from him, unable to withstand his gaze anymore.
'We were angry, Neville,' Rabastan said. 'So angry. We thought the Longbottom's were in on it all. So we thought to torture them a little, get the answers we wanted. But they couldn't tell us anything. They thought you were theirs. So we told them what had happened to us and, though they didn't believe at first, we showed them our few memories of you and it was clear you were the same child. They were horrified and we made plans for all of us to bring you up. The Longbottom's wouldn't join the Dark side, but they wouldn't stay in the Order of the Phoenix-' here Rabastan, too broke off.
Rodolphus continued the tale, 'You were supposed to have five parents, Neville. But Dumbledore sensed the remainders of our magic on the Longbottoms, left over from the Cruciatus. He knew that they were no longer entirely loyal, which made him jump to the conclusion that they must have gone Dark. So he tortured them himself, amplifying our magical signitures so it seemed as though it was us who had done it. When we went to visit them that night - the night our Lord fell to Harry - Frank and Alice were already insane and Dumbledore was waiting for us.'
'We were framed,' Bellatrix finished. 'I m so, so sorry Neville. So sorry.' She looked anxiously up at him, waiting and wondering what his response would be.
'I…' he trailed off. 'I don't know… Harry?' he turned to his friend, desperately seeking advice.
Harry placed Abby carefully on the thick carpet before leaning over to hug Neville tightly, whispering in his ear, 'They're good people Nev, but they don't expect you to welcome them straight away with open arms. They'd be more hurt if you accepted them now and pushed them away later. Take your time.'
'Ok,' Neville whispered back, surprised at the tears that sprung to his eyes. Then their hug ended and he had to face his… parents. 'Can… can you give me some time?' he asked quietly. 'This is so… Unexpected doesn't even cover it. I - I've lived my whole life thinking my parents were as good as dead. I don't know how to have parents. I need time,' he finished, sighing.
'Of course,' Bellatrix agreed happily, taking his hands and kissing the backs of them, before walking over to Rodolphus and Rabastan, taking their hands and leading them from the room.
Neville deflated once they left, letting out a long breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. 'I don't know what to do, what to say,' he admitted to Harry, who was now on the floor, tickling a squirming Abby.
'Just follow your heart. Take it one day at a time and get to know them. Let them get to know you. Your under no obligation to them, but you never know, you might come to like them. They'll be patient. Bella's the one who got me used to casual touch again,' Harry told him calmly, stroking Abby's face.
Neville grinned, then. 'Good for you and Snape, eh?' he joked, glad for a change of subject.
Harry smiled rakishly up at him, flipping his hair out of his eyes. 'Very good for me and Severus. Who, I'd like to point out, isn't half as greasy as we think.'
Neville let out a snort of laughter. 'But he's still an ugly old git, Harry.'
'Not that old. Young enough still to be flexible,' his friend replied, winking.
'But you don't deny he's ugly?'
'As sin, my friend, but he's my ugly git, so I'm happy.'
Neville shuddered. 'You and him is just… weird. I mean, strictly speaking he's still your teacher.'
Harry's brain zoned out and his eyes went all misty. 'Teacher… and he has that lovely big wooden desk in his office, which I'm sure is just the right height to-'
'Stop!' Neville shouted, cutting him off and bringing Harry back to the present. 'I don't want to hear about it!'
'What about you, Neville, how's your love life going?' Harry asked, laughing at his friend.
It was Neville's turn to grin rakishly. 'Well, since you ask…'
'You fox!' Harry cried in glee. 'You never said anything? Who is she? He? It?'
'It?' Neville asked suspiciously.
Harry turned a solemn gaze upon his friend. 'I have it on good authority that the Giant Squid is hermaphrodite.'
'Oh, oh, ow, ow, ouch! Harry that's gross!' Neville choked out and they were soon both laughing.
'The twins imperio'd some poor Slytherin back in their third year to dive in and find out. They were curious.'
Neville laughed again. 'Sounds like them. I don't envy Professor Lupin, that's for sure.'
'Call him Remus, Nev, he hasn't been your teacher for nearly four years. Now, what was this about your love life.'
'Do you remember the Patil girls?' Neville asked.
Harry nodded, recalling the events of the Yule Ball. Fortunately both Padma and Parvati had forgiven him for that night, saying it was hardly his fault as a stupid fourteen year old boy. He'd tried to see that as a good thing. 'So which one is it, Nev?'
Neville stared heavenward and twiddled his thumbs, waiting for Harry to get it.
'Both of them! Lord, Neville, how did that happen?'
'Says the boy who's dating Snape,' Neville teased back.
Harry pouted a little. 'Hey, he approached me. And he's a bloody good shag.'
Neville stuck his fingers in his ears and screwed up his eyes melodramatically. 'Did. Not. Need. To. Know.'
Harry laughed again, and poked Neville in the ribs. 'Come on Nev, tell me how you ended up with both of the Patil girls.'
Neville grinned and said only, 'You will never know the whole story, but I shall inform you that it involved the Room of Requirement, several highly alcoholic drinks and my Gryffindor tie. Use your imagination.'
Harry choked on his laughter, tilting his head back and letting out a full-bellied laugh that Neville had missed over the past year or so. 'Well, it's good to hear you're having fun,' he said lasciviously.
'Oh go shag a Snape,' Neville shot back, only making Harry laugh harder.
'G-go shag a-a Snape!' he choked. 'I love it!' He recovered from his laughing bout and passed Abby back up to Neville, kissing her on the forehead before winking at his friend. 'I think I just might.' Then he sauntered out of the room, singing softly, 'Oh I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.'
Neville laughed and gave him a magical shunt out the door. 'Go, Harry!'
