|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Severus Snape
Title: The Child of Love, part nine
Date: 2 January 2002
Something was going on with Harry. We'd barely started fifth year when it happened. He'd been off for a whole week and when he came back, something was different. It was like he'd matured from sixteen to twenty-six over night. He just said that the Dursleys were dissolving his guardianship and the headmaster had taken over. It was like it wasn't all that big a deal and he shrugged off Ron's and my questions with a smile and a joke.
That was just so 'Harry'. What wasn't Harry was his constant studying for Potions class. It's always been one of my favorite classes and I'm good at mixing and memorizing so it made sense for him to come to me for help. But he was like dedicated to potions now when he never had been before.
The next weird thing was his politeness in Potions Class. He'd always had a hair trigger temper in that class and Professor Snape seemed to feel the same way about Harry. But for some reason, they were very polite to each other now although the professor was still really sarcastic to those students who hadn't studied. But with Harry studying more than ever, they didn't clash anymore.
And another weird thing was Professor McGonagall stopping him after class one afternoon and handing him a book called 'What to expect when you're expecting'. My jaw must have hit the floor right along with Ron's when Harry smiled all over and thanked her. That's when I saw him tracing a name on the flyleaf and I got close enough to read his mother's name.
Oh, that was different. He was kind of dreamy for the rest of the day and he kept stroking the binding. I can understand that reaction but when I stopped by his study, he was reading it. He blushed beet-red and set it aside when I teased him. That's when I decided that something was up and I would get to the bottom of it.
So, I watched him without watching him. For four months I practically stalked him without him noticing. He disappeared a different night each week. He was always in bed when the wake-up bell rang but Ron said that a couple of times he'd slipped in right before it went off. He had a secret, that was for sure but what ever it was, he guarded it jealously. That and his studying really puzzled us.
The month break in March was a welcome reprieve. Harry hadn't even gone back to the Dursleys for a day, instead he spent a week with Ron's family then went off on his own. I got a letter every week and he seemed all right to me but he'd gone back to Hogwarts and spent the rest of our break there. That was probably the weirdest thing of all.
I got back a day early and put my clean clothes away before I set off to find him. I searched the whole place from top to bottom in all the places that he usually haunted. But he was nowhere to be found. Standing in the hall outside of the headmaster's study, I was about ready to give up when a voice called my name.
"Hermione, how nice to see you back early. Do you have a moment?" Headmaster Dumbledore stood blinking at me from his doorway. "I could use a little help with a slight problem that's come up."
It was good to see him after a month away and I smiled at him affectionately. "Of course, Headmaster."
"Good, good, come in and have some tea." He beamed at me and I went in right behind him but he stepped around me and closed the door behind us with a click of the lock. I looked at him when he stood there, eyeing me as if measuring me for something. "Hermione, are you friends with Harry Potter?"
"Yes, is something wrong? I knew it. Something's happened hasn't it?" I threw up my hands. "His letters were so quiet that I should have known something was wrong. How can I help? What is he up to now?"
He looked rather taken aback but he was beaming again by the time I quit ranting. "My dear girl, how very nice that you care so for him. He's quite safe and well but he is laboring under a heavy secret and it's time that he had a little help keeping it. Will you do that for him? Keep his secret and help him with it, even if it means knowing something that you find quite ... odd?"
Oh this was going to be something else, I could just tell. "Yes, no matter what it is, Harry is my friend and always will be. What can I do to help?"
He sighed with relief and crossed the room to a bookcase. "Then, let's be off to where he's spending the last of the break. Come along, Hermione, they should have tea ready by now."
"They?" I asked but he was swinging the bookcase away from the wall, revealing a doorway. He motioned to me to follow and I stepped hesitantly through and into another room somewhere else.
Laughter rang through what I could see was a cottage somewhere in the country if the view from the window could be trusted. The headmaster smiled and headed for the sound of laughter with me right on his heels. If that was Harry, his secret couldn't be that terrible. It seemed like I should know the other person laughing but it didn't sound like anyone I knew.
The headmaster stopped in the doorway to what had to be the kitchen and I peeked around him in time to see Harry throw his arms around a tall man and kiss him. I swayed in shock but kept my eyes glued to my friend. He'd gotten tanner and his hair had gotten so long that it almost brushed his shoulders.
But he was still kissing a man and that was really, really odd.
How odd I didn't realize until Harry broke away and I saw it was Professor Snape. "Love, we are not adding anything to the lemon bars."
"But they're just talking to each other when they should be having more fun." Harry teased him.
He looked happy. They looked happy and I wasn't sure why. But then Harry saw us and his eyes widened until they were practically popping out of his head. "Hermione?"
"Hi, Harry." I would have said more but Professor Snape turned around and it was my turn for popping eyes.
He had either gotten really fat or he was pregnant.
"Ah hello, you two. I thought I'd broaden our 'need to know' perimeters." Dumbledore sounded vaguely apologetic. "Surprise."
"Albus." Snape looked rather worried. "Hermione."
"Professor Snape." I didn't know what to say and it appeared he didn't either.
"Tea is almost ready. Why don't you go back into the front room and we'll bring it in?" Harry said brightly but I could tell that he was upset.
That made me feel rather badly. He obviously liked the potion's master more than he should. But they'd sounded happy before we came and now they were both nervous. The headmaster shooed me back to the other room and pointed me towards one of the wing chairs by the fire. The flames felt good and I shivered a little, holding out my hands to them.
"Hermione, keep an open mind, please, until you know all the facts." Dumbledore sounded subdued and I nodded slowly.
