Disclaimer: They aren't mine... I just like to put them in uncomfortable positions and watch them squirm.
A/N: Another story I am posting here for the first time. This is one of my favorites because I think it's one of the most fun stories I've written in any fandom. So don't take it too seriously and I think you'll enjoy it too!
The final battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters had been somewhat anti-climactic, in Harry Potter's opinion. He'd spent the last six years fearing the maniac, fighting for his life over and over, learning everything Dumbledore and Snape were willing to teach him about dueling for the last year, and once again, it had been Harry's dumb luck that had saved the day. It rather reminded Harry of that Muggle novel "It" where the author had spent hundreds of pages scaring the shit out of him, creating the ultimate evil, only to find out that it was just a great big spider. Huh. Stephen King had obviously not fought an army of acromantulas when he was twelve…or a basilisk for that matter.
Well, however it had happened, it was now over. Not that Snape would ever let Harry hear the end of it. Harry groaned just thinking about it. All those months training and it had been luck and klutziness that had killed Voldemort. Sure Harry had been holding the sword at the time so technically he had killed the snake faced bastard, but… Well Voldemort really shouldn't have attacked him in Snape's potions lab at Grimmauld Place. He really should have been paying attention to the stool Harry had knocked over when he'd been surprised by Voldemort's entrance, after all, that was how he'd fallen onto the sword. And he REALLY should have tried not to fall into the cauldron of acid Harry had been using to clean the Sword of Gryffindor while he was staggering around from the sword wound.
According to the Daily Prophet and most of the wizarding world, Harry was once again the hero. Harry had gotten used to their fickle devotion; he could have lived with that. In fact, he almost expected them to call him the next Dark Lord any day now… But no, Snape just had to have witnessed the entire debacle. Sure, Snape had spent many hours teaching the young Gryffindor everything he knew about fighting, both magical and muggle, but that didn't mean he and Harry were friends. And it certainly didn't mean that the Slytherin wouldn't use this information to torment Harry every chance he got. And with one year left of school, Harry was sure that Snape intended to use that information to his benefit and Harry's utter humiliation.
Harry groaned again and buried his head in the pillow of his bed. His life was just one long series of nightmares, one right after the other.
All of that had occurred over the Easter holidays of Harry's sixth year, and the last days of the term had been filled with mocking sneers and knowing glances. There had also been other glances, when the Potions Master wasn't aware that Harry was looking; glances that Harry simply could not decipher if his life depended upon it. If he didn't know that the man hated him so much, Harry would swear that they were…longing? But that simply couldn't be right. No, Snape hated him as much now as ever. If not more.
Grimmauld Place had been demolished in that battle, though thankfully few members of the Order were injured, and was completely uninhabitable. Remus, as Harry's financial advisor and guardian as appointed by Sirius' will, was overseeing the rebuilding of the structure. Harry rather thought that Sirius would be pleased that the old manor had been razed. Harry was kind of happy about it himself. Yes, it was costing him a small fortune to reconstruct the place, but he could afford it. He was the heir to both the Potter and Black fortunes.
It had come as a complete surprise to the young wizard when he'd learned just how wealthy he truly was. He'd always assumed that the small vault that Hagrid had shown him when he was eleven was his only source of income. After the reading of Sirius' will, however, Remus had felt it necessary to review Harry's holdings with him. It turns out that the Potters had been quite well off, and the Blacks were filthy rich. Harry was now the wealthiest wizard in Britain, a fact that made Malfoy green with envy and a fact that Harry used to taunt the Slytherin every chance he got.
But with Grimmauld Place out of commission, Harry's plans to spend the summer with Remus were thrown out the window. Remus insisted that there was no way they could occupy the residence during construction, and his own small flat wasn't safe enough for the hero of the wizarding world. Harry was afraid that Remus just didn't want him around now that Voldemort was gone.
Harry sighed heavily and looked around his small room at the Dursleys'. Harry would have much rather slept on Remus' ratty old couch than spend another summer cooped up in this house, but there really wasn't anywhere else he could go. With some Death Eaters still on the loose and out for his blood, everyone insisted that Harry go back where his mother's blood wards would protect him.
Harry had argued all the way to the train in Hogsmeade, and then argued some more at Kings Cross, but it had been of no use. So here he was, locked in his room once again, with no friends and nothing to do but study.
Of course, things were a little different this year. When Dumbledore and Snape decided he needed to be trained after the incident at the Ministry at the end of his fifth year, he had gotten special dispensation for Harry to use magic outside of school. Despite the fact that he would not be seventeen for another week, Harry had been able to use magic since half way through last summer. A fact that the Dursleys HATED.
This thought brought a particularly wicked smile to the boy's face that would have made his Potions Master proud. Dudley was afraid to go anywhere near Harry these days, ever since Harry had used Mobilicorpus on him without any dire warnings from the Ministry, and Uncle Vernon pretended that Harry did not exist, though Harry really didn't expect that to last. Uncle Vernon's temper could only be held in check for so long. Only Aunt Petunia ever spoke to him, and that was usually to tell him when meals were ready. He wasn't invited to eat with his relatives, they always had a tray for him to take to his room, but at least they fed him now and they didn't expect him to do all of their dirty work.
Of course that hadn't stopped Harry from cleaning. He was rather obsessed with cleaning his little room. Every crevice and corner had been scrubbed at least a dozen times. And the bathroom! Harry snuck into the bathroom every night and cleaned it after the Dursleys went to sleep. He was a bit worried about this compulsive behavior. He'd seen a program on telly once about obsessive compulsive disorders. Maybe he had that? Then again, maybe he was just bored to tears.
For the first time, Harry had all of his summer assignments completed in the first week of holiday. He'd put forth his best effort to make sure that every essay was as perfect as he could get it and even rewrote them all to make sure they were tidy. And now he was bored out of his mind. Even teasing Dudley had worn thin rather quickly.
Harry had taken to shopping by owl-order catalogues, as well as muggle catalogues, to keep himself entertained. It was also quite nice to finally be able to buy new clothes. Harry figured that Malfoy would bust a gut when he saw Harry in something besides Dudley's old hand-me-downs. The snobby ferret.
Harry wondered briefly how other people would react to his new wardrobe. Ron would be jealous, but would try not to let it show. Hermione would gush over him, telling him how all the girls would be swooning over him. As if he cared what the girls thought of him! Snape would… Harry really didn't know how Snape would react. In fact, he didn't really know why it mattered to him how the greasy git thought of him. But it did matter. It mattered very much.
Suddenly Harry burst into tears. Snape hated him and that seemed reason enough to cry in that instant. Harry didn't really understand WHY he was crying. It wasn't as if Snape hating him was a new thing. It wasn't like he liked the git himself. Well, okay, so they had come to a grudging respect for each other while they were training, but the animosity was still there on both sides. Right?
As quickly as the tears began, they faded when Harry saw Hedwig fly through the window bearing his latest parcel. This one was from Madam Malkin's. Harry's skin had become rather sensitive recently, especially around his chest and nipples, so he had ordered silk and cotton blend t-shirts and boxer-briefs from the robe shop. He figured they would feel better against his skin. Harry smiled and hummed to himself as he tore into the package and looked at the items one by one. It was like Christmas every time Hedwig brought another parcel. He'd need to order a fourth expandable trunk if he kept buying things like he had been.
Harry was particularly picky about the fabrics of the new clothes he purchased. He'd sent back an entire set of robes because the wool was too itchy. Since then, he'd stuck mainly to silks, linens, and velvet. They were more expensive, but they looked better and, more importantly, felt better on Harry's skin. If he did buy wool, he made sure that it had a silk lining to protect his skin.
Harry frowned at that thought. He thought that it was somewhat peculiar that he should suddenly become so sensitive about the fabrics touching his skin. Of course his life seemed to be one peculiarity after the next, but there were other things, too. He had to pee pretty frequently. Since he never went anywhere, it hadn't been too much of a problem, but if he kept going to the loo at this rate, he'd never make it through double Potions once term started.
And then there was his sudden appetite. He'd never been a big eater, not surprising considering how he was raised, but now… Harry ate every scrap of food the Dursleys fed him, and still called Dobby, who Harry had hired away from Hogwarts at the end of term, to bring him snacks at least four times a day. It was no wonder he was gaining so much weight. He'd already had to send some of his trousers back to be let out by the seamstress at Madam Malkin's. It made no sense to Harry whatsoever. This burst in appetite had followed rapidly on the heels of several weeks of nausea that Harry had attributed to nerves and stress. But now he wasn't so sure. Maybe there was something wrong with him?
Harry could feel the urge to cry welling up again and decided to deliberately distract himself by going through his purchases. Since the beginning of the summer, Harry had been shopping for Grimmauld Place, finding items to replace the furnishings that had been destroyed in the battle. As the wizarding items came already shrunk, just waiting to be put in place before unshrinking them, Harry had decided that he would simply shrink the muggle items as well. Now he had an entire collection of furnishings and household items that were ready to be put in place once the construction was complete. More than anything, Harry wanted a home to call his own.
Remus had the construction wizard create an extra model of the plans for Grimmauld Place, so Harry sometimes spent long afternoons moving the furniture around in the model, finding just the right place for this chair or that credenza. It was the most fun Harry had had besides shopping that summer. He sometimes just sat there and imagined what it would be like to live in the house once the construction was complete.
Harry was also able to pick out color schemes and linens for each bedroom. His room would be decorated in light browns and creams, with jewel toned accents of green, blue and red. Remus had insisted that Harry take the master suite, even though Harry kept telling him it was entirely too large for one person. But in the end, Remus had been right. It was his house, and he should have the master suite. That meant that he also had a sitting room, a huge bathroom en suite and a walk in closet that would even hold all of the clothes Harry had bought that summer.
Remus was going to be moving in as well, so Harry had insisted that he have his own apartment. It took up part of the third floor and the entire attic, but Harry liked that he could have Remus so close, but still give the older man the independence he deserved. The foreman had easily added a second entrance to Remus' apartment from the outside, so he didn't even have to go through the rest of the house if he didn't want. Harry thought Remus' flat was rather cozy, with a sitting room, study and kitchen on the third floor and two bedrooms and a bath in the attic.
Back in the main portion of the house, Harry's suite was on the same floor as three other bedrooms and one bath, and then on the third floor were two more bedrooms, another bath and the entrance to Remus' flat. On the ground floor, the foreman had opened up most of the rooms so that they flowed one into the other, instead of being so closed off and stuffy like they had been, with wide archways leading from one room to the next. The exception to that was the library, which was still as massive as ever. Harry hadn't really seen the point, since he wasn't the bookworm that Hermione was, but Remus had pointed out that many of the valuable books from the library had been saved, and it wouldn't be sensible to just get rid of them, so he would need some place to put them.
Harry often got the feeling that Remus was planning this house not just for Harry, but for future generations. Harry sniffled a little at that thought. He'd never have future generations. Gay men didn't have families. Once again, the tears that were never very far off threatened.
Harry pushed any thoughts of children away and began placing each item into the model where he wanted it to go. He had pretty much finished the kitchen and the potions lab in the lower level. He'd even added new furnishings for the house elf quarters down there. He refused to allow Dobby to live in a cupboard, even if it was traditional. No one deserved to live in a cupboard. So several servants' quarters had been added to that level.
Harry had also finished the dining room and sitting room, but still had some ways to go with the library. The shelving would all be built in, but this time, the dark woods would be replaced by light ash and one entire wall was going to be windows to let the light into a room that had the potential to be very dreary. Keeping along those lines, Harry wanted furnishings that would be tasteful and elegant without being heavy. He started flipping through the many catalogues that were strewn about his room looking for just the right pieces to furnish this room. It was a task that would take some time and keep him from having to think too much…about anything.
Happy Birthday, mate! So sorry that you are still stuck with the awful muggles. I heard from Remus that the construction is going well, so maybe you will be able to get out of there before the end of summer. Keep hanging in there!
Hermione sends her love. We went in together for your gift this year. It's a good thing too, since I had no idea what to get my best friend, the billionaire! We both think you'll like this, though.
I haven't heard from you in a couple of weeks, so I expect a response from you, just so I don't spend all day worrying about you. I know you can do magic and all, but that uncle of yours still makes me nervous. He seems the type that could just snap one day and go completely nutters. Hermione says if you don't write, she's going to make you do all your own homework this year and won't look over anything. I think she forgets that it's me who needs the help! Better yet, use your gift to contact us!
See you soon (I hope!)
Harry laughed out loud at his friend's not so subtle guilt trip. He hadn't written in a while, not because he didn't want to, but he really didn't have anything to say. He didn't go anywhere and he spent all day shopping, cleaning, or studying from his seventh year text books that he'd owl ordered from Flourish and Blotts. He supposed he could tell him about the strange stuff going on, but he really didn't want to worry them.
Harry shook off those negative thoughts and unwrapped his gifts. He started with Hagrid's present, which turned out to be a hand carved dragon. Harry smiled as he remembered Norbert from his first year and proudly set the figure on his dresser. Next was a box of fudge and a scarf from Mrs. Weasley. Remus sent Gringotts paperwork for him to sign now that he was of age, along with a book on Animagi. (Harry had been working on transforming since the last battle, but was blocked for some reason.) Dumbledore sent a box of sugar quills. And Snape had sent an athame, a ritual dagger, encrusted with several jewels and a note telling him not to be an idiot and be careful with the thing.
Harry simply stared at the dagger for a long time trying to figure out why the Potions Master had sent it. The man had never given him a gift before, so why now? And what the hell did it mean?
Shaking those thoughts off, Harry turned to his last gift. Ron had said he could use their gift to contact them, and Harry's curiosity was piqued. He tore into the wrapping like a kid and opened the box carefully. Inside was small silver hand mirror. It was similar to the one Sirius had given him for Christmas before he died. Inside the box was another note.
Just tap your wand to the surface and it will connect to ours. Ron and I each have one, so we can all keep in touch. Thought they might keep you from being too lonely this summer. Ron says we can use them at school too, but I think he means for mischief, so I told him off.
Anyway, we're awaiting your call!
Harry grinned and tapped his wand to the face of the mirror. Right away his reflection blurred and he watched as the glass seemed to split and two images came into focus. Hermione was on one side and Harry could recognize the posters from Ron's room at the Burrow in the other.
"Oi, Ron! Harry's on!" Hermione shouted. Quickly there was a shift as Ron picked up his mirror and his face came into focus.
"Hey mate! Like the gift?"
"It's brilliant!" Harry grinned. "I've been bored off my ass since I got here."
"You could have written to us," Hermione reprimanded gently.
"I know, but nothing has been going on to write about," Harry reasoned. "Actually, they're afraid of me now that I can do magic and completely ignore me most of the time," Harry shrugged. "Aunt Petunia keeps giving me odd looks when I get deliveries from the muggle catalogues, but other than that, things are okay. I'm not sure how much longer Uncle Vernon will be able to hold it all in, though."
"You seem a bit down," Hermione said.
"I guess," Harry said. "I've been feeling a bit off lately. Tired a lot and pretty emotional. I think I might be a little depressed."
"It's a muggle psychological term, Ron," Hermione explained. "It means he's dejected, and there may even be physical side effects."