Once the green eyed young man had disappeared out of the nursery, his cheerful laughter floating out behind him, Neville realised just how lucky he was to have Harry as a friend. A friend who'd not only made the transition from lies to a painful truth far easier than it should have been, but also kept him distracted afterwards so his brain had enough time to catch up to his mouth.
Neville looked down at Abby and cooed at her, chucking her under the chin. 'You're really lucky to have Harry for a Daddy,' he told her gravely.
Abby didn't say anything back, but sucked wisely on his finger.
Hermione grimaced as she swallowed the potion, the twins and Remus seated around her, watching her anxiously.
'Tastes worse than Polyjuice,' she said.
The twins looked mildly affronted, but refrained from making any jokes in consideration of the situation. Remus just patted Hermione's shoulder.
'That's the potion in general making it taste so bad, not your ingredients,' she told the twins with a roll of her eyes.
'How would you know?' Fred shot back.
Again, she rolled her eyes. 'I'm eighteen, I've given head before.'
The twins stared at her aghast. 'Our little bookworm-'
'To who?' they asked simultaneously.
'Fred, George, is now really the time?' Remus asked, clearly awkward with the conversation. He never had been to comfortable talking about sex with anyone other than who he was sleeping with.
They both nodded enthusiastically, not taking their eyes off Hermione.
She smiled like a cat in the creamery. 'Victor Krum,' she said.
'Fourth year?' Remus stuttered out, gaping at her along with the twins.
'God, no,' Hermione said, looking insulted. 'I'm not sure I even knew what sex meant then. No, we met up again not last summer, but the time before. We've been writing to each other since fourth year and we started dating. It wasn't serious as we only ever spoke through writing to one another and he was only in England for two weeks, but we had fun.'
'Did he deflower you, dear bookworm?' George asked.
'-and ravage you, dear girl?' Fred finished. Then, in a stage whisper he asked her, 'Did he… seduce you?'
And Hermione burst into laughter. 'No!' she cried out. 'God, you guys! We didn't have sex, we just mucked about a bit.'
'Dare we ask?' Fred said, placing a hand on his forehead and pretending to swoon.
'He has very talented fingers,' Hermione told them coquettishly.
Fred and George leant against each other and started to pretend sob, wiping their tears away. 'Our little baby, all grown up!' they mourned.
Remus groaned and buried his bright red face in his hands. 'I'm sorry, Hermione,' he muttered through his fingers.
'It's quite alright, Remus. I'd be worried if they didn't act like this.'
'I'm ashamed to say it, but so would I,' he responded, glancing up at her. 'How do we know if the potion worked?'
Hermione yawned and stretched. 'I'm pretty certain it has, but I'll take a pregnancy test in about a week to double check.'
'Why in a week?'
'They're not too reliable before that. I wouldn't want to raise your hopes or destroy them before I could say for certain.'
Remus nodded and then, impulsively, hugged her. 'Thank you so much for doing this for us Hermione. You've no idea what this means.'
Hermione hugged him back, tightly. 'I know. It means that not only do you get a baby that's genetically yours, despite the rarity of male pregnancy, it also means that all of you are the father, not just two, so it's truly a child of your union. It also means that when war does break out, I don't have to fight.'
'No way!' George said.
'No fighting for you!' Fred agreed.
'And nothing too strenuous.'
'Don't want to harm our baby.'
Hermione giggled and smiled at Remus. 'See?' she said.
'I agree with them entirely.'
Hermione laughed and rubbed her abdomen, hoping that there was a baby growing there now. It was strange to think that for nine months she would carry another life within her and then, at the end of that, she'd give that life away, but they'd already said that she'd be the godmother. And Remus was Harry's godfather, practically, and she was Harry's best friend so there was no way this child would grow up without her in his or her life. Besides, she was only eighteen, she didn't want her own baby just yet, thank-you-very-much.
Dumbledore was worried. Not that he'd ever admit that, but he was. His new saviour kept disappearing at strange moments and it seemed like more and more of the school population were avoiding him, unable to look him in the eye.
But the thing that really worried him was Professor Severus Snape. Or rather, not the man himself, but his neck. And to be honest, it wasn't even the man's neck he had problems with, rather the hickeys that resided there.
Of course, Snape had had hickeys before, he wasn't celibate, but the thing about these ones was that they kept reappearing. Dumbledore was well aware that once in a while the Potions Professor would take himself off to Knockturn Alley and visit one of the brothels there - after all, no one could go their entire life without having sex once in a while - but those visits were rare, less than once a year. The hickeys had been there for three weeks. They'd changed - faded and new ones - but the fact remained that Snape was getting regular make out sessions, if not sex.
Which did not bode well for the plan. Snape wasn't supposed to be in a relationship. He was supposed to die a traitor in the final battle, a fallen hero who had tried to fight his inner demons but had, in the end, lost. Now Dumbledore was going to have deal with some mourning loved one. As if he wouldn't have enough to deal with when they finally won the final battle.
The time had come, he decided. It was earlier than he had originally planned, but there was a chance that he may have to sacrifice himself for The Greater Good. It was time to call in his protégé and explain everything fully.
Hermione was feeling pleased with herself. The exams were finally over, there were only two weeks left of school before she would leave Hogwarts forever and she'd done a Muggle pregnancy test which had come out positive. The twins and Remus had been over the moon when she'd told them and they'd already started sending her little presents in the post. The girls in her dorm just assumed she had a secret admirer and Hermione wasn't inclined to tell them otherwise.
