Part 8

It took two weeks before Severus and Harry were comfortable enough to let Poppy and the headmaster into their rooms. Another week beyond that before Harry finally emerged from their quarters to resume his private tutoring in the evenings. But it wasn't until May that Severus felt secure enough to emerge and teach his classes, but only then if Harry was in their rooms with Maggie.

When June arrived, however, and Maggie was four months old Harry and Severus decided it was time for them to leave behind their "cave" and present their daughter to the world.

They decided against any big ceremony or announcement. Most of the school, and therefore the wizarding world, knew why the two men had been in confinement by now. And most of them had figured out that the baby had been born, since Severus was teaching again. But they had never actually seen Maggie. So when Harry and Severus showed up for lunch the day before graduation, everyone in the Great Hall was craning his or her neck to see the little bundle of joy.

The crowd around the happy family got bigger and more crushing, despite the fearsome Potions Master's threats of detention. And then it happened. One minute Harry was trying to shield his mate and daughter from the masses of students and the next…

There was a huge green dragon roaring and spitting fire in the middle of the Great Hall.

"Well that explains why he never could master his animagus form," Professor McGonagall said ruefully.

There were screams and students rushing for every available exit while prefects and professors attempted to restore calm even as they trembled at the sight of the dragon. Dumbledore and McGonagall watched with some humor at the scene while Severus did nothing to conceal his smirk. The most surprising reaction was from Maggie, whose eyes turned yellow to match her father's and who let out an answering "Raowr" to her father's roar.

"It would seem that Magdalene has inherited their dragonish traits," Dumbledore said.

McGonagall nodded. "Remind me to retire before she starts school."

Dumbledore chuckled, "Come now Minerva. Surely you aren't afraid of that sweet child."

Minerva gave him an incredulous look. "She'll have Harry's impetuosity and adventurous nature, combined with Severus' intelligence and impatience. Add in the temper and power of a dragon… I am not ashamed to say that sweet Maggie Potter scares the dickens out of me. Can you just imagine the trouble she'll be into? The last of my hair is turning gray just thinking of it."

"I certainly can," Dumbledore said with a twinkle. "I cannot wait to bear witness to such a sight."

McGonagall shook her head at his insanity and turned her attention back to the Hall before them. All of the students and teachers were gone now, leaving the family—father, daughter and dragon—alone. They could not hear what Severus was saying to his mate but the smirk had yet to leave his face.

HPHPHPHPHP

"That's one way to clear a room," Severus drawled as he rubbed the nose of his mate. Harry was doing his best to curl his rather large body around his mate and child. "And we are going to have to discuss what sort of example this sort of behavior sets for our child. She cannot grow up believing it is okay to turn into a dragon whenever people annoy her."

Severus continued to talk to Harry in that manner until Harry calmed enough to return to his human form.

"I didn't mean to change into a dragon," Harry said sheepishly. "But did you hear Maggie? She answered my call! You know your daddy, don't you sweetie, even if I look like a big scary dragon."

Severus rolled his eyes and finally continued towards the staff table to enjoy the lunch they had come for. "Albus, Minerva."

"Severus, Harry."

"And how is little Maggie today?" Albus asked as he used the end of his beard to tickle Maggie's toes. This was a fun game for both until Maggie giggled and blew a spurt of fire at the headmaster and singed a good two inches of beard. "Well. I think we'll need to find a new game."

Severus laughed, "It is a new trick Maggie has learned. We've tried dissuading her, but she is stubborn. And she doesn't have a very good example in her daddy."

"It's fun lighting the fire that way," Harry muttered as he filled both his and Severus' plate. "Besides. We've fireproofed pretty much all the important things now. Hey, Severus. Do you think you can turn into a dragon too? Only I think it might be fun to all go flying together once Maggie gets a little older and can change."

Severus rolled his eyes. "I would assume I can. I am not, however, going to make the attempt in the Great Hall."

"I am sorry about that," Harry told the other two professors. "I didn't know that was going to happen. They were all just getting way too close and wouldn't back off."

"Well, I do not believe you will have any trouble after today's display," Dumbledore said. "I doubt even the most foolish wizard will attempt to peek at Maggie without permission now."

"That is a bonus," Severus admitted. "And the students will begin to fear me again. It seems as though my most menacing glares were ignored after giving birth. With the threat of becoming a dragon, I'm sure that will change."

"So, after the ceremony this afternoon, what are your plans for the summer?" McGonagall asked Harry.

"We're going to look for a cottage outside of Hogsmeade," Harry said. "Severus can walk or floo to the castle each day and I'll floo to London."

