|Author: Athea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Severus Snape
Title: The Child of Love, part 12
Date: 12 January 2002
Note: This is the last part of the story. Thanks to everyone who wrote me and many, many thanks to J.K. Rowling for giving us this delightful universe. Even more, thanks to the casting director for his/her inspired choice of actor for Severus.
Babbling brought me up and out of our nice, warm bed as if an invisible hand had lifted me up and set me moving. Aphrodite was wide-awake and thought I should be, too. I stumbled into her cave and pushed aside the gauzy yellow fabric that tented the small space that was hers alone. She was dry but restless and I picked her out of the snowy bedding in the dark oak cradle that had once been mine, cuddling her against my bare chest. "It's too early for you to be up, sweetheart."
"I understand that, 'Dite, but I was hoping to sleep in." I said rather plaintively.
"All right, breakfast it is." I carried her through the short tunnel between our bedrooms and out into the sunshine. Settling in to the protected alcove that had become our favorite outlook of the lake, I held her to my left nipple and she began to nurse.
I'd debated over whether I should nurse her myself but the very thought of all the bottles, formula and time had tipped my decision. Not to mention, Harry's reading had told us it was healthier for her. I'd grown slightly plumper across my chest and that seemed to be enough for her. The more I nursed her, the more comfortable I got until it became almost painful to not nurse.
She sucked strongly this morning and I could feel myself begin to respond. Somehow that reaction hadn't made it into the baby books that Harry and I had devoured. I'd grown used to getting hard whenever I fed her. But lately that meant that I had to take care of myself instead of finding my young lover and making love with him.
He was planning something but I didn't know what. We'd already had a party for 'Dite with all the people in on the secret. She now had a grand-godfather in Albus and two godmothers in Minerva and Hermione. Finals were over and Harry spent every spare moment he had with us but sometimes he had a far away look and right now he was in London meeting with his lawyer. I was praying with every thing I had that he hadn't grown tired or constrained with our situation. He loved us, I knew that but he was so young to have such responsibilities.
"What, sweetheart? Done with that one already?" I shifted her to my other nipple and watched her suck in more of the milk I was lactating.
She was so precious to me, such a miracle, that I tried not to be greedy. If Harry needed some space and time to himself, it was the very least I could give him. Looking out over the lake, I spotted the bobbing heads of the otter family. They always made me smile with their antics. They'd grown used to our presence and even approached us when we took 'Dite down to splash at the water's edge.
Perhaps it was being born into water or the fact that she shared the element of water with me that made her so fearless. The cooler waters of the lake had surprised her at first but she soon took to it like one of the otters. The head of the otter clan had approached her as she sat between my legs, half in and half out of the water. She cocked her head at him and he at her then she babbled something at him. He squeaked back before swimming away.
I guess she was just adding another set of folks to her growing kingdom. 'Dite ruled us with love and tenderness, but ruled us just the same. Perhaps that was what Harry was chafing against? Well, not really chafing just ... I sighed and decided not to look for trouble. It would find me soon enough.
"Sorry, sweetheart, I promise not to think sad thoughts for awhile." I put her up to my shoulder and patted her back while she burped for me. It was almost uncanny how she picked up the emotions around her. I sincerely hoped that she wasn't an empath because that training was rigorous in the extreme and until she got it, she'd be prey to every emotion of every person around her.
And I already knew that I was prone to depression. Determinedly, I rocked her and thought only good thoughts about how lucky I was to have her and Harry. The further friendships with Minerva and Albus had grown more equal, which at my ripe old age of 35 was long overdue. Their burgeoning romance was quite satisfying to me and gave endless amusement. They adored Aphrodite and several times when I needed to go to London, they'd baby sat for me.
"Really, you'd like to go down to the lake?" I got the mental picture quite clearly in my head. "I think that's a wonderful idea. Shall we take the blanket and have a picnic?"
"A picnic it is." I stood up and carried her back inside. We had one of those sling pouches and I filled a diaper bag with her supplies before packing a bag filled with big people food and drink. She nestled against me with a soft sigh and dozed a little while I walked down to the lake.
We'd scooped out a stone-free spot with some junipers growing nearby to stop any wind that might swoop down to chill us. August continued hot and sunny so I was rather looking forward to a swim after 'Dite had splashed a bit. The blanket had been spelled to keep out insects and animals while keeping her safely within its confines. Paddling tired her out so she'd sleep for a bit then I could have my swim.