She'd also owled her parents with news about everything that had happened over the past couple of months and they had in their vague, detached sort of way, approved of her change in loyalties in the war. Her parents loved her dearly, but the wizarding world was an entirely different reality to their practical minds. They accepted their daughter, but generally ignored the 'magic' part of it. They were much more concerned about the surrogacy and what it might mean for her.
After a very long phonecall, which Tom had carefully adjusted the wards of his mansion for, they had finally accepted that Hermione was doing the right thing. They were still uncertain about it all and what it might mean for her job prospects, but she had assured them that it would be just like taking a gap year, except bringing much more joy to her friends. Then she'd handed the phone to Remus in exasperation. Remus immediately took a liking to her parents and promised Hermione that, since his parents were dead, the baby when it was born could call her parents his or her grandparents, if she wanted.
In the end her parents had just said they were very proud of her and sent Remus a large box of baby things, including some rather embarrassing photos of herself as a child, which she'd carefully hidden before the twins could get their mitts on them.
Unfortunately the pregnancy also meant that she couldn't drink any alcohol for fear of harming the child, so Hermione had had to decline Ron's bet on who could take the most liquor. Which meant, of course, that he thought she knew he would beat her and didn't want to try. Hermione really, really hated Ron, and his fat mouth. After much consideration, and a quiet word with the twins and Remus she had turned round and told him, on no uncertain terms, that she was pregnant so fuck him.
Ron had fainted.
Hermione ennervated him and burst into laughter when the first thing he asked was 'Is it mine?' At first everyone though it was a hysterical sort of sad-laughter that comes from grief. Especially when she started crying.
'Ron, for me to be pregnant with your child we'd have had to have sex,' she explained calmly to him once he had calmed down. Everyone else then got all confused, but Ron went a bright red. Hermione understood what had happened. 'Ronald Billius Weasley!' she screeched in a way not unlike his mum. 'How dare you spread such lies! I am perfectly happy with my love life at the moment-' which wasn't entirely true, '-and you aren't in it and, other than one little kiss in fifth year you never have been!' and that was the truth.
To be honest though, other than uncovering the lies that had been circulating for some time about her wantonness towards Ron, the conversation only led to good things. All of the girls in Gryffindor, and soon the other houses too, shunned Ron for the rumours he'd spread and it allowed Hermione to come clean with her friends. She wasn't very close with Lavender or Parvati, but they had shared a room for seven years now, and that creates a certain bond. So she told them that was carrying for the twins and Remus.
Lavender, who had lived in awe of their third year Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor immediately approved and asked little more. Parvati, who with her twin was dating Neville, only gave Hermione a significant look that Hermione had responded to with her own significant look and everything had become clear. Then the girls had returned to their painting of their toenails.
So Hermione supposed that could be the reason she was being called to Dumbledore's office - after all, Lavender was a loud mouth and word had soon spread that Hermione had offered to become a surrogate mother, thus turning her from 'slut' to 'brave, sacrificing heroine'. Many of the younger years thought it was just weird for her to be carrying her ex-professor's baby, even if she hadn't had sex with him, but all those in the fifth, sixth and seventh year who had been taught by Professor Lupin thought it was wonderful of her to be doing that - even the Slytherins, though their approval was less obvious as they weren't supposed to like Remus because he was 'Light'.
The gargoyle moved aside and allowed Hermione to step onto the staircase revolving upwards towards the Headmaster's office - maybe he just wanted to talk to her about the initiation of next year's Head Girl? A Gryffindor, again. The Head Boy for next year was a Ravenclaw, but he was brave and foolish enough to be a Gryffindor. Absent-mindedly Hermione wondered when the last time a Slytherin made Head Boy or Girl. Certainly not in any of the years that she had been here.
Dumbledore was waiting for her when she got to the top of the staircase, his office door swinging open with an ominous sounding creak. Hermione couldn't remember ever hearing that door creak before and she'd been up here often enough enquiring about Harry and as part of her Head Girl duties. Vaguely she wondered if the headmaster could make it creak on demand, the way Muggle movies always had creepy music and a lack of light during scary scenes.
'Ah, Hermione, my dear,' Dumbledore greeted, waving a hand towards one of the chairs opposite his desk. 'Please, have a seat. Lemon drop?'
Hermione declined politely and sat on the edge of the offered seat, fidgeting and shifting her weight from left to right and back again.
'Now, I've asked you to come here when I learnt some of the rumours going around school.'
Hermione paused for a moment before replying to that - which rumours did he mean? 'You should know better, by now Headmaster, not to believe everything you hear.'
Dumbledore steepled his fingers and leant forward to gaze at her over his half moon glasses. He looked positively ancient in that moment and Hermione wondered how this man, who had once been so great, so fundamentally good, could fall so far. But then, maybe it had all been an illusion. Because he was still viewed as the leader of the Light and his actions went unquestioned by so many. Maybe Harry was far from the first. And that was a scary thought.
'I'd hope you'd think better of me than that, Hermione,' he said and Hermione startled a little, forgetting for a moment that he was referring to the rumours about her, not her thoughts. Then she wondered when he had started calling her by her first name.
'I am aware, of course, of Remus'… relationship with the Weasley twins,' he continued.
'Sir,' Hermione interrupted, longing to get to the bottom of the Headmaster's implications in his comment. 'You do know that magical twins share a magical core and are, therefore, attracted to the same people. It's virtually impossible for twins to have separate relationships.'
'Which makes triplets very interesting, yes I know,' Dumbledore continued for her, his blue eyes twinkling cheerfully. 'I was merely referring to the brevity between Sirius' death and Remus' new relationship.'
