So the moment's finally arrived. My baby is all grown up and ready to leave home. I have to admit I'm a little proud, given the fact that I actually wrote the WHOLE damn thing and didnt abandon it when I hit rock bottom, which I assure you happened quite a few times during the period I was working with the story. But who leaves her baby behind, right? :)

Mainly I have to thank my two encouraging and super Betas, Marie-J and Azrael, who helped me along the long way of writing, keeping a close eye to my spelling, giving me hints and suggestions to make the story better. With your help, girls, the story rose to become a far better story than what it would have been left alone with my dog-tired braincell. So I once again wish to thank you DEARLY for all your help and support! :)

And second, but not least I wish to thank everybody who have given me their response- I've been truly owerwhelmed by all your kind words! And that so many of you apparently are sitting on needles due to the little cliffhanger ending on chapter ten tells me that I've managed to keep you in suspence. And of that I take great pride! ;)

HUGS,
Restina


Everybody gets a second in the sun
I have a feeling mine has just begun
Music non stop when I close my eyes
Clarity born from such a compromise
and you are almost like me

Fragment from "Music Non Stop" by Kent

The Curse, part 11

Ron helped Harry up the stairs and to the medical wing to see how Severus was doing. Harry seemed to be beyond tired, but he refused to let Ron bring him anywhere else. They met a grave-faced Hermione in the doorway and she hurried them inside and locked the door behind them with a locking spell. The whole school had already started swarming with rumours and they really didn't need the med.wing swamped with curious people right now. Madame Pomfrey was busy in the far corner of the smallest of the five rooms that belonged to the medical wing. She turned when she heard footsteps, it was beyond any doubt she'd been crying recently.

"Harry," she hurried towards the young man before he had a chance to get to the man lying on the single bed the room contained. "Come with me for a minute- don't worry, Ron and Hermione will take care of Severus in the mean while. There's nothing more I can do for him right now. Harry followed her hesitantly over to her office where he sat down. He knew it wasn't good news she was about to tell him, her face looked too torn, her eyes had big problems with meeting his gaze.

"How is he." his voice, barely audible, his eyes big and scared. Pomfrey sighed.

"He's lost a lot of blood, Harry. And due to all the hours of heavy labour… I just don't know… There's a limit to how much pain and exhaustion a body can endure, and Severus must have been riding on the very edge of that. If he crossed the line… I'm sorry Harry, all we can do now is but hope." Harry felt a weird fog cloud his head as he tried to understand the meaning of the mediwitch' words. Severus couldn't die after all this! He was over it now, he only had to recover wasn't he? Could pain leave such a scar a man could never fully heal, and die even? If he'd died when giving life that was one thing, but to die now, after the whole turmoil? Sure, it would have been just as terrible if he'd died in the middle of a scream or if he'd just faded hen, but to die when the worst was over with? That wasn't Severus Snape!

"I want to see him now." Harry rose from the chair on trembling legs. He remembered the smell of blood.

"Harry, I think you should get some rest…" Madame Pomfrey rushed over to steady the young man but he shook free from her helping hands.

"No, I have to do this. He needs me." Their gazes met and the mediwitch understood.

"Alright, dear. You can go see him now. But before you go.." Harry turned as he was about to turn the doorknob:

"Yes?"

"The father.. of the child.." There was an aura of uneasiness over her: "Are you really the father? You're not covering the real identity of the father are you? Severus may be in real trouble if you're not honest, love." A sad smile appeared on Harry's face, showing signs of growth and dawning realisation of his responsibilities.

"There was a time I wished I had nothing to do with both him and the baby, yes. But I am the father of the child. Any parental test would show you that. I'm Severus' soulmate." With these words he left the room heading for Severus' sickbed, leaving a puzzled but relived mediwitch standing like frozen by the new information granted her.

*-*

Minerva was really nervous. After calming the new-born baby-girl and making her sleep she had a new task on her agenda, informing the headmaster about what had happened. She knew Albus was a wizard who took great pride in knowing exactly what was going on at Hogwarts 24/7. How this particular little detail had escaped his all-seeing eye she had no idea of. Severus had been wobbling around pregnant in front of the very school for nine months and nobody had even suspected! Sure, but how could you suspect such a thing?! There hadn't been a reported male-pregnancy for over two hundred years and even back then it was very rare. Minerva knew of one curse and also some sort of potion that was able to get a man pregnant, but no living witch or wizard mastered neither of these that she knew of. And to believe that Severus Snape, of all people, would get himself pregnant! No, there wasn't a chance in hell neither of the teachers could have guessed, of that Minerva was certain. Severus was one of the top five in the world regarding potions, though, so if anyone should be able to regain the old fertiliser-potion it would be him. Would that mean he'd impregnated himself??

She inhaled shakily and contacted Albus the usual way, through the fireplace. Hopefully she would catch him still at his room before breakfast. And sure enough, as she popped her head through the fire she was greeted by a jolly welcome.

"Minerva! What a great surprise! What brings you to my fireplace this early in the morning?" He sat on his bed dressed in a purple robe.

"I have some news of great importance, Albus. I don't know how to tell you this.." Minerva shivered slightly as she imagined the reaction of the headmaster when she had told him the news.

"Come on, old gal, one word at a time- easy does it!" Dumbledore smiled. She sighed and opened her mouth.

"It's about Severus," she said and noticed a shift in the headmaster's face. Concern slipped inside his eyes, as he glanced at her.

"What is it Minerva, tell me please!" There were no trace left of the smiling old wizard.

