Disclaimer: Don't own it, but would love to. Do participate and appreciate and hope it goes on forever more. I'm not sure how to classify this tale. It came to me when my partner's daughter emailed us to tell us we were to be Grandparents. Go Guys! Sadly the outcome of that pregnancy was a quick trip to hospital at three and a half months, which was a distinct shock to us all, but life goes on and hopefully the next attempt will be more successful. So, enjoy the tale and don't forget to feed the author with lots of tasty reviews.
Author's Note: I would also like to say thank you to all of you who have reviewed this tale. Some days the kind words of the reviewers are the only thing that keep you going and I really appreciate the comments you make. I always finish the first draft of a story before I start to post the first chapter so asking for story suggestions is not my way, however, a few of the comments and suggestions have caused a hurried rewrite and a flurry of international emails to fly. (Thank goodness we don't have to wait for snail mail any more. Even airmail used to take a couple of weeks back in the dark ages! LOL) So, take care, enjoy and review, the watchords for a great life!
Pinit the house-elf let out a squeal of triumph as the baby began to breathe and twitch on her own. She grabbed up the winding cloths and funeral dress and popped away, appearing a few seconds later with a fluffy pink all-in-one with a small bunny appliqué-ed on the breast. Poppy grinned back and dashed the tears from her cheeks most self-consciously. How unprofessional of her, she scolded herself silently but oh how glad she was that this child had turned the corner and survived. Glancing around, she bend and kissed the child's forehead as she slipped a nappy and vest onto the child, then slid her into the romper and finally snuggled her up in a cloud soft pink bunny rug. Once the child was safe and warm, she had a moment to glance over to where Harry was still being worked on by the others. Her arms tightened around the child as the speed of her colleagues showed how desperate the situation still was.
Together, the two wizards and witch poured their magic into the depleted core, weaving their energy into a useable form for the patient. All three concentrated solely on the patient to the exclusion of everything else. Slowly their efforts were rewarded one tiny increment at a time, the Acclaro spell showed the magical levels stabilising, rising to a self-sustaining level. When it reached the critical point, Hipax withdrew and cast a solid punching hex into the middle of Brian's chest, jolting him off the table while giving Nash a good kick, too. For a second there was no response, then Brian drew in a huge gasp of air and panted hard as the colour flooded his face, driving the blue tide away.
"We did it!" Lila's gasp of triumph came exactly as the little body under Poppy's hand began to move independently, pink warmth flooding her limbs in a healthy flow.
Lila threw her arms around Hipax, kissed him soundly and pounded the specialist on the back almost without thinking as Brian began to breath independently too.
Hipax blushed bright scarlet as he chuckled and hugged her back. Nash ignored the by-play as he bent over to listen to his partner's soft, serene words. As Poppy approached the messy birthing table, she heard Harry murmur, his voice still husky from screaming yet a great warmth and happiness in its depths.
"Lily Louisa Joy Potter Prince Snape Wardsmith-Rao," Brian murmured. "He called her the distilled joy of his new life."
"Who did, Brian?" Madam Pomfrey's voice sounded gently off to the side. That was so familiar given his present position of illness, it made him smile.
Nash stiffened for a moment then relaxed, Brian's messy hair hiding his expression and drying his tears then he smiled when he realised Brian was smiling too. "It's a really good name," he agreed as he managed to stop the tears that wetted his partner's shoulders. "How is the baby girl doing?"
"She is beautiful, a tiny little princess."
The three medical magicals exchanged pleased and surprised looks but the couple on the birthing couch were oblivious to them as they stared hungrily at the child still cradled in Madam Pomfrey's arms. Only Nash's hold on his chest stopped Brian from snatching his child out of the old woman's arms, certainly not good manners! Poppy smiled knowingly as she offered the small but precious bundle over. "Seven pounds even and fifteen inches long, a healthy little girl. Support her head now."
Neither man was taking any notice as the tiny baby was snuggled close to Brian's chest, against his heart. Sarasvat's arms came around both of them sealing the circle as he rested his chin on Brian's shoulders to gaze somewhat fatuously at his tiny, black-haired daughter. As if feeling the weight of her parents' stares, Miss Lily Louisa Joy opened unfocused navy blue eyes and gazed up at the two blurry images above her, pursed rosy red lips in a small kissing motion and promptly went back to sleep.