'With all due respect, Sirius has been practically dead to Remus for the past sixteen years, whilst he was in Azkaban, and then on the run. You know that they didn't have time to fully revive their bond before Sirius fell through the veil. Particularly with Remus being away on Order missions all the time,' Hermione added the last a little sharply. Besides Harry, it was Remus who deserved the most happiness after all that had happened to him during his life.
'Yes, my dear, I am aware.' The Headmaster dipped a wrinkled hand into the bowl of lemon drops and picked one out, popping it into his mouth and sucking on it slowly, thoughtfully. 'But, their relationship is not why I called you here. If it were, I think perhaps it should be Mr Longbottom, Ms Patil and Ms Patil I should be talking to, hmm?'
Hermione blushed at that sentence - neither she nor Lavender had quite forgotten the last time they had knocked on the boys' dormitory room in search of their room mate. They had found her all right. Along with Neville, her sister and very little clothing. Poor Neville had spent the rest of the week a permanent shade of red after that.
'It has come to my attention that some people believe you are… renting your body to them?'
Hermione blushed harder and let out a startled laugh. 'You make it sound like I'm whoring myself to them, Professor! No, of course not. As you know, Harry became very close to Remus during his third year, and even closer when he discovered that Remus was, through his bonding to Sirius, also his Godfather, though not in the eyes of the Ministry. And anyone close to Harry is close to me, too. And the twins are the only people I can stand who prank people all the time, so I'm close to all three of them.
'And, well, I'm not in a relationship at the moment and they wanted to have a baby… None of them are magically powerful enough. It all made sense, really. It's not mine genetically at all and I'm making sure that I'm spending as much time as possible around the twins and Remus, so the foetus has contact with their magic, too. I'll just carry it for nine months and then give it to them. They're making me Godmother,' Hermione finished proudly. And she was proud.
'My dear, do you think this really wise? This is a baby, and we're in the middle of a war. You are introducing innocent life into the middle of anarchy and blood and death.'
Hermione smiled slightly and shut her eyes, dreaming up all the ways she could kill the old man before her. She'd never considered herself sadistic, but by heavens, she had held this man's own newborn only the day before. 'Yes,' she murmured. 'Isn't it wonderful?' Her eyes opened and she met his gaze full on. 'That something so beautiful and wonderful can come from something terrible. And, do not doubt, sir, that the child will live a long, fulfilling life.'
And he knew. She could see the light in his eyes flicker and die. She hadn't meant to make it so obvious. But her words weren't talking about the child growing in her womb. They were about Harry's baby girl, growing up coddled by two loving parents - for however reluctant he was to admit it, Snape did love his Harry and Abby very dearly - and surrounded by people who loved and adored her simply because, without rhyme or reason.
Then all pretence died as Dumbledore bowed his head. 'He lives?'
'Yes,' Hermione answered bluntly. 'Like he never has before.'
'And the child?'
'Is adored, loved, cherished. She has so much wonder and beauty in her, in spite of how she came to be.'
Hermione stood and smiled down at the wizened old man. This time her expression was entirely sadistic, without shame or question. 'Perhaps you shall see her, one day, Professor.'
He looked up at her briefly and, for a moment, it seemed like he honestly did regret everything. Well, maybe not everything, but certainly something. Then he bowed his head again.
'The end is coming, Professor, and you have made enemies of the two most powerful wizards of this age. I would wish you luck, but I fear that we will be standing at opposite ends of a battlefield.' And, with that, Hermione turned, her robes whirling out, Severus Snape Style, and stalked from the room, closing the door behind her. This time, the door swung shut in silence and Hermione decided that, perhaps sometimes, the silence was rather more ominous than a creak.
Hermione left school that afternoon and did not return. The next day a distinctive white owl swooped into the Great Hall and delivered numerous letters to a rather strange collection of people. The entire hall seemed to wait in anticipation as Ginevra Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Padma and Parvati Patil, Luna Lovegood, Severus Snape, and the entirety of the seventh year Slytherins opened their letters and read them in the growing silence.
Then Draco Malfoy let out a loud whoop of excitement and stood suddenly from his seat to search across the Great Hall for the Gryffindor table. Those few who knew smirked to themselves as the everyone inhaled sharply and watched with morbid fascination as Draco hurtled across the room towards the red and gold-clad students. Was he going to attack the Gryffindors? Alone? Had he finally gone mad?
Then Ginny stood up and faced the onslaught, her eyes burning fiercely - was she going to stand alone to defend her house? The rest of the Gryffindors were sitting, as dumb-founded as everyone else, when Draco finally reached them. And attack, he did, although it was not the attack most suspected.
Seamus let out a low, appreciative whistle as Draco thoroughly snogged Ginny in the middle of the Great Hall, with everyone, including the majority of the staff and the ghosts, watching. 'Well, well,' he said cheerfully. 'Our girl has got herself a sexy Slytherin!'
'She's not 'your' girl,' Draco snarled out, breaking the kiss to make the statement, before Ginny rolled her eyes, grabbed his precious, not-so-perfect-anymore hair and dragged his head back down.
Everyone else's brains then seemed to catch up and the Hall suddenly filled with catcalls and whistles, along with a little cheering. Finally, the two of them separated and, sharing a wink, turned as one to bow to their audience, grinning like loons the entire time. Sophisticated loons, of course. Draco was a Malfoy, after all.
Then Draco led Ginny over to the Slytherin table to the rest of the Slytherins, apologising to them briefly about not telling them who his girlfriend was.
'Blimey, Drake, what's your dad gonna say about this?' Gregory Goyle asked, oh-so-eloquently.
'Well,' Draco said, loudly enough for those around him to hear and quite obviously opening his letter, so that he caught the attention of the majority of the school's population. He then smirked and stood up, so that he could address everyone. 'According to the headmaster's darling boy-who-lived my father's recommendation was that I 'finally get over myself' and let everyone know that we were dating already.'