"He's been hiding something, the past months, Albus." Dumbledore sighed:

"Yes I've sensed there was something he was hiding from me. There's been this aura surrounding him lately, and then there was the change of personality and the weight gain.. I've feared the pressure from his days as a death eater would finally catch up with him. He's so afraid to show his feelings and fears, Severus. The poor child, I should have been there for him! Oh, dear I thought that for once I should let him come to me, I was afraid it would only get worse if I pushed him. I shouldn't have left him in that condition! How is he?" Minerva understood Albus believed Severus had just had a nervous breakdown.

"Albus.. The secret Severus' been hiding from us the past months is a pregnancy." Albus looked like he was about to faint. He sat there, mouth wide open glaring at her as if she was a figment of his imagination.

"What?" he whispered.

"Severus has, very successful indeed, been hiding the very fact that he's been with child."

"Nooo," Albus gasped: "That can't be… Oh my, why didn't I see?" He stood up from the bed and marched over to the nightstand where he grabbed a small purse containing Floo-powder.

"Move, Minerva- I'm coming home!"

*-*

He was out of his mind in worry as he stepped out of the fireplace in Minerva's private quarters. Severus had to be only days from delivery now, maybe the birth had started even, and that was the reason the secret was finally reviled.

"Where is he, Minerva- take me to him immediately! He must be near death of worry for the coming birth!" He was still in his morning robe, in his haste he had only remembered his wand. He stopped for a second and noticed that the witch standing in front of him was crying.

"The birth has already taken place, Albus. Severus gave birth to a healthy baby-girl. She's sleeping in my bed right over there. But Severus.. he lost a lot of blood.. I don't know if he'll make it." No. This wasn't happening! Albus stood aghast for a second not able to move. He could too easily imagine the pain and suffering the poor wizard had been through. The mere fact he was called for after it all was over was a clear sign Severus had tried to hide his condition to the very end.

"Where is he?" the old man whispered as tears ran down his face. He looked over to Minerva's bed where a black-haired baby was sleeping peacefully. Severus' daughter. His old suspicion caught his mind. Was this the last evil act of Voldemort? Was the baby sleeping in Minerva's bed the heir of his old fiend?

"The father… " his voice sounded agent. "is it…"

"I left with the baby in such a haste I never asked who the father might be," Minerva answered as she brushed a skinny finger over the sleeping baby's cheek. Then dawning suspicion appeared on her face and she withdrew her finger as if she'd just been burned.

"You don't think Voldemort.."

"I don't know," Albus answered gravely: "But there's only one way to find out." He raised his wand and moved it in circles above the sleeping child. As he did this Albus muttered a spell that would reveal the second father. He dreaded what the result might be. But from the mint green mist that magically appeared over the baby's head it wasn't the cruel face of Voldemort that came through. It was a dearly beloved face, a face he in his wildest dreams wouldn't imagine would appear from such a spell. Harry Potter. The boy Severus resented and loathed, the boy he had treated unfairly for the last six years, apparently for his bad habit of breaking the rules. Behind him Minerva fainted with a soft thud and Dumbledore was tempted to do the same thing. How could this be?? Had someone slipped Severus a fertiliser-potion with some of Harry's hair in it? But surely no student on this school would have knowledge of such an agent spell?!

He awaked the fainted witch with a harsh whap from his wand just over her head and ordered her to continue her wake over the baby, while he himself headed for the hospital wing.

*-*

The entire school was storming with wild rumours concerning the Potions Master. People had seen Hermione Granger and Mrs McGonnagal storm through the halls, Hermione covered in blood and babbling hysterically about Severus Snape. Rumour had it he had taken ill, and there were many Gryffindors who could tell they had heard inhuman screaming from Hermione's Head-Girl- room. Some people had a horrible story about him being infested some gross alien-like creature that had erupted from his stomach and left the man in one hell of a bloody mess. There was one rumour Snape had been attacked by a deadly virus, absorbing his body from within, another rumour about him being slowly eaten by a mouse trapped inside his stomach. Yes, the rumours were many and wild, but the wildest and most unbelievable one of them all Draco Malfoy silently told his Slytherin mates.

"I heard Hermione tell Mrs McGonagal Snape's pregnant. He's near death after a birth." No one believed him of course and they all laughed at the silent young man who'd once been their leader. But then five Slytherins came scrambling into the great hall reporting they'd just seen McGonagal running down the halls with a baby in her arms. And a few minutes later two first years from Rawenclaw entered the hall, crying their eyes out. They had seen Hagrid, carrying a very bloodstained Snape, with Madame Pomfrey and Hermione Granger hot on his heals, equally blood stained. And from that moment it was settled. The Potions Master had, how odd it may sound, given birth, nearly dying in the process. Anything seemed possible in the wizarding community..

And of course the rumour spread beneath the boundaries of Hogwarts. It spread like wild fire through Hogsmeade and therefrom to Diagon Alley.. And from there it didn't take long before the word reached the word of a very nosy woman with great theft in smelling a good story with a dawning scandal rising behind it.


*-*

Albus had rushed back to Hogwarts the same morning the mystery baby drew its first screaming breaths. Harry had never seen him like this before. He was crying openly by Severus's sickbed, asking over and over again why Severus hadn't told him. He got no response, obviously. Harry who had refused to leave the room under any circumstances didn't quite know where to look. There was so much emotion circulating the room and it was such an intimate situation he witnessed that he almost regretted not having left the room. The old man trembled as he embraced Harry lightly.