The spilled magic in the room suddenly coalesced, pulled around the family and was absorbed through their skins as if a circuit had been made. Free magic from the surrounding area was also drawn to the family, binding around them and through them, visibly strengthening and healing the traumas caused by the rough and dangerous birth until exhaustion caused Brian's head to loll back onto Nash's chest. Such an absorbing of magic was not exactly usual and normally took the invocation the God parents provided to trigger it but, as Poppy commented softly, the couple was never exactly normal so why should this event be any different. Lila giggled but nodded her agreement as Hipax smirked and looked around the bloody wreak of the room. The others followed his gaze and shuddered. The place looked like a slaughter house.
"If you can lift them up, I'll banish the birthing table and have the house-elves clean up in here," Lila murmured to Nash, a deep satisfaction in her tone.
Nash glanced up, most reluctant to remove his attention from his small family, and smiled softly as he moved, careful not to waken his partner and child. They were not particularly heavy and the house-elves were very quick in restoring the room to the usual order. Carefully placing Brian on his own bed, Nash stepped back as Madam Pomfrey waved her wand in a swift Evanesco to remove all the blood and mess, leaving the young man clean and fresh. A night shirt was speedily if awkwardly slid over Brian's head and decency reasserted before he was slid between magically warmed sheets.
Pinit waved her hand and the bassinette they had so lovingly decorated appeared in the room and settled beside the bed but Nash ignored it as he banished his outer robes and crawled into bed with his partner and child. He was not letting his daughter go for the moment, any more than Brian was.
Hipax smiled indulgently as he cleaned and shrank his tools of trade, exchanging knowing glances with Madam Pomfrey who had seen it all before but never tired of the sight of parents bonding to their new child. For Lila it was the first time and she surreptitiously wiped a small tear away as she stunned a small pang of jealousy to death in her breast. Her turn would come and she too would see that look of perfect love on her partner's face, one day.
"As soon as he wakes have him feed her and I'll stop by in a few hours to make sure everything is going well," Hipax told Nash softly. "If there is any problem, no matter how small, call us."
"Lidz, have Mimi serve tea for our guests in the drawing room," Nash ordered softly as he settled down to watch the two most important people in his life sleep.
Brian stared down at the tiny rosebud mouth that was causing sheer agony in his chest but hardly dared breathe as his daughter rooted at his chest then settled to suckled heartily. He had been utterly horrified when he first found he had developed small but very definite breasts, but now put to their proper use, he was amazed. Nash was equally enthralled and sat cross-legged on the bed with his mouth hanging half open as he studied the process intently.
"Won't she smother?" he asked softly as the small nose rooted eagerly once again.
"I don't know. Don't think so. Ouch! Merlin, am I glad she doesn't have teeth! How do women put up with this every day?"
Nash grinned wickedly. "Don't know, you tell me."
Brian took a deep breath, eyes ready to spit fire, then he began to giggle. "This is so screwed up! Do you think she'll grow up with a complex about hairy tits?"
"Depilate. I know Flitwick taught you the charm," Nash sniggered, and both set off into peals of laughter, making Lily Louisa jiggle and mewl in protest as her hearty meal was abruptly removed from her mouth. "Sorry, Baby, it was just too funny to miss."
Brian sobered. "There is something, though, Nash, something I heard when I was out to it. When I was, er, sort of dead… One of my old comrades-at-arms came to guide me back to the land of the living. He spoke of blue moons and two lives that were cut short being combined to make one happy life?"
Nash sobered and bent his head to trace the pattern in the jacquard duvet cover carefully. "Yes, I-I guess I should have discussed it with you before but there never seemed to be an appropriate time."
"Never?" Brian asked archly.
"Never. I didn't know who you were at first. You were under glamour and were just too sexy to be believed. Later, when I found out you were Harry Potter, it was too late to go back as I was already head over heels in love I was terrified of losing you. When we thought I felt my life was broken forever and then Lily was conceived and you were forced to come back to me… Merlin, Harry! How do you tell someone you are their worst enemy reincarnated as their lover? 'Oh, by the way, I used to be Severus Snape, your most feared potions professor, in a former life, and pass the salt please.' It doesn't exactly work its way into general conversation, now does it?"