'He knew?' Pansy squeaked, swotting Draco on the elbow. 'How long has this been going on?'
'Pansy, my dear, as you know, we have minutes left, and I have a bit of explaining to do.'
Pansy hmphed disgruntled, but let Draco continue.
'Because, you see, the thing about the boy-who-lived is that he has an uncanny ability to survive, no matter what the situation. Forget the Dark Lord's attempts to achieve immortality, if you want to live forever, just be Harry,' Draco said, causing many of the people listening to chuckle quietly. 'He's also very forgiving. Harry's the kind of person who can look to see the good in all people, no matter what they've done - or haven't done, as the case may be.
'You see, two weeks before the beginning of term, Harry came to live at Hogwarts. I'm sure many of you know that he's described it as his one true home. But home is a place were you are safe, where you are loved. It isn't somewhere you get raped and knocked up.' Draco paused and waited for that statement to settle in.
'It was a test, you see, to discover whether Harry was powerful enough to fight and win against Voldemort. If he, a male, could carry a baby… the magical power at his finger tips must be incredible. And, he was so powerful, he successfully hid the pregnancy. But the headmaster, thinking Harry had failed his test, threw the boy to the wolves - more precisely, he left him on my aunt Bella's doorstep.
'You know,' Draco paused for a moment, to glance across at Neville. 'This makes us cousins.'
'I know,' the shy boy said, quiet amusement in his tone. 'Scary, isn't it?'
'Terrifying,' Draco agreed with a half smile, then continued. 'How would you react in that situation?' he then addressed the rest of the hall. 'Raped and betrayed by your mentor and left with people who, despite their… less than white past, offered you a loving family? Harry's very forgiving, you see. He's forgiven his daughter for who her other parent was and how he came to carry her and he loves her more than life itself. He's forgiven my aunt and uncles for the crimes placed by their names, forgiven the vein of sadism in the Death Eaters, forgiven the attempts at his life made in the past.
'And he's forgiven the Dark Lord for the insanity that has been forced upon him for so many years. Harry has forgiven the man who murdered his parents. No, more than that, he has become blood brothers with the man who murdered his parents.' Draco stopped, his sadistic smile making Hermione's the previous night seem like peanuts. 'There is only one person he can't find it in himself to forgive.' Then he sauntered slowly up to the Teachers' table, stopping in front of the seated Headmaster. 'You,' he finished simply.
And then Draco, along with the rest of those who had received letters, disappeared. And Hogwart's wards faltered. They did not break, but they cracked. It was not an attack, but a demonstration of the power Harry held in his command. Then Hedwig swooped once more into the Hall and dropped a bright red envelope in front of Dumbledore.
All of the students watched the way one watches a train crash as the howler opened up and began talking. Not shouting, but talking, in a voice that everyone knew.
'If Draco's done his usual dramatic-flare thing, you'll know now. You won't and never will know everything, but you'll know enough. And know this: there is no Light and Dark side. There is no ultimate good or evil. Nothing is absolute. Everything is finite. Voldemort's insanity was finite. His killing spree was finite. Our lives are finite. And now, I am bringing an end to The Greater Good. A good that sacrifices things that are not its own to sacrifice.
'I will not harm any Hogwarts student, unless in self defence. I will not harm the innocent or the coerced. I just want an end to this madness. The end is coming, my friends, and I, unlike others, do not ask you to fight. I ask you to watch and to learn. The end is coming and I trust you to be there to witness it.'
Then the howler ripped itself up and drifted to the floor, burning as it did. And as the whisper of the flames died out the whispers of the students got louder and louder until the hall was in uproar. No one understood what it meant, what the implications might be. The message was distressingly clear and yet vague at the same time. The only thing that people understood that was that their headmaster had raped their beloved golden boy, who was now coming to wreak vengeance.
It was a glorious, delicious, awe-inspiring want. And Harry had discovered, thanks to that beautiful want, that yes ugly was very, very attractive to him. At least if the way he felt about the body writhing beneath him, around him, was any indication. It had taken him all of about five seconds after his first orgasm inside his former Potions Professor to decide that the official term for one such as him was 'ugly as sin'. And what magnificent sin it was.
Severus Snape was too skinny, too wiry, too pointy to be anything other than ugly. He still had crooked teeth and greasy hair and smelt a bit funny from not washing often enough and making far too many potions than was really healthy, but by God did it turn Harry on. It also made him send a prayer to whatever deities there might be that the rumour about men with big noses was completely and utterly true. And Severus had a very large nose.
The strange thing was that, despite their conflicting past, they fit together extraordinarily well. Harry had never really, until he learnt of Severus' infatuation with him, considered what it might be like to actually bed the man, but even in the short time between discovering those feelings and the fucking itself, it was nothing like he fantasised.
Because Harry was short and Severus was tall. Harry was young, Severus was… not so young. And in any previous given situation Severus had always been the one with more power - teacher over student. So Harry had assumed that would carry on over to their sexual life. And perhaps, a lot of the time, Severus was the one with more power. But in the traditional sense, Harry was, because he always topped.
The first time he'd been first grateful and then thrilled at that, from what he perceived to be Severus' generosity to help him move past the memories of the rape, and later from the pure pleasure he was able to draw from his lover. The second time, it was all feelings and emotions and discovery. In fact, it was only by the fourth time he realised that, actually, Severus had bottomed the every time. And then Harry began to wonder if he'd been too pushy, too demanding.
