|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Severus Snape
Title: The Child of Love, part ten
Date: 6 January 2002
I got slower and slower. Each class seemed to take more energy than I had to spare and just leading the older students in their lessons exhausted me. I found myself eating everything in sight and my body absorbed it completely. I gained no weight although my stomach mounded in front of me. There is only so much that a spell can hide and several of the other instructors made snide comments about my need for exercise.
It was a good thing that Harry didn't hear them or else he'd have gained more demerits for his House. He'd taken on the job of my protector with great tenacity. Every day was another miracle in my life and he was the greatest of all my blessings. With Hermione in on the secret, we had a little more time together. We met twice a week for their 'studying sessions'.
No one needed to know that those sessions were mostly spent in my private quarters. I always had snacks and hot tea. Hermione would settle in with the books while Harry gave me a massage to relax those muscles straining under their unaccustomed burden. We had lively three-way discussions and I found myself relaxing with them as I did with no one else.
Sometimes Dumbledore would invite us to his study and we'd adjourn to the cottage for the afternoon. Bathing in the hot springs was nirvana and I looked forward to those days with longing. He and I talked about the cottage and once the baby was born, Harry and I would stay there for the first six weeks without the threat of our secret getting out. I yearned for our own safe place and Albus promised that he'd do some looking around.
Such retreats are rare and the logistics of building a home, even a small one, in a hidden valley were complicated. It took a massive surge of energy to channel all the building supplies into one place and then you had to assemble them into a house. I rather thought that Harry would enjoy a challenge of that magnitude and we spoke of it occasionally with a kind of wistful note in our voices.
But right now, all I really wanted was my lover's hands on my lower back, massaging away the ache that rarely went away. At eight months, I had a never-ending reminder of how athletic this baby was. Kicks and punches came at all hours of the day or night and I wondered if bruises could form on the inside of your body. I played down how little sleep I was getting but Minerva had it out of me when she checked me in one of her now weekly visits.
There really wasn't anything she could give me that wouldn't affect the baby too so I was determined to catch up on my reading during those hours when I couldn't sleep. And that nocturnal habit was what finally clued me in on the latest ploy of the Dark. I'd had the impression that someone was snooping in the potion's lab that May. The students were busy with final exams and Harry hadn't been able to get away all week.
He and Hermione were feverishly finishing up their potion's project for the contest that would be judged by an independent committee up from London. At the end of a long day, I sat with my feet up and my hands on the huge mound that was our child. Perhaps the next day would bring a visit from the young man who brightened my world. I was thinking of him while stroking the spot that was the latest drum solo site.
And in my mind, I saw him with Ron and Hermione, arguing about something of earth shaking proportions. The baby began kicking suddenly and I felt our focus shift to the potion's lab two rooms over. A dark shadow covered the cupboard where the rare ingredients were and I felt a sense of danger that flared brighter than our conception spell had.
I was on my feet and moving towards the door when I realized that I was in no condition to tackle a thief. All it would take was one attack spell and the baby could suffer. I sent Gordius for Dumbledore and wedged one of the dining room chairs below the handle to keep it from opening. I felt like the world's worst coward but the baby came first and ever since I'd felt the flare of fear, he or she had quieted.
Sudden loud noises from the outer room startled me.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Harry's voice carried in.
"Put that down, you idiot. It's one of the poisons." Hermione's chiding tones were just so her that I almost smiled.
But I couldn't leave them to face the intruder alone so I moved the chair away in time to wrench the door open. A mini-star burst was just dying away when I got into the lab. Harry and Hermione were on their knees with Ron sprawled to one side. My heart almost seized when I saw Harry rubbing his eyes. I was on my knees by his side in a moment; my hands holding his head still so I could look into his eyes.
"Harry, what was it?" I dimmed the lights around us with a quick spell so he could open his safely.
"He teleported, Sev. He had something around his neck that hummed and then there was a loud pop and he was gone." His pupils were dilated almost completely.
