Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by Alexis.Danaan

Part 7 of 26

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39 weeks:

Hermione found herself, once again, restless in front of a fireplace.

Only this time she wasn't allowed to pace to ease her nerves and the setting was Lavender's sitting room instead of her own. Rather than wearing a hole into her absent friend's hearth rug, Hermione had to settle for sitting on the couch and jiggling her leg like a maniac. Her most recent check up with Healer Bray resulted in the woman threatening to tie her to a bed if she didn't rest more. Sebastian—she had finally decided on that name—was unsettled by either the rhythm or her nervousness...or both. He flopped around in her belly, sticking his foot into her ribs and making her gasp as it pushed against her lungs.

"Settle down, young man," she told him, trying to sound stern the way she imagined a mother should.

He flopped some more.

"Setting the precedent, I see," she muttered, rubbing her hand over her belly and trying to still her leg. Her foot twitched.

Without warning, the fire jumped and climbed high enough to accommodate a very tall person as it turned bright green and Hermione's leg started up without her conscious permission.

Snape—Severus, she told herself this time—stepped out and brushed the soot from his robes as his eyes immediately sought out hers.

Hermione's stomach jolted, flipped, and then tied itself in a knot. He looked good, yes, but it was more than that. She was just so bloody nervous about this. She had seen the man naked—she didn't remember all of it, of course—so why was she scared of sitting down to talk like civilized people?

"Hello," she said softly. "I'd get up but...," she gestured at her stomach and shrugged. "He is kicking the crap out of my pancreas currently."

A comment that was meant to lighten the mood only seemed to make the tension mount as Severus' eyes darted down to her stomach and his brow drew together. She wondered what was going through that head and whether or not he was thinking about everything that he had already missed because she hadn't told him about the pregnancy and maybe he was thinking about how much he hated her and that she was a horrible—

"How are the two of you today?" he asked softly, obviously trying. He looked awkward, standing there, his hands balled into fists and his eyes glued to her belly.

"Anxious," she admitted and he finally looked up at her. His face softened a fraction, she thought, or maybe she was imagining it. "Would you like to sit down?" she gestured to the couch beside her but when he moved it was to the chair beside the fire.

Sitting stiffly, his back ramrod straight, he stared at her and she tried valiantly to meet his gaze. She couldn't do it, however, she felt too guilty and she looked down first. Her mind absently noted that there was a strange dark smudge on her light green long sleeved shirt. It was right where she tended to brush up against things with her stomach so she figured she had merely rubbed up against something dirty recently and not realized it.

Severus took a deep, steadying, breath and for a fraction of a second Hermione was afraid that he was about to start yelling. Instead, he quietly asked, "Is he my son?"

Hermione bit her lip, hard. So hard that her eyes watered a bit. Her stomach jumped and her palms broke out in a cold sweat but she nodded, eyes on the floor, and quietly said, "Yes. He is yours."

"How can you be sure?" he asked in that same mild mannered tone.

Her head shot up and she glared at him as he met her gaze calmly.

"If you think suggesting that I am a whore is going to endear you to me, you're sadly mistaken," she spat. "He is your son because you are the only man I have had sex with in over a goddamn year, unless immaculate conception is still a legitimate excuse, in which case, I choose that one."

His eyebrows rose ever so slightly at her outburst and he asked, "Are you not supposed to be calmer with the draught you should be taking?"

"You bring out the best in me," she felt ridiculously close to sticking her tongue out at him. "And Harry hasn't been by to give me my new bottle yet."

Severus frowned at that and reached into the pocket of his robes, the same ones he used to teach in, pulling out a small bottle of familiar green potion. He placed it gently down on the table beside the armchair without a word. Hermione frowned at it before holding her hand out instinctively and Summoning it.

"Accio bottle," she said and winced as it slapped into her palm with a lot more force than it normally would have. She caught Severus' look and shrugged. "My magic is out of whack. Usually I'm just happy when I don't blow anything up. I've stopped using charms on myself for fear that I'll spell all my hair off by accident."