Until Severus had worked out why Harry was suddenly standoffish and that it had nothing to do with not wanting him anymore. Then he sat the teenager down and explained, quite bluntly, that he didn't top. Ever. Period. And that having Harry thrusting inside him was more than he could ever have dreamed of in his life. Especially since as ugly as Severus was, Harry was beautiful and that was something that made him very, very happy.
Of course, it wasn't long after that when Harry discovered just how much power 'bottoms' could really have. And he loved it. Harry realised he must be a very strange person, if this was what he liked from sex, but he soon decided that he couldn't care less. After all, he was Harry Potter and he lived to break the rules. And it may have been a little unconventional and not what people expected, but it was nice and easy and fun.
The end, when it finally did come, was rather anti-climactic, really. Everyone had imagined a fearful clash of the titans, leading the resultant doom of either the headmaster - good guy gone bad - or Voldemort - bad guy gone semi-good… ish - it all depended on who you listened to, and what side they were on.
Seamus and Dean were loudly pro-Harry. They had spent nearly seven years in the same dorm room, over hearing nightmares, wanks, whispered conversations, shouting matches and everything that happens in a boys' dorm room. After their lack of faith in Harry at the beginning of fifth year, the pair had been staunchly behind all of Harry's decisions, finally discovering that their idolised boy-hero was just as human and just as prone to mistakes as they were.
And at the other end of the scale, Ron bemoaned long and loud about all the years he'd wasted as that traitor's friend. He complained about all the shit Harry had put him through over the years, all the lies he'd been fed and how could anyone believe what the traitor was saying now. He told anyone who'd listen about how Harry had stolen the girl he'd always been in love with, that Harry was just an attention-seeking idiot who'd do anything to make the spotlight remain on him.
All in all the students were pretty evenly divided and so, it seemed, was the rest of the world. The Daily Prophet wrote articles alternating between slander and praise and it seemed only The Quibbler had turned round and clearly stated whose side it was on - Harry's of course. Even the Witch Weekly was producing a balanced argument, as bad boys were just as selling as good boys were and Harry, no matter whether he was 'good' or 'bad' sold more papers than any other wizard.
When it came down to it, though, All that happened was that Harry apparated into the Great Hall during breakfast on the last day of term, along with Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Hermione Granger, an extraordinarily handsome stranger - who seemed to spend most of his concentration on the afore mentioned witch - and, bizarrely, a league of ministry officials.
Harry led everyone to the front of the Hall, made polite introductions and then promptly arrested Dumbledore. And, before everyone's eyes, Dumbledore had his wand snapped and all of his magic stripped from him with the Ministry's official say-so. Then Harry cast some kind of spell before waving to everyone, kissing Snape and disapparating again, with the ministry officials and Dumbledore in tow.
There was a long silence before Hermione rolled her eyes and said, whitely but clearly. 'Oh really, Lucius, your as bad as Draco is with the dramatic flare. Can you get on with it so that when Harry gets back we can leave?'
The blonde sent a baleful glare towards Hermione, but did as she said anyway. 'As head of the board of Governors for Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, etcetera, etcetera, I would like to formally declare that Albus Dumbledore has been stripped of his title as Headmaster, Minerva McGonagall is to become Headmistress in his stead and that Severus Snape will assume duties as her deputy, as well as continuing to be head of Slytherin House. Sybil Trelawney,' Lucius continued with a sneer at the Gryffindors, 'Is to become head of Gryffindor until an appropriate teacher can be found.' He turned and looked significantly at Hermione, who shrugged.
'Herm!' a loud, rather obnoxious voice called. 'Herm, what's going on?' Ron asked.
'I'm sorry, Ron,' Hermione lied. 'But I couldn't just sit back and let what happened to Harry go unpunished. You know me. I had to step up and do something.'
'So now you're fucking Lucius-sodding-Malfoy?!' he screeched back.
Hermione stared at him a moment before bursting into laughter. She let the increasingly red-faced Malfoy patriarch do the necessary shouting this time. And, when words finally spewed forth, she was glad she did.
'You spineless little red-headed monkey-stupid jack ass of a weasel! I know there are unseemly rumours about my marriage drifting about among those who know nothing of my life, but how dare you accuse me to my face of being anything less than faithful to my wife!'
Hermione didn't know whether to applaud Lucius for his outburst or Ron for managing to provoke it from a wizard who was just as likely to anger as Remus was two weeks from the moon, stuffed full of chocolate and after having a particularly satisfying round of sex with both of the Weasley twins. Which was, suffice to say, very hard to provoke.
'Do you know what this is, Mr Weasley?' Lucius continued in a quieter, but more dangerous voice as he pulled the chain around his neck out from under his shirt to reveal a small, rather modest locket. 'You should do - your mother and father both wear one after all.'
Hermione didn't know what it was, she'd always assumed that the chain had Lucius' bonding and marriage ring on it, since neither he nor Narcissa wore their rings despite still being very much in love.
But from the look on Ron and every other pure blood and some of the half blood's faces, they knew exactly what it meant and it was something of a surprise to find that the Malfoys, of all people, wore them.
'Marriage can be ended. Divorced. Bonds can be broken. Crushed. But this? This can never be broken, not even by death. It rarely forms in arranged marriages because it can not form without true love being present. It's a bit of a cliché, really, but let this finally serve as proof that I love my wife and put all of those ugly rumours to death,' Lucius said quietly, before sweeping between the tables and out of the hall, not having the patience to wait for Harry.
'Wow,' Hermione murmured as a bubble of conversation burst out from the crowd and everyone began talking quickly and excitedly about this new piece of gossip.
Tom glanced sideways, down at her. 'Hmm,' he said in agreement, a tiny secret smile on his face.