"Oh," Minerva was surprised. "But I thought you would stay here. After all the work you did to prepare those rooms…"

Harry shrugged. "We'll lock up those rooms in case we need them to nest again in the future, but we want to raise Maggie in a real home. It will be safer for her."

"And for the students," Severus said wryly.

"You are keeping the rooms for the future," McGonagall said slyly. "Does that mean you intend to give Maggie a sibling?"

Severus wanted to growl at the presumptuous woman, but she was his friend and colleague. "Perhaps. We do not even know for sure if it is possible, or if the conception was a one-time event."

"I'm being optimistic," Harry said. "I figure one of us should be. I'd like two more."

"So where exactly are you looking for houses?" Dumbledore asked, turning the topic back onto safer ground.

The rest of lunch was spent discussing the merits of a south facing garden and an eat-in kitchen.

When they finally left to go back to their rooms to prepare for the graduation, Harry smiled as students and faculty alike gave them a wide berth. "That actually went much better than I had hoped."

"You turned into a dragon," Severus reminded his mate.

"Yeah, but now we know I can and so does everyone else," Harry said. "Fear does wonders for keeping unwanted visitors at bay. I should know."

"Harry!" Hermione and Ron were coming down the corridor toward them and the redhead couldn't help but call out. "I heard you had an exciting lunch, mate. Charlie will want to talk with you, I'm betting."

"Yeah well, everyone's avoiding us now," Harry said. "Almost as bad as when everyone thought I was the heir of Slytherin."

"They never," Severus said, shocked.

"They did," Harry said. "Second year. Because I'm a Parseltongue."

"Ridiculous," Severus snorted. He continued down the hall with their daughter, leaving Harry to visit momentarily with his friends.

"Are you coming to the party at the Burrow tomorrow?" Ron asked. "We're gonna announce our engagement to the family."

"I've convinced Severus to stop in for a while," Harry said. "I can't guarantee how long we'll stay. I doubt we'll be much better about your siblings gawking at Maggie than we were today. And Severus doesn't do social very well to begin with."

"I'll warn everyone," Hermione promised. "We just really want you there when we make the announcement. Moral support and all that."

Harry grinned and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "You've got my support, moral or otherwise."

Ron watched as Harry got more and more anxious to leave. It was pretty obvious that he still didn't like being apart from Snape and their baby. "Go. We'll see you at the ceremony and at the party tomorrow."

"Thanks," Harry said with a sheepish grin. And then he was off, jogging through the corridors to catch up with his mate.

He caught them just as they were about to enter their rooms.

"So?"

"They just wanted to remind me about the party tomorrow," Harry said.

Severus sighed. "This mate business is a lot of work. Do I really need to be there?"

"Yes," Harry said. "You know we still have trouble being apart. And I need to be there."

Severus handed Maggie to Harry and went to their bedroom. When Harry followed him in, he was sitting on the bed, removing his shirt so that Maggie could have her lunch. Harry was used to the sight by now, but he was still surprised that Severus seemed to enjoy these moments as much as he did. Harry handed Maggie over once Severus was settled. "Here you go, Papa."

"Then I shall go," Severus said as he got Maggie settled as though there had been no interruption in their discussion.

"Thank you," Harry said quietly. He sat beside his mate and kissed his cheek. "I love you."

"As you should," Severus said, but there was a teasing tone to his voice. "After all, I gave you a child."

"You gave me more than that," Harry said with a smile.

"My body?" Severus suggested.

"That too," Harry chuckled.

"Then perhaps you were referring to my heart," Severus said. "Because you have that as well."

"And I'm thankful every day for it," Harry said. "But I was thinking that you gave me everything I could have ever wanted and more: a family, a home, joy, love…"

"Ah," Severus said with a nod. "That. Yes, I suppose I did. But it was only fair, since you did the same for me. I love you Harry James Potter."

"And I love you Severus Snape Potter."

Harry leaned in to give his mate a tender kiss filled with all the love in his heart. Unfortunately, their kiss was interrupted by Maggie, who decided to send a little burp of fire at her daddy.

"Shite, Maggie!" Harry cried out as he jumped back. "Give your daddy a little warning next time."

Severus was too busy laughing to scold Harry for his language or Maggie for spitting fire. And he was reminded of the conversation he had with Albus when all this first began. Things really had changed completely , but every change was worth it in the end, because his life was filled with happiness and laughter and love. All because of a potions accident.

The End

A/N: Well, that's it for Nesting. I hope you have all enjoyed this little fic. It was fun to write. Thanks for all the great reviews and support!

For those of you who read my work in other fandoms, I'm still posting Baby Mikey under House and I'll be posting a new Queer as Folk story tomorrow called Running. Hope you'll check those out! Jules