"I've never heard of a wizard being pressed before," Ron said.
"De-pressed," Harry and Hermione corrected together. Hermione turned back to Harry. "Have you experienced any other symptoms? It could be a curse of some sort."
"Um, well, I've been eating a lot lately," Harry admitted. "I've gained at least two stone in the last few months. And my skin is really sensitive. Like I said, I'm tired all the time. Oh and I have to pee a lot."
"How often is a lot?" Hermione asked, her brain cataloguing the symptoms and trying to come up with a reasonable explanation.
"Um, every hour or so, I guess," Harry said nervously. He hadn't wanted to think that there might actually be something wrong with him, but now that he was listing all the symptoms for his friends, it seemed like there very well could be something wrong with him. "Do you think it's depression, Hermione?"
Hermione was quiet for a moment, but then shook her head. "No, I've never heard of someone with depression having problems with having to go to the bathroom a lot or sensitive skin. In fact, other than the tiredness and being emotional, none of the symptoms fit. Most depressed people lose their appetites, and some even have trouble sleeping, despite their listlessness. I think this is something else."
Meanwhile Ron had been very quiet as Harry and Hermione talked, but he had started to pale and this finally caught Hermione's attention.
"Ron? What is it?"
"Um Harry…" Ron tried to say, but his voice got all squeaky and he had to stop and clear his throat before continuing. "Um, have you…um…"
"Just spit it out, Ron!" Hermione huffed. "This is our friend's health we're dealing with!"
"Right," Ron sighed and took a deep breath. "Harry, have you had sex with a bloke?"
"WHAT?" Hermione screeched. She started in immediately lecturing Ron about asking impertinent and personal questions that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the topic at hand, but Harry was simply stunned. He'd gone as pale as Ron.
"Shut it, Hermione!" Ron finally yelled. "I asked for a reason!"
Hermione huffed again, but then noticed Harry's ashen face. "Harry?"
"Um, well…" Harry stammered. "I- I'm not sure."
"What?" Hermione cried again. "How can you not be sure about something like that?"
"It's complicated!" Harry groaned. "It was after the Valentine's ball. You remember, we'd all had too much of that spiked punch? Well, I woke up the next morning and I couldn't remember much of what went on, but I think I might have, 'cause I was pretty sore. But I don't really remember much else. I'd had a lot to drink, and my head hurt. I panicked when I woke up alone in a strange bed. So I freaked and ran. I figured out we were in the Room of Requirement, so there's no clue there. I don't remember what happened. But I guess there is a possibility that I had sex that night."
"Harry, are you gay?" Hermione asked. Harry just looked at her and rolled his eyes. He noticed Ron did the same thing.
"Of course he's gay!" Ron replied. "How could you have missed something like that Hermione?"
"Well, he never said!"
"He didn't have to," Ron smirked, enjoying having figured something out before Hermione. "He never dates girls, doesn't even look at them. And if you paid attention at all, you would have noticed that he spends entirely too much time watching certain boys."
"Like who?" Hermione was intrigued now.
"Um, I guess I used to have a crush on Cedric," Harry admitted. "And Oliver. And Malfoy is pretty hot, even if he's a complete and utter little prick. Then there was the Ravenclaw prefect last year, Stephen; he kissed me. But I've never actually dated anyone."
"But what about Cho?" Hermione asked.
"Well, she sort of took me off guard. And really, I wasn't sure about the whole gay thing until her," Harry sighed. "Kissing her felt totally wrong. She was too…soft, I guess. Kissing Stephen was much better."
"Okay," Hermione nodded slowly. "So what does any of this have to do with Harry being sick, Ron?"
Now Ron blushed and looked extremely uncomfortable. "Um well, see the thing is, the symptoms fit, and you both were raised in the muggle world, so you wouldn't know this, especially since it's so rare, but it's possible—just possible, mind you—" Ron paused for just a moment before continuing on in a rush of words, "that Harry could be pregnant."
That was the final straw for Harry. His eyes rolled to the back of his head and the world went dark.
"Harry? Harry! Please wake up!" a hysterical voice broke through the fog clouding Harry's brain. "Come on, Harry, wake up! Ron, should we send for help?"
Harry blinked his eyes and found himself looking up at the ceiling of his room on Privet Drive. Had he passed out?
"Don't Hermione," Harry said groggily. "I'm here. I'm awake, I think."
Harry struggled to sit up and picked the mirror back up.
"You were joking just then, weren't you Ron?" Harry asked hopefully as he eyed his friends' worried faces.
"I'm really sorry, Harry," Ron sighed. He wasn't joking. Oh.
"Bloody hell," Harry muttered.
"It's going to be okay, Harry," Hermione said, trying to reassure her friend, but at that moment her optimism was grating.
"And just how the hell is it supposed to be okay?" Harry demanded angrily. He stood up and began pacing the length of his room. "Tell me Hermione! I may be pregnant at seventeen fucking years old! I have never had a real family, and I have no clue how to be a parent! I have no clue who the other father may be! He could be a psychotic lunatic given my luck. And considering the fact that he took advantage of me while I was drunk does not say much for his character! Once this all comes out, he'll probably sell the story to the highest bidder! Not to mention that any child of mine will necessarily be in danger just because of who I am! I have a year left of school and no way to deal with any of this! It's really rare, Ron says, so of course it has to happen to Harry Bloody Potter. Just more of my dumb luck, innit? So tell me…How is this going to be okay?"
By the time Harry's rant was finished he was almost begging for Hermione to have an answer for him, but the silence that followed made it very clear that there was no easy answer.
"We need to not panic," Hermione eventually said. "Right now, this is only speculation. Until we know for sure, we need to stay calm. Harry, just think about one thing at a time. For now, we just think about how we are going to find out for sure."
"Mum's got a bunch of books on pregnancy in her sewing room," Ron said timidly. "I used to sneak in there to read them. They have some pretty graphic pictures."
Harry snorted, finally finding something to laugh over, even if it was only half-hearted. "Were you that hard up for wanking material that you had to look at pics of pregnant ladies?"
"They showed how the babies were made too," Ron said indignantly.
"Just go check and see if they have a spell to test for pregnancy, Ron!" Hermione huffed. Ron gave Harry one last wink then rushed off. "Now, Harry, we need to consider what is going to happen if this comes out positive. Don't panic on me again, okay?"
Harry took a deep calming breath and nodded slowly. "I don't want anyone to know right now. At least not until I know what the hell I'm doing. And until I figure out who the daddy may be."
"You know, if you got pregnant on Valentines Day, you are already five months gone," Hermione pointed out. "You already said you've been gaining weight. It won't be long before it becomes pretty obvious."
"Well, I'll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it," Harry said. "Right now, I have another three weeks before I leave Privet Drive and need to figure out what to do, and I plan on using every second of that time."
"Alright, so we won't say anything," Hermione agreed. "And we will focus for the time being on finding out who the mystery man was."
Just then Ron came back into view, breathing heavy and grinning. "I got it! The book says to use Probatur Natu with a clockwise circular wand motion over the abdomen."
Harry nodded and repeated the incantation several times before he pulled out his wand and waved it over his abdomen. There was a swirl of green light trailing behind his wand for several seconds. Then, slowly, the swirl changed color from green to blue to purple. The light faded and Harry looked up at Ron in his mirror, who was busy moving his lips as he tried to scan the book for the results.
"Okay, the first light indicates if you are pregnant, the second indicates the general health of the baby, and the third indicates sex," Ron said as he continued to look at the book.
"So green means?" Harry asked impatiently.
"Um, it means you are," Ron said, looking up apologetically.
"What about the blue?" Hermione asked, not letting either boy dwell to long on what they couldn't change.
"The health light is more of a scale. The closer to navy you get, the healthier your baby is."
"Yours was pretty blue," Hermione said. "What's the other end of the spectrum?"
"Orange," Ron said. "Yeah, I don't think there's anything to worry about health wise."
"And the sex?" Harry asked quietly. He was almost afraid of the answer. If this baby had a gender, it would be all too real.
"Um, okay," Ron said and started flipping pages again. "Oh, wait, here it is. Oh, Harry!"
"What? What is it?" Harry demanded. Hermione looked equally panicked after that outburst.
"Oh, well, blue is for a boy and pink is for a girl," Ron explained.
"But mine was purple," Harry said. "Just tell me what that means!"
Hermione got a strange and knowing look on her face. "Purple. A mixture of pink and blue. Does that mean…?"
Ron nodded, "Yup. Twins. One boy and one girl. That's the only way a purple light will show up."
For the second time that day, Harry passed out cold.
Hermione finally got Harry to wake up and the three friends spent the rest of the afternoon discussing ways they could find out who the other father of the babies was. Harry really couldn't remember much about that night, so they really were working blind. They finally came up with a list of twelve boys who were known to be gay or at least bisexual, who had shown some sort of interest in Harry, even if it was only a wink, and who would not have reason to spread the tale around the school. After all, it was now over five months later and no one else knew about that night.
"Do you think we should include professors or members of the band to the list?" Hermione asked.
"No," Harry said. "The only teacher with even the potential to be a candidate would be Snape and he hates me. And he would only be a candidate because we know absolutely nothing of the man's sexuality. For all we know, he could have a wife stashed away somewhere." For some reason, that thought made Harry's stomach churn in protest so he went on quickly, pushing the feeling and its implications aside. "Besides, isn't there a rule or something about teachers and students? And the band was made up of witches. Remember?"
"Oh yeah," Hermione frowned. "Okay, then this is our list. I'll start doing a bit of research. Contact friends of friends and see if there is any gossip about any of them that might indicate one way or another if they could be the father. Ron, you should continue to check through those books of your mum's to see if there is a spell to indicate paternity. And Harry…"
"I'm going to order a few books on wizard pregnancies and on retrieving lost memories," Harry said with a sigh. "Hermione, do you know any side effects of pregnancy that might resemble OCD?"
"OCD?" Ron asked.
"Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," Hermione explained. "Another muggle psychological term. It means that a person feels compelled to act in certain repetitive ways. What are you experiencing, Harry?"
"Oh, I was just thinking about this shopping thing I seemed to have developed," Harry shrugged. "That and a deep need to clean my room and the bathroom all the time. And I mean, REALLY clean."
Hermione giggled. "That's not OCD. That's nesting!"
"Yeah, an expectant mother, or father in your case, will work to provide a safe, clean and comfortable environment for their child. It's all subconscious." Hermione grinned. "And it's nothing to worry about. If you feel like cleaning, clean. And since you can afford to shop, go ahead if it makes you feel better."
Harry blushed as he realized that he was susceptible to behavior typically associated with a pregnant woman, but nodded anyway. "I'll talk to you guys tomorrow."
"If you need anything at all, mate," Ron told him.
Soon, they had all signed off and Harry fell back against his headboard and sighed. Pregnant. He was pregnant. In just a few months he would have two very real and very needy babies on his hands. How the hell could he possibly cope with all that and finish school too?
Two weeks later, Harry groaned as he tried for the third time to do up his new trousers. He'd already let them out magically four times, but his belly was getting just too large, and the fabric would not take another alteration. There was nothing for it; he'd have to resort to wearing Dudley's old jeans and t-shirt. He had hoped never to have to don those old rags again in this lifetime, but he was stuck. He would send for some new maternity robes and such, but until they came, he'd have to make due.
Harry stroked the stretched skin over his rounded belly. He was amazed at how quickly his body was changing. The books he'd ordered had said that the wizard's body reacted slightly differently to pregnancy than a witch's. For one thing, a witch naturally had more fat on her body, and began to show gradually. A male seemed to grow a belly overnight. This was especially true in the rare case of twins. Harry looked at his round belly again and decided the books had been spot on. He'd gone from a slightly rounded tummy that could easily be mistaken for weight gain, to an unmistakable belly full of babies. The rest of his body still looked the same…sort of…if you discounted the swollen ankles and the way his nipples had become a bit darker and fuller.
None of the Dursleys had noticed the changes yet, but that probably had more to do with the fact that Harry rarely came out of his rooms. Dobby still brought him food, and he'd told Aunt Petunia that he was unwell, so she had taken to sending his tray through the cat flap in his door. He began modifying his diet to fit the recommendations in the books: more calcium, as the babies would need a lot, less caffeine, lots of iron rich foods. He also developed certain cravings that amazed him. He'd never once in his life imagined that one day he would not only eat mint ice cream with hot sauce, but truly enjoy it.
Harry gave a deep sigh. Aunt Petunia had refused to bring up his tray anymore, so he would have to go down and collect it himself; it wasn't fair to ask Dobby to feed him all the time on top of the work the elf was doing at Grimmauld Place already. He pulled on his clothes and ran a quick brush through his hair before shrugging at his reflection and heading down to get his breakfast. At least he wouldn't be here for much longer.
"Boy, what's wrong with you?" Vernon spat out as Harry entered the kitchen to collect his tray.
"Nothing is wrong with me," Harry said tensely. He really didn't want to get into it with his uncle now when the end was so close.
"Don't give me that, boy!" Vernon said. "You're fat! Have we been feeding you too much?"
"I'm not fat!" Harry yelled, his hormones taking over for his brain. "I'm pregnant you great oaf! And you're one to talk about eating too much you great lump!"
There was silence in the kitchen for a long minute before Dudley began to giggle nervously and Aunt Petunia began to hyperventilate. Uncle Vernon just looked like he'd swallowed a rotten tomato.
"Is this more of your freakishness?" Vernon yelled, standing threateningly from the table. "I won't have it in my house!"
"Bite me Dursley!" Harry growled. "And you have no choice in the matter! I'll be here for another week, until my house is finished, then you won't ever have to see me or my freakishness again!"
"House?" Aunt Petunia finally spoke up.
"Yes, a house!" Harry fumed, happy to finally be able to rub their noses in his wealth. "Didn't they tell you? I'm the richest wizard in Britain! Between what my parents left me and what my godfather left, I'll never have to work a day in my life! And you can't touch a single cent of it! Bet you wish you were nicer to me now!"
Harry stormed out of the room, but not before he noticed the looks of shock and horror on his relatives' faces. It would serve them right to stew on the knowledge for the rest of their miserable lives. They had denied him even the most basic need for respect and affection. He didn't care about the money or material things (his recent shopping obsession not withstanding!); it was the simple things that hurt him the most. It was the hugs he never received, the hurtful names and lies, and the fact that he had been practically starved while Dudley was stuffed with food like a prize pig.
Harry sat down on his bed and gave a hiccupping sob. It really wasn't fair. Of course Snape would tell him to get used to it. Life wasn't fair. Harry gave a short wet laugh as he used his shirt sleeve to wipe his tears away. He was the boy who had everything but the one thing he wanted most. Sure he had friends who cared about him, but Harry had never had a family of his own. He'd never had somebody love him just because he was Harry. Now he had two babies on the way and he had no idea if he even really knew what love was, let alone whether or not he could give his children enough love to make up for the fact that he was only seventeen and a single parent.
Harry felt the tears start to overwhelm him once again. Perhaps it was simply easier to just give in and cry.
