|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Severus Snape
Date: 7 January 2002
I was scared, really scared but trying to hide it. Severus had the baby to protect but he was vulnerable right now so he was my first priority while our child was his. I wanted to lock him away from all harm, the same way that he wanted to do for me. We both needed to stay with each other but the investigation was too serious to indulge ourselves.
And Ron was bursting at the seams to know what was going on. I'd debated telling him earlier but he hadn't had my epiphany about love yet and I feared losing his friendship and letting our secret out. Now I had to explain that while continuing our quest for the person who took the bat wing. Severus understood, of course, and he gave me that sweet smile that made me want to take him back to bed for a long cuddle.
But we had to split up to set this search into action and I took Ron with me while Hermione departed with Dumbledore to check out Fowler and Gordon. "Ron, can it wait until this is over? Can you trust me that long?"
"WHAT? Of course I trust you ... in a weird kind of way." His grin was lopsided. "I guess I should be glad that he turns you on instead of girls. That gives me a shot at Hermione that I wouldn't have otherwise. When you paired for this contest, I figured that I'd lost the battle."
"Hermione and me?" I stopped long enough to look him straight in the eyes. "She's one of my best friends, just the way that you are. A sister is all she's ever been and always will be. If you and her get together, I'll be happy for you both."
"Thanks." Ron's grin was huge then it was replaced with his thinking look. "Just one more thing, Harry. He's really pregnant?"
I smiled and blushed at the same time. "Yes, Sev is and yes, he's ours."
"Wow. That's ... wow." He took a deep breath. "I've got a million questions but they can wait. Let's go find our thief."
Now it was my turn to slap his shoulder and grin before heading for Higgins' study. He and Simon were hard at work on their entry and it took precious time to get them to at least give us a hint of what they were going for. Not even me swearing a wizard's oath got them to loosen up. It was Professor McGonagall showing up and sending us out to the hall that turned the trick finally.
We met back at the lab and sure enough, it had come down to Malfoy and Blake. I didn't know much about Blake since he'd transferred in the year before from the Mexican Academy of Divination and Magic, or MADAM for short. That should have been my first clue since the vampire bats were from near there. The books that detailed those kinds of spells were restricted but Blake might have known about them from his family or even their school.
But if so, wouldn't he also know how dangerous they were?
I wondered aloud if he could be a Vordemort plant and caught another odd look between Severus and Albus. Sev had out the book that detailed the spell it looked like they were going to try and use. It was an old spell, almost ancient and I still couldn't figure out why our ancestors had come up with it. But then I had a problem with spells that only destroyed.
Sev was rubbing his back, which usually meant that the baby was kicking him so I slid closer and began rubbing small circles there. He sighed quietly and leaned into me a little. Right then, I wished we could just disappear and curl up in the hot springs. But Dumbledore was marshaling his troops and assigning us to Seek out Draco and Paul. Severus insisted on going too so we divided up with one master and one student in each team.
Hermione and Severus disappeared towards Draco's House while Dumbledore and Ron went to check out the Commons. Professor McGonagall and I headed for the auditorium where the contest would be held. I was nervous at being separated from Sev and Professor McGonagall gave me a pep talk while we hurried. She dropped a real bombshell though when she confessed that he was closer to delivery than she'd thought.
Before I could ask her what that meant, an explosion went off inside my head and I fell to my knees. She bent to help me up, asking me urgently what was wrong. But the waves of pain were still coming and I suddenly realized that they were from Severus or rather, from the baby.
"Something's wrong with the baby. Hurry." I jumped to my feet and took off in the direction of the pain that flowed in waves from the very place we had been heading towards.
Somehow she kept up with me and managed to send a gasping message to Albus at the same time. I sprinted ahead and wrenched open the doors that led to the auditorium. Draco and Simon were on the platform with Severus and Hermione sprawled on the floor between them in a glowing orange circle.
"Draco! Stop!" I shouted and ran up the aisle.
"Stay back, Potter. This is just the trial run." He snarled at me, his eyes focused on the jar that hovered above my friends' heads.