"I understand you are the father of Severus' child?" Albus' eyes, cheeks and beard were wet with tears. He lay a hand on Harry's shoulder and Harry could have sworn he'd never felt anything heavier.

"That's right," he answered, shivering. Albus looked at him from over the top of his half-moon spectacles.

"I think you need to tell me how you managed to get your Potions Professor pregnant, Harry." There was no anger in the old man's eyes. Just sadness and curiosity.

"Voldemort.. cast a curse," Harry began, but stopped immediately when he saw the look on Dumbledore's face.

"What?!? Are you telling me that you and Severus.. that you're Soul
Mates???!?" Harry wondered if Dumbledore had the ability to make his eyes pop out of his head, if so it was only a matter of seconds. The headmaster staggered around on the floor with a bewildered look on his face.

"Of course you are Soul Mates! How could I have not seen it! My dear, Severus never stops to amaze me!" He ran his fingers through his long white hair and for a moment he actually smiled.

"My dear Severus, finally you've met the one who's gonna make up for all your years of misery! And who would have thought it would be Harry Potter!
And you have known for all this time…" He turned around, towards the man in the bed again.

_"All the suffering and pain… It makes my heart bleed for you my child! You've suffered through so much more than anyone. I wish I had been there for you when you needed me. But it relives me to find that Harry here has supported you through this." Harry wanted to drop dead on the spot. Some help! He'd been in denial, he'd been accusing Severus for making his life hell and he'd even avoided him the last weeks. Some help indeed. He didn't even know if he wanted what Severus had offered him. But he said nothing. He looked at the grieving man leaning over the bed and knew it would only hurt him more if he told the truth. Harry hid his bleeding heart within.

*-*

But Albus was a wise old man. He gave the shivering young man a big hug and looked him straight in the eye as he said the following words:

" See with your soul, not with your eyes. Feel with your heart, not with your hands, Harry. You have a great future ahead of you if you only accept it, my child. Believe and you will see. Set your self free and you will feel!" It was probably one of the weirdest things Albus Dumbledore had said in his life, but probably also one of the wisest. In time Harry would understand, of that the headmaster was certain.

*-*

Big, dark blue eyes peeked up at him. They were so dark in colour they one day would change into dark brown. Black, stubborn hair curled its way up from her tiny head and a cute little nose, not at all crooked was perfectly placed in the centre of her face. A little mouth, constantly searching for anything to suck on, and an expert on making just the right sound to attract just the right attention. She was so incredibly small, so incredibly perfect! Harry could sit by her bed for hours, just staring at her as she was sleeping. Two days had passed since the fatal night in Hermione's room. Severus had still not woken up.

The whole castle, of course, was shaken by the news. There still was wild rumours running around about Severus and his peculiar condition, the baby and who the father might be. Many assumed it had to be Voldemort. But then they didn't know of the young man sitting by Severus' sickbed day and night, the same young man who'd lately been taking interest in the child no one claimed fathership to.

*-*

He had a living, breathing baby-girl to take care of. Harry handled her like a porcelain doll, so afraid his touch would hurt her in any way. He felt so helpless and scared for messing up and on top of that he had Severus to worry about. Four days had passed and he was still in a coma. Madame Pomfrey didn't know if he would wake up again at all. He'd lost an awfully lot of blood and due to the trauma he'd been through.. she just didn't know. Harry couldn't stop thinking about Severus and his selfless acts towards him. He'd asked for absolutely nothing from him, although he was destined to be his. He had offered to leave if it would please Harry, he'd even tried to hide his love to make it easier on him. Harry was nothing but a jerk who hadn't seen that before. His state of denial had forbidden him the beauty of the man he'd learned to fear and loathe. And now it might be too late to see if they really had a future together.

He cried by Severus' bed all night. He watched the baby with Ms McGonagal hanging over him pointing out what he did wrong. Thankfully Ron caught her during one of her "Babies must be treated this way and that way"-lessons and told her to give it a rest:

"Harry's doing just fine! I only hope I'll be such a good father one day!"
But Harry was slowly drowning in a sneaking depression. His spirit seemed lost, he found no joy in big dimples and happy gurgling. He only wished for the man who'd carried this child for nine months and given birth to her in the most painful way imaginable, to have a chance to see her. Hermione and
Ron were the best support anyone could ask for, but they had no idea of how
Harry was doing. He started to avoid holding the little one, fearing he might loose her too. He decided he shouldn't get too attached. He settled on a chair beside Severus' bed and refused to leave him.

*-*

Albus Dumbledore was concerned. Severus' life was currently hanging by a tread, and now his young soul mate seemed to have lost his will to live. He had a catatonic look on his face, which was very normal for a person loosing his soul mate. Just like swans soul mates are destined to be with only one partner their whole life through and none other. And Harry, eighteen years old, had only recently learned he had a soul mate. And although he had denied it, Albus guessed, Harry had now seen the truth. He loved Severus Snape just as strongly as Severus loved Harry Potter. And the thought of them never getting the chance to have the love they were meant for, the wondrous life together, and with a beautiful baby-girl even.. It just wasn't fair. He tried to reach out to the young man, but Harry was to devastated. He stopped eating, he stopped talking, and he stopped feeding his baby-girl. He only breathed.

And as if that wasn't enough an old "friend" stood waiting for him outside his office one day after he'd checked up on Severus and his young mourning soul mate. The odd curls, the jewelled spectacles and the two inch long magenta coloured claws left little doubt. Rita Skeeter had smelled a good story.