"Harry? Are you there?" Hermione's voice called out from the mirror. Harry was sitting on an overstuffed chair by his window and reading one of the books on male pregnancy that he had ordered several hours later when Hermione called. He'd long since gotten past his bout of doubt and self-pity, and had moved on to determination that his children would not suffer the same childhood he had.
"Hey, Hermione!" Harry smiled as he picked up the mirror. "What's going on?"
She gave him a small grin. "Just checking up on you and the little ones."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You do realize that I'm a fully grown wizard and can take care of myself, right?"
"Yes, but you are living in a hostile environment with those muggles, and you have to be able to take care of those babies now, too!" Hermione replied. "Not to mention how bad stress is for you right now. Now, tell me, how are they treating you?"
Not wanting to let himself get worked up again, Harry shrugged the question off. "The same as always. They ignore me and I ignore them. Uncle Vernon did ask me why I was so fat this morning."
Hermione snorted. "Like he has any room to talk!"
"That's what I told him," Harry grinned. "So how's life treating you? When do you head for the Burrow?"
"Tomorrow," Hermione smiled. "Ron's been owling me with plans for my visit. If we do everything on his agenda, we won't ever make it back to school."
"He's rather excited," Harry chuckled. "Do you think he'll finally get up the guts?"
Hermione sighed. "I'm not going to hold my breath. I know he likes me. He knows I like him. It should be really simple, right?"
"Nothing is simple when it comes to relationships," Harry said thinking of his current situation.
"Yes, well, I certainly hope it doesn't take something as drastic as me getting pregnant to make the boy wake up and do something!" Hermione joked.
"Maybe you should just give up and make the first move," Harry suggested, not for the first time. "Subtle signals are completely lost on Ron. Just go up and grab him by the face and snog him silly. Don't give him time to psych himself out."
"Maybe," Hermione said. "I'll think about it. Back to more important matters. Have you found anything in those books about retrieving memories?"
It was Harry's turn to sigh. "I have, but it's not as simple as just casting a spell. I need a Legilimens to perform the spell. And I have to give him access to the memory in order for him to unblock it. Even with that, there is no guarantee that it will work."
"How much do you have to open up?" Hermione asked, already twisting ideas around in her mind.
"Only the one that is blocked, providing that I'm a skilled enough Occlumens."
"Which you are," Hermione said. "So we could ask Professor Snape to perform the spell without him finding out about the twins?"
"In theory," Harry admitted. "But I really don't think it's such a good idea to give him access to that particular memory. I mean, think what kind of torture he could come up with from that!"
"I thought you two had come to a truce."
"We did for a while," Harry shrugged. "By the end of the year, though, he was as bad as ever, if not worse. I don't even know what I did to piss him off. Now that the war is over, there really is no reason for him not to hate me."
Hermione watched as Harry fought back tears and gave him a sympathetic face before pressing onward. "But he may be your only chance at finding out who the father is before the babies are born. Ron has only come up with spells that will work after the fact."
"I'll think about it," Harry said before signing off.
Just then, someone banged on Harry's door, making the entire wall shake. Harry groaned as he pushed himself out of his chair to answer it. He had enough to worry about without having to deal with the Dursleys too.
"You will compensate us for keeping you here," Vernon demanded before Harry even had the door completely open.
"I think not," Harry sneered in a good imitation of his Potions Professor.
"We have fed and sheltered you for sixteen years," Vernon raged, pushing his way into the room. Without using magic there was nothing Harry could do to stop him. Harry held few beliefs higher than that of not using magic on a muggle unless his life was threatened in some way. That was too close to what the Death Eaters would do. "We have put up with your abnormality. We have provided you with a home-."
"A home?" Harry scoffed. "You locked me in a cupboard until I was eleven. You abused and starved me. You treated me like your own personal slave. You are lucky I haven't called the authorities on you for child abuse and neglect! You will not receive a pound from me!"
"We'll sue!" Vernon threatened.
"And you will lose." Harry said. "I can afford an entire army of lawyers. Your treatment of your poor orphaned nephew will be splashed all over the papers for the neighbors to see. You will be shown for the money grubbing bully that you are. Is that what you really want? And make no mistake, I would counter sue for abuse and neglect and I would win. I would take you for every penny that you own."
Vernon looked like he was about to explode as Harry's warning set in. "Get out of my house!" He raised one fist, but Harry was faster, his seeker's reflexes serving him well, despite his bulk. He had his wand drawn and in Vernon's face before the man could blink. They both stood there, frozen in place for a long time.
"I'm not leaving until my house is ready," Harry finally said. "Until then, I will stay out of your way, and you will stay out of mine. I have no choice but to remain here where I and my children are safe until then. After that, you will never see me again. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes," Vernon bit out. He took one last look around Harry's room, noticing for the first time the changes Harry had made over the summer. He sneered in contempt and left.
Harry sighed with relief and sat down on his bed. It was much more comfortable than the beat up old mattress the Dursleys had given him. In fact, Harry had changed almost everything in the room. He'd thought of taking the furnishings with him when he left, but had decided against it. He wanted no reminders of this place or these people after he was gone.
The day finally came when Harry was to leave Privet Drive for good. He had spent the rest of the week in his room, not leaving except to make his frequent trips to the loo. All of his things were packed, and Harry was just waiting for Remus to come and pick him up.
Harry looked in the mirror one last time, making sure that the glamour he had found was working properly. His distended belly now appeared as flat as it always had. His only worry was that Remus would be able to somehow sense the change in him. He was a werewolf, after all. But Harry was pretty sure he would be safe as long as he wasn't around Remus near the full moon. As the night before had been the new moon, he felt fairly safe for the short time he would be at Grimmauld Place with his surrogate godfather.
Harry had made Ron and Hermione promise to keep the news of his pregnancy to themselves until Harry was ready to tell. It hadn't been easy to convince them, but he'd won out in the end. His excuse was that the babies would be in danger if the wrong people found out, but the truth was Harry just wasn't ready to tell anyone yet. Even after three weeks, Harry was still trying to come to terms with it all.
Harry had begun to feel the babies moving around inside several weeks before, but had only recently realized what the odd feeling was. At first he'd thought it was gas, but when they kicked his bladder for the first time, resulting in a hasty trip to the loo, Harry'd had to admit that there truly were two very small lives growing inside of him. It was a frightening thought.
There was an Order meeting scheduled for the following evening, and Harry had finally given in to Hermione's urgings to ask Snape for help. He had written a short note requesting to meet with Snape about a rather personal matter. Snape had agreed to speak with Harry following the meeting. Harry only hoped that he could get the man to agree to help without giving everything away.
Just then the front doorbell rang and Harry smiled. Remus was here. He quickly shrank his remaining trunk (the others had been sent ahead with Dobby), and gave one last look around the room. No, he wouldn't miss this place at all.
Harry looked around the sitting room at Grimmauld Place with a soft smile. The portkey had dropped them there and Harry had to admit it looked even better than he had imagined it. In fact, as Remus showed him around the house, everything looked better than Harry could have hoped. The coldness had been replaced with bright and cheerful colors. There were multitudes of windows, allowing the summer sun to brighten the place even more. He could be happy in this house, Harry decided. It was nothing like it had been while Sirius was alive. This was not a house full of dark magic. This was a home.
"You've done a great job," Harry told Remus once they finally made it to the kitchen for a small snack. "If I didn't know better, I would never believe it was the same house."
"I'm glad it turned out the way you wanted," Remus smiled. "Dobby and I put the furniture where you indicated as best we could. There's still work to be done on my flat, but the silencing wards will keep the disruption to a minimum, and the workers can use the outside entrance, so you never have to see them. I'm staying in the green bedroom for the time. I moved all of my things out of my old flat yesterday. I didn't want you to be here alone."
"I appreciate that," Harry said. He knew that nothing was likely to happen to him here, but he still felt better knowing that Remus would be around. "Have you talked to the headmaster yet?"
Remus nodded slowly. "He'll be here tomorrow. He's scheduled the meeting for seven tomorrow evening. I thought you'd like a chance to get settled in here before being invaded by Order members. Dobby has already unpacked the things you sent ahead, but you'll want to make sure everything is where you want it. I've also arranged for interviews with several other house elves."
Harry gave Remus a questioning glance as he swallowed a bite of his sandwich. "Why?"
Remus took a deep breath. "I know how you feel about the subject, and I know that Hermione will likely have kittens when she finds out, but you are going to need the help. This house is much too large for a single elf. And Dobby says that he knows of several elves that are currently seeking a family to serve. Most of them have come from rather difficult situations."
"But Dobby has done well so far," Harry argued.
"With no one actually living here," Remus countered. "It is unfair to ask one elf to try and cope with everything. Besides, you would be helping the elves as much as they would be helping you. Just meet with them. See what you think, then make your decision."
Harry thought about that. He remembered Kreacher, and despite his poor attitude, it was obvious that the house was too much for him to handle on his own. Harry finally nodded. "Okay, so how many do you think I'll need?"
Remus gave a small smile when Harry acquiesced. "Three besides Dobby. One for cooking and shopping and such. One for laundry and gardening. One for keeping the house. And then one to take care of anything else that comes up. I would suggest you use Dobby to take care of the house, and make him the head elf. The others will help each other as needed. It will be good to have someone you know and trust in charge while you're at Hogwarts."
Harry nodded and then stopped abruptly as what Remus had just said sank in. "Wait, where will you be?"
Remus gave Harry a small smile. "This your house, Harry. I'm glad that you have provided a place for me in it, but you do not need me looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. You'll want to settle down, have a family of your own. Besides, Albus has asked me to keep working on rounding up Death Eaters now that things are finishing up around here. I won't always be around."
Harry was rather saddened by this news, but knew it was unfair to Remus to expect that he would always give up his own life just to be there for him, so he choked down his own fears of being alone and smiled at his surrogate godfather. "You should have your own life, too. Maybe there's still someone out there for you, too."
Remus gave Harry a tight hug. "I'm not so sure about that, but we'll see." Remus paused for a moment before going on. "I know this summer has been tough for you, and I wish that we could have been together, but I'm glad we'll have this week to spend together and really get to know each other again."
"Me too, Remus," Harry said softly and tried to hide the fact that he had to wipe away tears with his shirt sleeve.
The rest of the day was spent unpacking and shuffling furniture around. There were a few items that hadn't looked right once they were enlarged and set into place, so Harry and Remus spelled them into better positions. When the babies got restless, Harry left Remus to head for his new room with the excuse that it had been an exhausting day, which it had been. It was rather strange to feel something moving around inside him, but Harry had gotten used to it in the past few weeks.
Harry took a long shower and rubbed his belly soothingly to settle his son and daughter. His back was aching and his ankles were a bit swollen from being on his feet for so long, but over all it had been a great day.
Harry settled into bed that night, completely exhausted, and fell asleep immediately. One good thing about being pregnant, Harry never suffered from insomnia anymore!
Harry woke with a start. He had the dream again. The one about his snarky Potions Master. His whole body sang with satisfaction, but his mind was in turmoil. Why was he dreaming of Snape, of all people? He wasn't attracted to the man, was he?
Shaking his head to clear the pictures of skin against skin from his mind, Harry levered himself into a sitting position and shuffled his bulk to the edge of the bed. Getting around was getting harder and harder. And the small aches and pains from carrying around all of that extra weight was beginning to wear on him. He usually took several naps during the day, because sleeping in one position for very long was uncomfortable and his nights were necessarily short as a result. But he'd had no nap yesterday and had slept too long in one place last night. Now he was paying for it with the aches that had settled into his back and hips.
Harry padded to the bathroom and began his preparations for the day. His en suite bathroom was pretty luxurious. It had a huge tub set up on a raised platform. It was easily big enough for three people…or one Hagrid! There was a separate shower that had six shower heads at varying heights and directions and was again large enough for at least two people. There were even two sinks. All of the tiles and stonework were done in deep earth tones, and with a few plants set around and the green towels hanging from warming bars, it looked like a cozy cavern in the woods. Harry really liked the way it had turned out.
Harry decided to take a bath, to ease his aches. After a nice long soak in the tub, Harry was still wrapped in a bath towel as he went to his walk in closet and looked for something to wear. The closet was well organized, with maternity clothes and robes along one wall, muggle clothes along a second, regular robes along a third, jumpers and jeans on the shelves above, and cabinets in the center for Harry's under clothes. Despite how much Harry had shopped that summer, his clothes barely took up a third of the space. This was a closet meant for two people.
Harry sat on the bench at the end of the cabinets to pull on his underwear and socks. He could no longer bend down to dress; his center of gravity was completely off because of the baby. Once he had those on, Harry stood and looked through his selections. It was a rather hot August this year, so something light weight would be good. Harry found a set of green silk robes that was loose enough to allow his belly freedom. There were matching loose-fit silk trousers and tunic done in a darker shade of green. Harry grinned as he put that outfit on. This outfit was comfortable and flattering, but with the glamour in place, it would simply look like a loose fitting summer robe, tunic and pants.
He wasn't planning on going out anywhere, so Harry left his feet bare and padded down the stairs. He enjoyed the feeling of the new carpets under his toes. He had made sure the entire house was covered in plush carpeting, except for a few well chosen areas, like the kitchen and library, both of which had lovely hardwood floors instead.
When Harry entered the kitchen Remus gave him a grin and asked, "You look comfortable. Are you ready for today?"
"Ready for what?" Harry asked as he filled his plate and looked for the bottle of hot sauce. He'd started craving spicy food a few weeks back, and now usually had hot sauce with almost everything he ate. He really hoped the Remus didn't think it too odd.
"To meet with the elves," Remus chuckled. "I take it you forgot about that?"
Harry just shrugged "I was trying not to think too much about it."
"If you are at all uncomfortable, we can find another solution," Remus assured as he watched Harry pour unbelievable amounts of hot sauce over his eggs and dig in happily. Tearing his eyes away, Remus poured Harry a glass of milk and handed it to him. How could the boy stomach that so early in the day?
"Mmm," Harry agreed, his mouth still full. He was already looking forward to the lemon cakes and jam tarts that he knew Dobby would include in his mid morning snack. He took a long drink of milk before looking back to Remus. "Do you think the elves will want to work for me?"
Remus gave Harry a long look. "You are a very caring individual. You would never mistreat a house elf's trust. You have provided better accommodations for your elves than any person I know. Yes, I think they will want to work for you."
Harry nodded and pushed his plate away without taking a second helping, a sure sign that he was indeed anxious. And not just about the house elves. He also had a meeting with Snape to worry about.
"Come on, let's go up to the library and make a list of the things you want to look for in the house elves Dobby is bringing by this afternoon."
That afternoon, Dobby brought in seven house elves for Harry and Remus to interview. Right away, Harry knew that two of them just wouldn't do; their frowns and mutterings reminded him too much of Kreacher, and he had no desire to have an elf like that around his children. Of those remaining, Harry found that he really liked them all. They would all help where needed, but they each had their own special skills as well. Tinkle specialized in cooking, and had a very happy smile and giggled whenever Harry complimented her. Gareth was a gardener, and he was mated to Lendi, who was a laundress and seamstress. Reith was a carpenter and general fix-it elf who didn't smile much, but Harry thought he was just shy. Then there was Girty. She was the prettiest elf Harry had ever seen, and her smile was gentle and sweet. This was her first job, but Harry just knew she would be the perfect choice to watch over his children.