Harry pondered his words as he fussed with Lily, swapping sides and reattaching the baby with a wince and a gasp before looking up and pinning Nash with a green gaze. "You want to tell me how it happened?" he asked, careful to keep his voice neutral and non-judgemental.
Taking a deep breath, Nash began his tale, leaving out no detail and adding points when Brian asked. "… Then, before Ziny had a chance to go for the Aurors, the… well, the ghost of Sarasvat sort of appeared and made everything stop, including time and the house-elf. We made a bargain, he and I. He would join with me and we would become him in all ways, setting aside the horrors of our pasts but not entirely forgetting them in case we started to make the same mistakes. Our strengths and weaknesses complemented each other, my knowledge of magic and potions was very useful to us both and his 'clean slate'; no history, no real enemies, except his uncle who was now dead, and his family over in India who did not know him would allow us to have a clean, fresh start. We were both shy but where I attacked, he tended to hide away, so we compromised and found a way to lose the shyness. I had a terribly cold, brooding temper, his was hot and quick, again we compromised. We became one much better person without too much arguing. It was as if we had always been two halves of a whole, rounded person and were only just getting together to co-exist."
Nash took Brian's free hand and played with the knuckles, a soft, almost dreamy smile on his face. "It was unbelievable, the culmination of everything I have ever wanted, knowledge of half a lifetime coupled with the kindness and possibility of a good life without one master or the other torturing me at every point, whether by dark curses or kind demands for the impossible. Don't get me wrong, I loved Dumbledore as a friend and as a father figure but he was no easier a master to serve than the Dark Lord in his own way. Now I was freed, free to sink or swim by my own merits and I unashamedly took what was offered. The chance of a better life with eyes wide open and a song in my heart." He glanced up with a pleading expression that turned rueful for a moment before he smiled ruefully.
"Then you came along! There you were, standing in the doorway licking your lips and I was gone in that instant. You were perfection personified and I was completely enthralled. It was love at first sight, Brian, impossible though that may seem, whether you believe it or not. To find out you were actually Harry James Bloody Potter was something of a shock but… it didn't matter! You were my Brian Wardsmith, the most beautiful and special man in the whole, wide, wizarding, world and I loved you. I still love you with all my heart and soul, both of them actually, and I just hope you can still love me," he finished with downcast head.
Brian snatched his hand free but before Nash could react, the burlier man grasped the back of his neck dragged him forward into a one-armed hug, burying his face in the crook of Nash's shoulder joint. "I don't care who you were just as long as you are my Sarasvat Narsimha Rao, perfect partner, father of our child and my special love."
Tension Nash had not realised was there melted away and he collapsed against Brian, causing the huddle of three to overbalance and land against the piled drift of pillows the house-elves had supplied them with. Brian and Nash could have stayed like that forever but a certain young lady made her displeasure at being partially squashed very vocally known and both young parents were caught up in the drama of caring for their infant tyrant once again.
Ron and Hermione were delighted with the newest addition to their friends' household, cooing and exclaiming over the pink bundle who simply slept through all the adulation. Their own children were less than impressed and much more interested in the spread of treats the house-elves produced for them. Uncle Brian and Uncle Nash had the best house-elves who made the best Macadamia Honey ice cream, Almond biscuits and chocolate fondue. Even better, they could make as much mess as they liked around the house and garden without being told off.
Adriana Malfoy smiled at her husband, a contented and completely happy smile as his hands slid around her still thin waist. Nash had sent an owl only a month ago with a potion that tasted like something that had died long ago and had been fermented in a pressure cooker. Draco had read the note and burst out laughing. When Adriana inquired, he dropped a kiss on her nose and grinned boyishly. "Nash says he is merely anticipation the blackmail potential I have over him and he hopes that the result will be a fitting reward to keep us completely occupied for the next one hundred years!"
She had very nearly vomited as she gagged it down but down it stayed. Then, two days later, another potion had arrived, blue and sweet, so sweet it was sickly but it too had stayed down. Finally, three days after that, a soft green potion, redolent in spice and flowers and completely palatable had come. She had drunk it all, thoroughly enjoyed it and then she and her husband had locked themselves away for three days, making love and, as Draco had so crudely put it, rutted like rabbits. The upshot was a pregnancy, established, confirmed and presided over by Hipaxion Bones-Bulstrode, a new generation of Malfoys on the horizon, much to their utter delight.