I was only wearing cotton shorts and her sleeper and diaper came off quickly. The moment her tiny feet touched the water, she began to giggle and splash. The otters swam closer and she watched them play while making sure that both of us were drenched. One of the young ones swam closer and started a staring match that soon degenerated into more splashing.
It was such a joy to watch her whole-hearted enjoyment of the day. I made another vow to take each moment as it came and accept the delights of our daughter and new living quarters. Since 'Dite had been born, we'd slowly made the four interconnected caves that Albus had coaxed out of stone into living quarters that bordered on the sybaritic. Her room was a small bower of soft pastels and fabrics.
Minerva and Hermione had, between the two of them, designed a space fit for a tiny princess. Instead of gray Scottish granite walls, sunny yellow fabric tented the entire space. The furniture was mostly white wicker with a changing table nestled on top of the low dresser. The floor was covered completely with a crimson Chinese rug that I suspected from its deep pile was a McGonagall antique. The only rather masculine piece of furniture was her cradle and since it was a family heirloom, they'd agreed that it was all right for now. I suspected that once she graduated to a crib, more wicker would appear.
The grownup bedroom had mostly my former bedroom furniture with a pair of tall armoires from Snape Manor to hold our clothing since caves rarely ran to closets. Instead of my former dark sheets, however, we'd splurged on lighter colors that ran the rainbow from buttercup yellow to pale rose. The plump duvet cover was patterned lace on the outside and softened the rather harsh lines of the platform oak bed that rose above a miscellany of Indian and Persian rugs in many colors.
The bathroom pretty much consisted of a composting toilet and a sink with cold water. If we needed hot, one of us would dip some out of the hot springs. That continued to be our bath although once the semester began, we'd probably use the shower back in my private rooms at Hogwarts.
The fire pit in the front room was the center of focus with the comfortable couch and pair of wing chairs clustered on the far side and the mahogany table and six chairs on the near side. Bookcases ringed the round granite walls and more colorful rugs protected our feet from the stone floors. The kitchen was a smaller cave with light pine cupboards and a table, plus several direct current appliances that were fed electricity from the solar panels that resided higher on the mountain. Snaking the wires down had been an interesting exercise that took almost a week.
All in all, I'd never had a more comfortable home in my life.
If only Harry wasn't thinking of ... I didn't know what.
"Oops, 'Dite, I'm sorry. How about a little nap while I take a nice long swim before devouring a late breakfast?" I asked her and she nodded emphatically before reaching up and patting my face. Standing, I carried her back to the blanket where I dried and redressed her in yet another mint green cotton outfit from her Aunt Hermione. Her eyes were already closing when I covered her with a light blanket.
Stretching, I strode back into the lake and dunked myself completely before purposefully swimming to the far side of the loch. The clear cool water felt wonderful and I felt the stretch of slowly healing muscles. Albus and I had disentangled my channels back to their former routes although all of them had grown considerably. I'd begun to experience a growth spurt in power that rather surprised me. That hadn't been in any of the grimoires that either Albus or I had ever read.
I was looking forward to seeing where my magic led me.
If only ... I stopped that train of thought and blanked my mind except for the thread that was always watching and listening for Aphrodite. I swam until I felt my muscles begin the slight burn that told me it was time to head in. My stomach was growling and I was in definite need of refueling. I was finally close enough to our pebble beach and put my feet down to walk from the lake.
Shaking my head, I slicked my hair back in time to almost be bowled over by Harry. His kiss was tart and sweet while I reveled in having him back in my arms. The physical ache disappeared the moment we touched and I wound my arms around him, wanting to never let go. He'd already stripped down to nothing and our skin met everywhere. But all good things must end and we finally had to breathe.
"I thought ... I'd never ... get away from ... Mr. Banes." Harry kissed his way down my throat while talking. "I must have signed a hundred ... pieces of paper ... before he was satisfied. I missed you this morning."
"We missed you too, Harry. 'Dite wouldn't let me sleep in at all." I was stroking every bit of skin within reach. "Do you ... have to go back?"
"Nope, it's all taken care of and Aphrodite is legally my heir if anything should happen to me." He grinned up at me before licking my nipple and gently tugging it with his teeth.
And I was suddenly steel hard and leaking. "Harry!"
His grin was unrepentant. "I've been hard since I got off the train, Sev. I really, really need you to fuck me." I almost came when I heard him say that word but he was pulling away and going down on all fours, half in and half out of the water. "I got myself ready for you, love. Need you so much."