"Do we have enough room for them all?" Harry asked Remus with a frown after they had performed the binding ritual.
"There are four elf rooms," Remus said. "Gareth and Lendi will share. And I don't think that Tinkle and Girty will mind sharing a room. They are quite large for elf quarters, you know."
"Good," Harry said with relief. "I don't want Hermione to be able to give me any grief over their treatment. What about uniforms or something? I hate the way Dobby was always dressed in rags."
"Well, we can't give them actual clothes," Remus said. "But if we gave them all nice towels, Lendi could make them matching tunics."
Lendi, who was standing nearby, squealed with excitement. They were to have uniforms! Remus had Dobby get enough towels for each elf to have three tunics made. Each elf would have one towel with the Potter family crest for special occasions and two for everyday use. Dobby was charged with making sure that if the towels ever got worn or ratty looking that they be replaced right away. He was also put in charge of making sure the elves had every comfort they could in their small quarters. As head elf for the Potter family, he was responsible for not only looking after the welfare of Harry's family, but the elves under their care as well.
Harry also asked Reith to get started on a small cottage in the garden for Gareth and Lendi. As a mated couple, they deserved a bit of privacy. Besides, that would free up their room eventually so that none of the elves would need to share.
There was a massive wailing of joy from the elves as they heard how kind their new masters were, but Harry put a stop to that right away, telling them that there were rules in his house. There was to be no self-punishment, ever, or risk being given clothes. He also told them that he needed them more than they needed him, and that they should expect to be treated with dignity and respect from Harry and anyone else who came into his home. He didn't like to be fawned over, but appreciated the work they would do.
By the time he finished his speech, all six house elves were smiling up at him with happy tears in their eyes. They had the very best master ever. Then they were sent to get settled into their rooms and get to work getting ready for the Order meeting the masters were hosting that night.
Harry was picking out his robes again before the Order meeting. He was a bit nervous about Facing Snape. After all, he hadn't actually been in public at all since he'd begun to show and he felt self-conscious about his appearance. He knew intellectually that the glamour would hide his belly, but he was afraid that there might something else that would give him away. He was also feeling a bit fragile where his appearance was concerned. Being three stones heavier than normal can have that effect. That was why he tried on six robes before settling on one.
The robe Harry chose was a little more formal than the one he wore earlier in the day. It was tailored from the mandarin collar to his hips, where it flared to allow ease of movement. It was black linen with tiny silver buttons down the front and along the cuffs as its only embellishment. The tailored cut and dark color obscured Harry's belly from notice, unless you saw him from the side. Then it was quite obvious. Of course, with the glamour in place, it simply looked like a well tailored robe. It was actually very flattering in either case.
Shaking his head, Harry quickly finished his preparations. He was running late. He'd heard the floo chime almost five minutes ago, announcing the arrival of the first of the Order members. Harry ran a brush through his hair and clipped it into a silver clasp to keep it neat. He'd read that while pregnant that hair and nails grow much faster. It was true. Harry had to clip his nails every couple of days to keep them tidy, but his hair just kept growing. He was rather getting used to it longer. It now reached just below his shoulders and looked best tied back in a clasp.
Harry sat down to put his shoes on, the last of his preparations, and the most frustrating. He didn't know how Dudley and Vernon managed it every day. And he knew it would just get worse as his babies continued to grow and block his view of the lower half of his body. He was already having difficulties peeing standing up, since he couldn't see his prick to aim properly.
Harry finally headed down the stairs to where his friends and family was waiting. The meeting was officially to update the members on the progress made in capturing the remaining Death Eaters. Unofficially, it was to celebrate the completion of Grimmauld Place. As dark and foreboding as it had always been, the house had served them all well in the war.
Harry stood in the archway for a moment, unnoticed, and watched them all laughing and having fun. Fred and George had apparently played a prank on Bill, who had hexed them glued to the ceiling in retaliation.
"Hey Harry!" Fred called, the first to notice Harry's arrival.
"Getting a bit pudgy, there Harry?" George said. Obviously one could still see the bit of roundness his face had taken on, despite the glamour. Harry sighed.
"I'm not fat," Harry pouted. Why did everyone always just assume he was fat?
Hermione rushed to his side and gave him a huge hug, whispering quietly in his ear, "Of course you aren't. How are you feeling?"
Harry returned her hug and smiled. "Hungry as usual."
Bill politely interrupted their reunion, "No offense there Harry, but you have put on a bit of weight."
"Of course I have," Harry chuckled. "I was finally allowed to eat over the holidays! Dobby made sure I was well fed for a change."
"Well, we are all happy to see that," Molly said, giving her sons a frown of disapproval. "You needed to put on a little bit of weight. You were too thin by far! Now you simply look healthy. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen you look better."
Harry smiled at her and blushed faintly. "Um, maybe we should all head into the dining room. The elves have prepared a great meal, and I'm sure that the headmaster is anxious to get started."
Everyone started for the dining room, but Hermione held Harry back.
"Harry, what elves?" Hermione said stiffly.
"Hermione, Dobby can't take care of everything by himself, you know," Harry said whispered gently. "And I'm going to need help with the babies once they come."
"Easy, Hermione," Harry interrupted. "Before you go into lecture mode, Remus asked Dobby to find elves who were freed from bad situations. All but one of them were given clothes by their families, who were not very nice to them at all. I gave them each the option of being paid, but only one besides Dobby accepted."
Remus, who had come to see what was keeping the two, put in, "I'll take you to see their quarters after the meeting, Hermione. You'll see that they are happy and well cared for. Harry wouldn't have it any other way."
Hermione nodded reluctantly, "I know. I just hate that they are bonded like slaves!"
"Don't think of the bonding like that," Remus advised. "Think of it more like a marriage bond. Both parties agree to help each other. The elves work for Harry because they receive security and a sense of belonging. To them, Harry will be their family. Yes, there are those who abuse that loyalty, but there are also those who mistreat people, no matter what. The fight shouldn't be to free all elves, but to make sure that they are treated fairly and well."
That gave Hermione something to think about. She had been so caught up by the idea that the elves were being enslaved that she had never considered another possibility, even when the elves themselves had told her that they didn't want to be freed. Could the relationship between elves and wizards be more symbiotic than she had considered?
By the time Hermione's thoughts returned to the present, everyone was seated around the huge table and being served an enormous spread of fried chicken, salad, corn on the cob and baked beans. It was a very American meal, but Harry seemed quite pleased, despite the fact that he smothered everything in hot sauce.
While they ate, Dumbledore explained about the most recent developments in the search for Death Eaters. Several people gave reports, but none of the business took very long. After they were all finished, Harry and Remus began giving tours of the house, while most of the people sat around, enjoying drinks and dessert in the sitting room or library.
It was after ten before most of the Order began taking their leave. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione would be staying on until school started back up. Remus was busy showing them to their rooms when Harry turned to find Snape and led him into the library. After making sure the room was empty and placing locking and silencing charms on the door, Harry offered Snape a drink before sitting down.
"So what is it you need from me?" Snape glared. He couldn't believe that Harry had the nerve to ask him for a favor after what the boy had done!
Harry looked down at his lap. He knew this was a bad idea. Snape still hated him. He blinked rapidly, trying to keep tears from falling. God! He hated hormones! When he was finally back in control of his emotions, Harry looked up.
"There is a memory that I need to access, which has been blocked for some reason," Harry said quietly. "It is very important that I recall this memory."
"What is so important about this memory?" Snape asked suspiciously.
"I- I can't say," Harry told him, and looked back at his hands in his lap. He was twisting them nervously. "Please, sir, I need a Legilimens to perform the spell. I can't do it on my own. And I would really rather not have to go to the headmaster about this."
"Why? Is it a memory of a one night stand?" Snape sneered. The loss of color from Harry's face was answer enough for Snape. "Make a regular habit of sleeping around, do you?"
"No!" Harry cried out, struggling to keep his pain and humiliation in check. "Please, sir," Harry begged softly. "Please."
Snape glared at him once again, but couldn't say no to Harry, despite what the boy had put him through.
"Fine," Snape finally ground out. "Are you prepared for this?"
Harry simply nodded. He always kept his mental shields up these days. With his children to think of, he couldn't afford to let a thought slip out to an unscrupulous person.
"Legilimens Memoria," Snape whispered.
The room was softly lit by floating candles as the two figures clung to each other in a heated embrace. The bed was already turned down, though they had obviously not made it that far as yet. Hands roamed freely over bodies, fingers made quick work of buttons and belts. Just as the two were about to fall into bed, the scene shifted in a blur of distorted images. When next it cleared, there were two bodies lying sated on the bed. The smaller man was being held by the larger man. He ran his fingers lightly up and down the man's right arm which was curled protectively around his waist. There, in the crook of the larger man's arm was a small birthmark. Its shape reminded one of a horseshoe. Then the memory faded completely.
Harry stared at the fire in a daze. What did he now know? The man was taller than him, and had a horseshoe shaped birthmark on his right arm. Not much to go on, but it was more than they had. He'd have to tell Ron and Hermione tomorrow.
Snape, too, was in a daze. He recognized that night. He recognized the candles and the bed. He recognized the passionate embrace. Most of all, he recognized the birthmark. Of course that hadn't really been a surprise. He remembered that night very well. Every moment was etched into his brain, including when he returned from the bathroom in the morning to find that Harry had run out on him.
Afterward, he had waited for Harry to say something, anything, about that night. When nothing happened, he became angry. He still helped Harry prepare to fight, but his heart was no longer in it. His heart was rather damaged.
But now. Now, he realized that Harry couldn't remember that night at all. He hadn't ignored him because he was ashamed of what they had shared. He simply had no memory of it.
"Do you know who it was?" Snape finally asked.
"No," Harry said softly. "But at least I have more information to work from now."
"Why is it so important that you find this person?" Snape asked, his heart crying out in the hope that the boy harbored some feeling for him.
"I- I need to tell him something," Harry whispered. "And I would like to know who took my virginity."
Snape had to school his features to hide his shock. Harry had been a virgin that night? Why hadn't he said anything?
"I will help you find this person," Snape said with finality.
"You will?" Harry asked, finally looking up from the fire to see the determination in his Potions Master's face.
"I will," Severus repeated. "Do you have a list of possible suspects?"
Harry nodded and fished the list from his robe pocket. "Hermione, Ron and I made this up a while ago. We started with a dozen names, but we've been able to eliminate four so far. They were all documented in other places that night."
Snape glanced at the list and noted that his name was not on it. Hmm. Was that a good or bad thing? Did that mean that Harry didn't see him as a sexual being, or did it mean that Harry thought he would never be interested in him? Either way, Severus vowed to change Harry's perception of him. Helping him with this little project would be just the thing to get the boy to open up to him, and give him the opportunity to pursue Harry subtly.
"You can mark off Jameson," Snape said. "He was caught that evening by Filch in a compromising position up in the Astronomy tower with a Hufflepuff girl."
Harry took his list back and nodded. "Thank you."
"You are welcome."
The rest of the week was spent hanging about, playing games, and, in Harry's case, snacking. Everyone was amazed at how different the house was. Hermione was impressed by just how cozy the house elf quarters were, and loved the little uniforms Lendi had made for them. Arthur was fascinated by the few muggle luxuries Harry had included in his home, spending hours just flipping through the channels of the telly. Harry decided to wait for another visit to show him the computer.
About an hour before they were scheduled to leave for King's Cross on September first, Molly began organizing turns in the various bathrooms to make sure every one was ready on time. Harry, Ron and Hermione hid away in Harry's suite, to clean up and to talk. Hermione was amazed by Harry's closet and Ron was fascinated by the size of Harry's bathroom; it was bigger than Ron's room at the Burrow. They spent the time chatting about nothing in particular while Hermione helped Harry choose his robes for the day.
"I think you should go with the gray silk with the black trousers and tunic," Hermione said. "It's casual, comfortable, and will look really good on you." Harry took the outfit from her and went back into the closet to change. This outfit was very similar to the one he'd worn his first day. The darker color, however, gave it a more sophisticated look than the green one. And it had silver embroidery along the hem and cuffs that looked very elegant. Harry slipped on a pair of soft leather loafers, which meant he didn't have to bend over to tie them up, and stepped back into the bedroom.
"What do you think?" Harry asked. Hermione looked him over and smiled. Harry looked really cute at six and a half months pregnant. It was a shame he insisted on keeping this pregnancy a secret.
"Very nice," she replied, and Ron nodded his agreement. "Now let's do something with your hair. I think this longer length really does something for you."
While she brushed Harry's hair and clipped it in a silver clasp, Ron and Harry talked about the upcoming Quidditch season. Before long, Molly was calling up the stairs for them. Everyone was waiting for them to leave. Harry took a deep calming breath and headed for the stairs.
Harry, Hermione, a troop of Weasleys and Remus set out for Kings Cross with a light heart that morning. They took muggle cabs to the station, only carrying what they would need that day in a small satchel. Dobby would bring everyone's trunks to the school while they traveled. Having worked at Hogwarts, the elf knew how everything worked, and knew when and where the trunks should be delivered.
On the train, Ginny kept Harry company while Ron and Hermione attended the prefects' meeting. When the snack trolley came past, Harry purchased some of everything, much as he had on his first trip to Hogwarts. This time he was less happy to share. The babies made him pretty greedy about food.
They passed the trip gossiping about their summers and playing exploding snap. Harry napped, as he often did these days, and when he woke, they were pulling into Hogsmeade. Harry pulled on his new school robes and was grateful that Neville and Luna were with them when Malfoy finally found them on the way to the carriages.
"So Potter," Malfoy sneered, "Looks like you've finally decided to eat something. Too bad you didn't think to learn when to stop!" Crabbe and Goyle sniggered from behind him.
"Why does everyone think I'm fat?" Harry wailed in frustration. "Am I fat?" Harry asked Hermione plaintively while the Slytherins laughed. Ron, meanwhile, had brandished his wand and made threatening gestures towards the Slytherins.
"Put that away, Ron," Luna said calmly. "And you Malfoy ought to be heading for a carriage. I doubt you would like to see certain information printed in my father's magazine."
Malfoy paled even more than normal and quickly dragged his goons away. Ron was highly impressed by 'Loony Luna', and said as much to anyone who would listen.
Meanwhile, Hermione spoke very quietly to the now insecure Harry, "You aren't fat, Harry. It's just the babies. In fact, you are the most well proportioned pregnant person I've ever met." Hermione had learned quickly how to soothe Harry's insecurities after seeing him completely lose it with Ron for a poorly chosen teasing comment.
They all quickly made their way to the carriages and were soon heading for the Great Hall. Luckily no one else made any comments to Harry about his apparent weight gain. Hermione was sure that if anyone else said, or even implied, that Harry was fat that the teen would either cry or hex the offender. And since training with Snape, Harry knew some pretty nasty hexes.