Without waiting to see his response, Hermione turned to the bottle in her hand and unconsciously slipped her other one over her belly, quietly "shh"ing the flip-flopping baby inside her. She was completely unaware of the way Severus studied her and her hand while she studied the bottle.

"This is the same stuff that Harry brings me," she said suddenly, her head popping up. "You're brewing it, aren't you?"

"I am," he nodded slightly. "The pre-made product is inferior to freshly brewed, it loses its potency as it sits but the clerk will still sell it to you, of course. Mr. Potter was not proficient in Potions enough to know this; I am surprised you would trust him."

Hermione's lips quirked a little. "Would you rather I ask Lavender? Or my mother?"

"You could have simply asked me," Severus said, meeting her gaze squarely. "Had you told me of the situation, I would have helped you in any way available to me."

Hermione looked away guiltily. "Forgive me for thinking that it—"

"No," he interrupted, his voice suddenly hard. He didn't have to raise his voice to send shivers of unease down her spine. "I cannot forgive you, not even close. You kept the knowledge of my son from me, you never intended to tell me if you could get away with it and for that, I cannot forgive you."

"I didn't think that it was something you would want," she said quietly, unable to meet his gaze dead on. Instead she spoke to his cheekbone. "You cannot blame me for coming to that very logical conclusion Severus, you hate children."

"You don't know anything about me," he sneered at her and her heart clenched. This was what she had been afraid of and yet, she couldn't deny him his right to be angry. "You think that one fuck makes you an expert in my personality?"

"Of course not!" she said, her eyes snapping to his as her anger rose. "But I do have a very good memory of your treatment of children. Why on earth do you think I'd want that for my son?"

"You think I would—?" he broke off, disbelief written across his face. "I admit that I was never particularly nice—" Hermione snorted and he glared at her "—to my students, but they were my students, not my children."

She frowned at him, not really seeing the difference. "Throughout my years as your student you displayed a spectacular inability to hold in your temper. You rarely shouted but you didn't have to, you cut your students down by saying the cruellest of things to them. You made many of them cry and it was clear that those episodes entertained you. You were extremely unfair when you didn't like a student or their House, you blatantly displayed favouritism with your House and you purposely picked on Harry because he happened to look like a man who picked on you as a child. You expect me to rejoice at the fact that you are my son's father?"

Severus reared back as if she had slapped him and for a second she feared that she had gone too far, that he would lose his composure now or storm out of the flat in a fit of rage but he did neither. Instead, he stared at her and tried in vain to hide how much her words had affected him.

"I see, now, what you think of me," he said, looking down at his clasped hands that dangled off of his knees. "It is a wonder how you ended up... in this situation in the first place if this is how you view me."

When Hermione offered no comment, he continued. "I agree that I was not—am not—the most pleasant of men. I was unfair to —Harry—as a child. I admit that when I looked at him, I saw his father, and I played my role of faithful Death Eater in regards to him a little too well at times. For that I am...sorry." Hermione's eyebrows were nearly swallowed by her hairline but he wasn't looking at her and so he continued. "As to my behaviour with your peers...yes, I was hard on them but I will not excuse it. Did I take joy in their tears? Not so much, though it did amuse me on some level, that I will own to. I justify my actions, however, with the fact that Potions can be a very dangerous subject and if I do not instil fear into my students, make them terrified to disobey my word, horrific accidents can and will happen."

"That's a bit pessimistic," she retorted, her mind drawn unwillingly to Neville.

"It's realistic," he said. "Your friend Longbottom is a perfect example; his fear of me was not the only reason why he failed horribly in my class. He managed to melt his cauldron even when Horace taught potions, did he not?"

"You didn't make it any easier on him," Hermione argued. "In fact, one could make an argument that had you not scared the pants off of him for the first five years of his education he may have been prepared for Potions by the time he had the good fortune to be taught by Professor Slughorn."

"You may have a point," he conceded. "However, we will never know."

"And yet, you expect me to trust you with my son and his happiness," Hermione continued, her voice calmer but her words no less cutting. "What happens when he makes a mistake, Sna—Severus?" she winced at her inability to articulate his name but soldiered on. "What about when he accidentally breaks something, especially if it's valuable? Will you dress him down, humiliate him and make him feel ashamed for simply being human?"