"You have no idea what you're unleashing, Draco." I got to the edge of the platform and heard Dumbledore's voice behind me.
"Sure I do." He smirked in my direction. "You willing to take Hermione's place? We grabbed her to draw you here. Guess it worked, too bad that Snape came, too."
I froze. They didn't know about Severus, they'd thought the same thing that Ron had. I could get into the circle with Sev and the baby while they let Hermione go. He'd kill me if I did it but I wasn't going to be without him, not if I could help it. "Yes, let them go and I'll take their place."
"No way, Potter. One for one." Dark-haired Blake sneered at me and I saw the Death Eater mark on his arm glowing through his white shirt.
"Fine." Severus was beginning to stir. If I was going to do it, I'd have to hurry. "Open the circle and let Hermione out."
One side of the circle faded a little and I grabbed Hermione's ankle and pulled her out to Professor McGonagall before leaping into the circle beside Severus. He was trembling all over and shaking his head as if he'd hit it. But most of my attention was on the jar above us. The wire stopper had been unfastened but the rubber plug was still in the narrow mouthed jar.
"What did Blake tell you this would do, Draco?" I decided to divide and conquer if I could. "And why in Hades did you believe him?"
"Oh right, like you know about this." His eyes flickered over to me and I hoped that I saw a moment of hesitation.
"The last time it was used, it brought forth an energy vampire that sucked the life from four masters and six students before being trapped in a spell bound room for over fifty years. Wouldn't Voldemort love to get his hands on that kind of creature?" I had a hand on Severus' shoulder and could feel him regaining consciousness.
"Don't be a fool, it's a Sept-Dimensional creature from the Martian plain. Nobody else will have anything as brilliant as this, Potter." Draco's gaze was scornful.
"I'm not the one being foolish, Draco. I'll bet that Blake told you that he'd called up this kind of creature back home. Well, he lied about that and he's lying now. He's the one who can teleport out of here leaving us to provide the food for the energy vampire."
Draco finally hesitated and cast a doubtful look at his partner. "He's not going to do that."
"Right," I put as much sarcasm as I could into my voice, taking a lesson from my lover. "He told you that, too. I never knew you were so gullible, Draco."
"Malfoy, does your father know what you're doing?" Sev's voice was almost gentle.
Draco flinched. "It's ... it's to be a surprise during the contest."
"Oh good, I'd hate to think that Lucius had gone senile in his old age." Severus sat up with my help. "But you got the lock spell from him. What did you tell him you were doing?"
"He didn't ask, just gave me the spell." Draco truly looked uncertain for the first time.
Sev gathered his strength and cast a seeking spell that was answered almost at once. Lucius Malfoy flashed into view beside Dumbledore and seemed to take in the situation with a glance.
"Draco, open the circle and keep that jar closed." The sharp incisive voice cut through the air like a knife. "Come along, Son. This isn't quite what I had hoped to see."
His son looked over his shoulder with a bewildered look on his face at the same moment that I felt a power surge begin to pull out the stopper. I leapt up and grabbed them both, forcing the rubber back into the jar. But the outer pull was stronger than I'd thought and I could feel it slipping through my fingers. All I could think of was Severus and our baby and as if from very close to me, I felt two other hands over mine, helping me to hold it in.
A flare of bright rose-red flowed around both of us and I felt Sev in my mind as well as my heart. But a soft baby-hand seemed to pat both of ours, while a peal of laughter rang in my head. The joyful glow held all the way down to where I landed on the platform with the jar clutched tight in my hands.
But the danger wasn't over for where Blake had stood was a towering misshapen beast clad in mist and shadow. I put myself in front of Severus and felt his arms go around me. His hands made a complex gesture and the tall form was outlined in the same rose-red. The beast howled as if in great pain and one great clawed hand came towards us to grab the jar.
But again I heard joyful laughter and a powerful wave of love and caring flowed up the hand to envelop the creature in soft pink and rose. It howled and began to shrink, growing smaller and smaller until with a slight pop, it disappeared. I held onto the jar in a frozen grasp while my ears rang with the silenced cries. I might have stayed there indefinitely but Severus collapsed against me and that galvanized me.