"Welcome to another year at Hogwarts!" Dumbledore announced once the sorting ceremony had been completed. He went through the usual list of rules and forbidden areas of the castle, introduced the new DADA teacher, and then fell quiet as he appeared to consider his next words. "I would like to remind all of you of the lessons that we learned during the war. It was imperative at that time for all houses to work together, and you did so admirably. In the coming days, you will have a choice to continue that spirit of cooperation, or to return to petty rivalries that do nothing more than cause pain and strife. Please make you choice wisely. Do not let old feuds taint the peace for which we worked so hard."
All eyes seemed to be on either Malfoy or Harry, their altercation earlier not having gone unnoticed, but Harry paid them very little mind. He was too busy focusing on his plate, trying to make the food appear faster. He was really hungry.
"As most of you know, there are still those who were loyal to Voldemort who have not yet been captured," Dumbledore continued after getting everyone's attention back. "Anyone found jeopardizing the safety of any student or teacher here at Hogwarts will face the most severe of punishments. Please do be careful."
Harry realized that Dumbledore was reminding some of the children of Death Eaters that the risk wouldn't be worth the outcome for them if they tried to hurt him. He was grateful, really, but at that moment he just wanted the old coot to shut up and let them eat.
"With that being said, let's eat!"
"Finally!" Harry muttered as the food appeared and he was able to fill his plate. "Where's the hot sauce?"
Over the next several weeks, most of Gryffindor got used to seeing Harry's elves pop in and out with frequency. Tinkle was the most common visitor, bringing snacks to keep Harry's strength up. She always brought enough for him to share, so was a welcome sight by all. Lendi came when Harry popped another button on his uniform pants. Harry had grumbled the entire time about the fact that they were supposed to grow with him. Lendi had patiently informed him that they were not made for a wizard carrying twins. Harry grew faster than the clothes could expand. Lendi fixed them, though, and Harry was ecstatic.
Dobby popped in and out just to check up on Harry and to report how things were going with the house. At first, all of these visits worried Harry. He'd never seen any elves but Hogwarts' elves at school before, and worried that he could get in trouble. Dobby had brushed his concerns aside, saying that most Gryffindors simply did not come from families that kept elves, and those that did thought their children should be independent while at school. Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Slytherins often had their elves popping in and out as needed. Hermione had assured him that Parvati had their elf pop in on occasion, but only in an emergency and usually only to their dorm room. After that, Harry felt much better about his elves always being about.
Girty liked to pop in and check on the babies when no one else was around. Harry had learned a spell that let them hear their hearts beating, and one to see an image of the babies. Girty liked to come and look at the image, just to make sure the children were okay. She would sometimes lean in and speak to Harry's belly; the babies always seemed to settle when she did that, no matter how active they had been. Harry was glad that the elf was already becoming so attached to his children. It meant that she would care for and protect them to the best of her ability once they were born.
Classes weren't as easy as the rest of Harry's life at that moment. He found it very difficult to concentrate while his insides were being pummeled. He often fell asleep during lessons, and not just in History of Magic. He'd had detention three times in his first week for nodding off in class. When he wasn't sleeping, he was off to the loo. He'd had more than one person ask if he shouldn't go see Madam Pomfrey about his weak bladder. Harry had just scowled at their concern.
The only class that was going well for Harry was Potions. He would have liked to say it was because he'd become brilliant over the summer, but the truth was that he was scared to death at what would happen to his children if he fouled up a potion. So he had been extremely careful in that class, erecting a shield around himself and his cauldron to prevent being hit by anyone else's accidents, and being very slow and deliberate with his preparations for each potion. He was usually the last one finished, but at least his potions were right.
Wearing the glamour all the time was a bit draining, but not as bad as keeping up a protective shield. He used the shield not only in Potions, but in any class where a stray spell or jinx could harm his children. He may have been a bit reckless with his own life at times, but he would take no chances with his children's lives. So, by the end of each day, Harry was absolutely exhausted. His feet were swollen from traipsing all over the castle all day, his back ached, and he couldn't get comfortable no matter how he sat or laid down. By the end of September, Harry was miserable and everyone around him knew it, even if they didn't know why.
"So who do we have left on the list that hasn't been eliminated?" Hermione asked as she fluffed the pillows behind Harry's back and added one under his feet to help his swollen ankles. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, and Harry couldn't go, and was sulking as a result. Ron and Hermione were trying everything to get him out of his funk.
"Only Patterson, Delbert, and Collins," Ron said, looking at the list in his hands.
"You can scratch out Delbert," Harry said. "He's not gay."
"But what about all that winking he was doing last year?" Ron asked.
"A tic," Harry sighed. "He had it fixed over holidays. I asked him about it."
"Okay, so that's good, right?" Hermione said cheerfully. "We're down to two now!"
"No, we are down to zero," Harry muttered.
"What? What do you mean?" Ron asked.
"I mean, it's been really warm this fall," Harry said, his voice clogged with unshed tears. "Everyone has been wearing short sleeves. And not one person has had that horseshoe shaped birthmark I saw in the memory! We're back at where we started, with no fucking clue who it could be!"
Hermione held her arms open for her friend and hugged him tightly as he cried out his frustration on her shoulder. "We'll figure this out, Harry. And if not before the babies are born, then we can do the paternity spell after. It will work out. You'll see."
Harry hiccupped and nodded. "I know, it's just so damned frustrating. I want my babies to have the best chance at happiness that I can give them. But they deserve to have two parents."
"Has Snape still been helping?" Ron asked. He didn't really like the git, but he'd been nice to Harry lately.
Harry nodded. "He's tried several times to see if there was more memory to expose, but no luck. He's also done some research on why my memory was probably lost. Usually any alcohol induced blackouts are fairly simple to retrieve. He thinks I was given a sobering potion. There is some evidence in the memory to support that; I saw an empty vial on the table that had remnants of a blue potion."
"Why would a sobering potion cause you to lose your memory?" Hermione asked.
"Snape did a few tests," Harry explained. "It turns out that I'm allergic to one of the ingredients in that particular potion. The allergy causes memory loss. Snape was rather persistent about finding out why I couldn't remember that night. I'm glad though. I'm glad that I know that whoever it was didn't take advantage of me while I was drunk. I just feel horrible now because I ran out on whoever it was. They probably think I hate them and want nothing to do with them."
"That could be why they haven't approached you," Ron agreed.
"I wish I could remember who it was," Harry sighed. "He was so patient and gentle. And the whole night was so romantic. There were flowers and candles everywhere. I know that the Room of Requirement would have provided all that, but someone had to think of them. I doubt it would have been me. And he was really passionate in the parts that I can remember. And when he held me afterwards, I felt so safe and loved. I've never felt like that before."
Hermione and Ron gave Harry sympathetic looks. They knew how much Harry's childhood had affected him, even though he tried to hide it. More than anything, they both thought their friend deserved to finally find love and happiness. They were torn from those thoughts, however when Harry doubled over and screamed in pain.
"Oh god! Harry, what's wrong?" Hermione panicked.
Ron just took a look at the way Harry was holding his right leg and said, "Leg cramp. He usually gets at least one a night these days." He moved to the bed and began massaging the muscle out, as he had every night for over a week now. Harry smiled at his friend gratefully once the pain had eased. He was glad that he at least had Ron and Hermione to help him through this.
"Albus, have you noticed that Potter has been behaving out of character of late?" Severus asked his mentor casually over tea during their weekly progress meeting. They had begun the ritual during the first war, and it had continued ever since. When necessary, they had discussed Voldemort and his activities. When not, they talked about their lives, their students, and their other concerns.
Dumbledore nodded sadly, "I'm afraid that he seems a bit lost since Voldemort's defeat. I have heard reports from his other teachers about his lack of attention in classes, falling asleep at odd moments, and I have noticed myself the dark circles beneath his eyes."
"He came to me over the summer for help with a personal matter," Severus said quietly. "I believe his depression may have more to do with that than anything else."
Albus raised his eyes to meet those of his Potions Master and friend. "Oh?"
Severus sighed. "I'm afraid, it is my fault that he has been so down lately."
And Sever spent the next half hour explaining the events of Valentine's Day, and Harry's subsequent memory loss to his dearest friend. He knew that he was taking a chance with losing his friend's respect, if for no other reason than for sleeping with a student, despite the fact that Harry was of legal age of consent at the time. He was still Severus' student, and still under his care and guidance at the time. He doubted Albus would fire him, but others might make difficulties for him if the word spread. That was one reason he had held off on his plan to seduce the boy again. That and the knowledge that Harry had been a virgin that night.
Dumbledore was quiet for long minutes after Severus finished his confession. Finally he spoke. "He needs to know, Severus. You need to tell him. It is obviously affecting him in very negative ways, not knowing. And he deserves to understand why you reacted the way you have."
"I know," Severus sighed. "But he doesn't even think of me in those terms. I wasn't even on his list of possible candidates. I wanted time to let him see me as more than the bastard I have always been to him."
Dumbledore too sighed. "I do understand your motivations, Severus, but in the meantime, Harry is tearing himself up over this whole thing. I will give you time to work through this, but if you haven't told him by Halloween, I will."
Severus nodded. He knew Albus was right. He couldn't keep Harry waiting forever, but he was scared to death that Harry would reject him.
"The longer you wait, the harder it will be to tell him," Albus said, as if reading Severus' thoughts.
"Thank you, Albus," Severus said as he rose. They both had work to do still that day, and he had plans to make for his little Gryffindor.
The first day of October was a Wednesday. Harry remembered that later, because that particular Wednesday did not transpire like any other day before in Harry's life. It started out normally enough. He was late getting to breakfast, largely due to the fact that he had difficulty getting anywhere on time these days; his children kept him moving slower and slower as his pregnancy progressed.
When Harry finally arrived, it was to questioning glances from his housemates. They stared at him so hard that he had to look down to make sure he hadn't forgotten his glamour that morning. No, he looked the same as always. It wasn't until he took his usual seat that he realized why everyone was staring. There was a perfect single red rose at his place.
Harry picked it up and looked around, but could find no one who looked particularly anxious or interested, other than his nosy housemates. There was no card, just a rose.
"Any idea who it's from?" Seamus asked Harry from his seat down the row.
"Um, no, no clue," Harry muttered. But a part of him hoped that it was from his mystery lover. Maybe he hadn't given up completely.
Hermione watched Harry carefully, suspecting his hopes, but said nothing.
At lunch that day, there was another rose. And at dinner. By that time, everyone in the school seemed to have heard about Harry's secret admirer. Including the teaching staff. Everyone watched to see if there was a clue about who was sending their savior the flowers, but none appeared. Just the single red roses.
This continued on for five days. And for five days, Harry had to put up with questions from his peers about who the roses were from. Because of his condition, Harry was rather leery of receiving that sort of focus on him and began to snap at anyone who asked. His hormone driven moods did not help the matter at all.
By Monday, Harry was ready to hex anyone who dared mention the subject, and Ron and Hermione had begun blocking any unsuspecting nosy students from Harry's wrath. At dinner, Monday night, there was no rose, and Harry sighed with relief. As much as he liked the idea that his mystery lover might be pursuing him, he did not want everyone watching him.
He said as much to his friends on the way to their dorm that evening.
Of course that was right before they found a package on Harry's bed that night. There was a note with the package, very neatly printed in such a way as to disguise whoever's handwriting from recognition.
Seventeen roses to celebrate every year you have graced this earth. Is that too sentimental? But I wish for you to see a new side of me, so I will continue on as I have begun.
Please do not fear my intentions. My solitary aim is to woo and to win your heart. Please accept this gift with that in mind.
Harry handed the note to Ron and Hermione so they could read it, then tore into the plainly wrapped package. Inside was a box of Honeyduke's finest chocolate truffles. Harry picked one out then passed the box to his friends. The decadent confection melted sensuously in Harry's mouth and he almost groaned in delight. Lately, his cravings for chocolate were almost as bad as his craving for hot sauce.
"Well, whoever this person is, at least he has good taste," Ron said as he bit into a second truffle.
"Do you think it could be from the babies' father?" Harry asked with a frown.
"It is possible," Hermione mused. "But it could also be from someone else entirely. "It sounds like this person at least knows you. And I think he or she will eventually come forward."
"It would be pretty pointless to send gifts if he didn't mean to take credit for them eventually," Ron put in. "He sounds pretty possessive, though, calling you 'my Harry.'"
"Which could mean he's the bloke we've been looking for, or he could just be a stalker," Harry sighed. He decided to wait and see. In the meantime, the babies seemed to want a bit more chocolate.
"Mr. Potter, please stay after," Snape commanded a few days later, near the end of Potions. Harry looked up at his teacher in confusion. Usually Snape only ever held him after class when he'd gotten in trouble, but he'd been doing particularly well in this class lately. He was always extra careful because of the babies.
Hermione gave him a questioning look, and Ron just gave a sympathetic shrug as they gathered their things. Harry knew that they would wait for him in the corridor. They never let him walk alone anymore. Not since he'd begun having difficulty with his balance. Harry was grateful, having visions of tumbling down the stairs.
Harry took his time putting his supplies away, waiting for the room to clear out, then went up to speak with Snape, who was still absorbed in the corrections he was making to some poor student's essay. Harry sighed as a pain shot through his lower back. It was getting more and more difficult for him to get around, trekking all over the castle everyday, but he didn't want to fall behind in his classes. He tried to surreptitiously rub the ache from his back while Snape finished up.
"Mr. Potter," Snape finally said, as he looked up from his work. "It has come to my attention that you have not been faring well in your classes this term." Before Harry could object, Snape continued. "While I have noted a marked improvement in this class, your other instructors have informed me that you are not paying attention in their courses. You have been caught napping at least once a week by each of your other professors. You are moving about the castle sluggishly. You have dark circles under your eyes, making it patently obvious that you are not getting the sleep you need. Can you tell me what is going on?"
Harry's first thought was to lie outright to his mentor, but then he thought of how much their relationship had changed since sixth year. Snape had been very helpful to him during his extra training, and had even gone out of his way to help Harry search for answers about the babies' father, even if he didn't know why Harry was searching. He couldn't lie outright to the man, but he couldn't tell him the truth either.
"I'm sorry, sir," Harry sighed. Another twinge of pain made Harry grimace. Though he quickly masked the reaction, Snape noticed it. "I've just been dealing with a lot the last few months. Things should get better soon."
Snape gave him an assessing look. It was too bad that Harry had become so proficient at Occlumency. Snape really would have liked to get a peek at what the boy was hiding.
"Harry, you know that you can trust me, right?" Snape finally asked, his voice warm with concern.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered automatically. There was no question that Harry trusted Snape, even with his life.
"Then why won't you tell me what is bothering you?" Snape asked. Harry couldn't answer that, so he remained silent. Eventually, Snape gave up and went on. "The headmaster is concerned about you. As such, he has asked that I try to assist you in any way that I can. So, from now until I deem you to be functioning normally, you will spend three evenings a week with me. We will work on improving your marks in your other classes, and we will discuss anything that is bothering you. This is not a punishment, but it is also not an option. I'll expect you in my office tonight, directly after dinner. Bring your books with you."
"Yes, sir," Harry said again. He gathered up his bag and left the room, all the while thinking that his life was going to be infinitely more difficult in the coming weeks. He was rarely able to get any homework done without a nap first. Now, Snape was expecting him right during his prime nap time.