She crossed her arms over her considerable stomach and watched him defiantly, daring him to contradict her assessment of him. He was silent for a long time, so long that she was sure he wouldn't actually respond. Just when she was about to say something else, he finally looked up at her.

"I don't expect you to know this but when I was a child my father made me feel inferior because I was born a wizard," he said quietly, looking at his linked fingers. "He was a Muggle, you see, Tobias Snape. My mother, Eileen Prince, was a Pureblooded witch who fancied herself in love with him when she was young and stupid."

Hermione didn't really know how to feel about that, or what to say, so she went with the first thing that came to mind that wasn't inane. "I knew about your mother," she said softly, causing him to look up curiously. "I have something of yours; I suppose it's about time you got it back."

Holding her hand out and leaning away from it slightly, she called out, "Accio Snape Potions Book."

Immediately there was a whizzing sound and Hermione had to dodge the flying Potions textbook. It smacked into the back of the couch where her head had been and slid down to nestle against the small of her back. She reached behind her and pulled it out, holding it out to him.

Slowly, he rose and walked over to her to take it from her hands. He stood there beside her, holding the book as if he didn't quite know what to do it. Part of him almost seemed afraid of it.

"This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince," she said softly and his eyes darted to hers. "It took me a while to figure it out; actually, I thought it belonged to Tom Riddle for a while. He was arrogant enough to think of himself as a Prince but it was the Half-Blood part that threw me off. He never would have advertised his blood status. You, though, are the Half-Blood son of Eileen Prince, student of Slytherin and member of the Gobstones Club during her own time at Hogwarts."

"This book is full of the ramblings of an angry young boy," he said, slowly sitting down on the couch next to her. "I hope that you...that is—I'm not sure if I should say thank you or not."

She smiled slightly. "If it means anything, I had forgotten about it until you mentioned your mother's name."

"I think it does," he said, putting it down on the couch beside him and sliding it away from him. "It does not hold happy memories for me. I'm not sure I want to keep it, if I am honest."

"Because of the Mauraders?" she asked softly, finding that her curiosity overrode her irritation with him.

"Partly," he admitted. He hesitated then, and she was shocked to see that she could read the indecision on his face. Whatever he warred with, he seemed to come to a conclusion as he continued. "Those idiots were not the only reason for my unhappiness, however. The loss of Lily's friendship was another part, of course, but my parents were the most significant players." He hesitated once more, for the barest of seconds, before he finally leaned back into the couch, his hands curled gently in his lap and his gaze fixed ahead at the fireplace. "My father was a drunkard and he often took his aggression out on my mother. Why she never defended herself against him, I'll never know. Perhaps it was simply part of her upbringing, to obey her husband in all things, even when he was breaking the bones of her face. She had the power to stop him, there was nothing he could have done to her had she chosen to stand up for herself, but she didn't."

Hermione was slightly unnerved by the quiet, calm, expressionless way he spoke but she found that she could not take her eyes off of his face, waiting for a hint of emotion. She knew she would get none. "The only time she used her magic against him was to stop him from going after me when I was younger. As I got older she stopped defending me and I started defending myself. He preferred it when I used my fists against him, he could retaliate against that. He couldn't do anything to me if I used magic and he knew it but I couldn't until my Seventh Year. By the time the Christmas break came 'round that year it was too late. He murdered her shortly after Halloween and committed suicide by putting a Muggle gun to his head in the back yard. The Aurors had to Obliviate several Muggle police officers who had arrived before them and seen the magical items in the house."

Hermione wanted to reach out to comfort him but she could see from the rigid way that he held himself that such attention would not be welcome. The flat tone with which he spoke told her that he buried the emotions attached to the memories behind that indifference because it was the only way he knew how to deal with it. A little part of her heart broke for him against her will. She so wanted to see him as the 'bad guy', the man incapable of love and affection, but it was hard to keep looking at him that way as her mind conjured up images of a lonely little boy looking for acceptance.