Turning, I fastened the wire stopper and handed it to Dumbledore to hold. Sev was trembling all over again and the look of pain on his face scared me. I held him up and saw him wrap his arms around the baby. "Sev, what's wrong? Is the baby all right?"
"Yes and no." He gritted his teeth then relaxed. "I don't think she's going to wait for the solstice, love."
What? I tried to think what he could be talking about when it hit me. He was in labor.
"Is there something else wrong?" Malfoy's voice came from below the platform and Dumbledore and I exchanged a lightning glance that was a whole conversation.
"Just knocked his head, my dear boy. I think it best if we don't say anything about this unfortunate event. We'll let Potter and his friends take Professor Snape back to the lab and they can put this," he held up the jar and screened us from the others, "safely back where it belongs. And the three of us will adjourn to my study to have a little chat."
He shepherded them out of the auditorium after handing the jar to Professor McGonagall who promptly handed it to Hermione. Then she was on her knees by Sev with her hands right on the baby. "Goodness, yes, this little one is ready. Let's get him back to the lab."
"I thought," Sev grimaced and held my hand a little harder. "I thought we were going to the valley."
"We are but we have a surprise for you." I helped him up and Ron got on his other side to help. "Which means we have to go back to the lab for just a minute."
He nodded but I could see the strain he was under. We hurried as fast as we could but he was panting with pain by the time we got to the lab and into his bedroom. He was still able to lift an eyebrow when we swung his armoire away from the wall to reveal a new portal. Professor McGonagall went through first with Hermione on her heels. Ron followed her and I helped Severus into the cavern where the hot springs bubbled. He looked around in amazement before doubling over in pain.
"Albus said that he was giving us an early baby present. He and Minerva set up the portal while you were attending that potion conference in London. We've been bringing things through when you were out." I was babbling but then I was scared stiff.
"Very ingenuous ..." he panted out the words. "The springs . . . now."
I started undressing him so he could get into the water. I'd gotten good at that over the last few months. He slid in with a moan and I tore my own clothes off to join him. On the borders of my mind I could hear Hermione and Ron talking urgently to Minerva but then she was in the pool with us and I could feel her hands covering Sev's.
"Slow breaths, Severus, just the way we practiced. That's it, feel the water around you. Tell your child how warm and safe it is outside your body." Her no nonsense voice had taken on a kind of mesmerizing tone. "Such an eager one and so ready to be born. Harry, are you ready?"
"Yes," I took a deep breath, let it out, then took another one. Reaching inside of the man I held with a wizard's touch, I 'showed' the baby the way out. Meshing my energy with his, the way we'd been practicing, I gave him the strength he needed to push. He writhed in my arms and I held on tight, closing my eyes and picturing the baby sliding down the widening birth channel.
"That's it, little one." Minerva's voice was almost a croon. "Almost there, Severus, just once more and you'll hold your child in your arms."
I felt him gather the remains of his strength and push with a soft almost desperate cry. And in the echoing silence, he collapsed against me while Minerva brought our child out of the water with a smile. For a moment, the whole cave glowed with a soft burst of rose energy that flowed from her like a cloud.
"Congratulations, Harry and Severus, you have a beautiful little girl." She pinched the umbilical cord closed and placed our daughter into Sev's arms. "Now for a little clean up." She concentrated on healing Sev while we gazed in awe at the scrunched up little face.
"She's beautiful." Sev's voice was just a whisper of sound but I heard him.
"We do good work, love."
He turned his head to kiss me gently before looking back down into a suddenly open gaze. "She has your eyes, Harry."
"Yeah, but she has your chin." I very, very gently smoothed a finger over her cheek and she looked at me as if she knew me. "Welcome, Aphrodite. We're very glad you're finally here."
"Aphrodite?" Hermione's voice came over my shoulder.
Sev's and my eyes met and I laughed out loud. "It's an old family name. She'll grow into it, Aunt Hermione."
Laughter filled the cavern and I held my lover and daughter close. It didn't get any better than this. The future looked very bright right now.