"What did he send you today?" Ron asked at dinner that evening. It had become a regular occurrence. Each day, Harry would find some small gift either at his plate or on his bed. They were never very big or outrageous, but they were always something that Harry liked. It was as if his secret admirer knew his tastes very well. He even received a large bottle of hot sauce one day.
"Just a new quill," Harry shrugged. "I've chewed up the end of my last one, so it's great timing."
Ron smiled at that, but Hermione frowned. "How did he know you needed a new quill? It seems awfully suspicious that this person seems to know so much about you."
"You don't think that he's breaking into our room to spy on my, do you?" Harry asked, a note of panic in his voice. He didn't usually keep anything incriminating lying around, but it was possible that there might be something to give his secret away. For instance, if anyone took a close look at his robes, they would see that they were much larger than they appeared when he was using the concealing charm. He knew his roommates wouldn't notice, they never went through each others' things, but a stranger might.
"It certainly seems that way to me," Hermione said.
"Oh, come off it," Ron scoffed. "Anyone can see that Harry chews his quills. It just makes sense that he'd need a new one!"
Harry pushed his plate away. He had lost what little appetite he'd had, though that wasn't much these days. He still ate pretty often, but he couldn't fit as much in as he had been. The books he'd read said that the babies were crowding his stomach and his appetite would continue to wane until they were born.
"I've got that thing with Snape," Harry finally said to his friends, breaking up the argument that had continued on without him. "I'll see you later."
"Wait, Harry," Hermione called. "How are you going to do this? You always nap right after dinner."
Harry sighed. "I really don't know. I just hope I can make it through. It's just four more weeks before they're due, so I'll just have to do my best 'til then."
Harry turned and made his way out of the Great Hall. He didn't notice the concerned look on the Potions Master's face as he shortly followed Harry out.
"We'll start with Transfigurations, as Professor McGonagall has informed me that you have an essay due in her class tomorrow," Snape told Harry once they were both settled comfortably in his office. Harry was rather pleased with the arrangement, now that he was there. Snape had provided him with his own desk, and the chair was much better for his back than any in the common room or the library. "If you have any questions, feel free to ask."
After that, they both set to work, Harry on his assignment and Snape on his marking. An hour passed in silence, and Harry was surprised that he was able to concentrate better in the Potions Master's office. The quiet was soothing, but not so much that it made him sleepy. Harry finished his essay and went to work on his Charms homework, never once noticing the way his mentor watched him surreptitiously. When the clock finally struck nine times, Harry's stomach growled. It was past time for his evening snack.
"Perhaps we should break for a snack," Snape suggested, and Harry blushed at the acknowledgement of his grumbling stomach. In moments, an elf had brought a tea tray with a plate of lemon cakes. Harry dug right in, devouring his share and then went for seconds.
The two men talked amiably about trivial topics while they ate, but Harry knew that Snape wanted him to open up to him about what was going on. Harry wanted to tell him, and it was on the tip of his tongue, but he held back. How could he tell Snape this? The man would never respect him if he knew that Harry was stupid enough to get up the duff from his one and only sexual experience. Never mind that he'd never even known it was even possible.
And why did Snape's opinion matter so much to him? Harry respected the man for everything he'd done to prepare him for fighting Voldemort, but was that all this was?
Suddenly a flash of his most recent dream came to mind. They were getting steadily more persistent, and steadily more explicit. The latest dream had been a combination of his recent fantasies and the little bit he remembered from the night his children were conceived. And just as suddenly, Harry knew that his fantasy lover was sitting across from him.
"I should go," Harry blurted out. "I- It's late, and…I should go."
Harry quickly gathered his things together and was out of the office before Snape could argue. He hurried back to that tower as quickly as his enlarged belly would allow. Once there, he made excuses to Ron and Hermione and went straight to his bed.
No, it wasn't possible that he wanted Snape like that. It couldn't be.
But in a moment of clarity, he realized that it was possible. He wanted Snape. And even more than that, he wished that it could have been the snarky bastard who had fathered his children. But Snape would never love him. And he certainly wouldn't want to take on the responsibility for someone else's children.
Harry cried himself to sleep.
Five evenings, Severus mused. Five evenings with the boy and he was no closer to finding out what was bothering him than he had been before he started. Harry simply wouldn't open up to him. It was frustrating and painful for the older wizard. He knew that Harry felt something for him. He had watched that first evening as it had dawned on his student's face. But instead of facing that attraction, Harry had run away.
Since then the boy had dutifully attended classes and their extra tutoring sessions, but couldn't bring himself to look at Severus. And the few times he'd caught Harry looking, the boy had a heart-wrenching sadness in his eyes that tore at Severus' heart.
Well, he wasn't going to wait any longer. They had developed a friendship of sorts over the past year. They had also developed an attraction, even if Harry was afraid to admit it. The gifts seemed to be well received, and Harry's curiosity had to be killing him by now. With all of that added together, Severus thought it was about time that he put his feelings into words and told the boy how he felt.
Besides, it was Halloween and the old codger wouldn't wait any longer.
After the feast, Severus would finally let his little Gryffindor know just how much he meant to him.
"Harry, you really should go to the feast," Hermione prodded her reluctant friend. "It's not good for you to skip meals."
"I know, Hermione!" Harry snapped and then instantly regretted it. "I'm sorry. I'm just not feeling well tonight. My back has been killing me all day and I can't even think about sitting on those hard benches right now. I'm just going to take a nap, and then I'll get Tinkle to bring me something."
"C'mon, Hermione," Ron said as he tugged on Hermione's arm. "I'm hungry and Harry is fine. Let's get to the feast before Seamus eats all the pumpkin pasties."
"If you're sure you're okay, Harry?"
"I'm fine," Harry told her. "The babies aren't due for three more weeks. I'm just tired and a bit out of sorts. I need a nap more than I need to be at the feast. Go, enjoy yourselves. I'll be fine."
After Hermione and Ron had left, Harry sat back in his bed and rubbed his belly absent-mindedly. He really needed to tell someone about the babies soon. Only three weeks left. He could hardly wait to meet the little buggers, but at the same time, he was scared to death about giving birth.
He'd read everything he could about male pregnancies, so he knew what to expect. He also knew that there was no way to eliminate the pain that came with childbirth, for men or women. The use of potions could harm the babies, and charms were only so effective with intense suffering.
Harry tried to put the pain out of his mind; he'd survived the Cruciatus curse, surely he could survive this. No, what was really bothering him was the changes his body would go through to give birth. A male muggle would never be able to carry a child because he did not have the physical equipment to do so. But a wizard was different; or at least some wizards were. A select few wizards were magically capable of changing their physiology to accommodate a child. It wasn't a conscious decision; it happened naturally. Harry's body had changed to accommodate the growing babies, and it would change again to enable him to give birth.
Harry had already noticed some of the changes occurring, a sure sign that the babies would be making an appearance soon. His hips were wider and his chest was swelling. Harry grimaced as he recalled the way his bollocks had withdrawn into his body to make way for the birth canal. The birth canal had formed slowly over the last week. Harry knew that it was still early, but his body seemed to be getting ready for the big event.
Harry took out the book of baby names that Hermione had given him and looked through the long list he had compiled over the past weeks. He had finally decided what to name the babies, but he hadn't told anyone else yet. Choosing names had been a difficult thing for him. He felt like the other father should have had a say in what the babies would be called, but without being able to find out who it was until after they were born, Harry really hadn't wanted to wait. His children would have names right away and never feel like they were unwanted or unloved.
Harry hadn't known his real name until he started school. Until then, he'd always been called boy or freak. Harry's children would never go through what he had been put through. They would know love, and they would have names.
Harry looked at the names he had chosen and ran his finger over the letters lovingly. He'd chosen a Gaelic name and a Welsh name for each of his children. And he had been very selective about what they meant and how they sounded together with Harry's last name. His children would have strong and powerful names, names that they could be proud of, names that meant something.
Harry put the book back on his nightstand, but as he reached out, a sharp, shooting pain ran through his lower back and sides. For a minute, he was sure he would fall out of bed from the precarious position he was in, but soon the pain eased and Harry was able to regain his balance and lie back in bed again with a sigh of relief.
He'd been having back pains for a while now. His whole day seemed to be one series of pains, coming and going in waves. He sighed again and settled in to take a nap. He'd need it if he was to deal with Hermione's constant fretting when she returned.
Severus was apprehensive. Harry had been moving even slower than usual all day, giving small grimaces of pain when he thought no one was looking. And now he was absent from the Halloween feast. This was not a good sign, as far as Severus was concerned. Something must be wrong.
But Harry's friends were sitting comfortably in their usual seats, laughing and having a good time. Surely they wouldn't behave in such a manner if Harry was ill, or hurt. Surely they would be trying to help him.
Severus continued to convince himself that things were fine, but somewhere deep down, he was worried.
Hermione and Ron were enjoying the feast, laughing at Seamus' antics and generally having a grand time, but Hermione had a bad feeling in her gut that something wasn't right. She should have made Harry come with them. Or they should have stayed with Harry instead of leaving him alone.
Three weeks, Harry had said before they left. He wasn't due for three more weeks. But babies were notorious for coming early, especially twins. They really should not have left Harry all alone.
Harry woke from his nap in absolute agony. The sharp pains in his back had migrated to wrap around his entire waist, tightening the muscles like a cinch. Oh, this hurt. Harry looked around for his wand once the wave of pain had eased and performed a timer spell that would let him know how close the pains were coming.
Yes, Harry thought, this is definitely labor. And another pain washed over him.
Harry made it down the steps and into the common room before another contraction hit and sent him to his knees with the intensity of the pain. Harry had tried to wait for help, but the pains were coming only two minutes apart now and he knew that his time was growing too short to wait any longer. He just hoped he could make it to the hospital wing without help.
As the pain subsided, Harry slowly got back to his feet and shuffled his way across the room to the portrait hole.
As soon as he could retreat without censure from his employer, Severus left the feast and made his way up to Gryffindor Tower. He just knew something was wrong, and he wasn't going to wait for the feast to be over to find out what it was. By then, it could be too late.
"Ron, we need to check on Harry," Hermione whispered urgently as her friend was reaching for another helping of pot roast.
"Ron, I really think something is wrong!" Hermione interrupted and dragged Ron away from his precious food. "If I'm wrong, then you can have Harry send for Tinkle and you can have your own feast in the dorm! But I don't feel good about leaving Harry alone right now."
Ron hurried to follow Hermione out of the Great Hall, looking just as anxious now. "You don't think it's the little tykes, do you?"
"Shh!" Hermione hissed, looking around to be sure no one had overheard. "Yes, I do, Ron! I know he said he has three weeks, but he's been in pain all day, and babies just do not play by the books when it comes time for them to be born. Especially twins."
Ron nodded, and tugged at Hermione's arm. "Come on, we need to hurry."
Harry sat down hard on the stairs as another wave of pain washed over him. He'd made it to the sixth floor and was now at the top of the steps to the fifth, but he wasn't sure he was going to be able to go much further without assistance. He just needed to rest. His legs were shaking from the exertion and his contractions were coming closer together.
Just as the pain subsided once again, Harry felt a rush of warm liquid flow between his legs.
"Oh gross!" Harry moaned. "It looks like I bloody well pissed myself!"
Harry waited for the next contraction to come and go before he tried to get to his feet again. Slowly, stopping every couple of steps, Harry made his way to the next landing.
Severus found Weasley and Granger before he found Harry.
"Why are the two of you not at the feast?" he snapped at them, growing more concerned with the anxious faces they were presenting.
"Harry wasn't feeling well before the feast," Hermione blurted out. "We were worried about him being alone. I had a really bad feeling."
Having shared that same feeling, Severus just nodded and continued on his way, assuming that the students would follow.
They had just made it to the stairway between the fourth and fifth floor when they found Harry sitting on the stairs and clutching his stomach as he growled in pain.
"Fuck this hurts!" Harry shouted, not having noticed his rescuers as yet. He determinedly tried to stand back up and continue on his way, but before he could, another wave of pain had him reeling. He would have toppled over, if Severus hadn't thought fast and caught him with a quickly whispered levitation charm. That's when Harry finally saw his friends.
"Thank Merlin!" Harry sighed as he rested his head against the banister. "I thought I'd have to just give up and have these bloody kids right here on the fucking stairs!"
That was the moment that Severus Snape noticed that Harry wasn't wearing a glamour. It was also the moment that Severus Snape realized that Harry Potter was pregnant. Very pregnant. And was about to give birth.
For the first time in his life, Severus Snape fainted.
"Bloody hell!" Ron muttered as he watched the snarky professor crumple to the floor. "Snape fainted!"
"Ron! There's no time for that now!" Hermione shouted. "Harry's in labor! We need to get him to the hospital wing!"
"Right!" Ron said, a look of panic entering his eyes. "What should I do? Boil water?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. Ron was not the best in a crisis. "Wake up Professor Snape while I help Harry."
Once Snape was awake and aware, he took charge once again, and soon they three of them had Harry to the infirmary, Snape carrying the father-to-be in his arms, completely forgetting for a moment that he was a wizard and could have levitated the boy.
"Madam Pomfrey!" Hermione shouted as soon as they entered the ward. The mediwitch bustled into the ward, a reprimand on her lips for causing a ruckus dying as soon as she saw Harry in Snape's arms.
"What happened?" she asked, her wand already out and performing diagnostic tests. The boys robes were wet, but not with blood.
"He's in labor," Hermione said. "Three weeks early!"
Snape had just laid Harry on the bed when he was shoved away by the mediwitch, who promptly closed a set of curtains around Harry, effectively shutting the three out. Snape turned to Harry's friends, a look of bewilderment on his normally stoic face.
"Valentine's Day…? Is this why…?"
"He's been acting so strange?" Hermione finished for the lost looking man. "Yes. We found out over the summer, but Harry couldn't even remember the night it happened. So we went searching for the father. But Harry didn't want to tell anyone about it. He promised me he would this week, but the babies decided to come early. I knew we shouldn't have left him alone!"
Hermione was wringing her hands in worry, Ron was pacing, and Severus looked like he could very well pass out again when the mediwitch came from behind the curtain.
"I've performed the few pain-relief charms I can on him, but this will not be easy. He is going to need support," she said, eyeing the three people before her. None of them looked to be in great shape to help, but she really didn't have much choice. "The baby will be here soon."
"Babies," Hermione whispered.
"What?" Snape asked sharply, finally coming back to his senses.
"I said babies," Hermione said more clearly this time. "Harry's having twins."
While the mediwitch muttered about stupid boys who were too stubborn to seek her help, the other three just looked at each other.
"I shall assist," Snape finally said.
"What? Why you?" Ron asked, but looked sorry for it almost immediately. There was no way that he wanted to see what was going to happen behind that curtain.
Snape looked at Hermione, who simply nodded. Leave it to her to figure things out, even in the midst of a crisis. Snape nodded back and followed the mediwitch through the curtain.
Harry was laid out on what used to be a simple hospital bed, but now looked more like a medieval torture device. His legs were spread, his feet supported by long metal contraptions, and the bed barely reached far enough to support the boy's backside. Harry was panting through another contraction as they entered and was cursing a blue streak. Severus tried not to stare at eh changes in Harry's anatomy, but it was awfully hard not to. Harry's balls had all but disappeared and a… hole was now situated between where they should have been and his anus.
