Disclaimer:We have no claim on Harry Potter nor any characters or locations thereof. We gain only amusement from writing this.

WARNING: Drama, Creature fic. Christmas time at the Lupin Black household, family reunions, bonding over grief and…Babybirth.

AN: Collaboration between Trulywicked and Acherona. Thank you greatly for all the feedback. We appreciate so much.

Please enjoy this chapter.

Catch Me In Midair

Part Thirty-One.

Narcissa stared up at the facade of the castle Sirius had purchased with his mate, aware of Andromeda and Ted hugging and chattering with their daughter a few paces away while Severus stood like a silent gargoyle beside Nymphadora. She knew her son would be in there with his mate and though she'd exchanged owls with Draco she'd not actually seen him since leaving for Ireland. She wasn't certain she was ready but it was Yuletide and it was a time for family.

Tonks hugged her parents tightly and flashed the ring on her left ring finger while beaming up at the man beside her before pulling them along to get inside. "It's a beautiful house, even you have to admit that Severus."

The entrance was decorated with Christmas trees and garlands, blinking with fairy lights and lights shone invitingly from every window.

The large double doors opened and a very, very waddling Remus poked his nose outside. "Come in, come in. It's cold outside and we have mulled wine, gingerbread cookies and good company in here." The last statement was followed by a barking laugh from Sirius from somewhere inside.

"In the interest of 'goodwill toward man' I won't take that bait." Severus eyed Lupin critically, "You've been taking the nutrition potions daily?"

Narcissa's lips twitched. Severus might be a gargoyle but once he took a vested interest in something, he sank his teeth in and didn't let go.

"Yes," Remus smiled and chased a wayward lock of brown and gray hair that had escaped his ponytail behind his ear. "I've been a good boy and taken all of my medicine." He placed a hand on the curve of his large stomach. "The others are waiting in the southern parlor; it has a great view of the lake. Remus waddled in front of them, showing them the way.

Narcissa paused while the others went in ahead of her and watched her son, laughing and joking with Blaise and Pansy, his hair pulled back in a short braid that was being played with by his mate. Vaguely she recalled that veela hair grew twice as quickly as human and felt relief that her son wore it back. Loose it would have struck her hard with memories of Lucius. She studied Draco. He looked happy, freer than he'd ever been and more, freer than she or Lucius had ever been. Warmth shone in silver eyes, none of the infamous Malfoy ice clinging to him.

Harry noticed Narcissa and his hand left his mate's braid to poke him gently in the side to make him aware of his mother. His stomach knotted slightly and he hoped that the meeting would go well. Draco didn't mention it very often but Harry knew how much he missed his mother, it was clear on his face every time an owl came from Ireland.

Pansy caught sight of Narcissa as well, stilling as Draco turned to question harry about the poke, and held her breath.

Draco saw his mother before he could say anything to Harry and swallowed as he went over to where she stood. Nerves rioted around inside him like a thousand snitches loosed at once and he felt a pang go through him at the slight lost and uncertain look in his mother's ice blue eyes. He paused in front of her, "Mother."

She looked at her son, so like his father yet so not. Her baby had always been a gentler soul than her Lucius and it showed. Even now, grown into the same frame as his father had with the bulk of Lucius' features aside from the nose and chin, it showed. She reached out and wrapped her arms around him in a gentle hug. "You look so good Draco, so happy. I'm glad."

Harry exchanged a look with Pansy and drew a breath of relief as Draco wrapped his arms around his mother in turn, lifting her almost clean of the floor.

Andromeda was happy too and she hugged her husband's side. It had been wonderful spending time with her little sister, getting to know the woman she'd become but she had missed her family terribly. She knew Ted could manage himself and that Nymphadora was deliriously happy with Mr. Snape but she still missed them every day. Sleeping in a bed without Ted next to her never got any easier.

Remus wanting to give the newly reunited families some time walked over to his mate, plucking a cookie from Sirius' grasp and biting into it. "It's nice to have them all here don't you think?"