Mandy and Lila were standing together near the fountain in the back garden of Laburnum Cottage watching the crowd of mixed witches and wizards, wine glasses in their hands. Mandy was thrilled to be asked to the official Presentation ceremony for Lily but a little overwhelmed as this was a very Wizarding ceremony and she was about the only Muggle present. Lila had taken her under her wing, knowing how hard it was as she was Muggle-born herself. Her act of kindness had born fruit as the two young women made a firm friendship over the past few months.
"No, Lily was Named within twenty-four hours of her birth, she had to be or someone could have stolen her magic, which would have been disastrous. Draco Malfoy was named her Godfather, while Hermione Granger-Weasley and Luna Longbottom were named her Godmothers. Girls usually have one godfather and two godmothers, for boys it's the other way around. They sealed her to Family Rao and made her the daughter of Nash and Brian, as was proper. This is a Presentation Ceremony so that she can be shown off to the whole wizarding world as a perfect being. It's an old ceremony and usually sort of done with the Naming these days, but because of Lily's… unusual parentage… they decided to do it the old way. Usually the Head of Family does the presenting but because the Head of Family Rao is in India and Brian is his own head of Family, they asked Arthur Weasley to preside." Before she could explain further, there was a fanfare of horns and everyone hurried to the open air pavilion that occupied most of the lawn area where a raised dais had been set out, surrounded by chairs and benches.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Presentation of the newest member of the Rao Family. Will the Godparents come forward," Arthur Weasley asked, beaming down on the crowd as the procession of three adults wended their way down the aisle, Hermione bearing the white swathed bundle of lace over her arms. Behind the three godparents, Brian and Nash walked, each wearing pure white robes over traditional blue and green under robes, each embroidered with their family crests.
As the procession mounted the dais everyone clapped and cheered, Arthur taking the baby in secure, experienced hands. Three-month-old Lily gazed up at her Uncle Arthur with wide black eyes and as usual moved uncoordinatedly to grab at his greying red hair and glasses. He chuckled and turned her, letting her formal lace gown cascade over his arm as Molly had taught him many years ago. With deft fingers, he loosened the tiny frog fastenings and slid one sleeve, then the other, off plump pink arms. Lily wasn't sure about this, her small brow wrinkling despite the warming charms on the dais. March was not a month to be outside unclothed in but it was as late as they dared leave the Presentation Ceremony. Then Arthur pulled a funny face and she smiled, cooing up at him, all forgiving.
Finally, completely naked, the child was held up so that the audience could see her in all her glory, a few exclamations of surprise rang out as some of the audience noticed that she had no belly button. Cameras snapped as the official photographer recorded the presentation as Arthur moved in the required circle, intoning the child's name as he turned. There were a few more gasps and the names 'Potter', 'Prince' and 'Snape' were added to the list, the tiny girl being named heir to those families.
Being held in the air quite naked, having noise and light pressed in on her and being a young lady of decided ideas, Lily Louisa Joy Potter Prince Snape Wardsmith-Rao finally made her displeasure known. There was a wail like a young dragon awakening and a crack of apparition as Arthur was left stunned with empty hands in the air. Yelps and shrieks of terror sounded but Brian's crack of laughter caused everyone to turn and look at him. His tiny daughter was huddled up in her Daddy's arms while one small hand clutched her Papa's robes sleeve as she tried to bury her face in her Daddy's breasts.
"I don't think there is any doubt that young Miss Rao will be a force to be reckoned with when she is a witch grown," Arthur remarked wryly, as Nash rolled his eyes at Brian's indulgence. "If her parents survive, that is," he added with a wicked grin, all too reminiscent of his twin sons' usual expressions.
"Lily Louisa Joy Rao, what do you think you are doing?"
The little girl turned with an expression so haughty it could have abashed armies. "I am a Princess and as ruler of this kingdom, I am not subjected to your orders!" she said with her nose in the air then screamed and kicked as she was grabbed around the waist and tossed into the air. "Papa! You aren't supposed to tickle princesses!" she gasped over the giggles and squirming.