Harry brought in the tea tray and Snape was right behind him. He set it down on the small table and I watched the potion master awkwardly sit in the corner of the couch with Harry watching him like a hawk. He poured the tea and handed out the cups then sat down right beside the professor.
"Okay, what's going on?" I was impatient and I wanted to know now.
The three of them looked at each other then Harry started to talk about some prophecy. The more he talked the more confused I got. Finally, he petered out and I took a deep breath.
"Let's see if I have it all. There was a prophecy about a child. Dumbledore brought the two of you together. You fell in love with each other. And now, Professor Snape is pregnant with Harry's baby. Do I have it right?"
"Um, yeah, that's pretty much it." Harry leaned into Snape's side and the older man cuddled him close.
"What do you think, Hermione? What are you feeling?" The professor sounded calm as if what I thought didn't matter.
Or maybe he cared so much that he was bracing himself for my hatred or disdain? And I looked at them. Really looked at them. Harry wasn't leaning in weakly but protectively. If I said anything harming or hateful, he'd choose the man beside him rather than me. We were friends but he was Snape's lover. Harry loved Severus Snape. How or why I might never know but if I made him choose between us, I would lose. And that wasn't something I ever wanted to lose - Harry Potter as a friend.
"It's weird to the extreme and I can't imagine what you were thinking." I started and watched Snape's hand grip Harry's shoulder. "But you're my friend and there's no way that I'm going to miss out on helping your child be born. I like to think that I'll make an excellent Aunt Hermione."
And I finally saw the beaming smile that I'd been waiting for. "Thanks, 'mione. Will you help us get a little more time together?"
"What did you have in mind?" I asked.
They laid out a series of study periods for the annual potion contest that would be offered to certain select students. Harry and I would partner and Snape would give us advanced instruction. We'd get extra study time and the two of them would get some quality time together with me as a discrete chaperone who'd turn a blind eye if they needed a snuggle. I agreed and the conversation turned general.
But I watched them covertly, at long last realizing what some of the changes in Harry's behavior had been. He wasn't moony like some of my girlfriends who'd just discovered boys. He didn't fawn over Snape or bat his eyelashes or anything silly. He just smiled at him, helped him up when he needed to, rested his hand on his leg and teased him like any friend would do.
Harry had grown up last fall and none of us had noticed. He'd fallen in love and kept it a secret from all of us. That irked me no end. I like to think that I'm a smart wizard or at least I will be but he'd fooled me, too. Had the prophecy changed him? Was there any coercion at all in the way this had worked out? I watched for it and all I saw was two people who were eagerly waiting for their child to be born.
Dumbledore went with Harry to get more tea and left Snape and me alone. I looked at him and saw him brace himself for what he probably thought would be a scathing question or two.
"Do you love him? Really love him?" I asked.
"Yes. I didn't think I could." His gaze turned inward and a little smile flitted across his lips. "It appears to be a fact that no one can resist Harry Potter. Not even me."
Well, that was honest and kind of cute at the same time. "What happens when the baby is born?"
He looked so sad. "We'll have to keep him or her a secret just as we kept the pregnancy a secret. At least until Voldemort is taken care of once and for all. Then, well, I hope that Harry will want to stay with us."
"And if he doesn't?" It was a cruel question but I needed to know.
He nodded as if he expected that from me. "If he decides to move on, then I guess we'll split our time with our son or daughter. He has his whole life ahead of him and I will never keep him from doing what he wants or needs to do. He may even decide that the prophecy was an aberration and he really likes girls."
"Nonsense, Severus, when Harry gives his heart it stays given. I'm afraid you're stuck with him. But I can give you a few tips to keep him on his toes." I told him and watched the sweetest smile I have ever seen slowly bloom on his thin face. Maybe I could see what Harry saw in him.
Harry must have overheard part of the conversation because when he came back in he was smiling at me. But more importantly he brought in my favorite ginger cookies. Severus took two before I could snag any and Harry laughed at him.
"You have no idea how these settled my stomach when I was nauseous for the first three months of this pregnancy." Severus nibbled around the edges just the way that I liked to do. The look of bliss on his face made Harry laugh and drop a kiss on his cheek before he brought the cookies to me.
This would take some getting used to but I was determined to stay Harry's friend and if that meant liking Severus Snape then I'd just have to do that.
Harry and I both turned to the man on the couch. Harry knelt by him and put a hand over Severus'. "Oh."
"What 'oh'?" I snapped and identical dazed looks came to me.
"He kicked." Harry said in shock.
"She kicked." Severus said at the same moment.
Okay, so that was a little more than I expected. Leaving my chair, I knelt by Harry and put out a hesitant hand. Harry moved his so I could touch where he had. And as if the baby knew that a new person was there, a little foot thumped me. Wow, that was really different. Then he did it again and again.
"I think we have a new Quidditch player here." I said with a smile and then heard a sound that I never thought I'd hear, Severus Snape laughing.
Actually, that sounded pretty good for a man I'd always thought was the epitome of sneering nastiness. This whole prophecy thing might turn out all right after all. Headmaster Dumbledore came back in and wanted to know what was going on but when he gently laid a hand where ours had been, the baby stopped moving completely.
Poor Dumbledore was downcast but Severus reminded him that there was still four months to go and plenty of time for the newest Quidditch member to practice kicking. Harry snickered at that and Severus gave him the evil eye.
"Just remember who sleeps on that side, Harry."
Then it was my turn to snicker at Harry's blush. Okay, I could do this. It was weird but then I was beginning to suspect that life as a wizard had lots of weird in it. And if we were very lucky, lots of good friends to share the experience. Funny, but it looked like I'd just added a most unlikely friend.
Oh well, I hated boring and life had just gotten much more interesting.