Sirius nodded and just claimed a second cookie for himself, looking around at everyone. The Weasleys, the Grangers, the Lovegoods, Neville, and Seamus, who was in a wheelchair, his nerves still undergoing repair for the damage the cobra venom had done. "It is and you know. I think that Seamus and Cissy may help each other more than anyone else." He laced his fingers with his mate's, "They're both carrying the same kind of wounds."

Remus nodded and snatched the second cookie as well, biting the head of a laughing gingerbread man happily. "I believe you are right, I'll make sure to put them next to each other at dinner." He shifted in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on his back, it hadn't stopped aching all day.

"You alright Moony?" Sirius's hand went to his mate's back and rubbed gently.

"Mmm, yes. Just a little achy. Could be nerves...I've never hosted a Christmas party before. Not counting the one in our dorm room where the lot of you got pissed and you forced Frank Longbottom into a bra and knickers and made him run straight through Hogwarts wearing it." Remus leaned into Sirius gentle rubbing, it didn't really ease the aching but it felt nice none the less.

Sirius grinned, "Ah good times. Why don't you sit down Moony? It's not like everyone expects you to waddle all over playing the good host, not when you're about to pop. Believe me they," he nodded at Fleur and Penelope who both held new babies in their arms, "will understand."

"I don't know...If I sit down at the moment I'm not sure I'll ever get up again." He gave a slight groan when a flash of sharper pain went through him and went to sit down anyway. So stupid, getting a back ache on the day they had invited everyone over to celebrate the holidays. Remus was not happy.

"Again, everyone will understand love. Besides the great big bat would probably tie you down to a chair if he suspected you were overdoing." He shook his head. Never would he have ever thought he and Snape could be in the same room and not be trying to rip each other apart but they'd been managing it for Nym and Remus' sakes. He settled onto the chair at Remus' feet and started rubbing his mate's ankles. "You'll probably whack me but, are you sure everything's okay in there?" He nodded at Remus' belly, "You're so much huger than Fleur or even Penelope, who squeezed out a four point five kilo sprog. Yeesh poor girl."

Remus' eyes flashed amber irritably. "The size of my hugenessis probably needed if the babe will be born with your big head." He shifted in his seat, trying his best to get comfortable and escape the stabs of pain running through him. He turned his eyes away from his more annoying than usual mate and watched Arthur Weasley hold and coo over Penelope's child and Bill stand like a proud rooster behind Fleur and their baby. At least their little one would have playmates the same age growing up. "Oh bugger." Remus tensed as the pain grew worse before he relaxed again. Oh no, this was not fun at all.

"Moony," it was a slow drawl, "I think we need to let Snape take a look at you."

"No." It wasn't quite a growl but very, very close to it. Usually Remus would have indulged his mate just because he loved him but he had waited so long for everyone to come visit them at the same time, spend time together without any drama around and see the beautiful home they'd created. A little...Okay a lot of pain wouldn't stop that from happening. Remus went through pain every month, he could do this. Just as he thought that a violent wave of pain had him almost arching out of his chair. "Buggery, fucking cunt!" He hissed between clenched teeth and for a man who didn't curse that was saying something.


Sirius' distressed yelp drew everyone's attention and suddenly Snape was just there casting a diagnostic spell and shaking his head in exasperation, "Stubborn idiot. Black carry him to the nearest bed, Dora," he looked a few steps behind him to see his lady looking worried, "Floo Hogwarts and get Poppy please."

"Of course." Tonks hurried to kneel in front of the massive fireplace, a fistful of Floo powder in her hand while she threw glances over her shoulder at Remus who was slapping away Sirius' hands whenever he tried to lift Remus up.

"You can't carry me; your twiggy back will break. Besides I'm fine." Remus glared at both Sirius and Severus and actually went as far as to grab a hold of the chair's armrests, holding himself in place.

Severus raised a brow, "You are in labor you flea-bitten moron and so far in that you won't get three steps before another contraction hits and then you'll hit the floor. If you had listenedto your body then Black wouldn't be needing to carry you. Stop arguing."