"Rita, how nice! And I must say unexpected? I thought I had banned you from entering this school for the rest of your life?" He smiled and shook her hand like an old friend, but his eyes were beaming with warning. One step over the line and Rita would feel an anger far more intimidating than the old Voldemort could have achieved in his glory days.

"Oh, Albus! I knew you were only joking on that matter!" she said and flashed her big, yellow teeth at him: "And now I've heard there's a little scandal unwrapping here in good old Hogwarts. No one but the snake Severus Snape himself, I believe? Ah, it sounds like such an intriguing story, the man who was believed to be fighting on the side of good, was all the time planning his master's return. A man so plunged down in the dark arts he even volunteered to carry forth the child of his Master!" Her voice sounded like poison in old Albus' ears. He had never in his whole life wanted to do anything illegal, until now. He looked at the witch in bright pink robes and knew she was fully capable of destroying Severus' life in the case that he'd ever wake up.

"Get out of my sight, woman! Go, now- before I do something we both will regret!" The anger burning in his eyes made the witch loose her crocodile-skin purse.

"But Albus, what's this? I only wanted to talk!" she stuttered and took one step back.

"Listen. If you write anything about what you just said, if you as much as incline Severus Snape is a dark Wizard I will personally hunt you down!" Albus hissed: "He has done nothing wrong, if you want to write a story on him, why don't you tell people about how he DID fight on the side of good, at great personal risk. How he saved many lives and never asked for anything in return." Rita Skeeter gave him a last scared look and ran away, her beloved handbag left behind.

*-*

Hermione was out of her mind in worry of course. She could not sit still for one minute, instead she paced the floors, up and down, up and down trying to figure out what to do. Poor Harry was sitting by Severus' bed, denying to move. She didn't like the catatonic look on him at all and she and Ron had tried to reach through to him so many times she'd stopped counting. Harry wasn't just worried for a teacher anymore, there was something more now. She saw it in his eyes, how his hand held the Potions Master's hand, the way he traced his every features for a sign of life. It was a heartbreaking sight, and Hermione cried her self to sleep in Ron's arms every night. She'd always been a softie, but this was just too much. Even Ron had to admit Harry seemed to have deeper feelings for the Professor than he'd claimed earlier.

A week had passed. Hermione was on her way to the infirmary, in her arms a precious week old baby. She was sure this would be a wakeup call for Harry. She and Ron had tried everything and this was the last thing she could think of right now that could be able to snap Harry out of it. Ms. McGonagall was only too glad to let Hermione handle the baby for a little while, she looked like she hadn't slept in ages. Harry hadn't seen his daughter at all the last four days, but now Hermione had arranged a happy little family reunion.

He sat back facing her when she entered the room, as always. He didn't react on the footsteps behind him either.

"Hi, Harry! Look who I brought to see you!" Hermione put on what she hoped was a cheery face and walked up to the bed. Harry slowly looked up, and then looked at the little one Hermione was carrying in her arms.

"She missed you, you know!" she said and smiled as she more or less shoved the baby into his arms before he would turn all catatonic on her again.

"H. He.. Her.. Hermione, I… why don't you take her." Harry held the baby away from him, not even looking at her.

"Harry! It's your daughter!" Hermione exclaimed, aghast. She couldn't believe her own eyes: "She needs you, Harry- you're her father!" Oh boy, now she was getting really emotional. Harry turned his head away, but still held the baby away from himself, initiating for Hermione to take her. Tears welled up in Hermione's eyes as she took the little one who now started screaming her lungs out.

"Please.. Hermione… I can't look at her right now… she's to.. there's so much of him in her.." Hermione left him as tears ran down her cheeks, hope abandoned as she heard Harry starting to sob behind her. She had no idea how she could mend a broken heart…

*-*

Nine days had passed. Madame Pomfrey was seriously considering force-feeding Harry. He had no contact with the outer world any more, he just sat beside Severus with a begging look on his face. Sometimes he wept silently, holding the older man's hand begging for his forgiveness. The invisible bond between the two seemed to drive Harry to insanity.

*-*

The sunlight was peeking through a window in the medical wing, enlightening two silent figures. They both looked asleep. In the bed laid a man, pale as a corpse with black hair shining from the sunbeams playing with it. He was a handsome sight, looking peaceful and content. By his side, sitting on a chair and leaning against the bed, a young man with old features sat. He was sleeping, but his dreams were not filled with happy memories. He looked worn and restless, no peace in his face. Outside happy birds were chirping, welcoming the new morning, but none of the two men seemed to care. For them it was just another day away from each other.

Harry woke up around seven. He had a look at Severus half hoping what he had hoped for every morning but was just as disappointed as he always had been. This morning was different from all the other mornings though. This morning Harry lost his hope. The only thing holding him up the past few days vanished before his eyes. He stroke Severus' hand with a trembling finger and rose awkwardly from his chair.

"I guess it's time to say goodbye, then," he whispered and did the hardest thing he'd ever had to do, he let go. He turned his back to the sleeping figure and was going to open the door when the sound of a breath, a single inhale of air made him spin around.

"Leaving so soon?" A rusty voice, but with a well known tone of sarcasm over it. The kind of sarcasm there was only one man in the entire world capable of.

"Severus!" Harry ran toward the bed not believing his own eyes. From the bed two dark eyes gleamed back on him. Harry was pretty sure he was grinning like a complete idiot. The happiness welling up inside him was so huge he felt the urge to scream out loud to get it all out.