Snape shook himself into motion and went to the boy's side and gripped his hand, hardly noticing the pain that Harry inflicted with his tight grip.
"That's it, Harry," Severus encouraged. "Breath through the pain. You can do it."
"Bloody fucking hell!" Harry shouted as the pain receded. "These kids better be worth it! Or else I'm sending them right back where they came from!"
"They will be worth it," Madam Pomfrey promised as she went to work checking Harry's progress. "Soon you'll have your babies in your arms and all of this will seem like just a fuzzy memory."
Another wave of pain was soon on him and Harry didn't have the strength to tell her what he thought of her platitudes or her opinions on fuzzy memories. By the time it was fading again, Harry was in tears.
"Please, make it stop," he begged Severus. "You make potions. You could make it stop, right?"
"I'm sorry, Harry," Severus whispered. He meant for his inability to stop the pain. He also meant for not confessing to Harry sooner about his role in that eight and a half months ago. "I'm so sorry!"
"What the fuck is magic good for if I still have to go through this? Send Hermione to the muggles!" Harry ranted, getting a second wind as another pain tore through him. "I! Want! Drugs!"
Snape ignored Harry's rants as he climbed behind Harry on the bed, supporting his back and legs, while he coached Harry through the next few contractions. Harry continued to fluctuate between ranting and tears, all the while hanging on to Severus for dear life.
"Okay, now Harry, everything looks good," Poppy said calmly during a lull. "You're fully dilated and set to go. On the next contraction, I want you to push."
Harry nodded weakly, and Severus knew that he had to tell Harry before their children were born.
"Um Harry," Severus said. "I know this isn't the best time, but I know who the father is."
"Okay push!" Poppy shouted as the next contraction. Harry ignored Severus for a moment while he concentrated on getting the first baby out of him. Once the contraction had faded, however, he turned his face to his Potions Professor, the question in his eyes.
"It was me," Severus whispered. "I was the one there that night. I gave you the sobering potion. These are my children."
Harry didn't have time to answer, and probably couldn't have at that moment even if he'd wanted, as another contraction hit and he was once again trying to push the first baby out of his body.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry finally gasped out when he could.
"At first, I thought you woke up the next morning and had regretted the entire thing," Severus admitted. "I was hurt and angry."
"That's why you were so- Oh fuck, not again!"
When the next pain subsided, Severus said, "That's why I was such a bastard to you at the end of last term. But then you came to me this summer and I realized that you didn't even remember that night. I wanted to tell you then, but you gave me that list and I wasn't even among the possible candidates. I knew that you could never see me as a potential lover."
Harry grunted and pushed through another contraction before replying. "You are a moron." Harry's pain left him no patience to deal with a confession of this magnitude. "Obviously I thought you could be a potential lover if I'd already had sex with you! My memory was gone, not the emotions that caused me to act in the first place! You should have fucking told me!"
"I was going to tell you," Severus admitted. "But I wanted time to let you see me as something other than the bastard I'd been to you!"
"So you sent me flowers and trinkets to win my affections?" Harry scoffed.
"I was trying to court you," Severus growled. There was only so much patience he could muster, even with a man in labor, and Harry was pushing him to his limits.
"Fuck!" Harry shouted as he felt the pain returning.
"That's it, Harry!" Poppy encouraged. "Just a bit more and the head will be out. One more really big push should do it."
Harry grunted and moaned as he pushed with everything that he had. Severus looked down to where Poppy was working, and could see the baby's head protruding from Harry's body. It was a rather disturbing sight, but beautiful at the same time. That was his child.
"Good!" Poppy crooned. "Now for the shoulders and then the rest should just slide right out, easy as you please. A big push on this contraction."
Harry whimpered, but nodded his understanding. The next contraction came, and Severus held Harry up as he pushed through the pain. There was a slippery wet noise and Severus looked down to see his child in Poppy's arms. A little girl. She was all slimy, covered in fluids and a bit of blood, but to Severus she was the most beautiful thing in the world.
"It's a girl, Harry," Severus said in awe. "We have a baby girl."
"Boy's next," Harry muttered, exhausted.
"Rest for a few minutes, Harry," Poppy suggested. "You'll have a little bit before the next one comes, and I need to clean this little one up."
Poppy disappeared behind the curtain, and Severus turned to Harry. "We're going to have a little boy, too?"
"That's what the spells indicated," Harry said, his eyes closed from exhaustion.
Severus found a wet cloth and wiped the sweat and tear stains from Harry's face, while Harry nodded off.
It was less than twenty minutes later, however, when the pains started up again, waking Harry and putting him a right foul mood.
"This is entirely your fault, you know!" Harry shouted at Severus. "You're a fucking wizard, you should know contraceptive spells!"
"How the hell was I supposed to know you were one of those rare individuals who could carry a child?" Severus snarked back, his patience long gone.
"Severus!" Poppy scolded.
"You should have known!" Harry ranted on. "If it's weird and abnormal of course it will happen to me!"
Severus closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "You're right. This is my fault."
"Don't fucking patronize me!" Harry yelled. Luckily, another contraction came just then, and soon they were too caught up in pushing to snarl at each other. When their little boy was born, his cries rent the air, leaving no doubt to the state of his lungs. This time Poppy went to the curtain and called for Hermione.
"Clean him up just like I showed you, I still need to deal with Harry."
Harry was beyond exhausted, but his body wasn't finished yet.
"They're out," he moaned weakly as a less intense contraction washed over him. "Why hasn't it stopped?"
"Your body must expel the placenta and any excess fluids," Poppy said kindly. "But I can help you a bit now." With a wave of her wand, Harry felt a slight tugging at his belly, and the slick remnants of his children's home for the past months was expelled from his body. Another wave and he felt the small tears in the temporary birth canal healing. Finally, she waved once more and Harry was cleaned up and the bed was back to a normal bed. "Severus, you can give him this pain potion now while I go check on your little ones."
Harry swallowed the vile potion gratefully and wanted to drift off to sleep, but another part of him wanted to see his children too. Luckily, he didn't have long to wait before Poppy and Hermione came through carrying two tightly bundled babies.
"Would you like to hold them for a minute before you rest?"
Harry nodded and Severus helped Harry sit up enough to hold the babies in his arms.
"They're perfect," Harry said quietly.
"Have you picked out names?" Severus asked.
Harry looked up at him and gave a shy smile. "I had a couple in mind, but we don't have to use them if you don't like."
"What did you pick?" Severus smiled.
"Rosaleen Carys, for the girl," Harry said. "It means 'little rose to love.' And Caius Adan for the boy. It means 'joyful little fire.'"
"Those are perfect names," Severus said. As he took the babies and handed them off. "Now you should sleep. You've done well, Harry."
An hour later, Harry was sleeping, Ron and Hermione had been sent back to their dorms, and Severus was sitting watch over his brand new family. He couldn't stop staring at Rosaleen and Caius. They were so petite and perfect. So innocent.
"I take it you discovered why Harry was behaving out of character?" Albus said, startling Severus from his reverie.
"Indeed," Severus said, but it held none of his usual sarcasm. He finally tore his eyes away from his children. "You had no clue?"
"None whatsoever," Albus admitted sadly. "If I had known, I would have encouraged you both to be honest with each other much sooner."
"He didn't even know he could get pregnant," Severus stated. "And I never considered that he could be a bearer. He said I should have known, and he's right. If there is something unusual that can happen, it will when Harry is involved."
"What are their names?" Albus asked as he leaned over Caius' bassinette and stroked his pink cheek.
"Rosaleen Carys and Caius Adan," Severus smiled.
"Good meaningful names," Albus nodded in approval. "They will be very special children. Powerful, certainly, with you and Harry as their parents."
"They are so tiny," Severus said, echoing his thoughts from earlier.
"They will grow," Albus chuckled. "Before you know it, you'll be teaching them potions and Harry will have them out on brooms."
"What are we going to do?" Severus sighed. "It is one thing for you to overlook my slip-up; it is another thing entirely to expect that the school governors will do the same."
"We shall cross that bridge when we reach it," Albus said and laid a comforting hand on Severus shoulder. "Until then, I think you should get some rest. Harry and these two blessings from Merlin will need you soon, and you should rest while you can."
Severus nodded and allowed himself to be led to the bed nearby. With the bassinettes between he and Harry, he knew that they would be safe until morning.
"Bloody hell, this is weird!" Harry complained a few hours later in the private room where he and the twins had been moved. The twins had woken a little bit ago and were hungry. Now Poppy was talking Harry through his first feeding. Rosaleen was currently latched onto Harry's right nipple, sucking away. It was not quite painful, but it was uncomfortable nonetheless. "How long do I have to do this before they can be weaned?"
"I'd say at least the first six months," Poppy told him. "It is important for them to receive the nutrients your body is providing right now. Unlike a woman, however, you cannot sustain them indefinitely. Your mammary glands are only temporary, and they will need to be weaned before a year is up."
"Believe me, I have no desire to do this longer than necessary," Harry grumbled. He was not in the best of moods. He'd only slept a handful of hours before the babies awoke. Severus, standing nearby and holding their son, smirked at him.
And if that wasn't completely bizarre. Snape seemed to be completely taken with the twins. He'd been up and soothing the distressed infants before Harry was even fully awake. He'd changed Rosaleen's nappy before handing her over to be fed, and then set about doing the same for Caius.
Harry had wished that Severus could be the father of his children, a part of him recognizing the pull they held for each other, but seeing the reality of Snape cooing to a baby was almost more than Harry could handle. His heart was flooded with a feeling at once completely foreign and familiar. Was this what love felt like? Harry really couldn't be sure.
Severus brought Caius to Harry and he switched the babies off. Harry looked down at his son's face as he fed and was amazed again at how this beautiful little person had come from inside of him. Poppy bustled away and Severus took the seat beside Harry, still cuddling Rosaleen.
"The headmaster came to see me last night," Severus said, his face grave.
"Oh shit," Harry murmured.
"He already knew about our indiscretion at Valentine's Day," Severus continued. "I told him after I realized you didn't remember it. I had planned on seducing you back into my bed, and didn't want there to be any doubt about my intentions towards you."
"Well, yes," Severus replied, a bit disconcerted. He'd thought that he'd been pretty clear on that front last night. "I love you Harry, surely you know that?"
"I- I had no clue," Harry stammered. When Severus frowned, Harry continued, "But I'm glad. Those gifts were great, but they really didn't mean that much in the grand scheme of things. I've been seeing you in a new light for the past few months. Those evenings we spent together, the way you treated me after I came to you for help…well, I already cared about you. But I found myself wishing that it could have been you who was their father. And now you are."
Severus read between the lines of Harry's rambling and realized what the younger man was trying to tell him. He leaned forward, careful of the two babies they were holding, and gave Harry a soft kiss.
"But what's going to happen to you?" Harry asked after a moment of savoring their first kiss; at least the first one he could remember.
"Well, Albus was willing to overlook my inappropriate behavior toward a student, considering that you have never been allowed to be a child, but I'm afraid that the governors will not be so lenient." Severus stated. "It may be time I started reviewing my other employment options."
"I'm so sorry," Harry said, guilt obvious in his voice and in his eyes.
"Why should you be sorry?" Severus asked. "We both participated that evening. We both were unaware of the consequences. And frankly, I wouldn't trade you or these children for the finest job in the world, which teaching is not."
"But nothing," Severus said firmly. "I have only remained at Hogwarts as long as I have because it was necessary for my safety and my position as a spy. I no longer need to remain, thanks to you, and I had already begun looking at other options for next year. I think it would be best if I tendered my resignation before the governors can demand my dismissal."
"You're going to leave!" Harry asked in a panic. He didn't know what he would do without Severus there to help him. He'd thought he would find a way to deal with being a single parent, but now that he knew that he didn't have to be, Harry wasn't keen on the idea.
"I'm going to leave Hogwarts, Harry," Severus said gently. "Not you. I'll take the time off so that I can be with the babies while you finish your education. I have enough money put away to afford to take a bit of time, and the babies will need the care."
"Money is not an issue," Harry said dismissively. "I don't want to be here without you. Or the babies."
"Then perhaps I can offer an alternative," Albus said, surprising both men. Severus noticed that both Caius and Rosaleen were sleeping and moved to settle them into their bassinettes before allowing the headmaster to continue with his suggestion. "Harry, it is unusual, but I think this is an unusual case, and I believe that we could make an exception for these circumstances."
"What are you suggesting?" Harry asked.
"You could commute to school for the remainder of the year," the headmaster smiled. "You could still attend class and be with your family every evening."
"Really?" Harry was excited now. He hadn't missed the way the headmaster had called Severus and the babies his family, either. That thought was enough to put a smile on his face. He had a family now, one of his own.
"You would all be safer at Grimmauld Place, away from the media," Dumbledore went on. "And you have the support of a fine staff of house elves there."
"And there's a potions lab and a huge library, if you wanted to use them, Severus," Harry said, thinking he would need to convince the older man.
"You do not need to convince me, Harry," Severus smiled and Harry's heart stopped for a moment. He couldn't recall ever seeing a true smile on his lover's face before. "I would be more than comfortable in the home you have created."
"So it's decided," Dumbledore said. "Harry, you will need to stay in the hospital wing for at least another day, but then you and Severus will move to Grimmauld Place. I'll send for Dobby, and he can arrange the move."
"Thank you sir, for everything," Harry said sincerely.
"You are most welcome, my boy," Dumbledore said. "I only wish happiness for both of you. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to find a new Potions instructor."
"Snape?" Ron gasped when Harry was finally allowed visitors later that day. Hermione was holding Rosaleen, and did not look in the least bit surprised, but Ron looked like he had swallowed a bucket full of those slugs from second year. "How did…I mean…Snape?"
"Oh come on Ron," Hermione huffed. "You had to realize it was at least a possibility after he volunteered to help Harry this term. And then he insisted on being the one to be with Harry during the birth. It really shouldn't be that big of a shock."
"You knew?" Harry and Ron said together.
"Well, not really," Hermione shrugged. "At least not for sure, but it seemed likely."
"And you're okay with this?" Harry asked timidly.
"Well, it will be pretty complicated for you both, won't it?" Hermione said. "I mean, I can't imagine this news going over well with the school governors, but if you are happy, then I'll support you."
"Snape?" Ron asked again, still stuck on Harry's original revelation.
"Are you happy?" Hermione asked, ignoring Ron.
"That Severus is the father?" Harry said. "Yes, I think he'll be a great father, but as for the rest, I don't know. I mean, we haven't really spent that much time together as anything other than teacher and student. In some ways, I feel like I barely know him. We've decided to take some time to just get to know each other first before we try to push the whole relationship thing.
"I know he was the one from that night, and there is definitely an attraction there. I also know that he was the one who sent me all those gifts, because he wanted to pursue the relationship even before he knew about the babies. But now that the twins are here, it just makes everything so much more complicated." Harry sighed before going on. "You are right about the governors. Severus has already decided to turn in his resignation before they can fire him."