"Moony don't make me do something that will hurt us both," Sirius' eyes were pleading but resolute. If Remus wouldn't listen and let them get him to a bed, he'd use the 'alpha' position he held in their mate dynamics to make him and it would hurt the both of them immeasurably but with Remus in pain and their cub coming this was one situation where he'd have to stab his own heart.

There was a flash of pure hurt in Remus' eyes when he looked at his mate but he unclenched his hands and held his arms out for him so he would be able to carry him to a bed. The baby was coming early, not alarmingly so but still early and Remus was scared.

It almost ripped his heart out to see that hurt in Remus' eyes but Sirius knew he'd had to say it, had to warn his mate before he went so far as to actually pull alpha rank on Remus. He lifted Remus up in his arms, holding him close, and started walking out of the room, "Our bedroom or just the closest Remus?" It was a quiet question meant to show that Remus' desires and wishes were still important, more important than his and certainly more important than Snape's. It was only Remus and their cub's health that was more important to Sirius.

"If you have the strength I want our bed, our room." Remus' voice was quiet too but he leaned his head against Sirius' shoulder and placed both his hands on his swollen stomach, trying to will the pain away so he didn't jerk on Sirius' hold and make his mate drop him.

There was a silence hanging over the room and Harry walked to take Draco's hand, he couldn't help it. The closest thing he had to real parents were going to have a baby of their own...Now.

Draco squeezed Harry's hand in understanding and murmured, "Well since the hosts of the party have been called away," he brought Harry's hand to his lips and kissed it, "why don't you take on that role while they're busy? You aretheir oldest cub you know."

Harry flashed Draco a smile at that and fought down his nerves, it was not like he was the one giving birth. He watched his godfather carry Remus upstairs closely followed by Snape and after a whoosh of green flames Madam Pomfrey. "Well this was unexpected wasn't it?" He called out to the room. "Say what you will but Sirius and Remus sure know how to throw a party...I know for a fact that the food and lodgings are all ready so I think we should just go on as planned. Enjoying good food and even better company."

Ginny laughed, "And toasting the new star as soon as he or she makes their appearance yes?"

Narcissa had moved to sit near Seamus Finnegan and spoke calmly, "Indeed, it's quite a blessing for a child to be born during the Yuletide."

Molly gave both Narcissa and Seamus a very understanding glance before slipping firmly into mother mode to help Harry keep the brood under control. She was used to chaotic Christmases and for once she was happy not to spend one at the burrow. The hollow space where Percy's sock had hung on the fireplace mantle still stung like a knife. Tonight though, a new life would be born and that was something worth celebrating.

"A blessing?" Ron ran a hand through his hair. "I would feel cheated; you know this poor kid will get the combined Christmas and birthday gift of doom from everyone."

Hermione chuckled, "From family and friends yes but Magic herself specially blesses those born on any of the old holidays when Magic peaks. At least that's what I've heard."

Draco nodded, "You've heard correctly."

"Ah, well that's a perk then." Ron nodded and smiled but privately he still think the baby would curse having to share it's birthday with a holiday. Being in Auror training had forced Ron to calm down a little, to at least try to stop and think before rushing headfirst into things but he was still Ron and that would never change. A day without him putting his foot in it some way or other was not a normal day.

"This baby will be blessed and loved regardless of the day it arrives. He or she is already so wanted and so loved." Harry added.

Penelope nuzzled her son's cap of red hair, "As every child is or at least should be."

Narcissa inclined her head and looked out the window watching snow swirl down in light eddies. She looked next to her at the young man staring sullenly out the window as well and spoke quietly, so as not to be heard by any of the others, "How did you get your hands on cobra venom in Hogwarts, if I may ask?"

Seamus shrugged, fiddling with his fingers nervously. It had become a habit, since his nerves were itching as they regrew and healed. "It wasn't hard, not really. It's surprising how easy it is when you're desperate and have nothing left to lose. A few owls sent to Knockturn Alley, a whole lot of Galleons and then I was set."

She nodded, "Do you intend to try again?" There was no censure in her voice, only quiet understanding and curiosity.