"The baby!" Severus suddenly looked alarmed. His hands searched what had once been a big and bloated belly. Fear and desperation entered his face:
"The baby! Where is it!"

"The baby is just fine! It's a girl, and she has your eyes!" Harry sat down on the chair and smiled. He felt so happy he could burst. But Severus on the other hand didn't seem to repay that happiness. He looked relieved by the news of his daughter being all right, but there was something else..

"What's wrong?" A curtain covered Harry's joy.

"Don't worry Potter, I'm not gonna claim anything from you. As soon as I'm fit to go I'll leave, with your permission of course." He looked dead calm.

*-*

It was such a weird sensation, waking up. He heard the sound of leaving footsteps and drew a deeper breath, it was that simple. For days he'd been swimming around in nothingness trying to find the right door to escape the emptiness. And now he'd finally found it. He opened his eyes and saw Harry leaving. Of course he spat out some stupid remark, figuring he should show
Harry he didn't need him. He wanted to show him how little his leaving meant to him, and to hide his heart already thumping painfully in his chest.

And then he remembered. The nine months, the day and night of hellish pain, the unborn he never had a chance to greet. His stomach was flat again, so the baby had to be born. But where was it? Panic struck him as he tried to sit up but couldn't, too weakened by the long days in bed. Harry told him the baby, a girl was just fine. Severus drew a deep breath of air as relief brushed through him. But as he looked at Harry he saw relief in his eyes too. Was it his relief for having the baby out of his life, now that Severus had woken up? Severus knew he should have expected this. That the stupid hope of Harry suddenly realising he had some feelings what so ever for him was childlike and probably hopeless. Harry was a grown man and his resentment towards him was probably too deeply rooted for them ever having a fair chance. So he tried his best to hide his bleeding heart as always, telling Harry he would leave as soon as he could, that he expected nothing from him.

There was a change in Harry's eyes. The sparkly green in his eyes faded, he
actually looked sad.

"Do you really think I want you to leave?" he whispered hoarsely. Something new appeared in his features.

"After all this, after all I've learned about you... about us. Do you really think that I would.." A single tear ran slowly down Harry's left cheek. All his youth and beauty shimmered through his sadness making him look even more beautiful to Severus' eyes. His love, his soul mate. What was this? What was happening? Severus was a man who'd lived to see many things, both things of beauty and ugliness. To see his soul mate looking like this made him wish he could take him in his arms, hold him tight and rock him gently until his smile reappeared on his face. But he knew his embrace probably was the last Harry needed right now.

*-*

Harry had expected no less from Severus. He wanted to lay no burden on Harry what so ever and therefore volunteered to leave if that made things easier for him. But Harry didn't want Severus to leave, ever! If he had learned anything the last few days by this bed, it was that. He wanted Severus to stay, with him. He wanted to be a part of their daughter's life, with him. He wanted to feel what love truly felt like, with him. And all this he wanted to tell the confused man eyeing him from the bed, but he didn't know how. So he did the one thing that felt right- he leaned down and kissed the man he loved.

There was a gasp from the unexpecting man, but then he caved in, his mouth accepted Harry's confession of love with great hunger, but with the sweetest tenderness. A world was reborn and Harry's life felt like it had just begun as his tongue embraced the tongue of his soul mate. In his whole life he had never felt so happy. When he finally drew back he noticed that Severus was both crying and smiling. The combination made Harry's head spin, the inner beauty of Severus shone through, leaving no trace of doubt in Harry's mind the two of them were indeed destined to be together.

"I know someone who can't wait to see you!" Harry whispered and rised from the chair: "Give me a minute, I'll be right back!" He kissed Severus cheek.
He had so much he needed to tell Severus, but still it felt like he had all the time in the world. Right now there was one thing on Harry's mind and that was to introduce the two greatest things that had happened to him in his life to each other. He rushed to Miss McGonagall's office where he found the professor sweating over a howling cradle.

"Mr. Potter!" she gasped while she tried to tidy her hair. The tight knot on the back of her head was dissolving as she spoke.

"I.. I. Your daughter sure is a handful!" She dumped down on a chair with a sigh: "I don't know how to calm her down."

"I know how!" Harry smiled: "I'm taking her to meet her daddy!"

"He's awake???!?" Her face lit up with a big and bright smile making her look twenty years younger: "Oh Harry that is wonderful news!" She jumped across the floor and gave him a hug surprisingly strong for such a skinny woman. Harry laughed as she hauled him around in the room, jumping like a teenage girl.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Go to him, show him the wondrous little treasure he's kept hidden from us for so long!" She shoved him towards the cradle. Harry hesitated for a moment. He hadn't exactly been an example of a good dad the last few days. He'd been too preoccupied to even grant his baby-girl a thought. But as he looked down on the little howling thing reaching up for him with her tiny arms, it all dawned on him. He took her up in his arms, pride shining as he finally accepted the miracle he had been granted. She stopped her crying and looked at him with her big, dark eyes, eyeing him out. It was almost as she was saying : "Where have you been the last days?" This precious girl was the final bond that would twine him and Severus for the rest of their life. She was the proof for the outside world that Harry Potter and Severus Snape had something so special even a curse of Voldemort couldn't destroy it. Harry had a smile on his face all the way back to the medical wing and he told everyone he met on his way that this was his baby-daughter and that she was going to meet her father Severus Snape. Now the secret was out there and Harry didn't care any more, he did not feel shame any more, just pride and love.