'What?' she asked, seeing his look. 'Did you find someone who you could have that with.'
Tom turned properly to face her and gave a full-blown grin. 'Perhaps,' he said.
Hermione groaned and rolled her eyes before slapping his arm lightly. 'That's a crocodile smile that, Tom.'
'Put it this way,' Tom said. 'If I was still insane and she spoke to me like that, she'd be the only one I wouldn't crucio on the spot, except for Harry, because he's my destined foe and for some reason my insane self preferred trying to talk-slash-evil-laugh him to death instead. Which, I might point out, is quite lucky for him, since it never worked.'
Hermione rolled her eyes again. 'You have such a way with words, Tom.'
Then Harry cracked back into the Great Hall, this time without drawing quite so much attention to himself, and without all the ministry officials. 'OK, that's weird,' he told them.
'What? Did everything work out all right?' Hermione asked.
'Yeah, yeah, that's fine. It's just… remind me never to apparate in between the two of you ever again.'
'Why?' Tom questioned, raising a suspicious eyebrow.
Harry shuddered. 'Because you to were looking all gaga-eyes at each other and appearing in between the two of you is disturbing on too many levels.'
'We were not!' Tom and Hermione immediately denied, making Harry snigger.
'Methinks the ladies doth protest too much!'
Tom snorted and pouted, before saying, 'Well at least we're pretty.'
'That was a compliment, 'Mione,' Harry added with a wink towards his best friend. 'And you being pretty doesn't help any. I have a fetish for ugly people. Well, one particular ugly person, but the point is pretty just doesn't do it for me.'
Hermione blinked at Harry, then laughed. 'That was the strangest declaration of love for someone that I have ever heard.'
Harry grinned. 'Yeah, well, I'm a strange person.'
Severus shot a sharp glare across at his lover and Harry smiled back, causing Severus to sigh. 'Come here, brat.'
Eagerly, the boy-hero launched himself across and let himself be enveloped by Severus' voluminous robes. The older man murmured something in to the top of Harry's head and his features softened slightly as Harry turned his face up to look him in the eyes. Then the shorted of the two stretched upwards onto tip toe and kissed the other softly, tenderly.
'They could,' Tom said quietly to Hermione, so as not to break the moment between his blood brother and his lover. 'Get one of the true-love lockets.'
'They won't, though.' Hermione shot back just as quietly. 'They don't need it and they know that they don't need it. I can't ever see those two marrying or bonding or anything. They'll just… be.'
Tom hmmed quietly before asking, 'do you think they'll ever have a child together?'
'Unlikely,' Hermione responded, smiling as Harry and Severus slowly broke apart, though one of Harry's hands remained hidden within the large expanse of the Potion Master's robes. 'Severus isn't powerful enough to carry, I don't think.'
And then Harry let go of Severus' hand, bid him farewell and apparated himself, Hermione and Tom out of Hogwarts and back to Riddle manor - a place that had quickly become home - not leaving Tom enough time to consider asking how Hermione knew something like that about Harry and Severus' relationship.
The Wizarding World's upheaval was slight in comparison to what it might have been. With Dumbledore's true beliefs and his tactics revealed and Harry publicly known as blood-brother to Lord Voldemort the light side of the war was left without a leader and with the understanding that this war they were fighting in was a construction of Dumbledore's, not a necessity. As such the war was officially declared over.
The general population was so relieved by this that very few people held to the old grudges. Even "You-Know-Who" was rapidly being put to rest, the mortal left in his place known as Marvolo Riddle to everyone other than Harry and Ginny.
Perhaps those who felt most adrift were the members of the Order of the Phoenix. But even they - as Dumbledore, under the influence of Veritaserum, revealed the extent of his two-facedness - learnt to accept what was happening. One by one they sought Harry out and asked him all the questions they needed to ask. Harry bore with them and gave them the truth, not just the answers they wanted. Sometimes it was ugly. But, sometimes, it was the most beautiful thing they could have asked for.
Molly and Arthur Weasley had held blind faith in Dumbledore and the truths, when they were told, hit them perhaps the hardest of the lot. But when they had sprung back and had regained something like equilibrium, their reunion with Harry was joyful, their introduction to Abigail glorious. Even their understanding of what Snape had become to their pseudo-son was easy and accepting. And they had fussed over Hermione and Remus like there was no tomorrow, when the twins told them their news, surprised their parents hadn't known.
Ron's understanding was harder. He had believed until the very end that Dumbledore stood for all that was good and that Harry was searching for attention - impossibilities. The two young men never regained the strong friendship that they had forged when they first met. But when they joined the other Gryffindor boys of their year for beers and a late night, it didn't matter. Because they could still accept who the other was, even if they didn't particularly understand who they were anymore. They could still reminisce on their friendship's golden days.
And the rest of the world followed at its own pace, reluctantly and eagerly recovering from decades of war that had more than halved the population.
There was no way to remove the curse that Dumbledore had placed on so many people. But now that he was no longer the Headmaster, McGonagall used the book that told them all the children that were to become members of Hogwarts later on in life, if they wished, and she used it to find all the orphans or those abandoned to give them loving families and homes within the wizarding community. With Hermione's help she set up an organisation that visited muggle families shortly after a magic child was born to them, to tell them what to expect, to teach them to cope with that.
There would be no more children brought up as Tom or Harry had, not with regular checks on health and wellbeing.
Tom retired from the public eye not long after Dumbledore was sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss. He had a lot of work to do sorting out his life and the mess that he had left behind him as he had fought the insanity that had held him so tight over the years. He found that, with increasing frequency, Hermione would spend time with him. And he watched with growing jealousy as she grew round with the twins' and Remus' child. He resolved to make her his when she would let him, and show her how utterly he belonged to her.