"I don't know." It came without hesitation. "Some days I'm only waiting for the opportune moment to try again and do it right this time. Other days it doesn't feel that bad and I think that I can at least hang on another day. The pain is always there though, it never goes away."

"No. No it doesn't. The only thing keeping me here stands beside Mr. Potter there," she nodded at Draco standing with Harry, "I had twenty-eight years with my husband and if I didn't know that it would devastate my son I'd go join him."

Seamus nodded, understanding exactly how the older woman felt except for the fact that he had nothing at all to keep him here, no real reason to stay.

Just then Neville turned and gave Seamus an awkward smile, holding up a glass and pointing at it, asking if he wanted something to drink.

Narcissa studied the Longbottom Lord, "I have my son, you have your friends. Both are reasons to struggle onward I suppose."

"Maybe." Seamus gave Neville a just as awkward smile back and shook his head in the negative. "I do regret hurting Neville with what I did, he didn't deserve that but that's the only thing I do regret, despite ending up here." He motioned to the wheelchair. "They say it's just temporary but it doesn't really matter to me. My friends matter though, the few I have left."

She nodded, "As my son matters to me, and grandchildren in the future. Lucius had a plan for our grandchildren, a silly, ridiculous, little playground planned out down to the smallest detail. Now it's my job to make that reality when the time comes. My fool left tasks behind for me to complete on his behalf, stubborn man."

A tiny smile appeared on Seamus features. "Of course he did, he had to keep you busy and keep you from doing something stupid...Like this." He pointed to himself. "Dean had plans too, grand plans that I'm scared to even think about because if I were to attempt to achieve them I fear I could never do them justice."

"Why don't you tell me about them?" She smoothed her skirt and settled to listen to the young man who's heart was bearing a similar wound to hers as he spoke about the dreams and plans of the one he'd lost.

Neville gripped Luna's hand as he watched Seamus talking to Narcissa Malfoy looking more animated than he'd seen in a long, long time.

"Those two will do each other good." Luna held Neville's hand tightly and leaned against him. She'd missed her lovely, strong oak and she would do the most of this holiday break. It was strange being in Hogwarts when Neville wasn't, it was only six months left though and then she'd graduate too. Then she could be with him again.

He wrapped his other arm around her, he'd missed her too. Without Luna it felt as if he was constantly slogging through just a great big swamp that bogged him down. "They will yes. I haven't seen that smile since the battle and Narcissa looks like...an indulgent mother almost."

"It's good, I've worried about both of them." Though she had worried about Narcissa mostly for Draco's sake. Luna needed her little chick to be happy and safe and he wouldn't be without his mother in his life. "I wonder what she will think about the changes Draco and Harry had made to the Manor. I think she'll approve." Without taking her eyes off of Neville she reached out and plucked the new glass of firewhiskey her father had gotten from his hand, her Papa had a tendency to grow over sentimental when he got tipsy and that wasn't needed here and now. There were plenty of emotions flowing without adding on to them.

Neville's lips twitched at her action, "Yes I think she will, if only because it will be different from what she remembers walking through with her husband."

"I highly approve of the changes and the removal of the dungeons in the basement most of all. Seriously though it was needed, now both Draco and Harry show in furniture and colors. It's as it should be and I think Narcissa will see that." Still without looking she handed her pouting father a jar of Christmas sweets and stroked him over the arm gently before snuggling up close to Neville."

He nodded, "I know they've left the master suite alone and made a second room for Narcissa should she choose to come to Malfoy Manor and visit or just come back. I don't think Draco wants to touch the master suite without his mother's approval and opinion on changes."

"The master suite is his mother's, touching that would be like you throwing Augusta out of her suite at Longbottom house when you got the lordship. Some things you just don't do." Luna nodded. "Besides, I don't think Harry would agree to sleep with Draco in any sense of the word in the room where Lucius lived and slept." Her gaze slid to Harry, noticing his easy smile and relaxed posture. "How long do you think it will take for Ron to truly forgive Harry for choosing the Falmouth Falcons instead of the Chudley Cannons when he signed on as a professional seeker?"

"Until the first game he plays against the Cannons and Ron hears them insult Harry," he kissed her cheek, "you know how Ron is, sulks until his friends are slandered."