Madame Pomfrey was hovering over Severus when Harry returned. She was fussing, crying, cheering and smiling all at once.

"Please, Poppy- I'm just fine!" Severus sounded grumpy. Harry guessed the mediwitch had tried to check up on him.

"I have someone here who wants to meet you," Harry said and stepped forward. Madame Pomfrey walked away from the bed smiling so broadly her gums were showing:

"I'll leave you three alone for a minute," she said and walked out of the room. Harry sat down on the side of the bed and carefully laid the baby on top of Severus' heaving chest.

"Oh, god! She's so tiny!" Severus had a stunned look of amazement on his face: "I can't believe it, I can't believe something that beautiful can have grown inside ME for nine months!" Tears welled up in his eyes again as a tiny hand grabbed a hold of his finger.

"See, she's missed you!" Harry smiled as he watched them both. There was a glow about Severus as he watched what his body had created and carried to term. It was so weird, still it felt so natural. He bent down and kissed Severus' cheek:

"She is just as gorgeous as you are, you just haven't realised it yet,"
Harry said honestly.

"Hey! Don't offend the little one!" Severus answered, lip curling and a small, amused frown on his face. The old defence mechanism still had its grasp upon him. Harry wondered if his soul mate would ever see the inner and outer beauty he possessed. He picked up the baby and placed her in Severus' arms.

"Look at her, Severus. Do you see anything disgusting or foul with her?"

"No of course not!"

"How about her eyes, are they ugly? Or her mouth? Her cheeks, her hands or maybe her feet?" Harry continued.

"No of course not! She's perfect! Why are you saying this!?" Severus said harshly, he cradled the baby protectively against his body.

"Half of this miracle, this wonderful and beautiful baby-girl is you Severus! Look at her eyes, it's you! She has the same gorgeous, dark, mysterious eyes as you have. Eyes you can stare into for hours without getting tired of them. Making you ache and smile, and cry even if they want you to. And have a look at how she curls her upper lip if she's satisfied and content! That's you all over again. Her hair, it's you- I have no curls. Her chin, that's you. How can you have such a low self esteem when you see all the beauty you have passed on to her? If you're mocking your own looks you're also mocking hers." Severus had a peculiar expression on his face. He looked both puzzled and bedazzled.

*-*

He'd never considered himself anything but foul and ugly- looking. With his crooked nose, greasy hair and pale skin there was no chance for him ever being considered even remotely nice looking. His thin lips and constant frown would be enough to scare any person off. It was so confusing to see so much of himself in this tiny face, to see so many similarities and not feel disgusted by it, as he would have if he'd seen his own reflection in a mirror. His baby-daughter was so beautiful his heart ached, there was no way he would ever think she was ugly.

Harry's little speech threw him off tracks completely. His words sounded true, but still he couldn't let go of his old image of himself. He still felt like the bat-like creature the students made fun of, he still felt like the nasty man who looked as if he had been eating a hundred lemons. And then he looked back at the tiny face that was eyeing him curiously and saw the beauty. For the first time in his life Severus saw beneath his old miserable self, and saw some of the beauty hidden behind. The old shell was starting to come off, the new Severus Snape, the true Severus Snape was waiting to be let out.

He gave Harry a weird look and wondered if the young man had realised how
wise he was despite his young age.

"You never stop to amaze me do you, Potter! Now you've even half convinced me I should consider my self quite the handsome old bat who drinks goat blood as tea!" He smiled as he said it. It was a true smile, once a rarity, but not any more. From now on Severus would do a whole lot of smiling. The world could crumble into dust for all he cared as long as he had his family beside him.

"You should do that more often!" Harry said and kissed him gently.

"I intend to!" Severus whispered back as his heart blossomed and grew to something bigger, something new.

"I love you Harry Potter!" He looked his soul mate straight in the eye as the final straw of fear left his heart and he dared trust the world again.

"And I love you, Severus Snape!" Harry whispered back and kissed his lover once more.

*-*

Harry had just finished his tender kiss when the door flew open and a witch he remembered only too well glided into the room.

"Ah, finally I found you, Severus-dear!" she exclaimed loudly with a false expression of joy on her face. Harry stood up from the bed, trying to block the woman's view to the bed.

"Rita Skeeter!" he growled through gritted teeth: "What the hell are you doing here?!"

"What am I doing here?? I'm to take a picture of the baby for the Daily Prophet of course!" she whined and waved with a little magic pocket-camera.

"Get out of here," Severus whispered. He tucked the little one closer to his chest.

"You heard him!" Harry said: "GET OUT!" The witch seemed to think of her options for a moment and then her face broke into an evil smile.

"I don't think so," she said: "The public has the right to know that Severus Snape is harvesting his old Master's evil offspring! It is my duty to warn innocent people of the evilness and danger that child contains!" Harry wanted to jump forward and strangle this horrible woman threatening his family. But he knew that would only make things far worse. With all of his effort he tried to calm down.

"You will write nothing of that," he said and smiled as calmly as he managed: "because none of that is true." Skeeter started to laugh. Her high-pitched squeals made her sound like a pig.

"You amuse me, Potter- you really do!" she snorted and took one step forward: "But I need to ask you to step aside now, I have a picture to take!" Severus shifted nervously in the bed as he tried to cover the little one as best he could.

"You'll have your picture," Harry said calmly. Severus gasped.

"Harry, what are you doing?" he whispered desperately.