"I tell you this not because I want your pity or your sympathy," he spat the words with contempt. "I tell you this so that you might understand that I would do anything," he turned to her, his brown eyes alive in a way she had only seen once before, "anything to make sure that my son does not grow up the same way I did."

Hermione nodded slowly, feeling a bit numb. It was the only thing she could do. She didn't really know what to say, she needed time to digest what he had told her, needed to...she didn't even know.

"How do we go forward?" she asked, quietly. "You said that you cannot forgive me for not telling you and I...I can understand that," she admitted, rubbing her hand over her swollen belly. "I imagine I would feel the same way, were it the other way around, but perhaps...I could earn that forgiveness."

She didn't dare look at him, embarrassed at her awkward words and how much she found that she meant them. She wanted Severus in her life, if not for her, then for her son. She didn't know if she could marry this man, or if he even wanted to take that step with her, but she knew that Harry was right: Sebastian deserved to have his father in his life.

"I would like that, Mis—Hermione," she looked up in time to see his grimace. "I want to be a—a father to him."

"Sebastian," she said softly, watching his reaction.

"Sebastian," he repeated, mouthing the name a few more times and nodding seemingly to himself. "Sebastian."

"Do you like it?" she asked tentatively, wondering if this would be their first disagreement.

"I do." She felt a little tension leave her when he replied without hesitation. "It's unique, one that is not commonly found in the Wizarding world of Britain. Of course, neither is Severus."

She smiled slightly. "Harry said the same thing, about it not being popular in Britain. He thinks that might be yet another reason for Skeeter to have a field day at my expense."

He was about to say something when she grimaced in pain and pressed a hand against the side of her belly. A pain shot through her lower abdomen but it was gone almost as soon as it started. She had been having what Muggle's called "Braxton Hicks" contractions for a couple days but Healer Bray had assured her that there was no need to worry. She had switched over to fully magical medical care when the news broke about her pregnancy and there was no longer any reason to hide it. The poor Healer had gotten a frantic Floo call the first time it happened after she left the hospital. The woman had smilingly reassured her that her womb was 'practicing for the big show', a thought that made Hermione picture a stage and snort derisively.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she sighed, rubbing along the area with her hand. "It's apparently normal to experience small contractions in the weeks leading up to the actual birth. It hurts a bit but not that bad."

He nodded, his face contemplative, and his eyes fixed on her stomach.

"You don't seem surprised by this news," Hermione stated, watching him.

He looked up at her then and gave the slightest of shrugs. "I've been doing some reading," he admitted quietly. Hermione didn't know what to say to that and her shock must have shown on his face because he quickly changed the subject.

"What is a field day?"

She took the change and ran with it. "Muggle expression. It means that she's going to go at me as much as she can and enjoy every minute of it," Hermione shrugged.

"I am...sorry that this has happened," he admitted. "I feel rather foolish but I...I don't..." He trailed off and frowned at his hands.

Hermione smiled genuinely for the first time since he arrived. "I do too, feel foolish that is. I can't believe we didn't use a spell but...I don't regret him." She paused for a second, her hand rubbing over her belly. "Do you?"

He looked up at her and silently shook his head, his eyes blazing in the reflection of the low fire.

"I'm glad," she whispered, looking down at her 'buldge' as Lavender so eloquently put it. "That doesn't mean I'm not terrified."

Severus' lips twitched then, his eyes following the path of her hand. "I can share that sentiment."

"At least I'm not the only—oh!" she reached out and grabbed his hand without thinking, used to sharing these moments with Harry and Lavender. She brought his palm to her cotton covered stomach and pressed his fingers against the spot where their son was currently twisting himself into what felt like intricate poses. She knew the instant that Severus felt him moving because his eyes widened momentarily before they closed softly and his face relaxed.

"Meet your son," she said wryly. "I hope you know your healing spells."

Severus opened his eyes to look at her, confused. She smiled.

"I'm no Seer but I predict many skinned knees in our future."

Sebastian kicked, as if to confirm her statement.

Closing his eyes once more, Severus pressed his whole hand firmly against her belly and felt his son perform a slow roll against the large palm.

"I think you might be right."


A Harry Potter Story
by Alexis.Danaan

Part 7 of 26

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