"True, I expect a large decline on orange once the season really starts. Ron can sulk but he's completely loyal to his friends, especially to Harry."

In Neville's mind that made perfect sense. Ron likely still felt a bit guilty for the times he'd wronged Harry and he knewRon still felt horrible for what he'd said to Harry when he'd left during the Horcrux hunt. The redhead had spewed the whole sorry tale out to him while out of his mind on pain potion after a brutal training session that had left him with a broken leg.

Over by the fireplace, Hermione sat in her boyfriend's lap, laughing at his description of his latest training gaffe. "My future Auror, racking up enough training injuries to break the record."

"Williamson says that if it doesn't hurt when training is done then you haven't done it right." Ron had both his arms firmly wrapped around Hermione's waist and he leaned in to kiss her cheek noisily. There was a lot of 'Williamson says' these days. Ron revered the weathered Auror in charge of training his group, the man had seen and done it all and Ron wanted to become just like him.

She shook her head, "I'm just glad he's not like Mad-Eye, may he rest in peace. I'd go spare if you were always jumping at shadows. I think Harry would probably hit you over the head with one of Malarkey's bats too."

"Mad-Eye was a brilliant Auror but the man wasn't all there, now was he? If I ever show any tendency to become like him I want you to help Harry hit me over the head with Malarkey's bats, hell you can use O'Connel's too." Ron kissed Hermione again. He loved Auror training, loved his group of fellow trainee's and the work they were doing. He missed having Harry around every day, he really did but if he was completely honest with himself he thought it was for the best. Ron knew it was all in his head but it felt nice not having to compete with his friend, to know that his successes and failures were his and his alone with no one else to blame or latch on to.

"Ron, love, you know me better than that," she kissed him back, "I'd hex you back into sanity not hit you with a bat."

"Ah yes, hex me and stab me with those pointy lovely elbows of yours. Important thing here is that you keep me sane, make me want to improve and you know that's not an easy feat." Ron would have liked to kiss her fully but he was still a bit shy touching her in front of her parents. Mr. Granger might look gentle but Hermione was his little girl after all and he had those tiny drill things...Who knew what he could do with those?

She played with his fingers, "Oh I know, trust me I know. So any bets on what Remus is having right now? Girl or boy do you think?"

"I don't know, I'm thinking boy but honestly I'm hoping for a girl. Can you imagine Sirius and Remus raising a girl, especially once she reaches puberty and the boys start sniffing around?" Ron grinned wickedly.

"Oh mercy they'll be a nightmare! Wicked man," she kissed his cheek again, "They'll be just as bad as Bill is already being." She gave the scarred redhead a teasing grin.

Bill raised a red brow and return the grin before going back to preen over the treasures in his life. There had never been a more beautiful baby girl than their Victoire; he ran a long finger down the baby's cheek before leaning down and placing a kiss on top of his wife's head.

Fleur looked up at him with a smile and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth, "I like you being ze protective Papa amour. And so shall Victoire until she ez a teenager."

"Oh I have no doubt she'll loathe me then, even more so since I was a bad boy myself...I know all the tricks in the book." Bill looked both protective and gleeful at the thought of thwarting a teenaged Victoire's moves towards dating and freedom. "She'll always know we love her and want the best for her though."

Fleur nodded, "Oui, she will," she nuzzled her daughter's fine baby hair.

Bill kissed his wife again. He knew their little girl would have it rough with both wolf blood and veela blood running through her veins. It would make her blood run hotter and make her feel things much more than friends around her but he and Fleur would always be there and ease the burden as much as they possibly could.

Upstairs Sirius looked up from where he sat on the edge of the bed, holding Remus' hand as Tonks came in with Poppy, "Hey, welcome to our home Poppy. Sorry we can't give you the tour."

"That's fine, it looks as if you are a little busy here." Poppy already had her wand out and was running diagnostics on both Remus and the baby, making sure all was well. "Oh dear, this will be quick I think. Did you feel anything earlier Remus?"