"Shush, love! Rita Skeeter will have her picture, and she will also have the true story with it. You see, Rita, this baby is not the heir of Voldemort, nor is he related to that monster in any way. This sweet baby-girl is Severus' gift to me, his soul mate. I'm her father, not Voldemort. He had nothing to say in the matter." Rita Skeeter's big jaw dropped and she halted for a moment.

"Rita Skiteeh, what are yeh doin here?!" Hagrid was crouching in the doorway with murder in his eyes. "I thaught I smelled a rat!" He ducked into the room and behind him Madame Pomfrey, Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall appeared, equally angry. Harry actually felt sorry for the witch for a moment.

"I just heard the good news!" The voice of Ron came from the doorway and was soon followed by its owner and Hermione.

"You!" He spat as he joined the line amongst the others. Hermione looked at the woman with utter disgust, but remained silent for a change. She took Ron's hand. Harry started to laugh. He saw the witch shrink as the others closed in on her like a long hunted prey and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
He had a look at Severus and saw a small smile play with his mouth also.

"I don't believe you, it's a conspiracy, a cover up!" she panted as she span around to see if she wasn't attacked somewhere she wasn't watching.

"There's no way the two of you could be soul mates!"

"No?" Harry smiled: "Then I wouldn't be doing this?" He bent down and kissed Severus sweet lips. And Severus answered him with great longing and even put his hand around Harry's neck and pulled him closer.

"Aaaaw, you're so sweet together!" Hermione sounded like she'd just seen some adorable bunnies with tiny pink ties on them. And Rita Skeeter certainly took the opportunity to take advantage of the situation no matter how cornered she was. The flash from the magic pocket-camera struck like lightning several times. She obviously could see a new story taking form. Hagrid lifted her easily up from the ground and threw her out:

"And stey outh!" he said and closed the door behind him.

"Thanks Hagrid!" Harry said and gave the big man a hug. It felt nice to be almost squashed in the embrace of the half giant again no matter how grown up Harry considered himself.

"I'm so happy for the two of yeh!" he gruffed and patted Harry heavily on the head: "And I'm so glad to see yeh awake, Sevrus!" he said and dried a big tear from the corner of his eye. He looked down on the little bundle in the corner of Severus' arm and a big smile lit his face. "She's a beauty, ain't she! She has yer eyes, Sevrus." Severus blinked and looked like he was about to cry himself.

"Do you want to hold her, Hagrid?" Harry asked. Hagrid looked at the little one with longing eyes:

"Oh no, I'd probably squish her or sometin."

"Nonsense," Severus barked and gestured for Harry to take the baby. Harry did as he was told and carefully placed the tiny girl into the massive hands of the weeping half giant. He looked at her as if it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen and cried some more. The others closed in around him and also had a look at the baby. Although they had already seen the baby, they acted as if it was the first time what so ever.

Harry sat down beside his bonded and smiled as they watched their closest stand around Hagrid, ooohing and aaaawing at the baby's every sound and move.

"I don't think we will have any problems with baby-sitters," he said as he took Severus' slender hand in his. Severus' face dissolved in a pure smile, a smile that involved all his heart and soul, and in that precise moment
Harry knew he wasn't cursed. He was truly blessed! No matter what the future would bring, as long as he could spend it with this man there would never be any doubt in his heart again.

*-*

Harry had exactly ten seconds worth of solitude. As he thought there could be no more trouble ahead mother fortune ambushed him once again.. Behind them there was a crash, and in the door none other than Sirius Black scrambled in looking very tired, complete with suntan.

"I jumped on the nearest broom as soon as I heard!" he panted and crossed the floor in two gigantic leaps, ignoring completely the little crowd standing around Hagrid: "You have no idea how hard it is to find a decent fireplace on Hawaii! And that owl you sent me, Minerva, was the laziest feather-ball I've ever seen!" He stopped dead, right in front of Harry and got a bewildered look on his face as he seemed to remember his old fights with Snape. They had fought at the same side during the war, but neither Sirius nor Severus were, to say the least, on speaking turns. And now Sirius looked like he was about to blow a fuse as he turned his fiery gaze towards the man in the bed.

"Now, how is it exactly you got impregnated by my godson, if I may ask??" Severus literary shrunk there he lay in his bed.

"I'm sorry, Sirius I didn't mean it to happen!" he more or less squeaked as he looked like he was trying to evaporate in front of his very eyes.

"Sirius!" Harry exclaimed and tugged his sleeve: "How nice to see you! I was meaning to write and tell you about all this, but I sort of forgot.. I've had a lot on my mind lately." Albus stepped forward and patted Sirius on the back:

"But now you're here, thanks to Minerva, so how about you come greet the daughter of your godson?" Sirius looked from one to the other like they both were talking some weird foreign language from Southern Arabia or something like that. Then he sighed and rubbed his neck with a big palm.

"OK, is it just me or have I stepped into the twilight-zone here?? The last time I was here, some five months ago, everything was just fine. Harry was a completely normal eighteen years old boy. Snape was his usual old nasty MALE self, besides what I at the time believed was a nasty case of the flu. And there were no signs what so ever I would return four months later to find my godson the father of the child of the very Potions Master he's loathed and hated for years! Can someone PLEASE explain to me what the hell has happened since I left??!" He bumped heavily down on a chair nearby Severus' bed.

"That's a long story.." Harry said fidgeting nervously. He had never thought of the old rivalry between the two men. And by the looks of Sirius he hadn't forgotten his old grudge about Severus. Severus by the way was remarkably quiet. He would usually jump at any chance to spit some snide remark in Sirius' way. But then there wasn't much left of the old Snape in him any more. Harry had to make his godfather see that somehow, but he was stamped for ideas. Right now he could only watch them and hope Sirius didn't throw himself at Severus' throat.