Harry and Severus' did have a biological child of their own, the conception of whom had been uncomfortable for both of them and resulted in swearing never to attempt likewise again. That did not stop them from later adopting the twin boys that had stolen their hearts when they saw them at one of the children's homes Hermione had helped to set up. And Abigail took to being an elder sister like a house on fire.
Draco and Ginny, as it turned out, did end up getting married very soon after her graduation, but decided to tour the world before they settled down to have children. Lucius, in particular, was pleased about this, much as he loved his wife, son and new daughter. Narcissa, it seemed, took the opportunity to care for orphans very seriously and convinced Lucius to allow her to adopt three "less-than-fortunate"s of varying ages who persisted on pushing all of Lucius' buttons and delighting Narcissa.
Not everyone got a perfect ending, though. The Patil twins broke up with Neville shortly after the end of the war, something that affected Neville's newly-born self confidence more than he cared to admit. He found that after years of stiff, unmovable caring from his Grandmother, he didn't want or need the casual affection of his newly found parents. Left adrift Neville distanced himself from the all encompassing cheerfulness of his friends. He kept in contact with them, but disappeared off the map as he went in search of… something.
And Luna smiled her dreamy smile, just as she always did, and continued to amble gently through life. She knew that, although things would get bad again eventually, they would stay good for as long as she could keep it that way. For, with her, the heavy weight of responsibility bearing the chain that represented The Greater Good, might lighten a little as she returned it to its original cause, wiping away the dirty marks left on it by its previous owner.
Points of interest:
- Male Pregnancy - I know loads of you guys don't like this, but it is reasonable to assume in a world were you can fly on a wooden pole, point a stick at some one and kill them and die just by looking into a giant snake's eyes (however rare said snake might be) that male pregnancy is also possible. To appease you guys (and also because it is one of the very few rules I stuck to) a potion is required for conception and also the carrier has to be very magically powerful.
- Hermione's Surrogacy - Basically, she just doesn't want to get involved in the actual fighting (even though none happened), so offering to carry the twins and Remus' baby made sense. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF treatment) is a muggle treatment that can be utilised in various ways. In this case G, F and R's DNA would have been mixed then implanted into Hermione's womb. The only difference between this and the real-world treatment is that there are three parents. So, again with the 'this is a magical world' thing. I'm sure it would be pretty easy to find a way of combing three people's DNA and bloodlines.
- Twins and Threesomes - Rodolphus and Rabastan, if it isn't clear, are twins - that is not canon, it's my own creation. In JKR's HP world all of the sets of twins are remarkably close. And, OK, we only meet two: Gred and Forge and the Patil girls, but both sets seem very close, despite the Patils being in different houses (book four and the Yule ball fiasco). All I've done in this fic is take that one step further. All twins are lovers in this version of the HP world, but lovers in the respect that they need someone else to complete their relationship. In the Lestranges case, Bellatrix; in the Weasleys' case, Remus; in the Patils' case, Neville. The sexuality of the twins is determined by their third. So both the Patils and the Lestranges are straight, despite being in a threesome with someone of the same sex. Until the twins find their third, they aren't lovers. So, Parvati and Padma would not have had sex with each other until they 'discovered' Neville. Also, their third is anyone of their choosing, it isn't pre-destined or anything.
- Ginny and Draco - I couldn't resist! I know this is quite a common pairing, but it's just the thought of Draco sneering at Ginny's bloodline until she oh-so-casually reminds him that she's pureblood. Oh, the look on his face! I would've written this scene, but it never really fit in anywhere.
- Snape's Obviousness - Um… dunno. I just liked the thought of this tight-assed bloke who never reveals any of his feelings being completely transparent about love. I'm also tired of stories where it takes the main couple ages to figure out the other likes them. I figured that Harry, once it was clear Snape loved him, would either tell him flat out that he wasn't interested or jump his bones. Since it happened during the last month of his pregnancy 'jumping his bones' seemed a little out of the question, at least until a while after Abby was born. Thus, one week later = sex.
- Abby's Name - I didn't think about meanings when I came up with her name, I just up and named her 'Abigail'. Which, when I checked, means father's joy, which considering how besotted both Harry and Snape are with her is actually quite appropriate. 'Hermione' is obviously derived from her godmother's name, as Harry's oldest, most loyal friend. It also means travel/traveller and comes from 'Hermes' the Greek messenger God. 'Potter' for her father, obviously. Which just means one who makes earthen vessels.
-Neville Longbottom/Lestrange - I've painted the Lestranges as fairly sane people. So why would they up and torture to insanity people who, other than being members of the OotP, weren't really that huge a threat, risking their own sanity and freedom in doing so?
AN: Please not that this is a work of fiction and I fully accept that it is a load of crap. The characters aren't mine, although I've made them so OOC they might as well be. This story went where my fancy took me and, as such, I don't think it makes any sense, even in the incredibly fantastical world that is fanon. I am well aware the plot line is also lacking anything remotely substantial. As such I apologise for having hoisted this fic upon you with such abandon and I hope you can find it within you to forgive me and - hopefully - drop me a review?? Pretty please?? Much love
AN: Please not that this is a work of fiction and I fully accept that it is a load of crap. The characters aren't mine, although I've made them so OOC they might as well be. This story went where my fancy took me and, as such, I don't think it makes any sense, even in the incredibly fantastical world that is fanon. I am well aware the plot line is also lacking anything remotely substantial. As such I apologise for having hoisted this fic upon you with such abandon and I hope you can find it within you to forgive me and - hopefully - drop me a review?? Pretty please??