Remus had the sense to look guilty. He reached for Sirius hand. "I'm sorry for being difficult Pads, I just wanted everything to perfect."

Sirius sighed and brought Remus' hand to his mouth, "Perfectionist," it was said with exasperated affection, "It's fine."

"I love you." Remus had his heart in his eyes. Now that their family was about to become reality Remus had never been so scared.

Snape flicked an invisible piece of lint from his robes, "Do you need me to remain Poppy? Or should I go as I doubt 'Mummy' wishes me to become that familiar with any part of his anatomy."

"I think you should stay Severus, we are going to get our hands full." Poppy smiled at Remus' sigh. "I will need help afterwards more than during so I think I can spare all of you the trauma of Severus seeing any private parts."

"Thank Merlin for that!" Sirius wrinkled his nose, "I don't care that he's a registered medi-wizard or that he's very much into women, my Moony, I don't want Snape seeing his bits."

"Believe me Black; I've no more desire to see them than you do to have me see them."

"And I would very much like it if you all would stop talking about my bits. I'm about to give birth here, can we focus please?" Remus glared at all of them just as another contraction hit and his entire world turned black at the edges with unspeakable pain. It felt as if he was about to be ripped apart which wasn't that far from the truth when you thought about it.

And just that fast Sirius forgot about Snape's presence and was there, letting Remus crush the bones in his hand and sliding an arm around his mate's shoulders and murmuring apologizes and affectionate nothings into Remus' ear.

Remus tried to hold back, he didn't want to hurt Sirius and having werewolf strength when in labor was a hazardous thing. He wanted the comfort Sirius' touch gave at the same time as he wanted to kick his mate for being so fucking fertile in the first place. "Maybe...Ah buggering shit...Maybe you should let go of my hand before I crush it...You'll...Gaaaaaah...You'll need it to hold the baby." Sweat prickled his skin and dampened his hair as Remus held Sirius' gaze.

"Poppy can heal it in a trice if you break anything Moony," he pressed a kiss to Remus' temple, "or even the gargoyle over there."

"Don't say I didn't warn you." It came out as a hiss as Remus arched almost clear off the bed with the next contraction and Poppy hurried to get him ready, setting up a small screen around Remus waist and arranging his legs so she would have free access.

"You can't push yet Remus, concentrate on breathing, you're doing very well." She pat a knobby knee and ignored the menacing growl coming from her patient.

Sirius nuzzled his mate's ear and ignored the fact that his hand was going numb as he murmured, "Wanna visit Hogwarts after our sprog arrives and torment Poppy and the gargoyle?"

Remus snorted, amusement shining through the pain. Gods he loved Sirius who could make him smile even when he wanted to rip his bollocks off. "Yeah I do, I'm sure we can find lots of stories to entertain them both with." He brought Sirius' abused hand up to his lips and kissed his knuckles as he got a slight pause between contractions, then he turned towards Snape.

"Can't you be useful and give me some potion that makes me see pink hippogriffs until this is all over and our babe is here?"

Snape quirked a brow, "No. Male labor is too delicate to do so. It could harm you and the babe. You shall simply have to ride it out unfortunately."

Sirius growled, "How is it that muggles have childbirth down better than we do?"

"They only have to worry about the women getting pregnant. There are potions for women, none for men in labor."

"That bloody well sucks now doesn't it? You're a buggering genius in potions...Invent one." Remus' grip on Sirius' hand tightened until he could actually hear the bones protesting as pain hit again. The contractions were coming almost continuously now and all he wanted to do was push and get it over with but Poppy kept telling him to wait.

Sirius was going absolutely insane inside. He hated seeing his mate, his best friend, and if he had anything to say about it his future spouse in such pain. It was worse than the full moon because there was no potion to ease it and he knew that he had a hand in causing it. "Damn it Poppy how much longer?! He's hurting!"

"Giving birth does indeed hurt Mr. Black." Poppy's voice was deadpan as she continued her prepping. "The only thing that will come from Remus starting to push early is that he will tire himself out before the actual labor work begins and that will be a very bad thing for both baby and mother."