I covered him with my body and tested his heat with two fingers before nudging the small hole and sliding inside. I didn't move for a moment and he slowly relaxed around me. A sigh of my name was my signal to move deeper. Finally, I was completely sheathed inside the tightest, hottest place I'd ever been. He flexed around me impatiently but I kept my strokes slow, targeting his gland with every thrust until he was writhing under me. Only then did I let one hand leave his hips to fondle him.
Harry hiccuped once and came so hard I had to hold him up to keep his face out of the water. I seemed to release forever, jerking with each muscle contraction until he had all of me. Kissing the back of his neck, I once again prayed to my favorite goddess of love that he would stay with us.
"Sev," his voice had that husky note that told me he was feeling replete. "I love the way you love me."
"I love you, Harry. I'm so glad that you listened to Albus and gave me a chance." I rocked a little while he wiggled around me and damned if I didn't think about hardening again. Only Harry could make me so insatiable.
He straightened up and turned to kiss me. We feasted for a little while before the pebbles we knelt on began to dig uncomfortably into our knees. He helped me to my feet and we walked hand-in-hand back to the blanket where our daughter slept. We unpacked the grownup bag and ate every crumb of the apple tart I'd baked the day before. Harry told me about the trip and Mr. Banes, his parents' lawyer.
Aphrodite's birth and the filing of the birth certificate with the law firm had triggered a flurry of legal activity. Harry's fatherhood, probably expected when he was much older, had changed matters of the Potter estate. When he fell silent, I wondered but when he started trying to poke a hole in the blanket, I knew something was on his mind. Maybe even the reason for the abstractions that caused me such alarm.
"Severus, is this enough for you?" Those green eyes were so serious. "I mean, am I someone that you want to keep forever and ever?"
"What?" I shook my head. "Of course, you are. I love you. But ... I would understand if you ..." Oh, this was hard. "If you needed something ... different."
And once again, I found myself with two armfuls of lover, bearing me back onto the blanket and touching me everywhere. He kissed me hard while his fingers slid through my hair in my second favorite caress. I held on to him and returned the kiss with all the love I had. Slowly he gentled until he was brushing my slightly swollen lips with his.
"I love you, Severus Snape. Albus told me that I'd have to be the one who asked because you wouldn't." He pulled back just far enough to look seriously into my somewhat dazed eyes. "Will you marry me, Sev?"
What? Marry him?
He was too young. I was too old. We still had the war with Voldemort. His last year of school was coming up.
Daddy? I turned my head and met a second pair of green eyes. Had she just thought her first word? "You think I should say yes, 'Dite?"
Harry was trying to keep back his laughter while our daughter read me the riot act, in a ladylike way, of course.
"Yes, Harry. Yes, I would love to marry you." I finally got my tongue under control only to lose it to his kiss.
We kissed until our air ran out and we had to breathe. He stroked my hair again and I felt myself begin to purr. "Thank you, Sev. I was afraid that you'd think I was too young or immature or something."
"I thought I was too old, too scarred and much too boring for you." I confessed and saw the same chiding look on his face that Aphrodite had on hers. "You realize that this little miracle is our child's first matchmaking scheme?"
He grinned at me. "Well, she is named for the Goddess of Love and she's the first Child of Love born in five centuries. Before she's done, I expect she'll have a lot more couples in her generous heart."
We both broke into laughter and rolled apart so we could give her the cuddles that she was demanding. Harry picked her up while I wrapped my arms around them both. For long moments that was all we needed. The warm air wrapped us in soft breezes, the otters' chitterings echoed over the loch and my heart opened up a little more to take in yet one more miracle.
Harry and Aphrodite were the center of my world. I was rather looking forward to the ceremony to come. This marriage would be different. Two hearts had already been joined while two bodies created a child. But now, those hearts would become one. I wondered if we were part of some great cosmic scheme on the part of the Light? Had we always been fated to meet and love?
Had Aphrodite looked down at us from the Light that filled the universe and chosen us for her parents? I glanced down into a laughing green gaze and for a brief moment saw a pair of ancient eyes looking back at me. Then it was gone, leaving me to wonder if I'd seen anything at all. It didn't matter, I loved Harry and for some reason, he loved me.
I couldn't have asked the Universe for anything more.
"Love you, too, 'Dite." We chorused back to her and began to plan the wedding.
Good. I wiggled all over, enjoying Daddy's kiss and Papa's tickle. One down and two more to go. For now.