"Since I am the King of this kingdom, I get to make the rules and the tickling of snooty princesses is a mandatory requirement to harmonious rule," Nash told her in equally snooty tones. "Have I not ordered it so, my Queen?"
Brian glanced up at his husband and child and rolled his eyes. "Honestly you two, delusions of grandeur much," he muttered. "Everybody knows the Queen is much more powerful than the King, having the last word on everything."
"Yes, and who are we to argue?" Nash replied levitating their daughter over to her Daddy who laughed and kissed the top of her shining black ringlets. "Everybody ready?"
"Do we have to?" Lily whined as she clung to her Daddy's hip when he stood up. "Castor and Pollex Malfoy always try to gang up on me when we go to the Manor."
"Now, Honey, you know it is Selena's birthday and she would be very disappointed if you didn't come," Nash coaxed as he draped his husband's cloak over his shoulders and picked up the presents ready to apparate out to Malfoy Manor.
Lily eyed the gifts critically then sighed. "You know, Selena wanted a real dragon for her birthday, not some old stuffed toy one."
"I know but a little girl who is only just turning six can't look after a dragon properly," Brian reminded her absently as they apparated to Malfoy Manor, the wards allowing them though without incident.
Eight-year-old Lily's eyes narrowed in a way that usually made both fathers very wary but they were too busy greeting Draco and Adriane to notice. The Malfoys were completely delighted with the three children they had managed to produce with the help of Nash's potions and were always holding birthday or Christmas parties or picnics and fun days for all the children of their acquaintance. This birthday was really special as Selena had shown her first sign of magic only the day before and Draco was totally enthralled with it. Both Raos were careful not to mention that Lily had a tendency to use magic first and ask questions later. If she had been anyone else's daughter, the Ministry would always be on their doorstep for underage magic infringements on more than a daily basis. However, the wards Brian had installed around their home and grounds were impervious and kept all hints of magical activity well away from prying spells.
The tumbling, squealing crowd of children were watching as Selene Malfoy opened her presents and prettily thanked the adults for the boring ones. Those meeting her approval were greeted with squeals of delight and the group of children would jump around in a circle until the next bundle was opened. Seated on the couch, Brian grinned when the Indian silk dress robes were greeted with a very polite 'thank you, Godfathers', knowing very well how their goddaughter reacted to presents. Nash cast him a puzzled glance when their stuffed dragon was not unwrapped and didn't seem to be in with the pile of presents at all.
Before they could comment there was a scream of terror from the garden and a roar followed by a blast of fire. People were running for their lives as a Welsh Green stood on the edge of the flowerbeds bellowing a challenge to the skies, its wings extended.
"What the hell?" Draco demanded, the menfolk pulling wands as they headed outside to cope with the threat. "I've never seen a furry Welsh Green dragon before," he remarked in surprise as the creature was hit by half a dozen Reductos and fell lifeless to the ground before any further damage was done.
Even as they watched, the huge creature dwindled and shrank down to a very familiar toy which caused parental eyes to narrow.
"Lily Louisa Joy Potter Snape Prince Wardsmith Rao!"
The young lady in question quietly covered her backside with both hands.
Author's Note: And there you have it, the end of this offering. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The main problem with this fic was making male pregnancy sound logical; the reasons for the pregnancy in the first place, the actual pregnancy and the final birth.
Again I thank the BeST. Zarathustra for telling me to have a rethink and a rewrite, although at the time murder was the uppermost reaction in my mind. However, she was right and the finished story was much better than the first and second drafts. And of course Rachael, she of the purple pen of doom who keeps asking 'Huh! What were you thinking when you wrote this series of events, if thought was involved at all?' Usually nothing, actually. Without their input this really would be piss poor effort.
I have no plans for a sequel, sorry, but I must again thank everyone who reviewed, I do appreciate your input and comments, they keep the project ticking along nicely. I'm not going to mention names but I must say, its great to hear from you who review my stuff on a regular basis. Unfortunately, having just started a new job, I am at the point where I have absolutely no time in the day to even think, never mind write so the two half fic I have are not proceeding. Still, watch this space, they will during the school holidays which are December to the end of January here Down Under and you never know what idle fingers and brains will come up with. Muahahahaah!
Until we meet again, keep looking on Zarathustra's Reading Nook for interesting stuff to read.