"Isn't there somethingyou can do? Pressure points or something?! I don't care if it's supposed to hurt or not Remus hurts enough on the full moon!"

Severus softened a bit at the frantic, distress in Black's voice and moved over to him, "Poppy doesn't know about acupuncture, shift a bit," when Sirius moved just enough, Severus to positioned the animagus' his free hand and fingers in a formation on Remus' lower back, "Gentle but firm pressure when a contraction hits."

Sirius pressed, committing the points to memory when Remus' tension eased.

Remus breathed a breath of relief as Sirius fingers did their magic. The pain didn't go away completely but it turned more manageable, it felt as if he could breathe again.

The animagus leaned his head against his mate's and looked over at Snape where the man stood still and silent, "Thank you. I'm never going to like you I don't think, but thank you."

Severus inclined his head and settled against the wall.

Sirius sat with his mate, stroking and nuzzling in affection when Remus needed it, backing off when the threats got too vicious, and all the while letting Remus clutch his hand without complaint. "Love I think we'll be investing heavily in contraception potions from now on. I didn't know this would hurt you so bad."

Blinking the sweat out of his eyes Remus looked at his mate. "It's really not that bad love, we both knew it would be hard but I'm more worried that it's hurting you more than me." He reached out and placed his hand against Sirius' cheek. "Everything will be okay, we've got both Poppy and Severus here and they're not going to let anything go wrong. Just concentrate on the fact that we'll be a full family soon. I can handle any pain to welcome our baby to us."

He turned his head and kissed the center of Remus' palm, "I just hate seeing you in pain Moony and this one's kinda mostly my fault. This sprog better take after you cause after all this, you deserve the most credit."

Remus let out a very undignified snort. "That is probably the most ridiculous thing you've ever said and you've said some ridiculous things in your life." He shifted so he could raise his head and look at his mate properly. "How exactly is this mostly your fault? I might take it up the arse and you might be my alpha but the last time I checked it took two people to have sex. Is it your fault that we got carried away and forgot protection? Do you have super sperm so you need to apologize for that?"

Poppy hid her smile as Remus' words were becoming more and more like growls as she looked up at the expecting parents. "Okay Sirius, help Remus to shift firmly onto his back, slide behind him so he has you to lean against because with the next contraction we are ready to push."

"Yes ma'am," Sirius had a sheepish smile on his face and he did as ordered then murmured into Remus' ear, "can we just claim temporary insanity for the asinine things I might say? I still say the sprog should take after you, you're the smart one."

"Says the one claimed as a genius, do I need to bring up your grades again?" Remus rested his head against Sirius shoulder, feeling very exposed as Poppy arranged his knees apart and upwards. "The thing I find most amazing is that our offspring will be a part of both of us, a hopefully perfect blend who will grow up to be their own person...and we'll get to witness it, guide them and help them."

"Okay, okay, let him or her have my smarts but your patience, responsibility, and focus. I never could focus and Merlin knows I'm reckless. If it's a boy though, so totally want him to have your gorgeous face. Mine's too girly, I have to always have stubble to prove that I'm a man." His tone was half-joking.

"You're beautiful, you always have been and you still take my breath away. I'm a brown mouse and you shine like the star you're named after." He could feel the telltale signs of a contraction coming and tensed up.

"Okay Remus, here it comes. Push now." Poppy's voice sounded from somewhere down by the foot of the bed and Remus' obeyed pushing with all his might, actually screaming as he did it to get more power behind it.

Sirius grimaced a bit but said nothing as he supported Remus during the pushing. He'd deal quite contently with blown eardrums if it helped Remus feel better.

Against the wall, fortunately angled so as not to see any 'bits', Severus twitched in vague sympathy. He would never like these two, there was far, far too much old animosity and bitterness to ever like them, but he could admit to feeling a measure of empathy for them, especially Remus. It could not be at all comfortable to squeeze something the size of a melon out of an opening in your body that was the size of a kiwi. He blinked in vague surprise at the decibels Lupin's voice reached as Poppy announced that the baby was crowning, he hadn't known the male voice could getthat high.