"You have every right to be angry at me, Sirius." The voice came from the bed, calm, rusty and a tad nervous: "I've tried for so long to keep Harry's destiny a secret, but on the battlefield of the final day destiny caught up with me. Here I had been trying to hide my dirty secret for six years so that Harry would grow up to have a choice, but one single curse from Voldemort made my efforts scarcely wasted." Sirius looked at him with a blank face and everybody in the room held their breaths as Severus continued.

"He cast the Legravata Simouron-curse on me, in one last desperate attempt to continue his legacy, his bloodline. He realised just seconds before he died that he had failed, that my heart and soul was bonded, that I could carry but one's child… Harry's."


"Wait a minute!" Sirius gasped: "Are you saying that you and Harry are…"

"Soulmates, yes." Severus answered calmly: "I knew it the very first night I lay eyes on him. And I knew the very same instant that I had to fight against it. There was no way I could justify to engage in a relationship with a twelve-year-old boy. What ever you believe I am, Sirius I would never forgive my self if I did that." Hermione started sobbing in the background and Hagrid soon joined in with an enormous blow in his hankie. Sirius still looked at Severus, not revealing his feelings.

"But faith took a nasty turn on me when I was hit with this irreversible curse. I tried to hide it, as long as I possibly could, but Harry- of course- found out when I was about five months pregnant. He didn't find out that he was the father right away, but it didn't take him to long. He was distraught by the news. He'd always seen me as a filthy and nasty human being that always came down on him like a fire-breathing dragon. And now he had to cope with the idea of being the father of this very man's child and even the fact that this miserable git was his soulmate."

"Please don't refer to yourself in that way!" Harry said and sat down by the bed: "I don't see you like that anymore." Severus smiled against his young soulmate as a single tear found it's way out the corner of his eye.

"Harry and I have travelled a long journey this past few months and I've been granted more than I've ever dared to dream about. But I do understand that this is hard for you to believe Sirius. If I were you I wouldn't either. We never took the chance to get to know each other when we were young, something I regret deeply. I beg your forgiveness for what I may have done in the past and only hope you will accept it, from the bottom of my heart." Severus' voice trailed off at the end, he was obviously tired after the speech. Now Albus joined the sobbing-choir and even Minerva seemed to have trouble hiding her emotions. Sirius gave his old fiend one long, searching stare. Then he turned his gaze towards Harry and continued his stare.

"Are you happy, Harry?" he asked. No fury, no smile, just searching. Harry took a deep breath before a big smile erupted on his face, making his green eyes sparkle.

"Yes I am!" he answered curtly as he grabbed Severus' hand to confirm it. Sirius looked at him in silence some more, then at Severus and then sighed.

"Maybe your heart isn't as dark as I want it to be, Severus," he said slowly, with pain on his face: "Maybe I've been too fond of disliking you to bother looking beneath to see what truly hides inside you. If that is so I am the one who should apologise.. There is something new about you which I've never seen before, I can see it now, plain as the day and I wonder if it's been there all the time and that I would have noticed if I looked close enough. I need time to adjust my self to this, I have to admit- but I also see the happiness you bring to my godson's face." He patted Harry's back and a small smile appeared on his face as dark eyes started to shine.

"And I'm very proud of you, Harry. You've done exactly as I would expect from you in this matter!" Harry just smiled back- to aghast to find words to say. His heart was bulging with pride, love and fondness for this man who broke out from prison two years ago to protect his godson.

"I think it's time you meet your new goddaughter!" he said and went over to Hagrid to get the tiny girl that was playing happily with the half giant's beard. There was a change in the whole presence of Sirius Black when the baby was placed in his arms. The magic of a tiny new life seemed to shake him head over heals.

"She's adorable!" he whispered as a tiny hand locked around his pinkie: "I can see so much of both of you in her! What's her name?"

"We haven't thought of one yet," Harry confessed as he sat down on the bed again besides Severus.

"Well, actually…" Severus started innocently: "I have had one name in my mind the last couple of months.."

"Oh? Tell us then!" Harry said with what seemed to be a chronic smile.

" Sirina, it means "Light of Destiny"" " he said as a slight blush entered his face: "I guess it sounds a bit odd.."

"No, I like it!" Harry kissed his hand: "She looks like a Sirina, doesn't she, Sirius?"

"Yes," the man goggling and making weird faces to the baby-girl agreed: "She definitely looks like a Sirina!"

*-*

So it was settled then. From that moment the baby's name was Sirina. She was a girl destined for doing great things in her life, as her fathers. And although she had some hard years ahead of her filled with prejudices and dislike from the ones who didn't know her- she always had her loving fathers to back her up and to give her all the love and comfort her heart could desire. And Harry and Severus? They both found the love they were destined, and spite the harshness they met in the wizarding-society they lived a happy life. They grew stronger together, nothing could separate their hearts. And if the world sometimes seemed evil and unfair they always had the friendship and trust from their closest friends from Hogwarts and Harry's and Sirina's godfather. Sometimes love finds a way, even when all hope is abandoned…

^End^

So.. was there really anyone out there actually believing I would KILL Severus?!? Well I hope you liked the ending of my little "saga". I couldn't bare to kill off poor Sev. after all he'd been through.He deserves all the happiness he can get! :)