The sound of Albus' voice from the lab door told me that help had arrived. I felt Harry's body relax beneath my hands when he heard Hermione's complaints and Ron's dazed voice. He had to help me to my feet before turning to Hermione and helping her up. I led the way to my own rooms after shutting and re-locking the potion cabinet. I could see at a glance what was gone and I'd worry about that later.
I flipped the teakettle on with a flick of my wrist and floated the sweets tin to the table in front of the couch where Hermione and Ron were sitting. Albus took one wing chair while Harry and I sat in the other. I had my arms unabashedly around my young lover and he around me. The baby kicked him once then settled down to sleep while I reassured myself that he was whole and in one perfect piece.
"Now, that we're all semi-conscious, would someone please tell me what just happened?" Albus asked with a frown.
Harry answered first. "The three of us were walking back from the Quidditch match when I felt a ... thump? It felt so odd that I looked around and then I somehow just knew that someone was breaking into the potion lab. And Severus was alone without any one to back him up."
Hermione was next. "Harry said Sev's name then took off at a run while Ron and I chased after him. Once we got here, someone had the potion cupboard open and he threw something at us. All of us ducked except Ron and that's when I saw what he had in his hand."
"The iridescent bat wing jar, right?" I added my small bit.
"Right." She sighed and got up to make the tea when the kettle whistled.
"Um, Harry?" Ron's eyes couldn't have gotten any bigger and he was looking at us with such a shocked look on his face that I almost laughed.
"Sorry, Ron, I guess you want to know about Severus and me." Harry sighed and gave him the short version, postponing for now the long, involved one.
Ron went silent and I really hoped that this didn't mean a breach in their friendship. I knew how much he cherished the first friends he'd made here at Hogwarts. But that was in the laps of the gods and we had a more pressing problem. Someone had gone to great lengths to steal practically the only supply of bat's wings at Hogwarts.
"Thank you, my dear." Albus broke into my thoughts and I realized that Hermione was serving tea to everyone. "Now, how bad is the theft?"
"Quite bad, Albus." I rested my teacup on my stomach and felt a sleepy wiggle from the baby who loved heat. "There were only three labs with any in stock and when the Whistle Penny lab burned to the ground last Thursday that took care of one third. I wonder if it was stolen like ours then the lab burned to conceal the theft or if it really burned."
"Oh dear, that does make a difference." Albus frowned heavily and wrinkled his forehead.
Harry rubbed my stomach absentmindedly while he drank his tea. "We never used bat wing in any potion we've ever brewed. What's it for?"
My eyes met the headmaster's while I thought about what to say. "It's used sometimes with advanced tutorials. Twelfth year students occasionally study the properties of bat wings."
"In the last century, it was used exactly once." Albus rubbed his eyes. "With disastrous consequences, I'm afraid."
"Four potion masters and six students were destroyed when the creature they brewed turned on them. The lab was sealed tightly with every warding seal known to the wizard world." I said and rested my head against the back of the chair. "It took fifty-one years for the creature to die and every master apothecary mage felt its death. This thief is either very young or very powerful."
"Voldemort." Hermione said implacably. "What kind of creature does bat wing make?"
"Iridescent bat wing comes from one source only, South American vampire bats who are in the process of molting." I could hear my dry lecturer's voice. "When distilled with 150 percent proof vodka from a source in Siberia, it creates a vampire like creature who is virtually unstoppable."
"Vampires?" Ron's voice squeaked.
"Vampire like, Ron." Albus finished his tea. "Instead of blood, it sucks out the magic energy that fuels a wizard. In the case of the last creature, it sucked out both life force and magic with hideous results. We need to know if the Whistle Penny lab vial was stolen first. I'll contact the Seekers and have them search the ruins of the lab. If I remember correctly, the residue of that powder is detectable even after fire."
"Quite right, Albus. A master-seeker should be able to winnow it out if it's still there." I finished my own tea, barely able to keep my eyes open.
"Severus needs to get some sleep. I'll stay here tonight and make sure no one else gets in. Where is the third place that holds this stuff?" Harry got up and set both our cups aside before pulling me up.