"We'll have a new Potions professor?" Ron asked, finally catching up to the conversation.
"Oh no!" Hermione wailed. "That means that we'll hardly have any time before NEWTs to get used to a new instructor!"
"Sorry, 'Mione," Harry said. "I hate the fact that I've disrupted so many lives."
"No, Harry, you can't think that way," Hermione scolded. "This isn't your fault. You didn't know."
Harry nodded, but decided to change the subject. "Anyway, Severus said he'd been planning on leaving at the end of the year no matter what. He doesn't really like teaching."
"No surprise there, mate," Ron mumbled, earning him a glare from Hermione.
"He wants to explore other options," Harry said. "Maybe try to start his own business. The timing has just changed, now."
"So what's going to happen?" Ron asked.
"Well, I still need to finish school," Harry said. "So Dumbledore said I can commute so that I can still be with the babies every night. Severus is going to take care of them while I'm in classes and try to set up an owl order potions business in the evenings. We're moving to Grimmauld Place as soon as Madam Pomfrey gives us the all clear. Probably tomorrow. Oh shit!"
"What?" Hermione exclaimed.
"I haven't told Remus yet!" Harry moaned. "Oh fuck, how am I supposed to spring something like this on him? We can't just show up on the front step and say, "Surprise!"
"Maybe you should call him," Hermione said. "Or better yet, send one of the elves for him. Tell him you really need to speak with him right away."
"Oh gods," Harry groaned. "He's going to flip. I know he and Severus have come to some sort of truce, but I think this may just be too much for him."
"Maybe he'll fall in love with these cute little buggers and completely forget about their papa," Ron cooed as he picked Caius up from Harry's arms. Caius seemed to like the silly faces Ron was making and waved his tiny arm and smiled.
Harry gave a half laugh at Ron's antics, but he thoroughly wasn't convinced. "Dobby!"
With a loud pop, the house elf appeared at the foot of Harry's bed.
"Master Harry called?" Dobby asked, but didn't wait for and answer as his eyes went to the tiny bundles being held by Ron and Hermione. "Oh sir! You is having the babies! Oh the other elves is being so happy! Girty is getting the nursery ready for the little ones!"
"Dobby, this is Rosaleen and Caius," Harry smiled and indicated the two babies.
"They is perfect," Dobby said earnestly.
"Thank you," Harry smiled. "Now I have a lot I need for you to take care of for me. First, I need you to tell Remus that I need to speak with him right away, but do not tell him about the babies yet. I'll tell him when he gets here."
Dobby nodded gravely, so Harry went on. "Second, tell Girty that we'll be bringing the babies home tomorrow, so if there is anything not finished in the nursery, she should get Tinkle to help her. And I'll need you and Reith to make sure that my room, the library and the potions lab are ready. Professor Snape will be coming home with us. Finally, can you send Gareth and Lendi to help Professor Snape pack up his rooms and move his things to the house?"
"Oh yes, sir," Dobby said gravely. "I is doing everything Master Harry asks. I is going to get Master Remus now, then I is getting the others working to welcome our family home!"
In a flash, Dobby was gone once again, and Harry turned back to his friends. "Are you both sure you are okay with all of this?"
Hermione nodded, and Harry and she both turned to Ron.
"What?" he asked a bit defensively as he looked up from tickling Caius' belly. "Oh yeah, right. Yeah. I guess I'm okay with it. I suppose anyone who can be a part of making two kids this perfect can't be all bad. And if he cares enough that he's willing to give up his job and all… Well, I was always taught that family comes first, but I never expected something like that from the gr...from Snape. So, yeah, I'm okay with it. And I'd be here fro you even if I wasn't, Harry."
"Thanks," Harry whispered. It meant a lot to know that his friends would be behind him, no matter what.
Severus had come back to the Hospital Wing to help Harry with the afternoon feeding when Remus was shown into the room by Professor Dumbledore. The werewolf stopped as soon as he entered the room. He'd been somewhat concerned when Dobby had insisted that Harry needed to see him right away, but wouldn't tell him why. That concern had only grown when Dumbledore had led him toward the Hospital Wing, again without explanation. But now…
Severus Snape was holding an infant and cooing- cooing!- to the child, while Harry was nursing another infant from his hospital bed.
"Remus, I'd like for you to meet Rosaleen Carys Potter-Snape," Harry said, looking down at the little girl in his arms. "And that over there is Caius Adan Potter-Snape."
There was a look of uncertainty and fear in Harry's eyes that was almost heartbreaking to all present. Remus looked up at Severus who nodded once and glared at his old rival in warning. The look said loud and clear, 'Do not even think of hurting my Harry!'
"Oh Harry!" Remus managed to get out before collapsing into the nearest chair. "How…When…?"
"I didn't know how to tell you," Harry blurted out. "I didn't really know how to tell anyone. Only Ron and Hermione knew until right before the babies were born." Harry quickly went through the events of the summer and school term, explaining how he'd found out about being pregnant, about not knowing who the father was, only stopping for a moment when Severus exchanged Rosaleen for Caius. By the time his story was told, Harry had tears flowing silently down his cheeks. "I was so afraid that you would be disappointed in me for getting myself into trouble again. I didn't want to be even more of a burden to you."
"Harry, you could never be a burden to me," Remus said softly as he moved t Harry's bed and wiped away his tears. "And these babies could never be anything but a blessing." Harry gave a choked sob and Remus pulled him into his arms, being careful of the tiny form still attached to Harry's chest. "Now, I assume you will be coming home with these two?"
Severus answered for them, "We will all be moving into Grimmauld Place once Poppy has released Harry and the twins."
"Severus has submitted his resignation, effective immediately," Albus put in. "And Harry will be commuting to school for the rest of the year."
"No wonder the house elves were working so frantically," Remus chuckled and shook his head in bewilderment. "You know, I was sure that when I was working on the house this summer that it would someday be filled with Harry's family, but I never would have guessed it would be quite this soon."
"Yeah, well, my life seems to be one surprise after another," Harry managed to joke.
"Never boring being around you," Remus agreed. "But you do make life interesting."
"Severus?" Harry called out as he carefully made his way down the stairs at Grimmauld Place. Girty was happily watching over the sleeping forms of the twins, who had taken a bit of time to settle, and Harry finally had a moment to deal with a situation that had been bothering him since their arrival that morning.
"I'm in the library," Severus called back and Harry walked slowly to the doorway. He was still a bit sore from giving birth. Even though magic had healed the majority of his body, the process of returning to a completely male physiology was a slow and painful one. Harry's bits and pieces were all back in place, and the birth canal closed, but his body still ached from the procedure.
Severus was working at the large desk that was the focal point of the room. Stacks of books and parchment surrounded him. Harry took a moment to savor the scene, and just how right it all seemed, as if this room had been made for this man. His face was relaxed for once, and he seemed to be at peace with himself and the world.
Severus finally looked up at Harry and smiled in greeting, an expression that took years off of him. "What can I do for you?"
"Why are your things in the blue room?" Harry asked.
Severus looked startled by the question, "It is close to the nursery and I thought-."
"I guess I should rephrase that," Harry interrupted. "I mean, why aren't your things in the master suite?"
Both of Severus' brows rose at that question. "I would never presume to go where I have not been invited."
Harry shoulders seemed to lose a bit of tension with this answer. "Oh, good, I guess. But you should consider yourself invited."
At Severus' sexy smirk, Harry blushed. "I mean, if we are going to give this a go and all…We should start off how we mean to go on, right? And I know I don't remember that night, but I do remember some things, like how safe I felt in your arms. I'm not sure how much…intimacy I'm ready for, seeing as how all of this is new to me and I just gave birth, but I'd like…but if you don't want to, I'll understand…"
Harry realized he was rambling on incoherently and let his sentence fade out. Severus gave him a long look before rising from his seat and walking with deliberation towards Harry. Harry held his breath, not sure what he expected to happen, but his body sure knew what it wanted to happen. Severus slowly wrapped his arms around Harry and pulled him carefully into an embrace. He lowered his face to meet Harry's eyes.
"I would be honored to share a bed with you," Severus whispered, and Harry shivered in anticipation. "I think we should take things slowly, really get to know each other, but I think you are right. We should begin as we mean to go on."
Then Severus kissed him and Harry felt like his entire body would melt into a puddle of goo. Severus' lips were so soft and gentle. He pressed against Harry's mouth in an almost chaste manner, but with a slow sensuality that suggested a deep seeded passion just beneath the surface.
Harry knew that his body was not ready for sex as yet; he'd only given birth two days before. He also knew that he was not emotionally ready for such complete intimacy, but at that moment, he wished he was. He wanted nothing more than to take this kiss and give it free rein to see where it could lead.
"I will have Dobby move my things," Severus murmured as he pulled away.
Harry just nodded dumbly and watched Severus return to his seat and his work.
"What are you working on?" Harry asked when he finally found his voice again.
Severus smiled and waved Harry to a chair that he moved beside him, "I have been going over my options, career-wise. I have been thinking that I might forego that mail-order business in order to concentrate on experimental potions, but I wanted to see how to go about finding grants and financial backing for such an undertaking."
"Grants?" Harry asked. "What do you mean?"
"Well, many company and charitable organizations will back researchers who are working on experimental potions in their sphere," Severus explained. "If I could find a backer, I could work on new potions to help those in need. The only limitation would be that I would have to concentrate on the work they thought most pressing."
"But why limit yourself that way?" Harry asked. "We can afford for you to spend the rest of your life experimenting."
"Not we," Severus sighed. "You can afford that, not me."
"But we are in this together, Severus," Harry objected.
"It is still your money," Severus said firmly. "I will not have you or anyone else able to say that I am simply living off of your money. If I cannot be a productive member of this household, I will not feel comfortable staying here."
Harry wanted to be offended, but there was a part of him that understood what Severus was getting at. "What if I was your backer, then? No, just hear me out. If I was some anonymous rich guy, you would have no trouble taking my money for your research. Why shouldn't you accept it from me?"
"Harry, I …" Severus paused as his Slytherin cunning kicked in, overriding his pride. "Well, if we used a formal contract, and you agreed to taking a share of whatever profit was gained from any viable concept or potion I created, I think maybe you have a point."
"A contract," Harry mused. "So that would make us business partners?"
"It would indeed," Severus smiled.
"I think I'm getting the hang of this rich person stuff already," Harry said. "I'll have investments in two very promising companies."
"Oh yeah," Harry shrugged. "I own a portion of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, too."
Severus rolled his eyes at this news. The Weasley twins had been bad enough when they were at Hogwarts, but they had left a legacy of practical jokes in their absence through their shop.
"So what sort of potions do you want to work on?" Harry asked curiously.
"Now that I have complete freedom to do whatever my heart desires?" Severus smirked. "I was thinking of your werewolf friend. I've made some improvements to the wolfsbane potion over the years, but I believe with a bit more work, the pain of transformation could be completely eliminated, thereby reducing the long-term detrimental consequences of the disease. I have several journals full of notes and ideas that I have never had the time to fully explore. And with him in such close proximity, this situation is ideal."
"So you'd help Moony?" Harry smiled happily at his…what was Severus? His lover? His boy friend? Harry shook off the thought. And turned his attention back to Severus.
"What about you?" Severus asked. "Once you are finished with your NEWTs, what do you have planned?"
"I'm not really sure," Harry admitted. "I always thought I'd be an Auror after I graduated, but now that Voldemort is gone, that doesn't seem quite right anymore. I don't want to keep living my life in danger. Look at how Moody is; I'd rather not end up like that. Especially now that Rosaleen and Caius are in the picture. I'd like to do something more creative, and yet worthwhile. Ideally, it would allow me time with the twins as they grow up as well.
"I guess I really haven't thought too much about it, because I don't really need the money, and for the time, the twins have to be my first priority," Harry continued. "But I know I won't be happy sitting around all day forever. I could never be the idle rich. Too boring."
"You are particularly skilled in spell work," Severus said. "Have you thought of trying your hand at creating new spells, becoming a spell-smith? You have always excelled at DADA, but you are quite talented in Charms and Transfiguration as well."
"You mean, experiment with new spells, like you do potions?" Harry asked with a flicker of interest. "I never even knew there were such things as spell-smiths."
"Yes, well, where do you think new spells come from?" Severus drawled. "I have dabbled in the art as a hobby on occasion, and sometimes new spells are created that way, but most new spells come from people who spend their lives researching and crafting them. It would allow you to set your own work hours, leaving you free to spend time with the children, and would be both creative and worthwhile."
Harry thought about that for a time, eventually giving a slow nod. "How would I learn how to do something like that? Wouldn't I need training?"
"You would need to apprentice with a Master Spell-smith," Severus agreed. "But you could do the majority of the work from home, meeting with your mentor only as often as needed. You'll probably need to learn at least the basics of Arithmancy, but I doubt that should be too difficult for you. And finding a mentor for the savior of the wizarding world should not prove difficult."
"I'll think about it," Harry said. He leaned over to Severus and gave him a soft kiss. "Thank you."
Before Severus could reply, Harry was shuffling out the door to check on the twins.
The weeks before Christmas seemed to fly by for both wizards. Severus was kept busy during the day doting on his children while Harry went to school, though he did spend a few hours each day working on his experiments and allowed Girty to do her job. They spent their evenings together, playing with the babies and talking about their respective days. They slept together each night, and shared kisses that became ever more passionate. By the time Harry flooed home after his last class before break, they were both frustrated by pent up sexual energy.
"The Weasleys and Hermione have agreed to come for Boxing Day," Harry told Severus over dinner that evening. "And Remus will be with us for Christmas day."
"Oh joy," Severus muttered into his napkin as he wiped his face. "Do we really have to have them all here? Can we not just enjoy the holidays alone? Just you and me and the children?"
"Remus is their godfather, so he is family," Harry said cajolingly as he slid from his own seat at the table and slipped into Severus' lap. The older man sighed. He knew that he would give in to what ever Harry wanted, especially with Harry's rapidly recovering body wrapped so nicely around him. "And the Weasley's have always been like family to me. Besides, it's just Boxing Day."
Severus sighed again and gave in. "Fine. We'll have the wolf and the Weasleys. Anything else you want to tell me while you have me wrapped around your little finger?"
Harry leaned close to Severus' ear and breathed, "Just that I went to see Madam Pomfrey today. I got an all clear."
Severus gently pushed Harry far enough away to look into his eyes. What he saw there was clear and unadulterated lust.
"Girty has the twins settled for the night," Harry continued. "I thought you and I could celebrate."
Severus didn't need time to think over his answer to that. He didn't even need to finish the wonderfully prepared dinner that Tinkle had prepared. He simply gathered Harry in his arms, stood and made his way up to their suite, kicking the door shut behind them.
Remus Lupin, when he came for Christmas three days later, noticed that both men looked a bit tired and worn down. When he asked Dobby about it, Dobby just shrugged and said that they couldn't be too tired, since they had spent the last three days in bed. Even Girty had been called to bring the children to the masters' bedroom.
Remus smiled and watched his tired but happy family. Even Severus had a happy little smirk on his face as he watched Harry feed the twins. It looked like Harry's dumb luck had saved him again.