Sweat was pouring off him and Remus was mildly aware that his nails had turned into claws despite the absence of a full moon. He screamed and growled as he pushed with everything he had and not one thought of dignity passed through his mind. If anyone complained he'd be happy to show them what it felt like to press out a baby through such a tiny little hole...In fact he would gladly push their own heads inside said hole and laugh with glee as they slowly suffocated.

"Alright Remus, here comes the shoulders. Give a strong push as strong as you can." Poppy cradled the head of the baby who had already begun to scream its lungs out.

Grabbing both of Sirius' hands Remus arched off the bed with the strength of his push, feeling as if his body split apart and then a really strange feeling of something warm and slippery sliding out of him.

"Congratulations you two...You have a beautiful baby girl." Poppy smiled and called for Severus to come help her. "Now try to breathe Remus before the next one comes."

Sirius watched Snape take the tiny body and start weighing and cleaning her with wide startled eyes, "A girl, Merlin's pants we've a girl? We'd best keep Molly on retainer for advice." He pressed a kiss to Remus' temple.

Remus smiled and turned his head so he could press a sloppy kiss to Sirius' neck. "A daughter...Shannon Beatrice Black. I love you but if you excuse me her sibling is getting impatient." Remus tensed again and began to push anew.

"W-what?!" Sirius' mouth dropped open, much to the amusement of Snape, "Two?!"

"Yes, Mr. Black." Poppy couldn't keep her own amusement out of her voice. "You are having twins."

"You have no idea how hard it was to keep that from you." Remus panted in between pushes. "But you were the one who wanted to be surprised."

"Bloody hell Moony I meant about gender not...damn." Sirius released a wild, happy laugh, "Anyone else know or am I going to have the fun of seeing everyone's gobsmacked faces?"

"No one else knows, except for Batty over there of course and maybe Draco...I'm not sure about his veela powers but he has been eyeing me strangely." Remus smiled before another scream tore through him and he pushed again as Poppy ordered.

"Now, stop and let the contraction do the work." Poppy adviced and stood ready to catch the second baby. After about another half hour of pushing Poppy smiled brightly. "And now your son is here, healthy and perfect and with lungs just as strong as his sister. You are now parents to a pair of healthy twins."

Sirius stared as the babes were both cleaned, cut the cords in a daze, and saw them swaddled as Poppy helped Remus expel the afterbirth, then the held two perfect little angels in his arms as he sat beside his mate, "By the Lady, look at them Moony."

"They are beautiful." Remus looked at the tiny, pink faced, wrinkly creatures in Sirius' arms and he had never seen anything more perfect. His eyes shone with love and adoration. He was so tired and it felt as if he'd literally been turned inside out but he was so incredibly happy. "Our children...Shannon and Leander."

"So beautiful and so precious, just like 'Mummy' is." He leaned in and kissed the center of his mate's brow, "Thank you Remus."

"No thank you Sirius, thank you for seeing me and for loving me when you're worth so much more." Remus tilted his head up and brushed a feather light kiss against Sirius' lips. "Now go, show off the most beautiful children in the world. Happy Christmas Pads." Remus was pale and he really was tired, struggling to even keep his eyes open and he ached...Gods how he ached. "Any useful potion now then Batty?"

Severus' lips twitched in amusement and he produced a pain potion seemingly out of nowhere, "No pepper-up this time. Your body needs real rest."

Sirius nipped his mates jaw softly before standing and heading for the door, giving Remus a look over his shoulder, "One day Remus John Lupin, I am going to make you see just what a beautiful, amazing, incredible person and soul you are even though I'm half terrified that when I do you'll realize just how much better you could do than me." And with that he slipped out and headed to where the party was.

"Silly, silly man. As if there is anyone better than you." Remus whispered even though he knew Sirius couldn't hear him before he downed the pain potion. "Thank you Severus, for staying and helping."

The potion master straightened his sleeves, "You're welcome. Listen to Poppy and get rest." That said he left Lupin to Poppy's medical mercies.

To be continued...

AN: Thank you so much for reading and as usual we would adore hearing what you think. See you all next chapter.