"It should be safe but I'll send an owl tonight to make sure." Dumbledore stood as well and beckoned to the other two students. "I'll need a little help and the fewer who know about this, the better. Come along and I'll do some more explaining. Good night, Harry, Severus. Get a good night's sleep and we'll meet here in the morning."
Ron was still casting strange little looks at Harry and me. That confrontation would have to wait for tomorrow since I was definitely selfish enough to want Harry with me tonight. I was sagging with weariness but not so far gone that I couldn't help my lover set a pair of the strongest locks we could muster on both the lab door and my rooms' doors.
"Harry, I'm too tired to even take a bath tonight." I admitted and listened to him chuckle.
"That's all right, love, we can shower in the morning." He guided me into our bedroom and stripped me bare before sliding me between the sheets. His innocent striptease would have hardened a confirmed heterosexual but only made me tingle warmly. Sex had been forbidden to us at the seventh month although I still enjoyed sucking him into climax.
Then he was sliding in next to me and his blessed warmth filled all my empty spaces. He spooned up behind me and hugged our child and me close. As if in answer, a warm glow moved through us both.
"That's kind of what I felt when the jolt hit me. Do you think that he's able to link the two of us together somehow?" Harry's voice stopped me from sliding into sleep.
"Maybe, I don't know much about babies and their links with their parents. It's an intriguing thought although my fear could have put you in danger tonight." I finally had time to think about it and realize what I'd done.
"Don't you dare even think about trying to dampen our bond, Severus Snape." Harry sat up and turned me to face him. In the dark, all I could see was the pale outline of his face. "You don't have to face anything by yourself, Sev. That's what I'm here for, to help and love you for always. Don't shield me from anything, even if it's bad. I need to know and I need you and the baby to be safe. It was not cowardly to lock the door and stay safe."
"It felt like it was." I said faintly just before he kissed me. It was a hard demanding kiss, more intense than our kisses lately.
"But it wasn't," he affirmed before lying back down and cuddling me close. "We're a team, the three of us, and we always will be."
I chuckled once and fell asleep, protected by my valiant lover.
Our shower was fun and I sucked Harry dry before helping him dress. Nothing tastes better than he does and it was a nice counterpoint to the eggs and toast we had for breakfast. He brewed more tea while I did a thorough search of the cupboard to make sure the bat wing was the only ingredient taken. Thankfully, it was. I'd thought that a fifth level spell lock would be sufficient but it had been opened handily.
That pointed to a practiced user of magic and once again to Voldemort. I was in no shape to tackle the dark mage and it struck fear in my heart that Harry might have to. A noise at the door to the lab startled me alert and I cast a quick spell to make sure it was our expected visitors. It was and I let them in, directing them back to my quarters. Ron was still casting odd little looks at me and I sighed internally but prepared for an emotional confrontation after our meeting.
Albus sat in the chair he'd used the night before and Harry served tea to our visitors before joining me again. "The bat wing was there when the fire started. Arson is still suspected, however."
"Are they checking the site to see if any other ingredients are missing?" I asked him.
"They are now." Albus smiled faintly. "The third holder of bat wing has been warned and they are taking precautionary measures. Are we blowing this up out of proportion?"
"No," my lover said decisively. "Something is going on but it's not what it appears outwardly. Sev, you said someone with great power or very young. Could it be one of the students who's involved in the potion contest? Someone that Voldemort could entice into acting for him while promising him power?"
I cast my mind over the four teams that Hogwarts was fielding for the competition. "Well, it's not Harry and Hermione. That leaves Higgins and Simon, Fowler and Gordon, and last but not least Malfoy and Blake. The unlock spell on the cupboard was cast by an expert but Lucius Malfoy is a master lock maker. He might have passed on his skill to Draco."
"Why?" Ron looked perplexed and Hermione answered him.
"Because he wants to win the contest to get his father's attention." Her voice was almost sad. "He thinks that will make his father proud of him."
"No matter the reason, we have to get it back safely. How do we do that?" Harry said firmly. "Let's do it today before he has a chance to open it."
We nodded and I slipped my hand into his, holding tight. Whatever happened, we'd face it together.